The New Life Mission

Sermons

Subject 17 : JESUS CHRIST and JOHN THE BAPTIST

[17-12] (Luke 1:1-17) Let’s Believe in Jesus With the Understanding of John the Baptist

(Luke 1:1-17)
“Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed. There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years. So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’”
 
 
I Am Thankful That God Has Given Us the Spiritual Food Abundantly
 
I went around here and there to buy a copy machine and saw that people were very busy trying to seek something that would satisfy them. They were impoverished spiritually even though they were living in this materialistically abundant and wealthy age and time. They looked like people who were wandering over the desert looking to find a way to get a glass of water because of extreme thirst. They were actually wealthy people fleshly and worldly in perspective, but I really felt that they looked very poor and neglected as I looked at their souls. In my eyes, they were people who were fighting death because they were so stricken with poverty and hunger in their spirits; people who were dying of extreme spiritual famine.
Seeing them, I came to realize the meaning of God’s Word, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” When Jesus was tempted after fasting and praying for 40 days, the first thing that Satan tempted Him with was food. Satan, the Devil, brought a stone before the presence of God and said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” When Satan tempted Jesus in that way, Jesus responded, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,’” and cast Satan away. He was saying that no one can live by the bread alone, and all the people must live by the Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Humans need to eat the bread of the flesh, but everyone must eat the Word of God that is the spiritual bread, along with the bread for the flesh in order to enjoy real life.
We must remember that we can truly live only if we eat all the Word of God and give thanks to God that God the Father gave us daily bread to eat in this world. How thankful should we be that God the Father also gave us His Word to eat spiritually with faith? Even so, I wonder if you really know how precious all the Word of God is to you. We need to know that there are so many people who cannot eat the Word of God even though they want to. We must think how blessed people we really are before the presence of God as we see such people who cannot eat this spiritual food. We must be thankful for God’s Word. We can eat the Lord’s Word abundantly with faith in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but most Christians still cannot eat God’s Word with faith even though they want to.
The Lord says that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. There are some people who live in this world without knowing that there is this Word of Truth when the thing everyone needs is God’s Word. As I think how so many people wander here and there without being able to eat God’s Word, even though they know that there is the Word of Truth, I realize once again how much we really are blessed by God.
I realized again how blessed all the believers in God’s Church, the brothers and sisters in our Church are. But the more we feel such things, the more we, the believers living in God’s Church, must look ourselves over and see whether we are really thankful about this fact, and whether we are really eating God’s Word and whether we are thereby filled with thanksgiving. I am saying that I came to think in my heart that I should teach this preciousness to the people in the Church because there probably are many saints who do not understand that all these things such as calling out the name of Jehovah in the Church, calling out the name of the Lord Jesus, singing praises for the work He has done, saying prayers to Him, reading and listening the Word and sharing spiritual fellowship is really the precious grace of the Father. You don’t know what precious grace it is that we can hear God’s Word now. I realized how precious it is that I could look at God’s Word and preach to you like this and hear it from you, and also have fellowship together with the saints of our God.
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Then, do you really feel thankful and think it precious that we live by eating God’s Word this way? God’s Word is really precious. God’s Word is in a totally different level compared to the words we creatures speak. The Scriptures is the record of all the Word that comes out of God’s mouth, and therefore we live by God’s Word with faith. Those of us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit must of course eat the things of the world because we have flesh. But, at the same time, we must also eat God’s Word while ordinary people just eat the things of the world. We must also eat the things of Heaven because we have spirit also. I give thanks to God for giving such a blessing to all of us who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
 
 
“Me Also, Having Had Perfect Understanding of All Things from the Very First”
 
Luke is the author of the Gospel of Luke and he was a doctor. This person Luke recorded the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of Apostles while evangelizing the Lord’s gospel together with the Apostle Paul. The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of Apostles were made up of one book originally. There is a person named Theophilus that appears here, and we don’t know who this Theophilus is as of now. If we look at the Acts of Apostles chapter 1 verse 1, it begins “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach.” And it continues, “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.”
Hence, we could see through this passage that the Acts of Apostles is the epistle Luke wrote to a person named Theophilus. Theophilus must have been a person in high position since he was called “most excellent Theophilus,” and he seemed to have believed in Jesus as the Savior too. As we continue on, it says, “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us” (Luke 1:1-2). Jesus had twelve disciples and they were people who experienced, heard, and saw Jesus Christ actually with both fleshly eyes and spiritual eyes. They shared with other people the Word of God they had heard. They shared it exactly according to what they saw and there were many workers who picked up the pen to record all those accounts according to the facts. This disciple of Jesus called Luke also thought that it would be good to write to the most excellent Theophilus about Jesus chronologically from its very beginning, saying that He also had seen all these from the beginning in detail. Luke said that he was doing this to make the most excellent Theophilus know firmly what he had learned.
Luke, one of the disciples of Jesus Christ, began to write about Jesus Christ also. At the time, some people were spreading a rumor that the people who believed in Jesus Christ were bloodsuckers. They were saying that people who believed in Jesus had to be bloodsuckers since they said they lived by drinking blood. Luke wrote the refuting word to debunk such nonsensical rumors. He was saying, “They are not really drinking blood. They are just commemorating the blood Jesus Christ shed in this world with the wine.”
As such, when someone slandered the Truth about Jesus Christ and wrote evil things, and when there was some writing of evil people written to harm Early Church Christians, Luke wrote the word of refutation for the people who really believed in God correctly. He proved that the false claim was not true and sent it to the people who were slandering the children of Jesus Christ and the influential people in high positions. He did this to prevent the people in high government positions from reading the words written by those slanderers and believing simply in their word and consequently persecuting the children of faith. Many people can have preconceptions. There were people at that time who believed such nonsensical rumors, the evil word that was flowing around that the people who believed in Jesus Christ were people who lived by the blood of human beings. Therefore, they were saying that such people must all be killed. There is an old saying that a pen is mightier than a sword. Hence, the people who believe in Jesus refuted this with the word that denied such claim. People normally believe any book as it is when they read it. That was why Luke wrote this Book to a high-ranking official called Theophilus.
The person called “most excellent Theophilus” here seems to be someone who believed in Jesus Christ as I have noted before. Maybe that’s why Luke, the disciple of Jesus Christ, said that he thought it would be good to write a detailed letter about Jesus Christ from the very beginning and from the most basic things as far as he knew. It was to confirm what the most excellent Theophilus had learned. The most excellent Theophilus had learned the Truth and believed in it. So Luke wrote this letter because he thought it would be good to write a letter to him about Jesus Christ in greater detail. This is none other than the Gospel of Luke.
 
 
John the Baptist Who Was Born from the Family of Aaron
 
They usually call this John who baptized Jesus John the Baptist to distinguish him from John the disciple of Jesus. Let’s read the Word from the Gospel of Luke chapter 1 verses 5 to 7. It says, “There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years” (Luke 1:5-7).
This is the story from the time of King Herod of Israel. Luke records the background of the birth of John the Baptist in detail from long ago. There was a priest from the division of Abijah and his name was Zacharias and his wife was Elizabeth. It says, “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” The division of Abijah refers to the descendant of Aaron the High Priest. Let’s look at the genealogy of John the Baptist. The divisions of the priests of the descendants of Aaron are listed in 1 Chronicles chapter 24. Let’s look at it together.
It says, “Now these are the divisions of the sons of Aaron. The sons of Aaron were Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. And Nadab and Abihu died before their father, and had no children; therefore Eleazar and Ithamar ministered as priests” (1 Chronicles 24:1-2). It is written that Aaron had begotten four sons. But it says that Nadab the eldest son of Aaron and Abihu died while offering up the wrong fire during the sacrifice and that Eleazar and Ithamar were the remaining sons. They took the priesthood and did the work of offering up the sacrifice to God.
They did this work, and there come the names of 24 grandsons of Aaron from verse 6: “And the scribe, Shemaiah the son of Nethanel, one of the Levites, wrote them down before the king, the leaders, Zadok the priest, Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, and the heads of the fathers’ houses of the priests and Levites, one father’s house taken for Eleazar and one for Ithamar. Now the first lot fell to Jehoiarib, the second to Jedaiah, the third to Harim, the fourth to Seorim, the fifth to Malchijah, the sixth to Mijamin, the seventh to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah, the ninth to Jeshua, the tenth to Shecaniah, the eleventh to Eliashib, the twelfth to Jakim, the thirteenth to Huppah, the fourteenth to Jeshebeab, the fifteenth to Bilgah, the sixteenth to Immer, the seventeenth to Hezir, the eighteenth to Happizzez, the nineteenth to Pethahiah, the twentieth to Jehezekel, the twenty-first to Jachin, the twenty-second to Gamul, the twenty-third to Delaiah, the twenty-fourth to Maaziah. This was the schedule of their service for coming into the house of the LORD according to their ordinance by the hand of Aaron their father, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded him” (1 Chronicles 24:6-19).
King David had arranged the Levitical Priesthood System because the descendants of Aaron had greatly multiplied. They were arranged into 24 divisions according to the families of 24 grandsons of Aaron. One of the priests from the division of Abijah during the time of King Herod of Israel in the New Testament times was named Zacharias. Zacharias was a descendant of Aaron the High Priest. King David made each division serve the duties of the Tabernacle for 15 days, and the division of Abijah appears here as the 8th in the order.
John the Baptist appears in the Gospel of Luke, and today’s Scripture passage tells us about the genealogy of John the Baptist from the beginning. I have noted earlier that Luke thought that it would be better to send a letter that could explain the origin of the gospel to Theophilus. Therefore, Luke clearly showed the genealogy of John the Baptist by writing that there was a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah and that His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. It says that Elizabeth also was a descendant of Aaron. It means that she was chosen from the house of Aaron.
There appeared Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth: Zacharias was a priest from the division of Abijah, a grandson of Aaron the High Priest. Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. The Scriptures say that they were both righteous before God. It says that they were the righteous ones walking blameless in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. These people believed Jehovah God truly and purely as they served and followed the Law God had established for them in the Old Testament with sincere heart. The Old Testament says that His people should offer up the sacrifice of atonement for one year’s sin with the slaughtered goat, and they followed this Law blamelessly.
The Scriptures record, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). It is saying that there is none righteous except the person who has received the remission of sins by believing in Jesus within the law of life. But these two people were called righteous in the midst of all this. It means that even during the Old Testament times, these two people believed that the Messiah who was to come as the Lamb of sacrifice according to the promise of God would give them the remission of sins by taking the sins upon Him through the baptism and dying vicariously. That’s how they became righteous before the presence of God.
Today’s Scripture passage says they were righteous, “walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” They were righteous in their actual walk, not only their words. And the Scriptures say, “But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years. So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth” (Luke 1:7-14).
As you can see, this elderly couple did not have a child. As he went into the Temple of God to perform his duty as a priest according to the order of the division and while he was offering up the sacrifice, the angel appeared to Zacharias at the time when he was offering the incense. Zacharias probably prayed to God for his own problem while he, of course, prayed for the people when he prayed before the presence of God. Don’t you and I pray like him? But the Scriptures record that the angel appeared at that time and said, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:13-17).
The angel told Zacharias that God would give a son to Elizabeth, but Zacharias did not believe this. God made Zacharias mute to prove this because he just thought with human logic and could not believe in the Lord’s Word. Therefore, Zacharias became mute until the child was born. His mouth was loosened only after John was born.
The angel said that God would give a son to Zacharias and Elizabeth and that his name shall be John. The angel also said that Zacharias would rejoice and be happy, and many people also would rejoice at his birth. It is written that John would be great before the presence of the Lord and he would be filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb and turn back the descendants of Israel to God. It is also saying that he would go before the Lord with the spirit and power of Elijah and turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just.
It says that God gave him the spirit and power of the Prophet Elijah. The representative prophet in the Old Testament is said to be the Prophet Elijah, and the New Testament says that John the Baptist is like Elijah. When the Scribes said that Elijah should come and recover everything before the Messiah would come, Jesus said, “Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished” (Matthew 17:12).
When Jesus said that Elijah had already come, he meant that John the Baptist was born to this world with the spirit of Elijah. But what does the spirit of Elijah mean here? If we understand what the spirit of Elijah is, we can see why John the Baptist was the representative of all humanity who prepared the path of the Lord. Moses is the representative of the Law in the Old Testament and the representative of all prophets is Elijah. But the representative of the all humanity is John the Baptist who had the spirit of Elijah.
We could see why the Scriptures say that John has come in the spirit of Elijah when we study about Elijah the prophet in the Old Testament times. Elijah was the servant of God and the prophet from Gilead in the northern kingdom Israel. At the time, Israel was divided into the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom, and King Ahab ruled the northern kingdom Israel. But King Ahab brought a gentile woman as his wife even though he was an Israelite who was to revere and worship God. His wife Jezebel brought Baal into his palace in order to worship it as god when she came into the house of Ahab, and the Israelites began to accept and worship Baal that their queen Jezebel worshipped.
Baal means ‘lord’ and it could also be translated as the ‘owner.’ This male god was commonly worshipped in the land of Canaan at the time. They believed that Baal was a god that made the land fertile and fruitful and made the livestock prosper and be abundant. Anyway, it was considered as some sort of god of prosperity. We also have Baal-like deities in our country. We could see Baal-like idols in the public cemetery, and people in Korea set it up without even knowing the origin of the image.
Baal was a god that managed the productivity of the land and the prosperity of the livestock, and it is Baal that is worshipped mostly among the farmers. Such gods that are expected to manage the farming and livestock and the land are spread all over the world. This god is originally a gentile god, not the god of Israelite people. They brought in the gentile god Baal and made some kind of image of it, worshipped before it, and prayed for the blessing and the well being over everything. They prayed, “Please give me children. Please make the harvest be bountiful.”
In any case, Jezebel, the queen of the King Ahab, brought such a god into Israel. At first Jezebel worshiped this thing with her maidservants, but it spread and eventually many people worshipped Baal. The power of the queen is really greater than you think. There is a saying that goes, “It is men that move the world; but it is women that move such men.” If a man is the head, then a woman must be the neck. The head moves this way and that way when the neck moves this and that way. If the neck does not want to move, then the head cannot do anything but just stay still even if it wants to move. Just the same, the man will follow and move when the woman moves. As such, Queen Jezebel controlled King Ahab at her will. Consequently, what eventually happened? All of Israel became a country that worshipped Baal. Now Israel became a country that worshipped Baal the idol, the gentile god, not a country that worshipped Jehovah God.
The prophet at the time of King Ahab was Elijah. The first prophet Moses, received the Law God gave him at the Mt. Sinai and proclaimed it to the people of Israel. He engraved the Law on the stone tablets and put it in the Ark and taught the Israelites what God’s Law was. Elijah was a prophet who lived during King Ahab’s time long after the days of Moses. At the time when Jezebel and the Israeli people were worshipping Baal, Elijah saw this situation and vigorously declared the will of God and fought against them, saying, “No, Baal is not God. The Baal with the meaning ‘lord’ is only an idol and it is not a true God. Worshipping it is a great sin to Jehovah.”
But Jezebel and the Israelite people continued to sin and call Baal god. But, could Elijah alone be a match against thousands of them. Elijah heard the voice of God in secret and prophesied. He went to the people as a prophet and rebuked and advised them. But Elijah eventually had to go against 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah to prove the true God of Israel when they disrespected the Word of God saying that it was just a voice of one fanatic person. He said, “Jehovah is the true God. Now, let’s see who is the true God,” and came to go against them 850 to 1.
He said to the false prophets, “I alone am left a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD; and the God who answers by fire, He is God” (1 Kings 18:22-24). He also urged the prophets of Baal, “Choose one bull for yourselves and prepare it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.”
Therefore the prophets of Baal first prepared the sacrifice and cried out continuously “Baal, Oh, our Lord Baal.” When it did not show signs quickly, they tore their own flesh apart as they called out to Baal. But there was no sign of Baal even though they cried out until the evening. The water was still there and the bull that was slaughtered as an offering was there untouched. Elijah saw this and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they hurt themselves and walked around the ditch and cried aloud desperately in vain.
Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” He repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down with twelve stones, and made a trench around the altar. Then he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood, and said, “Fill four waterpots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood.” So the water ran all around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water.
And he prayed, “Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.” Then the fire of the LORD fell from the sky and it licked up the water that was in the trench when he prayed in that manner. Then He burned up the burnt sacrifice with the wood on the stone altar while all the people of Israel were watching. Only then, when Elijah showed the definite work of God in this manner, the people of Israel realized, “Jehovah God is the true God who really makes us prosper and makes our children prosper, and makes everything prosper. God is the only true God.” Their hearts repented and turned back before the presence of God.
The Scriptures point to that in the Gospel of Luke chapter 1 verses 16-17, saying, “And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Who is the one that really led the Israelite people powerfully before the presence of God? Isaiah and Ezekiel were of course great prophets, but the prophet that really led the hearts of this people powerfully was Elijah.
It was Elijah that gave the wisdom of the just to the disobedient, led the Israelites to understand God’s will, and taught them what God’s will is. The Scriptures said that John the Baptist, who is the greatest among entire human beings, the greatest among those born of women, would do this work; not some god. That’s why Luke the disciple of Jesus Christ mentioned the birth of John the Baptist with importance and said that John the Baptist was born with the spirit of Elijah.
When we look at the Matthew chapter 11, it says that John the Baptist is the greatest among those born of women. Let’s read from the Gospel of Matthew chapter 11 verses 10 to 14. It says, “For this is he of whom it is written: ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.’ “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.”
God promised in the Book of Malachi in the Old Testament that He would send a person like Elijah (Malachi 4:5). God said that He will send a person who would lead many people to God and then He fulfilled this Word of promise. This person God promised was John the Baptist. The Lord said, “And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come” (Matthew 11:14). Many people in the Old Testament waited for Elijah to come. As they waited for the Messiah, they also waited for Elijah who would lead them to the Messiah. Then John the Baptist was born at the beginning of the New Testament era. John the Baptist was born to this world in the spirit of Elijah, and the Lord prepared John the Baptist for the sinners to turn back so many people to God, delivering them from the sinful state of worshipping Baal, the false god.
That’s why Luke, the disciple of Jesus Christ, recorded the gospel in detail from its origin in the Gospel of Luke. Though we now know well about the ministry of John the Baptist because we have heard and believed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, there are many people who still do not know very well who John the Baptist is and what he had done. Even Christian believers do not know about John the Baptist who is recorded in such an important manner in the Scriptures. They do not know this even though they read the Gospel of Luke, the Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel of Mark, and the Gospel of John, while John the Baptist was recorded with great importance in the Scriptures. Though the Scriptures talk about John the Baptist with great importance, people just take a superficial view of him, thinking, “John the Baptist is just one of the prophets and the servants of God.” They just say whatever comes to their mind without trying to understand correctly about him.
Even today’s Christian leaders are saying things like that. Who really is Baal? Baal represents the false god of this world. But Jehovah God is the One that exists by Himself. He said, “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14). This God was not created by a creature. But Baal is a figment of imagination created from human’s thinking. Humans make this as the subject of their worship and pray to it for their prosperity. The thing created from the thought of God’s creatures is Baal, and that is the idol. That is the religion of the world.
Who is our God? The God we believe, the God who created the universe as recorded in the Scriptures, the God of Trinity that exists by His own will and power, is Jehovah God. Put differently, Jesus Christ is our Creator. But so many people in the world still believe in Baal. Many people in the world, whether they are Christians or not, make gods of their own with their own thinking and believe in them with wishful thinking. The same situation was unfolded at the time Jesus was born also, and what John the Baptist did was do the work of the prophet that made known to the people who really is the true God. John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah and made people realize who the real God is, and turned many people to the wisdom of the just.
Who is the true deity, the true God? Is the God who saved us from sin the true God, or is the god that could not save even a single person from sin the true God? The deity that could not save people from sin can never be our God? But it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that even so many Christians are actually calling out their god Baal, even though they call out the name of Jehovah God with their lips. Some people define believing in Baal as making some kind of image and worshipping it. But Baal actually can be any kind of image or activity. It could even be a religion or a denomination. It means that even founding a new denomination in Christianity could be a Baal to its followers.
John the Baptist who baptized Jesus Christ witnessed clearly about Jesus Christ to the people in the world. John the Baptist witnessed clearly that Jesus Christ is our Savior. John the Baptist witnessed clearly how the Lord took our sins upon Him for us.
Jesus Christ we believe is the true God. Can the world make us prosper? It may look as though the world can make us prosper, but that’s not really the case. Only God can make us prosper. Only God can make us happy, make us blessed, and make us prosper. The One who leads us to the blessed life and make us live within true happiness is none other than Jehovah God; not any other idol gods. He is Jesus Christ that we believe in. He is our Savior.
When we look around, there are so many Christian believers in this day and age. But their interest is not in God, and their interest instead is actually in some persons, some denominations, and some organizations, even though they say they believe in Jesus Christ. They think they will be blessed if they worship like that and that they will be prosperous if they cling to that. Spiritually speaking, that is worshipping idols and worshipping the evil spirits.
Their hearts are in their businesses, in their respective denominations, and toward some human beings even though they say just with their lips, “Lord, Lord.” I said that the word Baal means ‘lord.’ They say, “Lord, Lord” to Baal, to the creatures, instead of calling out to God as the Lord, and seek blessing from the creatures that God created. But did Baal, a creature of man, really make the Israelite people blessed? Did Baal really make this world blessed? Baal could not make anyone blessed. Baal could never make this world blessed. Baal just pretended to help people and just exploited them and made them fall to hell, but he could not really give happiness to people who worshipped him till the end. Though it looks like he is making them prosperous, he eventually leads them to the fire of hell. Among the Christian believers today, those who have not truly received the remission of sins have Baal as their lord even though they cry out “Lord, Lord.”
I have said that Baal also means ‘load.’ It means the same thing as there is such deceitful heart in the hearts of the Christian believers. I am saying that Christians have the heart of feeling things, measuring and analyzing what things in the world can do for them and what can the denomination do for them and so on, instead of having true faith in God who truly blesses them. Only God is our Lord and only God can give us heavenly blessings. Only Jehovah God can give us the blessing. Jehovah God alone can do this. Do you believe? Only God is our Lord.
 
 
What John the Baptist Did in This World
 
The work of John the Baptist was witnessing to all the people that only Jesus Christ is our Savior and specifically making them understand how Jesus remitted the sins of the world. He told us how Jesus Christ took all our sins, how we must believe in Jesus Christ to become the children of God, and how we must believe to receive the heavenly blessings.
Among those who say they believe in Jesus, there are many people that are actually worshipping Baal. Those Christians who do not have the Holy Spirit in their hearts are those people. All the people who have not received the remission of sins are people who are still worshipping Baal. They call out “Lord, Lord,” but they don’t really care what the Lord says. They are just praying to God with an audacious heart asking for blessing and they don’t want to hear anything else from God.
God is the thoughtful God who tells us all things through the Word such as how we receive blessings, and what is right and what is wrong. He is also the living God. He leads us with His Word step by step and gives to the disobedient the wisdom of the just, and gives the fatherly love to the believing children. Our God is alive even now and leads us to the upright path and speaks to us through the Church and through the predecessors in faith.
But people think the false god Baal or material prosperity can give them happiness. But Baal can never give happiness to people. At a time when all the Israelites turned to Baal and worshipped him, the Prophet Elijah proved who is the true living God and turned the disobedient to the wisdom of the just. Who was such a great leader? It was Elijah to come and he is none other than John the Baptist. The Scriptures said that John the Baptist would lead all the people to Jesus Christ and all the people would come to believe in Jesus Christ through his witness. The Bible is talking about this. It is not an overstatement to say that the path to your salvation is so very far away if you do not understand clearly what John the Baptist has done. The people who go around saying such and such is a cult and the people who do not accept God’s Word because they are arrogant and prideful, even though they do not know anything about the Truth, such people absolutely cannot receive salvation.
John the Baptist is the person who was like Elijah. You have seen how Luke wrote in detail about John the Baptist from his origin, right? He gave proof that the one born with the spirit and power of Elijah was John the Baptist. The Scriptures witness in detail about John the Baptist in various aspects again and again. Do you believe that John the Baptist is the very Elijah? Today’s Scripture passage says, “He [John the Baptist] will also go before Him [Jesus Christ] in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’” John the Baptist witnessed Jesus Christ to the world. He witnessed to the people that only Jesus Christ is God of the Truth, and did the work of making many people turn to the side of the Lord. He made many people receive the true blessing.
John the Baptist prepared his ministries for the people who believed in the righteousness of God, and worked hard to make them return to the world of the righteous. He dwelt in the wilderness, was clothed in camel’s hair, and his food was locusts and wild honey. John the Baptist raised the people who yearned to live for God and lived truly blamelessly, lived for God, and led many people to Christ. He witnessed of Him to the end. He not only made the people receive the remission of sins, but also made the descendants of faith have the correct faith in their hearts for God. John the Baptist showed us through his life what the proper life for God really is. He was really a blameless person. It says that John the Baptist dwelt in the wilderness. He did not live in the world. It doesn’t make sense to think that we can serve God while mingling in this world with our own thinking. It means that it doesn’t make sense to look at other things of the world even more and accept them even more even though we say with lips we believe in God. That he ate honey and locusts in the wilderness means that he ate only what the Lord gave to him. It means that he depended on God while living in this world.
John the Baptist is the model of God’s workers. Though we are insufficient, we must also devote ourselves to God and live for Him, and we must witness Jesus Christ for the rest of our lives. We must live the life of bringing back the disobedient, the people who have fallen to sin, to the wisdom of the just. We must live the life of manifesting the Lord, the life of making people receive the blessing. Luke also was talking about this fact.
Through the Word, we have examined who John the Baptist, the Prophet Elijah to come, was from his birth in detail. Who is John the Baptist? He is the Elijah of the Old Testament. Who is the representative of the Israelites? Moses received the Law of God and delivered the Law to the Israelites, but the true representative of the Israelites is Elijah. Elijah in the Old Testament lived his life witnessing God and bringing the Israelites back to God, and then went up to God riding a chariot of fire.
 
 
John the Baptist Is the Elijah to Come and the Representative of All the Humanity
 
Beside the question of what division and what family he belongs to, we could see one thing clearly when we look at the birth of John the Baptist. That fact is that John the Baptist is the person God sent. His parents were too old to give birth to a child. Therefore, it is clear that he was not born through human means or human power. It was impossible from the beginning. So the Bible clearly states, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John” (John 1:6). John the Baptist was born through God’s special providence, work, strength, and power. It is written that many people will rejoice his birth, not only his parents. The birth of John the Baptist is a blessing and joy for us too. It would have been difficult for us to believe in Jesus and we would have been mocked by the Devil a lot if John had not been born to this world.
We came to know Jesus Christ. If we just knew Jesus Christ and did not know John the Baptist and his ministries, Satan the Devil would tempt us to fall into sin again, and we would be the righteous today but the sinners next day. We may think we would go to heaven if we died on a very lucky day when our faith is very strong, and think we would go to hell if we died on an unlucky day when our faith was weak. That’s not proper faith. Therefore, we cannot receive the perfect remission of sins if we do not know correctly the ministries John the Baptist had fulfilled. It is one’s own confirmation of remission of sin that’s not perfect before the presence of the Lord.
We must know clearly the role John the Baptist fulfilled. That’s why even the Scriptures record this in detail from his origin. Do you understand how important is the account of John the Baptist that Luke recorded in detail? Luke recorded the historical fact meticulously because it was very important. We could calculate exactly when King Herod ruled when we look at it historically. It’s right before and after the coming of Jesus Christ.
At that time when Zacharias the priest was performing the burning of incense, an angel appeared to him and said that the Lord would give him a child and that the child had to be called John. The angel said this before John was even conceived. The angel blessed him and said John would bring many people back to the wisdom of the just. Then who is this John the Baptist? The Scriptures record that John is the one coming in the spirit of Elijah and that he is Elijah to come. Therefore, many people will believe Jesus Christ through him by confirming that John the Baptist, as the representative of all humanity and the High Priest, has done the work of transferring the sins of the world over to Jesus Christ who came as the sacrificial Lamb. John the Baptist witnessed that Jesus Christ is the Savior for us all.
All the things that we believed were in vain when we did not know the ministry of John the Baptist and the righteousness of Jesus. We just said we believe from our standpoint, but we did not have the evidence and the proof in us that God saved us from the sins of the world. But after understanding the ministry of John the Baptist, we were able to realize that we shouldn’t cling to the Lord from our standpoint, but that Jesus Christ saved us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Believing in this way is the correct faith. When we said we believed in God without knowing John the Baptist, we did not believe in the Lord according to His Word, but we instead believe in Him from a human standpoint. What happens when we believe in Jesus arbitrarily from our standpoint? The faith falls out when our faith becomes weak and we consequently go to hell. Committing sin every day and offering prayers of repentance every day like most Christians do is definitely not a correct faith. Saying, “I believe in You” from my standpoint and holding onto it is not a true faith. The faith of holding onto it myself just falls away when I become weak.
But if we understand the ministry of John the Baptist correctly, we can understand how Jesus took all our sins away and know that he witnessed about Jesus Christ. He also said that Jesus is the Lamb of God that carries the sins of the world and also know and believe that we do not have any sin because of Jesus. The Lord and John the Baptist decided to take us to Heaven through their cooperative ministry. Therefore, we have no choice but to go to Heaven even if we don’t want to because they worked so hard for that. Jesus saved us by fulfilling the righteousness of God through His baptism. We have received salvation like that.
God decided to save us from the sins of the world and fulfilled this through the water, the blood, and the Holy Spirit (1 John 5:4-7). The Lord witnessed this through John the Baptist. Why was John the Baptist born? John the Baptist was born to this world in order to witness Jesus Christ, to make many people righteous, to confirm the work Jesus Christ did, to reveal that Jesus is the true God, to witness that Jesus is the true God who created the universe, and the Lord who saved all the humans. It is Jesus who blotted out the sins of all human beings perfectly and it is also the same Jesus who created them. John the Baptist came to this world to witness all these facts.
I really give thanks before the Lord who came to us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. I think about what we have to do as we go on living in the future. We must bring many people back to the wisdom of the just, live the life of witnessing Jesus Christ, witness that Jesus is the true God and the one and only God who carried away all the sins of the world. The Bible is telling us this.
I want all of you to live such life of witness like John the Baptist. I truly want you to receive the blessing with God’s help and continuously live the life of a preacher the rest of your life.