|Preacher||Dr. Murdoch Murchison, Strathpeffer|
|Sermon Title||Come All Who Trust|
|Text||Isaiah ch.55 v.1 |
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"Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price" (Isaiah 55, 1).
There is clear reference to be found to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in other Old Testament prophecies, such as in Genesis and in the Psalms. The references, which we find in Isaiah, are particularly clear and particularly definite. The details of the coming of Christ, His ministry, His suffering and His sacrificial death, in fact fall very little short of the writings of those who actually lived in Jesus' time, and actually were spectators of these events. The name Isaiah means 'the Lord shall save' or 'the salvation of the Lord'. Through times of disaster and times of spiritual declension, Isaiah persistently called his people to faith in the One who alone could deliver. He was a faithful minister in his own day and generation.
Tradition has it that as an old man Isaiah was put to death, or rather sawn asunder to death, by the wicked king Manasseh, because of his faithfulness and his refusal to compromise his faith. This may or may not be the exact nature of his death. We do know, there is no doubt, but that he suffered very considerably for his faithfulness to God. I make this point particularly in these days, because we too live in a day of spiritual declension, when many have turned away from the living and the true God. We too are called upon, each one of us - the youngest to the oldest - to be faithful in our own day and generation. This is not something which we can avoid; it is a spiritual, Christian duty, to be as faithful as by God's grace we can, in our own day and generation, come what may.
In this country at the present time you wont face too much if you are faithful to Christ. You'll face a bit of ridicule; you'll face a bit of name-calling, and a bit of backbiting, and that's about all. There are other countries in the world at this time where, if you are faithful to Christ you can suffer, and that in a great way. One can think of various places that are under the heel of Islam for example. There is little doubt, that in many of these places that if a boy or a girl is converted, their families will not just disown them, they may surreptitiously seek to dispose of them, one way or another. That is quite clearly evaluated and can be confirmed.
In other places there is active persecution of genuine Christians: the Philippines and Indonesia, just to mention another couple. There are other places throughout the world where, under false religions of different sorts, a true Christian can suffer in much the same way as Isaiah suffered. Therefore, we just comment in passing, that Isaiah was faithful in his day and generation, and while we have a relatively easy time of it here in Britain, we are called upon to be faithful also.
We are also called upon to remember those in prayer who have a much more difficult time than we have, and who do suffer, not just economically, not just verbally, but who suffer physically and sometimes have to pay the supreme sacrifice, if they are faithful to Christ in their day and generation.
If we had read Isaiah 53, which we didn't do, but I follow on from it, I would challenge anybody to give a reasonable explanation of the fact that Isaiah was able to give such clear detail of the references to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, which was not to happen for some seven hundred years later. The only explanation to my mind, that makes sense, is that God in His divine providence, revealed this to him in a prophetic way, so that in advance of it actually happening, he saw in considerable detail, what was about to happen. God revealed this to him, that we could have complete confidence in the Word of God. The Word of God does not require man's validation; the Word of God validates itself. If anyone has any doubts about that, you can look to the earlier chapter in Isaiah, 53, where we are told clearly that Jesus was to be despised and rejected of men. We are told that though He was completely innocent Himself - He had no guilt of His own - He was to have the guilt of our sin placed upon Him. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53, 6). What is more, He for His part would accept it without murmuring: the penalty of our sins on our behalf.
We are even told some of the smaller details in verse nine, where it says, "He made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death". Or as can be accurately translated from the original, "Intended he should have his grave with the wicked, after His death He was in the rich man's grave." That is exactly what happened. I would challenge anyone here - anyone who has any doubt's about accuracy of Scripture - to give any other explanation for Isaiah's ability to discern what was to happen hundreds of years later, unless God was revealing it to him and thereby demonstrating the accuracy of the Word of God. That is exactly what happened.
Here we go on to the words of our text: "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price" (Isaiah 55, 1). Isaiah, having described the whole plan of salvation, goes on with this wonderful invitation, which is addressed here. "Ho, every one that thirsteth". Oh, yea! Oh, yea! Listen, is what he is saying! It is just like a Town Crier ringing his bell that people might listen. Listen, listen, whatever else you do, there is a message here for you! "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters." It is almost as if somebody had a loud speaker and was shouting to the whole of mankind: listen to this wonderful message!
"Ho, every one that thirsteth." Who is addressed in this verse? Is there any limitation to this wonderful invitation? Does it refer to some, or to only part of the human race? No, these words are addressed very clearly to all mankind. There is no limiting factor in the prophet's message, and there is no limiting factor in the message of the Gospel. It is addressed to every man, to every woman, to every boy and to every girl, of every race. There is no racial exclusion here; whether you are white, or black, or brown, it matters not. It is addressed to rich and poor. It is addressed to all mankind, and this is known as the general invitation of the Gospel; and all that is required here, in this particular verse, is that the person addressed should thirst.
"Ho, every one that thirsteth." In other words, they should have a sense of their need, or an appreciation of their need. I would ask you, if you are not already a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ: Do you thirst? Do you have an appreciation of your need before God for eternity? Do you realise the state in which you are? Do you thirst, or do you not? Is everything all right? Do you think you have no need of God? Do you think you have no need of any spiritual reconciliation with the God who created you?
THIRSTING FOR THE WORLD
Let us look very briefly at one or two of the main groups of people to whom these words may be addressed. Firstly, there are those who seek for happiness, and for the meaning of life, in the temporal things of this world. They are doing this with little or no thought for their responsibility and accountability to God. They are thirsting all right, but they are thirsting for the wrong things. They are not thirsting for God; they are thirsting after the things of this world. Jeremiah 2, 13 sums up this group very clearly. When speaking in God's name the prophet says, "They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water." That is a description, sadly, of many in our day and generation. Is it not tragic, "they have forsaken the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water?" It's difficult to enumerate all the objectives of the unconverted mans desire, but briefly, they can be summed up together in the words of 1 John 2, 16. "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life," he says, "is not of the Father, but of the world."
Then he goes on to say, very cogently, "And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof" (1 John 2, 17). These things, he says, are there, but they will pass away, they will not endure. All of it shall pass away. Now I believe that this invitation can be, and should be extended to this group. Sinners outside Christ, maybe not even acknowledging that they are sinners; many who would feel insulted if you told them they were sinners, even though at this moment they have no real desire for Him; but thank God the Spirit of God is invincible. There are many who at one time had no thought or no desire for Christ, but on hearing the wonder of the Gospel were brought to realise their need of salvation and to trust in Him.
If there is anybody here this evening who has got no real desire for Christ, all I pray is that God would give you to realise your state before Him; that you would be brought to thirst for the living and the true God, rather than to thirst after the things of a passing world.
The message is also addressed to those who have already realised the emptiness of this world, and the futility of seeking for lasting satisfaction in the things of this world. Nevertheless, for some reason they have not as yet tasted of the blessedness of finding peace with Christ. They can say I've tried the broken cisterns, but their waters failed. Even as I stooped to drink, they fled and mocked me as I wailed. They have found for themselves vanity of vanities; apart from Christ, all is vanity. If they cannot go on to say, "None but Christ can satisfy; none other name for me. There's love and life and lasting joy, Lord Jesus found in Thee."
In some instances, these people may be genuine enquirers and seekers after the Lord Jesus Christ. If this is the case I would give them a word of encouragement; God's Word says quite clearly, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Matthew 7, 7). If you find yourself in that category, the one thing with which you can be encouraged from Scripture is that they that seek, by God's grace, shall find.
In other instances they appear to appreciate the way of salvation, but for some reason they hang back, perhaps thinking there are some things or some persons whom they know, who are incompatible with the Christian life, and which they do not wish to relinquish.
I'm reminded of an episode many years ago when I was still a medical student, and we used to try and preach down at the Mound (in Edinburgh). One of my fellow medical students, who was called Jenkins from Wales, came up to me afterwards and said, "What you are saying is true. I know that I've got to make my peace with God, and I have to do it soon. He says, I don't want to give up my dancing; I like it, and the two things don't go together." Sad to say, that boy I thought was very close, thereafter he went right away. I would say to anyone who is encouraged by God's Spirit to look to Christ, not to grieve the Spirit, because there are those who, like Festus, were almost persuaded, and then hardened their hearts and turned away from the grace of God as it is in Christ.
It is dangerous to play about with your eternal salvation. If this night the Holy Spirit is speaking to you in any way, whatever you do, grieve not the Holy Spirit, because that is a grievous thing to do. "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8, 36)
THIRSTING FOR CHRIST
In a quite different way, and I stress it is different, it can be good for those of us who have already tasted Christ's goodness to us, and have already drunk from the wells of salvation, to go back to these wells. Thank God we don't need to go back again for actual salvation, but it is good for us to go back again, perhaps over many years, and to drink again from the wells of salvation.
Can you remember Christian friend, when Christ first gave you these words of encouragement: when first, by His grace, you were enabled to drink from the wells of salvation? Can you remember Christian friend, God's tenderness to you, in His dealings with you over the years? Can you thank Him for the redeeming grace which led you to trust in Christ Jesus? In that sense, it is good to go back. Not for your salvation because your salvation is clear-cut. Where God has begun a good work, He will continue it, and He will perfect it. But, nevertheless, it is good to go back to the wells of salvation again, and to think again of Christ's mercy to you, in leading you to trust in Him. Because the Word of God makes it very clear - it was not by works of righteousness which we had done that He saved us, it was by His grace, and by His grace alone.
We can also thank God for His goodness to us, and we can say 'Great is Thy faithfulness, Oh God our Father! Thy mercies are new every day.' Some of us sadly have to say with the poet Cowper, "Where is the blessedness I knew, when first I saw the Lord? Where is the soul refreshing view of Jesus and His Word?" We have to recall upon ourselves, and call upon Christ, to restore to us the joy of our salvation. To restore to us that love that we had once for Christ, and which perhaps has got cold. To restore to us that desire to honour His name, which perhaps now is a secondary consideration. "Restore to me Thy salvation's joy," the Psalmist had to say. If we go back and think again of the wells of salvation, perhaps we would say the same thing. Restore to me the joy of salvation, and perhaps you would say as the prophet Joel said, "And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten" (Joel 2, 25); wasted years, when we should have been doing a lot more for the cause of Christ, than we did. He will do that. If you ask Him to restore the years the locust has eaten, Christian friend, He can and will, because that is His promise. If you ask Him to restore your salvation's joy, He can and will also. So that is another little group. We too can go back to the wells of salvation in a different sense from the unconverted man or woman.
THE WATER OF LIFE
Of what are we invited to partake? "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters," we are told. What does the water refer to? The water refers to the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart, and to all Gospel blessings associated with it. It refers to pardon: redeemed by faith; redeemed by God's grace. It refers to the peace of God. We are no longer at enmity with God. The Lord Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14, 27). Water refers also to the purifying work of the Holy Spirit in cleansing us and in redeeming us. Even as water is essential for the maintenance of life, so spiritually speaking, this water is essential for spiritual life.
There is satisfaction in Christ for the sinner, just as there is satisfaction for the really thirsty, in a drink of water. Have you ever felt yourself physically dying for a drink? Well, spiritually speaking, that is what is referred to here. You and I should be thirsting for the water of life. As the Word of God says, we shall never thirst again (John 4, 14). That is the water that is referred to here. A water that implies pardon, and peace and purity, and a water that implies that we have been washed from our sins. "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1, 18). Thank God for the water of life, which the Lord Jesus Christ gives us in the Gospel.
THE WINE OF REFRESHING AND CHEERING
Then there is wine. "Yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price". Wine denotes cheering and a refreshing for the spirit; there is both cheering and refreshing for the Christian in the Gospel. Let me say, just in passing, that Scripture makes it abundantly clear, that where there are occasions where wine is permissible, and even desirable, over indulgence is always to be deprecated, and there is no hint of that in this verse. "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise" (Proverbs 20, 1). With that reservation let us note nevertheless, that for the Christian, there is true rejoicing, there is true happiness, there is true refreshing of the spirit, when he knows that he or she is reconciled to God by grace through the Lord Jesus Christ.
THE ESSENTIAL MILK OF THE WORD
"Yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price". Milk denotes and implies that you should be strengthened; you should be growing in grace and in the love and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even as a babe in arms doesn't stay the same: the child grows, and the milk is the way by which the child grows. Milk is essential for our spiritual growth also. "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2, 2). The Christian should expect to grow, not by his efforts, so much as by God's grace, and the milk of the Word of God.
Have you ever seen a newborn babe take to its mothers breast or to a bottle; there is a degree of urgency and wholeheartedness about it? We should have the same in spiritual matters. We should desire God's Word that we may grow in grace, in His love and in His knowledge.
We are told to buy it. If you buy something, it is your absolute possession. It belongs to you. It cannot be taken away from you. The man or woman who buys salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, has something that will not be taken away from him. So it is with your salvation. Once saved in Christ, you are saved for eternity. The devil, the adversary of your soul, will tempt you and will try you as he tries me. He will try to persuade you as he tries to persuade me, that we are not secure: that we are in a dangerous position and that we may be lost. However, Christ himself has said, not so. He said to His Father, "Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition" (John 17, 12). All others are His for time and for eternity.
This purchase, however, is an unusual purchase, because we read here quite clearly, that while you buy wine and milk, you buy it without money or price: literally - not money, not price. We are told however, in other parts of Scripture that our salvation is purchased at a great price. "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Corinthians 6, 20).
I don't know if you have one of these Visa cards or credit cards, but there is a credit card limit on it. You can get your credit up to so much, and beyond that you cannot go. All I would say here is even if you had a credit card that gave you millions, it would not buy this salvation. This is beyond money; it is beyond price. It is so because the Lord Jesus Christ paid the price in full. There is no price to the sinner, because the price was paid by another - namely the Lord Jesus Christ. "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold ... But with precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1, 18). No man could have paid the necessary price required for your souls salvation, or for mine. Money couldn't have done it; merit of different sorts couldn't have done it; all the good works in the world couldn't have done it; all the charities of the world couldn't have done it. You could spend all your life praying and it wouldn't have done it; all the Roman Catholic penances of the world cannot do it; no, none of these. The hymn writer would say, 'Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were an offering far too small", and so it would have been. It cost the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. In every sense of the word, it is free to you and to me. These are the terms. It is the precious blood: the blood of the Lamb of God, without spot and without blemish; it is the blood of the Second Person of the glorious Trinity, and as such it has infinite value: a value that is beyond our comprehension, but is sufficient by God's grace, for you and for me and for all the redeemed.
There is a duty. We are told here, "Come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." If we are told to come it implies leaving behind any thought of self-justification. It is not a question of coming from the top there down to here; that has nothing to do with it. It has to do with coming to Christ: to believing and trusting in Him.
Remember the parable of the guest who came to the wedding feast, which Jesus told. How he thought that he could come with his own garment on, and Christ made it clear that only the spotless garment of Christ's righteousness would suffice. By the same token, we are to leave behind anything and everything, and for that matter, anyone and everyone, who comes between us and the salvation which Christ extends in the Gospel, because nothing is more important. No one is more important than your eternal salvation - no one but no one, and nothing but nothing! It is the pearl of great price, besides which all else is as dust and is as nothing.
By faith we are to receive Christ as our Prophet, as our Priest and as our King. As our Prophet: the One who reveals to us the whole glorious plan of salvation. As our Priest: the One who sacrificed Himself upon the cross of Calvary. As our King: the One who henceforth will be King of our life. "Lord of my life," said another, "I crown Thee now." You have to crown Christ as your King, or you are not a true Christian. Some may say, "My faith is too small." You can say with another, "Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief." Also remember, it is not your faith as such, that saves you, it is faith in a great God; it is not the greatness of your faith that saves you. Thank God for that.
Is this not an irresistible invitation? Is this argument for acceptance not compelling? I believe it is. The prophet goes on in the next verse to give us a further argument. He goes on to say, "Wherefore do you spend money for that which is not bread? and labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness" (Isaiah 55, 2). This was written many hundreds of years ago, but is it not a very apt commentary of many in our day and generation. Pray it may not be a commentary of you in the light of eternity.
I am reminded in closing of a story, which I believe is true, although it happened many years ago. I first heard of it when I was a young boy, and I think it is a good illustration of those who reject the Gospel. A ship was sailing in those days, before there was radio beacons and anything else, and it floundered in a hurricane on the coast of South America. There were no rescue beacons in those days. The men took to the boats one-by-one. The boats were separated, but at least one boat survived the storm. The men sailed on in the hope of reaching land. All around was water, and they thought it was seawater; they knew that that would be harmful to them. The drinking water on the boat ran out. One-by-one they died. The tragedy of this situation was that unknown to them they had travelled into the region of the mighty mouth of the Amazon, which pours millions of gallons of fresh water, not just to the sea coast but for miles out into the ocean. All around them was fresh water, and they thought it was salt water. All they had to do was leap down and drink all that they needed, and they didn't, and they died.
Now that is a true story of many years ago. It is a perfectly understandable story, because the Amazon is a mighty river and it does pour its water right out into the ocean. These men were surrounded by the water that could have saved their lives, and they didn't stoop down and drink and live. Is that not an illustration of many who reject the Gospel? The fresh streams of the Gospel may have been flowing around you for many a long year. It was tragic that these men died, when they were surrounded by that which could have saved them. It is infinitely more tragic, in the light of eternity, that anyone who listened under the sound of the Gospel should face a lost eternity, because they refuse in their pride and in their prejudice to listen to the Word of God. May God forbid that that should be the experience of anyone here this evening. If tonight you are in a lost condition, may the Holy Spirit convince you, may He enlighten your mind and may He renew your will, so that in the words of the shorter catechism, "You can be persuaded and enabled to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to you in the Gospel."
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