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Sermon #6                                                                                                                                                                                                    Isaiah Series


Title:                           God’s Word to You


Text:                            Isaiah 1:18-20

Subject:                     God’s Call to Sinners

Date:                          Sunday Evening — June 12, 2016

Readings:     Allen Kibby and Rex Bartley



Here are two things that cannot be overstated, exaggerated, or fully described.

Š      I cannot exaggerate our sin, our utter depravity and our lost, helpless, ruined condition by nature.

Š      And I cannot exaggerate God’s great grace.


God in great grace has given his dear Son to be a great Savior for great sinners for the glory of his own great name. I want you to know both the greatness of your sin and the greatness of God’s free, sovereign, saving grace in Christ.

Š      God chose to save a people from eternity and chose the people whom he would save in everlasting love (Ephesians 1:3-6).

Š      God, in infinite wisdom, devised a means whereby he could glorify himself in the salvation of guilty sinners — Substitution (Job 33:24).

Š      God, in eternal love, gave his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to be the sinner’s Substitute, even before the world began (Revelation 13:8).

Š      God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the Triune Jehovah entered into a covenant agreement to accomplish the salvation of that elect multitude he loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Š      In the fulness of time, God sent his Son into the world to fulfil all the conditions and stipulations of that covenant by his obedience and death as the Surety of the covenant (Romans 5:19).

Š      And today God sends preachers, armed with the authority of his throne, the power of his Spirit, and the gospel of his grace, to proclaim the good news of redemption accomplished, righteousness brought in, and salvation finished in and by the Lord Jesus Christ, urging lost, ruined, doomed, damned, fallen, hell-bent sinners to be reconciled to God by faith in his dear Son (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).


(2 Corinthians 5:17-21) “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (18) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (19) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (20) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. (21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”


All of this he has done for fallen, guilty, helpless, condemned sinners, like you and me. — Oh, what amazing grace! — Oh, what wondrous mercy! — Oh, what infinite love!


Will you hear me now?God’s grace is great beyond description. But it can be seen only upon the black background of man’s depravity and sin. You will never see or have any appreciation for the grace of God in Christ until you see and own your own sin. The prophet Isaiah describes you and me in painfully vivid and accurate words in the first chapter of his prophecy. — We are all, by nature, by choice, and by practice “a people laden with iniquity.” Like Sodom and Gomorrah, we are “a seed of evil doers!” We are corrupt and we are corrupters! Let me speak to you personally, each of you. Hear me as though we were sitting in a room alone. I am speaking to you.

Š      Your personal depravity is great beyond description (vv. 2-6). How can I describe your sin? Before God you are a thoughtless, thankless rebel. Iniquity is in your heart. Sin is in your hands. Transgression is in your path. You have forsaken God from your youth up. And you daily provoke him to anger.

Š      All your acts of righteousness, religion, and morality are perverse and abominable in God’s sight (vv. 10-15). I do not doubt your sincerity. But you are ignorant of God’s character, of your own character, and of God’s requirements. In all spiritual matters your judgment is perverted. Until you are born again by God’s almighty grace, you cannot see the kingdom of God, much less enter into it.

Š      You are in great danger of reprobation and eternal condemnation (v. 5). How often God has spoken to you! But you will not hear. Your conscience has been pricked. But you pacify it. Though God has stricken your heart with fear and your mind with terror, you revolt more and more. The time may soon come when God will leave you alone (Hosea 4:17; Proverbs 1:23-33; 29:1).

Š      If God leaves you alone, you shall be forever lost! There is nothing you can do to change your lost and ruined condition (vv. 16-17). God commands you to be clean. But you cannot make yourself clean. God commands you to put away your sin. But you can’t do that! You can’t even hide your sin from his eyes, let alone put it away. God commands you to cease from doing evil. But you can’t cease from sin. God commands you to obey his law. But you have no ability to do so. Your inability is as total as your depravity (Jeremiah 13:23).


Do you see the greatness of your sin? You are totally depraved. You are spiritually ignorant. You are in immediate danger of hell. And there is nothing you can do to help yourself. Unless God himself intervenes you must be forever lost. But, blessed be his name, God does intervene. — “Where sin abounded grace did much more abound!


I preach to some of you with no affect. I have preached to some of you for years. You know the sound of my voice, the expressions of my face, the gesture of my hands, and doctrine I believe. You have heard my sermons. And you have heard my prayers. But you are unmoved. Suppose you were to hear God speak? Would you hear him? If God were to speak directly to you, would you listen? Would you obey him? Would you? — I am asking you. Answer me. Before this hour is over we will find out. What I am about to read is God’s Word to You. That’s the title of my message — God’s Word to You. My text is Isaiah 1:18-20. These are not my words, or even Isaiah’s words. This is God’s word to you!


(Isaiah 1:18-20) “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. (19) If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: (20) But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.”


Proposition: The Lord God here commands you to come to him by faith in Christ and promises the full forgiveness of sin to all who obey his command.


Divisions: I want to raise and answer seven questions in this message, seven questions that I hope are of interest to you. May God the Holy Ghost inscribe the answers upon your heart by the finger of his grace, for Christ’s sake.

1.    To whom is this command given?

2.    How can sinners come to God?

3.    How does God reason with man?

4.    How can a sinner reason with God?

5.    When can I come to God?

6.    What is promised to those who come?

7.    What is promised to those who refuse to come?


God’s Command


1st Here is God’s command. To whom is it command given? — The gospel is not a bare invitation, which may be accepted or refused, as you may choose, without impunity. It is a command, a summons from the Throne of the Most High God. When God says, “Come,” he does not mean, “Come if you please.” He means “Come!” You cannot disobey an invitation. But a command is different. If refuse to obey God’s command, if you refuse to come to Christ, you shall be judged of God as disobedient rebels (Romans 10:21). This is a gracious command, a very gracious command. The gospel of God presents you with God’s commandment (1 John 3:23). — “Come!” And you are responsible to obey it.


This command is addressed to you. It is addressed to sinners everywhere, without qualification. If you hear the command, God gave it to you. If you read the command, God gave it to you. I know many would-be theologians frown at it, many will cry, “That is not consistent Calvinism. Bro. Fortner’s theology needs to be more precise.” I care nothing for that. I want everyone who hears my voice to know this. — God commands you to come to Christ.


Many place qualifications in front of the word “sinners,” implying that before you can come to Christ in faith you must meet certain conditions. They try to sneak works into the scheme of grace by making works sound like humility. They say, God commands “sensible sinners” to come, or “seeking sinners,” or “thirsty sinners,” or “hungry sinners,” or “weary sinners,” or “lost sinners,” or “convicted sinners,” or “penitent sinners,” or “broken sinners.” But this is God’s word to you, sinner, without qualification or condition. In fact, in the context, those to whom God is speaking were sensible of nothing. They did not feel any need of a Savior. They had no sorrow, or remorse for sin. They were not broken at all. A more graphic description of utter godlessness, depravity, and spiritual death could never be found. Here is thick darkness, without one ray of light. Yet, to these hard-hearted, spiritually dead sinners, God says, “Come.”

Š      They were senseless sinners, who would not hear (v. 2).

Š      They were ungrateful sinners, who did not care (v. 2).

Š      They were beastly sinners, who would not think (v. 3).

Š      They were utterly depraved sinners, without one commendable trait (vv. 4-6).

Š      They were a people laden with iniquity (v. 4).

Š      They were sinners who promoted sin in others (v. 4).

Š      They were hardened sinners (v. 5).

Š      They were the very worst of sinners, they were self-righteous sinners, whom the Lord compares to Sodom and Gomorrah (vv. 10-14).


Do you see what I am telling you? God’s command is to you. The gospel is addressed to sinners as sinners. The gospel net is cast into the sea of fallen humanity to catch all kinds of sinners. None are exempt from this command. None are excluded, not even you who shake in your boots fearing that you have committed “the unpardonable sin.”


Peter said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you” (Acts 2:38). Imagine the sinners who must have been in that crowd. But none were excluded, or required to meet any conditions.


The point is this.If God commands me to come to him, then I may come to him. And if I come to him in obedience to his own command, I will not be turned away (John 6:37). Therefore…


This wretched sinner, in whose breast

A thousand thoughts revolve;

With all my guilt and fear oppressed,

Has made this last resolve.


“I’ll go to Jesus, though my sins

Like mountains round me close;

I know His courts, I’ll enter in,

Whatever may oppose.


Prostrate, I’ll lie before His throne,

And there my guilt confess;

I’ll tell Him I’m a wretch undone

Without His sovereign grace.


I’ll to the gracious King approach,

Whose scepter pardon gives;

Perhaps He may command my touch,

And then the sinner lives!


Perhaps He will admit my plea,

Perhaps will hear my prayer;

But if I perish, I will pray,

And perish only there.


I can but perish if I go,

I am resolved to try;

For if I stay away, I know,

I must forever die.


But if I die with mercy sought,

When I the King have tried,

This were to die (Delightful thought!) —

As sinner never died!”


Coming to God


2ndHow can sinners on earth come to God in heaven? — God is infinite Spirit. We are finite flesh. God is holy. We are sin. God is in heaven. We are on earth. We can never come to him but by a Meditator who is both one of us and one with God. And that Mediator is Jesus Christ the Lord, the Son of God (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 7:25).


If you would come to God, you must bring two things with you: righteousness and blood. If you draw near to God, you’ve got to have…

Š      A Spotless Lamb — Christ.

Š      A Blood Atonement — Christ.

Š      And an Interceding High Priest — Christ.


This coming to God by Christ is an act of the heart. You do not come to God by walking a church aisle, or by saying a prayer, or by being baptized, or by joining the church. We come to Christ by faith. And faith is an act of the heart. — “With the heart man believeth unto [with reference to] righteousness.


This is God’s word to you (v. 18). Will you now come to God by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? God commands you to come. But then he reasons with you, and persuades you to come. He says, “Let us reason together.” Imagine that, God reasoning with sinners, persuading them to come to him for mercy!


God’s Reasoning


3rdHow does God reason with man? — God is willing, delighted, and anxious to be gracious to sinners. So much so that he condescends to reason with men and women who deserve his wrath. He reasons with you from his everlasting covenant, his promise of forgiveness, and the gospel of his grace in Christ. By many things God graciously reasons with poor sinners. — You can never atone for sin; therefore hell is eternal. — You can never obey the law of God; therefore salvation by works is a proud delusion. — You can never change your own heart; therefore salvation by an act of your will is absurd. — But there is a remnant whom God has chosen to save in his everlasting covenant mercy, love, and grace (v.9).

Š      God will gather that remnant; and they shall come to him.

Š      All who come to him shall be saved, fully forgiven of all sin, purged of all guilt, purified from all filth, by the precious blood of Christ — “Though your sins be as scarlet (double-dyed), they shall be as white as snow (purged away); though they be red like crimson (blood red with the guilt of Christ’s precious blood), they shall be as wool (pure, white, and clean in God’s sight, as white as the wool of the perfect, spotless Lamb of God).”


That is God’s promise! Now, if you come to God by faith in Christ, you are one of that elect remnant. You are called. You are redeemed. You are forgiven. Your coming is the proof of it (Hebrews 11:1).


But look at the text again. God not only commands you to come and gives you reasons to come, he calls for you to reason with him. He says, “Let us reason together!


Reasoning with God

4th How can a sinner reason with God? — What reason can I possibly offer to God as a reason why he should save me, forgive me, and accept me? I am guilty. I am sin, nothing but sin, utterly without merit, utterly incapable of doing good. Why should God have mercy on me?


I will put him in remembrance and plead with him on the basis of all that he has said and done (Isaiah 43:24-26).


(Isaiah 43:24-26) “Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices: but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities. (25) I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. (26) Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified.”


Š      I will put him in remembrance of his covenant.

Š      I will put him in remembrance of Christ’s obedience.

Š      I will put him in remembrance of his promises.

On the basis of these things, I will plead for mercy.


I will seek mercy from God by the confession of my great sin (1 John 1:9; Psalm 25:11). I will put him in remembrance of my guilt and sin that he may never remember!


Illustration: The Publican


I will seek mercy for his name’s sake (Psalm 106:8; Ephesians 1:3-14; 1 Corinthians 1:30-31).

Š      I will own Christ as my only hope.

Š      I will cast up praise to God for his reputation for mercy (Micah 7:18-20).


(Micah 7:18-20) “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in mercy. (19) He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. (20) Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.”


Time to Come


5thWhen can I come to God? — “Come, now!” —— Now is now. “Today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart.” Now is the time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Now is forever — “To whom coming.”


God’s Promised Good


6thWhat is promised to those who come to God by faith in Christ? — “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land” (v. 19). — “The good of the land” is all the riches of the heavenly Canaan, the land of our promised inheritance (Revelation 7:16-17).


(Revelation 7:16-17) “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. (17) For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”


God’s Certain Wrath


7thWhat is promised to those who refuse to come?God’s certain and justly deserved wrath (v. 20).


(Isaiah 1:20) “But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.”


If you refuse to trust Christ, you shall eat the fruit of your own ways.Eternal destruction will be your just portion; and none shall pity you (Proverbs 1:23-33; 29:1; Romans 6:23).


(Proverbs 1:23-33) “Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. (24) Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; (25) But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: (26) I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; (27) When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. (28) Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: (29) For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: (30) They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. (31) Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. (32) For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. (33) But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.”


(Proverbs 29:1) “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”


(Romans 6:23) “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”


Before the trumpet speaks

And wakes again the dead,

Oh, hear the gospel trumpet’s sound,

And trust the Lamb that bled!


Come, sinners, seek His grace

Whose wrath you cannot bear;

Fly to the shelter of Hid cross

And find salvation there!




If you have come to Christ, I call upon you now to do two things:

1.    Give all praise, honor, and glory to God, who causes you to come (Psalm 65:4).

2.    Come now and confess Christ in believer’s baptism.


This is God’s word to you. Oh, may he give you grace to hear it and heed it, that you may live forever!


(Isaiah 1:18-20) “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. (19) If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: (20) But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.”








Don Fortner








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