Thank you. Now if you have a copy of the New Testament with you tonight, I want you to turn with me for a moment to 1 Peter and chapter 1. First Peter chapter 1 and verse 18.
Peter writes to these Christians, and he says these words: "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God".
In the United States of America, there was held in Chicago a great parliament of religions. Every known religion and cult and faith was represented at that parliament over a period of a week or so. During one of the conference sessions a man called Dr. Joseph Cook stood to his feet. As he rose to his feet he turned to each person in the gathering, and he addressed them saying these words: 'I have with me this evening', he said, 'a woman with a great sorrow'. He said: 'This woman that I have with me has blood stains upon her hands. In her desperation and in her distress she has tried absolutely everything to get the guilt of this blood stain off her hands, but nothing she has done has taken them away'. He proceeded to ask them a question, he said: 'Is there anything, anything in your faiths, anything in your religions or your beliefs, that can give this woman peace, that can take away her heartache, can take away her guilt and give her real life?'. Each representative looked at one another, they didn't know what to say, they were dumbfounded - no answer came. So Dr. Joseph Cook, as it were, looked to heaven - and when he looked to the sky he said: 'I'm going to ask another question'. He said: 'John, John the apostle, can you tell this woman how to get rid of the awful stains from off her hands?'. As if to hear an answer coming straight from heaven, he said: 'Listen, listen, hear John the apostle speak! The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanseth us from all sin!'.
That's the message that we have for you tonight. It's not a new message, it's not a modern message, it's the old old story of Jesus Christ who shed His blood - but it's as new tonight as it has ever been! This passage that we read together [Isaiah chapter 1 verse 18], you'll know that it was addressed to the Jew - but, as we look at this passage, we see that it's not specific to the Jews. In other words, it can be applied to any person that has ever lived down all the eras of time. In the passage we see three things that are applicable to every person, even in our gathering tonight.
First of all we see in the passage the sinfulness of every single person in this world. He says: 'Put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes. Take them away, be cleansed from all the wrong that you've done'. Secondly we see from the passage the fact that God has provided a remedy that we might be cleansed from all those wrong things that we have done. Thirdly it presents us with the result, or the consequence of whether we say 'Yes' to God and His cleansing, or whether we simply reject Him and say, 'I'm OK the way that I am'.
Let's look at verse 18 [of Isaiah chapter 1], God says these words: 'Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord'. It's an invitation, God is calling, God is saying to someone here: 'Come to me! Come, I'm calling, I'm inviting, I'm asking you to come to me'. Now, as a Christian, when I look at that verse it speaks to me of a day in my life when I heard - not verbally, but I felt God calling me. Not calling me to service, not to the ministry, nothing like that - but God actually calling me first to Himself, to know what it is to have my sins forgiven, to know what it is to have a real relationship from day-to-day with Almighty God.
Now, if that speaks to me of my call, it speaks to you of your call too - why? Because this passage, as we've already said, is applicable to every single person that has ever lived. So if it speaks to me of my call, that must mean that God is calling to you tonight as well. God is saying, specifically to you - not to the person beside you, or someone at home, but God is saying to you tonight: 'Come to me! Listen, I'm calling you, I'm shouting for you to come to me. I'm inviting you to come'. I think this is, by far, one of the greatest truths and facts about the gospel of Jesus Christ: that the Creator, the almighty sovereign God, the God who by His hands flung the stars into space, the God who set the orbits in their motion, the God who made the universe exceeding the knowledge of men - that God, the Creator of the sun the moon and the stars and everything that is in the world, that God is personally interested in you!
I wonder can you think how big the universe is? Scientists tell us that we can't measure the length of the universe, the height or the depth, it just goes on for ever and ever. It seems, they say, that it's eternal. Yet Paul the apostle, in the book of Acts, said something different than that. He said that in God we live, we move, and we have our being. In other words, what he meant by that was: every single thing that is dwells within God. God is bigger than anything that we've ever thought of, or anything that even exists in our existence - He far exceeds it all. God, bigger than the universe.
You think how big even our own solar system is, how big our Milky Way is. If you had a telescope, and you came from the outside of the universe and you were focusing in and you were looking for planet Earth - can you think of how far you would have to go in even to find it? How large our solar system is, and you would come right into our specific solar system, and you would see some of the planets like Pluto, Venus, Saturn and Mars. As you would go in further and further you would see a little green and blue planet - planet Earth. Think just for a moment how small, how minute the earth's sphere would be in comparison to the solar system, or even in comparison to the whole universe. It's minute!
You go in further and further, right into the planet, and you would look at the continents of Africa, Asia, and the Americas and Europe. If you went in on Europe you would see right at the edge of Europe two little islands. You focus in, you come in further and further, and you see on the left side a little tiny speck of an island. You go in further and further, and you go to the north of that island. You see a loch, and just around that loch you see a little town. You go in further and further and you see Portadown. Go in a little more, and you see a little microscopic speck in Portadown - a building. In that building there is one insignificant, it seems, minute inconceivable microcosm of nothingness - and that's you.
Can you think of how small, how seemingly insignificant and seemingly unimportant, you are in comparison to the universe, and in comparison to God in whom the universe dwells? But you see, the great message of the gospel is this: that you are not insignificant to God, but in fact this God who is bigger than the universe, bigger than anything that is, this God is specifically and personally interested in you tonight! So much so that this God comes to you tonight, and invites you to come to Him.
What does He say? What happens when you come to Him? He says: 'Come unto me, and let us reason together, saith the Lord'. It's that word 'reason' that I want you to notice just for a moment. He says: 'Come and let us reason together'. That word, to me, has a bit of a ring of the law courts to it. It's as if God wants you and me to come to Him tonight and have face-to-face confrontation with Him. It seems that He is asking us to come to Him to reason and to debate, as it were, to argue a matter over with Him. You might say to me: 'David, hold on a minute, I have nothing to argue with God! I've nothing I want to reason and debate with God for!'.
Let's see what the word of God says about that. Look at verse 6 of chapter 1 of Isaiah, you read these words - and it's as if this is a picture of us that God has taken, if you'll excuse the illustration, with a camera, a Polaroid camera. This is the way God sees you as He looks at you tonight, He says: 'From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment'. Now, no matter how pretty you are tonight, no matter how pretty you might think you are, as God looks at you in His holiness, in His righteousness, in His perfection - He sees in you nothing but a person who is covered from tip to toe in putrifying, oozing, pussing sores of sin.
Don't think I'm singling you out tonight, because Paul in the book of Romans says that there's no difference between anybody, because all of us have sinned and all of us have fallen short of the mark of God, the standard of God. Unless you're God tonight - and if you are put your hand up - unless you are God tonight, you fall short of His standard. If you could reach His standard you would be God, but if you can't reach His standard the Bible says that you are sinful. That's why God asks you to come and reason with Him, because if God is to solve this problem that you have - if God is to fix your problem and take away your sin - you must have a face-to-face confrontation with Him.
But there is a problem: even when you do have face-to-face confrontation with Him, you cannot delete the indelible, and you cannot change the unchangeable. There's nothing you can do! Think of this: the God of all eternity, as it were, stoops to reason and debate, to talk the matter over with us - yet in all our insignificance, in all our sinfulness, God must help us. We can reason all we like, we can argue all we like, but at the end of the day - no matter what soap we use, no matter what scrubber we use - we cannot remove the sin stains that have been on us since the very moment we came out of our mother's womb.
That's why Isaiah says you have been called tonight - but when you are called, and when you come, you must be cleansed. That's that he says: 'Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow'. Do you know what that means? Now listen up tonight: no matter what your sin is - it might be murder, it might be adultery, it might be alcoholism, it might be pornography, it might be anything under the sun, theft, cheating in business, cheating on your wife, lying, envying, it could be anything! It could be the biggest sin that you can think of, no matter what that might be, but God says - listen: 'There is no dye, there is no scarlet, there is no shade of red that is too deep for me to cleanse'.
Have you got that? You might be here tonight - and maybe there is one here tonight - and you think that you're beyond redemption. You think you're too bad for God to save, you think you've done too much. Perhaps you're a backslider, and you think you've gone too far in the other direction and God wouldn't want anything to do with you. Listen to me tonight: God says that no matter how deep-dyed a sinner you are He can cleanse your guilt. You might say: 'Now hold on a wee minute, David. You've just told me a minute ago that God can't look upon our sinfulness. We are sinners, we have fallen short of His glory, how can God then just come along and say: 'Right, I'm here, I'll take your sin and I'll wipe the slate clean, and now your scarlet sin has been made as white as snow, it's like pristine white wool'. How can God just do something like that? It doesn't make sense'.
Turn with me for a moment to Isaiah 53, because Isaiah gives all the answers in this little book. Isaiah 53 and verse 5, and this is a prophecy that was spoken about the Lord Jesus Christ hundreds - now listen - hundreds of years before He ever lived. It says in verse 5, speaking of the Lord Jesus Himself: 'But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed'. Have you got that? What did Dr. Joseph Cook cry? What was his question? It was about a woman who had stains of blood on her hands, she had murdered! She thought that no matter what she could do she couldn't get rid of these stains, she couldn't get the guilt away from her mind, she couldn't get rid of her sin. What did Joseph Cook say? He said the words of John, that the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, can cleanse any sin.
That's the message we have tonight: that there is a substance that was shed in this universe, in this timescale, that no matter what your sin is tonight - if it's homosexuality, no matter what you've dabbled in, no matter what you've looked at, no matter what you've taken, no matter what you've swallowed, no matter where you've been - the blood of Christ can wipe it all away. Because of that God says to you tonight: 'Come and let us reason about this, and I'll make your scarlet sin, your deep-dyed sin, as white as snow'. You might say: 'Well, hold on, I'm not a murderer'. You might say: 'Hold on a minute, I'm alright, I don't go into those deep-dyed sins'. Let me ask you just for one moment tonight, where you're sitting, to think of the sins that you have committed in the last hour. Can you do that? Think. What about today? What about this week? What about the wrong things that you've done this month? This year? You try and conjure up in your mind all the wrong things that you have done in this life! No matter whether you haven't murdered, or broken the big commandments in the ten commandments, God looks at you tonight and you're still covered in sores of sin. He says: 'There's no hope for you, child, tonight if you don't come to Me, and you don't get cleansed in the blood of Christ'.
A young sceptic came up to a preacher one night after a meeting like this, and he said: 'Hold on a minute. You were preaching on the blood of Christ, how can the blood of Christ cleanse sin?'. The preacher was nonplussed for moment and he thought about it, he didn't know what to do, he was cornered. After thinking about it for a minute he turned to that young man, and he said: 'Listen, tell me this: how does water quench thirst?'. The young man thought for a moment and said: 'Well, I can't explain to you, I don't know it inside out, but I know one thing: I know that it does'. The preacher said to that young man: 'Listen, I don't know all the intricate details of how blood cleanses sin, all I know is that God requires blood for sin to be cleansed. Because the life, your blood running coursing through your veins, your life is in that blood - and God required perfect, sinless, sacrifice of blood in order to forgive sin and to cleanse it all away'. Praise God tonight, He supplied it in the person of His Son!
I can't explain to you an A-Z of how blood cleanses sin, but listen: I know that it does. Why? Because it cleansed my sin, because tonight I am free from my sin. God has wiped my sin off the face of the earth! How did He do it? Because, as Isaiah 53 says, He laid on His Son, He punished His Son for my iniquities! Jesus Christ was taken, that's how it happened, the sinless spotless Lamb of God, the Son of God, the one who was before even the earth was, the second person of the Trinity was put in flesh, and was brought to a place called 'The Place of the Skull'. He was taken, and listen to this - no matter what pictures you see of Christ with a loincloth on - the Son of God was stripped naked. The creature, the creatures He had made, watched the Creator naked before them. They watched as He was spat upon, as they took their filthy hands and pulled His beard from His face, as they hit Him and took it in turns - a guard of centurions, 100 of them - to punch Him and to beat Him until His eyes were swollen, and His cheeks were puffed, until the Bible says that His face was marred, it was disfigured more than any man that has ever lived. They whipped His back, the Bible says, and if you had watched as they whipped that back - it was like a ploughed field, and the strips of flesh would have come off, and the blood and the sinews would have dropped off the Son of God. They pushed Him down a road with a cross on His back to the Place of the Skull. They took Him, and they lifted Him after putting in another piece of wood, and they dropped His body and the cross into its socket until bones came out of joint in His body. They smote Him with a reed, and they put a crown of thorns on His head, they did everything to humiliate Him that they could do to Him. They did everything physical that they could think of to Him.
But listen brethren, that was only the physical sufferings of Christ. I want you to get this this evening: those were the least of His sufferings! It says in Isaiah 53 and verse 6 that the Father, God, laid on Him the iniquity of us all - that's more than physical punishment, do you know what that is? God said this: 'I'm going to count my Son as your sin'. Do you remember the sin you were thinking of tonight? God the Father, the holy God said: 'I want these people to be cleansed, I want these people to be saved, I want my Son to be glorified, so what I'm going to do is I'm going to reckon Him, I'm going to account on Him the sins of the world' - and that's exactly what He did. He put in His body, as it were, all your sin, all my sin - and He opened up His holy wrath, His judgement, and He just poured it upon the Son of God. He exhausted on Jesus Christ all the anger and all the wrath of a righteous God, He poured it out upon Him - like an atomic bomb going off in a matchbox, the power of God fell on Him. The suffering of the whole world that ever was, the eternal hell of every man, was poured into Christ in three solid hours at Calvary. So much so that the Bible says a darkness - a darkness - came upon all the land. Not a darkness like we see tonight, but a special darkness - why? Because what was happening to Christ on that dreadful day was something that, when men would look upon it, it was something that never ever happened or never ever would happen again in the history of all time. It was gruesome, why? Because it was sin being punished!
Why did He do it? Do you know why He did it tonight? If you hear nothing else of what I say, listen to this: He did it because He loved you. Do you know that tonight? There mightn't be another soul in the world that loves you, but Christ loves you! Don't ever say that He doesn't love you, because He went all the way to Calvary - and He didn't just die for you, but He took your sin! He was cursed as your sin, and that's how much the Christ of the cross loved you. He loved you so much He stretched His arm out to die for you at Calvary!
In the Old Testament scriptures an agreement between a man and another man is spoken of as a covenant, but in the Old Testament there are also agreements between God and men. Those are also spoken of as covenants. If you like, God is calling you tonight and saying: 'Come unto me, let us reason together, let us make a covenant together about this matter of your sin'. The Hebrew word for 'covenant' is the word 'to cut a covenant'. Do you remember when Moses was on Mount Sinai, and God gave him the ten commandments? God, with His finger, cut the ten commandments in stone - He carved it, He cut a covenant. In Isaiah 49 verse 16 you read these words: 'I', God says, 'I have graven you, I have cut you, upon the palms of my hands'. Do you see what He's saying? Listen: 'I have made a covenant with you on the palms of the hands of my Son'!
That's how much He loved you. Look at our passage tonight quickly: not only are we called, not only can we be cleansed, but there is a command that is given in verse 19. He says: 'If', there's a condition, 'If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it'. What's he saying? He saying this, listen: 'All you have to do is obey'. All you have to do is come, and it doesn't matter that you go to your church - it's good that you go to your church. It doesn't matter that you give to the poor, that's good but it'll do nothing for your salvation. It doesn't matter that you're a great neighbour, or that you give to your church, or that you do your best, or that you're great member of the community, or you say your prayers, or you read the Bible, or you talk about Jesus, or you sing about Jesus. He's saying: 'Listen, that doesn't matter! You must obey the command of God, and the command of God is that you obey His gospel'. His gospel says to you tonight: 'Come unto me! Come now and I'll make your scarlet sin as white as snow'.
Sure, didn't our reading tonight say that at the start of the meeting? It said you weren't bought with corruptible things like silver or gold - he's saying it doesn't matter how much you have in the bank. You weren't saved by the vain tradition of your fathers, your vain way of life - he's saying it doesn't matter whether you're a Protestant, it doesn't matter whether you're a Roman Catholic, whether you're a Buddhist, or whether you're a Muslim. It doesn't matter what lodge you're in, or what organisation you run - he says this is the only thing that can save your soul: the precious blood of Christ, as a Lamb without blemish and without spot.
In the Old Testament when they sacrificed a lamb, do you know what they did? They took it, they killed it, they poured the blood out of it, and during the Passover - you remember when God was cursing Egypt with the plagues - the people of Israel were told to take a lamb and do just that. Kill it, pour out the blood and put it in a basin. They were told to take a hyssop plant, and dip it into the basin and paint on the lintel and the doorposts the blood of the lamb. If they did that, when the angel of death came past to slay the firstborn of every family it would pass over - He said: 'I will see the blood and I will pass over you'. I wonder what would have happened if the lamb was slain, the blood was poured into the basin, and the basin sat in the corner of the room. What would have happened? The angel would have come past the door, he wouldn't have seen the blood, and he would have come in and slain the firstborn! The point was that people were to exercise faith, they were to have faith in the slain lamb. They were to take the hyssop and put the blood on the doorpost and the lintel, and that would save their souls.
Tonight God is saying to you: 'Listen, Christ has died, but you must have faith. It's not enough that you know your Bible, it's not enough that you know Christ died, but you must by faith have that blood applied to your life - and if ye be willing, and if ye be obedient, you shall eat of the good of the land'. Listen: don't believe that lie of the devil. The devil says that you'll find life out in the world, the devil tells you that Christians are modern-day puritans who don't know how to laugh, don't know how to have a good time, don't know how to live. Listen: its a lie! 'If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat of the good of the land' - if you come to Christ tonight you'll have life as you never knew it! You'll have life as it's meant to be lived! You'll have life, as the Lord Jesus Christ said, and have life in its fullness!
It would be wrong of me tonight to finish without talking about verse 20, for there's the other side of the coin where God says: 'But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword'. Do you know something? One translation of that account of the Passover says that they were also meant to paint the blood on the doorstep. What would have happened if a young man, or a young woman in that home, had went and walked out of the doorstep - what would have happened? They would have been slain. God is saying this to you tonight: if you walk out of this meeting and if you trample the blood of Christ under your feet as an unclean thing, and say to yourself: 'I want nothing of this. You can keep your gospel, you can keep the blood of Christ, I don't want it!'. Listen: God - and I'm warning you - God, in the end, will send you to hell. Let me say this, and I don't take pleasure in saying this, but I say it because I know it's true in myself: if He does send you to hell, He has every right because He sent His Son through your hell - so that you wouldn't have to go through it.
Let me finish with these words, they're not my words, they're the word of God: 'Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it'.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at Portadown Baptist Church in Portadown, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the tape, titled "God Is Calling You!" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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