|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 [very near]." [Christians of today have been incorrectly taught by their blind guides that heaven is only available when they physically die. They think they have no need to repent, presuming they are excused by grace from all the Bible's stated exclusions, requirements, and qualifying conditions of salvation; and they overlook that every man will be judged on his works and words. So today's Christians, listening to the words of the scriptures, hear them like a beautiful song that is sweet to their ears, but they fail to apply the commands to themselves — always thinking the warnings and commands apply to bad people, not righteous believing people like themselves; so they do not obey the commands of repentance from sin that they hear or read, remaining slaves to sin; and then they are banned from heaven when they die. "For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: 'In repentance and rest you are saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength, and you would not do it.'" Isaiah 30:15. ]
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 [The evil heart of all men must be prepared for the Lord to dwell within, for in the evil heart is found evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, false witness, deceit, lack of restraint, envy, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness, Mark 7:21-23, Mat 15:18-19; so men might come to do works consistent with repentance, and their mountain of sin and earthliness might be leveled, and their valley filled in them, that there might be a smooth, straight way prepared for the Lord in them. Until a man's heart has been cleansed and purified, the Lord and his Father do not come with their kingdom to dwell and guide a man through life. Jesus is "holy, innocent, undefiled, and separate from sinners." Heb 7:26. From the Word of the Lord within: "See myself — thus no sin has a place in me." See the footnote 1 below for more detail on Prepare the way of the Lord.]
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 (quietness and confident trust forever), patience (including longsuffering, steadfastness, and perseverance), kindness (including morality and integrity), goodness, faith, gentleness (including meekness and humility), and self-control (mastery of sensual appetites, passions, and desires). 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 in 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; [This baptism of fire is the baptism of death, to then be resurrected with Christ as a new creature with a new heart, mind, and spirit. From the Word of the Lord within: "You are raised to a new life, not just an imitation; He is one with us and ever-present."]
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. From the Word of the Lord within: "God treads down and throws away all that is unholy; there is a dying. One actually dies to enter the camp." This baptism of death is 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, the prerequisite to salvation.
In his Journal, George Fox wrote of seeing within himself the mountains burning up, the way made straight, etc:
"I saw also the mountains burning up, and the rubbish, and the rough, and crooked ways and places made smooth and plain, that the Lord might come into his tabernacle. These things are to be found in man's heart; but to speak of these things being within, seemed strange to the rough, crooked, and mountainous ones.* Yet the Lord said, ‘0h earth, hear the word of the Lord!’"
*the rough, crooked, and mountainous ones are those people who have not experienced the cleansing power of the Lord, which cleansing is experienced when you persistently sit, wait, watch, listen, hear, and obey what the Lord commands you to do.
Fox also wrote the following in his Journal regarding John the Baptist's prophesying:
I also saw how people read the scriptures without a right sense of them and without duly applying them to their own states. For when they read that death reigned from Adam to Moses; that the law and the prophets were until John; and that the least in the kingdom is greater than John; they read these things as not applicable to themselves, and applied them to others, (and the things were true of others), but they did not turn inside to find the truth of these things in themselves. As these things were opened in me, I saw death reigned over them from Adam to Moses; from the entrance into transgression, until they came to the Ministry of Condemnation, which restrains people from sin that brings death.......I saw that none could read John's [the Baptist] words correctly, and with a true understanding of them, but in and with the same divine spirit by which John spoke them; and by his burning, shining light which is sent from God. For by that spirit their crooked natures might be made straight, their rough natures smooth, and the man of greed and man of violence in them might be cast out; and those that had been hypocrites might come to bring forth fruits suitable for repentance, and their mountain of sin and earthliness might be leveled, and their valley filled in them, that there might be a smooth, level way prepared for the Lord in them; and then the least in the kingdom is greater than John. But all must first know the voice crying in the wilderness in their hearts, which through transgression has become as a wilderness.
Fox also has a detailed writing, which describes the mirror of the earth in every man's heart; see A Word From the Lord, to All the World.
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 to repent 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: sexual immorality (including adultery and fornication), impurity, lust, idolatry (including covetousness), sorcery, hatred, arguments, jealousy, anger, ambition, divisiveness, factions, envy, drunkenness, revelry (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 (quietness and confident trust forever), patience (including longsuffering, steadfastness, and perseverance), kindness (including morality and integrity), goodness, faith, gentleness (including meekness and humility), and self-control (mastery of sensual appetites, passions, and desires). 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 (quietness and confident trust forever), patience (including longsuffering, steadfastness, and perseverance), kindness (including morality and integrity), goodness, faith, gentleness (including meekness and humility), and self-control (mastery of sensual appetites, passions, and desires). 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 120 disciples of Jesus were baptized with tongues of fire in Jerusalem during Pentecost. Acts 2:3. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the baptism of fire, the baptism of death:
From the Word of the Lord within: "God treads down and throws away all that is unholy; there is a dying. One actually dies to enter the camp. You are raised to a new life, not just an imitation; He is one with us and ever-present. These are not paths of glory traveled lightly." This death is not a figure of speech.
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. Because we hate our life, we have no fear of losing our life; for when we lose our life, we save our life, the new life, the eternal life of God.
Gentle reader, do not think this baptism of death is strange for: 1) the Lord told us several times we must lose our life to save our life; 2) the baptism of death and subsequent burial is stated in the scriptures, and 3) we are advised to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual service and worship, Rom 12:1.
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 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.
This baptism by fire is performed by Jesus, who comes to those who have crucified their lusts and affections on the inward cross of self-denial; the appearance of Jesus to perform the baptism of fire is the second coming of the Lord and the Day of the Lord for those crucified.
The second coming and the day of the Lord are one in the same personal experience, which occurs for all men in every generation. For those who are crucified to spiritually die on the inward cross of self-denial, the second coming occurs as the Lord appears after the baptism of fire has burned all the remaining sin in them. Their body dies in this baptism of fire and death, but the believer is raised (resurrected) with Christ and translated into the kingdom of God. Though raised with Christ to live in the heavens, they still walk the earth as a new creature together, in union with the Lord. Those not crucified, experience the day of the Lord when they die; and when they see the Lord, they will be terrified because they will know how evil they are.
The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness has surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?*
He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, he who despises the gain of oppression, who keeps his hands from taking bribes, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil;
He will dwell on high; his place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; bread will be given him; his waters will be sure.
Your eyes will see the king in his beauty; they will behold the land that is very far off. Isa 33:14-17
* In his writing, The Holy Truth and People Defended, Isaac Penington, who dwelled in the kingdom in union with Christ and God, partially explains why preparation is necessary before entering the union and sitting down with Christ in heavenly places:
"For there is a state of discipleship, by which a man hardly knows a settlement, so much as how to watch with Christ rightly and constantly [the first stage of perfection]; but it is a great matter to be able to dwell and abide with Him [Christ]. None can do this, but he that can dwell with devouring fire and everlasting burnings for the pure word of life is a fire, and he that sits down in the heavenly place in him, must sit down in that fire [with union; the second and permanent stage of perfection.]" From the Word of the Lord within: "the fire won't hurt you."
William Dewsbury, another kingdom-dwelling, early Quaker, also left a testimony of the terror in the Day of the Lord and his baptism by fire:
I was slain and baptized, and lay as a little child under his heavenly chastisements; as soon as ever my soul was brought to this, in my humiliation. Oh! then, the dreadful judgment was taken away, and the book of life was opened unto me, and the Lord spoke comfortably to me, "I have loved you with an everlasting love;" and I was made a Christian through a day of vengeance, and of burning as an oven; and the haughtiness and pride of man in me was brought low.
The following is from kingdom-dwelling, early-Quaker Stephen Crisp's The Necessity of a Holy Life, which gives us further first-hand knowledge of the baptism of fire:
"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."
(* Your resurrection is very quick, and your burial is not in this physical world.)
Like the resurrection of Lazarus, after you undergo the baptism of death, the Lord calls you by name to "come forth."
From the Word of the Lord within:
From George Fox's Journal:
You must have fellowship with Christ in his sufferings. 1 Pet 4:12-13
If you will reign with him, you must suffer with him. 2 Tim 2:12
if you will live with him, you must die with him. 2 Tim 2:11 (there must be a "dying daily.")
And if you die with him, you must be buried with him, Rom 6:4
and being buried with him in the true baptism, you also rise with him. Col 2:12, Eph 2:6
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