Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2
Thesis: "Forgiveness" is a means to an end, but what end?
Introduction: In our study last week we tried to make the point that John was constantly addressing a significantly unflattering reality: mankind has taken on the essence of a viper. We saw that he did this because of one huge fact: man's enormous commitment to "life by flattery" is so profound that there is no solution except to confront it plainly and without allowing men any "wiggle room". God's truth is this: no one will be forgiven who refuses to admit the truth about himself, but anyone who is willing to bring this truth to God for a solution will get one.
Because the problem is so real, and God's solution is so satisfying, we are going to continue to look into this issue of "insulting" men into "eternal life".
February 12, 2006
- I. Is the Problem "Real"?
- A. The "issues" in the question.
- 1. One issue is man's penchant for being "superficial".
- a. On the one hand, people typically do not wish to look below the surface.
- 1) Man's conversation is full of inanities and cliches (lest I say vulgarities and blasphemies). [Illustration: "God is bigger than all of those men" as a response to my outline of current events as a manifest illustration of the coming of Armageddon as it came out of the mouth of one of the biggest worrywarts I have ever met. Illustration: "pray" as a response to my question of how a person gets to be righteous before God as it came out of the mouth of a person whose perspective on life is completely inconsistent with the biblical declaration of what God does when men "pray".]
- 2) Man's aversion to serious seeking for workable answers. [In spite of the inescapable emphasis in God's Book upon the absolute necessity for a diligent and persistent involvement with Him through His Word, how many people do we know who show the fruits of biblical wisdom?]
- b. On the other hand, God typically shows no interest in using band aids.
- 1) God, more than anyone else in the universe, clearly sees the inexorable outcome of superficiality and mindless living. [Illustration of the 15 year old dragging an overloaded, thin-plastic, garbage bag over carpet, or the incorrigible persistence in behavior that constantly creates a negative backlash.]
- 2) God, more than anyone else in the universe, is love-driven to produce a real "fix" for the problem -- so He simply will not settle for the Band-Aid approach. [Illustration: the "Black Salve" solution to cancer and the law suit by a woman whose face was significantly chewed up by it. Vanity wins over "life" almost every time.]
- a) Jesus, in the light of the inexorable and real consequences of wrong doing, pointedly said, "If your eye offends you, pluck it out because it is better to go into "Life" with one eye than to have two as one enters into eternal death."
- b) Radical problems call for radical solutions.
- 2. A second issue involves man's "faith" in what the future will hold.
- a. It is no accident that men of religious doctrine are heavily predisposed to the extremes of "calling God 'merciful' while denying mercy by a profound willingness to kill anyone who fails to agree with them" or "calling God 'merciful' so that we do nothing to address the egregious errors which men promote." [Illustrate: there are any number of church marquees that quote 'stewardship' verses ("God loves a cheerful giver"), but how many have you ever seen that warn preachers of not being content with food and covering?]
- b. It is no accident that John's dominant perception of what the future holds was expressed by the words "the wrath to come."
- 1) The text tells us that John's preaching was taken up with two predominant theses: men are snakes and wrath is coming.
- 2) This man, filled with God's Spirit from his mother's womb, named "Yahweh is gracious", found it absolutely essential that man's problem be accurately and constrictingly declared -- no wiggle room.
- B. The nature of the "real" problem.
- 1. Man is a snake.
- a. The issue of the "viper" is its "natural" use of "fangs" to both provide for itself and protect itself...the "life consists for me in killing others" mentality.
- b. The identification of man as a "viper" is all-inclusive and brooks no permission of the disclaimer by anyone that "that's not me."
- 1) Paul clearly taught that it is me in Romans 3.
- 2) Paul openly declared that it is me "by nature" in Ephesians 2.
- 2. Wrath is coming.
- a. The Book of the Revelation is as extended a presentation of "coming wrath" as can be found in the Word of God.
- 1) It is the last book God "inspired" to be written.
- 2) Sixteen of its twenty-two chapters are heavy-duty presentations of the coming wrath without mitigation -- more than three billion people will be killed by the wrath during the duration of the outpouring and all of those who escape who do not come to faith will be summarily executed by Jesus Christ, the Lion of Judah, when He brings it to a close.
- 3) And this is only the "physical" wrath.
- b. The warning throughout all of the New Testament is that the physical is only a shadow of the final reality.
- II. Is God's Solution "Real"?
- A. John was sent by the gracious Yahweh for one purpose: to give hope to those who would "flee from the wrath to come".
- 1. If Yahweh had no real "solution", He would simply have not sent John onto the scene.
- 2. All who consider Yahweh's solution "incredible" do not understand "Jesus" at all.
- B. John was filled by the Spirit to deny the solution to those who wished to retain their identity as snakes.
- 1. His denial involved the description -- to drive a wedge between those who are too arrogant to admit their "snakiness" and those who have come to the end of their ropes.
- 2. His denial also, however, involved the refusal to make it "glib".
- a. He disallowed any superficial claim to "repentance".
- b. He disallowed any "theological" foundation for eliminating the necessity for "repentance".
- C. John told those who came that he represented One Who would "baptize" them with the Spirit of God -- as well as fire.
- 1. This is the divine solution: a transformation of the inner "nature".
- 2. This is not a claim that "forgiveness" is to simply erase guilt; "forgiveness" is the "paving of the road" for the entrance of Yahweh into the very heart for the primary purpose of "begetting a new nature".