Wednesday, May 3, 2017

“Grace Freely Given”, Guest Post by Sam Hood

A message based upon Isaiah 55.1-7

I love getting invited to weddings. At weddings you watch a beautiful covenant form between two people, and after there is free food! Invitations come in the mail and all you have to do is RSVP and you’re set! Of course the main event of a wedding is the male and the female becoming one, but we celebrate around food, drink, fellowship, traditions, and dancing–depending on whether or not you view dancing as sinful. Nicole and I only had cupcakes at our wedding, but a few months later we attended a wedding with a buffet. Next month I will be attending my sister’s wedding where we will feast. The celebration of the marriage leads to feasting. As we dive into Scripture we will examine an invitation to feast found in Isaiah 55:1-7. Before we begin I’d like to give you a roadmap to what we will be seeing. First, we will take a look at an invitation to a feast. Second, we will take a look at a promise of an everlasting covenant. Third, we will take a look at a proper response to the invitation and the promise of an everlasting covenant.

The Invitation (v. 1-3a)

Are you thirsty? Come! Are you hungry? Come! Echoing into every human heart is the call to be satisfied. Even our bodies long to be satisfied by water and by food. We have hunger and we have thirst causing us to have three meals a day typically. We are also driven by hunger and by thirst that doesn’t relate to food or water. Some hunger for the day when our bills are paid, yet others hunger for the day when marital and familial strife has ceased. We are thirsty for our lifelong goals, dreams, and longings to be met and achieved. At times, we waste our efforts and our resources in pursuit of these goals. Other times we are satisfied in our accomplishments, but later we realize it wasn’t enough to keep us satisfied. I toil at work to be one of the best employees my store has to offer. This is my goal and aspiration at work, and others also have this goal. Working at a Christian bookstore means the majority of your employees have an excellent work ethic. I work my hardest to try and get a positive survey with my name in it, yet every time I do someone within the next couple of days will get a positive survey mentioning their name as well. Satisfaction will only last for a couple of days at my job. Others come along working just as hard as me to also be known as one of the great employees of LifeWay. You also have goals and aspirations in your life that you chase after hoping that it will bring you satisfaction, yet it won’t last. Why do you long after things that won’t last and won’t satisfy? Why do spend money hoping for satisfaction in material things?

In the passage, the question is posed, “Why do you spend silver on what is not food, and your wages on what does not satisfy?” During the time of Isaiah coins were not yet used. Every payment had to be weighed out, and generally the form of payment was precious metals. The weighing out of these precious metals conveys the idea that it’s not only the precious metals the people barter, but their labor as well. They worked for these earnings and then they spend their earnings. In the same, we work for our paycheck and we go out and spend it on what we please. We labor and labor, yet it never feels as if our labor is properly rewarded. With our paychecks we try to satisfy ourselves by bartering our labor for things in the end that either don’t satisfy or only momentarily satisfy.

Notice was is written next. “Eat what is good, and you will enjoy the choicest of foods.” The choicest of foods in Hebrew means to, literally, enjoy fatness. Fats and oils were precious to the Israelites for their diet was poor. They didn’t have a means of obtaining all the foods that our bodies need. Ingesting fats and oils would sustain them giving them extra energy for their day. How often to do we avoid doing that which is good? I’m not speaking of helping move someone’s furniture, or doing good for the community, or even purchasing someone’s groceries. I’m speaking of obeying the Lord. We slop around in our sin on a daily basis hoping our good deeds outnumber our bad deeds. Boldly, we tell God that we have everything we need to be satisfied. This isn’t something that needs to be done verbally either. God hears us by our actions as we spend our efforts chasing that which we believe will satisfy. We create idols in our hearts worshipping them rather than the true God, Yahweh, who made us. John Calvin says, “Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.” Much like Israel we have abandoned God and sinned against Him. We have chosen to forsake our obedience to Him to hold on to momentary satisfaction.

The beginning part of verse three contains some very important words, “Pay attention and come to me; listen, so that you will live,” and how foolish it would be not to listen. One of my pastors, Sam Beirig, has been known to say, “You are listening for your life!” Your life is utterly dependent on how close you listen to these words. Pay attention, live, come to me, these are all phrases that we should be listening to. COME TO THE WATER YOU WHO THIRST! We aren’t talking about mere food and water, we are talking about how our spirits are thirsting for more. Our spirits thirst for God and He has just given an invitation of grace to every single human being. How foolish we would be not to come to Him, not to heed these words!

Through inviting the hearers to come to the water, we catch a glimpse of something greater. Earlier I explained how we all thirst; we need water to be satisfied and to maintain life within our bodies. But there are other choice beverages that will help sustain our bodies as well. Having been told to come to the water we also are told there is wine and milk without cost. The water quenches thirst and maintains life, but the wine and milk will continue to grow and sustain the body. Wine–no matter what your thoughts are on consuming alcohol–is known to make the human body “slow down.” Simply put, as one consumes a little alcohol one’s brain will have some neurotransmitters blocked. This causes one to feel less pain, let loose some, and to generally feel happy. In this passage wine simply makes one cheerful. This isn’t an invitation to get drunk, but rather to relax and be happy. Milk is offered to grow and sustain us. There are nutrients in milk that we need to grow and to have energy. The invitation is proclaiming, “Not only will I quench your thirst, but I will make you cheerful, give you sustenance, and I will grow you.” Come and feast on the grace of God! He has offered satisfaction and growth to those who are thirsty. But all of this is offered freely, without cost. How was this accomplished? How can we simply come to God and receive this grace and growth and sustenance without cost? God sent His Son, the God-man Jesus, to come and establish His covenant with not only Israel but all peoples everywhere. This leads me to the second point.

The Covenant (v. 3b-5)

The Lord is establishing an eternal covenant with Israel on the basis of King David. David is the most famous king of Israel. Still, he had his own sins. Even so, Yahweh has promised David that his throne shall be an eternal one. David has also been a witness to Yahweh. King David was a leader of Israel and commander of its army. He faithfully revealed God, the Lord of Israel, to his own people and to the surrounding peoples. Having an intimate relationship with the Lord, he was continuously testifying to the glory, splendor, and majesty of the Lord. His witness was known through his leading and commanding of people. Every march into battle and every victory is a testament to David’s God, Yahweh. This man’s throne would not be emptied, but would rather require another who would lead the people of God and command them. This man would also be a witness to the nations, and it being an eternal throne this would last forevermore.

The promise of an eternal covenant is directly implied to Israel, but then God adds a shocking statement, “so you will summon a nation you do not know, and nations who do not know you will run to you.” How can Israel summon a nation they do not know? How can nations who don’t know of Israel run to Israel? The only clear explanation of what God is promising is to understand this as a prophecy of the Messiah. He is promising a better David. A king that is a better David and one who sits on the throne eternally. The eternal King will be a witness of His God to the nations. The eternal King will lead and command a people, and other peoples will flock to this King to be led by him. He is the Davidic Messiah.

Previously in Isaiah 53, Isaiah describes the Davidic Messiah as a servant. We are told that this man shall suffer. The servant became so disfigured that he did not look like a man, his appearance made him undesirable, and he was despised and rejected. The servant also bore our sicknesses, carried our pains, and was sent to the grave. His life promises of punishment for our sin being put on him for our peace, our healing from his wounds, and our life for his death. The servant is said to sprinkle many nations, be given a portion of many, and intercede for people. This is Jesus. And he came to establish this covenant. Without his establishing of the covenant the prior invitation would not exist! The offer to satisfy would not exist!

But what exactly does this covenant satisfy? This covenant will satisfy multiple things, but I have two important ones to share with you today. God’s Wrath is the first thing this covenant will satisfy. Because of our sin we have been cut off from the Lord. Our sin has tainted the image of God within us. Sin sentences us the wrath of God. Just punishment is due us for the blatant rebellion against the commands of God. Condemnation is looming around the corner ready to strike. But because of this covenant that God is establishing through His Son Christ Jesus this can all be avoided. Jesus lays down his life to pay for our sins, to remove the spiritually dead flesh from us. He makes us alive, removes the wrath of God by his sacrifice, and gives us union with him.

Our longing of grace is the second thing this covenant will satisfy. Mercy is where we will not receive that which we deserve. The reciprocal of mercy is grace. Grace is where we will receive that which we do not deserve. Others have said it to be God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. The effects of sin run deep causing death, pain, and destruction to us. Grace is the reversal of these consequences of sin. The grace of God will take our spiritual and physical death and bring us life in the Spirit and a soon coming glorified body. Awakened by the Spirit, the believer will experience true life with God. This new life brings union with God. To have union with God is much more than obeying his commands and reading the Bible. Having union with God is fundamental to our salvation. It is the believer’s union:
  • to Christ’s death that has brought about the death of the believer’s sin.
  • to Christ’s resurrection that has brought about the surety of the bodily resurrection where the believer will receive their glorified body.
  • to Christ that brings them into sonship with God.
  • with Christ’s purity and his bloodshed that declares the believer pure in the sight of God.
  • with Christ that sends his Spirit to dwell in the believer allowing them to do good for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
  • with Christ that can bring about peace in the believer’s life; peace that will cause us to have a correct understanding of the pain, destruction, and suffering this world has to offer. 
  • with Christ that breaks the stronghold of idolization within our heart. 

It is the believer’s union with Christ that satisfies every longing of our hearts.

The Response (v. 6-7)

Arriving to the conclusion that we have been invited to come and feast on the satisfaction found in God and do so eternally, we need to know how to respond. Just as we must respond timely with a wedding invitation, so we must come to the Lord while He is near. The prophet Isaiah uttered these words signifying that the Lord was near for Israel, but we’ve been sent the Son – and God has never been more near to us. Jesus dwelt on the earth as 100% man and 100% God. God in the flesh dwelt among us! Don’t miss this! The Lord didn’t proclaim from the skies, “Hey I have a plan for us to be restored, but I can’t come down there because of your sin.” The Father sent His Son down to redeem us. Jesus didn’t just come down to earth and plant himself in one place hoping people would come to him; Jesus knew they wouldn’t come to him. Jesus went to many people and many different cities forgiving them of their sins on account of their faith, he performed miracles in front of them, he taught them how to know God more intimately, and he did many more wonders as well. God desires to be near to us; that’s why he sent the Davidic Messiah, that’s why he spoke about the Messiah through his prophets, that’s why he sent the Messiah to a cross to pay for the sin that you and I could never pay for. Seek him because He is near.

How exactly are we to seek the Lord? We are to turn away from our wicked ways. The repentance of sin is not just the stopping of sin, it is the abandoning of one’s way. Sinners who just stop sinning don’t progress but rather stay exactly how they were the moment they stopped sinning. This isn’t good enough. Abandon your way you wicked is the command. Abandoning your way is to stop sinning and pursue godliness.  It’s the reversal of our wicked thoughts and ways to seek that of the Lord’s ways and thoughts. Our thoughts must be changed. The gospel must be heard and believed. Our repentance is based on the changing of our thoughts which will produce faith. Faith in Jesus Christ and his work is what saves us. Let us go and be satisfied in him! Let us go to the Lord for there we will find the Lord’s compassion! The forgiveness of the Lord is abundant. Christ’s sacrifice can cover every single sin of yours! He will forgive freely, without cost. For this cost has already been paid by Jesus. Grace will be poured upon you if only you shall come.


Having heard the invitation, the covenant, and the response there is more application for us.

First, let me speak to Christians. Christians, you have heard this invitation and you have come to feast on the all-satisfying free grace of God. Let me remind you that this is a feast. There is spiritual wine and milk to make you cheerful, to give you growth, and the give you sustenance. The grace of God will continue to cover your sin all the days of your life. Because of God’s grace you will see Him more clearly. The Spirit that abides in us believer will reveal to you more of God! You’ll grow to know Him more and He will become your complete satisfaction and joy. Believer’s grace is abundant in your life. Remember, the grace of God is receiving that which we do not deserve. Every good, every spiritual blessing, every mercy in your life is due to the grace of God being present in your life. Savor God’s goodness in your life. Know Him better through prayer, Bible reading, proclaiming the gospel, etc.. Acknowledge the grace He has given you. In His gracious love, He has given us union with Christ. We don’t have to labor and toil for our own salvation because it has been won by Christ! Rest in him!

Secondly, I would like to address those who are not true believers. Many of these people have the impression they are a Christian and have been most of their days. These are the people that desire to go to church because mom and dad raised them right or to maintain their attendance so nobody asks them where they have been; they don’t desire to be with the body to fellowship in unity, worship in song and sermon, seek the Kingdom of God, and seek to make the gospel known in the surrounding communities and to the ends of the earth. These are the people that may have stopped sinning like they once have, but they have never taken the time to pursue godliness and know the Savior. Simply put they have NOT placed their faith in the God and what His Son has accomplished here on earth and repented of their sins. They learn morals and values from the Bible, but never come to know the Lord. To my understanding, Andy will be addressing the assurance of salvation over the next couple of weeks in his sermons; if you are having doubts right now about your salvation listen to his sermons but consider the fact you may not be saved. Examine your heart. If the Spirit has revealed to you that you don’t possess the grace of God then come to the feast! Come and taste of the goodness of God! Have faith in the gospel of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Repent of your sinful ways!

Thirdly, I would like to address those who aren’t believers. Where do you place your hope and satisfaction? In that which does not last? Come to the water, come and eat and without cost! Christ came to this earth to pay for your sin debt. He came and died so that you might be restored to God. God has invited you to come and eat without cost. Will you play the fool and deny his offer? Be satisfied in the One True Triune God, for you will gain eternal satisfaction. At the end of your life you will be responsible for the sin you have committed. Eternal Hell awaits those who have chosen to continue in their sin. Hear the gospel, and respond to it appropriately, for then will your sin be forgiven and your satisfaction be found in God.

Consider the words of Revelation 22.17, “Both the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ Let anyone who hears, say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come. Let the one who desires take the water of life freely.”

Will you come today?

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