Repent! Part 2

   People kept coming in masses to hear the voice crying out in the wilderness of Judea. Many came feeling genuinely sorry for the sins that they committed. As a matter of fact two particular groups of people came to be baptized by John who were swiftly informed that repentance is more than just seeming sorry for sin in verse 7…

But 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 wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
— Matthew 3:7-10 NKJV

   Now can you imagine today saying to some people seeking baptism, “You brood of vipers! You poisonous snake!” Apparently John was seeing something that lead him to challenge the apparent repentance of these people. Now it’s important for us in our day to understand who these people were that John called vipers. Listen closely. The Pharisees were the conservatives of his day and the Sadducees were the liberals of his day. Notice that both were wrong! Both got called out. Putting stock in their conservatism won’t do! Trusting in their liberalism didn’t cut it! John is telling them that something more, something else is needed.

    I don’t know about you, but this scene reminds me of some people I know. So I wonder if we can hear his voice crying out today…

Repent! …and bear the fruit of repentance.

    Repentance is not about just saying I’m sorry. God says, “Where is the fruit?” Where is the evidence of a changed heart?

    For some reason this week I just kept leaving all my shoes in the walk way as you open the door to our apartment. I apologized to my wife. I said I was sorry. I even looked real sincere when I said it. But if everyday for the next month I kept leaving the same shoes out in the walk way and each day I kept coming to her and saying I’m so sorry, Deedre’s eventually going to look at me with the side eye, like, “Where is the fruit man!?” “How do I know your genuinely sincere and have had a change of heart if I didn’t see any evidence of change; any evidence of growth or effort?”

    I remember the second person I baptized several years ago. He was affiliated with Christianity, but had not yet surrendered to Christ for himself and been baptized. He was not an Adventist, but was dating a Adventist girl from my church (that’s a whole other subject). He was really into this girl. Every church related or ministry related event she was at he was there. He even got involved with the ministry she was involved in. Then the day came when he asked to get bible studies and be baptized. I remember having some reservations about his motives, but we baptized him anyway. Then shortly after his baptism, he and this girl broke up. As soon as he and this girl were no longer an item he stopped coming to church, he stop taking bible studies. Some time after he finally told me that the only reason he got baptized was to be with the girl. His motivation wasn’t repentance, it wasn’t Christ or truth. It was to be with this girl. John cuts through all that fluff and gets down to the point. Don’t just come with a mere profession of your repentance! Don’t just say your sorry! This isn’t for show. Bear some fruit!

    Commenting on the Pharisees and the Sadducees, Ellen White says...

“Many of the scribes and Pharisees came confessing their sins, and asking for baptism… But John was impressed by the Holy Spirit that many of these men had no real conviction of sin. They were timeservers. As friends of the prophet, they hoped to find favor with the coming Prince. And by receiving baptism at the hands of this popular young teacher, they thought to strengthen their influence with the people.”
— Desire of Ages p. 106

    They came with a mere profession of repentance, but just wanted to position themselves for power with the coming Messiah. But their problem ran deeper than that. They prided themselves in being the direct descendants of Abraham, and by virtue of their family tree, entitled to the covenant promises of God. They prided themselves in being the chosen people of God. Every so often I run into people who believe they are the true Israelites, because they believe that the original Hebrews were black and based on their research, they are the true Hebrews; the true covenant people of God. Or sometimes I run into some Adventists that act like because they are third or fourth generation Adventist in their family that that means their ok with God. Or because their name is on the role of church membership somewhere were they barely attend, that somehow their remnant, safe for the time of trouble in the last days. Let this be a wake up call! All of that means squat, absolutely nothing if you don’t repent and find your true identity in Christ! Paul says in Galatians 3:29, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” The true Israel of God are those who are in Christ and rooted in His truth! Your conservatism is not going to save you! Your liberalism is not going to save you! And your genetics are definitely not going to save you! Only Christ! On Christ the solid Rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand!!

    John’s message was one that confronted the very heart of the Jewish nation. Through his penetrating message God was shaking the nation out of their presumptive comfort zone. John said, “…even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees.” In other words God is bringing about judgment that will preserve some for salvation, but to those who do “not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”  How many of you know that the “good news” of the gospel of Jesus Christ, brings about judgment to those that ultimately reject it.

    In essence, God is calling for a decision. You cannot ignore it. And He is also looking for evidence that your decision is bearing fruit. The time to play Christianity has passed! God is calling for true discipleship. Jesus said in John 15:5-8

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
— John 15:5-8 NKJV

 Jesus is saying if you abide in Him, through a daily relationship by prayer and the Word, and He abide in you through the Holy Spirit, you will bear fruit. You will start to reflect His character. You will start to walk in obedience. You will start to attract new disciples to the glory of God! 

“CJ” Claypole S. Cousins Jr. is simply a man who is in love with Jesus. His passion is to live, preach and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In addition to preaching and teaching, CJ also loves to sing and write about Jesus. He also serves as the pastor for Grow Groups and RPCtv at Restoration Praise Center SDA Church.