The Baptism of Repentance
Luke 3:1-6 tells us this, “And he (John the Baptist) came into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins; as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “The voice of one calling out in the wilderness,‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight! Every ravine will be filled, and every mountain and hill will be lowered; the crooked will become straight, and the rough roads smooth; and all flesh will see the salvation of God!’”
So we see that John came to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. We also see that one needs to repent of his sins before they can even receive the Messiah.
The word ‘repent’ literally means to turn back. When we sin , we miss the mark, (like in archery, one misses the bullseye or the mark) that is the meaning of sin, and so we once again must hit the mark. To do this we must first repent and come back to hitting the bullseye or the mark. In other words, we drifted from God’s Word, this caused us to be separated from God and so we must once again go back to living by God’s Word.
So how do we know if we have truly repented?
Luke 3 :7-9 continues to say, “So he (John) was saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, “You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore produce fruits that are consistent with repentance, and do not start saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children for Abraham. But indeed the axe is already being laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
John was telling them that they had not truly repented and that they thought if they were baptized by John that they would be ‘good to go’, as they say. John told them that they had to have proof of their repentance…in other words, fruit.
Does this sound familiar? It should. Yeshua tells us in John 15: 1-11 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the Word which I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself but must remain in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; the one who remains in Me, and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown away like a branch and dries up; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me, and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you; remain in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
Yeshua tells us that if we walk according to the Word of God it cleanses us, and when the Word is within us, then we will bear fruit and prove to be His disciples. But if we are not living by God’s Word, then we will not bear fruit and we will dry up spiritually and then we will be tossed into the fire. Sin separates us from God and then if we die in our sins, we die without God. Many people do not believe this, but there are many Scriptures to indicate just that.
Luke 13:1- 5 says, “Now on that very occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus responded and said to them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans just because they have suffered this fate? No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you think that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse offenders than all the other people who live in Jerusalem? No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Revelation 3:1-3 tells us, This is the solemn pronouncement of the one who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a reputation that you are alive, but in reality you are dead. Wake up then, and strengthen what remains that was about to die, because I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Therefore, remember what you received and heard, and obey it, and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will never know at what hour I will come against you.”
And again in Revelation 3:15-19, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot! So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth! Because you say, “I am rich and have acquired great wealth, and need nothing,” but do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. Take my advice and buy gold from me refined by fire so you can become rich! Buy from me white clothing so you can be clothed and your shameful nakedness will not be exposed, and buy eye salve to put on your eyes so you can see! All those I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent!”
These Scriptures and so many more, like the parables, are being spoken to believers, not non-believers. Paul found some men as he was walking in Corinth, and asked them this question. Acts 19:2-4 says, “Paul said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “On the contrary, we have not even heard if there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Yeshua.”
After one is immersed into the immersion of repentance, then one enters into a relationship with God, and His Messiah Yeshua, and the fruit of this relationship, is walking according to the Word of God. But Yeshua sent us a helper, the Holy Spirit, to help us walk in God’s ways. He does this by convicting us of our sin.
This is why Paul was asking if they had received the Holy Spirit. When they did not Acts 19:5 goes on to say this, “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Yeshua, and when Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they began to speak in tongues and to prophesy.”
So I ask you, have you repented, no not just once, but every time you have sinned against God or your neighbor? If you have fruit of your repentance then I ask you, have you received the Holy Spirit? If you say “Yes”, then are you walking in the Spirit, and do you have the fruit of the Spirit? Galatians 5:22-23.
No fruit, then you have to read John 15 again to see what happens when one does not bear fruit. Maybe you skipped over the Baptism of Repentance, and its fruit. Once you have that, then you can receive the Holy Spirit, so you could now have its fruit, and be God’s disciple.