Repent! Part 3

John says if you have repented then were is the fruit? As he is baptizing people in the Jordan, He begins to explain the work of the One coming after him in verse 11…

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
— Matthew 3:11-12 NKJV

    John’s words are unmistakeable. He only gives you two options. 

And I don’t know about you, but this scene lets me know that you and I have an urgent decision to make. So I wonder if we can hear his voice crying out today…

Repent! …and choose your fire. 

    John is essentially saying either way, you are going to burn with fire. You will either burn in the fire of hell or burn with the fire of the Holy Spirit. So how do you want to burn?

    When I lived in Atlanta, our house had a fireplace, that I never used for three years. Why? Because I was afraid that somehow the fire was going to shoot out an ember that was going to cause the whole house to burn down. I guess I developed this phobia from an accidental fire that happened when I was a child when my mom left something on the fire and when we got home the whole kitchen burned down. Or maybe it goes deeper than that. My mother tells me that when I was a little child our television caught fire in the bedroom I was sleeping in. It started a fire in my room. I’m told that my father heroically ran into the room, picked up the burning television with his arms and dropped it in the bath tub. So needless to say I have no plans on burning in hell fire. Yet how many of you know that fire both consumes and it purges. It burns things up, but it also cleanses.

    John was announcing that the people needed something more than just repentance. John was announcing that the coming of the Messiah would bring about the purifying fire of the indwelling Holy Spirit. And here is some amazing good news. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is not only to convict you of sin, but to bring you to Jesus and empower you to walk in obedience to Christ. Jesus will baptize you or completely immerse you with the Holy Spirit. Or as Paul says in Romans 5:5, “…the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

In other words, its through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit that your repentance is sustained! 

    Make it your daily practice to not only confess and repent, but to seek the fresh indwelling of the Holy Spirit! 

    As John keeps baptizing, Jesus leaves His carpenter shop in Galilee for the last time and makes the trek down to the Jordan where John was baptizing. Then the Spirit reveals to John that Jesus is the Messiah. When Jesus requests baptism from him, John is initially hesitant. But then Jesus says, “…thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” The John baptizes him. Jesus had not sinned and was not in need of repentance. So what was going on here? One of the proposals that Matthew is making in his gospel is that Jesus relives our story. He is the new Moses. He is the new David. He relives the history of Israel. But one of the most astonishing and often overlooked realities of the gospel is that Jesus is the new Adam or the new humanity. He is reliving our story as our representative. He in essence credits us with the realities of His life story as though it were our own. Where we have failed He gained the victory! So He is getting baptized not only as our example, but as the collective representative of the entire human race.

    It is then that God’s voice is heard from heaven saying this is My beloved Son in who I’m well pleased. And because Jesus is the new Adam or representative of the human family, those words also apply to you. God is pleased with you and accepts you on the basis of the life and death of His Son. Then the Holy Spirit anointed Jesus, descending on Him in the form of a dove. It is then that the 69 weeks prophecy of Daniel 9 was fulfilled in AD 27 when Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit as the Messiah. It is then that John points to Jesus and says behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! And here lies the secret to true repentance. As we look upon the Lamb of God, who at the cross, took away the sin of the world, we receive repentance as a gift. Acts 5:31 tells us that repentance is a gift from God! One of my favorite authors Morris Venden breaks it down this way...

“We don’t turn away from sins in order or repent. We come to Jesus in order to repent! And Romans 2:4 says its the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. We most fully recognize the evil of sin and sins when we most fully realize the love of Jesus. As we study the life of Jesus, as we contemplate His sacrifice for us upon the cross, our hearts are broken, and we experience genuine repentance.”
— 95 Thesis on Righteousness by Faith p. 96

 So family, we need to repent in light of the coming Kingdom. We also need to bear the fruit of repentance. And we need to choose the fire of the indwelling Holy Spirit to sustain our repentance. Repentance is urgently need, but it is a gift which comes from looking to Christ daily.

“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.