TEXT: Matthew 3:1-4:
1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
4 And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
After preaching the Gospel every day for 367 days straight throughout the 2016 presidential campaign season, I am preaching the Gospel every day throughout the first 100 days of President Donald Trump’s term. If you think a new president being in office is the only thing needed to save America and ‘make America great again’, you are woefully deceived. The church must follow through and “keep the main thing the main thing: and that is reaching unbelievers with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and praying for their salvation, for the problem in America is not only disobedient presidents, politicians, and people, but disobedient pastors, preachers, and parishioners who have refused to obey the Lord’s Great Commission which is to, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,’ and who have refused to obey God’s repeated commands to ‘pray without ceasing’ for unbelievers, believers, and political leaders.” So, we encourage you to pray for the new president, but not to get caught up in the political happenings like the world does. Nothing much is going to change until people get saved and get their hearts right with the Lord. And that is what this campaign is all about.
This campaign is inspired by the following three verses: 1 Corinthians 2:2 which says, “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” Acts 5:42 which says, “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” And 2 Timothy 2:4 which says, “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”
This series is not for Christians necessarily. However, I do hope you are one of those saints who still loves to hear the “Old, old story of Jesus and His love” — As another hymn says, “For those who know it best Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.” This series is primarily for unbelievers, so they can hear and understand the Gospel and be saved from sin and the punishment of sin which is hell. This is message number 53, day 423 since Jan. 1, 2016.
John R.W. Stott said, “In countries to which Christian civilization has spread, large numbers of people have covered themselves with a decent, but thin, veneer of Christianity. They have allowed themselves to become somewhat involved, enough to be respectable but not enough to be uncomfortable. Their religion is a great, soft cushion. It protects them from the hard unpleasantness of life, while changing its place and shape to suit their convenience. No wonder the cynics speak of hypocrites in the church and dismiss religion as escapism.”
In our last message, we talked about how the positioning of John the Baptist as an outsider in his society is a reminder to us that, as followers of Christ, we will often be on the fringe. We will often be at odds with the religious establishment and the secular government. We may indeed find ourselves in the “wilderness” of popular opinion, especially if we are telling people to “repent” and “prepare” their hearts to receive the Lord. But, not only does the location of John the Baptist have something important to tell us, but the lifestyle of John the Baptist also has something important to tell us.
Verse 4 reads that “John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins.” John lived simply, with only the barest of necessities. He had one set of clothes, probably not even sewn into a proper tunic — just a camel’s hair cloth to cover himself with and a leather girdle or belt to keep it from falling off. Unfortunately, if this type of fashion were the only one available to preachers today, most preachers would probably stop preaching. There is nothing wrong with dressing nicely, but if you place more importance on the outward appearance than the message itself, something is wrong. If you are more concerned about how you are presented than you are about how the message is presented, something is wrong. John did not care what people thought of how he looked and he still got multitudes to listen to him. Why? Because his message was divinely inspired, directly from God, and he delivered it faithfully.
But dwelling in the wilderness and dressing in camel’s hair are not the only peculiar things about John. The Bible tells us that his “meat was locusts and wild honey.” Only the very poor of John’s day ate locusts. The lowest people on the human social ladder ate the lowest form of food. It was just enough for survival. Wild honey was a natural sweetener, much more freely available then than it is to us today. One commentary states, “John’s lifestyle declares that he lived fully for the will of God, not valuing possessions, comfort, or status. Blinded by our society’s values, we too often preach a Christianity that merely ‘meets our needs’ rather than one that calls us to sacrifice our highest desires for the kingdom. Too many Western Christians live a religion that costs nothing, treats the kingdom cheaply, and therefore does not demand saving faith. Saving faith includes believing God’s grace so sincerely that we live as if his message is true and stake our lives on it.”
If we had to choose between preaching the Gospel and our own personal ease, I am afraid that many of us would choose comfort over the Great Commission. The point of this passage is not to shame us into living like John did. We are not all called to be a prophet. But this passage challenges us to honestly consider, if we were put to the test, would we be willing to give up all of the creature comforts that make life easier in order to deliver the message of repentance to those who need it. Further, we must consider what kind of witness we would be to the world if we ceased caring about earthly things more than we cared about the kingdom of Heaven.
One hymn writer put it this way:
Your call is clear, cold centuries across;
You bid me follow you, and take my cross,
And daily lose myself, myself deny,
And stern against myself shout ‘Crucify’.
The world, to see my cross, would pause and jeer.
I have no choice, but still to persevere
To save myself — and follow you from far,
More slow than Magi, for I have no star.
And yet you call me still. Your cross
Eclipses mine, transforms the bitter loss
I thought that I would suffer if I came
To you into immeasurable gain.
I kneel before you, Jesus, crucified,
My cross is shouldered and myself denied;
I’ll follow daily, closely, not refuse
For love of you and man myself to lose.
If you are ready to commit to Christ today, allow me to share with you how you can place your faith and trust in Him for your soul’s salvation:
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour! For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to GospelLightSociety.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
If you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior today, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know. There is some free material that we want to send you. If you have a prayer request, please e-mail that to us as well, and we will pray for you until you tell us to stop.
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.