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"The Compelling Commission"

by David Legge | Copyright © 2002 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com

'Preach The Word'
There's a catchphrase going about in evangelicalism today and I think it's very true, it's called the 'comfort zone'. We all live within our comfort zones, don't we?

I have brought this message to you, I believe the Lord is bringing this message to you, today from Luke chapter 14. We'll take time to read most of the chapter from verse 1: "And it came to pass, as the Lord Jesus went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him. And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day? And they could not answer him again to these things. And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper".

We want to really concentrate primarily on the parable that was the final section that we read this morning, from verse 15 right through to verse 24. But the other verses right throughout the reading of this chapter, particularly at the beginning, are the context in which we find this parable and are quite poignant to the meaning behind the parable. The title of the message this morning is 'The Commission to Compel', the commission to compel, or if you like 'The Compelling Commission'.

In verses 1 to 6 you find the Lord Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath day, and the Pharisees have a problem with it, because the Pharisees opposed the helping of the poor during the Sabbath. We see in the Lord Jesus the example of helping the afflicted amidst opposition of the religionists. It didn't matter that the religious people opposed what the Lord Jesus was doing in healing this man, He went ahead and did it because it was right. This was characteristic of the Pharisees, to oppose an action such as this on one little point of the law; because often, right throughout the Gospels, we find them opposing not so much the law of God but the breaking of their human convention - even at the expense of lost souls. The Lord on many occasions rebuked them, and told them that by their commandments, the commandments of men that they had added to the commandments of God, they made the word of God and particularly the Spirit behind the word of God of no effect - and here you have an example of it here. They oppose the breaking of human convention at the expense of lost souls.

What I'm talking about is this: worrying more about what other churches, other Christians, preachers, think about us, rather than lost souls who are going to hell and need Christ

Then as we move on to verses 7 to 11, we observe the Pharisees themselves jostling for position. You find this right throughout the Gospels, that the Pharisees and religionists often jostle for position in the synagogue and in their particular party. To them, we see, position was more important than the poor. So first of all they opposed the breaking of human convention at the expense of lost souls; and also to them position was more important than the poor.

Then we look in verses 12 through to 14, and the Pharisees only invited their friends to their homes - people whom they were like, people who they were comfortable with. But the Lord Jesus exhorts them not to do this, not to invite those who you would expect to be invited to your home, but invite those who you can't get any reciprocation from, invite those who cannot invite you back. Do to others, others who cannot do back to you.

As I was reading through this passage of Scripture I really felt convicted, because there are so many times that I myself, and I feel we as the Evangelical church here in the North, we oppose the breaking of human convention - man's written or unwritten rules - at the expense of souls that are lost. There's a catchphrase going about in evangelicalism today and I think it's very true, it's called the 'comfort zone'. We all live within our comfort zones, don't we? We exist even as Christians comfortably, and in a way that we feel not threatened, and we don't really put ourselves out to any extent - especially to see other people won to the Lord Jesus Christ. Immediately someone comes along and pushes us a little bit out of our comfort zone, we get uncomfortable and we react against it.

As I looked at verses 7 to 11 and observed these Pharisees jostling for position, I was convicted about evangelical reputation. What I'm talking about is this: worrying more about what other churches, other Christians, preachers, think about us, rather than lost souls who are going to hell and need Christ. Then in verses 12 to 14 I saw the principle of grace outlined by our Lord Jesus, not the principle of law that the Pharisees abided to. The principle of law says that 'if you do this, I will do this for you', 'if you invite me to your home I'll invite you back', or 'if I invite you to my home, I expect to be invited back to your home'; but the principle of grace that the Lord is outlining here is: invite people to your home who can't invite you back to theirs, because they don't have one; who can't invite you back to a meal because they can't put a meal on; they have no money, they're the poor, they are the blind, they're the helpless, the outcasts of society. They have no talents to impart to you, they have no education to offer, they have no money to donate - invite them, Jesus says.

Really we could sum up all these verses, and these three particular incidents - verses 1 to 6; 7 to 11; and 12 to 14 - in an overarching theme right throughout it all, it's simply this: how often the established religion in Jesus' day and even in our day ostracises itself from those who really need help. Have you got it? How often those who say they know God are at greater than arms length from those who need God! I wonder if a police photo fit was taken upon these descriptions that we have of the Pharisees today, I'm only asking the question: would we find that our particular modern version of evangelicalism is the picture that would emerge? In our attitudes and in our actions, could it be that we have the face of modern day Pharisaism? That we spend our time so much bickering, and talking, and fighting over little insignificant rules of men and issues of taste, that we don't realise that there are poor people falling into the pit who need our help! Too busy looking over our shoulder about what this brother will think, about what this denomination, this church, this movement thinks of us - our evangelical reputation - that we forget about our Lord Jesus Christ who deliberately made Himself of no reputation to win the lost.

What a great supper the Gospel is! We know from other stories that there is enough in the Father's house and to spare for everyone, it's a great meal!

My friends, I want to take you to this parable finally, to really analyse this theme that we have before us in verses 15 to 24. The Lord Jesus tells of a host who invites all his friends to a great supper. You know the great supper, and we don't want to spend too much time on the parable itself but apply it more today, the great supper speaks of the gospel, doesn't it? What a great supper the Gospel is! We know from other stories that there is enough in the Father's house and to spare for everyone, it's a great meal! It's a big dinner, if you like, it's succulent - and as someone has said before: it's a feast, it's not a funeral. It's something to enjoy, it's something to be satisfied in, something to fill the deepest longing of our heart. For tired souls who come in after a day's toiling in the field, it's a great supper, something that you're fed with, it's something where you replace your energies and the fuels that you have used. For those who are tired through life's sinfulness and tragedies and burdens, the Lord Jesus says in the Gospel: 'Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest'. It is a great supper for the tired, it's a great supper for those who are thirsting, those who are hungry. You remember the words of our Lord in John 6: 'I am the bread of life, he that cometh unto me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst'.

It's a great supper for the tired, for the thirsting, for the hungry - and the greatness of the supper can also be seen, probably primarily seen, in the fact that everything is ready. The Master, the host has made it all, it's all finished - and all that has to be done is for men and women and boys and girls to come and eat and to enjoy. That's the gospel, isn't it? Paul said: 'Now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation', because of the cross the Lord Jesus finished the work, and He testified it Himself, 'It is finished' - there's nothing more to do. All we are to do is to come and to believe in the Gospel, and to enjoy all of it. The blood to cleanse has been shed, the Spirit to sanctify and to emancipate from sin has been given at Pentecost, and all the Lord does now is welcome us all to come, to eat, and to live. He says: 'Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out'. Prophetically He says in the book of Isaiah 55 verse 1: 'Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price'. It's all prepared, it's all ready, the only thing that has to be done is for the invitation to be given for sinners to come and to eat and live!

Now it is in the light of this great supper of the Gospel that we have as believers and as the church of Jesus Christ that I want to bring this warning parable of the Lord Jesus to us, for us to beware that we are not wearing the clothes of Pharisaism when we come to spreading the Gospel. I know, and let's get this out of the way first, that there is a dispensational application to this passage, and I would say that it is the primary application of it - that the Pharisee's friends that the Lord is speaking about is the religious establishment of Judaism of the day, and specifically when He talks about bringing in the halt, the blind, and the maimed, He is talking about bringing in the Gentile heathen who have been ostracised from the commonwealth of God and all the promises of the Gospel hitherto. That's what it's talking about, but you know sometimes I feel that some of you, you get so taken up with the dispensational application that you fail to see that there is a practical, personal, present application in the passage. In other words, there's a spiritual principle behind this that we can apply to our own lives today.

We live in an atmosphere of materialism, and this is why I'm asking the question: could this be the reason why the people we often relate to are not coming to Christ?

I've put it simply into three statements that I have taken literally straight out of this passage. The first is this: the people, often, that we relate to will not come to Christ. I'd like you to write these down if you have a pen and paper, the people that we often relate to will not come to Christ. Now what do I mean? Well, specifically in this context we're talking about the Jews. Remember that the Lord Jesus is in a Pharisee's home, and he only invited his friends, he didn't invite the poor, the blind, the halt, and the lame along to his home - he only invited those who he knew, those who he related to. They were the people that you would have expected to be in a Pharisee's house at this time: they were religious. But you know, as we go into the Lord's parable, the description of these people are given in three examples. There's the man who said: 'I've bought a field and I can't come to your great supper'. Then there's the man who said: 'Well, I've bought some oxen and I've got to go and try them out'. And then there is the other man who said: 'Well, I've got married and I cannot come'.

When you narrow it down, these people aren't just religious, but they are wealthy enough to buy land, wealthy enough to buy five yoke of oxen, and they are respectably married. They are the 'hoy-polloy' if you like, they're preoccupied with business, with wealth, with family and relationship commitments that they have. We could narrow it down: they are proud, they are business minded, they're occupied with pleasure. If we were to take a common denominator out of these people, we would say they felt that they had no apparent need of this supper. If they really felt they needed the supper, they would have gone to the supper - but they don't need it! Friends, I hope you would agree with me today that the Western world, and particularly Ulster, the affluence that we have in this part of the world, the wealth that people have, the luxury, they really feel in the depths of their soul that, humanly speaking in this life, they have no need of the Gospel. They don't need God to provide bread for their table, they can provide bread for their table themselves. They don't need God to pull them out of a particular hole, they can go and get some benefits to do that, or they can work by the sweat of their brow and get it themselves. We live in an atmosphere of materialism, and this is why I'm asking the question: could this be the reason why the people we often relate to are not coming to Christ? Because we relate as Christians more, it seems, in the modern day to the middle and upper classes than the Christians of previous generations did to the working classes.

You only have to look at where our church is situated today, and the type of people that come along to our church, and we're trying to share the Gospel with people around this church, and we feel like Isaiah in chapter 53 verse 1: 'Who has believed a report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?'. It seems that no-one around here will listen to our Gospel. Now I'm not saying that we don't take the Gospel to people who we relate to, perhaps they are the primary ones - to the Jew first and then to the Gentile and to the Greek - we have to go and ask those people, but if we keep going and asking and relating to them and witnessing to them and they do not come, does that mean that we forget about all those people who we don't relate to and who are more likely, the Lord Jesus says, to come to the great supper? For these people are themselves predisposed to the invitation, the circumstances in their life have been so difficult that they are almost driven to God, if someone would just come along and invite them to this great supper.

In verse 21 we see that God is angry with those who are well off, those who are religious, those who have need of nothing and do not see or want God or the need of Him - God says that He is angry. He was angry with the Jews, and that's why in the book of Hebrews 3 verse 11 He swore in His wrath that they would never enter into His rest. I'm just asking the question now...the people we relate to, often they will not come to Christ.

I'll tell you this: there are people going to hell and we're not reaching them, we're not even coming within a mile of them

The second point I want to make to you from the parable today is this: the people we don't relate to would come to Christ if we invited them. Have you got that one? The people we don't relate to would come to Christ if we invited them. If you look at this passage, the host of this great supper said to his servant: 'Go out quickly', and it implies an urgency. It's as if the banquet's going to go cold, and the food is all going to be wasted and destroyed and have to be disposed of. He's telling him: 'Go out now, these people haven't come that I have invited, and before the food gets cold go out and get people to eat it'. Friends, I don't need to tell you that we are most probably and certainly, I would say, living in the end times. The banquet of the Gospel is going to grow cold one day, for the day of God's grace is going to close and there will be no more opportunities in heaven to reach the lost, to reach the people in East Belfast, it will be past! There is the need, and if you could only hear God's voice saying to us now: 'Go quickly! Go quickly! Before it goes cold'.

Don't go to the wealthy, don't go to those who have great professions, don't go to those who have a stable family unit, verse 21: 'Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind'. Go to the streets and the lanes, the places where the common people dwell - not in the courts of the temple, but the red light districts of the city, the slums, the estates, go out there. Go to the poor, those who are poor in spiritual riches, those who are poor in spirit, and who are humble people and already know their sin and know their great need. Go to the maimed, go to the halt, the incurables of society, the needy people, the people that the self-righteous and the religious have passed by and said that they have no message and no help for. Those who the Pharisees cursed, remember they cursed them! Remember the Pharisee in the temple and the publican? The Pharisee said: 'I'm glad that I am not like this man', and the publican beat his breast and said: 'Lord, be merciful unto me, a sinner'. Are we the Pharisee? 'I'm glad we're not like them'? Go to the blind, those who are powerless to help themselves and to do anything about their predicament.

Can I just move your gaze for a moment, not just to this specific incident of the parable of the Lord, but to His whole life and indeed His life's pattern. Do you know that when you go through the Gospels and you see that when the Pharisees rejected the Lord, who did He turn who? He turned to the multitudes, do you see it? When the religious people rejected Him in the temple, He turned to the multitude on the way to the feast - the people who were coming to worship. When the rich people refused to hear Him, it says that the common people heard Him gladly. When the rulers of the temple and society crucified Him on the cross, and He was hanging there in His dying breath, He was able to turn and bless a penitent thief. Our Lord's pattern was to come to the outcast, the lowly of society.

My friends listen to me today, for this is a message that is breaking my heart and speaking to my own heart, and I surely haven't got it made and I feel very convicted this morning - but I want you to be convicted with me too. It says of David in the Acts of the Apostles: David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep. I think, and I fear, that many of us are serving a generation that died 70 years ago. I'm not talking about changing the Gospel, I think you know me better than to think that I would imbibe liberalism or modernism or 'trendyism', but I'll tell you this: there are people going to hell and we're not reaching them, we're not even coming within a mile of them.

What about our generation? What are we going to do to love them? Not just preach at them, but to love them for Christ, to bring them to Christ and win them and woo them through His love in us!

How will we serve our generation? You know, I feel so often - I don't want to be too critical, but I'm looking at my own heart and I see so much that it's just all coming out - we are a reactionary people as evangelical Christians. We adopt pendulum Christianity - in other words, the charismatic movement all they talk about is the Holy Spirit, we know that that's wrong, that they don't talk about the Lord Jesus enough. They get into all sorts of excess that is not of the Holy Spirit at all, so we fling the pendulum swing to the other way and we don't talk about the Holy Spirit at all, we hinder His work in our lives, we don't believe in the fullness of the Holy Spirit and the unction of God upon our lives. But we can do this also as we seek to serve our generation, because there are churches around us that are preaching a social gospel, that are having Daffodil Teas and Jumble Sales, we feel that we can't do anything for unbelievers in case we're seen to be having a social gospel.

My friend, I was reading on my holidays - not this one, I have so many but who's counting them! - on the one a wee while ago when I was away in the Mediterranean, a book, and I would advise you to read it, it's called 'Revival Man' the story of Jock Troop from the Tent Hall in Glasgow. Now there's a lot of stuff about Glasgow that I didn't understand, and I had to give it to somebody from Glasgow to tell me what it meant, but you know right throughout that book I was convicted - and you know about this man. He came to preach in the Coalmen's Mission, I don't even know if he preached here - he did preach in Templemore Hall on one occasion - but do you know what he did? Every Sunday morning in life, the Lord's Day, he had a breakfast for the down and outs in the city of Glasgow - he came and fed them all, the place was packed! It was during the war, and he would have at lunchtime on the Lord's Day, he would have a lunch for the service men who were serving in the war. He was helping people that needed help, but he was giving them the Gospel, he was showing them the love of Christ, but he was showing them the love of Christ that constrained him in the Gospel!

You can read about Mueller and the orphanages, a brethren man - so those of you who are brethrenistic minded, this is a brethren man! He helped the children who had no parents, why? Because the love of Christ constrained him, and many of those children could testify how they came to Christ because of Mueller's love. We could name a hundred men like Barnardo, General Booth of the Salvation Army, now I'm asking the question: that was another generation, what about our generation? What are we going to do to love them? Not just preach at them, but to love them for Christ, to bring them to Christ and win them and woo them through His love in us! As I was thinking about this - and I stand to be corrected, I'm sure I will if I'm wrong - but when I thought of this, I couldn't think, and I haven't researched this, I should have but I couldn't think of one incident in the Gospel where the Lord Jesus came directly and specifically to a religious man. You're all thinking now! In John 3 Nicodemus came to Him by night, the rich young ruler came to Him and asked 'What must I do to inherit eternal life?', but who do you find the Lord Jesus going to? John chapter 4, a woman who we wouldn't touch with a barge pole today, because she had too many problems. Zacchaeus is up a tree, he is a tax collector and a publican, and Jesus says: 'Come on down, I'm going to your house today for my dinner'. Do you see it? Why? Because He said: 'I'm not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance'!

When I was in Scotland last week I heard of an Assembly, I don't know who they are or what they are, but they stopped doing their door-to-door work because there were people who were coming to church and they had too many problems for them to deal with. Don't say: 'Oh dear' - could we deal with them? Could we handle them? I asked the question of myself as I meditated about all these things: if we aren't seeking out the people who Jesus sought out, are we doing Christ's work? Can we say that we're doing Christ's work? If the people that Christ came closest to, the publicans, the harlots, the sinners, the drunkards, that He was accused of being a friend of, a winebibber, a friend of publicans - if those are the very people that we're the farthest away from! They that are whole have no need of a physician.

To see the degradation and the depravity, and the scars of sinfulness around the homes and the families and the children in this district - and it's our district! It's our harvest field!

Now listen: it's nice, it's not nice, it's difficult, but it's challenging to take up the sayings of the Lord Jesus and actually analyse them and ask ourselves do we really believe them. The Lord said in John 4, after there was that encounter with the woman at the well, 'Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest'. Now is that true or false? Is He right or wrong? Are we going to dispensationalise that now? Are the fields white to harvest? What fields? The fields that Jesus sent us to: the halt, the blind, the poor, the maimed - and the question we need to ask is not: 'Does that verse fit in with my life?', but 'Are we in the right or the wrong field?'. We're in the middle of a field as we speak. I was down here for a wedding rehearsal on Thursday night, and some of the men and women were taking the Holiday Bible Club leaflets around the district, and you know some of them said to me that they really got their eyes opened on Thursday night. To see the degradation and the depravity, and the scars of sinfulness around the homes and the families and the children in this district - and it's our district! It's our harvest field!

I read a story yesterday, it was reported in The Times Reporter of New Philadelphia, Ohio. It said that in September 1985 there was a celebration at the New Orleans Municipal Pool. It was for all the lifeguards, because in the year that had went by there wasn't one person that had drowned. So there were two hundred people invited to this swimming pool, and 100 of them were certified lifeguards. They had a great night celebrating this fact of this success, and then at the end of the night there were four lifeguards that went around everything, fishing things out of the pool, and they found the body of a fully clothed man floating on the top of the water. A man died with 100 lifeguards around him because they were too busy celebrating what they had in the past.

The people we relate to often will not come to Christ; the people we don't relate to would come to Christ if we invited them; and thirdly and finally, they won't come unless we go out and get them. They won't come unless we go out and get them. I'm not talking about bringing them to church, unless we've suddenly turned into papists and we believe that the church will save people - it's not the church that we want to bring them to. Now if the Lord brings them here, and we can get them here, praise God - and I would long to see many more people in the Gospel meeting under the sound of God's word. But let us not be standing up in the meeting and praying that the Lord would bring them in, for that's our job! We need to ask the question: when was the last time not that we asked someone, but that we compelled someone to come - not to the meeting, but to Christ?

I hear all this rot - and I don't care, really, today whether you're a Calvinist or an Arminian - it doesn't matter when there are people going to hell. I hear some people say: 'Well, that's the Holy Spirit's job'. That's right, the Holy Spirit is the only one who can save men and women, but the Holy Spirit has chosen you as His ordained instrument to go and win them for Christ. You know, the Holy Spirit has been blamed on more people going to hell than, I think, anybody - because the Holy Spirit has inspired this parable, and the Lord Jesus says: 'You go quickly, and you compel them to come in!'. He says: 'Go to the highways', do you know what the highways were? The broad, well trodden ways of the world, go out there! The host says: 'If you go out there I anticipate that you won't be rejected', do you know why? Because this supper is so great - God has provided so much in salvation that He will not tolerate people not enjoying it! He wants people to enjoy it, and if those who are invited won't come He's going to get people to come who will eat of His great supper!

Men and women who are already in life's calamities, who feel they're living a hell on earth and are looking everywhere and anywhere for a solution and for an answer. But here's the question that Paul poses to us today: how shall they hear without a what? Preacher!

Luther said: 'Such were His preparations that He must have guests, if He makes them even of the very stones, He'll have guests' - so don't hesitate, don't be afraid to go out! These people might feel that they cannot approach the Iron Hall because of their unworthiness, but they won't be unwilling! If they can see the love of Christ in us, if we show the love of Christ toward them, they will see God's love. We are to go, the Lord says, as ambassadors urging them in Christ's stead, knowing the terror of the Lord, to persuade men to be reconciled by God - men and women who are already in life's calamities, who feel they're living a hell on earth and are looking everywhere and anywhere for a solution and for an answer. But here's the question that Paul poses to us today: how shall they hear without a what? Preacher! How will the whore hear? How will the alcoholic man that can't get out of his bed hear? How will the person that's selling the last piece of furniture to go to the bookies - how will they hear? The off-scouring of the world, the rejected of church and society?

He says: 'Go further, go to the hedges', and I think the hedges here are speaking of how the ceremonial law of Judaism separated Jews from Gentiles, but also separated the unclean. The Lord's saying: 'Go to the hedges, the places where these people are: the neglected, the outsiders, the distasteful, the heathen'. Oh, praise God, I don't know if we've lost it somewhere, but let's get it back: that this is a Gospel of grace we believe in! The only thing that we want a person to have when they come through that door is not a hat, not a suit - in the Gospel now I'm talking about - but the knowledge in their heart that they're a sinner, for that's what they need to come to Christ - that's all the qualification they need! It's a gospel of grace, grace that is greater than all our sin, grace that embraces those who are at the hedges of sinful immoral society, the most distant, the most lonely! Do you and I really believe in the power of the Gospel to be able to reach and to touch and to save even people like that?

The Lord says: 'Go to the highways, go to the hedges' - look at verse 23 - 'and compel them' - an urgency of love! It's not talking about forced by weapons, but the literal Greek word is a word for force, but it means 'compel them by the force of your love, compel them by the truth of your message, compel them by the power of your prayers, the deeds of your charity, the argument of your reason, and the counsel of your wisdom'. Compel them! They may say, and I've heard it, 'I haven't got the right dress' - what do you say? Do you know what the Lord says? You tell them that's no excuse, for the Lord wants you to come and eat of that dinner. My Master won't accept any excuse, it's your type of person that He invites - do we take no excuses from these people? There is a bountiful banquet for them, and all that it lacks is guests! The Lord says that if we obey what He is outlining here we'll have so many guests that we'll not have room for them, and we'll need to build a bigger building! There's no preparation to be made, it's all done, only for sinners who will come and say: 'Just as I am, without one plea'.

You know, if people had heeded the preaching of Noah the Ark wouldn't have been big enough, isn't that right? But I'll tell you, the Lord says that no matter how many people heed and will heed the preaching of the Gospel, this banquet is big enough for them all. There is room in the mercy of God, there's room in the merit of Christ, there's room in the church of God, there's room in heaven. I heard recently of a person being saved with a chequered background, like the woman at the well in John 4, and do you know what and old pharisaical pompous so-called Christian said? And he is a Christian, do you know what I heard him say? 'She's fit for heaven, but not for the church'. Now friend, if that's your theology, you need a new Bible - for Jesus had room for her.

My Master won't accept any excuse, it's your type of person that He invites - do we take no excuses from these people? There is a bountiful banquet for them, and all that it lacks is guests!

I close with the words of verse 21, what did the servant say? 'It is done' - and oh, that we in the Iron Hall, and I as David Legge, could say to the Lord on the day of judgement: 'Lord, You sent me to the maim, the halt, the blind, the outcasts of society - it's done! I didn't wait for a second command, it's done. I realised my responsibility, and I realised that You were angry with those who You invited and didn't come, and how much more would You be angry with those who hindered people that wanted to come from coming'!

The last sermon that D.L. Moody preached was on this parable - November 23rd 1899, and he called it 'Excuses'. In Kansas City he was standing as a sick man, so much so that he had to hold onto the organ to steady himself, he thought he was going to fall. Just before that great sermon he said to his students at the school in Chicago: 'Never, never have I wanted so much to lead men and women to Christ as I do at this time. I must have souls in Kansas City!'. And as he stood and preached, his heart was throbbing unnaturally in his breast, but there were 50 souls responded to Christ, and the next month he died. At the very end of his life he was compelling people to come in, why? Because the banquet is growing cold, and if we went to them and invited them they would come.

Let's bow our heads together, and I plead with you please: don't let this be just another Sunday sermon. What are we doing to reach the lost? Young people, if there's something in your heart burning, a desire to win the lost, don't you let anyone quench it. Older folk, that desire that was once there, where has it gone? This place that used to be a beacon for the people, among the people, what's happened to us? Have we got respectable? Are we out of touch? Oh, that we would hear the cry of human hearts for the Lord Jesus.

Father, help us, help me, help me to get beyond the facade of the pulpit, and to get down to where the people are. Lord, help us all to follow the Master and be among them to win them, that the common people would hear us gladly, that we would be able to feed them with the living bread as the Lord Jesus did, that we would see the crowd as our Saviour did - till His eyes with tears grew dim, till we see in pity the wandering sheep, and love them for love of Him. Amen.

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Transcribed by:
Andrew Watkins
Preach The Word.
September 2002
www.preachtheword.com

This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly, Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the tape, titled "The Compelling Commission" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.

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