Preaching Christ 13

Isaiah 6:1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out 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 trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.” 8 Then 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 He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.’ 10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.” 11 Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered, “Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are without people And the land is utterly desolate,

In this passage we can see with great clarity and certainty that Isaiah saw the Lord in a way that went beyond hearing lectures (even if correct and true) about the Lord. The descriptions that Isaiah gives us have to do with his senses, or should we say things that would intimate that he was in a place where he actually saw and experienced the reality of these things. We then see Isaiah’s experience of what it meant to be in the presence of the Lord and it was not just hearing a lecture about the Lord. He was moved, broken, and deeply humbled by being in the presence of God. We then see that his sin had to be atoned for, forgiven, and taken away. It is only then that men are made willing to go and preach the message of God. Men want to hear pleasing things and so preachers are loathe to preach anything but that, so it is only the broken man who is willing to preach the hard things and become unpopular with the people. It is true that in certain circles the hard things can bring popularity in a way with a few, but Isaiah was without human help. He rested in God alone as his support and his message required that.

Preaching Christ and the glorious Gospel of grace alone is the same way. The true Gospel will bring hostility and opposition from the nicest of people, and mostly from the nicest and most religious of people. When Isaiah went and preached, he preached to a very religious people and they hated him for it. They tried to kill him, and at some point they evidently succeeded. Now it may be argued, and rightly to a degree, that Isaiah was preaching judgment and grace does not. However, the root of the matter is essentially the same. The self-righteousness of the Jewish people of that day governed their hearts and they hated the preaching that they were sinners and that they could not appease God by their religious works. The Gospel of grace alone is much the same. It teaches sinners that all of their self-righteousness is as filthy rags that that there is nothing in them and nothing that they can do to move God to save them. In both cases the people were and are utterly dependent upon the free-grace of God.

This is why the friendly Christ who stands weeping for people to make the right choice is a false Christ. This is why the friendly Christ who longs for people to be wealthy and healthy if only they will make the right choices is a false Christ. According to John 12, it was Christ that Isaiah saw in the text above. Preaching to the true Christ in His glory will result in fear or true reverence. Preaching the true Christ will move people to a great unease about themselves and their own comfortable existence. Preaching the true Christ will move people to see something of true holiness and they will see the magnitude of their sin and they will feel the burden and awfulness of their sin. Preaching the true Christ will help people see that Christ is absolutely the only way having the guilt of their sin removed from them. Preaching the true Christ will show forth true grace and as such show people that salvation is absolutely beyond them and totally in the hands of the living and sovereign God. It is the Lord alone who can prepare a preacher to preach Christ truly and use that preaching to open eyes and hearts of the dead.

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