Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father…
John had a word and a sign. The word was — Repent; and the sign was-Baptism. Word and sign were intimately related. His was the baptism of repentance. The word commanded. The sign accepted. A great moral and religious impulse swept wave-like over the people. The baptism of repentance became the order of the day. But, unfortunately, in the degree that the baptism became a fashion it also became a form. John's soul was too upright to be blinded by what looked like success. His language, its directness, and the form with which he clothed his ideas, all showed how radical was the thing he aimed at. The axe, winnowing, uprooting, fire-cleansing, were the symbols that naturally expressed his violent and stormy thoughts and intents. What would John the Baptist say, if he were now to come into our churches and pulpits? He would fiercely denounce all shows and shams in religion. He would scathe and scatter with the lightnings of his indignation all moral delusions. He would demand the putting away of all unholiness. He would say, " Let us have soundness and solidness, sincerity and spiritual mindedness, or nothing at all." No doubt there would be a sensation. Well-bred people would be scandalized. Prudent men would say, "You must use milder language, sir, or we shall have the church empty." And the prophet would reply, "Exactly; that is what I have come for. I have come to drive either the sinners or their sins out of the churches." The great truth to be carried home is, that genuine repentance must always precede the kingdom of God. There is a repentance that is easy and cheap, and is worth as much as it costs or a little less. Repentance is —
(1) Not a piece of ceremonialism;
(2) more than an emotion, an excitement;
(3) a resolve, an action against sin.The call to repent is a call to action. It means, change your mind about wrong-doing; change your whole course of moral thought, feeling, conduct. It must be personal and spring from a personal source. The kingdom of heaven is at hand, and it is as full of promise as of judgment.
Parallel VersesKJV: Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
WEB: Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and don't begin to say among yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father;' for I tell you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones!