Summary: This sermon points to the three caracteristics of true discipleship, taken from the text in Isaiah.
For God so loved the world,
I will start today by reading from the book of Isaiah, 6:1-8
(Read Isaiah 6:1-8)
Isaiah has an remarkable experience! He gets to see the King, the Lord Almighty!
Isaiah sees straight into the throne room of God. He is confronted with the Holy One, with God himself.
No man can see what he did and not be afraid to die, because the Old Testament says that no one can see God, and live.
Therefore Isaiah cries out “Woe to me! I’m ruined!”
What makes Isaiah cry out like that? Is it because he realizes that he is so small and God is to great? NO it is not.
Isaiah cries out id despair because he understand his own sinfulness is a bad contrast to the holiness of God.
“For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips.”
The lips is a symbol not only for his speech but for his whole life as well as the life of the whole people. In Mathew 12:36 Jesus says: “For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
What we say, is nothing more than a mirror of what we have in our hearts.
When you leave here today, do you talk with your Christian brothers and sisters about what happened in today’s service, or do you chat about the latest sport results or the latest news broadcast?
“our of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Jesus says.
Isaiah suddenly understood the total absence of the divine in both his life as well as in the life of the people. He realizes that neither he nor the people lived according to the will of God. Their lips were not only used in praising the Lord, they were also used to praise other gods and to a number of other things that displeased God. Their lives did not please God.
Suddenly, Isaiah saw his own transgressions and the transgressions of his people and that made him cry out as he did.
The story of how Isaiah met God doesn’t end with Isaiah understands that he is lost. God, our good God, intervenes. Isaiah needed to have his guilt taken away and he needed his sins atoned for. God does this. Isaiah hadn’t earned it, but reconciliation was brought by God himself. Isaiah hadn’t even asked for mercy, nor did he give solemn promises so that God would save him. No, as far as Isaiah was concerned, his situation was hopeless since he had seen The Lord Sebaoth.
Still, out of the smoke a seraph came carrying a cleansing coal taken from the altar. With that coal the seraph touched the lips of Isaiah and thereby his guilt was taken away and his sin was atoned for. Isaiah was reconciled with God, instead of being destroyed in the presence of the Holy One of Israel.
Now, when Isaiah was reconciled, God speaks for the first time.
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
It is almost as if Isaiah hadn’t been ready to hear God’s voice until now. God is asking his questions right after the sins of Isaiah had been atoned for. This shows the close connection between reconciliation and discipleship and Ministry. If our experience of the Grace of God doesn’t take some kind of expression in our life, like worship and ministry, that experience will turn on itself and rotten.
But for Isaiah, after experiencing the forgiveness of sins right at the same moment he had expected his own death, there was nothing else he could do, but to cry out, “Here I am, Send me!”
Isaiah didn’t responded like this just out of plain obedience. No, it was a response coming from the depth of his heart due to the overwhelming experience of the mercy and grace of God.
There and then, God accepted Isaiah’s offer. God acts instantly when Isaiah offers is live in service. God I sending as His prophet to His people. And right at the outset of his prophetic “career” Isaiah gets to bear the burden of his Ministry. God says that Isaiah shall go and speak what the Lord commands him to speak, but that no-one will listen to the voice of the Lord. It is already too late for that.
From this story about how Isaiah got his life long mission as the Lord’s prophet, we can find three basic principles for a true servant of the Lord.
1. Experiencing your need for salvation
The first step towards becoming a true servant of the Lord is to experince one’s total need for forgiveness, purification and atonement.
The thing is, God can only act with those who see their total need of forgiveness and reconciliation. He can’t save those who when they meet His holiness don’t feel their need of forgiveness and reconciliation. Most of us here today have at one point in our life felt that need. That was when we came to faith in Jesus Christ. We too, have stood before God and seen our lives in His light. When we do that, we too understand that we need to be saved by the grace of God. We can’t do it ourselves.