Isaiah 6:1-8 – Gospel – Sermon
This is the sermon I preached Sunday, 30 May 2010 at CR Baptist Church. It was spoken in the evening service prior to an appreciation dessert & coffee they had for Keely and I as it was my last Sunday as a Pastor on staff there.
You can download the sermon and listen to it from my dropbox (right-click to download). PS – The sermon ends at around 30mins & the remainder is some nice things that the people in our church said to us for our going away thing.
Or, if you’re a reader, here’s the manuscript (although because its a manuscript and not a transcript, there will be differences). Wouldn’t mind having some constructive criticism too, if you’re into that.
Title: The Gospel.
I want to preach the Gospel to you tonight. And the Gospel is very simply: Through the life, death & resurrection of Jesus Christ, God saves sinners. And as Peter was so convinced of in Acts 4:12, he says, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” NOTHING else can save you.
There are 3 foundational aspects to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Now, we know it as the Gospel of Jesus Christ…meaning it is his Good News that has been delivered to us. That he has lived, died and is now raised to life is Good News! But why is this news good? Because Jesus has died for us. Why has he died for us? Because we have sinned. And if we have sinned, then there must be someone to sin against. And who is that someone that we’ve sinned against? It is God. So, the Gospel begins with God.
The 3 foundational aspects of the Gospel are 1) God, 2) Man, 3) Christ
Open your Bibles to Isaiah 6. (READ Isaiah 6:1-8)
The Gospel starts with a vision of God’s glory.
Isaiah 6:1-4 – “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.”
The fact of the matter here is that this is merely a taste of the fullness of the glory of God, you don’t get it by reading about it. Isaiah can’t describe exactly what he saw, he would be left without words. We really can’t handle the whole thing. Just take a moment sometime to read Ezekiel 1…he constantly uses words like “as” and “like” and “in the appearance of”…he just can’t describe the glory of God in its fullness. Think about Moses (Ex 33:18)…God only allowed him to see his “backside” glory & he still could barely handle it.
Romans 11:33-36 says, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
God’s glory is displayed in Scripture…it is his words. I encourage you to read it.
So the Gospel begins with a vision of the glory of God and we have this in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
Next, the Gospel includes a recognition of our own lostness.
For Isaiah, he sees this vision of God’s glory and quickly recognizes that he is not worthy even to look on God and says, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips,” (v.5a). He see’s the glory of God and as a result at that see’s who he is in light of God. And recognizes that he is LOST.
Then he recognizes that the people he lives with are lost too. He’s in the same boat as everyone else. He says, “and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (v.5b)
The playing field is level. There is no one who has higher ground than another as if to make someone closer to God. NONE ARE RIGHTEOUS. (Ps 14:3; Rom 3:10). This means that there is no such thing as being a “better person” than so and so…the way you dress, how many times a week you spend at the church, how much money you give to hungry children, NONE of that makes you a better person before God. In the same way, no amount of alcoholism, drug abuse, or criminal activity puts you in a worse position than anyone else either. Meaning, there is no “closer to God” status that anyone has.
This is you apart from God acting to save you: Romans 3:9-18 (READ IT).
SUMMARY: So Isaiah sees a vision of God’s glory, recognizes that he and everyone else in the world are utterly lost as to being able to present ourselves approved to God. Apart from God acting to save us, there is nothing we can do. There is absolutely nothing we can do that would make God want to save us. We can’t fix it ourselves. And so, we completely depend on God to act. So Isaiah rightly tosses himself at the mercy of God saying, “Woe is me, for I am lost.”
But God does act…and here is the Gospel…here is the really Good News to be heralded and brought back to the cities…declared on rooftops…declared in any means possible so that all may hear it. This is the metaphor and image of Christ here in this passage:“Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.’” (v.6-7)
Isaiah’s guilt, sin and shame that is represented by the uncleanness of his lips is seared and taken away. His guilt has been removed (expiation), his sin has been atoned for (propitiation). Isaiah couldn’t take away his own guilt…Isaiah couldn’t pay the penalty for his own sin. This is the Gospel! This is what Jesus came to do. He lived the perfect life, died a death of a sinner, and since he had not sinned and was not guilty, death couldn’t hold him, so God raised him from the dead and in that he has made it possible for us to live! We get to live, not die like we deserve. WE GET TO LIVE!
It is the “gift of God”…God has given a gift to Isaiah and has saved him.
Now, before we look at the next verse, I want us to grasp the weight of this…the glory of this…the reality of how the life, death and resurrection of Jesus brings glory to God in and of itself. Question: Before Isaiah has a chance to react in doing or saying anything, is there anything that he could do that would better the situation? Is there anything that Isaiah would bring to the table that could make him more deserving of the grace of God? Is there anything Isaiah could put on the altar that would make the sacrificial lamb more appealing to God? NO! God is glorified regardless of my response. This is the gospel. The gospel is complete before response. This is why Jesus can say to the thief on the cross that he will be with him in paradise. Did he do anything to deserve salvation? No! Jesus saved him.
The gospel is perfect, complete and God has acted in our lives prior to us doing anything. This not only means that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves, but this means there never will be anything we can do to save ourselves. So the things we do, whether it be ministry, preaching, serving at a soup kitchen, providing shelter to the homeless, going to church, feeding and loving our own children…those things we do “for God” are not done because we “have to” in order to be saved, we do these things because we “get to”…because we have been saved.
So all of life after conversion is lived out of WORSHIP for God. We ought to throw ourselves at his feet and praise him for what he has done for us because we can.
But you can almost sense from Isaiah that knowing this, that there is nothing he can do to better the situation, that he is longing for God to act and say something more. But out of reverence for God, he is silent. Its almost as if Isaiah is saying in his heart, “If there is ANYTHING I can do.” Not because he needs to pay God back, not because theres anything more he can offer, but because he wants to worship God and show him off in any way that God permits. If God were to ask him to do something, out of worship for God, he would do it…whatever it is…because he “gets to”. He’s been saved. He’s identified with Jesus Christ, it is no longer him who lives, but Christ in him.
Then comes the response.
Isaiah 6:8-9a – “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’ 9 And he said, ‘Go, and say to this people:…”
So here we have God acting again, and inviting Isaiah to a specific response to the Gospel. God has acted to save us and we too have been invited to a response.
What about you? Do you find yourself offering things to God hoping he might save you? Its all in the motivation of it. Where does your motivation come from? Does your motivation come from trying to muster up the best services you can offer, the best clothes to put on, the best smile to offer so that God might look on you and say, “Now there is someone who is worthy of my salvation.” Or do you act in such a way that reflects your life already being identified with the Gospel and the motivation you have is coming from a heart that says, “I get to do this.” You see, once you know the Gospel, only then can you truly “enjoy the Gospel” and worship God purely.
Do you hear the difference in there? Sometimes its hard to see the difference between the two motivations in our own lives, and sometimes it takes living in community with other Christians in our lives to see it and help us. One comes from a desire to promote ourselves before God and make our own selves worthy of his saving grace, the other comes from a place of already knowing that saving grace and serving him because we get to.
The response for us tonight is simple, we’ll just work our way backwards through the things I’ve said tonight:
Why do you do the things “for God” that you do? Do you do them out of a heart that says, “because I’ve been saved, I get to”? or out of a “I have to in order to be saved”? If you do it because you get to, then praise God…humble yourself that he is using you to bring him glory and praise him that your name is written in heaven. However, if you do it because you have to, then take a step back with me.
If you do it because you have to, I would ask you to seriously consider whether or not you’ve actually tasted the saving work of Jesus. Like Isaiah, you need to ask whether the coal has seared your lips or not. If your salvation really counted on you doing something for God, then you are doomed. There is absolutely nothing we can do that would pay for our sins before God. If you are striving to be saved, you don’t get it. Its a gift freely offered to you from God not something you do. If you struggle with this, then you need to REST…rest and cease striving…you can’t do it…Jesus Christ has done it for you through his life!
Take another step back: Isaiah said, “woe is me for I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips”…When you see your sin, do you look around you and constantly compare yourself to other people justifying your own actions based on the actions of others saying, “Well, at least I’m not as bad as that person,” or “I’ve never killed anyone.” something to that effect? If you do, realize that its not about being a good person, no amount of morality is going to save you and no amount of sin will keep everyone else out either. God doesn’t mark on the curve….its a pass-fail. Either you get in because you’ve been identified with Jesus or you don’t.
And for all of us, it is so important to go back to a vision of God’s glory. So I encourage you to read your Bible. Since Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is the only solution provided that deals with sin, every sin we have in our lives needs to be brought back through the gospel. All sin happens because we do not fully believe the Gospel.
The response is the same for all of us repent from our sins, turn to God…accept the free gift he offers to you, salvation through Jesus Christ alone. We must stop ignoring God. Stop trying to save ourselves. Worship God, repent and respond out of the freedom he has given you resting in the enjoyment of knowing our names are written in Heaven. The response comes after.
Isaiah’s sending comes from God and only after he himself had been keenly aware of his need for God’s action to save him. He knew it was nothing that he did.
Our response is worship in all of life to God in whatever he sends us to do.