Invitation to Feasting
P. G. Mathew | Sunday, March 21, 2004
Copyright © 2004, P. G. Mathew
"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. - Isaiah 55:1-2
Isaiah 55 is the Lord's invitation to a great feast. As a poor, needy, and sinful people, we can never find satisfaction in this world for our spiritual hunger and thirst. But God has prepared a feast to satisfy our spiritual needs. He invites us to come and eat freely of his spiritual delicacies and to drink from the living water made available through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ.
Isaiah previously spoke of this feast in Isaiah 25:6-8
On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine-the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.
Isaiah 53 told us that the feast consists of the forgiveness of sins, and the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, based on the death of the suffering servant.
Verse 1 begins, "Everyone who thirsts, come. . . ." Notice, then, it is a universal invitation to everyone, both Jew and Gentile, who hungers and thirsts for spiritual food and drink. This is what Jesus promised in the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled" (Matthew 5:6). Yes, this feast is for all, but each person must respond to the invitation.
Who are the invitees to this great feast God is giving? First, they are those who thirst, not after gold, but after the true and living God. They are those who say with the psalmist, "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God" (Psalm 42:1). Jesus asked, "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" (Mark 8:36). If you hunger and thirst for righteousness, you are invited to this feast.
Second, they are those without money. Isaiah presents us with a paradox: the feast is priceless, yet it must be purchased; but the cost is so high that no one can pay it. But then the invitation comes to the poor sinners: "You who have no money, come, buy and eat!" The glory of this invitation is that the food can be bought without money!
Psalm 49 tells us that the cost of redemption-that is, eternal life-is so high that we cannot purchase it: "No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him-the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough-that he should live on forever and not see decay" (vv. 7-9). But 1 Peter 1:18-19 tells us that someone did pay the price: "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." The price for our redemption was the life of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53.
So this feast of salvation is prepared for hungry, thirsty, bankrupt sinners, but paid for by another. Why, then, are we told that we must "buy" it? Because God wants us to understand the high cost of salvation. Our salvation is by grace through faith plus nothing, yet this grace is not cheap.
And not only are the poor and thirsty invited to the feast, but in verse 7 we are told that the wicked are also welcome. Everybody is invited, and God is not inviting us to condemn us but to justify us. He is God who justifies the ungodly.
Are you a sinner? Are you unrighteous? Are you wicked? Then you are invited to God's great feast! Since man is born a sinner and practices sin, each qualifies as an invitee.
But why should we respond to this invitation? The answer is given in verse 2: "Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?" Here Isaiah is saying there is no other way of salvation, no other Savior, outside of Christ. There is no other spiritual food or drink that can satisfy the needs of a famished, dying sinner. There is no other way the wicked can be made righteous and be restored to eternal fellowship with a holy God.
All efforts by a sinner to obtain salvation through any other means are a waste of time. Self-salvation is hopeless; self-righteousness is a stench to God. The same is true for money-it cannot save us. Only Jesus Christ can save sinners. Verse 2, then, gives us the inducement to accept God's gracious invitation and come to the Lord.
Of such other "means" of salvation, Jesus says in John 4:13, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again." It is like drinking salt water. You may be surrounded by it, but if you drink it, you will be thirsty again. In John 6:27 Jesus tells us, "Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you." There is no salvation apart from Jesus Christ.
Paul is speaking about these "other ways of salvation" when he asks, "What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!" (Romans 6:21). He is saying, "Before you came to know Jesus Christ, did you not religiously serve idols? But it did not benefit you; in fact, you look now upon your idolatry and are ashamed." Elsewhere Isaiah says of one who seeks salvation in idols: "He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, 'Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?'" (Isaiah 44:20).
No matter what the nature of the idol-whether it is a sophisticated religion, philosophy or science, a political position, or a shiny car-the person who worships idols is feeding on ashes and lies. Outside of Christ, we can pursue happiness all our lives, yet not find it. Outside of Christ, we can never enjoy true satisfaction, for true happiness comes only from knowing the Savior. The happiness Christ gives us is not the temporary pleasure induced by drugs, position, or possessions. Such things will only make us more depressed and miserable. They will never satisfy us; we will simply desire more potent drugs, more costly things, better jobs and bigger houses. Jesus Christ alone offers us everlasting pleasure, for he alone offers us eternal life.
Note the many imperatives used in this text: "Come! Come! Come! Listen! Listen! Listen! Give ear! Forsake! Seek! Turn!" The Lord of the feast sees our poverty, thirst, and utter inability to save ourselves. He sees our wickedness, unrighteousness, and misery. He sees it all, so he calls us to him. He is calling only sinners-the wicked, the undeserving, the spiritually bankrupt, the guilty. He is calling the chiefs of sinners. He is calling the hopeless, the dying, the poor, the blind, and the wretched. To these alone he says, "Come! Come! Come! Listen! Listen! Listen!"
In Matthew 11:28 we find the fulfillment of this call. Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." So this feast to which we are called-this milk, this aged wine, this finest of meats-is Jesus Christ himself. All other religions, ideas and idols will only make us weary, burdened, and enslaved. Jesus Christ alone gives us rest.
In John 7:27 Jesus invites us again, saying, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." And in Revelation 22:17 we read, "The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life."
God calls to those who are dead in trespasses and sins, "Come to the waters!" From whence comes this abundance of water, this living water that refreshes our souls? It is coming from the Rock, Jesus Christ, who was smitten on our behalf. "Come and drink and live!" is the gospel call. "Come! There is plenty of milk that will nourish you. Come! There is plenty of water to refresh you. Come! There is plenty of wine to give you joy. Come! Enjoy great delicacies, that your soul may delight in true happiness."
O restless hearts, stop running after that which is not bread. Stop buying into false gospels and philosophies. God offers us everlasting happiness, without sorrow, gloom, depression, or guilt. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. That is the feast that we are invited to!
An Everlasting Covenant
In verse 3 we read, "I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David." Israel failed to keep God's covenant, but the Son of David, Jesus Christ, kept the covenant fully by his perfect life and substitutionary, penal death. He lives forever, seated on his eternal throne and reigning over his everlasting kingdom. Through his obedience, the blessings of this covenant are his; and through him, they flow to us.
Here in verse 3 God is promising to make an everlasting, unfailing covenant with us for our eternal benefit. The blessings of this covenant are all the things we need: righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. They are the sure, reliable, everlasting, and unfailing mercies promised by God to David in 2 Samuel 7 and Psalm 89. What we need is mercy; that need is satisfied superabundantly through the life and work of Jesus Christ.
Verse 4 speaks about Jesus the Messiah and the various functions God has given him: "See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples." First, Jesus Christ is a witness. He is the prophet promised in Deuteronomy 18:15-19, and we are commanded by God to listen to him (Mark 9:7). Jesus came to witness to the truth, as he told Pilate. So if you want truth, come to Jesus Christ. If you want lies, go to the false religions and philosophies of this world. Jesus Christ is truth, and he gives witness to truth. So coming to the feast is coming to Jesus Christ, who has been made a feast for us, and listening to his word, which is spirit and life. That is why we must study the Bible, for in the pages of the Bible we see Jesus Christ.
Second, we are told that God appointed him a leader, or prince. He will lead us to victory, peace, joy, and eternal life.
Third, God has appointed him as our commander. This is the problem in the church today-people want a Savior but they do not want a commander. But Jesus Christ has received all authority in heaven and on earth. He is Lord! He is commander! And he has the authority to command every person on the face of the earth. He tells us in Matthew 28:19-20, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them . . . and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." Jesus will not save anyone who does not trust his witness to the truth, acknowledge him as prince, and render complete obedience to his command.
But why should we believe the witness of this prince and obey his command? We are told in the last line of verse 5: "For he has endowed you with splendor." Peter said, "God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). By means of the resurrection, ascension, and session of Jesus Christ, God has endowed him with splendor. God therefore requires the thirsty to believe in his witness, to be led by him, and to obey his command.
Verse 5 also says that this prince will "summon nations." This speaks about the global call to both Jews and Gentiles. His call is effectual; when God calls, people come, and they will not be dragging their feet: "nations that do not know you will hasten to you." This language speaks of the delightful obedience rendered to the glorified Lord of the universe. When he calls, we will come running because the Holy Spirit is working in the depths of our being, enabling us to hasten to him with joy. We read about this also in Isaiah 2:3: "Many peoples will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.'" So this commander and prince has a worldwide empire consisting of Jews and Gentiles, an international community of people who believe his witness, acknowledge his kingship, and obey his commands.
Seek the Lord
Verse 6 begins, "Seek the Lord." Does this mean that the Lord is lost and we must go looking for him? No. The Hebrew word does not mean looking for what is lost; it means to come in commitment and self-surrender to one who is known to be there.
We must seek God urgently, because our time to do so is limited. We are told in 2 Corinthians 6:2, "Now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." In Hebrews 3 and 4 we are warned three times, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts." If you are hearing his voice through this message, it is Today for you, and God is inviting you to his feast. Whenever we hear the gospel, it is Today for us.
Today means the time when God permits himself to be found by us. Do not think that we can find the Lord on our own. God is a spirit, a transcendent, infinite Being. No man can seek God and find him. But here we are asked to seek God, and we are told that we will find him, because he came down from heaven and lived on this earth. It is through the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ that God permits us to find him.
We are admonished in verse 6, "Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near." And Paul says, "'The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,' that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming" (Romans 10:8). If you have not trusted in Christ, soon the door may be shut, and you will die without Christ. But if you are hearing the gospel, then the word is near you and God is near you. Christ is near you as your kinsman and redeemer. The apostle John tells us the eternal Son of God, the Word, became flesh and dwelt among us, and of his fullness we receive grace upon grace. Jesus tells us, "Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them" (Matthew 18:20). He has come near us to be found by us; today he permits himself to be found. I urge you to come to him before your Today is over.
The wicked are invited to come to him. But they must come in true repentance. Thus it says in verse 7, "Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord." This is speaking about repentance and faith. A wicked person must forsake his sinful lifestyle. Let him who stole steal no longer. Let him who is a drug addict stop taking drugs. Let him who is an adulterer become faithful to his wife. Let him who is lazy work hard. Let him who is greedy practice generosity. We must forsake all sinful lifestyles.
And, even more, we must forsake the philosophies that are behind those lifestyles. Our lifestyles reflect the philosophies of our hearts. But God judges not only our outward actions, but also our inward thoughts. God's thoughts and ways are holy; ours are unholy. So the wicked must forsake the philosophy that gives rise to their wicked lifestyles, for the way of the wicked shall perish.
God invites the wicked to his feast, but a wicked man will not find the feast of mercy and rich pardon from Jesus Christ if he refuses to forsake his wicked ways and evil thoughts. Some modern preachers declare that a person does not have to forsake anything when he comes to Christ; he can carry on his lifestyle and hold to the philosophy behind it, all the while calling himself a Christian. This preaching says Jesus is Savior but he does not have to be Lord, and we do not have to repent of anything. But it is a lie. Jesus Christ demands that we repent.
What does it mean to repent? It means to change our thinking, to think correctly. Contrary to popular belief, Christianity is not merely emotionalism and tears; it demands our most serious thought. The wicked must think hard and think correctly about everything. When Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones spoke on the book of Acts in the 1960s, he lamented that people in the evangelical church do not want to repent. How correct he was in his assessment even then. That is the situation we face today.
The sinner suppresses truth and exchanges truth for a lie. His ways are unrighteous and his thoughts are lies. The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." How many people are governed by that philosophy today! They think that if we can only kill God, we can do whatever we want. But to find mercy and pardon, the wicked person must listen to Christ and change his mind about everything. He must begin to think God's thoughts after him and walk in his holy ways. He must think correctly about God, that he is infinite, personal, and holy. Where do we learn how to think correctly? From the Bible.
Not only must we change our thinking about God, we must also change our thinking about ourselves. We must recognize that we are but finite and sinful creatures who come that way from our mothers' wombs. Twisted and on our way to damnation, we cannot save ourselves. We actively suppress truth and exchange truth for a lie, all the while blaming everyone else but ourselves for our problems. We are true sons of Adam, who told God, "The woman you gave me made me do this." In other words, he was saying, "It is your fault, O God, not mine!"
We must also think correctly about life, death, and judgment. It is appointed for man once to die and then comes eternal judgment. We must think about the Lord Jesus Christ, his person and his work-he is eternal God who became man, the God/man. (PGM) We must carefully study the Scriptures to see what God says about these things.
And, having realized our sinfulness, we must also experience genuine sorrow for our sins. The prophet said, "Rend your heart and not your garments" (Joel 2:13). When we sin against Almighty God, we are spitting on his face. When we transgress God's law, we are throwing a grenade at his face, hoping it will destroy the eternal God.
Additionally, we must acknowledge our sins, as David did in Psalm 51, or as the publican, who cried out, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner" (Luke 18). Without reference to our reputation, we will confess, "Yes, I am a sinner and have sinned in these ways. I grieve, have deep sorrow, and hate my sin because God hates it."
Finally, verse 7 tells us, "Turn to the Lord." It is a one-hundred-and-eighty degree turn, a complete about-face, in which we turn to the Lord in saving faith and total surrender to him. Then our God may witness to us, lead us, and command us.
Commanded to Repent
I want to make one thing clear: Repentance is not a suggestion; it is a command of God. The Bible says God commands all people everywhere to repent. No one can receive forgiveness from God without authentic repentance. It just will not happen; it is a delusion to think it can. Tragically, people today want to define away the biblical order and speak about forgiveness without repentance. But, I say again, no one will receive forgiveness from God without authentic repentance, which includes forsaking one's sinful lifestyle as well as the thoughts within that gave rise to it, and turning to the Lord in complete surrender and saving faith.
Herein we find a dilemma: God commands that we repent; however, we cannot repent because we are sinners. How can this be resolved? The answer is that God himself enables us to repent. He regenerates us and makes us alive. He gives us the gift of repentance and the gift of saving faith, so that we will run to him when he calls.
Acts 3:26 explains it this way: "When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways." Notice, we are asked to repent, or turn, but Christ is the one enabling us to do so. He turns us so we may be turned. The resurrected Christ is sent to bless us by turning us from our wicked ways.
If you have sinned, I pray that you would pay careful attention to this word: "It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:31). But God, in his great mercy, offers us forgiveness. I pray we will all come in the right way, in accordance with God's word, to receive forgiveness. Only the gospel can give such great hope to sinners.
The Promise of Pardon
Verse 3 says, "I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David." In the original Hebrew, it is "my sure mercies promised to David." Notice, "mercies" is in the plural. As we have noted, repentance must come first, then forgiveness follows. Repentance is the first room; we must go through it to enter the second room called forgiveness. There everlasting mercies are given to us, no matter what sin we committed.
Verse 7 says, "Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and turn to our God, for he will freely pardon." In fact, it says, "Pardon shall be multiplied to you." Let me assure you, God does not have to show mercy to us. There is no law that says he should pardon you or me. But he does show mercy by his own will and determination. The hymnist, inspired by this verse, wrote, "Mercy there was great and grace was free; pardon there was multiplied to me; there my burdened heart found liberty-at Calvary."
Paul makes this amazing statement in Romans 5:20: "Where sin increased, grace increased all the more." When we repent and forsake both our sins and the thoughts behind them, and when we turn to the Lord in complete surrender and obedience, then we will be baptized in forgiveness and mercy. We will be surrounded by God's mercy.
The question we must now ask is this: How can God show mercy and forgiveness to a wicked person? On what basis can he do that? The objective basis for forgiveness is recorded in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah: "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wound we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (vv. 5-6). Jesus Christ died for our sins. That is the objective basis. And the subjective basis is our repentance and saving faith in Jesus Christ. So God is just and the justifier of those who believe in Jesus Christ.
The Effectual Word of God
God's word is effectual. It is not the word of man. Don't get all excited about man's word; man changes and fails, and when you need him most, he may not be there. But the Bible is the eternal, unchangeable word of God. Paul exhorted Timothy to entrust the gospel to reliable, faithful men (2 Timothy 2:2). The Greek word pistos, meaning "faithful," is used elsewhere to describe God. And because God is a faithful Being, his word is faithful-you can trust in it and rely on it.
Likewise, a Christian must be faithful because he is a child of the faithful God, and, because of that, his word should also be reliable. Those who violate their own words have nothing to do with Christianity. There is a moral flaw in their being. They will say anything to get benefits, later to deny their words with their actions.
But the word of God is reliable, trustworthy, and effectual. Therefore, we read in verse 10: "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." When God sends rain from heaven upon the earth, he does so with a purpose: To provide food for all people, including the wicked. So the rain produces seed for the sower and bread for the eater. Even so, when the word of God comes to us it is sent with a purpose, and that purpose will be accomplished.
God's word was effectual in creating the world. He spoke, and the whole universe sprang into existence ex nihilo. His word is effectual also in re-creation. As we sit in church and hear the word of God preached, it is God's gospel sent by God himself to us for a purpose: to re-create us, heal us, restore us, and repair us. God sends his word to cause us to repent, to forsake our sins, and to trust in Jesus Christ alone and be saved.
Psalm 107:20 says, "He sent forth his word and healed them." God always sends his word with a purpose; that purpose here is to our salvation. He sends his word to raise the dead. When the word is preached, it is the invitation to the spiritual banquet of eternal life. Faith comes by hearing. The sinner repents and believes in Jesus Christ forever, and his repentance and faith prove that he is an elect sinner. There is no other way to prove it. Every elect sinner will repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved because it is for that purpose God sends his word.
Such a person receives God's everlasting covenant. He receives mercies and multiplied pardon. He receives the righteousness of Christ. He receives eternal life and enjoys eternal fellowship with God.
Brothers and sisters, one day the doctor may tell you that you have inoperable cancer and only a few more days are left. Then what will you do? Do you have a gospel that saves you, in which you can stand and say, "To me, to live is Christ and to die is gain"? Can you say with confidence, "God promised salvation to me through the gospel, which I believed. Thus I am saved, my sins are forgiven and I am given eternal mercies. Robed in everlasting righteousness, I will come into the very presence of God to rejoice forevermore"?
God's word saves his people. It does not just make salvation possible. It will accomplish the purpose for which it is sent: It will save.
But salvation is not the only purpose for which God's word is sent; there is a second purpose. Second Corinthians 2:14 says, "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved." Paul is saying, in essence, "Through our preaching the gospel has come to you as the aroma of God, and you are raised from the dead, you are saved, forgiven, and converted. But that is not all. There is a secondary purpose. Verse 15 continues, "For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life."
The word of God is always effectual. It either saves you or judges you, based on your response. When the gospel comes, if you add faith to it, you are saved. But when the gospel comes and you treat it as nothing and refuse to believe, you are judged. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
When the word of God accomplishes the primary purpose for which it is sent, this is the result: "You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace" (v. 12). This is the language of a new exodus. Oh, what liberation from the shackles of sin and Satan and the world! The prison doors have been opened wide, the shackles have been broken, and you are set free, delivered from the guilt of sin, from the punishment of sin, from the death of sin. You come out with joy, and the One who saved you leads you out in peace. This is speaking about the presence of God with you. In the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire, God is leading you. "Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God" (Romans 8:14). Peace means we are rightly related with God, and we have nothing to fear. The wrath of God has been removed forever. Christ died for our sins, and we are reconciled to God and we have peace. And God is with us, leading us every day. Even at the moment of death. he is with us to take us into his presence.
"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord's renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed" (vv. 12-13). When the liberty of the children of God is accomplished, God himself is going to deliver creation from the bondage to which it was subjected because of human sin. There is going to be a new creation, a new heaven and a new earth where dwelleth righteousness, and there shall be no sin, no tears, no pests, no disease or sickness, no thorns or thistles. Nature rejoices in the salvation of the people of God, because nature itself will be delivered into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
What about You?Let me ask you: Are you thirsty? Are you poor? Are you a sinner? The Lord of the feast invites you to come. Rejoice that he invites sinners to his banquet! But you must come in true repentance and forsake your sins. Come in saving faith to obey Jesus Christ in total self-surrender. Do not superficially confess and think that you are saved. "It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
Jesus Christ is the feast. He is telling us, "Come to me, and I will give you rest. He who is thirsty, come to me and drink." He is the living water and the living bread. In John 6:53 Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." What does it mean to eat his flesh and drink his blood? It means to believe in his person and in his saving work in our behalf.
Just as only the sick are qualified to see the physician, so only sinners are fit to come to the Savior. So, come as you are, but go transformed. When the adulterous woman came to Jesus, he told her, "Go and sin no more." Jesus, who saves sinners, is near you today, permitting himself to be found by you today. He is passing your way; may you cry out, as blind, sinful Bartimaeus did, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Bartimaeus found mercy. So also you shall receive the sure mercies promised to David. You shall feast of his salvation and go out with joy and peace.
Paul experienced this salvation, as he states in 1 Timothy 1:13-14: "Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus." The Ethiopian eunuch, who was reading from Isaiah 53, also experienced it. So we read in Acts 8:35-39: "Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, 'Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?' And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing." You shall go out with joy!
Today the Spirit of God is speaking to you and inviting you to God's great feast of mercy and abundant pardon. If you are a sinner, you are invited. If you are wicked, you are invited. If you are backslidden, you are invited. The invitation is extended to everybody. How can you come? The Holy Spirit will work in you and perform a miracle to make you turn away from wickedness and turn toward Jesus Christ. He will give you faith to believe and the gift of true repentance. He will forgive your sins and save you. Come as you are to Christ, with all your burdens and guilt and problems, and you will go out with joy, mercy and abundant pardon.
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Copyright © 2004, P. G. Mathew
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