We’re continuing our look at John the Baptist in the Gospel of Mark. He had a very important ministry. He prepared Israel for the coming of the Messiah.
He’s also a good example of what our ministry should be like.
And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
John was a minister who didn’t feel the need to impress people. He lived separately from society. He didn’t let the day to day fads affect him. He simply ministered the message he was given.
I’m glad that there are churches today that are attracting lots of people. They have a modern atmosphere. There’s smoke, lights, comfortable seating, and a professional sound.
That’s fine, as long as the message of Christ isn’t watered down. When the methods become more important than the message, then we’re starting to compromise. When the cash-flow required to maintain the look becomes the purpose; now the church is in trouble.
It seems to me that it was the message of John the Baptist that was attracting the crowds. Their lives were being changed. They came back from the Jordan River with a new outlook on life.
There’s also an aspect of John’s ministry that I think we miss because we’re on the other side of the cross. We have to remember, while we read the Gospels, that the events described were taking place under the Old Covenant.
The people coming out to hear John’s message were “church people.” If they were participating in the traditions of the Law of Moses, then they were saved and on their way to Heaven. This was not the same baptism that we receive after salvation.
These people were already a part of the Old Testament congregation of believers because of the sacrificial system. This baptism was a preparation for the continued work of Christ in the lives of His people.
Jesus didn’t just die on the cross to give me my initial salvation. He took all my sins to the cross so that I could remain clean before God. This baptism was looking forward to the ongoing work of grace in our lives.
That’s because we see the people confessing their particular sins, then being baptized for their removal. It corresponds to the continued work of Christ’s cleansing in our lives.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:8-9
This verse isn’t telling me that I need to be rebaptized whenever I fall into sin. I’ve already been baptized to identify with Christ. Now, all that’s needed is for me to confess my failures to God and receive His forgiveness and cleansing power.
I explained all of that, to simply say that this ministry is fading away in our generation. Where’s the call to repentance in our day? It seems that when someone preaches against sin and calls for repentance, a cry goes up that they’re bringing condemnation. This is not the way it should be.
Yes, we’re righteous in the sight of God if we’re in Christ. However, there’s an ongoing work of cleaning that the Holy Spirit wants to work in us. That process requires conviction, confession of sin, repentance, forgiveness, and purifying. Please don’t ignore the whole work of salvation that Christ wants to accomplish in you.
Question: When was the last time you went before God in repentance?
© 2017 Nick Zaccardi