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SF886 - The Secret to Greatness (Matthew 3 1-6)

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Matthew 3:1-6

Introduction

How do you define greatness?  The world defines greatness in terms of wealth, popularity, intelligence, athletic ability and so forth.

However, God uses a completely different standard by which to measure greatness. 

Jesus communicates to us something of God’s standard when in Matthew 11:11 he states…

Matthew 11:11 (NASB) 11“Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Jesus is saying that in the all the history of the Old Testament saints none compares with John the Baptist.  Yet, he says that those of us who are kingdom citizens today measure above him.

What then are the criteria by which we are to determine the greatness of a man?  Matthew records this for us in the first six verses of this chapter.  He gives us six characteristics that mark true greatness.

They are a consecrated life, an uncompromised message, a correct motive, a clear mission, a compelling manner, and a complete ministry.


1A.      A Consecrated Life  (3:1)

“consecrate,” to set apart as holy; declare sacred for religious use, to devote, to dedicate.

1B.      John was consecrated even before he was conceived. (Luke 1:11-17)

Ø      His conception was miraculous.

Ø      He was filled with the Holy Spirit before he was born.  (Luke 1:15)

Ø      He was chosen and called to his ministry before he was born.

2B.      John was consecrated in his life.

He obeyed God’s call to precede the Messiah.

“came, paraginomai;” to arrive, often used to indicate and official arrival.  (Matthew 2:1; 11:11)

He obeyed God’s call to proclaim the coming of the Messiah

“preaching, kerusso;” to herald

Ø      John preached only Christ!

John 1:19-20 (NASB) 19This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”

John 1:26-27 (NASB) 26John answered them saying, “I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know. 27“It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”


2A.      An Uncompromised Message (3:2a)

“repent, metanoeo;” to change one’s mind or purpose, carries the idea of conversion.

“Wherever this Greek word is used in the New Testament the reference is to changing the mind and the purpose from sin to holiness.”  (John A. Brodus, MacArthur, “Matthew 1-7,” 53)

1B.      To turn from sin and self

Acts 26:20 (NASB) 20but (I) kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.

Mark 1:14-15 (NASB) 14Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Luke 13:3 (NASB) 3“I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

2B.      To turn in faith to Christ alone

2 Corinthians 7:10 (NASB) 10For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.

John 14:6


3A.      A Correct Motive  (3:2b)

“The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

1B.      The reality of the Kingdom

“at hand, eggizo;” to bring (make) near

Ø      John was declaring the reality of God’s Kingdom, he was “bringing it near.”

Ø      Jesus is the embodiment of God’s Kingdom.

Ø      When we preach Jesus, we force the reality of God’s Kingdom on those who listen.

2B.      The requirements of the Kingdom

Ø      Repentance (conversion) is required before you become part of the Kingdom.

John 3:3 (NASB) 3Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”


4A.      A Clear Mission  (3:3)

1B.      John was called to prepare the way for Christ.

Ø      John’s task was to make ready the way of the Lord.

Ø      John was not told to make ready the way of man.

Ø      Men are not seeking after God

Psalm 14:1-3 (NASB) 1The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good.  2The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God.  3They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.

Ø      But it is God who is seeking men

Luke 19:10 (NASB) 10“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

2B.      John was called to declare the truth concerning Christ.

John 1:6-8, 29 (NASB) 6There came a man sent from God, whose name was John.  7He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him.  8He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light…  29The next day he saw* Jesus coming to him and said*, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

5A.      A Compelling Manner  (3:4)

1B.      John was humble in his appearance and attitude

Ø      John’s humble dress stood in direct contrast to the religious leaders of his day.

1 Peter 5:5 (NASB) 5You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

John 3:30 (NASB) 30“He must increase, but I must decrease.

2B.      John was bold in his proclamation  (3:7-8)

Ø      John’s boldness and confidence came from his relationship with God.

John 1:6 (NASB) 6There came a man sent from God, whose name was John.

6A.      A Complete Ministry  (3:5-6)

1B.      His ministry was complete in its appeal  (3:5)

Ø      John’s message was not limited to any single group.

Mark 16:15 (NASB) 15And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

2B.      His ministry was complete in its application  (3:6)

Mark 16:16 (NASB) 16“He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.


Application

Six marks of John’s greatness

1.         He was filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit  (Luke 1:15b)

2.                  He was obedient to God’s Word.

3.                  He was self-controlled, drinking neither “wine or liquor.”  (Luke 1:15a)

4.                  He was humble.  (Mark 1:7, John 3:30)

5.                  He courageously and faithfully proclaimed God’s Word.

6.                  He was faithful in winning people to Christ.  (Luke 1:16)


THE SECRET TO GREATNESS
Matthew 3:1-6

1A.      A Consecrated ________________  (3:1)

“consecrate,” to set apart as holy; declare sacred for religious use, to devote, to dedicate.

1B.      John was consecrated even before he was __________________. (Luke 1:11-17)

2B.      John was consecrated in his ____________.

He obeyed God’s call to _______________ the Messiah.

He obeyed God’s call to ________________ the coming of the Messiah

John 1:19-20; 26-27

2A.      An Uncompromised __________________ (3:2a)

1B.      To turn from sin and self

Acts 26:20

Mark 1:14-15

Luke 13:3

2B.      To turn in faith to Christ alone

2 Corinthians 7:10

John 14:6

3A.      A __________________ Motive  (3:2b)

1B.      The _________________ of the Kingdom

2B.      The _____________________ of the Kingdom

John 3:3

4A.      A ____________________ Mission  (3:3)

1B.      John was called to ______________ the way for Christ.

Psalm 14:1-3

Luke 19:10

2B.      John was called to ______________ the truth concerning Christ.

John 1:6-8, 29

5A.      A ______________________ Manner  (3:4)

1B.      John was _______________ in his appearance and attitude

1 Peter 5:5

John 3:30

2B.      John was __________ in his proclamation  (3:7-8)

John 1:6

6A.      A ____________________ Ministry  (3:5-6)

1B.      It was complete in its ________________ (3:5)

Mark 16:15

2B.      It was complete in its ________________ (3:6)

Mark 16:16

Application

Six marks of John’s greatness

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