We’re in a message series called “Faith Heroes.” The faith heroes we’ve been talking about in this series, indeed all faith heroes in the Bible, ended their lives in faith. Their lives ended with God in His rightful place in their lives. They did not fall away from their faith. The Bible is very clear on this. Let’s look at:
Ezekiel 33:14-16 (ESV) Again, though I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ yet if he turns from his sin and does what is just and right, if the wicked … walks in the statutes of life, not doing injustice, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the sins that he has committed shall be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he shall surely live.
These verses are spoken regarding eternal life and eternal death. If a sinner, the wicked in this verse, turns from their sin and lives in a righteous way, he will have eternal life, his sins will be forgiven. Most believers would agree with this. Yet the opposite is clearly taught as well.
Ezekiel 33:13 (ESV) Though I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, yet if he trusts in his righteousness and does injustice, none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered, but in his injustice that he has done he shall die.
This is the opposite case, where a righteous person, told by God that he has eternal life, turns from that righteousness and begins to sin, what will happen to him? This verse is clear, the righteousness of that person will not be remembered by God, but his sin will cause him to die in that sin, separated from God in eternal death. So, a true faith hero, will continue to live righteously his entire life. He will live faithfully for God, keeping his faith and living it out.
Today’s message is entitled “Faithful Living.” To be faithful is to be steadfast in affection or allegiance. Now for someone to be faithful, they must be faithful to something or someone. The context of our message title, faithful living, means that we must be faithful in living for God. The opposite of faithful living is unfaithful living with regard to God. A believer’s faithfulness to God is lived out in their faithfulness to others, for example:
The Bible contains many wonderful promises for those who are faithful to God.
Psalm 31:23 (ESV) Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
The Lord preserves or protects those who are faithful to Him, who keep on loving Him throughout life. Jesus said in …
Matthew 24:45-46 (ESV) “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.
Jesus is talking about finding his servants faithful when they meet Him. Each of us will meet the Lord Jesus either when He returns to this earth or when we pass into eternity. A faithful servant will be faithful to the end of their lives. Those are not faithful to the end will not be blessed with eternal life. Today, we’re going to look at the life of John the Baptist, to learn about being faithful throughout life.
John the Baptist’s parents were Zechariah, a priest and his wife Elizabeth. They had been childless for many years, yet God had a plan for John the Baptist before he was born. Parents who are faithful to God generally raise up children who are faithful to God, so …
Luke 1:6 (ESV) And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.
Zechariah and Elizabeth were advanced in years, but they continued to faithfully follow God throughout their lives. Even though they were past the time of childbearing, they continued to pray and believe God for a miracle child. One day when Zechariah was serving the Lord in the temple as a priest, the angel Gabriel appeared to him and announced that he and his wife would have a son.
Luke 1:15-16 (ESV) for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God,
This would not just be any son, but a son who would be great before the Lord. He was to be raised with a Nazarite vow, which prohibited drinking any alcoholic beverage and the cutting of hair among other things. This son would be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth and would turn many to God. The prayers of Zechariah and Elizabeth, offered faithfully over many years, had been answered by God. The son was born and he need to …
Luke 1:67, 76 (ESV) And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, … And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
John’s father Zechariah, was himself filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied by the Spirit over his newborn son. He said that John would be a prophet and would go before the Lord Jesus to prepare the way for His ministry. Undoubtedly, this prophetic word was given at John’s birth, was written down and given to John when he was old enough to understand. We see from the rest of the story, that John embraced the prophetic call that God had given through his parents. The call that God had planned before his birth.
How can a believer today discover God’s calling on their life? God has a variety of ways to speak to us and often speaks in multiple ways to convey the same message. In our story, today, the prophetic call of God for John the Baptist came through his righteous parents. If parents are walking with God and are Spirit-filled, often God will show them His plans for their children, so that they can speak into and guide them in their calling. God also speaks and confirms a believer’s calling directly through the Holy Spirit, through other believers and through His Word.
As parents and grandparents, we must be sensitive to Holy Spirit to hear from Him about our children and grandchildren. Then, we must have the courage to speak His words into their lives and pray until that word bears fruit. It is not enough just to have a prophetic call on a person’s life, they must …
The Scripture tell us that John grew and became strong in Spirit. It also says that he lived in the wilderness. Since his parents were advanced in years at his birth, it may have been that they passed on when he was relatively young. Yet, their influence in this life had led him to choose to live out his prophetic call. We next see John shortly before the ministry of Jesus began, as he …
Matthew 3:1-2 (ESV) In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
The message of John began with repent, turn from your sin and put your faith in God. Repent for God’s kingdom is near and you need to be ready. This was the exact same message that Jesus began his ministry with as well. It was also the same message that Peter preached in the book of Acts, repent and be baptized. John knew that Jesus was coming to establish God’s kingdom. John’s mission was to prepare people for Jesus’ ministry. He boldly spoke of God’s kingdom and he …
Matthew 3:7-8 (ESV) But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.
Not only was John preaching, he was also baptizing people as they repented and confessed their sins. He challenged the Jewish leaders, who thought they needed no repentance, yet lived in disobedience to God’s Word in many ways. John made it clear that those who had truly repented would have a change in lifestyle, that is their lives would bear good fruit. John also did not bring attention to himself, but he …
Matthew 3:11 (ESV) “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
John knew that his call was to prepare the way for Jesus’ ministry. Jesus was the son of God, who was all powerful. John preached repentance but did not work any miracles that are recorded. Although John baptized in water, Jesus would baptize his followers with the Holy Spirit and fire, beginning on the day of Pentecost. John faithfully lived out his prophetic calling.
Living out your calling takes courage and faith. Many people do not understand that when you are living out your prophetic calling, all the forces of Satan will be directed against you. You will be in constant spiritual warfare with the enemy who is seeking to silence you in any way that he can. If you do not fight back with everything the Lord equips you with, you will lose the battles over and over again. The enemy will stir up people, strangers, friends and even relatives to oppose what God is calling you to do. You must be bold, not being frightened by what the enemy attacks you with, and continue to follow the Spirit in your calling. As you do, always point people to Jesus, who is the one with the answer for all. As every believer with a prophetic calling is in constant battle, you must …
Matthew 14:3-4 (ESV) For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.”
John did not stay out of politics, as many wrongly advise believers today. Just as John called on the common people to repent, he also called out King Herod for divorcing his wife and marrying the wife of his half-brother. Herod did not like to hear this, so he had John put in prison. Not only had John been persecuted by the Jewish leaders, now he was being persecuted by the government. Yet he knew that …
While John was in prison, King Herod threw a decadent birthday party for himself. At the party, the daughter of his illicit wife put on a suggestive dance and Herod promised her any request she might have. Her mother, whom John had rebuked, prompted the daughter to request for the head of John the Baptist. So Herod …
Matthew 14:10, 12 (ESV) He sent and had John beheaded in the prison, … And his disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus.
John had become a martyr for the faith. He faithfully carried out the prophetic call given him at birth. He persevered through persecution, but finally, his mission was over. He had prepared the way for Jesus Christ, who had now begun His ministry. John would now go to enter into his eternal reward. And he would …
Jesus said of John in …
Luke 7:28 (ESV) I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
John had left an eternal legacy that we still learn from thousands of years later. He was the last of the Old Testament prophets, who looked ahead to the coming of Christ and the establishment of His kingdom. John was the only Old Testament prophet who actually saw and heard Jesus in person. Yet, John was not able to take part of the kingdom that Jesus established through his death and resurrection.
Those in the kingdom are not just born of women, they are born again through the Holy Spirit. They are able to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and receive the indwelling power of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. But John, by being faithful throughout his life had prepared the way, both for Jesus and for believers down through the millennia, including you and me.
The Bible tells us in 2 Timothy 3:12 all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, That verse tells that if you’re not being persecuted, then your light isn’t shining brightly enough. Persecution in America is not about being put into prison or being executed. Persecution is more about not going along with culture and being considered a religious fanatic. Persecution in America is about losing friends and being ridiculed.
In other countries, living a godly life may well mean prison or even death. My wife and I recently watched an excellent documentary about the underground church in Iran. It’s on Youtube and titled “Sheep among Wolves – Version 2.” The church in Iran is said to be the fastest growing church in the world, even though fiercely persecuted by the Islamic government. The believers are radical witnesses, even though simply being turned in by one person may cost them their lives. Yet, they are not living for this life, but for eternity. May we use the freedom that we still have to faithfully live for Christ as His witnesses.
Today, we’ve learned from the example of faith hero, John the Baptist about faithful living. God knew you before birth and He has a prophetic call on your life. No matter your age, it’s never too late to live out that prophetic call, pointing people to Jesus. St Louis needs you and I to become more radically committed to the kingdom of God. Talking to people, sharing our faith, even though it will mean some type of persecution. We must remember that our lives are not our own. We have been bought with the price of the blood of Christ. We live for eternity, not for this brief period of time of life on this earth. We live in light of the soon return of Christ, that He might find us as faithful servants.