John answered then all, saying, "I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
John the Baptist was referring here to Jesus Christ, who was about to begin His public ministry. John's preaching and baptizing were centered around the doctrine of repentance.
When most of us here the word "repent", we immediately have in our minds the idea of a turning away from our sins. That is part of the solution. In the original Greek language of the New Testament, the word for "repent" is metanoeo. The word carries the idea of a person changing their own mind about a subject.
What is it that we are to change our minds about? The Bible shows that in our fallen state that we all have wrong views about God and about ourselves. Having a proper understanding of ourselves and of God has eternal consequences. In in very first sentence of Book One of his Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin puts it in these words:
"Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves."
The wisdom that Calvin refers to can only come from the Bible, God's Word. So, what does the Bible tell us about the true nature of God and of ourselves?
First, is that God is infinitely holy, righteous, and just. (c.f. Isaiah 6:1, Exodus 9:27, Deu 16:18). There are no moral flaws in God.
Second, is that we are all fallen people who have sinned against a holy God (c.f. Romans 3:23), and deserve the payment of death (Roman 6:23). None of us have anything to offer to God in our so called "religious/spiritual" offerrings to God (c.f. Isaiah 64:6). That as fallen sinners against an infinately holy we deserve the eternal judgement and wrath of God (c.f. Romans 1:18, Ephesains 5:6).
Third, that God has made a way that fallen sinners can be reconciled unto Him and still remain just and righteous. God sent His Son, live a righeoues life and die on a cruel Roman cross, and take upon Himself the wrath of God that should have been put on wayward sinners (c.f. John 3:16). The only way that any of us can be made reconciled to God is by putting their complete trust in the finished work of Christ on their behalf (c.f. John 14:6, Acts 4:12).
The Bible also tell us that Jesus in not only Savior, but as the Second Person of the Trinity, he will also be judge (Revelations 19:15).
John the Baptist was tell his listeners that Jesus will either be their Savior or their Judge. Look at the wording:
Holy Sprit = is given to those who put their trust in Christ
wheat = the saved, those who trust in the completed work of Christ for their salvation
his barn = God's abode, eternal life with God
fire = the judgement of God
chaff = the lost, those who have rejected salvation through trust in what Christ has already done and are trusting in themselves to gain acceptance with God
unquenchable fire = the eternal punishment of God where a person ends up in Hell and then the Lake of Fire
We all have a choice to make. Either Jesus will be our Lord and Savior, or He will be our judge. There is no avoiding it. One day each one of us will stand before Him in His court of law (c.f. Hebrews 9:27)
If you are reading this, and have never repented to God, and put your trust in the finished work of Christ for your salvation, today can be the day that you should do so.
But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim);
because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.