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From Heaven With Love

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    John's Sharp Rebuke to Hypocrites

    John met them with the scathing inquiry, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit that befits repentance.” RSV. Because the Jews had separated themselves from God, they were suffering under His judgments. This was the cause of their bondage to a heathen nation. Because in times past the Lord had shown them great favor, they excused their sins. They flattered themselves that they were better than other men and entitled to His blessings.HLv 63.2

    John declared to the teachers of Israel that their pride, selfishness, and cruelty showed them to be a deadly curse to the people. In view of the light they had received from God, they were even worse than the heathen. God was not dependent on them for fulfilling His purpose. He could call others to His service.HLv 63.3

    “And now,” said the prophet, “the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” If the fruit is worthless, the name cannot save the tree from destruction. John declared to the Jews that if their life and character were not in harmony with God's law, they were not His people.HLv 63.4

    All who became subjects of Christ's kingdom, he said, would give evidence of faith and repentance. Kindness and fidelity would be seen in their lives. They would minister to the needy, shield the defenseless, and give an example of virtue and compassion.HLv 63.5

    “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 with fire.” RSV. Isaiah had declared that the Lord would cleanse His people “by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.” Isaiah 4:4.HLv 64.1

    In all who submit to His power, the Spirit of God will consume sin. See Hebrews 12:29. But if men cling to sin, then the glory of God, which destroys sin, must destroy them. At the second advent of Christ the wicked shall be consumed “with the Spirit of His mouth,” and destroyed “with the brightness of His coming.” 2 Thessalonians 2:8. The glory of God which imparts life to the righteous will slay the wicked.HLv 64.2

    In the time of John the Baptist, Christ was about to appear as the revealer of the character of God. His very presence would make manifest to men their sin. Only as they were willing to be purged from sin could they enter into fellowship with Him.HLv 64.3

    Thus the Baptist declared God's message to Israel. Many gave heed and sacrificed all in order to obey. Not a few cherished the hope that he might be the Messiah. But as John saw the people turning to him, he sought every opportunity of directing their faith to Him who was to come.HLv 64.4

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