12th February 2017: Mike Viccary

Mike preached from Isaiah 2:1-5. He began by saying that Isaiah is known as the fifth gospel. It is not just a collection of sermons. The opening chapter brings Isaiah’s message to the kings of Judah and Jerusalem.

The prophet begins his message on what we would call a bit of a ‘downer.’ He has the Lord in a courtroom scene. The Lord has a word against the people. He sets the word quite sharply. Mankind is in a desperate state because he does not know God. We were created to be in a relationship with God. The prophet goes on to talk about man’s lost state, a degenerative condition. The implications of sliding into sin has an effect on the nation. The nation is also under condemnation; we have a terrible picture of Zion as a little shack in a vineyard. ‘Daughter Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard, like a hut in a cucumber field, like a city under siege.’ (Isaiah 1:8). People don’t know God and are falling into sin. ‘Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations – I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.’ (Isaiah 1:13-14). Mankind’s condition is centred in greed and rebellion. It is a lost condition. These people are outside God’s care and concern. In John 3:36 we read, ‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.’  The Lord is inflicting judgement on those outside of His love. ‘Therefore the Lord declares, the LORD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel, “Ah, I will get relief from my enemies and avenge myself on my foes.”’ (Isaiah 1:24).

Isaiah chapter 1 is all about the lost state of man. In chapter 2 Isaiah speaks about the second coming of Jesus, the day of the Lord (Isaiah 2:10-21). In Isaiah 2:10 we see an appeal to enter into the rock – an appeal to put their trust in Christ, ‘Enter into the rock and hide in the dust from before the terror of the LORD, and from the splendour of his majesty.’ The terror of His majesty will be such an awesome occurance people will be throwing their silver and gold away to flee the terror of God. ‘In that day mankind will cast away their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, to the moles and to the bats, to enter the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs, from before the terror of the LORD, and from the splendour of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth.’ (Isaiah 2:20-21). This image is also seen in Revelation. It is a righteous revenge (Isaiah 2:12-18).

Woven throughout these passages in chapters 1 and 2 are the promises of God. ‘Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.’ (Isaiah 1:18).

So the contest of this is that man is lost, judgement is sure, God has a plan.

‘It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it and many peoples shall come and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.’ (Isaiah 2:2-5).

‘But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.’ (Hebrews 1:2)

‘But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.’ (2 Timothy 3:1).

We are in the period of the last days. Isaiah 2:2-5 points to the gospel age, the days in which we live. God has set His blessing upon the mountain and his house. God has set His blessing upon us but we must not be proud, we should have the mind of Christ, we ought to be servants. The Lord spoke about Himself as being lifted up, ‘And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.’ (John 3:14). He was pointing to the cross. Christ is the suffering servant. We are children of God, yet we should be humble servants. The kingdom of God has come in Christ (Isaiah 2:3-5).

What is it like to live in the gospel age? Isaiah 2:3 we are told to ‘Come.’ If you’re someone who says ‘Come’ you are inviting someone to an event. ‘Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth.’ (Psalm 46:8). For us, this event is Christ crucified. It’s a celebration, there’s enthusiasm. In this gospel age many people will say, ‘Come.’ There’s an excitement and joy, there is no time to wait or delay, there is an urgency. ‘The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.’ (Revelation 22:17). There is a sense of welcome. Do we go out and invite people into chapel? We may welcome them when they’re inside, but what about outside? We have a great gospel and a great Saviour. We should be enthusiastic and welcoming about saying, ‘Come!’ We need, as a church, to be much more inviting by being out in the world.

‘Let us.’ (Isaiah 2:3). This is corporate, not just individuals, but the whole church. It’s our job to go into all the world and preach the gospel. There’s a sense of inclusiveness. All of us are created by God in His image. There is unity in that there is only one way of Salvation. This is our one hope. We all have different talents and gifts – with the aim of getting others to know who Christ is. We are in the world as salt and light.

We need to be forgiving. There should be a humility about us. Christ came down from heaven and mixed with sinners, with the outcasts. You and I are ambassadors and ought to be representing Him in the world. We’re to be heavenly minded, to go up and think about heavenly things.

The people were called to the mountain of the Lord’s house (Isaiah 2:2). We need to tell people about this wonderful person we love – Immanuel, God with us. God has come down and is ready to receive man. You and I are also a temple of God. We are inviting people to come to the house of God – to Christ Jesus Himself – it is not a place.

He will teach us His ways (Isaiah 2:3). Even in the difficulties, He is the one who will teach us. ‘It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.’ (John 6:45).

God’s word will go forth from Jerusalem. You and I have been commissioned to take it out. If we do not do it, God will find a way. It is His mission.  He will teach us His ways. Spend more time with Christ. After Pentecost nothing could stop the disciples, they could not stop speaking of Christ.

So what’s it like in the gospel age?
Come – the central important thing – to the Lord Jesus Christ. Come because He is going to teach us. He will judge and make us right. Come let us go to the house of the Lord Jesus Christ. We invite people to come because we know He has done wonders for us. Follow the Lord, let us walk in the light of the Lord.

 

 

5th February 2017: Dave Norbury

david-norbury-feb-17What is so wonderful about the gospel we believe?

  • It is rooted in history.

Many of the people who stood under the cross of Jesus rubbed their hands – they had captured the troublemaker. Yet in Isaiah 53, written 700 years before, this event is predicted and described in detail. Our message is rooted in history, in an event that really happened. ‘And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offering; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.’ (Isaiah 53:9-12).

The gospel is for the very worst of people. The two robbers crucified on either side of our Lord were genuinely the sort of people you should fear, the very worst of people. They too, reviled Jesus, mocking and humiliating Him. ‘And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.’ (Matthew 27:44). Yet what we find Jesus tells one, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’ (Luke 23:43). Amazing!

Jesus Christ takes the very worst of people and makes them secure in heaven. He came into the world to save sinners. Hypocrisy sets you above people to look down, but you and I have wickedness within our hearts which is equally detestable. ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ (Romans 3:23). This gospel isn’t restricted to the kind and good, it’s for everyone who is a sinner, everyone – the worst of the worst. And Jesus demonstrates it in His last moments of His life on the cross.

  • The gospel is about miraculous change.

During the crucifixion there was darkness between 9 and 12, but at 12 one of the robbers had changed completely. ‘One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:39). God has changed him. It’s almost beyond belief. Suddenly he has come to believe there’s a God. So many people think there is no God. Every single one of us during our lives, has a consciousness of God. Suddenly this man believes there’s a presence so much greater than his own. He had no conscience, but now he has God. He realises he is guilty. This is true of everyone who becomes a Christian; we become conscious of our own sin and failure. We have to believe that this message we have is about miraculous change.

  • The gospel call people to personal faith.

Not only does the gospel take someone who mocks Jesus at 9 o’clock but at 12 o’clock he worships Jesus Christ. Suddenly the man is speaking to the Lord Jesus Christ in a very personal way. He speaks to the Lord Jesus who has a kingdom. He saw, when they were carrying the crosses to the execution, Jesus spoke to the women on the road, he heard how Jesus didn’t respond to the taunts of others, how Jesus spoke to His Father. His heart moved right towards the Lord Jesus Christ. We can’t do it ourselves, but as we cry out to God, then our wonderful God draws near to us. This gospel calls us to personal faith in Jesus Christ. What a great message!

  • The gospel proclaims wonderful promises to the worst of sinners.

The Lord Jesus replies and says to the robber, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’ (Luke 23:43). We have wonderful promises we can rely on for eternity. We are told, ‘Call unto me, and I will answer thee.’ (Jeremiah 33:3). ‘He shall call upon me and I will answer him.’ (Psalm 91:15). There is a death, there is judgement, but this robber will be in Paradise. What a place!

  • The gospel is filled with encouragement but there are also warnings.

We have the encouragement of heaven. Sadly, there is a great warning. One of the thieves refused to trust Jesus Christ. There is judgement. God will deal with our sin and failure. Jesus died on the cross to save sinners, but for those who reject Jesus, they will be rejected themselves.

In summary, the gospel is rooted in history, it is about miraculous change, it calls people to personal faith, it proclaims wonderful promises and filled with encouragement, but there are warnings too.