Joseph Parker was born April 9, 1830. He once pastored the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, England. He was an eloquent and dramatic preacher. He had a strong personality, was orthodox, and held a firm belief in the inspiration and authority of the Holy Scriptures. He wrote some sixty books. He emphasized character and Christian conduct in his preaching.
God Reasoning with Man
"Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord." Isaiah 1:18
You will see from the terms of the text that Christian teachers are empowered to make unto all whom it may concern perhaps the noblest and most gracious proposition which even God Himself ever offered for the acceptance of mankind. Looked at in this light, the words are peculiarly pathetic and impressive. As a piece of literature they are beautiful. As conveying a spiritual invitation they are infinitely pathetic. I pray that they may be altogether irresistible.
I. THE DEPRAVITY OF MAN.
A. The Extent of the Depravity.
I propose to look at this invitation in some of its aspects and to endeavor to find out its meaning. What do these words teach? What is their spirit? What is their purpose? What do they mean in relation to ourselves? My brethren, we are all bad. In the sight of God, in the presence of His infinite holiness and in relation to the law of God, "there is none righteous; no, not one" (Romans 3:10). The chief of saints will be the loudest in declaring that he is the chief of sinners (I Timothy 1:16).
B. The Character of the Depravity.
1. It is rebellion. God makes the proposition to His rebel. After man has committed high treason against His throne and court, after he has done his best to snap the divine scepter and insult the divine honor, God says to him, "Come now, let us reason together."
2. It is total depravity. God is right and we are wrong in this controversy. We are not partially wrong, not wrong here and there, with little spots of light and blue between the error, but we are wrong altogether _ foully, shamefully, infamously wrong.
3. It is depravity of nature. Unless every man shall see that and feel it as a poisoning sting in his nature, he will never come in a right state of mind to consider the propositions of the Cross or the offers of divine grace.
II. THE INVITATION EXTENDED TO MAN.
A. Man Should Be Able to Vindicate His Actions.
1. This is assumed in the invitation. God asks us to reason the case with Him, showing us that He proceeds upon the assumption that man ought to be prepared to vindicate his conduct by reasons. A man's conduct ought not to be a haphazard thing, but he ought to have under it a basis of reasoning, or moral unity, and of understanding of the right relation of affairs. A man ought to be able to say why he does this and why he refrains from doing that. He ought not to be living from hand to mouth, just doing what happens to come up first, without knowing why he does it.
2. This is impossible regarding sinful acts. Have you ever attempted to write out a vindication of any one sin you have ever committed? Take your white card, write at the top of it the sin you propose to commit, whatever it be, and put down under your sin the reasons why you propose to commit it and put down every possible excuse you can. Reason yourself into it and you will fail to do so if you are just to the first principles of human understanding and to the first elements of common sense. I am prepared to say this, that no man can vindicate wrong by reason.
B. The Author of the Invitation.
1. The Author's identification. Who is it in the text that invites men to reason with Him? It is God! Then the sinner is invited to take his case to the Fountainhead.
2. The Author's terms. Do not many persons stumble and err by a misunderstanding of the terms of the proposition? It is God who invites us to state the case directly to Himself. Have you ever employed one hour of your life in stating your case in secret to God? Go directly and immediately to Him.
3. The Author's assurance. God says, "I will condescend to talk the case over with you. I will hear what you have to say. 1 will understand your case and listen to your reason." Go to hear the preachers and the teachers of Christian truth and be thankful if any man give one gleam of light; but don't forget the Fountainhead. When God throws open His door and says, "Come now, I am ready, I wait to be gracious," go to His feet and talk the case out.
III. THE INTIMATION OF DIVINE MERCY EXTENDED TO MAN.
A. The Purpose of the Invitation.
From a proposition of this kind what can I infer but that God's purpose is, in making it, to mingle mercy with judgment? The tone is distinctly that of a merciful and gracious proposition. Such words could not be used without an intention on the part of the speaker to do everything in His power to meet the case of the criminal. Judgment is His strange work and mercy is His peculiar delight.
B. The Necessary Requirements for Forgiveness.
1. Forgiveness must be bestowed righteously. If God could trifle with righteousness in making a case up with us, His own throne would be insecure, His heaven would not be worth having. In taking care of righteousness He is taking care of us. In judging everything upon a basis of absolute, infinite righteousness, He is setting a flaming sword around His throne. He must be righteous. Righteousness must be vindicated and then grace becomes sure. Righteousness must be satisfied and then eternity becomes heaven.
2. Forgiveness requires man's willingness. It is impossible for God to forgive unless men come to Him with contrition, with repentance toward Himself and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Are you willing to be pardoned? Have you come from a sense of sin to know its bitterness and to feel your want of something more? To you is this Gospel preached, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31).
With all of this before me I am driven to this conclusion, that the sinner is left absolutely without excuse. In looking at the whole volume of inspired revelation, looking at the person and ministry of Christ, looking at His sacrifice on Calvary and at the whole scope and bearing of His mediation, having regard to the Father's gracious invitation to reason the case, I say: If any man be damned it is because he will not be saved.