Preaching Christ 18

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.”

They are so poor in spirit that they cannot even deal with grace but by the help of the Holy Spirit. On His grace and power they are entirely dependent. They cannot even buy without His aid. One is so weak in sickness that he cannot tell the physician what is the matter with him. He can take no food nor drink, nor put such into his mouth. He cannot take them without help on his bed. So dependent are these on the grace of the Holy Ghost. And they know how easily quenched are His influences. How poor, when in one unwatchful moment they can deprive themselves of His gracious aid! “No man can come to Me except the Father who hath sent Me draw him.” Distinguish between those who think they are looking to the grace that is in Christ and yet seek no communication and those who seek this. (John Kennedy, 1819-1894, Expository Lectures)

The quote of James Kennedy (1819-1894) just above is a wonderful quote that describes what the sight and experience of being in the presence of a thrice holy God did to Isaiah. We can easily see that Isaiah was so broken and so utterly undone of his own righteousness and any hope in himself that he was indeed impoverished in spirit. He was so undone that he had no hope in obtaining grace in and of himself. All he could do was cry out that he was ruined and undone because he had seen the glory of God. This is what happens to sinners who come to realize what they are in the presence of a holy, holy, holy God. They are utterly undone in some way as Isaiah was.

While this in no way makes them worthy of grace, it does remove all hope in self from them. God gives grace to the humble and He dwells with the broken and contrite heart as Isaiah set out in Isaiah 57:15. He learned that God is opposed to the proud and yet gives grace to the humble. He learned that God dwells with those that are crushed in spirit and have lost all hope in themselves. Now it is true that a person can have a momentary feeling of being utterly undone, yet after that moment is over pride can rise up as the person can think that others have never been brought so low. The issue is not whether a person has a momentary feeling of lowliness and helplessness, but whether that is the general bent of the heart as the person goes through life. This is not to say that a person that has been broken in the presence of God will never have pride, it is just that now the person sees something of the nature of pride and hates it in him or herself.

A truly broken heart cannot happen apart from knowing that “I” am in the presence of a holy God. It is true that the Law is a tutor to lead a person to Christ, but a person will not know the true meaning of the Law apart from Christ teaching the sinner what it really means and doing that while the person is in His presence. It is not enough for people to teach commands and rules, people must come into the presence of the glory of God in the face of Christ. When this happens, not only do people come to see that they cannot keep the external law, but now they see that they are not able to keep the inner laws either. They begin to see just how wicked their thoughts are, their desires are, their motivations are, and just how selfish they have been their entire lives. In His presence they begin to see the utter emptiness of all their external religion and how filthy all of their religious acts have been.

A person that has been broken by the Law apart from coming into the presence of a thrice holy God will understand sin as breaking the outward law. The person may recognize that s/he has broken the inner law as well, but that person will never know what it means to be so broken that s/he knows that nothing can help them but the grace of God. This person will have nothing to do with those who tell him to pray or exercise faith from a free-will, this person has learned that apart from Christ s/he can do utterly and absolutely nothing. This person has learned from Christ and in the presence of Christ something of what it means to be utterly dependent upon Christ. This person does not look to anything from self, as self is nothing but the very heart of sin. This person simply and clearly casts himself before Christ and looks to Christ for grace and faith at His good pleasure as there is no other way to obtain these things. Until a person reaches the point of looking away from self in brokenness, and there is really no way for a second person to know that, that person will not look to Christ alone. Christ must be preached so that men will be broken from self and pride and so that the glory of grace would be seen in the Gospel of Christ.

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