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Matthew 3:8

King James Version (KJV)
Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
To make application to the souls of the hearers, is the life of preaching; so it was of John's preaching. The Pharisees laid their chief stress on outward observances, neglecting the weightier matters of the moral law, and the spiritual meaning of their legal ceremonies. Others of them were detestable hypocrites, making their pretences to holiness a cloak for iniquity. The Sadducees ran into the opposite extreme, denying the existence of spirits, and a future state. They were the scornful infidels of that time and country. There is a wrath to come. It is the great concern of every one to flee from that wrath. God, who delights not in our ruin, has warned us; he warns by the written word, by ministers, by conscience. And those are not worthy of the name of penitents, or their privileges, who say they are sorry for their sins, yet persist in them. It becomes penitents to be humble and low in their own eyes, to be thankful for the least mercy, patient under the greatest affliction, to be watchful against all appearances of sin, to abound in every duty, and to be charitable in judging others. Here is a word of caution, not to trust in outward privileges. There is a great deal which carnal hearts are apt to say within themselves, to put aside the convincing, commanding power of the word of God. Multitudes, by resting in the honours and mere advantages of their being members of an outward church, come short of heaven. Here is a word of terror to the careless and secure. Our corrupt hearts cannot be made to produce good fruit, unless the regenerating Spirit of Christ graft the good word of God upon them. And every tree, however high in gifts and honours, however green in outward professions and performances, if it bring not forth good fruit, the fruits meet for repentance, is hewn down and cast into the fire of God's wrath, the fittest place for barren trees: what else are they good for? If not fit for fruit, they are fit for fuel. John shows the design and intention of Christ's appearing, which they were now speedily to expect. No outward forms can make us clean. No ordinances, by whomsoever administered, or after whatever mode, can supply the want of the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire. The purifying and cleansing power of the Holy Spirit alone can produce that purity of heart, and those holy affections, which accompany salvation. It is Christ who baptizes with the Holy Ghost. This he did in the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit sent upon the apostles, Ac 2:4. This he does in the graces and comforts of the Spirit, given to those that ask him, Lu 11:13; Joh 7:38,39; see Ac 11:16. Observe here, the outward church is Christ's floor, Isa 21:10. True believers are as wheat, substantial, useful, and valuable; hypocrites are as chaff, light and empty, useless and worthless, carried about with every wind; these are mixed, good and bad, in the same outward communion. There is a day coming when the wheat and chaff shall be separated. The last judgment will be the distinguishing day, when saints and sinners shall be parted for ever. In heaven the saints are brought together, and no longer scattered; they are safe, and no longer exposed; separated from corrupt neighbours without, and corrupt affections within, and there is no chaff among them. Hell is the unquenchable fire, which will certainly be the portion and punishment of hypocrites and unbelievers. Here life and death, good and evil, are set before us: according as we now are in the field, we shall be then in the floor.
Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Bring forth therefore fruits … - That is, the proper fruits of reformation; the proper evidence that you are sincere. Do not bring your cunning and dissimulation to this work; do not carry your hypocrisy into your professed repentance, but evince your sincerity by forsaking sin, and thus give evidence that this coming to Jordan to be baptized is not an act of dissimulation. No discourse could have been more appropriate or more cutting.

Fruits - Conduct. See Matthew 7:16-19.

Meet for repentance - Fit for repentance; appropriate to it the proper expression of repentance.

Ellen G. White
The Upward Look, 188.1

Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance. Matthew 3:8. UL 188.1

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Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 229

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:26. TMK 229.1

There are many in the Christian world who claim that all that is necessary to salvation is to have faith; works are nothing, faith is the only essential. But God's Word tells us that faith without works is dead, being alone.... Faith and works go hand in hand.... Works will never save us; it is the merit of Christ that will avail in our behalf. Through faith in Him, Christ will make all our imperfect efforts acceptable to God. The faith we are required to have is not a do-nothing faith; saving faith is that which works by love and purifies the soul. He who will lift up holy hands to God without wrath and doubting will walk intelligently in the way of God's commandments. TMK 229.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, 137.2

Message to a Mistress—I have a few words to write to you. For some years your course has been open before me in connection with the family of Ira K, but these are hidden chapters in the experience of you both, which may have been surmised by some, that have been binding you together in unholy companionship. I hear that you and your brother have been converted; and if this report is true, you will bring forth fruit meet for repentance. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper.” TSB 137.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 646

Then there are confessions that the Lord has bidden us make to one another. If you have wronged your brother by word or deed you are first to be reconciled to him before your worship will be acceptable to heaven. Confess to those whom you have injured, and make restitution, bringing forth fruit meet for repentance. If anyone has feelings of bitterness, wrath, or malice toward a brother, let him go to him personally, confess his sin, and seek forgiveness. 5T 646.1

From Christ's manner of dealing with the erring we may learn profitable lessons which are equally applicable to this work of confession. He bids us go to the one who has fallen into temptation, and labor with him alone. If it is not possible to help him, because of the darkness of his mind and his separation from God, we are to try again with two or three others. If the wrong is not righted, then, and only then, we are to tell it to the church. It is far better if wrongs can be righted and injuries healed without bringing the matter before the whole church. The church is not to be made the receptacle for the outpouring of every complaint or confession. 5T 646.2

I recognize, on the other hand, the danger of yielding to the temptation to conceal sin or to compromise with it, and thus act the hypocrite. Be sure that the confession fully covers the influence of the wrong committed, that no duty to God, to your neighbor, or to the church is left undone, and then you may lay hold upon Christ with confidence, expecting His blessing. But the question of how and to whom sins should be confessed is one that demands careful, prayerful study. We must consider it from all points, weighing it before God and seeking divine illumination. We should inquire whether to confess publicly the sins of which we have been guilty will do good or harm. Will it show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of the darkness into His marvelous light? Will it help to purify the minds of the people, or will the open relation of the deceptions practiced in denying the truth have an after influence to contaminate other minds and destroy confidence in us? 5T 646.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 339

Zacchaeus declared: “If I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.” You could at least have made efforts to correct your acts of injustice to your fellow men. You cannot make every case right, for some whom you have injured have gone into their graves, and the account stands registered against you. In these cases the best you can do is to bring a trespass offering to the altar of the Lord, and He will accept and pardon you. But where you can, you should make reparation to the wronged ones. 5T 339.1

Had the unbelievers with whom you have associated seen in you the transforming power of the truth, they would have had an argument in favor of Christianity which they could not controvert. You might thus have reflected a clear, sharp light to the world; but instead of this you have mingled with the world and imbibed its spirit. My brother, you must be born again. A mere form of Christianity is not of the least value. It is destitute of saving power, having in it no reformative energy. A religion which is confined to Sabbath worship emits no rays of light to others. I entreat you to examine your own heart closely. You have a combative, contentious spirit, and you are cultivating instead of repressing that spirit. You should make a decided change, and cultivate meekness, faith, humility, and love. Your soul is in peril; you will surely be subject to the strong delusions of Satan unless you stop where you are and press against the current of worldliness and ambition. Your relations with the world must be changed, and a decided separation must take place. The positions which you occupy, which are continually opening to you doors of temptation, must be given up. Avoid politics; shun contention. Keep clear of every office which would encourage those traits in your character that need to be battled down and overcome. 5T 339.2

My brother, you must make a strong, decided effort, or you will never be able to cast off the works of darkness. Satan looks upon you as his own. When you listen to the testimonies of God's servants, as at the late camp meeting, you are deeply convicted. But you do not respond to the impressions of the Spirit of God; and as you mingle with worldlings you drink in their spirit and are borne down by the worldly current, having no moral power to resist its influence. You become one with the world-loving, and your spirit is worse than theirs, for your choice is voluntary. You love the praise of men, and you love worldly possessions above Jesus. The love of mammon has been woven into every fiber of your being and has become all-absorbing. To eradicate it will be like plucking out the right eye or cutting off the right arm. But I speak to you as one who knows: Unless you overcome this intense love of money, it will cost you your soul's salvation, and then it would have been better for you had you never been born. 5T 340.1

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