If we, as believers in Jesus Christ, are going to win the world to Christ, we must be equipped with the right tools. According to Ephesians 6, our only weapon is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. You do not have to be an expert in apologetics to win the world to Christ, you only need to know the gospel message. Even the apostle Paul said that he did not use excellent speech when speaking, he “determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” 1 Corinthians 2:2 (NKJV). For the next few weeks, we will study how John the Baptist, Jesus and the disciples presented the gospel. At the end of boot camp we will learn an easy method of evangelism based on the passages we study.
Today we will study John the Baptist, one of the first preachers of the gospel in the New Testament. He was not the first evangelist because the shepherds were the first to proclaim the birth of Christ.
Please read Luke 3:1-14, 18
Notice in verse 2 that John the Baptist received a word from the Lord when he was in the wilderness. He then began his ministry.
Before John was even born, the angel told Zacharias, his father, that John would be the forerunner before the Messiah to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. What a proclamation? John the Baptist was to be the forerunner to the Messiah, but when was he to begin his ministry? Can you imagine having that kind of knowledge as a child? Would John turn out arrogant? How would he remain humble enough to carry this message to so many? Well, God had a plan. In Luke 3, we find John in the wilderness. In Matthew 3:4 we see John as a humble man, wearing a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. He was to have the same spirit and power of Elijah, so he dressed like Elijah in 2 Kings 1:7-8.
John did not shout his great news from the rooftop of the temple his entire life, rather he was a wild man living in the wilderness. He also did not begin his ministry until God gave him a word in the wilderness. John was most likely around 30 when he began his ministry because he was about 6 months older than Jesus.
Do you wait for God’s calling or do we move ahead with our own methods of evangelism? When we evangelize, we need to have an open ear to the voice of the Lord. We should witness to the ones that the Lord leads us to, because they are the ones whose hearts have been prepared. Begin asking the Lord for divine appointments to share your faith. We cannot witness in our own strength, but through the power of the Holy Spirit.
What was John’s Message?
1. He preached repentance, warned of wrath to come, warned of hell fire
In verse 3 we see the first part of the message that John preached. He preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. In verses 7-9, he mentions fleeing the wrath to come, bear fruit in keeping with repentance and every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So he is basically warning people to flee the wrath to come, tells them their lifestyle should reflect their repentance and that believers will have good fruit. If they don’t have good fruit they will be cut down and thrown into the fire. In other words, you good works should reflect your life of repentance. Works don’t save you, but are a reflection of your salvation. If you don’t bear good fruit, you will die and go to hell.
This message is similar to the message that God gave Ezekiel. God told him that he must warn people of the wrath to come.
“Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life” Ezekiel 33:7-9 (NASB).
2. He specifically named sins rather than generalizing
In verses 10-14, John preaches against specific sins. He doesn’t use generalizations. If we are going to win the lost, we have to be specific about sin. The world, especially Americans, believe that they are basically good. Many believe that if their good deeds out weigh their bad deeds, they will make it to heaven. We must teach sinners God’s moral law or the 10 commandments when witnessing so that people will understand they do not measure up to God’s law. A self-righteous person will not accept Christ, but a person who has been humbled by the 10 commandments will understand why he/she needs a Savior.
3. He preached the gospel
Last but not least, in verse 18 we learn that John preached the gospel to the people. We will continue to build on this gospel message next week.
John was not seeker friendly.
Notice that John’s message was not seeker friendly. He did not water it down so as not to offend his listeners. In fact, his message was so offensive, that he was beheaded by Herod because John reprimanded him for the wicked things he had done (Luke 3:19). Are you willing to teach the biblical model of salvation, which brings about conviction of sin or will you be like many preachers today? These preachers water down the message to remove the sting. They try to make it more palatable so they can build churches of great numbers. Jesus only had 12 disciples. Great crowds followed Jesus at the beginning, but eventually they wouldn’t listen to the message and left.
Summary of today’s lesson
If we are to witness like John the Baptist, we must:
1. Preach or teach that people should repent of their sins
2. Warn them of judgment to come
3. Be specific about sin by using the 10 commandments
4. Give the gospel message