Come as You Are!


March 8, 1998 ~ Pickering Standard Church

April 5, 1998 ~ Grace Christian Reformed Church, Cobourg

April 26, 1998 ~ Bloomfield Standard Church


Isaiah 55:1-8 - "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples. Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor."

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.


There is a remarkable thing about the call of Christ that we need to be more aware of as we interact with those who are lost and so desperately need him, even as we once did, and that thing is that Jesus calls us as we are. He does not tell us first to become clean so that we may be acceptable to Him no, He tells us that we are to come to Him clothed as we are in our filthy rags of sin so that we may become clean through Him and become acceptable to the God who sent Him for this very purpose.


In His encounter with Zacchaeus Jesus states that:


Luke 19:10 - For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.


The word translated as lost here does not merely signify someone that has lost his bearings, as we do when we refer to being lost on our way to a specific destination, it is here used to indicate someone who is on his way to death and indeed is already dead. That is who Jesus came for - those who are dead in sin and destined for Hell.


We can never understate the magnitude of the sacrifice which Jesus made on our behalf. He did not merely give us life, or make life available to us, He came to us who were already dead in order that we might be returned to life. The Righteous One came to die for the unrighteous so that they, becoming righteous through Him, might join Him in Paradise.


Nowhere in any of His teaching does Jesus say that we must first make ourselves acceptable to Him, thus in some way becoming worthy of salvation. In the words of our text today we are encouraged to come to Him as we are, in coming to Him forsaking our past and committing ourselves to His future:


Isaiah 55:6-7 - Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.


Jesus Himself taught that He would relieve us of the burden of our sin:


Matthew 11:25:30 - At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."


The natural conclusion of this statement is that we are encouraged to come to Jesus burdened with sin and guilt and shame and He will take it all away. In his book "The Pilgrim's Progress" John Bunyan gives a marvellous illustration of what occurs to sinners as they encounter the cross:


Now I saw in my dream, that the highway up which CHRISTIAN was to go was fenced on either side with a wall; and that wall was called "Salvation.". Up this way, therefore, did burdened CHRISTIAN run; but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back.


He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending; and upon that place stood a Cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as CHRISTIAN came up to the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble; and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.


Then was CHRISTIAN glad and lightsome, and said, with a merry heart, "He hath given me rest by his sorrow, And life by his death."


John Bunyan, "The Pilgrim's Progress"


Then he stood still awhile to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him, that the sight of the cross should thus ease him of his burden.


Which exactly echoes what happened to the Israelites in the wilderness when they were afflicted by poisonous serpents because of their rebellion against God:


Numbers 21:5-9 - They spoke against God and against Moses, and said, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!" Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, "We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us." So Moses prayed for the people. The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.


Jesus establishes the connection between Himself and this serpent in the following teaching:


John 3:14-15 - Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.


thereby affirming that just as the Israelites in the midst of their despair could look on the bronze serpent and have life so may we in our sin look on Jesus and have Life. Coming to the cross will set us free from all of our sin. Coming to the cross will set anyone free from all of their sin. There is no one alive who is beyond the grace of God in this matter for Paul says of Jesus that:


Romans 10:13 - Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.


And at an other place in the gospels Jesus elsewhere tells us that:


John 6:37-40 - All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.


The Bible even ends with a call to come to Christ, that through Him whoever wishes may receive freely of the water of life:


Revelation 21:6-7 - He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son."


and follows this with a free invitation to all:


Revelation 22:17 - The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.


God has placed no restrictions on His salvation, it is free to all who desire it. This is the message that Jesus brought and He as a result was surrounded by tax-collectors, prostitutes, thieves and the like all earnestly seeking the freedom from sin that He offered. Freedom from the power of sin! Our churches ought to be full, these pews ought to be filled with people whom the world would reject, the outcast and the downtrodden, all obtaining what we have already received from the throne of God: Total and absolute freedom from death, an unshakable inheritance of life forever with our God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Let us not be selfish with this wonderful news, let us pray that God will enable us to preach this message to this world which so desperately needs the freedom that it brings.