|Matthew 3 |
1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,
2 And saying, "Repent [think differently; change your mind, regretting your sins and changing your conduct], for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight.'"1
4 And this same John had clothing of camel's hair, and a leather girdle about his loins; and his food was locusts and wild honey.
5 Then Jerusalem, Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him,
6 And they were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.
7 But when he saw that many of the Pharisees and Sadducees had come to his baptism, he said to them, "O generation of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8 Bring forth fruits proper for repentance.
9 And do not presume to say within yourselves 'We have Abraham for our father;' for I say to you, that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
10 And already the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bring forth good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire.2 [You must believe to have your heart changed by the power of God's grace from harboring the evil fruit of the flesh, being replaced by the fruit of the Spirit, which is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness [or meekness, or humility], and self-control. Gal 5:22-23. If you do not produce the fruit of the Spirit, you are banned from heaven and sent to take your part in the lake of fire. Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by its fruit. Mat 12:33. From the Word of the Lord within: "A tree that is holy is a good one."]
11 I indeed baptize you with water to repentance; but he who comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to carry. He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire; [Just like the 120 disciples of Jesus were baptized with tongues of fire in Jerusalem during Pentecost. Acts 2:3.]
12 Whose winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor and gather his wheat into the barn; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."3 [The Lord separates the wheat from the chaff, the precious from the vile. The wheat is the words of life that he has spoken to you, which words are grafted into your heart to form Christ within; the chaff is your selfish, sinful nature of its lusts, affections, and pride, which after separation is then burnt to oblivion by the devouring fire and everlasting burnings of Jesus, the pure word of life, which is fire. This is the baptism of death, the final step before translation into the kingdom of God, to be there while on earth and then forever.]
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan River in order to be baptized by him.
14 But John resisted him, saying, "I have need to be baptized by you, and you come to me?"
15 And Jesus answered him, "Allow it to be done now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed him.
16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, came up immediately out of the water; and lo, the heavens were opened to him, and John saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon Jesus.
17 And lo, a voice came from heaven, which said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
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1 Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight. What way for the Lord are you supposed to prepare? The way into your heart for him to dwell as the ruling Lord of your thoughts, words, and deeds — a true king that rules everything in your life. To make the Lord's paths straight is to cleanse your heart and body so the Lord can dwell and walk in you, for he would have you to be the temple of the living God.
In conjunction with this quoted verse: Isaiah further said: Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth. This is an individual preparation of man — preparing his heart, cleansing it, making his paths straight, destroying the mountains of pride, leveling the valleys of depression. This is the prerequisite to salvation.
A man cannot prepare his own heart; it must be prepared by the changing power of God's grace, which power is accessed by you going to him. You must wait on him — listen silently, with the humility of a sinner in need of his changing power — grace. You must wait, listen in silence, hear, and obey, thus to receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. James 1:21. So wait, watch, listen, hear, obey... wait, watch, listen, hear, obey..... seek, listen, obey. Do this repeatedly, follow his commands, and his words that you hear him speak to you will impart the life of God to you, as he removes the sins from your heart, one by one. To deny yourself is to deny your own will and do God's will; to follow is to obey the commands you hear him speak to you: this is to deny yourself, pickup your cross, and follow Jesus — the inward cross of self-denial, which puts to death your selfish spirit, to be replaced by the Spirit of Christ.
2 And already the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bring forth good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire.
Jesus is using a tree and its fruits to be a metaphor for a man and his behaviors.
All men start possessing only bad fruit, fruits of the flesh, which are: adultery, fornication, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lack of restraint, idolatry [covetousness], sorcery, hatred, arguments, jealousies, rage, selfishness, envies, murders, drunkenness, revelries [partying], foolishness, pride, lying, stealing, divisiveness, murder, etc. Mark 7:21-23, Eph 5:3-6,2:3, 1 Cor 6:9-10,15:50, Gal 5:19-21.
You must believe and persistently wait on God in order to have your heart changed by the power of God's grace from harboring the evil fruits of the flesh, to be replaced by the fruit of the Spirit, which is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness [or meekness, or humility], and self-control. Gal 5:22-23.
I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man abides in me, and I in him, he produces much fruit; for without me you can do nothing.
If a man does not abide in me, he is thrown out like a branch, which withers; these branches are gathered up, cast into the fire, and are burned.
By you producing much fruit, my Father glorified; and you show that you are truly my disciples [true followers]. John 15:5-6,8
Again, the fruit of the spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Gal 5:22-23
Therefore every tree that does not bring forth good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire.
If you do not produce the fruit of the Spirit, you are banned from heaven and sent to take your part in the lake of fire.
Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by its fruit. Mat 12:33.
From the Word of the Lord within: "A tree that is holy is a good one."
You must become holy as He is holy:
But as he who has called you is holy, so you be holy in all manner of conduct; 1 Pet 1:15.
For this is the will of God: that you become holy [sanctified], so that you should abstain from sexual immorality;
That every one of you should know how to possess [control] his own body in purity and honor,
Not in the passions of lusts, as the Gentiles do, who are ignorant of God.
For God has not called us to uncleanness, but to holiness. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5,7
Pursue peace with all men, and holiness [consecration, sanctification], without which no man will see the Lord. Heb 12:14
3 He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire; whose winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor and gather his wheat into the barn; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. The Lord separates the wheat from the chaff, the precious from the vile. The wheat is the words of life that he has spoken to you, which words are grafted into your heart to form Christ within; the chaff is your selfish, sinful nature of its lusts, affections, and pride, which after separation is then burnt to oblivion by the devouring fire and everlasting burnings of Jesus, the pure word of life, which is fire. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the baptism of fire at the conclusion of the journey to the kingdom:
Thus creating a cleansed, purified individual, to then enter the kingdom of God. Until man obtains the purifying, miraculous grace of God to cleanse his heart, he cannot be in the company of, or pleasing to, God. This baptism occurs after a man has crucified his selfish, sinful nature on the inward cross of self-denial. This baptism by fire, the baptism of death to the selfish nature of man, is the one baptism needed: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, Eph 4:5.
This is end of your fleshly self, as Christ comes and slays the residual spirit of Satan within you by the brightness of his coming, by the words of his mouth, by his crushing the head of Satan under your feet. Rom 16:20,Gen 3:15. This is the final judgment; the true baptism of the Holy Spirit into the death of Christ; the sharing of his death. Jesus is then resurrected in you to be your true Lord; 2 Cor4:14,Col2:11-12,3:1, Eph 2:6; who orders all your words and deeds, which deeds are works to show the love and power of God to the world.
The following is from kingdom-dwelling, early-Quaker Stephen Crisp's The Necessity of a Holy Life as he was addressing early Quakers who were convinced of the true way to salvation, but who had not endured the cross to death of their selfish spirit, thus to enter the kingdom.
Woeful experience has told us in our days, that a great many have believed the truth, and yet they are never likely to be saved. They have made shipwreck of their faith; but if they had been baptized [with fire], if they would have endured the baptism, if they would have been buried with Christ in baptism, they should have been saved every one of them. And now there are a great many who remain in the belief of the truth, and yet they are not baptized. They are not dead, not buried, despite the fact that they have received like precious faith with us; that faith which is of the operation of God, and that is like precious in its nature to all who receive it, and would work the same effect in all too, if it were not obstructed. But despite the fact that they have received faith towards the saving of their souls, yet their souls are captives; their souls are subject to lusts, and pleasures, and vanities, and to empty and foolish things, and to passions and corruptions, after they have received faith.
For if you take one who is a believer of truth and is overtaken with his lust, and passions, and corruptions, he will commonly own that he believes the contrary; he believes that these things should not be, that it ought to be otherwise. This is the sign of truth against untruth. If it should be otherwise, why is it thus then? Why does he finds a life to spring up in what is corruptible, that is always contrary to the life of God, and at enmity with it. What shall I do? I believe the truth. I know truth is a holy thing, and that it leads all who submit to it to a holy life; but there is this and that unholy thing, this and that corrupt thing that remains, what shall I do?
It is an evident demonstration that you lack the baptism of him in whom you believe. You have believed in Christ Jesus that comes after John, and was before him; and now having believed in him, you lack being baptized by him. For the lack of the baptism of fire, the pollution and corruption that had grown up in your nature in the time of your alienation still prevails upon you, contrary to your faith. There is no coming to obtain this baptism, but by sinking down into what will slay you, what will kill you. But there is such a shifting to save one's life, there are so many twistings and twinings of people to save their lives, that at last they lose them. But no one can ever find life that is eternal, but those who are willing to be given up to the dead, and submit to this baptism — that is, by the Holy Ghost and by fire. Only such come to life; they come to the resurrection. For you never knew any that died this death but that they rose again; it is as impossible for death to hold any one down that is buried in this baptism, as it was impossible to hold Christ down, when he was in the grave. The same power that brought again our Lord Christ from the dead, the same power it is that quickens us, while we remain in these mortal bodies, after we have sustained this death and crucifixion, [on the inward cross of self-denial].
Explaining how this baptism is never realized, Stephen Crisp's excellent writing, THE WILES OF SATAN TO DESTROY YOU, is a wonderful warning, by which you can maintain your watchfulness as you travel the journey of faith.
The journey of faith to the baptism of death, (which is the one true baptism), is not a short journey , nor is it accomplished by asking or praying for it; it only occurs after you have: waited on the Lord, heard his many spoken-to-you reproofs, consistently obeyed his many commands that you hear him speak to you, died daily on the inward cross of self-denial, suffered many trials and tribulations, and endured with patience and persistence to the end.
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