Great Grace for Great Sinners!
by James Smith
"Come now, let us reason together. Though your sins are like scarlet — they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson — they shall be like wool." Isaiah 1:18
Man's sin is great — but the grace of God is greater! Sin is the fruitful source of all of man's misery, and the cause of great dishonor to God. God's grace is the source of all the good things which we enjoy — and is the cause of eternal glory to God. God, in the exercise of his grace, looked upon man in his guilt, misery, and unworthiness — and pitying his lost and ruined condition — provided a Savior in the person of his own beloved Son.
The Son of God condescended to take man's nature, suffer in man's stead, and remove every legal impediment out of the way of in man's salvation. His precious blood made an atonement for man's guilt, and now it cleanses from all sin. On the ground of what the Lord Jesus Christ did and suffered — God is prepared to pardon the foulest sins, and to receive the greatest sinners to his friendship. There is nothing on his part, to prevent the worst of mankind from obtaining pardon, being reconciled to him, and enjoying peace and comfort. To sinners as sinners, as great sinners, he speaks, and says, "Come now, let us reason together. Though your sins are like scarlet — they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson — they shall be like wool." What precious words! Like the Savior to which they lead — they are full of grace and truth. Look at,
The Parties Addressed. They were a miserable people. Miserable, because guilty. Nor was their guilt ordinary. They were exceedingly sinful, so that the Lord speaks of them in terms of astonishment. "Listen, O heavens! Pay attention, earth! This is what the LORD says: The children I raised and cared for have rebelled against me! They were rebels, in open opposition to God's paternal government. They were habitually thoughtless. More thoughtless and careless than the brute creation! Therefore it follows, "Even an ox knows its owner, and a donkey recognizes its master's care — but Israel does not know its master. My people do not recognize my care for them!"
They were exceedingly perverse. They had been corrected, they were black and blue with the chastisements inflicted — and yet they would not yield! Therefore God asks, "Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness — but wounds and bruises, and putrefying sores!"
They were most provoking, which led the Most High to exclaim. "Oh, what a sinful nation they are — loaded down with a burden of guilt. They are evil people, corrupt children who have rejected the LORD. They have despised the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him!"
They were very determined and persevering in sin, so that judgments did not terrify them, nor mercy melt them, therefore it is added, "Your country lies in ruins, and your towns are burned. Foreigners plunder your fields before your eyes and destroy everything they see. Beautiful Jerusalem stands abandoned like a watchman's shelter in a vineyard, like a lean-to in a cucumber field after the harvest, like a helpless city under siege!"
They were as bad as Sodom and Gomorrah, therefore the prophet thus addresses them, "Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah!" Yet they hypocritically observed religious ordinances, they were thus bad under a profession of religion — which greatly aggravated their sin, and increased their guilt.
This led the Lord to ask, "I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to worship me — who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony?"
Their conduct was disgusting, and appears not only to disgust — but to trouble the paternal heart of God. Hear how he speaks of it, "Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting — they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings. I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them!" What language for God to use! What an indictment for God to draw up!
Could any people be worse? Reader, is it possible for you to be more guilty, or more depraved?
Are you exceedingly sinful? So were they.
Have you been very perverse, and most provoking? So had they.
Have you been determined and persevering in sin? So had they.
Are you as bad as the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah? So were they.
Has your conduct been most disgusting, and have you wickedly done all under a profession of religion? So had they.
I can conceive no worse case! But observe,
The Invitation. "COME now, let us reason together. Though your sins are like scarlet — they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson — they shall be like wool." Come to me. Come to my mercy-seat, the refuge of the miserable. Come to my throne of grace, where the greatest favors are dispensed to the most unworthy. Come near to my person, as vile as you are — confess your guilt, and I will pardon.
"Come now!" As wicked as you are, and lost as you are — come. Notwithstanding all the past, let conscience accuse as it may — let Satan suggest what he will — come now!
"Come and let us reason together." Come and let us converse about the matter, let us in a friendly way talk about your conduct — and my mercy; your guilt — and the blood of my Son. Come, and let us see what can be done. Come, for I am ready to pardon, I will forgive your numerous, enormous, and aggravated sins!
Your scarlet crimes — shall be purged away!
Your crimson sins — shall be all blotted out!
Your guilty consciences — shall be cleansed!
The long list of your transgressions — shall be cast into the depths of the sea! They shall be — as though they never had been — there shall not be one trace, mark, or proof of them left! This shall be the case now, though you have gone so far, though you have delayed so long, notwithstanding all that you have thought spoken or done — yet COME and I will cleanse you from all your iniquities, and will make you whiter than the whitest wool — whiter than the freshly driven snow! I can, for I am God! I will, for I give you my word.
Lost sinner, what God says — he means. What God promises, he will perform. You may, therefore, be so thoroughly cleansed from your sin, as to be presented before God's glorious throne, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing!
There is hope for the greatest sinners! Hope! There is more. There is the certainty of a present, perfect, and everlasting pardon of all sin, for the vilest of the vile, through the blood of Jesus — when they come unto God by him. The word hope is too faint, too feeble to use; unless it is taken to mean a strong, steady expectation of receiving the greatest blessings at the hand of God, by the greatest sinners, on the ground of free grace alone!
All the sinner's fears of acceptance with God are groundless. They spring from unbelief, and are fostered by Satan to dishonor God. If God speaks the truth in his word — then the sinner who comes to God through Jesus, must meet with a hearty welcome, must be accepted, and pardoned, and saved. God has spoken, and it is impossible for God to lie. God says, "Come now — though your sins are like scarlet — they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson — they shall be like wool."
God can pardon without difficulty. His justice is satisfied — by the death of His Son. His law is magnified — by the obedience of the Savior. As easy as the rising sun chases away the mists of morning — as easy as the sponge wipes the figures from the slate — as easy as the strong hand casts the stone into the sea — yes, with infinitely more ease, can God blot out the sins of the greatest sinner who comes to him through Jesus!
He not only can — but will — and will do it with pleasure, because he delights in mercy. God will receive the foulest transgressor. He would never have invited them to come unto him — if he had not intended to receive them. If any one doubts this, let him try it. Let him come to God, with all his sins upon him; just as he is at this moment, let him confess his sins, pleading the blood of Jesus for their pardon — -and if he gives credit to God's word, and trusts in the sacrifice of Christ — he is pardoned, and he will feel it in his own heart, and the peace of God will flow into his soul.
If it is so — then the salvation of the sinner must be great and glorious. And so it is, salvation is free for the vilest, free for the most depraved, free for whoever will. Nor is there anything freer on earth, or in Heaven — than the salvation of the sinner. It is as great as it is free, for it is . . .
the pardon of all sin,
the communication of all grace,
deliverance from all evil, and
the possession of all good!
What can go beyond this? It is glorious — as glorious as . . .
the free grace of the Father,
the infinite merit of the Son, and
the presence of the Holy Spirit — can make it!
It is as glorious as highest Heaven, with all its grandeur and magnificence.
Reader! Is this salvation yours? It may be. If it is not — the fault is all your own, for God still says, "Come!" Come and be thus saved.
Come, guilty souls, and flee away,
Like doves, to Jesus' wounds;
This is the welcome Gospel day,
Wherein free grace abounds!
God loved the world, and gave his Son
To drink the cup of wrath
And Jesus says he'll cast out none
who come to him by faith!