Exhortations of Gospel Preaching

Dear Church Family,

In our Christmas sermon series from the Gospel according to Luke, we’ve looked at Mary’s Praise and Zacharias’ Prophecy. Here is our schedule of sermons:

December 5     Mary’s Praise (Luke 1:46-55)
December 12   Zacharias’ Prophecy (Luke 1:67-79)
December 19   John’s Preaching (Luke 3:7-18)
December 24   Jesus’ Person (Luke 3:21-22)
December 26   Jesus’ Pronouncement (Luke 4:16-30)

So, this coming Sunday, we will be examining John the Baptist’s preaching. One of the things that we are going to see is that, at the conclusion of this passage, John’s preaching is summarized with these words, “So with many other exhortations he preached the gospel to the people” (Luke 3:18).

The Imperatives and Indicatives of Gospel Preaching

An imperative is a command (grammatically, it can also be a request), and an indicative is a statement of fact. Sometimes people like to draw a stark distinction between imperatives and indicatives in the Bible; however, John the Baptist weaves imperatives and indicatives together throughout his sermon. Gospel preaching includes both a declaration of what Christ has done (indicative) as well as an exhortation to repent and believe in the gospel (imperative)

This is seen in Mark’s summary of Jesus’ initial preaching ministry, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Jesus declared the good news of the coming of the kingdom of God (an indicative statement of fact), while also calling His hearers to respond in repentance and faith (an imperative command).

John the Baptist’s preaching bears similar marks. As we’ve already noted, Luke speaks of John’s gospel preaching as including exhortations (Luke 3:18). And, John begins his sermon as recorded in Luke 3, by declaring that the wrath of God is coming, “therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance…” (Luke 3:8). “Bearing fruits in keeping with repentance” is John’s way of speaking about obedience to God’s law.


I hope this helps in our preparations for the sermon this coming Sunday as we look at John’s preaching in Luke 3. We’ll be examining the imperatives of John’s gospel preaching – specifically, what it means to bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And, we’ll also be examining the indicatives of John’s gospel preaching – specifically, what Christ has accomplished for us in salvation.

The Lord be with you!
– Pastor Peter M. Dietsch