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Luke 3:1-17
We are continuing our series on Advent.
We started by talking about the hope that we have in the coming of our Savior to rule and reign on the is earth.
We saw last week that we can have true joy if we will yield to the Holy Spirit, Obey what He tells us, live in anticipation of His coming and trust Christ.
Today our third candle represents Peace.
John the Baptist came as a forerunner of Christ and his message prepared people for Jesus’s arrival, which would bring peace.
The world around us longs for salvation.
During Advent we are called again to bring a foretaste of the Prince of Peace’s salvation into our area of influence.
Advent means the coming of a notable person, thing or event.
In this season we celebrate the coming of the Lord in the past, present and the future.
In the past he came as a baby in a manger.
Int he present He wants work through His Holy Spirit to help us grow closer to His image.
in the future he will come to rule and reign as King of kings and Lord of lords.
The Bible prophesied through Isaiah the coming of the Lord as a child:
Isaiah 9:6 KJV
6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: And the government shall be upon his shoulder: And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Today as we look at the candle of Peace, we are looking again at the story of John the Baptist.
His story is a great way for us to access our own longing for salvation.
John came with a message that challenged every member of his community.
His message demanded repentance and preparation of all people.
No one was exempt from his call.
John the Baptist was definitely a seeker sensitive preacher.
He was in your face, repent now the kingdom of God is at hands kind of preacher!
But people responded.
People everywhere want Peace.
Peace with fellow man, peace with God, and peace with themselves.
The message that John preached included all of these!
The overall message that John preached was how to obtain peace through the coming of God’s Kingdom.
In this passage I see four avenues of Peace that is available to all mankind:

I. Peace is Brought through Redemption

6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
7 Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
Men and women of all types came to hear John preach and to be baptized by him.
In his sermon here I see three categories of men here that the same peace is available to:

A. To the Reprobate

Both John and Jesus used this graphic term to describe the wicked men, often the Pharisees.
It is not specified who he is speaking to here, like it is with Jesus.
So we are left to believe that it is referring to anyone who refuses the Salvation of the coming Messiah.
The term throughout the Bible speaks to wicked people.
We are all wicked without Christ!
John is speaking harshly and openly to those who have come to him for baptism, it seems that they wanted baptism without repentance.
John was using a shock and awe type of wording to grab their attention and bring them to the place of repentance.
Peace is available to everyone!
But not everyone will receive peace - he even warns them here of the wrath to come.
Peace is going to be needed, and it is available, but these wicked must come by repentance.
This was the crux of his message - verse 3 tells us that he was “breaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”
But without repentance, baptism is worthless!
So here I see the second group of people to whom peace is available:

B. To the Repentant

To the vipers he cautions them to “bring forth fruits worthy of repentance...”
Those who stand before him that hear his words of warning that the wrath of God is coming, these that have a repentant heart heed, and come to God.
It is important to understand the definition of repentance.
The word repentance means a change of mind from evil to good.
He asks them to bring forth the fruit, that is the proof, the deeds, the conduct that is worthy (that shows forth) this repentance that has happened in their heart.
A changed heart will always result in a changed life.
To say that you have a changed mind, but continue doing that which you changed your mind about would be ludicrous.
Imagine you have a friend that you were going to have dinner with, and it was agreed that you would pick him up at his home. You show up and knock on the door, he answers and says, “Oh, I changed my mind, I’m sorry I’m not going to go to dinner with you.” Disappointed you leave only to see that your friend is walking beside you down the walkway to your car.
“I thought you changed your mind about coming.”
Your friend replies, “Oh I did!”
You get into your car thinking he must just be heading in the same direction. All of a sudden your passenger car door and your friend sits down in the seat.
“I thought you changed your mind?”
“I did,” he replies.
Your shrug it off and drive him to the restaurant, he comes in with you, sits at the table with you, eats his food with you, gets back in the car as you drive him back home.
There is no fruit shown during the entire evening to show forth that he truly changed his mind about going out to dinner with you, in fact all evidence is to the contrary.
And yet there are professing Christians, who say “I have repented” and yet all evidence in their lives point to an unchanged mind.
Now Christians will sin! There is no doubt!
But there will be fruit of repentance present.
Are you today in that first group, the vipers, the wicked who hear the call to repentance but refuse to change?
Hear the warning today!
Are you part of this second group and you want to change, repent.
Show forth the fruit of repentance!
Perhaps you are part of the third group

C. To the Religious

Verse 8 continues and those being called to repentance are said to be thinking...
“We have Abraham to our father...”
John is speaking to those who were trusting in their lineage, and especially in the rituals of their religion.
He was speaking to the religious crowd.
But John’s answer to them was that God is able to create children unto Abraham from these stones that are laying here.
He doesn’t need you, your lineage, or your religious rites.
he wants your repentance!
If you are here today and you are trusting in your spiritual heritage to get you to heaven…this is not the answer.
Every man must give an account of his life to God, himself.
If you are here today and you are trusting in your baptism, taking communion, your church attendance, your good life…this is also not the answer.
You must come to him with nothing in your hands, with a changed heart, a repentant heart and ready to receive the Peace from God that only Redemption can bring!
So yes, God brings Peace through Redemption, but he also says that:

II. Peace Is Brought through Removal

Peace can be brought by the sinner repenting, or it can be brought by the removal of the sinner entirely.
Verse 9 says
9 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
John has already started this imagery of the fruit of repentance.
Now he continues this theme by speaking of the root of the trees.
The imagery of the axe laid at the root of the tree shows that the time is here to cut the unprofitable tree down.
An unfruitful tree is worthless.
The unfruitful tree is cut (hewn) down and the tree is cast into the fire.
John very graphically is calling these hearers to repent while there is still time.
There are two types of people here

A. The Repentant Fruitful Tree

As described before these are already showing the evidence of fruit in their lives.
At times these fruitful trees need to be pruned or cut back to allow for more fruitfulness.
John 15:2 KJV
2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
This purging, is not pleasant.
The Lord tends to cut things out of our life in order to help us grow more.
But in the end it is worth it!
The second group of people we have here is:

B. The Barren Fruitless Tree

John 15 said the same thing that this verse in Luke says.
John 15:6 KJV
6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
The unfruitful, unrepentant tree is cut down, withered away and cast into the fire.
The image is clear, Peace is coming one way or another.
But the Peace that is promised is to those who repent.
When they repent they are given the peace of God.
and fullness of peace on earth will come when those who refuse, are separated, and all follow God.
The warning is clear!
You do not want to be one of those who are cast into the fire!
So Peace is brought through Redemption, and Peace will be brought by Removal, thirdly in this passage I see that

III. Peace is Brought by Response

That is the response of a repentant person
a Christian who does not respond to the attempts of God to change their life is miserable, he has no peace.
Here in verses 10-14, people began to question him about how they should specifically respond.
10 And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?
In the examples given we can see five spirits that we ought to show if we are responding in repentance.

A. A Giving Spirit

11 He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.
A changed mind and heart will be a giving heart.
He said if you have two coats, give one to the person that doesn’t have any
If you have extra meat, give some to someone that doesn’t have any.
I have experienced these two example quite literally since coming to this church.
I didn’t have a suitable coat for an activity that I was doing, and someone gave me an extra coat they had.
we were running low on meat, and God laid upon the heart of multiple people through the years to give our family meat.
Although giving someone something isn’t mean you are saved, a saved person ought to show forth the fruit of a giving spirit!
Secondly, we see ...

B. An Honest Spirit

12 Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?
13 And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.
The second group came to him, the publicans, the tax collectors.
Tax collectors were known to be crooks, taking more than what was required to be taken and padding their own purses with the extra.
As officials of the state, there was no one that could argue with them.
John says to them, that the fruit of repentance would show that they would take no more than what was required.
I have seen many times that once a person becomes a Christian how they handle their job becomes more honest.
They no longer take things from work, skim off the top, or allow things to “drop off the truck” just because everyone does it!
Statistics tell us that:
75% of employees admit to stealing from their employer at least once.
Employee theft costs employers up to $50 billion annually.
Retailers report that employee theft amounted to one third of inventory shrink
Do I even need to say it?
No Christian ought to be guilty of stealing from their employers.
I don’t care who is doing it!
Let it not be named among any of you!
The response of a repentant heart ought to be that of a giving spirit, of an honest spirit.

C. A Peaceful Spirit

Then the Soldiers came to him
14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.
The soldiers were known to force their wishes upon the people.
They could make people do what they wanted through violence.
But John said the evidence of a repentant heart is a peaceful spirit.
Doing violence to no man!
Romans 12:18 KJV
18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
So we ought to have a giving spirit, an honest spirit, a peaceful spirit, and then we see in this same verse

D. A Truthful Spirit

Again, Luke 3:14, says, “Neither accuse any falsely,”
another form of intimidation done by these soldiers was to falsely accuse someone to coerce them to do what they wanted.
But John challenged them to have a truthful spirit.
The Christian ought to be known for their truthfulness.
Ephesians 4:25 KJV
25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
This truth ought to be tempered by love.
Ephesians 4:15 KJV
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Do you show this fruit in your spirit?
A giving Spirit
an honest spirit
a peaceful spirit
a truthful spirit, and then lastly we see in these that came to John, specifically these soldiers

E. A Content Spirit

He ended his challenge to them by saying, “and be content with your wages.”
Let me challenge you to allow God to handle your finances.
Now I don’t think there is anything wrong with asking for a raise if the need arises.
But we are speaking about the nature of your heart more than the nature of your wallet.
Philippians 4:11–13 KJV
11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Learn to live in contentment.
Learn how to live without.
Realize God is able to strengthen you to live a life of contentment.
We are all feeling the pinch these days!
But realize your provision comes from the Lord, even if it is by way of your employer.
When we live in contentment we will have peace.
So Peace is Brought by Redemption
Peace is Brought by Removal
Peace is Brought by Response with the right spirits
And in closing, and most importantly
Just as Hope, and Joy...

IV. Peace is Brought by the Redeemer

The people came to John wondering…with the wisdom that he was showing....might this be the Messiah (the Christ)?
15 And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;
But John was quick to respond:
16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:
17 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.
John said, Yes I am baptizing you with water - This a symbol of your repentance…your changed life…but one is coming that is the Christ - He will baptize you with the Holy Ghost!
By the way, when the Holy Spirit comes, he brings the fruit of the Holy Spirit - Love, Joy…PEACE.
But this Messiah, he told them, will gather all His people together, like the reaper who gathers his wheat in his garner (that is the place where you store something up).
Let me tell you today, Peace can only be found in knowing the Prince of Peace!
This Advent Season—Are you one of His?
Are you part of the fruitful, the wheat that is brought in, or are part of the chaff that is cast away, and will be burned in the fire?
The message is clear today!
Repent! Judgment is at hand!
God will separate the repentant from the unrepentant.
Do you want Peace today?
True Peace is brought through Redemption!
Permanent Peace will be brought through Removal…but you do not want to be on the wrong side!
Peace is Realized through our Response in repentance…evidenced by a changed spirit.
But this lasting Peace is only available through the Redeemer, Jesus the Christ!
Will you accept this Peace today?
If you have accepted this Peace, is your life…your spirit evidence of the Peace you have gained?
Let’s commit to Him today that we will change, we will yield our life to Him! Obey Him today!
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