Sermon #2004                                                                     Miscellaneous Sermons


      Title:                                 I Was Spared!


      Text:                                  Ezekiel 9:8

      Subject:               Wonders of Grace I Have Experienced

            Date:                          Sunday Morning — August 26, 2012

            Reading:       Ezekiel 9:1-11

            Tape#                                    AA-75



As you know, I preached last week for our friends at Sovereign Grace Church in New Castle, Indiana, where Bro. Bruce Crabtree is pastor. I’ve been going up there, fairly regularly, to preach for over thirty years. Bro. Crabtree and God’s saints there are dear friends. Early in the week, I got a call from Bro. Crabtree, with a rather unusual request. He asked if I would take the first hour on Sunday morning to give a brief, oral autobiography. I’ve never done such a thing before. If you want to hear it, I think it was recorded.


I do not plan to repeat that. In fact, I do not even have any notes of what I said. So if you want to hear it, you will have ask Bro. Crabtree if it is available. But, needless to say, I’ve had a lot to think about, so much for which to give thanks to God, as I indulged myself in a little reminiscence. No man alive has greater reason than I for humility before God and praise and thanksgiving to Him. No man deserves less and has received greater, super-abounding mercy than the one talking to you. Surely, goodness and mercy have followed (pursued) me all the days of my life!


I cannot begin to put in order the thoughts that have been going through my heart and mind these past couple of weeks. But I have put some of them down in order and want to share them with you.


As I reflected upon my experience of God’s grace, reading the Scriptures and the experiences of others recorded in the Book of God, I could not help observing the fact that the experience of grace is always pretty much the same. Without question, it varies in many ways with us all. But the essential experience is much the same in all who are born of God.




First, I have spent a good bit of time thinking about eternity. Eternity! — Eternity! — Eternity! — O my soul, where will you spend eternity? — How will you spend eternity?


(Psalms 90:8-12) The Prayer of Moses the Man of God “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance. 9 For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told. 10 The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. 11 Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath. 12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”


Some Chosen


Second, I have given much thought to the fact that there are some people in this world who shall be spared at last. There are some who shall be saved from eternal damnation. There are some who are chosen of God to salvation, an elect people who must and shall be saved. The Lord God has written a book of remembrance called, “The Book of Life,” in which he declares — “And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him” (Malachi 3:17)

  • A Loved People!
  • A Chosen People!
  • A Redeemed People!
  • A People so Precious that God Owns Them as the Crown Jewels of His Crown of Glory!
  • A People Who Shall be Spared!


Few Chosen


Then, third, and I have really thought a lot about this — If I have read this Book right, and I know I have, those who are spared, those who are saved by God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ in any generation are but few. — “For many are called, but few [are] chosen” (Matthew 22:14).


(Matthew 7:13-14) “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”


  • God’s elect are sometimes but one in a city!
  • Always a Remnant
  • Our Lord said there are many queens, but “My beloved is one.” — “Many are called, but few [are] chosen” (Matthew 22:14).
  • Few in the World
  • Few in the Church
  • Few in Noah’s Day
  • Few in Abraham’s Day
  • Few in Moses’ Day
  • Few in Our Lord’s Day!
  • Few in the Apostles’ Day
  • Few in Our Day




Then, fourth, I turned to the Book of Ezekiel and began reading. When I got to chapter nine and read verse eight, I was utterly overwhelmed by this statement of his experience. By the time I got to this verse, I had already begun reading Ezekiel’s words as though they were my own.


(Ezekiel 9:8) “And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?”


I was left!” — The word translated “left” might be better translated “spared.” — I was spared! — That is my message. — I was spared! O my soul, rejoice and give thanks! — “I was spared!” I had heard about grace; but it was like hearing about the royalty of the Queen of England. It meant nothing to me. You see, grace is never glorious in the eyes of a poor sinner until it is experienced. But once experienced, there is nothing so glorious as grace — free, sovereign, saving grace!


Divisions: Hold your Bibles open at the book of Ezekiel. I want to show you three things in this message.

1.    I was spared because God spared me.

2.    Like Ezekiel, I found grace in the midst of great wrath and judgment.

3.    Spared sinners respond to grace with humility and praise.


God’s Work


Let me begin by telling you this — I was spared because God spared me, because the Almighty said before the world was, “See, yonder, that poor wretch to be born down in Southeastern North Carolina — A Nobody — Born To Nobodies — Who Came From Nobodies! — That child going forth as a stubborn rebel from his mother’s womb, that worthless, useless, nothing — He’s precious to Me! He shall be Mine in that day when I make up My jewels. I will spare him!” — Oh, how He has spared me!


I have been spared the wrath of God, spared death and hell, spared the eternal torments of the damned because God would not leave me to myself, because God Almighty sovereignly stepped into my life and snatched me from the jaws of hell by His omnipotent mercy!


But God


Have you ever noticed how the Scriptures speak of God’s gracious, sovereign intervention in the lives of His elect? Two words are used repeatedly to describe it — “But God.” Watch these two blessed, glorious words of grace — “But God


Romans 5:8 — When there was no hope for any of our hopeless race, I was spared by blood atonement when the Lord God stepped in at Calvary and sacrificed His darling Son as my Substitute (Romans 5:8).


(Romans 5:6-8) “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”


Genesis 31:7 — Though I lived as a rebel running from God, as Jacob ran from Esau, hiding in a far away country, as Jacob did in Laban’s house, I was spared from hurt by God’s prevenient grace (Genesis 31:7).


(Genesis 31:5-7) “And said unto them, I see your father’s countenance, that it is not toward me as before; but the God of my father hath been with me. 6 And ye know that with all my power I have served your father. 7 And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.”


(1 Samuel 23:14) “And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand.”


(Romans 6:16-18) “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”


Ephesians 2:4 — Though I was dead in trespasses and in sins, I was spared when God stepped into my life in regeneration (Eph. 2:4).


(Ephesians 2:1-5) “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved!)”


1 Corinthians 1:26-31 — The Lord God not only spared me from wrath and death and hell so fully deserved, He spared this sinner, who had all his life been the instrument of evil, to be an instrument of good to the souls of men. — Spared To Preach The Gospel (1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Ephesians 3:8).


(1 Corinthians 1:26-31) “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”


(Ephesians 3:8) “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;”


Psalm 73:22-26 — I must tell you this, too — The Lord God has for these past 45 years spared me from myself by His unfailing, immutable grace and faithful mercy (Ps. 73:22-26).


(Psalms 73:22-26) “So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. 23 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. 24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. 26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.”


Grace in the

Midst of Judgment


Ezekiel 9:8 — Now, let’s look for a few minutes at the context in which our text is found. When Ezekiel declared with amazement “and I was left (spared),” a part of his amazement was the fact that he found grace in the midst of terrible wrath and judgment.


I have been talking about my experience of grace. Let’s look at Ezekiel’s. His experience is my own. I hope you can enter into it as well. In the opening verses of chapter 9, Ezekiel saw six men sent of God with slaughter weapons in their hands, men sent from God to execute judgment upon the nation of Israel. He saw them slaughtering the nation left and right, without mercy. Then, in verse 8, he cried with astonishment, “and I was left!”


(Ezekiel 9:8) “And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?”


Ezekiel 1


Really, the story begins back in chapter 1. God’s Word came expressly to Ezekiel and the hand of the Lord was upon him.


(Ezekiel 1:3) “The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him.”


When the Word of God came to him expressly, like Moses, when he stood before the bush, Ezekiel saw the unveiling, the revelation, of the glory of God, symbolized by the fire constantly burning on the altar of God (Exodus 30:1, 7, 8) and carried by Aaron into the holy of holies on the day of atonement (Leviticus 16:13).


(Ezekiel 1:4) “And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire.”


God’s Word, the revelation of His glory, came to Ezekiel by the mouth of living creatures, cherubs, the angels of God (Ezekiel 1:5).


(Ezekiel 1:5) “Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man.”


If all this sounds familiar to you, it should. This is exactly the same thing the Apostle John saw and recorded in Revelation 4 and 5. These living creatures represent Gospel preachers. We know that because he heard the voice of the Almighty through their lips in verse 24 and because they are described as the men by whom God works in Ezekiel chapter 10. If God ever speaks to us, if God ever reveals Himself to us in this world, in any way, if God ever teaches us anything it will be by the mouth of one of these living creatures. God always sends His Word to men by men (Romans 10:13-17; Isaiah 52:7). In verse 13 we are told that…

·      These men are directed, moved, and worked by the Spirit of God.

·      They are as burning coals of fire. — “He maketh His ministers a flame of fire!

·      It was one of these living creatures who brought a live coal from the mercy-seat and touched Isaiah’s lips (Isaiah 6).


When Ezekiel saw the glory of God upon the mercy-seat (in the face of Christ — in His Sacrifice) he saw that the God of Glory is a God of absolute, unalterable purpose.


·      vv. 15-25 — The Wheels of Divine Providence

·      v. 26 — A Throne — A Man Sitting on the Throne!

·      v. 28 — The Bow of God’s Covenant


Verse 28 – “This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord! And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard the voice of one that spake” (v. 28). He was utterly withered before the glory of God and fell as one dead!


Ezekiel 2


Look at chapter 2. Here the prophet seems to be describing his own experience of grace. — He was raised as it were from the dead.


(Ezekiel 2:1-2) “And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee. 2 And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me.”


Then, the Lord God made him a prophet and sent him to a rebellious people (vv. 3-10). He saw a hand (v. 9), the same hand John saw (Revelation 5 and 10), the hand of the Lamb of God, the Man sitting on the throne.

·      A Hand to Help Him!

·      A Hand to Guide Him!

·      A Hand to Protect Him!

·      An Omnipotent Hand!

·      A Pierced Hand!


He saw a Book (v. 10), the same one John saw, the Book of God’s eternal purpose!


Ezekiel 3


But God is not done teaching him yet. Look at chapter 3. God required him to eat the Book (vv. 1-3). God demands reconciliation. He demands that we bow to His purpose. But we never will. So He did not just tell Ezekiel to eat the book — He made him eat it (v. 2). And when he had eaten it, it was as sweet as honey (v. 3). — Here’s a prophet! — O God, make me such a man!

  • v. 8 — He is a man made strong by God.
  • v. 10 — He is a man who receives all God’s Word into his heart.
  • v. 12 — He is a man moved, motivated by, and consumed with the glory of God.
  • vv. 14-15 — He is a man with a burdened, broken heart.


(Ezekiel 3:14-15) “So the Spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me. 15 Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days.”


  • v. 16 — He is a man God has made to be a watchman over the souls of men.
  • Vv. 22-27 — He is a man shut up to the will and glory of the Lord his God. — “Separated unto the gospel!


Ezekiel 4


In chapter 4 the Lord God gave Ezekiel His message. He sent His prophet to the nation to warn them of wrath and impending judgment. But, in the midst of the warning, He gave a picture of hope. — Ezekiel was required to lay on his sides, first on his left for 390 days and then on his right for 40 days. Each of the 390 days represent the 390 years of Israel’s open rebellion and turning to idolatry in setting up the calves at Dan and Bethel. The 40 days on his right side represent the 40 years of idolatry under Manasseh’s wicked, idolatrous reign in Judah.


But watch this (v. 4) — Ezekiel was required to lay on his side as one man bearing the sins of many (“Thou shalt bear their iniquity!”), and bearing them to the full extent of their just punishment! — “According to their iniquity!” As he did so he made himself polluted, unclean, and vile by God’s command, eating his bread smeared over with cow’s dung (vv. 12-15).


(2 Corinthians 5:21) “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.”


In chapters 4, 5 and 6, he declares this — God will punish sin. Sin must be punished, either in you, or in a Substitute, in a suitable Man whom God Himself shall send.


Ezekiel 6


When we get to the 8th verse of chapter six, the Lord, in wrath remembers mercy and promises that some shall indeed escape His wrath through the sacrifice of that Substitute.

  • V. 8 — A remnant shall escape.
  • V. 9 — They shall remember me.
  • V. 9 — They shall acknowledge their sin.
  • V. 9 — They shall loathe themselves.
  • V. 10 — ”They shall know that I am the Lord!


Ezekiel 7-8


In chapters 7 and 8, the Lord God showed His prophet the end of the matterThe judgment that must come. That which is here spoken to Israel and Judah reaches beyond those rebellious people. It reaches to all the world. The judgment here described speaks of the end of all things, the end of the world. Read the chapters (7-10) carefully, and that will become obvious as you read.


(Ezekiel 7:1-3) “Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Also, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD unto the land of Israel; An end, the end is come upon the four corners of the land. 3 Now is the end come upon thee, and I will send mine anger upon thee, and will judge thee according to thy ways, (OUT OF THE BOOK OF JUSTICE) and will recompense upon thee all thine abominations.”


Four Things about

Divine Judgment


Now, let me tell you four things about God’s judgment.


1. The judgment of God is always just. — God swore to pour out His wrath upon this people because they went awhoring after other gods. — They worshipped Tammuz. (Tammuz was one of the gods of the heathen, an idol that the children of Israel set up in the temple of God and worshipped as God. — “There sat women weeping for Tammuz!” (8:14). They would bring pots of water, set them inside the dumb, blind idol, and boil the water until it flowed out of the idols eyes, making their god to weep.) And they worshipped the sun (v. 16) in the house of God!


(Ezekiel 8:17-18) “Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose. 18 Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them.”


You won’t go to hell for what Adam did in the Garden. You will go to hell because you have earned the everlasting wrath of God by your own treasonous rebellion against the King of Glory! Eternal damnation, the judgment of God is that which men and women willfully bring upon themselves. — This will be the very hell of hell. You will know that you fully deserve all that you suffer. You will never be reconciled to it. But you will know that you deserve it.


2. Judgment is preceded by a great separation of grace (9:3-6). — A man clothed with white Lenin (Christ), with an inkhorn at His side (His pierced side!) was sent to put a mark upon the foreheads of God’s chosen remnant. — Hurt not the earth until the 144,000 have been sealed in their foreheads (Revelation 7; 2 Peter 3:9).

  • Noah must be in the ark before the rain falls.
  • Lot must be in Zoar before Sodom is burned.
  • God’s elect must be called before judgment falls upon the earth. — Marked by Blood! — Sealed by the Spirit!


3. Judgment will begin at the house of God. — “Begin at my sanctuary” (9:6). — “Judgment must begin at the house of God!


4. Judgment shall be executed by the hands of the Mediator so obstinately despised (vv. 4-7).


(Ezekiel 10:4-7) “Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD’S glory. 5 And the sound of the cherubims’ wings was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of the Almighty God when he speaketh. 6 And it came to pass, that when he had commanded the man clothed with linen, saying, Take fire from between the wheels, from between the cherubims; then he went in, and stood beside the wheels. 7 And one cherub stretched forth his hand from between the cherubims unto the fire that was between the cherubims, and took thereof, and put it into the hands of him that was clothed with linen: who took it, and went out.”


Up to this point Christ is seen upon the mercy-seat. He is the Mercy-Seat. But now, He is taken up from between the cherubs. In that great and terrible day, when God no longer deals with sinners in mercy, there will be no mercy! — Hope is gone forever! — “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son!” — Then shall men cry, “Hide us from the face of the Lamb!


Response to Grace


When the city was utterly destroyed, when judgment was over, in Ezekiel’s vision, he cried, “I was left!” — Now, look at the response of that one who has been spared to the goodness and grace of God in Christ Jesus (9:8-11).


(Ezekiel 9:8) “And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left (I was spared!), that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?”


·      2 Thessalonians 2:10-14


He fell on his face in astonished humiliation and gratitude.


Amazing grace! How sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost but now am found,

Was blind but now I see!


He made intercession for others, that God might yet have mercy upon those around him. — “The Residue of Israel!


Once all God’s chosen remnant has been saved and every rebel has been cast into hell, the Man in the white Lenin garment shall have finished all His mediatoral work.


(Ezekiel 9:9-11) “Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not. (10) And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head. (11) And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me.”


(1 Corinthians 15:24-28) “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”


May the God of all grace spare you! O Blessed Savior, come among us and mark redeemed sinners by your grace! Spare many today, for the glory of Your Own great name.










Don Fortner



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