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FROM THE PASTOR'S STUDY

Topic: Luke's Perspective of Jesus: Ch. 3 Message Outlines

Luke 3:7-14 (3)

by Darrel Cline
(darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)

Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 2 Study # 3
February 19, 2006
Lincolnton, N.C.

(226)

Thesis:There is a huge danger in a "fall back theological position" that allows one enough wiggle room to enable a rejection of the necessity of coming to God, seeking redemption as a "snake".

Introduction:In our studies of Luke's presentation of John as the forerunner of the Christ, we have seen one issue that stands out above all others: the issue of how God can offer forgiveness without being guilty of stripping Justice of its essence. In the larger historical setting, we have seen that a pattern has emerged: the "summons to life" precedes the explanation of how it will be achieved. Promise was first given to Abraham. However, the method of Promise was so poorly understood that the Law was brought in alongside to bring a very key truth into play as a part of the methodology of Promise: the truth of man's absolute incapacity to obtain the fruits of Promise apart from God's Grace. Then, once Law had produced its intended impact, Jesus was introduced as the method of Grace: Justice was not to be stripped of its essence; it was to be fulfilled to the uttermost so that forgiveness could be extended without destroying the foundations of Righteousness.

John, as the forerunner to Jesus, was uniquely positioned in history. He was both a preacher of the real meaning of the Law -- he identified man as essentially a snake who lives each day by means of his fangs (looking backwards from his historical vantage point) -- and a preacher of the truth of God's Grace -- he identified Jesus as the complete solution to the "snakiness" of man (looking forward from his historical vantage point). In the Law there is no hope for snakes, but in Jesus there is no reason for despair.

However, "preaching" is always problematical. The hearers are often so caught up in their own historical setting that getting them to see Truth with clarity is a very great difficulty. John was not free from this "problem". The people who went out to be baptized by him were people who had all kinds of built-in resistance to his double-reference preaching. When he would proclaim the necessity of allowing the Law to create the proper understanding for men to be able to be redeemed, he would run smack into resistance (men accept their "snakiness" with great reluctance). And, when he would proclaim the coming of an Effective Redeemer, he would run smack into the "baggage" of a theological system that rejected "forgiveness on the basis of repentance" in favor of a doctrine of "forgiveness on the basis of human self-qualification".

Thus, it is into this difficulty that we wade this morning. We are going to see how John addressed his audience when they were willing to cling to their "theology of self-help" in order to escape John's scenario of "wrath to come upon the offspring of snakes".


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