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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney

#840. He will baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire - Luke 3:15-20 (20/6/23)

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, “I baptise you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them. But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of his marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, and all the other evil things he had done, Herod added this to them all: He locked John up in prison.’ (Luke 3:15-20)

Main idea: We are to serve God with all our hearts whilst entirely depending on the Spirit for any success.

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John shows great humility as he ensures that people understand that he is not the Messiah. John does not fall at this key moment of temptation when the people were 'wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah.' Unlike some, he doesn't start a new religion with himself as the great guru. He doesn't remain ambiguous to gain a following. I know that I would love more attention, but he keeps seeking to draw people's attention onto the coming Messiah - Jesus. His words recorded in John help to reinforce this:

‘You yourselves can testify that I said, “I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.” The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.”’ (John 3:28-30)

May we all learn to say that "He must become more, and I must become less." A healthy Christian and a healthy church have this attitude, and they are kept from many dangers that attend the chasing of popularity. One of the striking things that John said to mark the greater ministry of Christ was that,

“I baptise you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

In saying this, John was indicating that while he could perform the ceremony of baptism symbolising cleansing, only Jesus could truly cleanse from sin and bestow new life and power through the baptism in the Spirit. When referring to Jesus' baptising with the Spirit and fire, it seems best to concur with Leon Morris, who describes it as follows:

‘It seems best to see John as thinking of positive and negative aspects of the Messiah’s message. Those who accept Him will be purified as by fire (Malachi 3:1) and strengthened by the Holy Spirit.’ (Leon Morris on Luke).

This is humbling for all of us. None of us can truly change our own lives or the lives of others. Like John, we are called to serve God and people in various ways. We all have a role to play in bringing people to Jesus. However, it is crucial to understand that our effectiveness in ministry is entirely dependent upon the Holy Spirit and is meant to bring glory to Jesus.


We are called to serve God with all our hearts while fully relying on the Holy Spirit for any success. Like John, are we focused on bringing glory to Jesus by resisting the temptation to seek popularity? Secondly, do we understand that fruitfulness comes from abiding in the vine and relying on the Spirit? Finally, the reference to "fire" signifies God's ongoing process of sanctification, which can be painful. Let us continually trust God that He is refining us through the "fire" of challenging circumstances.




It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.


What has God been speaking to you about from His Word this week and how has this helped you / affected your life?


  • Read Luke 3:1-38

  • What point is Luke trying to make in this passage?

  • What particularly struck you from Sunday's message?

  • What is promised in verses 1-6 and what should this produce in us?

  • How is repentance described in this passage and what does this teach us about what should happen in our lives when we are born again?

  • SIV - We are told that John's evangelistic ministry began as 'the word of the Lord came to [him]'. The word of the Lord has already come to us in the form of the gospel and The Great Commission. How can we become more radical like John?

  • SIV - What does this text tell us about our message?

  • SIV - How could you serve, invest and invite this week and let’s pray about this.

  • Prayer - How would you like prayer as a result of today’s study?

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