Preparing the Way
The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight - Matthew 3:3
The prophet Isaiah prophesized the coming of John the Baptist who was ordained by God to prepare the way for Jesus, the Messiah; as John faithfully fulfilled his commission to prepare the people for the first coming of Christ, so today the bride of Christ has a similar lofty call to prepare the way for the second coming of Jesus.As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten:Be zealous therefore and Repent.” - Revelation 3:19
John the Baptist is a similitude of the bride of Christ, and the cry from his mouth should mirror our own.
Clothed and fed in simplicity, (Matt. 3:4) he was not distracted from his purpose, but remained zealous and focused until the end.
His message began with the word “Repent” (Matt. 3:2) a word today that is sometimes referred to as the “Old Fashioned” way of calling people to Christ - but it is the Biblical way. Repentance is the essential golden key that one must have to access the gift of grace. The bride who prepares the way must treasure this key and distribute the meaning of it to all who gather before her pulpits.
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” The coming of the Lord is drawing closer and repentance is vital. If we are to be true preparers of the way of the Lord’s coming, we cannot afford to neglect it, or diminish the importance of it in any way.
Jesus commands us to repent (Matt. 4:17). When the disciples were marveling over a catastrophe of a fallen tower and the lives that were lost, Jesus said, “Do you think that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no: but unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish” (Matt. 13:4,5).
Jezebel and her children do not want to repent (Rev. 2:21) so it would seem that this spirit’s prophets and pastors would de-emphasize repentance from their messages.
The dictionary defines repentance as a admitting of sin, which is the first aspect of repentance. We must admit we have sinned and are sinners before we can receive forgiveness. (I John 1:9). Why? God is looking for humility. When Adam and Eve fell, neither one of them could admit it; Adam blamed Eve and God for giving her to him. Eve blamed the serpent. Because neither one could humble themselves to say, “I’m sorry,” God knew that the awful plague of pride from the serpent’s bite had infected his children and from that point on all of mankind would share the same disease.
When we can repent, and when we can admit we have sinned and need our Savior’s forgiveness, we receive His forgiveness; for we are admitting we cannot save ourselves and there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation. This humility is precious to the Lord. He promises to dwell with a humble and contrite spirit (Psalm 34:18). For those who desire the presence of God in their lives, repentance is a coveted jewel.
The second aspect of repentance is the actual turning from sin, which the believer is able to accomplish because of the living Christ who is indwelling him.
The people asked John. “What shall we do?”
John’s message is corrective and the Bride of Christ should echo his response. When the people and the Pharisees approached him, John’s response was seemingly harsh. “You generation of vipers, who warned you of the wrath to come?” (Matt. 3:7).
Was he smiling when he said it? If a pastor today began his sermon with a line like that everybody would probably leave, or if they remained they would in all likelihood not show up again for a second dose. But in those days there was a healthy fear of God that drew people to hear what was on the prophet’s mind.
John sounded a warning and so must we. We can temper our message and say it with a smile and a sense of humor, but we must say it. We must warn them of the “wrath” that will come upon all those who reject Christ and His salvation. (Romans 5:9). And like John we must tell them how God expects his children to live.
If we have been blessed, we must share our blessings with others (Luke 3:11).
We must be honest in our business dealings (Luke3:12-13).
We should be non-violent, just, and content with what we have (Luke 3:14).
Real love is corrective, for without correction, the Word of God tells us that we are “bastards” (KJV) and not sons (Hebrews 12:8).
So like John, the bride will deftly cut through our arrogance exhorting us to bring the fruits of humility and not rely on who we think we are; for all our presumptuous spirituality cannot save us.
God will not swing His axe to humble us if we are already on our knees.
John preached a balanced message, one of love and judgment for the Messiah he declares both gathers and burns (Matt. 3:12); for a message without correction is not love.
The Bride of Christ will not compromise. When Jezebel and the world she loves rebels, like John, the bride receives her martyrdom like a crown.
John, who came in the spirit and power of Elijah (Matt. 11:14), shares this mantle with Christ’s bride in these last hours. Christ must increase and she must decrease. She dons her royal robes of sackcloth as she testifies in a wilderness of apostasy and compromise. And through her, perhaps the treasure and glory of what true repentance really is can be rediscovered; for the bride seeks the bride in all those who are humble enough to ask, “What shall we do?”
Copyright 2005 by H.D. Shively