Today, we see many ministers and ministries springing up every now and then, with lots of promises and hopes. But soon, we stop hearing from them. If God has started a ministry, surely He will complete it, if we are faithful. Surely, today’s preaching lack something which the preaching of John, the Baptist had. Let’s take a look at a few points of difference between the modern day preachers and the Voice of the wilderness- John the Baptist.
John was like a Sign Board
John 1:36-37 ‘When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”’ When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. John the Baptist is known for pointing out Christ to people. He spoke of Jesus and not about his own ministry. Today, we find self-centered ministries who show themselves and speak more about themselves and their ministry. Christ centered ministers will stand for truth and speak the truth. Self centered ministers will stumble and disqualify many. John showed Jesus to his disciples just like the captive young girl of Israel pointed out Elisha to Naaman. These disciples were later on used mightily for His glory. Let our sermons and our ministry point out Jesus. Besides pointing out Jesus, John also taught them about Him. Jn.1:29, ‘The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” He taught them the true purpose of Christ’s coming into the world.
He had Knowledge about Son of God
Being zealous is good but being zealous without knowledge is danger! John, the Baptist had knowledge about Son of God. Jn.1:34, “I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” Some of us are following Him without knowing Him. Only a close walk with God can give us a vision about His purposes for our lives. Many ministries follow other ministries. They try to imitate other servants of God who are of fame. They fail to see Jesus and hence, they do not have a vision from God about their ministry.
I remember imitating my dad and his sermons in the earlier days of my ministry. People liked it but God was not pleased! Because those sermons were what I heard about Him and not about knowing HIM! John said, “And I saw Him….” All who have a vision shall never break-up. Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:12, ‘I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.’ We know about people but do we know him about whom we preach? If we read 1 John 1:1-3 there it says…’we have heard, we have seen and we have handled the word of Life and then we declare unto you’…No one can declare the word of LIFE without hearing, seeing and handling Him! Let us taste Him before declaring Him.
He was poor in Spirit
Jn.1:31 and 33, ‘I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
John often confessed that he did not know Christ. Today, a little knowledge about the Word puffs up the servants of God and their ministries. They feel and claim to have a complete knowledge of God. This is the first step of failure of many ministries and ministers.
Math.5:3, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ Effective witnessing can be done by someone who has really experienced the touch of God in his or her personal life.
He was Humble
John was a humble preacher. Jn.1:27- ‘He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” Jn.3;30,’ He must become greater; I must become less.” Potter will always choose the clay from beneath the mountain and not from the top. God will always choose those who humble themselves. Today, many preachers rejoice in their own exaltation, but John rejoiced in exalting Jesus. Jn.3:31 ‘The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) A humble preacher will deny Himself and project Christ. Let our pride cells burn!
He preached the Gospel
Gospel is God’s pill to the mankind. Gospel is good news…God has prepared a Hell for everyone who disobeys is not good news. We think and preach the same. What is the good news then? The wrath of God towards mankind is over with the incarnation of the Word. Luke 2:14 ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’ Paul says, ‘we preach Christ crucified’…These two words are very important…We preach Christ…. Christ should be the centre of our sermons instead of our experiences.Secondly, we must preach about His crucifixion.
What did John the Baptist preach?
Lk.3:3- ‘He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.’ John did not preach the stepping stones to prosperity, health and healing. Now a days, we have short cut sermons, like 7 points to receive blessings from God and 3 points to resist the devil…John preached about repentance and about the forgiveness of sins. This is the actual need of mankind i.e. to be free from the bondage of sin, which in turn delivers them from sickness and curse.
Repentance – A direct attack on sin is a must. People ought to be made aware about the difference between resisting sin and hating sin.
Christ Centered – Just as the four gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John have Jesus as their centre, every preaching from the Word should be Christ centered, which includes His sacrificial death, resurrection from the dead, His love, His words etc.Preaching should prepare the people to be lead to Christ’s way.
Lk.3:5, ‘Every valley shall be filled…..’ Valleys represent a sinking state of hopelessness. People have lost the sensitivity to God and sin. In Josh.7, we see Achan being stoned to death in the valley of Achor for sinning. People in this world are sinking deep into the miry clay of sin, from where there is absolutely no hope of escape. But the birth, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ Jesus opened a door of hope to escape from this state of hopelessness. Hosea 2:15, “I will give her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope, she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth,” The valley of Achor was hopelessness for us but the incarnation of the Word made the fellowship with God and man.Rom.7:24-25, ‘What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! …’
‘Every mountain and hill shall be brought low.’ There is the need for preaching about humbling oneself, for self righteousness and pride blocks one’s heart from receiving the message of repentance.
‘Crooked shall be made straight’. The preaching of the Word should convict all who walk through the crooked ways of life. John boldly called those hypocrites as “Brood of Vipers” and exhorted them to throw every claim of self righteousness and bear the fruit of repentance.
‘Rough shall be made smooth’. ‘Hard hearts shall be made hearts of flesh.’ The lives embedded with sins should be set free to become hearts of flesh, which is sensitive to sin. And the word can be received and can dwell only in a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:25)
‘All flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ Word is to be preached to all flesh so that they will see the salvation of God for this is the commandment of the Lord Himself. Acts 1:8, Jesus said, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” A sermon on salvation is missing now a days!
John, the Baptist touched the self righteous people and warned them. In Luke, chapter 3, we see John openly rebuking those who took pride in proclaiming themselves as Abraham’s children. V 8 “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance and do not begin 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.” We have such crowd thronging the church halls these days, who take pride in their traditions and ancestors who might have taken a stand for Christ. God is not interested in your ancestral history. He is interested in you and in your present state.
Gospel is not taking but its giving
Lk.3:11.’John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” John preached about giving, not taking. Today, we hear more sermons on taking rather than giving. Math.10-7-8, ‘As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. “
He preached about that DAY!
Our sermon must edify and prepare ourselves and others for the second coming of Christ.Lk.3:17, ‘John said, “His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” He preached about the last days and judgment. We hardly preach about these days.
He lived a simple Life
Math.3:4, ‘John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.’ I am not saying to wear camel’s hair and eat locusts, but he could have enjoyed living in the city and eat and wear latest trends of clothings, but John’s food and clothing were very simple and he lived in wilderness, which shows a separated life. He was in the world but not of the world.
As we travel through this wilderness of life lets have our eyes fixed on the promise land. Let’s also submit ourselves to undertake the great commission of being the voice in the wilderness, preparing and leading many to Christ.
May God bless you!