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Online Text Sermon - Three Pictures of the Gospel, Isaiah ch.35 vv.1-10

Date22/08/1999
Time18:30
PreacherRev. Maurice Roberts, Inverness
Sermon TitleThree Pictures of the Gospel (Audio - End Missing)
TextIsaiah ch.35 vv.1-10
Sermon ID19

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"The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon; they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God" (Isaiah 35,1-2), and so on (verse 3-10).

1. Supernatural springtime

2. Supernatural healing

3. The Way of the Christian Faith

Now you can't read a passage of the Word of God like this without realizing that there is a great beauty even in the very words which are used. No one could pretend, even though they had no interest in the religious message of the Bible, but that these words have an extraordinary beauty and poetical quality all of their own.

I remember many years ago now once meeting a very young Christian who had himself just been converted, as indeed I had been myself just newly converted but a little before this young man. He came to me as a fellow student who had just begun really seriously to read the Bible for himself, and I never forget what he said. His face was glowing and he said at breakfast time, "Well," he said, "you can't read the prophecy of Isaiah without realizing that it is the Word of God." And indeed surely that is so.

Is there any book in the world which reads so wonderfully as this Book does? It's not only true of course of Isaiah; it is true of the entire Bible from beginning to end. It has a beauty and a glory which makes all other books pale into insignificance. Those who begin on other books and yet come at last to the Bible always feel that when you come to the Bible you come to that which is the ultimate and that which is the highest and the best. Its thoughts are sublime; its ideas, heavenly; its truth, powerful; its arguments, convincing. It is a life-changing book. It is a mind-changing book, and it is full of beauty. And that's really what I'm dwelling on at this point in my sermon - the sheer beauty of the Word. "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them" (text). Not even Shakespeare himself could have written such beauteous words, surely, as these.

But now there is a very dangerous aspect even to that, because the beauty of words can be so great that we fail to ask ourselves, What do these words mean? It is all too possible that our minds when reading a passage like this become so caught up in the poetry and the sheer excellence of the diction and the choice of vocabulary that we really don't ask ourselves, What does all this mean? What is the message behind these words? What has God to say to us in these words?

Well now that is my concern. I'm not so much interested, of course, in the beauty and the words, although that's important in its way. What concerns you and me is to ask ourselves that deeper question, What is the message contained in these words? And that is where my duty with you tonight begins.

What we have here in this chapter is a picture of the gospel. He is describing the gospel of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is a very common thing that in the Old Testament we have the gospel set before us in pictorial language, whereas in the New Testament we have the gospel set forth before us in plainer, less poetical language; more in the New Testament in the language of doctrine and of plain teaching, whereas in the Old Testament, as I say, it comes to us from God in the form really of a poetical description and an illustration of the truth. But both the Old Testament and the New Testament are concerned with the same truth and with the same message. God is telling us about the power of the gospel, the influence of the gospel upon the lives of men and women and communities and sometimes, in days of revival, the change that comes upon whole nations at a time.

1. SUPERNATURAL SPRINGTIME

I would like to suggest that there are three great illustrations used by the prophet Isaiah. I shall read again the first of these illustrations. "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon; they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God" (text), and "for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes" (verse 6-7).

Now what is that talking about? The prophet is talking about a supernatural springtime. We all know what happens after the winter is over and the spring begins. In the winter the trees are dead. There is no leaf; there is no flower. There is certainly no fruit. But when March and April and May begin to come along, the trees are transformed: leaf is there; flower begins; and we know that fruit will follow. The whole of nature becomes beautified. It puts on its spring dress.

Now I'm told that that is the case even in the desert. A desert like the Sahara would stretch for hundreds and hundreds of miles. They appear many times of the year just to be nothing but expanses of sand as far as the eye can see in every direction. But when the rains come, everything is transformed.

I once remember seeing pictures of this very thing happening. A family had taken a video and it was magnificent to behold what took place. All the seeds of these beautiful flowers, seemingly, were in the sand out of sight, and when these tropical rains fell upon the sand, literally within a matter of hours the seeds germinated and sprouted and flowered, and within a day or two after the rain the entire expanse of the desert was carpeted with a beauteous array of flowers of every conceivable color.

Isn't that what Isaiah is talking about? "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose" (text). He is talking about a miraculous springtime. Well now that is what happens through the gospel. And this is a picture, I believe, of how the Word of God changes the lives of men and women and communities. It beautifies people's lives. It transforms families. It gives reformation and new glory to communities. Whenever the gospel of God reaches a human heart or a human life and touches the inner springs of people's consciences it brings this amazing and almost unbelievable transformation in a person's life.

Now those of you who have the privilege of seeing people converted to faith in Christ will know that this is precisely what happens on an individual level. But it also happens on a widespread scale, and I think this picture here of the desert rejoicing, and so on, is an emblem or a description of what happens in religious revival. Let's never forget that God can sometimes work on a phenomenally widespread scale.

Would you allow me in this regard to illustrate this text by referring it to what happened in America in the year 1858. It was a time when the city of New York was depressed, and the dollar was in difficulty - the time of depression in society. There was just one minister at the heart of it all. His name was Jeremiah Lampiere, and he had a concern for the souls of the people in his part of the city, a downtown part of New York City. So what he did was this - he put a notice on the railings outside the church where he was minister, and he said that if anyone wants to come for a noon prayer meeting tomorrow then come and join me. Well six people came in, as I remember, and they came into this little room where he was sitting and he and they prayed for the blessing of God to come down. That was on a Monday. On Tuesday there were about twelve. On Wednesday it grew to twenty-something, as I remember, and it grew and grew and grew.

It is a matter of fact, my dear friends, that in a matter of months so many people of the city of New York were concerned to be going to this prayer meeting, and similar prayer meetings all over the city and in the churches, that they had to close down the businesses and the shops at four o'clock every afternoon to allow the great crowds of numbers to go to these various churches, and often there was standing room only.

They were pleading with God to send down His Holy Spirit upon their city, upon the pulpits of the city, upon their families. Parents were praying for their children, and children for their parents, that they would come to faith in Christ. And of course it's not surprising that God was hearing these prayers and in the course of the next number of months tremendous blessing attended the preaching of the Word of God. It is calculated that within two years of that prayer meeting, something in the order of a million souls were brought to faith in Christ.

Now it didn't stop there. The blessing that began in New York took a few months to come to Britain and it came over here in 1859 in Northern Ireland. It was a phenomenal, wonderful act of God called the great Ulster revival of that period. Many outstanding preachers of that period would preach to crowds of thousands of people in the open air as well as in the building. It came eventually to Scotland. It began just south of Glasgow in the place of Ayreshire and then it spread to Glasgow and then all over the country from the north right the way down to the borders of Scotland, and to England and Wales and elsewhere.

It was a year of great blessing, so much so that in the Free Church of Scotland in 1860 the moderator of the General Assembly insisted that the whole day be set apart for no business apart from hearing reports from all over the church as to what God had been doing in Inverness, and in Lewis, and in Skye and in Glasgow and everywhere else - new prayer meetings springing into life, new congregations coming out of nowhere, and the calculation of the experts is something in the order of one person in every ten in the population of the whole of Scotland began to attend a place of worship at that period of time.

Well now, is not that precisely what Isaiah is talking about? "It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice even with joy and singing; the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon; they shall see the glory of the Lord" (text). And that's what happens in revival - people see Christ, who is the glory of the Lord. They see truth. They see God. They see Heaven. They see all that the Bible reveals in its fullness and in its richness of Christian doctrine and Christian truth - and these words become literally true. Well now, that's the first illustration.

2. SUPERNATURAL HEALING

The second illustration is this. "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing" (verse 5-6). Now clearly this is a rather different illustration. This is not now supernatural springtime. This is supernatural healing - the eyes of the blind opened, the ears of the deaf unstopped.

And so our great concern is to know what is Isaiah now talking about by this second illustration? It is simply a second picture of the effect of the gospel, not so much upon the community now but upon the individual. It is the way the gospel changes the individual, "the eyes of the blind; the ears of the deaf" (verse 5).

Well, of course, in the days of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ this literally did happen. There are many recorded incidents in the gospels of our Lord healing the blind, sometimes with a touch, or with a word, or smearing some clay over their eyes and telling them to go and wash. There are cases of our Lord healing the deaf. There are cases of our Lord causing the lame to leap, and the tongue of the dumb is opened. This literally did happen, and it happened occasionally in the ministry of the apostles, Peter and Paul and others.

Now I'm afraid the charismatics, in their enthusiasm for these things, have brought in the idea that this ought to be happening every day of the week still today. They have the idea that if only we had enough faith all of these miracles would happen still as they did in the days of Christ and of the apostles. I do not believe that that's a conclusion that we need necessarily draw at all.

Rather, these miracles that Christ did and which were done through the apostles were signs of the power and the truth and the reality and the authenticity of the gospel. They were signs that the gospel of Christ is the very truth of God. And these supernatural signs were the proof and evidence of it.

What much more concerns us today is that inward healing - the healing of the soul and the healing of the human heart. Because, you see, this is particularly what Christ does in the case of those who are spiritually blind. He opens their eyes to see and they see in the Bible things that they never dreamed were there. And He opens our ears; our ears were unstopped and we heard the powerful Word of God. It became personal to us.

Not only is that true but look at this other way of putting it, "The lame man leaps as an hart; the tongue of the dumb sings" (verse 6). Those who are all for public houses and for drink and for drugs, and for the enjoyment of this world, when God does this powerful work within them they come to the house of God. They are able to leap over every obstacle just like a deer or a hart can jump over these high fences.

That's what happens to the sinner when his will is changed and he comes to fall in love with Jesus Christ. No obstacle will prevent him from reading the Bible. Nothing will stop him from his time of prayer. He will find a way to come to the house of God. Even though he has many difficulties at home and many difficulties in his private life, many embarrassments of many kinds which may make it awkward for him, yet, he can overleap them all. God helps him. By my God assisting me, as the Psalmist says, I overleap a wall. So, this is what happens when a person's life is healed. It is the power of the gospel to transform the inner heart and soul and life of the individual.

Look at the Apostle Paul. He had no desire at all to be a Christian. He was, as it were, almost you could say, converted against his will. That's not strictly speaking true in a stricter-speaking sense (nobody is converted against their will) but how amazing it was! He was on the road to Damascus and there he was going to arrest these Christians and bring them to be tried, to be cast out of the synagogue, perhaps even imprisoned and possibly in some cases even put to death. But then he saw the glory of Christ on the road and his entire life was changed. His eyes were opened; his ears unstopped. He cried out, "Who art thou Lord?" (Acts 9,5) and he was a new man, transformed into a real Christian by the power of God.

Well surely that's what Isaiah is talking about. There is figure of speech and this illustration of the supernatural, miraculous healing power of God. "It is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Romans 1,16).

I might pause in my remarks to say to you, and to ask you this question, Have you personally had this experience? Have you come to see the glory of Christ for yourself? Or is it just something you read about in the Bible and you've heard your parents, perhaps, or other people talk about it but you've never experienced it for yourself? Well, it is possible to know God, personally; to know Him not only as well as you know your friends, but better. It is possible to know God as the best friend and the closest friend in the world; to know Him and to desire His company more than everything else. It's possible to have that, but what must happen is this inward healing of the soul, and that happens through being born again and transformed by the Holy Spirit of God. And when that happens, these words become true, "The eyes of the blind are opened, and the ears of the deaf are unstopped" (verse 5).

3. THE WAY OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH

"And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away" (verse 8-10).

The third illustration is the way of the Christian faith. We are familiar with this in the New Testament. What did Jesus Christ our Lord say about Himself? "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me" (John 14,6). And when we read here in verse eight that a highway shall be there and a way, there is no doubt at all in my mind that it is referring to the Christian way: the way of salvation; the way of faith; the way to God, and the way at last to heaven.

Now then, you must understand that the early Christians in the Acts of the Apostles were called the people of the Way. That's the way they were referred to in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 9,2; 19,9; 19,23; 22,4; 24,14; 24,22) because they were strangers and pilgrims in this world. They did not belong to this world. They were outcasts from society. They were hated by the Jews and hated by their fellow countrymen. They were persecuted by the one and persecuted by the other. They were thrown into prison; they were sent off to the lions; they were killed by gladiators in the arena. They were stomped on by the whole world. They were pilgrims on this Way - the king's highway, the royal road that leads to God and glory.

Now what's all this about then? Well this Way, once again, is the Christian faith. All of these illustrations look at the same thing from different perspectives: supernatural springtime, miraculous healing, and now the Christian faith is looked upon as a Way. This is the correct manner in which to look at your life - our birth, our life in this world, and when we come to death then that is the terminus of the journey - life is a journey.

That's what's wrong with these eastern religions. The Hindu religion and all these other religions that come in to us from the gurus of India and elsewhere, they have a wrong attitude to life. They look at life as a circle or a cycle. They say that you come into life, you become a human being, then you die and then you become reincarnated, as they put it, you come back to life. But you don't come back as you are, you come back depending on how you've lived in this life; you come back as something else. If you've lived a good life, you come back, let us say, as a butterfly, or as some nice beautiful bird. Or if you've lived an evil life, you come back as a spider, or a beetle or a toad or something of that nature. But it's all in the doubt; round and round; cycles and circles - there's no end to it all. It goes on for eons and forever I suppose, more or less. And that is entirely misleading.

Life is not a cycle. Life is a journey. We begin. We continue. There is an end - either heaven or hell. And that's why life is intentionally serious. And that's why wherever the Christian faith goes, and wherever the Bible goes, it gives to those who study the Bible an intensely serious attitude to life. It makes us realize we have no time to lose because we only have a brief time; a few weeks, months or at best a few years in which to ensure that we are on the right way and on the right path.

And Christ makes it very clear in the Sermon on the Mount that there are two ways - not simply one. It's not as though we're all traveling on the same way. He says that there is the broad road that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. And then He says there's this narrow road that leads unto life, and few there be that find it (Matthew 7,13-14). And that's why He says to us, Enter in by the narrow gate.

And it is a description you see right here in the book of Isaiah 35, a description of the Christian way, the Christian life, and the Christian faith. That's what he's talking about, I believe, and I want to point out four things about this Christian way which are brought to our attention here by the prophet Isaiah.

(a) THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS A WAY OF HOLINESS

The first of these four things you notice in verse eight, "and a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it but it shall be for those," and so on. Now the first thing he says about this way is that it is a way of holiness - the way of holiness.

And, my dear friends, I have to point out to you that this is where so many people are going wrong today in churches and even in pulpits and, I'm afraid, even in pulpits that ought to know better. The first thing we must say to the sinner about the Christian faith is, it is a way of holiness. Today, everybody wants to turn the Christian faith into a way of happiness. Now it is perfectly true, as we shall see in a minute, the Christian way is a way of happiness - but we don't begin there.

You take Peter on the day of Pentecost when he was preaching. He had the fullness of the Spirit. The Spirit had just been poured down upon him and he was preaching in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. Here were the great crowds listening to him. Remember what he said to them. He did not say to them something like this as many modern preachers would say. He didn't say that if you come to Jesus Christ you will have a better life. He didn't say when you come to Christ you will have a fullness of life that you didn't enjoy before; that your days will be enriched; you'll have life with a capital 'L', and so on. Now he could have said all of that. It would not have been untrue. It is perfectly true that all of that is correct, but that's not the way he began.

What did he say? Well he said something like this, 'Repent. You have crucified the Son of God.' His intention was to make them feel sorrowful, not to make them feel elated; but to make them feel guilty, not to make them feel that life was going to suddenly sprout and flourish and be like a royal red carpet. No, he said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2,38). He told them that their first duty was to recognize, in other words, that the Christian way is a way of holiness.

And that's where people are going wrong today. And that's why so much Christianity is like counterfeit money; it's no good. It doesn't lead to the fruits of a holy life. There is no change in that they live like the world (some of them) or too much like the world. I'm not being overly critical, I'm just saying that this is a fundamental mistake. We must never begin by suggesting that the Christian faith is a way of happiness. That's the end point, as we shall see, but not the beginning point.

The sinner must be told that he is required, first of all, to become holy. That happens through the new birth. We must be born again. The new birth is the sprinkling of the blood of Christ upon our souls - "born of water and of the Spirit" (John 3,5). Cleansing is what is under the symbol of the water. We need to have our hearts sprinkled and cleansed and washed from our natural defilement. And it is the way of holiness.

Justification is to put us right in the sight of God. Sanctification is to deepen the progression of holiness all the days of our life. That's what it's all about, and that's what it's for. Now the whole Bible is given in order, first of all, to make us holy men and women of God. That's why it was written. The Word of God is called "the doctrine which is according to godliness" (I Timothy 6,3). It is to make us godly, God-fearing, God-honouring - those who live in the light of God and of His judgment, those who love Christ and choose His ways and His laws and His commandments. And that's where Isaiah begins.

(b) THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS A WAY OF CERTAINTY

Now the second point you'll find is, "the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein" (verse 8). He's talking about this Way, this Christian faith. Now what's this point? Well he's saying that the Christian way is a way of certainty - not only the way of holiness, but now the way of certainty.

You see he means that those who are not Christians and who never read the Bible and are not believers in the Word of God they really are living their lives by sheer guesswork. The unbelieving person's life is a life of day-by-day guesswork. It's a terrible business being an unbeliever. It's living in the dark; it's not knowing where you are or where you're going. It is being blind to the terrors that are beyond the grave, for every godless, unbelieving man and woman. And their lives, poor things, are really just lived without any reference to God or to His commandments or to His judgments, or the seriousness of what has happened in the death of Christ.

But not so the Christian. The Christian's life is a solid life. It is a secure life. It is a life of certainty. He knows that he's on the right path. He knows where he's going. "I know whom I have believed," says the Apostle Paul, "and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day" (I Timothy 1,12). He knows that God is for him, and "if God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8,31).

He knows that the Bible is the source of all his true light and knowledge. If he wants guidance, he doesn't go to the Encyclopedia Britannica, he doesn't go to the university experts, he doesn't go to some ancient writings of men, he goes to the Word of God which is every day permanent and alive and quickening, "sharper than a two-edged sword" (Hebrews 4,12). He comes to the Bible because the Bible is the powerful and inerrant Word of God.

And that's what Isaiah means, "the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein." He doesn't go wrong; he doesn't make a mistake. He doesn't get everything right; he's not perfect of course. But he is kept by the power of God on the right path. He is led in the right direction. And in the end he comes to the place where he is sure to find God in heaven eternally and with Christ. It is the way of certainty.

That is the great comfort every Christian has, and if you're not a personal believer tonight, my beloved friend, I want to make it clear to you there's no need for you to live your life by guesswork. It is madness to do so. It is the greatest possible foolishness to try to work out how to live in this world on your own. There's only one sure and safe way to do it and that is to be certain that you're on the way, on this narrow way that leads to life; that you believe what God himself has said so wonderfully, so kindly, in His Word; and that you therefore receive this message as the wayfaring man who will not err because when he goes to the right or to the left he hears God's voice in his conscience, and in the truth, saying to him, "this is the way, walk ye in it" (Isaiah 30,21).

(c) THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS A WAY OF SAFETY

Now the third thing said about this Way you find in verse nine, "No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there." Now what is he talking about here? Well he's telling us that this way is not only a way of holiness and a way of certainty but, thirdly, he says it's a way of safety.

Now that's very strange isn't it, because no religion seems to be more dangerous than the Christian faith. No religion seems to expose you to more dangers than Christianity. Our Saviour Himself was crucified on the Cross. Just about all the apostles as far as we know were martyred; put to death for their faith. Thousands and thousands of Christians have died over the centuries since the days of Christ because of their love for Him and obedience to His Word.

Looking at things on the outward side you would say, It's not true that there is safety in the Christian faith. What does he mean by this safety? Well, it means that it will most surely bring you to heaven at last. Jesus Christ said, "Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him" (Luke 12,4-5) - and that is God. So the reason why the Christian faith is a way of safety is because it brings the soul and eventually the body of every believer into the glory at last. Indeed, everything about Christianity is safe.

You know the terrible blunder that they're making in schools today is that they're teaching children to imagine that all religions bring us to God. You know what they have on the wall. They have these posters: here's a poster for the Jewish religion; next to it a poster for Islam; then for Taoism; and then for Christianity, and so on and so on, these posters all the way around the room. In comes the teacher, and of course as they point to these posters they say, 'Now, this one, children, is the way that they have in China; and that's the one they prefer in India; this one in Arabia; but we have tended to be Christians.' And then they go on like this, and of course all these are various 'roads to God' and they're all equally 'roads to heaven.' That's the sort of talk that you get today. It's called Comparative Religions - you compare these religions and you must say something nice about them all.

Now you know very well that is not the teaching of Jesus Christ. He said about Himself, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14,6). Take down all these other posters, He says. There's only one poster deserves to be on the wall - that's the gospel-poster which tells us that the Bible message is the only sure and the only true way. The apostle put it like this, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4,12). If we do not come to Christ, we will never know the way to God and the way to heaven. We shall not be on the Way.

Now there used to be, years ago, a man in Birmingham who used to say about children, Never teach children Bible stories. His idea was that if you teach children the Bible stories you will confuse them; you will upset them. So he said, Don't teach children the Bible stories. Wait till they get older. And you know, of course, what's happened is this, that these children who haven't heard the Bible stories today, what do they take an interest in? It's all dinosaurs, and Jurassic park and little green men and some sort of spacemen out there on other planets.

Whereas, what children most need to know are the stories of the Bible. "From a child," says Paul to Timothy, "thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3,15). Oh, my dear parents don't hesitate to teach your children the Word of God. Tell them these stories over and over and over again until you know them like the back of your hand, and they do too. The stories of the Bible are safe, and the doctrines of the Bible are safe.

You know there are people who tell us today that we ought not to speak about hell. No, that's a very unpleasant subject. It will upset people. And there are others who tell us, Don't make such a lot about the new birth. Don't emphasize the new birth. We must accept that there are people who don't like the subject of the new birth, but, they say, we must count them Christians too because they pay lip-service to the creeds of Christendom. And then there are others that tell us, Don't make so much of the blood of Christ. But my friends, these doctrines are absolutely essential! We must be born again, says Christ, otherwise we'll never know God. We have to be washed by the blood of Christ, otherwise we are still in our sins. We have to believe in the physical resurrection of Christ, and a virgin birth. These things are absolutely essential. They are the way of safety.

And what about the Ten Commandments? The day was when people used to know them and, up to a point, used to observe them. And our poor world is crumbling about our ears today because people do not know these Ten Commandments - thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, thou shalt not covet, and the others. They are safe.

(d) THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS A WAY OF HAPPINESS

But now fourthly, and finally, and in a few words, would you notice that Isaiah comes to the point that I mentioned earlier. "And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs of everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away" (verse 10). This way of the Christian faith is not only a way of holiness, and a way of certainty, and a way of safety, but lastly, of course, it is the way of happiness because when those who are on this way come to their journey's end, everything is going to be well with them. Sorrow and sighing shall flee away and they shall obtain joy and gladness. And then you have this remarkable phrase, "the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion (or heaven) with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads" - upon their heads.

) dearest friends, what ecstasy shall all believers have when Christ appears on the clouds of heaven to call them home to glory! As He comes to raise them from the dead and to usher them into the presence of his own glory, what glory will burst upon their souls! Who can begin to understand what this means: 'everlasting joy - upon their heads'? But though we know these things now only in a small measure we shall shortly know them fully in a better world.

Then let us lift up the hands which hang down and the feeble knees. When, in a little while, the trumpet sounds we shall bid farewell to all earthly cares and we shall begin a life of heavenly joy which no sin shall ever begin to spoil.

Only, be sure that you have made your peace with God. Be sure that you have repented and that Jesus Christ is your Saviour. Then you may rest assured that God will be yours for time and eternity.


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