Bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
The searching ministry of John the Baptist was a clarion call to reality. Formalism in religion apart from true heart-exercise is an abomination in the sight of God. He is not served by the work of men’s hands or glorified by the declarations of their lips if the inward attitude is not right. All men are called to abase themselves before Him, and take the place of confessed sinfulness, seeking divine grace for deliverance through the Savior He has provided. Jesus Himself must be the object of faith. It is He alone whose work could meet the claims of God’s righteousness. In Him the Father is fully satisfied, and all men everywhere are called to put their trust in Him. While it was not given to John to unfold the gospel in all its blessed detail, he nevertheless directed the people to that One whose mission it is to save all who believe in Him.
It is not thy tears of repentance nor prayers,
But the blood that atones for the soul;
On Him then who shed it thou mayest at once
Thy weight of iniquities roll.
Then take with rejoicing from Jesus at once
The life everlasting He gives,
And know with assurance thou never canst die
While Jesus thy righteousness lives.
—A. M. Hull
H. A. Ironside, The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1994), 201–202.