“So with many other exhortations he preached the good news to the people.” Luke 3:18 ESV
What news was John the Baptist preaching that Luke said was good?
“John answered them all saying, “I baptize you with water but He who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” Luke 3:16 & 17 ESV
Verse 17 is quoted often and how thankful we are for the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire, but there was more good news that John the Baptist was preaching. In the often overlooked verse 18, he said Christ would do more than baptize us with the Holy Spirit.
John’s good news was that Christ came to divide.
Jesus confirmed this when He came. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34 ESV
This is good news for those who love Him and have surrendered their life to Him. We will be gathered for good and we will not have to live in eternity with the pain that sin and the rejection of Christ brings. We will safely enter heaven in peace with joy. Every tear will be wiped away. (Revelation 21:4)
For the unbelievers–those who reject Christ and put themselves on the throne of their lives, their end will be the burning, eternal pain of separation from God in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8).
Yet, in a day when much preaching is tickling our ears and making us feel good, we struggle to hear the things that challenge us. It is hard to hear the truth. John’s good news was that Christ came to divide. This means we have a choice. We choose Him, take up our cross (Matthew 16:24, Luke 9:23, Mark 8:34) and walk the difficult and rewarding path OR we reject Him, choose ourselves, and face the bitter end as chaff to be burned.
It is easier to walk the path of the world and do what pleases our flesh. But the consequences are dire. We suffer on earth and we will suffer in eternity if we choose this path. But it is easier to give into our carnal desires, to follow the crowd, to avoid the truth.
Facing the truth is painful, so it takes courage. The truth stands strong in front of our pride and makes us see ourselves for who we really are, not what we think we are or what we want to be.
We strive to be self-sufficient, to protect ourselves from pain and this makes it difficult to accept the fact that without Christ, we are NOT good people. At our core, we are self-centered, ungodly people and we cannot make ourselves into this great, kind, wonderful, giving, selfless person that we really want to be. We can change some actions and try to make ourselves look good. We can even convince others that we are wonderful people, but we know deep down who we are. If we are willing to be honest with ourselves, we know that we cannot take those selfish thoughts, unkind, wrong desires and make them go away on our own.
We cannot save ourselves. We need someone to save us (Romans 3:23). And the beauty of God is that Christ knows the awful state we are without Him and He loves us anyway. He suffered more than we can imagine to offer us a way to be free from all the stuff we cannot free ourselves from.
All we have to do is surrender it all to Him. Not say a little prayer, do some good deeds, go to church, have Christian friends, etc…We have to surrender our life, our wants our choices, our will, our plan, our purpose to Him. We cannot walk between this world and His world. “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself a enemy of God.” James 4:4 ESV
This is the truth.
The truth is hard. It is hard to lay down your pride. It is hard to fall on your face before God in tears of repentance. It is hard to be vulnerable. But this is exactly what you must do. The reward is inexplicable peace of mind regardless of the storm around you. The reward is a life without worrying about tomorrow and the cares that it brings. The reward is having the strength through Him to let go of all of those things that make us slaves to pain, worry and stress. The reward is standing on the threshing floor and being gathered by our loving Father to live in eternal bliss forever.
Please choose Him. Do not choose to be the chaff. Do not choose the path that leads to destruction simply because you do not want the pain of the truth today.
My mother said these wise words to me many times, “If it is easy, it isn’t the right thing.” The right thing pushes us, challenges us, grows us, and with Jesus—It frees us.
Why are you hanging on to a life that is killing you? Fall on the cornerstone of Jesus Christ and be broken. You will never regret it.
“And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone it will crush him.” Matthew 21:44 ESV