What Are the Qualities of a Forerunner?

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Our forerunner journey must begin in the heart. God will not share His “now” message with just anyone. Instead, the psalmist teaches, “The secrets of the Lord are for those who fear Him” (Psa. 25:14, NASB). Therefore, a forerunner must be willing to receive God’s message with a reverent heart that trembles at God’s Word (Isa. 66:2). Other necessary qualities include humility, truthfulness, perseverance, and living full of faith—all of which are exemplified in John the Baptist’s ministry.

John feared the Lord, not even wanting to untie Jesus’ sandals because he saw himself as unworthy (Mark 1:7). In humility, John willingly and joyfully stepped down from his ministry position, having accomplished his role in preparing the way for Jesus to takeover. Rather than become possessive of his disciples, he pointed them to follow Jesus (John 1:35–37). Also, John’s selfless statement cannot be emphasized enough: “He [Jesus] must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less” (John 3:30, NLT).

Furthermore, John was not impressed with himself or with others, and this empowered him to repeatedly speak the truth, regardless of the response. Not only did he call the religious leaders and the crowds “a brood of vipers” (Matt. 3:7; Luke 3:7), but he also fearlessly rebuked King Herod for marrying his brother’s wife (Mark 6:17–18). John confronted people with the truth, knowing that kings, religious leaders, and the crowds needed to be awakened to the severity of their sin problem and repent. Many did. Others did not. Either way, John presented the truth and left the results to God.

Not only did John have a heart that feared the Lord, embraced humility, and fearlessly spoke the truth; he also persevered. After an enormously fruitful ministry baptizing the masses at the Jordan River and seeing the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus as a dove, John found himself in prison. While in confinement, he came to a crisis of faith, wrestling over whether Jesus was truly the Messiah, and he sent his disciples to question Jesus. Upon their return, John appears to have accepted Jesus’ response. In fact, he would later die for asserting God’s righteous decrees. Clearly, the heart of a forerunner includes persevering through doubts and difficulties—even through persecution.

Last, John lived a life full of faith. Not intimidated by anyone, John told everyone to repent—whether they were the king, prominent leaders, Roman soldiers, or commoners. Then, as it is now, repentance was not a popular message. Repentance implies that something is wrong—not only wrong within the culture but wrong within each individual heart—yet John walked with God in great faith, declaring this message to his generation.

Like John, we may sometimes find ourselves full of faith and experiencing wonderful ministry results, while, at other times, we may find ourselves doubting God and struggling through various challenges. However, in our moments of weakness, the fear of the Lord, humility, a focus on truth, and perseverance are keys to bringing our hearts back to a place where we can receive God’s “now” message for our generation and can once more become full of faith to influence those around us.

This article comes from Transitioning: A Biblical Understanding of Transgenderism.

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Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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