Advent 3
December 17, 2000
Luke 3:7-18
"Good News - Bad News"

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Introduction:  General Custer has just set his camp around little big horn. He sends out his scout to get a lay of the land.  A few hours later the scout returns. "I've got good news and I've got bad news" says the scout. 

"Well, let's hear the bad news first" said Custer

"There are 100,000 hostile Indians who have surrounded us. We're completely cut off. They've got their war paint on and they attack at dawn! We won't make it out of here alive!"

"Well, if that's the bad news what's the good news?" replied Custer

Said the scout: "Well, the way I see it, at least we won't have to go back through Nebraska!"

Good news, bad news. What is it?  It all depends on your perspective. In the preaching of John the Baptist he gives us some serious bad news as well as precious good news that we need to hear.  This morning, let's consider the good and the bad news from John the Baptist.

1.         The Bad News -vv.7-9 "You generation of vipers who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth fruits worthy of repentance and begin not to say within yourselves. We have Abraham as our father for I say unto you that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the tree, every tree, therefore, which does not bring forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire."

Bad news for the barren. John puts it bluntly. "Who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?"  At the end of this age there will be a judgment, of which, the world has never known.  The visitations of the Lord up until the last visit have been limited in scope. The last visitation of the Lord, on the last great day, will be complete. All will stand before Him for an accounting of their life.

On the last great day the sky will open, and there, in the clouds, we shall see the Son of Man returning to this earth to judge the children of man. No one can escape His judgment.  All must stand on the last great day to give an account concerning what they have done in this life.

When He comes in judgment, there will be a destruction of this world. The world as we know it will cease to exist. It will come to an end. It will be purged in fire. Nothing will be left. All will be gone.

No wonder John tells us that there is "bad news" for this earth. For who can withstand His judgment? Who can withstand His righteous decrees? Who can stand before Him blameless and undefiled when He comes again in glory?

Transition: Yes, all would spell disaster if Jesus' coming were left us without any hope. But He has already set in motion a plan, that when followed will give an escape. The bad news is there will be a righteous judgment, which no one can escape. The good news is that God in Christ has established a plan, that by it we will receive forgiveness and life. Consider His gracious offer this day.

2.         The Good News - vv.15-18

A. Christ is coming mightily to save. V.16a  "I baptize you with water but he who is coming after me is mightier then me the laces of his sandals I am not worth to untie" John could only bring people to repentance. Jesus has fulfilled all righteousness.  Jesus, who came right after John, is the very Son of God. He came to take unto Himself our misery and sin. He came to set us right, for in His obedience to the Father's gracious will He took our sin. He carried that sin and bore it in His body on the tree of the cross; and there, at the cross, He suffered and died and rose again for our salvation and life.  The good news for us is that "there is now peace on earth and good will toward men" God and sinners are reconciled. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, for in Jesus Christ, all sin, each and every sin is forgiven - period!

B. He comes to baptize with the Spirit v. 16b " he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire" Christ has come to visit His people. When He visits His people He gives us a baptism of life with the fire of the Holy Spirit.  It is the Holy Spirit which, calls gathers, enlightens, sanctifies, and keeps us in the one true faith.  He turns us into believers.

We need not fear the Second Coming of Christ for in His first coming, in His baptism, He delivered a judgment once and for all. He took our sins and had them drowned and killed in the waters of baptism. He declared us dead to sin and alive to Him. Paul puts it this way "when we were baptized into Christ Jesus we were baptized into His death.  We were buried with Him in our baptism into death so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also might walk in newness of life. For if we have been untied with Him in His death we will certainly be reunited with Him in His resurrection." 

Illustration: Our baptism is a certificate of death. Our baptism is a certificate of life.  How do you know that I am alive?  I have been given a birth certificate.  When I was born, a physician, a person of authority, examined my body and signed a legal document called a birth certificate, which says: "I testify that this person is certainly alive".  And when I die, another physician, a person of authority, will examine my body and sign a legal document called a death certificate which says: "I testify that this person is certainly dead". 

Our baptism is a certificate of death. In baptism, the Savior says: "I testify that this person is dead to sin". Likewise, our baptism is a certificate of life. In baptism, the Savior says: "I testify that this person is alive in Christ".  That is why the Scriptures simply say "consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God". On the last great day Jesus  who came the first time to bring us to life will come to find us, to take us to be with Him.   

Conclusion:  That's what this Advent season is all about. We recall Jesus' first Advent, we anticipate His Second Advent. Once He came as a baby, when He comes again He will return as judge and king.  The bad news will continue to be that Christ is serious about sin and will return to judge the world's sinners.  The good news for you and me is that we have already been declared righteous in the Savior's' baptism, a baptism of fire and with the Holy Spirit. That fire has burned our sin and refined our faith so that no impurity remains. When He returns He will find you blameless as His Holy Spirit seals you.

The bad news - you're a sinner - "consider yourself dead to sin."

The good news - you're a redeemed child of God consider yourself alive in Christ but the power of the Holy Spirit.

Walk in that newness of life each and every day.  In Jesus' Name. Amen.