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The Life of John the Baptist was one of the most significant in history. His Divine purpose was to establish Jesus Christ as the anti-religion, replacing religion with direct relationship with the living, loving God. 

Harmony Of The Gospels Series 3, Mt 3:1-12, Mk 1:1-8, Lk 3:1-18

For more information about Jesus see these books on the History of Jesus Christ

The Life Of John The Baptist

The Life of John the Baptist was destined to prepare Israel for a visit from the living God. This was the most religious culture ever. There are some cultures today that possibly match Israel's religious zeal; perhaps some practicing the Islamic or Buddhist religions come close. At that time, Israel was the top banana when it came to religiosity and ritual. They had rules for rules. There was the law of God from Scripture, then thousands of traditional laws that supposedly kept you from getting close to breaking the laws of Scripture. For instance, they had rules for how far you could walk to visit a neighbor on the Sabbath (seventh day) because you couldn't work. They had traditional laws for washing of hands and dishes before eating. The dishes were already clean…the washing was a ritual. Over 2,000 such rules existed then, in Israel. Things haven't changed that much. Have you ever been around religious people? Ever felt judged by them? I have. Maybe you've been hurt by someone who was religious. There's nothing more unloving and anti-social than a religious person. If you've been hurt, pay close attention to what's coming, it may surprise you, because…

John's purpose was not to establish a new religious order, but to re-establish a relationship with the loving God, through Jesus Christ. He's the "anti-religion". We'll take a look at the Mission, Methods, and Message of John the Baptist, apply them to today, to the traditional church, to our ministry at Web-Church and to each of our lives.  Here are some top-selling video's on the Life of John The Baptist.

1. Mission: Lk 1:16-17 "Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people for the Lord."

a. Reconciliation. These were the most religious people in the world; why would they need to be brought back to the Lord? Israel was the center of the religious world, and Jerusalem, the religious center of Israel, yet John was running all over the countryside saying "turn around…come back to God!" This was his ministry…and it was effective. The Bible says all of Jerusalem and Judea came to admit their wrong and be ceremonially washed (baptized). Why would the most religious people have to turn around to get to God? Because religion doesn't get you to God…it never has…and it never will. In the movie about Gandhi, the historical leader of India, he claimed to be Hindu, Moslem and Christian. Apparently one belief wasn't enough for him. Once, his wife let it slip that he didn't engage in intercourse with her and then said, "He is very religious." Personally, I never want to be that religious. You see, religion teaches that, if you follow a set of rules, you can earn the right to be close to God…that you can, by virtue of your own ability and strength, become worthy of God. John said to the religious people then, and seems to be saying now…turn around!

b. Spirit of Elijah. We could spend a whole week on this one phrase. John went in the Spirit of Elijah. Elijah has always been one of my favorite Biblical characters. His ministry was to stand outside the established kingdom of Israel and denounce the sin, to preach against Ahab, the king, and his wife, Jezebel, and the religious leaders who established Baal worship and led all of Israel away from God. Here John comes preaching against Herod, the king, his wife and the religious leaders of Israel. Why? Because just like Ahab before, they were leading Israel away from God and toward a false religion.

c. The Same Today! In Mk 7:8, Jesus said, "You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men." How many places claim to promote a relationship with God only as long as it doesn't interfere with their tradition? One group says you have to be dunked, another one sprinkled, to be baptized. The Roman Catholic church and the Eastern Orthodox church split because of yeast in communion wafers. One group says you have to speak in tongues to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, another says if you speak in tongues you're serving the devil. Each group has it's own catch phrases and code words you must speak to be accepted by them. Each has it's own take on the Bible. Some say God must do whatever you say, as if He's our servant. Some say there's nothing you could ever do to lose your relationship with God, while others say if you have one little errant thought, you've lost it. In Ireland for several hundred years they have been killing each other because of differing ideas of what Christianity is. I've seen people who were dedicated servants of God ridiculed and shunned by others who claim to serve God. Why? Because they hadn't been raised in that denomination and didn't know their catch phrases. Where is God in all this? In I Jn it says, if you don't have love you don't have eternal life. The Bible makes it very clear God has only children…no grandchildren. You can't get to God by following the traditions of men, even Christian men. We must have our own current, living relationship with the Loving God. When we do, we'll be able to see the traditions for the BS that they are. John says to us, "Turn around!"

Continued at John The Baptist-2

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