Today there is a lot of misconceptions about the Church. Because of this we will begin before the beginning of the Church. There is a prophecy that was fulfilled that one would come and prepare the way for another.
An explanation of this verse will help us to see what this prophecy means in the New Testament. Prepare ye the way. This is a picture of a king that will be travelling among the countryside in his domain. There would be those that would herald the coming of the king and preparation would be made for his travel. My dad used the terminology – this road is crooked as a dogs hind leg. Roads would be straightened as much as possible, valleys filled in or bridges built, mountains reduced in size where the road went and pot holes filled. The purpose was to make the travel a little easier for the king. As the king travelled a herald would precede the king announcing, “the king is coming, the king is coming.”
We need to see the application of this principle in fulfilled scripture. Matthew 3:1-3 gives this picture to us – “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.
Matthew makes the statement that John the Baptist is the fulfilment of this prophecy. We then have in John 1:23 John the Baptist statement about himself. “He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.” Here we see that John the Baptist is the herald for the Saviour that was to come. John the Baptist had a very specific message. Matthew 3:2 – “And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Notice the response to this message in Matthew 3:5 – “Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, 6. And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. Now what was John the Baptist doing? Preparing the way for Jesus.
How is this preparing the way for the Lord? John chapter 1 explains a lot that was prophesied. Verse 15 records John the Baptist witness of the Word that was made flesh – “…This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. Verse 29, John utters those immortal words “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John stands with two of his disciples saw Jesus and made the claim – Behold the Lamb of God! These two disciples them followed Jesus. As we read further we find Jesus calling Philip and Nathanael to follow him. Matthew 4:18-22. This is the passage where Jesus walks the seashore of Galilee and calls his disciples to follow him. Verse 19 contains the words that every child knows – Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. Their response contained in the next verse – “And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
Let us now examine the purpose of John the Baptist as he came to prepare the way for the saviour. 1. He preached repentance in the wilderness. 2 When a person repented, John the Baptist baptised them. 3. He preached and extolled the superiority of Christ. Now Jesus has come and preparation has been made for his coming. There are saved and baptised believers that are ready to be put into the church. Jesus walked the seashores of Galilee and called out his church that had already been prepared.
God made great provision for his Son to come and give his life for the lost and also to give his life for his church.
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II PETER 3:18
A. Forgetting the Past. (Philippians 3:13,14) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
1. Past Failures.
2. Past Victories.
3. Past Goals for they are to grow to the Glory of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
B. Forgiving An Offense. (Ephesians 4:32) And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
1. The Power of Kindness.
2. The Place of a Tender Heart.
3. The Peace of a Forgiving heart.
4. The Heavenly Example.
C. Forging ahead in Growth. (Hebrews 5:12-14) For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
1. Suspending the Culture of the World. (Galatians 1:4) Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
2. Depending on the Lord.
3. Feeding on the Word of God. (I Peter 2:2) As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
D. Following Freedom and Liberty Wisely. (I Corinthians 8:9) But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. (Romans 14:7,8) For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.
1. Secure in Salvation. (Ephesians 1:13) In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.
2. Safe in Conversation – “Way of Living.” (Galatians 5:1) Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
III. THE MEANS OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH.
A. The Scriptures. (John 17:17) Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
1. Sanctification – Set apart to Holy Service to God.
2. The Truth Effectually Works In You. (I Thessalonians 2:13) For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
3. Milk to Meat. (I Peter 2:2) As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (Hebrews 5:13,14) For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that aare of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
B. The Spirit.
1. Leading into all Truth. (John 14:26) But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
2. Our Change by the Holy Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18) But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
3. Our Walk. (Galatians 5:16-25)
III. THE MOTIVES OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH.
A. Acquiescence – means consent, agree.
1. Obedience and Grace. (Romans 1:5) By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:
2. Graciously receive Christ and Walk. (Colossians 2:6) As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
B. Affection. (John 14:15) If ye love me, keep my commandments.
1. Love of the Saviour.
2. Love of His Blessings.
3. Love of His Answers to Prayer.
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