According to the 2001 national census, Christians accounted for 79.7% of the population. This includes Zion Christian(11.1%), Pentecostal (Charismatic) (8.2%), Roman Catholic (7.1%), Methodist (6.8%), Dutch Reformed (6.7%), Anglican(3.8%); members of other Christian churches accounted for another 36% of the population. This stats comes from Wikipedia. Almost 80% of the population is Christian. This is what people answered when they were asked to fill in the part about religion on the form. Is this really true? If 80% of the population is Christian then, why do we have such high crime rates, high poverty, high in incidences of rape, divorce, sexual immorality, etc. is this how Christians live? If this is the case, can we really beleive these stats? If 80% of our population were truly Christian as we claim, then we should all be overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit and the fruits of that should have been:
Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV Strong’s Bible)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
I am sure that you would agree with me that, what is listed in the verse above is not what we see in our country in general.
Now how can we claim to be Christians if the fruits of our lives does not reflect what we claim to be? This is what my message will be about. How do we differentiate between a true Christian and a false Christian. How do you as a person know that you are a true Christian?
For our study, we will be looking at Matthews 3:8-10. Just as a background to our passage. Matthews 1 and 2, deal with the genealogy and the birth of Jesus, together with the events that occurred after his birth like being visited by the wise men and King Herod wanting to kill him. His parents taking him to Egypt for his safety from Herod and coming back to Nazareth, when Herod was dead. Chapter 3 starts in verse 1 by saying that in those days, John the Baptist came preaching. John was the son of a priest named Zechariah and his mother Elisabeth who was from the line of Aaron. Luke 1:6 indicates that John’s parents were God fearing. You will remember that John’s birth was foretold. Strict instructions were given as to how he will live including what to eat and drink.
This John was baptizing and preaching repentance for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. This was a fulfillment of Isaiah prophecy in Isa 40:3. In verse 4, we are told that his clothes were a garment of a camels hair and a leather belt around his waist and his food was locust and honey. In verse 5-7, we are also told that all people from Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to be baptized by him, confessing their sins at the river Jordan.
It is at this time when the group of people also Jews, who called themselves or who were called Pharisees and Sadducees, also came to him. On seeing them, John greeted them by calling them offsprings of snakes. He asked them who warned them to flee from the wrath of God. Who were these people and why did John says these things to them? According to commentary, The Pharisees were a small (about 6,000), legalistic sect of the Jews who were known for their rigid adherence to the ceremonial fine points of the law. Their name means “separated ones.” Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisees was usually adversarial. He rebuked them for using human tradition to nullify Scripture, and especially for rank hypocrisy. The Sadducees were known for their denial of things supernatural. They denied the resurrection of the dead and the existence of angels. Unlike the Pharisees, they rejected human tradition and scorned legalism. They accepted only the Pentateuch as authoritative. They tended to be wealthy, aristocratic members of the priestly tribe, and in the days of Herod their sect controlled the temple, though they were fewer in number than the Pharisees. Pharisees and Sadducees had little in common. Pharisees were ritualists; Sadducees were rationalists. Pharisees were legalists; Sadducees were liberals. Pharisees were separatists; Sadducees were compromisers and political opportunists. Yet they united together in their opposition to Christ.
Reading the above explanation of who these people were, one can see why John would have called them offsprings of snakes.
From verse 8-12, John confronts these people. This leads us then to our message which we will find in verses 8-10 which is part of what John told the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
We will continue in the next message.