AN OLD TESTAMENT CALL TO SALVATION
Who talks about God, religion, and the church? One of our Southern Baptist Convention agencies commissioned Dr. Ralph Neighbor to find out what the lost world was talking about and how to communicate the gospel to them. Dr. Neighbor went into night clubs, bars, dance halls, grocery stores, amusement parks, etc. He discovered that there was much talk about God, religion, the Bible and the church. It has been my personal observation on a more limited scale, that the average person on the street is willing to talk about God. The text calls upon everyone to come and reason with God. Let's notice the details of this reasoning process that involves a call to salvation.
I. An Old Testament call to Salvation; is an urgent call. v 18 a
The first words of the 18th verse are "come now." They are a command; they are not just a general request. God is commanding a sinful nation to come to him and to do it with urgency. "Come now," is the plea.
No one can properly say "I'm too great a sinner to come to Him. It is not for you to decide if God would accept you. If one is honest about their sin, they cannot believe how it can be forgiven. This is human thinking and it says--stay away from God. Spiritual instruction says--come and come now. God doesn't want anyone to linger any longer in their sin. His forgiveness is available today.
Mr. Moody was holding a service when a business man came and tried to get into the building. They were singing that hymn, "O Word Of Words The Sweetest," and had just reached the chorus, "Come, Oh come to me," that was all this business man heard. He made his way back to his office, but he could not attend his business. Across the pages of the books he saw that word, "Come," written. He made his way back to his home, and he heard it in the ticking of his clock. he shut himself up in his room, and he heard it in the beating of his heart, and he told Mr. Moody that alone in his room, down on his knees, repenting of his sin, he received Jesus Christ as his Savior.
Today do you hear the great invitation of our God? Do you understand
how urgent it is? Today we want you to come to God. Now notice the next
phrase in verse 18.
II. An Old Testament call to Salvation;
Is a to reason about sin. v 18 b
In the introduction I stated that Dr. Neighbor had discovered most folks will talk about God. The only problem about this willingness to talk is that they want to set the agenda of discussion rather than accepting God's. Our Lord says, "Let's reason about your sin." For some reason mankind thinks they can hide their sin from Him. But our sin, even in an attempt to cover it in worship is revealed by God (notice verses 14-17).
The word translated 'reason' is a court room word. It has reference
to the parties in a legal trial presenting their plea before the judge.
In this verse, mankind is invited to plead his case and God will present
His. But since God knows man doesn't have a case that will, in any way,
justify his sin, God alone presents His plea.
In The Pulpit Commentary one of the writers imagines a man making several pleas before God. I will list these in abbreviated form.
Man's First Plea: Lord, I'm a sinner, but I don't think you're concerned about man or the forgiveness of sin.
God's Answer: I have great interest in mankind. I created you and I cause everything to exist that allows you to live. I am concerned that you area sinner and have provided for your forgiveness.
Man's Second Plea: I know you have given a great law by which we are to live. I have not kept Thy law. I know you have said "The soul that sinneth shall surely die." I do not see how you can keep your justice and truth and yet blot out my sin.
God's Answer: I can be just and justifying. I have promised my only Son to be sent as your sin bearer. In His sinless life and vicarious death, my law is magnified and shown to be honorable.
Man's Third Plea: But sir, my sins have been great. I don't see how they could be forgiven or how I would ever hold my head up among respectable people.
God's Answer: My Son's worth outweighs the weight of your sin. If His robe of righteousness covers your sin, I will see it no more.
Man's Fourth Plea: But my sins are acts of willful rebellion. I fear I would want to go on sinning and that I could not live a Christian life.
God's Answer: I have provided for this. I will pour out my spirit upon you. He shall be Teacher, Guide, Comforter, Earnest and Seal.
Man's Fifth Plea: Lord, even if you can cleanse my sin and give me strength to live the Christian life, I fear I can not pay the price. Surely there must be a very high price to be paid.
God's Answer: The great price has been paid. Jesus paid it all.
You see, I am Love and Love saves even those who never can hope to make
worthy returns. The gift is just that, "a gift."
Come today and reason with God. But you must reason about sin with your attention on the Savior. If you are to be forgiven you can not linger on your sin but bring it to the Savior. In Him there is no 'sin problem,' but a 'sin solution."
"Are you washed in the blood? In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb? Are your garments spotless, are they white as snow, Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Next let's notice the phrase about cleansing.
III. An Old Testament call to Salvation;
Is A Call to cleansing of sin. v 18 c
A common phrase is "it's as black as sin." But the Bible never refers to sin as being black. It refers to sin being red. In our text it is 'as scarlet,' or 'red as crimson.' But the important truth of this verse is not the color of sin, but the color of forgiveness. Sins 'as scarlet' can be 'as white as snow.' Sins 'red like crimson' can be 'like wool.' Forgiveness makes possible the cleansing of sin.
In another passage of scripture (Micah 7:19) God says He has cast our sins in the depth of the sea. Recently I read that the average depth of the ocean was 11,500 feet, the deepest part being more than 31,000 feet deep. If Mt. Everest were cast into the depth of the sea it would be covered by ½ mile of water.
How great a mountain is your sin? God's grace can cover it. How scarlet a color would your sin be? God can cleanse it white as snow. How red a red would your sin be? God can make it like wool.
Monday of this past week the St. Louis Pastors Conference met and Dr. Carl Bates spoke to us. He told of being pastor in Charlotte, North Carolina for 22 years. Just before he retired, the new pastor at the Church of Christ (so called) challenged him to a debate about baptism. Dr. Bates declined.
The other pastor continued and demanded to know why Dr. Bates would not debate. Dr. Bates told him, "My arguments are based on all the Bible and the Greek language. I know you wouldn't accept all that evidence. The preacher continued to attempt to cause a debate and one night attended the revival service at First Baptist Church, Charlotte, with his challenge. Again Dr. Bates again declined.
The preacher said, "Well, I'll see you at the Judgment." Dr. Bates said, "No, you won't." The preacher said, "Why not?" Dr. Bates said, "Because my case was settled a long time ago and it was settled out of court." Amen! and Amen!
Today you have the opportunity to have your sin forgiven. You can be
cleansed. You can answer the call to Salvation. We invite you to respond.
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And Beyond. Amen? Amen!