Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 99 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Matthew 3 today and our focus is on how salvation works – that salvation is not genetic. Hopefully that will make more sense in a moment. We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in . Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
In Matthew 3, we are introduced to the fiery ministry of John the Baptist, cousin of Jesus. John evokes images of Elijah in the minds of the Israelites by his dress, his diet, his eccentricities and, most importantly, by his calling of the people to repent. God uses John to ignite a sort of revival in the wilderness in which John preaches and calls people to repent – and baptizes them to symbolize and proclaim that repentance. Many, many people come out to hear John preach and get baptized, including soldiers, tax collectors, and even some of the prime religious leaders of the people. Curiously, John does NOT welcome these religious leaders when he sees them, but preemptively blasts them, giving us something of a preview of how Jesus will do with those same leaders. Consider this episode:
7 When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance. 9 And don’t presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones.
Don’t feel too bad for these religious leaders – they had twisted the Word of God, portrayed themselves as saints, and their teachings and lifestyle not only was false, but was misleading the whole nation. Consider what Jesus said to them:
15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to make one convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a child of hell as you are!…..27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of the bones of the dead and every kind of impurity.28 In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23:15…27-28
That Jesus levels the same charges John does against the Pharisees and Sadducees – only in a stronger manner – tells us that John isn’t exaggerating. Let’s read our chapter and see how John confronts this situation.
How could the Pharisees and Sadducees be so far away from God, and yet believe they were so close? This is a very, very important question for us to wrestle with – especially those of us who were raised in Christian households, or “Christian” nations. I was raised in Alabama and lived there the majority of my life. For most of my time in Alabama, those who were born there were born in to two major things: A. Christianity, and B. Either Alabama or Auburn football, and thus the vast majority of Alabamians identify as Christians, and as Alabama or Auburn fans, whether or not they care about football or genuinely follow Jesus at all. And this is a great danger. The Pharisees and Sadducees thought they were good with God because they were Israelites – descendants of Abraham – even spiritual leaders….but their trust wasn’t in God or His Word – their trust was in their genetics and home country to save them. They PRESUMED they were good with God because of those things, but John sharply warns them against such dangerous presumption.
John Piper echoes the dangers of this presumption:
John says in verse 8, “Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.” ’ Don’t let the old serpent sow the deceptive seed in your mind: “Hey! What am I doing here in this river getting baptized like a common Gentile! Who does this guy think he is telling sons of Abraham that we are in the same boat with the rest of the world and under God’s wrath? Why, haven’t we learned from the time we were little the word of God to Abraham in Genesis 17:7 and 8? ‘I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. And I will give to you and to your descendants after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.’ How can a son of Abraham, then, ever worry about being swept away like chaff by the wrath of God?” John is warning the Jews that such a line of reasoning is a great mistake. A person should never think that any merely human distinctive (like Jewishness) can obligate God to bless. The Jews are a great lesson book to all of us who tend to rely on anything for salvation other than the mercy of God.
John Piper, Sermons from John Piper (1980–1989) (Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 2007).
Many people in America have been raised in church-going homes, and they presume that they are Christians in the same way that the Pharisees and Sadducees presumed that they were right with God. Others have been raised by pastors and religious leaders and presume the same thing. Salvation is not found in our birthplace, our parents, our genetic inheritance, our country, our church, our neighborhood, or anything like that. As Peter reminds us in Acts:
12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
Jesus alone is the source of our salvation. Let our eyes be on Him. I like how Paul calls us to that focus in Colossians 3:
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4
End of the Show: Bible memory verse for April James 4:6 “But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
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