Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 3 Study # 3
April 23, 2006
18 And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.
1901 ASV Translation:
18 With many other exhortations therefore preached he good tidings unto the people;
- I. Bringing His Focus Upon John to a Conclusion.
- A. There is this question: why did Luke tell us of "many other" exhortations and not tell us what they were?
- 1. The words automatically lend themselves to the thesis that Luke was giving a "big picture" umbrella of John's ministry -- not including "all" he said and did, but deliberately providing the "kernel" that effectively synthesized everything he said and did.
- 2. The words also automatically lend themselves to the thesis that John's preaching included a great many details that naturally flow out of the doctrine of "forgiveness upon repentance".
- B. Then, there are these salient facts...
- 1. He deliberately used the word translated "preached" because it inherently contains the idea of "great news".
- a. One of the "problems" with "great news" is that it is often relative to a person's setting and experience. The "greatness" of the news is relative to the "desperation" of the need. But, there is also this -- that one's need is not always "perceived". In fact, the latter day corruption of the Gospel in our generation is rooted in preaching to people's "perceived needs" and telling them what they want to hear.
- 1) Sometimes there is "great news" that is not related to "need". A person can receive what is considered "great news" even when that person has no perceived need of which he is aware. It is "great news" because it comes in harmony with the desires held, not any unmet needs. A person who has no need for another grandchild can receive the birth of another one as "great news" simply because grandchildren are highly valued. Or a business man who is doing very well in business can receive "great news" of an explosion of his profits simply because he values the profits, not because he had any need for more.
- 2) But the news is greater if there is a need that is being met by it.
- 3) In John's setting, the "great news" is of forgiveness -- a message that is twisted into "bad news" by the self-righteous who are offended by the "you are a snake in need of redemption" foundation to the message. But, for those who have a serious interest in participating in righteousness, "forgiveness" is indeed good news.
- b. The greatness of this news is directly related to the gathering of the wheat into the barn and the burning of the chaff with unquenchable fire.
- 1) Those who would "tone down" the doctrine of an eternal and unquenchable fire have no understanding of the simple truth that the more one "tones down" the bad news, the more the "good news" is derided.
- 2) That the bad news is bad indeed is the only way the good news shows up as good news indeed.
- 2. He also deliberately used the word translated "exhortation" because it inherently contains the idea of "making adjustments in order to 'come alongside'."
- a. One of the most debilitating problems with "coming alongside" is the attitude one takes toward the person calling for "adjustments". If one sees that person through the eyes of fear and hostility, the "chances" that there will be any adjustments are reduced to nil.
- b. One of the major facts of life about people is that they get deeply angry and hostile when they are subjected to circumstances that take away their ease, security, and status. They are almost never willing to see their circumstances as the outflow of their own foolishness and wickedness -- striving always to blame someone else. The "good news" needs to have this balance to it: that those who are in "need" see themselves as "responsible for creating the need" and those who offer "help" see those in need as victims of Sin. The problem is that the situation is often just the opposite: those in need see themselves as victims and those who could help see those in need as "responsible". This "reversal" is typical of corrupt humanity -- always turning everything on its head.
- c. One of the basic assumptions of "exhortation" is that people have the capacity to make choices and adjust their attitudes. Paul's doctrine of "Law" was that it was given, not because people have the ability to conform to it, but because they do not have that ability (see Romans 3:19), but he also taught that once a person has been "made alive", exhortation changes from being a matter of condemnation to a matter of legitimate instruction on how to live (see Galatians 3:21). This teaching fits John's announcement of "redemption" to "snakes". Once a snake has been turned into a son of Abraham, he is capable of the behavior of Abraham.