Saturday, September 15, 2007



Isaiah 53 begins 1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
This is one of the most startling statements in the whole Bible from which John quotes as he speaks to us of the Messiah. It chills the blood, and stuns the mind with its fearful implications of eternal doom.
John Newton wrote: When our Lord appeared upon earth, though he came on the most gracious and important business, displayed the perfection of holiness in his conduct, and performed innumerable acts of kindness and. love, he met with little regard. He found many enemies, but few hearty friends. Especially those who were most eminent for riches, learning, power, or reputed goodness, disdained him; and most of those who followed him were either people in low circumstances, or whose character had been offensive. Publicans and sinners, fishermen, unlearned and obscure persons, were almost the only friends he had. The Lord Jesus, who was infinitely above the selfish views which are too apt to influence our little minds, was well satisfied with this event. He did not desire honour from men. "The souls of the poor were precious in his sight." (Psa 72:13-14) He spoke kindly to those whom men abhorred: and if he mourned over the obstinacy of the chiefs of the people, it was for their own sakes. The same spirit, which showed itself under our Lord's personal ministry, still subsists. The chief doctrines he taught, and for which he met with the fiercest opposition, were precisely the same with those which have awakened the scorn and rage of the world ever since.
First, The Divinity of Christ. When he spoke of himself as existing before Abraham, and said that God was his own father, (John 5:18) [He said that God was his own father; in a sense peculiar to himself, and exclusive of all others. The Jews well understood the meaning of this assertion, that thereby he made himself equal with God; and, therefore, as they did not believe in him, they charged him with blasphemy in a mere man, or in the highest archangel, to have spoken of himself in these terms. And this mystery is still hid from the natural man. No one can say, acknowledge, and believe, that Jesus Christ is Lord or Jehovah; that He who once hung upon the cross, bleeding to death, is God the Maker of all things, the rightful object of the supreme love, trust, and homage of men and angels; but by the Holy Ghost.
Secondly, Distinguishing grace. "When Jesus first preached at Nazareth, the eyes of all were fixed upon him;" (Luke 4:16-20) but when, making application to themselves, he touched upon this point, from the examples of Naaman the Syrian, and the widow of Sarepta, who were relieved when many lepers and widows in Israel were passed by, they were filled with indignation, and would have thrown him headlong down the rock. And it is to this hour an offensive doctrine to all who do not know the value and the need of it.
Thirdly, The new birth. When this was proposed to a master in Israel, he cried out, "How can these things be?" (John 3:9) And by many who are wise and prudent in their own sight, it is at this day accounted nonsense. A small acquaintance with the general strain of what is published either from the pulpit or the press, may prove that modern divinity has, for the most part, found a smoother path to tread than that by which Nicodemus was conducted to the knowledge of himself and his Savior. Such a doubtful inquirer might now be entertained with many ingenious essays on the beauty of virtue, the efficacy of benevolence, the excellency of the human mind, and other favourite topics. He would find teachers enough to encourage and improve the idea he has of his own importance, but he would hardly meet with many who would speak to him in our Lord's language, and refer him to the brazen serpent, and a new birth, in order to learn the means and the nature of the Gospel salvation.
Fourthly, The nature of the life of faith. When our Lord spoke of this, under the metaphor of eating his flesh and drinking his blood, many, who till then had professed themselves his disciples, "turned back, and walked no more with him." (John 6:66) And none can bear it now, who are not taught of God, to see such an excellency and sufficiency in Jesus, and such emptiness in themselves, as constrains them to cry out, with Peter, "Lord, to whom shall we go?" (John 6:68)
The Stupidity of ScepticismJohn 12:37 Even though He had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in Him.
37 Even though He had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in Him.
10 Therefore the chief priests decided to also kill Lazarus, 11 because he was the reason many of the Jews were deserting them and believing in Jesus. Meanwhile the crowd, which had been with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead, continued to testify.
18 This is also why the crowd met Him, because they heard He had done this sign. 19 Then the Pharisees said to one another, “You see? You’ve accomplished nothing. Look—the world has gone after Him!”
On the day when Jesus entered Jerusalem many people were enthusiastic about Him because of His great miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead; but within a few days they were crying out “Crucify Him!” John, taught by his great Lord and Master, put no great weight on signs and miracles for bringing in the kingdom of God. Chapter 12 is full of the unbelief of the Jews. Look, for example, at verse 34. Verse 37 is even plainer; it says Jesus left and “hid Himself from them. Though He had done so many signs before them, yet they did not believe in Him”. There it is in black and white!
7 Even though He had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in Him.
38 But this was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet, who said: Lord, who has believed our message? And who has the arm of the Lord been revealed to? 39 This is why they were unable to believe, because Isaiah also said: 40 He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so that they would not see with their eyes or understand with their hearts, and be converted, and I would heal them. 41 Isaiah said these things because he saw His glory and spoke about Him. 42 Nevertheless, many did believe in Him even among the rulers, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, so they would not be banned from the synagogue. 43 For they loved praise from men more than praise from God.
Somebody wrote: I’ll live for myself , for myself alone, For myself and none beside!
Just as if Jesus had never lived, And as if He had never died.
Your heart could be hard because of sin.
Therefore they could not believe: It is possible to harden your heart to the place where you can not believe. Therefore we must believe while there is light. Our desire for the darkness of sin can be overwhelming. How many alcoholics want to stay alcoholics? How may our sins drive us away from God, even though we know its downright stupid! The Would Not believe. Then they could not believe.
Your heart could be hard because of Resisting Christ’s appealsI remember talking with a man in his 40’s in a hospital. He had worked as a cleaner for one of my deacons, and then as a salesman. My friend had shared the gospel with this man a number fo times. And suddenly, at 1 am I got a call to attend the hospital and speak to a man I had never met before. I left my young family in bed, and went down to the hospital. A nurse met me at the ward. “He is dying of cancer. His whole family is here now. They are too distressed to see him for the moment. Can you go in and talk with him? Can you prepare him for death?
I went in and sat by this tall man’s bed. His face was weathered and lined, and his pain was obvious. But his pain didn’t seem to be just physical. I asked him f he was prepared for death? He said he had been trying ..but could I help him. I told him of the Saviour’s love. Of the cross . That John 3:16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. We talked for about an hour.
He said “Yes.” he had heard that before often from Howard. I said “Well would you like to receive Christ as your Saviour right now?”
He said he had been trying, but his heart was too hard.
I told him how easy it was, just to pray and ask the Lord to be your Saviour. He kept saying he wanted to, but his heart was too hard, his heart was too hard. For the next 40 minutes he wept and cried in soul anguish, “My heart is too hard! My heart is too hard!”
At about 4 or 5 am he passed away, his family gathered around his bedside. A lost soul.
Your heart could be hard because of Pride
43 John makes a clear statement which is universal: “they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God”. Is that true only of Israel? Doesn’t it ring any bells in the 20th century? Do you not have friends, neighbours, or people in your church like that? Isn’t something like that lurking in your own heart? Isn’t it one of the most universal facts that people care greatly what other people say about them, but care little what God has to say? They turn away from hearing the gospel because they know people will laugh at them, and they find it easier to listen to men than to God. That is the tragedy of unbelief.
Your heart could be hard because of Fear of your friends.. your friends can laugh you into hell but never out of it.
42 says: “many even of the authorities believed in Him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, lest they should be put out of the synagogue”. We would never have known this if John did not say so; no writer of fiction would have said that among the people who were hounding Jesus to His death were some members of the Sanhedrin who were secretly persuaded that He was indeed the Messiah! John puts the record straight. Among the persecutors were some who were afraid to speak out for Jesus “for fear of the Pharisees”. That was their responsibility.
Your heart could be hard because of God’s judicial hardening.
He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart: There comes a place where God will strengthen us in our decision, whether for Jesus or against Jesus. Ultimately, before God, we get what we want, and those who push Jesus away will not have to endure eternity with Him. So astonishing, pathological, insistent and inexplicable was the unbelief of the Jewish people - who had the promises of God and so much preparation by the prophets - that John has to turn to the prophet Isaiah. In verses 39 and 40 he shows that long before Jesus came, Isaiah foretold that when He did come people would not believe in Him, that there would be a persistent refusal to receive Him as Messiah, and that He would be rejected. Isaiah said “Lord, who has believed our report, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Certainly not to Israel, although they were the people prepared for it!
Hyman Appleman came to preach in Australia in about 1950 He said “When I was pastor of a church in Dallas County, Texas, the pastor of the First Methodist Church in that great city, a gracious, victorious Christian man, preaching to a crowded congregation Sunday mornings and Sunday nights, told us of an experi¬ence in his life. It was on a Monday morning. The entire pastor's association of every denomination, of all that great territory, met in the Presbyterian City Temple. It was a time of reports, a time of some prayer, a time of some study. Dr. Martin came in almost at the end of the service. The pre¬siding pastor called on him for his report and for anything else he might have to say.
He stood up to• speak. " Brethren, " he said, "I can't talk much. I have been through hell this week.
I just came here because I knew of some of the im¬portant things you were going to discuss. I felt that I owed it to you to show my definite interest. I am sorry I am late. Brethren, I have literally gone through hell this week." We watched him. We studied him. We could not understand, of course, what he meant. We thought that perhaps someone in his own family had been sick, or that some other personal tragedy had taken place. After some seconds of pause, he continued. "I am sure you read the story of the death of George ... (I am not going to give you his last name for it is nationally known). Some of you know that he and I have been friends ever since baby¬hood. As a matter-of-fact, his father and my father were close friends. He and I attended Southern Methodist University together. He was really the best chum I had in the world. The anguish of what has happened has almost made me lose my mind.
We kept on listening to him. No one said a word. We could not quite visualize a preacher so torn to pieces. He went on. "George was driving Tuesday evening, just about o'1oaminO" time from Garland home to Dallas. He was racing along the Northwest Highway. He turned his car a bit to avoid a car coming along too close to his side. He did not notice what was ahead. Perhaps his lights were not on. His automobile struck the back of a loaded, parked, sand truck. It caved his own car in crushing him with it. By the time he was rushed to the hospital, he was almost gone. He was dying. He was haemorrhaging on the inside. There was not a thing that could be done. Several doctors rushed to the case. George was very rich, as you well know.
"After a while, knowing that he had not long to spare, he called for his wife, for his two children, members of my church-Christians-saved-child¬ren of God, glorious in their assurance. The man himself had never made any profession of his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course I raced to the hospital, greeted the family, greeted George, then walked out of the room with the doctor. The family physician told me definitely that there was no hope for my friend. I walked back into the room. The dying man called to his wife and children to say, 'Please leave the room for a little while. I want to talk to the preach¬er.' His wife and children went out sobbing. I came close to the bed saying, 'George, is there anything I can do for you l'
" , Yes,' said the hurt man. 'Martin, you and I have been friends all of our lives. I am leaving a great deal of money, of stocks, of bonds, or prop¬erty. I guess I am worth more dead than I am alive. You know my wife does not know a thing about business. My children are much too little to be of any great help. Martin, I want you to promise me that you will be a husband to my wife and a father to my children.'
" 'You don't have to ask me that,' I told him. 'You know I would have done it anyway. But, George, there is something infinitely more important than that.'
" 'What is it, Martin?'
" 'George, you are not a Christian, are you?'
" 'George smiled up at me sadly, saying, 'No, I am not, but it certainly is not your fault. You certainly tried hard enough to win me.'
" 'Never mind, George, never mind whose fault it is. Man, you are dying. There is no chance for you. The doctor says you are through. He tells me you know it. There is no cure for you, no operation that can help you. In God's name, man, won't you give your heart to Jesus Christ right now? Your wife is a Christian. Your children are Christians. Your parents, your brothers, your sis¬ters, they are all Christians. You do not want to go one way, while they go another.'
" 'I have been studying about it, Martin, ever since I was brought in here, but I just cannot seem to break through.'
" 'Nonsense, man, God loves you. Jesus died for you. All you need to do, as you very well know, is to accept Him as your personal Saviour.'
" 'Martin, I am not an infidel. I believe the Bible as definitely as you do. But I just do not seem to he able to break through the black blanket of mist between me and God.'
" 'George, do not talk that way. You are still in your right mind. You know .J olm 3 :16. You believe it, you say. Right this minute accept Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour. His blood will wash you from your sins.'
"In my agony, I dropped to my knees, began to pray aloud for my friend. The doctor came back. He said to me, 'Stop man, you are exciting him. You are killing him. You are shortening' his hours.'
"My lawyer friend raised his hand to say, 'Never mind, Doctor, I've got to die anyway. What's the difference-a few more minutes, or a few more hours. '
, 'I kept on praying, kept on weeping, kept on pleading, kept on begging, kept on beseeching. Fi¬nally, with the dark shadows of death beclouding his face, George raised his hand and whispered, 'Ah, Martin, I am sorry, but it's too late, it's too late.' I tried to speak again. George lifted his hand feebly to say once more, 'Wait a minute. I want to tell you the tragedy of it, the irony of it. Martin, if somebody had come to me ten years ago, ten months ago, ten days ago, ten hours ago, to say, "George you are going to die and go to hell," I would have said, "Man, you are crazy. I'm not an infidel. I believe in Christ. I expect to accept Him as my personal Saviour. Yet, here I am, dying a lost sinner, going to hell, because I just put it off, I guess.' "
The preacher stopped. Reaching for his hand¬kerchief, wiping the wild tears that poured down his cheeks, while we cried with him, his voice chok¬ing with emotion, he said, 'Brethren, the best friend I ever had in the world lived a Christless life. He died a Christless death. "We put him in a Christless coffin. We had a Christless funeral. We buried him in a Christless grave. I preached a Christless ser•• mono He will rise in a resurrection. He will face a Christless judgment. He will sink into a Christ¬less hell, because he put it off, because he put it off. " I do not believe I ever shall forget the sob in Dr. Martin's voice as, running his hands through his hair he wept out, "Because he put it off, because he put it off," and walked out of the room. Friends, I have told you nothing new. These things are revealed on every page of the Bible, in every life of every sinner. The criminality of sin is found in the facts that it defies God, that it denies Christ, that it destroys the soul forever in hell. But, thank God, that is not all there is to this matchless text. “

The Challenge to Conversion Hear Jesus’ callJohn 12: 44 Then Jesus cried out, “The one who believes in Me believes not in Me, but in Him who sent Me. 45 And the one who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. 46 I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me would not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears My words and doesn’t keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects Me and doesn’t accept My sayings has this as his judge: the word I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on My own, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a command as to what I should say and what I should speak. 50 I know that His command is eternal life. So the things that I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”

That these words are of profound importance we may gather from two considerations. The one is that our Saviour cried them (John 12:44). As a rule our Saviour did not cry. He did not cry nor lift up His voice in the streets. But now and then, in some exalted hour, the Gospels tell us that He cried (John 7:37). And in every instance when He cried, we have words that take us to the very heart of things.
You need to believe on Him because He is God, If you don’t you will be an enemy of God for eternity.

You need to believe on Him because He gives light. If you don’t you will remain forever in darkness.

Come to the light tis shining for thee, Sweetly the Light has dawned upon me;
Once I was blind but now I can see The Light of the world is Jesus!

You need to believe on Him because He Saves. If you don’t you will remain condemned for eternity.
Appleman made it plain in one phrase “Turn or you will burn!” Make a careful inquiry into your attitude towards the Christ of God. You may weep at His sufferings. You may feel some emotions of gratitude and joy at the greatness of His love. But do you love Jesus Christ more than all other things put together?
Will you express that sincere gratitude that deep affection that holy admiration by accepting Him as your Lord and Saviour and obeying Him from now on? If you don’t you will be ranked with the despisers of God’s Son. You will continue as a slave of Satan and your doom is recorded and sealed for eternity. Hell is enlarging tis borders to swallow up your soul. Come friend turn to Him right now. You have despised Him long enough. He will receive you with open arms.

You need to believe on Him because He gives everlasting life.

John Newton: “If, therefore, you feel yourself a lost sinner, see a beauty and sufficiency in Jesus, have a hunger and thirst after his righteousness, and are made willing to expect the blessing in his way; you may look upon this as a token for good. Such views and desires as these never are found in any heart till he communicates them. By nature we are averse and contrary to them. Give him the glory of what he has begun; and oppose your temptations, fears, and doubts, with this argument, drawn from your own experience, as the wife of Manoah formerly reasoned: "If the Lord had been pleased to kill us, he would not have enabled and encouraged us to call upon him; neither would he at this time have shewn us such things as these." (Jdg_13:23)

44 And Jesus cried out and said, "Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me.
45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.
46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.
47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.
48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.
49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment--what to say and what to speak.
50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me."

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