Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 1 Study # 8
January 8, 2006
Lincolnton, N.C.

<214> Thesis: John's summons was set within the meaning of Isaiah 40. Introduction: As we have considered the introduction to John's preaching ministry, we have made much of the fact that the content of his preaching was rejected by "official" Israel. The predominant theology of Israel was a theology of the human acquisition of favor in the eyes of God by submission to His Law. Underlying this theology were two fundamental roots: a desire to boast; and a belief in one's own abilities to do the right thing. In unmasking the demonic roots of that theology, the apostle Paul first carefully detailed the delusion of the belief that man has any capacity in his flesh to do the right thing (Romans 1-3, summarized in 3:9; Romans 7:14; and Galatians 3:22) and then called for a conclusion about "boasting" (Romans 3:27, backed up by the carefully developed example of Abraham in 4:2 and restated in Philippians 3:3). John, on the other hand, began to introduce "Grace" into the theological climate. His overarching declaration was that God would forgive anyone who "repented". But, as with all "declarations", there is a huge necessity to understand what "repentance" is, or it will simply be absorbed into the theology that already exists in a person's mind and heart. For example, if a person is already heavily involved in a "T"heology of Justice, the preaching of "repentance" will be turned into just another divine demand to be met by man out of his own "free will abilities" and the penchant for "boasting" will see no challenge whatsoever in the message. John, however, would not tolerate that even to the slightest degree. He heavily prejudiced how his message was to be defined by two things: his name; and his deliberate opening salvo (Luke 3:7) in which he clearly distanced his message from the "general status quo" theology of his day. Because we have pretty much come full circle in our day so that the "received theological orientation" is back to "free will abilities" and "unabashed boasting", we are going to look again at the background of John's message as Luke gives it to us in Luke 3:4-6. For our study this morning, we are going to consider Luke's claim that John was both the fulfillment of the Isaiah 40:3-5 text and the dawning of the theology of Grace.