Spirit-Fire Baptism

Posted in Matthew 3

Matthew 3:10-12a
Spirit-Fire Baptism
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

Matt. 3:10 Holman “Even now the ax is ready to strike the root of the
trees! Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit
will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

With every fiber of his being, John tried to awaken Israel from a false confidence. God was dividing the crowd, separating the good from the bad.
It was not too late to repent; the ax was “ready to strike”, but not wielded yet. However, trouble was imminent. God was taking aim to decide where to hit. With not a minute to spare, the hearers needed to repent pronto.
Israel was counting on glorious yesterdays, but being right with God entails not what we did in the past, but what we are doing right now, in the present. Proof of salvation is not found in yesterday. It has to manifest itself today. This is the theme of Hebrews. The issue is not sinless perfection, but rather the regular producing of good fruit–using the spiritual disciplines to love God more, ministering to others in Jesus’ name, reaching the lost.
God seeks confirmations of His directly working in our individual lives. He is patient, but as our text indicates, at some point God has to set down His fruit basket and pick up His ax. Unfruitfulness invites disaster.

Win Friends And Influence People

Posted in Matthew 3

Matthew 3:7b-9
Win Friends And Influence People
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

Matt. 3:7b . . .he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to
flee from the coming wrath?”

Vipers were poisonous desert snakes. John publicly addressed these men who were full of venom and poison. He wanted the crowd to hear (LK 3:7; 1 TM 5:20), and to know these men were never to be role models.
John asked, “What brings you here? Are you afraid you might actually be guilty of a wrath worth fleeing?” The image is taken from a field where a brush fire is burning stalks. As it spreads, creatures scurry before the flames.
“Coming wrath” is not a pipedream, but since God’s full wrath is held in abeyance now, the wicked foolishly scoff at it. John the Baptist’s message still needs to be heard. Anyone who does not believe in Jesus “is already condemned”, and “the wrath of God remains on him” (JN 3:18b,36b).
God’s wrath is real and current—active now—but can be avoided. The word “flee” tells us there is a way of escape, and implies the appropriate response is not delay, but to do something immediately with quick action.

Matt. 3:8 “Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance.”