Preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist
Tabernacle in Los Angeles, CA, on January 10, 2002.
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
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
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."
1A. WHAT IS FIRST IMPLIED FROM JOHNíS
WARNING IS THE CERTAINTY OF GODíS JUDGMENT
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
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
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
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.
2A. WHAT IS NEXT IMPLIED FROM
JOHNíS WARNING IS THE SUBJECT OF GODíS JUDGMENT
"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
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.
3A. WHAT IS FINALLY IMPLIED
FROM JOHNíS WARNING IS THE SENTENCE OF GODíS JUDGMENT
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
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
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.