How John Preached Salvation and Repentance: An Example for All Preachers How To Preach The Gospel Unto Salvation


Charles e Whisnant, Pastor/Teacher, Rivers of Joy Baptist Church, Minford, Ohio

May 05, 12013  Text from Luke 3:7-18 Part one Focus on verses 7-8 and mentions 3-5.

How can we know that our  salvation has been real?

Can we say that repentance from sin essential to salvation?


How did John preach that a person was born again?  What did John in Luke 3 tell the people how they should be saved and get read for the coming of the Messiah?  What do we learn about the necessarily of a person truly repenting of his sinfulness and need to be saved?

How often in our Baptist churches have we seen in a Revival or Vacation Bible School or in a Worship service that the preacher/evangelist at the end of the message, will compel, pleaded for some sinner to get saved.  How often do we see where the evangelist or pastor will lead a group of people in to saying a prayer that is suppose to bring about their salvation!  How often have I hear someone say, “Tonight my child received Jesus into his heart and was saved.”   An adult will come in a service to be saved, and is lead into a sinners prayer and down the Roman Road. 

How can we know if a person has truly been born again?  What leads us to believe that someone has truly been saved? 

All of us have seen many who have made a profession of faith in Christ, and ask Jesus to come into their hearts and we have seen some who have truly been born again and lived a life that reflex’s that they have been saved. But we have also seen a number of people who in a matter of days, weeks, and even months go back into the life style they were before they said they wanted to be saved. 

So the question we ask, how do we know if we have been really truly been born again or if we have just made a shallow confession and really did not mean anything we said about our need of salvation.

Our passage of scriptures this morning brings us to Luke 3 beginning with verse 3 and reading down to verse 20.  Now we will only be able to cover a few verses but we will cover then all in time.  Just stay tune.

Luke 3:3 tells us this:

‘And he (John, son of  Zacharias) went into all the region around  Jordan, preaching(2784) a baptism (908)of repentance(3341) for the remission(859) of sins(266).”

Now we want to address this preaching of John about the need of preaching repentance for the remission of sins. 

As far as we know John is the first  gospel  evangelist, he is the first person as far as we know in the N.T. who was preaching as an evangelist.

From the preaching of John in the region around Jordan. I believe we have touched on that a while back. He baptized near Aenon


John the Baptist Map

Do we have a example in John the kind of preaching that is needed to bring a sinner to salvation?

Over my 65 years I have been hearing preaching, I heard as a baby of course then as a child and as a teenager then finally as a man. What I heard as Gospel preaching has come in many forms and from many different kinds of preachers.

I can remember going to revival meetings a lot and hearing sermons on salvation. But what is sad, I don’t remember how my Dad giving an invitation.  It has been 47 years since Dad died.

We have  I would think have modeled our preaching after somebody.  I know I have over the years.  And preaching the Gospel message and giving an altar call or an invitation have been a part of all our church life.   

So can we say John would be a good example of someone who we could learn how to preach the gospel unto salvation?

Okay now here is John in the wilderness around Jordon, some thirty years later.  What he has been doing and how long we do not really know.   What we do know that six months from this time Jesus will appear and begin his ministry. Thus we can figure out that John was at least thirty now.

John know has started his ministry of preaching the gospel.  I wonder what seminary he went to? 

We read now in verse 7 “Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him….”

I wonder what kind of fliers he used to get people to come and hear him preach! Some evangelist send out in a month advance a package of filers to promote their meetings.  I saw one of my Dad’s flier in a newspaper back in 1944.

Would you like to know what drew the multitudes out to hear John preach?  Good.

Would you like to hear an example of one of John evangelist sermons?  Who have I heard  that would most likely preach like John?  Maybe Oliver B. Greene?  (can not remember)

Here is a small example of John’s preaching: 3:7-14, (Let us read them.)

As we look into the texts today, what are some of the character of a person who has truly come to Christ with a repentant heart.

Here is a sermon that John would preach regularly in the outdoors around Jordon. Note there was a large group of people, and note a number of different kinds of people:  such as tax gatherers, and soldiers. 

From the text we learn that John preached regularly and was his regular routine to preach this kind of sermon to those who came out to hear him and ask him questions. The terms used to describe John preaching give us the idea that this was his continuous pattern.   And in verse 8 shows us this is how he preached the gospel. And he did preach the Gospel. 

So we might ask, “what is the gospel?”  And we might say, “It’s the good news?” Which is~  God will forgive your sins.  And we learn that is what John was preaching.

Therefore John is a good evangelist for us to learn from as to how to preach the gospel unto repentance and salvation.

We will learn from John just how we are to engage unbelievers about their lost condition.  He gives us a sense as to how we are to present the gospel. 

Here is what he did:

  1. He called sinners to forgiveness.
  2. He told them good news, God will forgive your sins if you repent and receive Jesus Christ as Messiah and Savior

This tells us that he was a preacher that preached repentance and was a preacher of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Messiah. 

So we can learn from John how an evangelist can present the gospel to the unbeliever.

Did you notices the way John preached? He had passion about what he preached I would think.  He had a message that needed to be complete the way a person comes to Christ. The John Piper kind of preaching. Of yesteryear, Tom Malone, Harold Slighter, John Leland, John R. Rice, Dr. M. Ham,

Note that from this brief sample of John sermon there was no effort to tone down his message about repentance.  There was a strong idea that he was rather hard on the people.  “You brood of vipers.” He would say to them.

He was no Joel Osteen, or Robert Shuler.

I am sure he was a man who loved to see people come and hear him preach because he had a message about the coming of the Messiah Jesus Christ, but he wanted them to get a clear message about how they were to receive Him as their savior.

He wanted to give the a very direct message about the gospel they were to receive if they were to be received by Christ.

From verse 18 “And many other things in his exhortation 3870 preached 2097 he unto the people.” He would preached days on end. When Dad would hold a tent meeting they would last for months. Believe me I know. 

So what did John preach: In Matthew it tells us “Repent, for the Kingdom is at hand.” Thus this was a message of repentance. The very core of the message is they were to repent.  And gospel preaching is about calling people to repentance. And unless a person does there is no salvation, you cannot then preach the gospel of grace unless you call sinners to repent.

Today we don’t hear a lot of calling people to acknowledge their sinfulness and sin.  Some think if you ask sinners to repent you are having them to do what is not necessary unto salvation.

At some point in the preaching of the gospel sinners need to know they need to repent of their lack of concern about their salvation and sinfulness.

I know as a child at seven I didn’t know much about this matter of sinfulness. But as I became more aware of what salvation was about, I knew I need to ask God to forgive my sinful nature.

So as we look at these verses and our text, can we learn what is the character of true repentance?  Verse 4 to 17.

What we can learn from John’s preaching is what is real repentance but also what is false repentance, or what we call “shallow repentance, or calling on the Lord to save us.” So often people no not really want to have Jesus in their life. 

Today so many preachers want people to get save they are afraid they might turn them off if they get to deep with this repentance stuff, and sin stuff.

Its has been called “cheap grace.” Easy believeism.” They invite people just to ask Jesus into their heart without having them say why they should? “Just believe in Jesus” they will say. Just quote after me these words. And then we announce they have been saved, and ask the members to vote them into the church as saved people.’  Boy is that not John’s style of preaching.

There was certainly nothing about John’s preaching that was easy.   I don’t think he would preach mad, nor without love, but it was certainly the whole truth about how to get read for the kingdom of Christ that was to come in six months.

Yes it was a little strong, yes it was rather in your face, and yes it might have cause them to feel rather bad about themselves. 

Most sinners are so shallow and superficial in their repentance about what they are doing, most believe they are not all that bad that God would allow them to go to Hell.

So John must have been aware of their real motive for wanting to be baptized.  He must have seen what we have seen, so little real repentance of the need of salvation.  This brief moment of guilt, this brief moment of emotion, but with no real conviction of the need of any kind of forgiveness for a sinful life. They really do not understand why they really need forgiveness, because in so many sermons they are not given the whole gospel. But even they were like John did they still were so shallow about their repenting. So much of what we see is so superficial and that does not save.

What can John say that will flesh out real genuine conversion? How can we have a church of people who have genuine become true believers in Christ?  We can say that we have a church that those who sit in the pew week in and week out are born blood bought believers in Christ.

Shallow conversion was in Israel, and in all the land of the O.T. and so was it in the times of John who was the son of Elizabeth.

So why did the people come out to hear John preach?  What did the y hear him say? How did the respond?   Next time.



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