Sunday, April 25, 2010

Great Invitations of the Bible : Part 3 Cleansing

GREAT INVITATIONS OF THE BIBLE
Part 3 - Invitation to Cleansing
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | www.PS127.org | www.TruthDigest.org


SCRIPTURE READING:

Isaiah 1:18-20
 18 "Come now, let us reason together,"
       says the LORD.
     
  "Though your sins are like scarlet,
       they shall be as white as snow;
       though they are red as crimson,
       they shall be like wool.

 19 If you are willing and obedient,
       you will eat the best from the land;

 20 but if you resist and rebel,
       you will be devoured by the sword."

       For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.


INTRODUCTION:

The prophet Isaiah ministered during a turbulent time in Israel’s history.  The nation had abandoned the way of the Lord and was living in open sin and idolatry.  The verses leading up to our text chronicle a scene of rebellion and sin.

               v. 2 – The people were in open rebellion against the Lord

               v. 3 – They refused to acknowledge God and, spiritually, they were dumber than the farm animals around them. (Scripture says so...)

               v. 4 – They had forsaken the Lord and had provoked Him to anger.

               v. 5 – They had refused to respond to the Lord’s attempts at chastisement.

               v. 5-6 - They were sick spiritually and they desperately needed help.

               v. 7-8Violence filled the whole land.

               v. 9-10 – In many ways, they had become as vile as ancient Sodom and Gomorrah.

               v. 11-15 – Their religious services were an abomination to the Lord.

               v. 9 – The only thing that held the nation together was a small remnant of faithful Jews.

Does any of this sound familiar?  It sounds like a description of today.

What is holding our nation together right now?  A small remnant of faithful Christians.

It’s NOT because we are a Christian nation...because we are not.

If we were a Christian nation, there would be;
         NO ABORTION
         NO LEGAL PORNOGRAPHY
         NO SPECIAL RIGHTS BECAUSE OF A SEXUAL PREFERENCE THAT IS SINFUL
         WE WOULD NOT BE HONORING ISLAM AND OTHER FALSE RELIGIONS IN THE WHITE HOUSE...such as when Obama celebrated Ramada with Islamic leaders, yet did not attend the national day of prayer celebration last year, saying he had more important issues to see to.

Our nation is in trouble...just as Israel here in the scriptures.

In the middle this trouble in the scripture, we see God doing something though. 

The people should have been seeking God, but they were not.

People will not seek the Lord until they are first sought by the Lord.

People will not love the Lord until they are first loved by the Lord, 1 John 4:19.

God always makes the first move in this thing called salvation.

After all, man is “dead in trespasses and sins” and cannot seek the Lord, Eph. 2:1.

Jesus came to the world for the sole purpose of “seeking and saving that which was lost”, Luke 19:10.

I know that we want to elevate man in these days.  No one wants to believe that man is totally depraved and cut off from God.  Most folks hold to the idea that man contains within himself “a spark of the divine” and at some point, the good that is in man will begin to seek the good that is in God.

The Bible is very clear in this matter.  Man is a vile sinner and there is not good in him at all, Rom. 3:10-18; 23.  Man will never come to God unless God first comes to man, John 6:44.

What we see in this passage are a dirty, vile, wicked people who need to be cleansed.  They are approached by the Lord and invited to come to Him for the cleansing they so desperately need.  We can also see a principle that is still true today. God is still inviting dirty, sinful people to come to Him for the cleansing they need.

I want to take this passage today and point out the principles contained in The Invitation to Cleansing.



I.                   THE INTENSITY OF THIS INVITATION
a.      The word “come is an “imperative”.  It is a command.  God is reaching out to a wayward, sinful people and He is calling them back to Him.  
                                                             i.      This is amazing because God knows how they have been living.  He knows how they have treated His Law.  He knows the vileness and the depths of their sins.  He knows how wicked they have become.  Yet, He still loves them and reaches out to them in love, to extend grace and mercy to them, if they will repent.

b.     The blessing in this verse is the fact that this invitation still stands! God knows all about the sins in your life and mine.  He knows how far down into the cesspool of sin we have sunk.  He knows that we are wicked, evil and utterly depraved.  Yet, He loves us, in spite of our sinful condition and He calls us to come to Him.

                                                              i.      Listen to the Lord’s voice as He calls lost people to come to Him,
1.      Rev. 22:17 - The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

2.      John 7:37 - On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.

3.      Matt. 11:28 - "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

a.      Have you heeded that invitation?  Have you come to the Lord for the salvation you so desperately need?  Have you received Jesus as your personal Savior?

c.      God’s understanding - God understood Israel’s condition better than they did.  They thought they were doing all right.  They were playing on both sides of the fence and they were happy.  But, God knew that they were in deep trouble, so He reached out to them to call them home.

                                                              i.      The same is true in our lives as well.  God knows our condition better than we do.  You take that lost sinner.  He thinks he is doing his own thing and living his life by his own terms.  He does not realize that he is nothing but a pawn in the devil’s hand.  He is being driven from sin to sin by forces that he cannot control, Eph. 2:1-3.

                                                           ii.      God, however, knows the true nature of man’s condition and God has moved to do something about it, Rom. 5:6-8.  When Jesus died on the cross, the door of salvation was opened, and now God invited all those trapped in sin to come.



II.               THE IMMEDIACY OF THIS INVITATION
a.      God’s command is for them to come “now”.  There must be no delay!  God could see what Israel could not see.  He could see where their rebellion and sin was leading them.  He could see the judgment that was about to fall upon them.  He could see their condition and their condemnation!  On the basis of what He could see, He presses them to make a change in their lives now.

b.     Just as it is with those who are not right with God today.  All they can see is the next step that lies before them.  All they can feel is the pleasure of their sins.  All they can think about is the here and now. They give no thought to what is awaiting them down the road.

                                                              i.      If wayward people could see down the road, what they would see would terrify them.  If they could see what lies just around a few more bends in the road, they would repent of their sins and run to Jesus for cleansing.

                                                           ii.      That person who is lost would see an eternity in Hell.  They would see themselves in a place of eternal torment, where they will forever be separated from family, friends, hope and God.  They would see themselves damned, doomed and destroyed in Hell,  2 Thes. 1:8-9;  Psa. 9:17;  Matt. 13:42;  Rev. 14:11.

                                                         iii.      That saved person who has walked away from God would see the chastisement of God unleashed on his or her life, Heb. 12:6-11.  They might even see themselves filling a premature grave, 1 John 5:16; 1 Cor. 5:5.  They would see the terrible consequences that are going to be suffered by their families because they refuse to get right with God.

c.      God knows how bad it is going to get.  He knows the pain and suffering that is coming.  He knows about the judgment that is about to fall, so He calls the wayward ones to come to Him.  He calls them to come now, without delay, for He knows that delay is dangerous.

                                                              i.      If you are not right with God this day, the time to come to Him is now!  

                                                           ii.      Listen to what the Bible says about this matter:

1.      Gen. 6:3 - Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years."

2.      Pro. 27:1 - Do not boast about tomorrow,
       for you do not know what a day may bring forth.

3.      2 Cor. 6:2 - For he says,
   
"In the time of my favor I heard you,
      and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.



III.            THE INTIMACY OF HIS INVITATION
a.       The invitation is “Come now, let us reason together”.  The phrase “let us reason together” is legal terminology. It means “let’s settle this matter before a court of law; let’s try our case in court”.

                                                              i.      The people of Israel had broken their covenant with the Lord. They had failed to hold up their end of the contract and God has initiated legal proceedings against them.  He is bringing them up on charges.  He has declared His case against them, v. 1-17, and He now invited them to defend themselves.  They are in serious trouble!  God has the goods on them and He has called them to answer for their sins.

                                                           ii.      However, the phrase “come now” is an invitation for these people to “walk with the Lord”.  He is not inviting them to a debate.  He is not opening the matter up to negotiations.  He is inviting them to come to His way of thinking.  He is inviting them to agree with Him, Amos 3:3.  He is giving them an opportunity to say, “You are right and we are wrong.  We are sorry and we are ready to go your way.

                                                         iii.      He is offering them a chance to settle their case out of court.  If they will be reasonable and honor their covenant with the Lord, He will drop the charges and restore them to a place of fellowship.  If they will repent of their sins and change their ways, God will receive them and restore them.

                                                         iv.      This is an intimate invitation to Israel to change their ways and to get in line with God.  He is saying, “Let’s walk together, and we can work this thing out. That is grace!

b.      God’s invitation to follow Him is still an intimate thing!  God does not call groups to come to Him; He calls individuals to come to Him.  His call is personal, individual and intimate.  When He calls, He always points out the areas of disagreement and He invites the wayward one to come to a place of agreement with God.  That is the very nature of Holy Spirit conviction, John 16:7-13.  It is a very intimate thing.


ILLUSTRATION People sometimes leave church saying, “That preacher was preaching to me! Who told him what I had been doing? That is the Holy Ghost of God trying to get your attention.  The preacher may not know anything about you at all; but God does!  And He extends an intimate invitation to you to come to His way of thinking.  He is offering you a chance to settle your case out of court.  You see, if your case ever goes to trial before Him, you will lose, Rev. 20:11-15.


c.       Have you ever heard that intimate, individual call “to come to” Jesus for salvation?  When that call came, did you respond by coming to God?  Have you settled your case out of court?  It’s not too late!  God is still inviting wayward souls to come to Him and to His way of thinking.  If you will come, He will receive you and save your soul!

CONCLUSION

God’s promise to Israel, if they will come to Him, is that all their sins will be washed away.

Verse 15 tells us that their hands are stained with blood. They are dirty and unclean in the sight of the Lord. But, if they will just come to Him, and heed His invitation, He will cleanse them completely.

 Their rituals would not make them clean.

Their religious observances would not make them clean.

The only hope these people had was to accept the Lord’s invitation.  If they would just do that, He would make the stain of their sin disappear forever!

 Let every person under the sound of my voice here these words:
This invitation still stands!  There is nothing you can do to take away your sins. At best, you and I are dirty and filthy in the sight of the Lord, Isa. 64:6.

We cannot cleanse ourselves by religious deeds or rituals. When we try to erase our sins by our own efforts, all we succeed in doing is making the stain deeper!

 But, if we will listen to His call and come to Him by faith. God has the power to cleanse away forever the stain of our sins!

He is able to take our sins and put them away from us as “far as the east is from the west”, Psa. 103:12.

He is able to wash us in the precious blood of Jesus and declare us holy and clean, 1 Cor. 6:9-11.

He is able to cleanse us from all sin, 1 John 1:7.

He is able to deliver us from condemnation and the threat of Hell we were under, Rom. 8:1; 5:9.

     Do you know for sure that your sins have been washed away? When God looks down at you, does He see your sins, or does He see the righteousness of His precious Son, Rom. 4:21-25?