Preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle in Los Angeles, CA, on January 10, 2002.


Luke 3.9


1. Let me read several verses to you. John 1.6: "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John." Matthew 3: "1In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." "The voice of one crying in the wilderness," was Johnís voice. He was the one ordained of God to prepare the way of the Lord, and to make His paths straight.

2. People came from Jerusalem and from throughout Judea to hear John preach. Or rather, as John Wesley might have described it, John the Baptist was on fire for God and the people came to watch him burn.

3. Some responded savingly to Johnís message and were converted. Those people John baptized. But others came only for the spectacle, came only to scrutinize him, came only to scorn and ridicule, came only to listen and not respond to his urgent message. Those people John warned. Itís Johnís warning that I want to speak to you about this evening.

4. We know that John the Baptistís ministry was to prepare the way of the Lord, to make straight His paths. We recognize that he was the forerunner of the Lord Jesus Christ. But I wonder how aware people are of the way John prepared people for the coming Savior.

5. How is it that a person is prepared for an encounter with the Son of God, so that encounter might be a saving encounter? Turn to Luke 3.9, which is our text for this evening. Listen to John the Baptistís warning to the unresponsive members of his audience, in Luke 3.9.

6. Please stand as we read that verse together. He trumpeted, "And now also the axe 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."

7. My friends, John warned his listeners about the judgment of God, about the vengeance of this One with Whom we have to do, about the wrath of this One Who is terrible in majesty. And his warning to those who came to hear him on the bank of the Jordan River so long ago, from the city of Jerusalem and from the regions of Judea, is a warning that you need to hear, as well.

8. I read it again before describing to you its implications: "And now also the axe 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."


Can there be any doubt that Godís judgment will fall upon the wicked?

1B. A brief look at the past shows what God has done

1C. When Adam and Even sinned against God in the garden of Eden by eating the forbidden fruit Godís judgment fell in the form of their expulsion from the garden and the curse of all the earth. Hear the words God spoke to Adam: "Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."

2C. "When men began to multiply on the face of the earth . . . God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Because of this Godís wrath was kindled yet again and His judgment fell in the form of a worldwide flood that covered the whole earth, killing every living person except for Noah, his sons, and their four wives.

3C. Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah was great, and because their sin was very grievous, the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground."

4C. So, we have considered Godís judgment upon Adam and Eve and their descendants with the curse after their Fall, Godís judgment upon all mankind with the Flood, and Godís judgment on the cities of the plain. Has God proven Himself to be a God of judgment? Yes, He has.

5C. But for time we could consider the many judgments of God upon His chosen people of Israel, the judgments of God upon the Egyptians, the Moabites, the Edomites, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and the judgments of God upon such individuals as Nadab and Abihu, Hophni and Phineas, Jezebel and Athaliah, and the infamous Judean king Jeconias. All of this, of course, proving that God has in the past proved Himself to be a God of judgment.

6C. So clearly has God shown Himself in the past to be a God of judgment that one Methodist theologian, a liberal now dead and enjoying his eternity, said that "the God of the Old Testament was a dirty bully." Not a dirty bully, but a God of justice and righteousness, a God of purity and holiness, a God of vengeance and judgment against sinners.

2B. But what does prophecy in Godís Word show that He will do?

1C. With God past is prologue, since God is immutable, unchangeable, eternally consistent in His dealings with His creatures. So, what can we expect from God so far as judgment is concerned?

2C. Recognizing that the Bible shows God to be patient and long-suffering, there will come a time when Godís patience runs out and when His long-suffering has played itself out. At that time Godís judgment will fall, in the future as it has fallen in the past. But in the past Godís judgment has been temporal, punishment of a physical and material nature. In the future is reserved Godís eternal and spiritual judgment.

3C. Matthew 25.46: "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." So, as long as the righteous enjoy the bless of heaven, the unrighteous will suffer the torment of everlasting punishment.

4C. Second Thessalonians 1.7-9: "the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction."

5C. And in Hebrews 10.30-31 we read, "The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

6C. My friend, future judgment is certain. For God to be God, for Him to be true to His righteous and holy nature, for Him to be truthful in the fulfillment of His Word, judgment must fall upon the unsaved.


"the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down."

1B. John the Baptist makes mention in his warning of trees

1C. What are we to make of what he says? Are we to take him literally, as though he is warning wicked men that God is contemplating the destruction of forests? I think not.

2C. Clearly, as David likened men to trees planted by the rivers of water in Psalm 1, and as the Lord Jesus Christ likened men to branches attached to the vine, so too John the Baptist is painting a mental picture with these words uttered to his audience.

3C. As the lumberjack lays the ax to the root of the tree to take it down and clear it away, so will God fall upon men and take them down when His judgment falls and His wrath is poured out on them.

2B. But the question remains, What kind of men will Godís judgment fall on?

1C. "every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down" Judgment falls upon men, but not all men. Specifically, the judgment of God will fall upon those men who bear no fruit. And we have seen that those who bear no fruit are those of you who are not converted. This means judgment will fall upon you who do not know Jesus Christ.

2C. Or with you will there profession without fruit, the claim to be a Christian without any distinctive behavior that would set apart a religious but lost person from a genuinely converted believer in Jesus Christ?

3C. Upon you who are not converted, as blithe as you pretend to be in your lost condition, will judgment come. Close your eyes and pretend all you want, Dorothy, but judgment will fall. Because God is determined to exact punishment upon His enemies who reject His Son, Jesus.


You know that judgment is certain. You know that judgment will fall upon you, and you imagine it to be a terrible judgment. But what, precisely, will happen to you? What is the sentence of Godís judgment for you, upon you, to you?

1B. Surprisingly to some, Godís judgment of some of you has already begun

1C. Turn to Romans 1 and look at verses 24, 26 and 28. Are you stubborn? Are you a backbiter? Are you disobedient to your parents? Do you break your word? Are you covetous?

2C. It may very well be that, as with those mentioned in the last half of Romans chapter 1, Godís judgment of you has already begun, which will result in more and more serious sins, greater and greater personal misery, and an increasing perverseness in your affections and thoughts as you move farther and farther away from Godís will for your life by your incessant trifling.

2B. But with every unsaved person, the beginning of Godís judgment begins in full when you die and go to Hell

1C. According to Luke 16 Hell is a conscious and constant experience, wherein the torment of Hellís flames are agonizing in the extreme and a terrible thirst is felt. As well, there is some perception of those who are not in Hell, since the rich man lifted up his eyes and saw father Abraham in the distance. And finally, there is dread, dread of others following you into Hell, as the rich man dreaded his brothers following his example and ending up with the same fate.

2C. But as bad as Hell is, it is only a temporary judgment from God, until that which is eternal and everlasting comes.

3B. After Hell comes a grand event called The Great White Throne Judgment

1C. It takes place at the very end of time and just before the beginning of eternity. It will be a hearing, really, to ascertain the severity of the eternal punishment of those who died without ever coming to Jesus Christ.

2C. Listen to these words from Revelation 20.11-12: "11And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."

3C. Many of you have heard these words before, so Iíll not attempt to frighten you with them. But I would like for you to do something that I think will help you. Close your eyes for just a moment. Keep them closed.

4C. Imagine yourself standing before the throne of God, all of your sins being reviewed by God, even the secret sins of your heart and mind. Now in addition to this, try to imagine the God with whom you have to do. In Hebrews we read, "for our God is a consuming fire."

5C. It is only at this point in time in your eternity of existence that you will begin to comprehend the statement, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Now open your eyes please.

4B. Next, and finally, you will be cast into the Lake Of Fire, alternately known as outer darkness or the bottomless pit

1C. Different than Hell, this torment will be forever. Different than Hell, this will be pitch darkness, loneliness, eternal falling, gnashing of teeth upon you, separation from all loved ones, mother, father, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives and children, forever.

2C. Every square inch of you body will burn with the smell of sulfur, shuddering with pain, writhing in excruciating agony. And it will be just what you deserve for sinning against God and for refusing His Son Jesus.


1. Johnís few words were pregnant with meaning. "And now also the axe 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."

2. We have seen the certainty of Godís judgment. We have seen the subject of Godís judgment, which is you as things presently stand. And we have seen the sentence of Godís judgment upon you.

3. Why would John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Lord Jesus Christ, trumpet such judgment to sinners? To warn them so that they would flee this angry God of judgment. To warn sinners so they would flee to the Savior John was privileged to point them to.

4. You see, the Lord Jesus Christ is our refuge, our place of safety from the wrath of God, a shelter in the time of storm. Flee to the Refuge, my friend. Find safety and forgiveness in Jesus.

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