Calvary Road Baptist Church

“I SAID NOT . . . SEEK YE ME IN VAIN”

Isaiah 45.19

We learn from Hebrews 11.6 that “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” We learn from Romans 10.17 that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” which is to say that God supernaturally imparts faith to people, unsaved people as well as saved people, Christ rejecters as well as Christ embracers, by means of the preaching of God’s Word. Indeed, a strong argument can be made in support of every person in this room who is here by choice exhibiting some portion of faith, for if you had not some notion that you would benefit in some way from being here you would not have come. The difference between the saved person and the lost person, additional to the one knowing Christ and the other not knowing Christ, additional to the one’s sins being forgiven and the other’s sins not being forgiven, and additional to the one’s eternal destiny being with Christ forever and the other’s eternal destiny being the torment of the lake of fire forever, is the pattern of life employed with the faith both kinds of people possess. In Second Corinthians chapter five, the Apostle Paul sets forth a series of statements that contrast the believer in Christ from the nonbeliever in Christ. In verse 7 of that chapter, he writes, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” Thus, the most practical difference between the saved person and the lost person is not really having or not having faith, since I have already established that many non-Christians who have sat under Bible preaching have some faith imparted to them. It is the pattern that is most commonly displayed relative to faith. Christians, Paul says using the word we, walk by faith. That is, our manner of life is faith. We are typically and habitually prone to exercising faith. Unsaved people, on the other hand, are not.

I want to address that matter this morning. I want to speak in the direction of those of you who have faith, some amount of faith anyway, but you do not typically exercise that faith, you do not routinely act upon your faith, and you certainly have not employed faith in laying hold of Christ to save you from your sins. I want to suggest to you that you change that today. Turn in your Bible to the book of Isaiah. On your way to our text for this morning, stop off at Isaiah 1.18: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Many of you know that this verse is a favorite of mine. It pictures God addressing a sinner and summoning him to mediation, with the terms upon which the reconciliation is to be worked out clearly stated: Your sins are as scarlet, red like crimson. However, Jehovah proposes that the result of you and Him reasoning together about this matter is that your sins will be as white as snow, as wool. Thus, the sinner must know that God’s intention in His dealings with the lost man is that lost man’s salvation. It is clearly stated. As well, it is also clearly stated that nothing that transpires between God and the sinner to bring about reconciliation will be unreasonable. The sinner may not understand it, but that does not mean it is not understandable. There is a huge difference between someone not understanding something and not being capable of understanding something. My goal this morning as a preacher is to bring understanding where there was ignorance, to bring understanding where there was confusion, so that I might bring the sinner to Jesus Christ.

No trickery involved. No sleight of hand. We will spend some time with Bibles opened, looking at verses in the book of Isaiah. Then I will ask you to close your Bible so I can move rapidly through other passages, citing verses you have no doubt heard or read before. Turn now to Isaiah 45.19. Before we read, please look up for a moment. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures it is easy to see that God dealt with the nation of Israel as if with an individual. Let us understand, therefore, that the One who speaks to Israel possesses the same characteristics and nature as the One who deals with individuals today.

Stand if it is convenient for you to do so, and read along with me silently while I read aloud: “I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.”

The God of Israel in this verse, four statements each of us would do well to get our minds around, utters four phrases: The first phrase reads, “I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth.” God speaks openly and honestly, for all who have the ears to hear and understand. Then we read, “I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain.” In other words, when God said to the Israelites, “Seek me,” His words were not empty. He was not playing. He meant what He said. The verse concludes with two phrases, “I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.” With these two nearly identical statements, God declares that He is not like the false gods and their unclear and ever-shifting requirements. God means what He says and says what He means, and He speaks equitably and justly to people.

Allow me to lift from this verse my text, and take what was said to Israel and apply it to you: “I said not . . . Seek me in vain.” When God says, “Seek me,” He is not spouting nonsense. He is not uttering meaningless words. Neither is He toying with you, getting delight by torturing you as He ever dangles what you grasp for just out of reach. How can you know that God’s offer of salvation is real? How do you know He means what He says? How can you be sure God did not say, “Seek me” in vain?

Because, First, HIS WORD IS SURE

How can you know His Word is sure? He is God. Look at Isaiah 44.6: “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” This is the same being who is speaking in our text, God, the only God, whose name as indicated in the two words spelled LORD in capital letters is Jehovah. Verse 8: “Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.” The rest of Isaiah chapter 44 features a great deal of ridicule aimed at worshipers of false gods, and then we get to Isaiah 45.5-6:

5      I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:

6      That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.

How many times does the God of Israel need to declare Himself to be the only true God for it to be accepted? Should you accept the Word of the only God to be sure? That presumption is certainly reasonable.

How can you know His Word is sure? He is the Creator. Notice how Isaiah 44.2 starts out: “Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb. . . .” The argument of this verse is, I made you and I formed you, so listen to what I am saying to you. Verse 21: “Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me.” Again, asserting that He is the Creator. Verse 24: “Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself.” Not only did He create Israel, He created everything . . . by Himself. In Isaiah 45, we have several verses:

7      I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

8      Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it.

9      Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?

12     I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.

18     For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.

God describes Himself as the Maker, human beings are likened to clay pottery, and He asserts that He not only created man and the earth we stand on, but the heavens, as well. Would such a one is this lie? Thus, you can know that His Word is sure.

How can you know His Word is sure? He is the Savior. He redeems, Isaiah 44.22, 23 and 24. He ascribes the description Saviour to Himself in Isaiah 45.15. In Isaiah 45.17, we read, “But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation.” In Isaiah 45.20, He contrasts Himself with false gods that cannot save: “Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.” Verse 21: “Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.” Verse 22: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” Verse 23: “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.” If God’s design is to save sinners, and if God describes Himself as Redeemer and Saviour, and if salvation comes to those who hear and respond to His Word, is there any question about God’s Word being sure? He is God. He is Creator. He is Savior. His Word is sure.

Next, HIS PROMISE IS SURE

Please close your Bible at this time and set it aside. We will move too quickly for you to keep up, though the sermon manuscript will be made available to anyone who wants it. How can we be sure God’s promise is sure?

First, because He has sworn. I read Isaiah 45.22-23:

22     Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

23     I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.

The word sworn means to take an oath. When someone takes an oath they invoke the authority of one who is greater, such as “I swear on my mother’s grave,” or “So help me God.” Since there is none higher than God, He swears by Himself. Titus 1.2 reminds us that God cannot lie. Hebrews 6.13 declares, “For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself.” Thus, God’s promise is sure because He has sworn.

His promise is sure because He has warned. There can be no doubt about God’s intent, considering Isaiah 55.6-7:

6      Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

7      Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

This is an urgent warning to the lost to take advantage of his present opportunity to be saved while God is near, for God will have mercy upon him and will abundantly pardon him. Thus, if you will seek the LORD while He may be found, if you will call upon Him while He is near, if you will forsake your wicked ways, He will have mercy on you, He will abundantly pardon you. If God had no intention of saving sinners, why did He swear He would? Why does He warn the wicked? If your destruction was His desire, He would remain silent and bring judgment upon the unsuspecting.

However, He did swear and He did warn. As well, His promise is sure because He is able. Do you suppose someone who is powerful enough to speak the universe into existence has the power to save? Do you think someone who formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life can also save a sinner such as you? Sometimes, however, deductions are insufficient. Sometimes clear declarations are necessary. Okay, then what about Isaiah 59.1, which declares, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear.” Thus, there is no one who is beyond God’s reach, not even you. Neither is there anyone whose feeble cry is too weak for Him to hear. If the only thing you are capable of is a faith-inspired whimper, a trust-induced groan, He will hear you; reach down from His heavenly throne and save you.

Finally, HIS SAVIOR IS JESUS

We need clarity in these last days, a clarity God chose not to provide in the Hebrew Scriptures when He was convincing mankind that there is only one God. However, clarity is now needed to bring into clear focus the Savior of whom God speaks in the Hebrew Scriptures, and who is held up for us as the Object of our faith in the New Testament. Hebrews 12.2 reminds Christians that they should be “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” However, you are not a Christian. Therefore, allow me to rehearse some things about Him to you:

First, Jesus was sent by God to save sinners. The God whose Word is sure and whose promise is sure sent Jesus. John 3.16 is the most famous verse in the Bible: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” There is no doubt that Jesus was sent by God, and the reason He was sent by God. He was sent to save you, to deliver you, so you would not perish in your sins, but have everlasting life as a result of being saved from your sins.

Next, Jesus came to save sinners. In His own words, Jesus said, in Luke 19.10, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Think about this, my friend. Would Jesus not do what God sent Him to do? Would Jesus not do what He came to this nasty world to do? Why would He come here and suffer the indignity of a cruel death on the cross except to save you from your sins?

Third, Jesus is the Savior God. In Isaiah 44.6 He is the King of Israel. To the wise men journeying to Bethlehem He was the King of the Jews. By Pontius Pilate He was identified as the King of the Jews. In Revelation 19.16 He is the King of all kings. Yet, this same King of Israel in Isaiah 44.6 says, “I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” In Zechariah 12.10, Jehovah says, “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” As well, remember Isaiah 55.23, where Jehovah declares, “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.” In Romans 14.11, we read: “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” And in Philippians 2.10-11 we read,

10     That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

11     And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

If Jehovah says that every knee shall bow to Him and every tongue shall swear to Him in Isaiah 55.23, yet the Apostle Paul says in Romans 14.11 and Philippians 2.10-11 that every knee shall bow to Jesus Christ and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, the only rational conclusion to draw is that Jesus is God.

Jesus is Creator. We know that God created the heavens and the earth, the plants and the animals, as well as Adam and Eve. Yet, John 1.3 ascribes creation to Jesus Christ: “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” So does Colossians 1.16, where it says of Jesus, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” As well, we read in Hebrews 1.1-2:

1      God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

2      Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.

Sent by God. Sent to save sinners. Himself God, and Creator.

We also see the declaration that Jesus is able to save. Hebrews 7.25: “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” We know God’s Word is sure. We know God’s promise is sure. Therefore, if God’s Word and Promise declare that Jesus Christ, Who is God and Creator as well as Savior, is able to completely and utterly save sinners, then he most certainly can do precisely that.

Add on top of that Jesus is true. In John 14.6, He testifies of His own character when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Would He lie? Could He lie? No, He cannot. Therefore, when He said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11.28, there can be no possibility that a sinner who comes to Christ will remain lost.

I conclude by pointing out that Jesus is unique. First Timothy 2.5 declares, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” There is no other Savior of sinful men’s souls.

It is misleading in these last days of apostasy and confusion to urge sinners to come to God. Sinners cannot come to God, for a variety of reasons, but are clearly directed to look to Jesus Christ as the only Savior of sinful men’s souls. God did not provide the clarity we are now blessed with in the centuries leading up to Christ’s virgin birth and sinless life. This was partly to establish to Israel that there is only one God, not many gods.

However, even in those days long gone it was established that God’s Word is sure and that God’s promise is sure. Then we were told that God sent His Son to save sinners. God’s Word is still sure. His promise is still sure. Therefore, if (I should say since) Jesus is God, and His Word and Promise is still sure, and He is true and able to save, and if (again, I mean since) He is the only Savior, you need to come to Him. All of this makes sense. Rejecting Jesus makes no sense.



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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org