Well, this weather today as I mentioned to someone earlier, though we don't control the weather, we know who does control it. We don't want to complain about the weather, but as the old, country fellow said, "This weather today is not fitten fer man ner beast." And we'll settle with it anyway.
Let's turn over to the book of Isaiah, chapter 62 for our message today. We are just getting started, as you know, on a new work here. And the Lord has blessed us with a good start. So I thought this might be a good time these first few services for us to preach some messages that are aimed especially at building a new work or at the encouragement of those who are in the new work here, to help all of us together to really get with it, as the saying goes, and build for the Lord. May we really serve the Lord here in this new place as we should.
Read with me now in Isaiah 62, beginning with verse 10. Our key verses will be Isaiah 62:10 through 12 as a beginning point. Then I'll have some other references later from Isaiah and other places. The title that I've given this message today is, "Go Through The Gates." Yes, we must "Go Through The Gates." You'll see that in the very first verse as we begin to read. Reading there now, it says: "Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people. Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken."
Just by way of introduction, I want to mention two or three things in connection with those verses that I did not write into my notes for the message today but which demand a little bit of explanation. For example, this passage which says, "Lift up a standard for the people." That's important that we should lift up a standard for the people. All over the world today, people just don't have a standard to follow anymore. We need to lift up a standard. Of course, it's referring there to a flag, or an emblem, or a symbol to follow. That is what we need to do rigfht from the start of a new work --- put up a proper standard for people to follow.
Another thing I want to mention here in the very beginning or introduction, is this passage where it says: "Behold, thy salvation cometh; his reward is with him." That's something else that's very seldom preached, especially here in Africa, and that is the return of the Lord. But He is coming again, just as surely as He came the first time to die on the cross, He's coming again at the Rapture and then, seven years later, He's coming again to set up His thousand year Millennial Kingdom. Then, of course, after the thousand years Millennial Kingdom, comes the great battle with Satan, when the devil will be finally cast down forever and will never be allowed loose again.
So, we need to preach the coming of the Lord, in all its phases and ramifications.
Another thing I want to mention here at the beginning is: "They shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord." I never read this passage without thinking about when we were in Zaire, how the people there used to call us, "the blessed ones" in the tribal work there.
Not because we were so good looking, although, of course, I realize I'm a terribly handsome fellow, and not because my wife is so beautiful, and I do realize she's very beautiful. But they used to call us "the blessed ones." And I used to cry every time they did. Because what it really meant was, they realized that we were on the Lord's side. And they realized that God had especially blessed us. That we had the Lord on our side, or rather that we were on His side, or any way you want to say it. And they called us "the blessed ones" because of that. And we should think of that today.
The passage says, "They shall call them, The holy people," and "The redeemed of the Lord." And I always remember how they used to call us "the blessed ones" in Zaire.
Now, as we begin to look at this passage in an organized fashion as I've jotted down in my notes, let's think especially about this word "go." Look at this little word "go" and think about this two letter word "go."
The very first word in the passage is "go", isn't it? And unless you have this word "go," and unless you use this word "go," and understand what it means and practice it, then the whole passage just doesn't mean much, does it? Because this is the key word in the whole passage, this little word, "go". So, let's think for just a bit about this very first word of the passage.
When we first notice this word "go," we could say that it means go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in. Some people seem to think, "Well, let's start a church and then, if they want to come, okay. And if they don't, let them go to perdition." That is a very long way from the right attitude! But there are some so-called Christians who almost have that attitude when you start thinking about trying to build a new Church. They think, "Well, okay, let's build a Church, let's preach the gospel there in the Church, and if they come, fine. If they don't want to come and hear the gospel and be saved, then let them go." That's a terrible attitude! The teachings of the Scripture are that we should have compassion on them. Not only should we have compassion on them, but the Scriptures also teach that we should go out and do everything that we can to get them to hear and believe the gospel and be saved. The Bible clearly teaches this, all the way through, from cover to cover.
There's a good verse over in Luke 14:23. If you turn over to that passage, you'll see that this passage in Luke 14, beginning with verse 16 and going down through verse 24, gives us the parable of the great supper. It's also recorded in a slightly different form in Matthew 22, but this is the better presentation of it, or at least I like the wording of it better myself, here in Luke. But in this passage, when you get down to verse 23, you find these words, "And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled." Now, this parable of the great supper, if you read the whole parable, you'll learn that it tells about a very great man.
In the parable, the man represents the Lord Himself. This lord prepared a great supper and invited many people to come. Just as the Lord has prepared a great supper and has invited all men to come and partake of it. He sent out his servant at supper time, as it tells us in this passage, telling them to come because the supper is now ready. And they all began to make excuses. Just as many people do today when we go out and invite them to receive the Lord, or invite them to the Lord's feast of salvation. (Not to the Lord's supper in the sense of the observance of the ordinance we practice in our churches) but rather, in the sense that is told about here in this parable.
We invite them to come and partake of the great supper that has been prepared. To be saved --- to come and trust the Lord, and be saved and follow Him and serve Him. And yet "they all began to make excuses," as it tells us in this parable. One of them has one excuse, and one has another, and some have another and some have two or three excuses. But none of the excuses are really any good. And it is the same way with the excuses that men give about not coming to the Lord today. Their excuses are not really any good. All excuses for not receiving the Lord are just foolish. And yet, they all begin to make excuses when we invite them.
And so, the servant in this parable came back to his lord, to the great lord that had sent him out, and told him about all these things, how they had all refused to come and had given all kinds of silly excuses for not coming. And that is when the lord said to him, "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled." And that's what the Lord has commanded us to do. We must go out and compel them to come in. You say, "Can we go out and just knock them over the head and drag them in?" No, we can't do that. But we can compel them to come in by being persistent, by being prayerful, by being eager and enthusiastic, and by living a Christian life before them. There are many ways that we can compel men to come into the Lord's house.
We need to go out, notice --- remember we're still thinking about this word --- this first word "go" in the passage. Go out and teach all nations. We need to go out and teach all nations, making disciples of Christ. When we do teach them properly, some of them will become disciples of Christ! Unless we do teach them properly, they will not become disciples of Christ, they will become disciples of some man or disciples of some church or something. But they won't really become disciples of Christ unless we teach them properly. But if we go out and teach all nations properly, then some of them will become real disciples of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, the ONLY Saviour of the world!.
Matthew chapter 28 gives us a good reference on this. This reference is often referred to as the Great Commission. It is the Great Commission, the working orders that were given and left with the church when the Lord went away and left them behind. Let us read Matthew 28:19. Now, in case you've forgotten, just above, in verse 18, He has just said: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." The Lord Jesus Christ had all power. It had been given to Him. Then He goes on and says in verse 19: "Go ye therefore," notice that word "go" again, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things." Now, it's not enough just to win them to the Lord and turn them loose. There are some good people in the world today who, (that is good from the human viewpoint) who go out and very sincerely try to win people to come to know the Lord as Savior.
But they don't go ahead and carry out the rest of this commission. And the rest of it is urgently important, just as is winning them in the first place. It is just as much a part of the commission as the first part of it! "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." It is very important that they be taught all things. Not just win them and turn them loose. "And then, they never amount to a hill of beans," as the country fellow says, in the Lord's service. If you just win somebody to the Lord, pretty soon the Jehovah's Witnesses or the Roman Catholics or the Presbyterians or the Methodists or somebody will have them.
Or the charismatic mess will have them. And before you get through with it, they're not worth a thing as far as the Lord's service is concerned. But it's important that we go ahead and carry out the whole commission, not just that first part of it that says go and make disciples, but also, that we should train the disciples. They are to be "taught to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you." When we carry out the Great Commission, He gives us this wonderful promise: "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."
As we obey this command that's given above, we have a clear claim to this promise which says: "I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." This promise was made to the church. This command was given that they should go out and teach all nations, baptizing them, making them disciples of Christ, and then teaching them all things that He has commanded us. And He promised that He would be with us always, even to the end of the world.
Some say, "Isn't this a hopeless and a thankless task? To go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in? To go out and teach all nations, making disciples of Christ?" Some say this is a hopeless and a thankless task. BUT IT IS NOT a hopeless task. Yes, in some ways it is a thankless task. And yet, we know that God is going to bless us, if we obey His commands. And it doesn't matter what men think or what men do. If we obey what He has commanded us to do, then He is going to bless us, no matter what.
There are a couple of good verses in Psalms 126. Psalms 126:5-6 fits very well at this point. Remember, we're thinking about the question, "Isn't this a hopeless and a thankless task?" But this passage in Psalms says: "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." So, that shows that it's not a hopeless and thankless task! It doesn't say that they that sow in tears "might" finally, some day, "perhaps reap in joy." But it says they that sow in tears SHALL REAP IN JOY, doesn't it? It says they will. That doesn't mean that everybody we visit and everybody we witness to is going to be saved. It doesn't mean that at all. But it does mean that if we go out sowing the seed in earnestness, as it says, "sowing in tears," then, we are going to "reap in joy." The Lord will bless our efforts!
There is something else we need to especially notice in this passage from Psalms, and that is, not only does it say, "He that goeth forth and weepeth," but notice it says, "Bearing precious seed." Now, what is the seed? The seed is God's Word! Not just some of these wild ideas that men preach today, but the only real seed is this, isn't it? (Holding up Bible). God's Word. We go forth bearing precious seed. And then, just to emphasize it, he says, those that do that, they are doubtless going to come again. No doubt about it. Doubtless --- shall doubtless come again. How? In great sadness because everybody rejected the message. No, it doesn't say that at all, does it? It says, he shall come again doubtless, with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. In other words, some will be saved, some will come to know the Lord because we told them about Jesus. Because we scattered the precious seed.
Now, let us travel on a step further. We've been thinking all this time about the introduction and about this one word, this first word "go." Let's go a little step further now, in our key passage from Isaiah 62. It said, "Go through." It didn't say, "Just go." But it says, "Go through," doesn't it? Now, what lesson can we get from that "Go through?" Well, one thing we could say is, "We need to finish the job. Go all the way for God." Can't we go through? Don't just go; and then, the first time somebody slams a door in your face, give up and go home, like a dog that's been whipped --- with his tail between his legs and howling at the moon. That's not what this teaches us at all, is it? Go through. Finish the job. Go all the way for God. That's what it teaches us!
There is a reward for those who faint not. You know, there are many places in Scripture which teach us this, but one of the best ones is in Galatians chapter 6, verse 9. There it teaches very clearly that there is always a reward for those who faint not. Galatians 6:9 says: "And let us not be weary in well doing." It doesn't stop there, does it? "Let us not be weary in well doing." But what else does it say? "For in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." If you go out here and knock on the first door and somebody tells you, "No, I'm Dutch Reformed," or "No, I'm a Roman Catholic and I don't want to have anything to do with you," and you give up, are you going to reap or not? No, you won't ever reap! Because you'll faint right there and that'll be the end of your efforts for the Lord! But Galatians teaches us that in due season we'll reap, if we faint not. Just keep going --- Go through. Finish the job. Go all the way for God. Don't let anything discourage you, or stop you!
Another thing that's important about this finishing the job or going all the way for God is, we need to get self out of the way. And keep it out of the way. Mr. Self; you know, he's often our worst enemy. S-E-L-F !! That one little word is often our biggest enemy in serving God. Yes, our biggest obstacle many times is our own self. If we can just get self out of the way and go out weeping, go with serious and sincere compassion for the lost souls around us, bearing precious seed --- it doesn't do any good to go out planting improper seed. It does no good to go out and plant false doctrine. But if we go out bearing precious seed, the proper seed, which is the Word of God, if we faint not, we will come back rejoicing in due season because we shall reap as the Scriptures teach us. But we must be determined. And not faint. We must get self out of the way!
There's a good reference in Luke 9, to which we might look at this time. Luke 9:62 (Jesus Himself is speaking here) says: "And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." It is really not worthwhile to go out here and start and then quit, is it? That doesn't do anybody any good. That is what Jesus was talking about as is recorded there. When we begin, we need to go, go, go, and not stop, and not faint. As we've read in many other passages already, we need to go out and finish the job --- go all the way for God!
As we go a step further in our key passage from Isaiah 62, not only does it say "Go," not only does it say, "Go through," but it also says, "Go through the gates," doesn't it? "Go through the gates!" Look at that again --- "Go through the gates."
When we begin to think about this, what lesson can we learn? Think about this particular phrase or this clause I should say --- "Go through the gates," --- What lessons can we learn from that? In the first place, we find that gates are only mounted in walls or fences, aren't they? You don't go out here in the middle of the veld (African bush - Afrikaans word) and mount a gate with a big, strong post over here and a big, strong post over there and no fence, no wall, no anything, just a big gate out there by itself. That doesn't mean anything, does it? Men or animals would just walk around it. So, let us think about going through the gates, and start wondering what kind of lesson does this teach us?
What lesson from that? Going through the gates speaks of complete separation without turning back! Cut off from the world, and yet, in God's corral, we might say. We're separated from the world and yet, we're still in the world.
Another thing, when I ponder upon these gates and this passage which refers to the gates, I remember that God's gates swing inward, but never outward. When you once come into God's corral, you can't ever get out. There's no way to get lost again. When you come into His corral, you're caught. You're safe forever. You're protected. You can't go back out again. We have an old song you may remember that says, "I'll exchange this cross for a golden crown, where the gates swing outward never." That's a very popular song in some churches.
Now, as we go on a step further, remember, we've been thinking about "go." Then we talked about "Go through," that is, finish the job, go all the way for God. Then we took a lesson from the clause that says, "Go through the gates." Now, let's look at the rest of that passage where it goes on further and says, "Prepare ye the way of the people." "Prepare ye the way of the people."
Some folks don't quite understand how they can prepare the way of the people. Well, there are all kinds of practical applications we could make of this. We could say, "Visit." That's part of preparing the way of the people, isn't it? "Pray." That's part of preparing the way of the people. "Pray." Pray before you come to church. Pray every day. Pray for your neighbor. Pray for lost friends. Pray for lost relatives. Pray for lost people with whom you come in contact. Pray for those with whom you work. Pray that God might get hold of their hearts, and draw them to Himself and use you to be a witness to them. "Prepare ye the way of the people." So, visit, pray, teach. That's also part of preparing the way of the people --- teaching.
We could even go ahead a little more and say furnish rides for people. Get people to come, if you can't get them to come any other way, go by and collect them and bring them yourself, in your own car. That's another way to prepare the way of the people! To win people, do anything that's necessary, that's honest, to bring people to church where they'll hear the gospel and maybe, be saved. Or even people that have already been saved. Do anything you can to get them to come to church where they'll hear the Word and possibly get on fire for the Lord, and they might win ten other people that you've never even seen. Just because you got them to come and they got right with God and they went out and they won ten others. So, prepare ye the way of the people, as it says. Invite your friends, your neighbors, your relatives.
And what did we say earlier? We said, "Compel them to come in," didn't we? And Luke taught us that in the parable of the great supper when he said, "Compel them to come in." Remember, the Lord Himself gave this parable of the great supper.
Witness anywhere and everywhere. Invite everyone you see to come. Some will. Some won't. But, God will bless you if you use every opportunity, every contact and not only that, but we should work at making opportunities to invite others to come in and hear the truth from God's Word. Don't think of reasons why you can't go visiting or don't think of reasons why you can't invite this man, don't think of reasons why you shouldn't invite this man! Don't think of reasons why it'd be a waste of time to invite this man! But think of reasons why you should invite this person. Think of reasons why you should witness to this one. Think of reasons why you should try to get this man to come. Think of reasons why this man should come. Take a positive approach to it.
Some people will be in heaven one day, just because you cared enough to invite them, to witnhess, and to pray that God would touch their hearts. There's nothing more glorious than to think about that day. Think about it --- all of us together now for a minute. Let's imagine that we're walking down the golden street. All of us together from this little mission church here. And as we walk down the golden street, suddenly we see someone over there. One that was saved through the work of this church. Isn't that going to be a glorious feeling? Isn't that going to be a wonderful time? When they come over and they say, "Tom, I'm here because you got me to hear the gospel." Or, "Jack, I'm in heaven because you led me to come and hear the gospel. And I heard the gospel and I was saved because you cared enough just to invite me to come, just to try to get me to come" --- "to compel them to come in," as the Scripture says. (Brother Jack Lind has no doubt already met some on the golden street, to whom he witnessed in our African work).
That will be worth a thousand years work! If there's only one like that, it will be worth it all, no matter what! it'll be worth a thousand years work when one up there on the golden street comes and hugs you and says, "Well, I'm here because you witnessed to me. I'm here because you got me to come to church and I heard the gospel and I was saved." That would be worth a thousand years of hard labor, wouldn't it?
The First Baptist Church at Jerusalem grew from about 120 to many thousands of people very quickly, because of what it tells us in the Scriptures I'm about to read now. There are two passages of Scripture that I want to read. These passages tell us exactly why the First Baptist Church at Jerusalem grew rapidly from 120 to many thousands. Many people who have studied this believe that this church probably grew to about fifty thousand in just a few months time. Certainly within a few years time, it grew to more than fifty thousand from 120. And that's the First Baptist Church at Jerusalem that we're talking about.
And these passages in Acts 2 and in Acts 5, that I want to read to you now --- these two passages tell us why and how the church grew quickly in just a few months or certainly not more than a year or two from 120 to many, many thousands --- Probably as many as fifty thousand or more.
Acts 2:46 and 47 has this to say about it. It is talking about the First Baptist Church at Jerusalem when it said: "And they, continuing daily with one accord," notice there are two very important things already that we've passed in this first little bit that we've read. First, "continuing daily." That word "daily" is very important. It's not just a Sunday morning thing, this business of serving the Lord. This business of winning people, this business of building a church is not just a Sunday morning affair. It is not just a get up at nine o'clock, rush to church at ten, go home at twelve and forget about it until next week sort of thing. It's not that at all! This is a very important key word here. This "continuing daily." That's one of the keys of their growth.
Another thing that's very important is the "one accord" part. They weren't bickering and fussing and fighting and jealous of each other and hating each other and wondering if that fellow is getting ahead of me in the church or not. But they were with one accord, in one place. And that was where they went to have their services. It is believed by many that they went to the temple and had their services in the temple courtyard. "And breaking bread," now notice something else here, we're coming to another key passage, a key clause. From house to house --- that's important. That's very important for us today, in building this new mission church here in Africa. "From house to house."
There are millions of people out there, and we'll never win most of them, except on a house to house basis. Then after we win them, some of those that we win will come in, those that truly get saved and truly get a dose of the old-time religion, they'll come into the church, and they'll help us win others. So, this "house to house" here is a key to what they did in Jerusalem as well. From house to house, not only was it a daily proposition, not only were they in one accord, but they went about from house to house and they did so with gladness and singleness of heart, as it tells us in the rest of that verse.
"They did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added," notice that, "the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." Now it was unknown in that day for one to get saved and refuse to be baptized. That was just unheard of. Immediately, in New Testament days, when a man got saved, the very first thing he wanted to do was to follow the Lord in baptism and give this symbolic picture of the fact that he had died to sin and been resurrected to a new life in Christ.
Now, if you skip on over to chapter 5 of the book of Acts, you find another verse that we want to read. Remember --- we're thinking about prepare ye the way of the people. Acts 5:42 says this: "And daily," notice that emphasis on the word "daily" again. It's not just a Sunday morning thing, it's an every day proposition. "And daily in the temple, and in every house," what happened? They once in a while witnessed for the Lord, is that what it says? No, it says, "They ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." Daily, they did it every day. And, you know, though I'm sure we're not doing anything near as good a job of it as they did, we can almost say that we're having something almost everyday, can't we?
We have Sunday morning services, we have Sunday evening services, we have a Monday evening Bible classes, we have, Tuesday evening visitation, then Wednesday evening, we have Bible class and Prayer Meeting, then Thursday evening we have Bible classes, then Friday evening we have Bible classes, and then, Saturday we start getting ready for Sunday, don't we? So, we could say that we're almost on a daily basis ourselves! But we need to emphasize this idea of every day, daily in the temple, as it said, and in every house they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
Now, as we go on a little further with our key passage from Isaiah 62, the next thing it told us was to cast up --- cast up. Let me read that passage to you again, in case you've forgotten the exact wording of it, "Go through," "Go through the gates," "Prepare ye the way of the people," then the next thing it tells us is "Cast up, cast up the highway." So, let's think for a minute about that phrase, "Cast up, cast up."
Now, we can interpret that to mean build, or grade up the road to salvation in Christ. Christ, the only way. You know, I run into people every day or every few days who seem to think that there are many ways to God. And I'm sure you run into people like that, too. But let me tell you, brother and sister, there's only one way to God, and that's through Christ. There is no other way. And all this foolishness that's so popular in modern language today that there are many ways to God, there's not a word of truth in it. There's only one way to God, and Jesus is it. And there's not any other way. And no matter how sincere a man is, if he doesn't come to God through Christ, he's not ever going to know God. There is no way that he can come to know God, except in Christ!
The only way any man can approach God is through Jesus. There's only one way. And this idea that there are many different ways to God, and that, who knows, maybe the Mohammedan is going to God by a different way, or going to heaven by a different means is just a lie of the devil to get more people in hell. And to discourage more Christians from witnessing properly to the Mohammedan or to the Hindu or to any other group you want to name. Unless they come to God through Christ, they are not going to arrive at God and they will not arrive in heaven. There's only one way. And Jesus is that way.
I know this sounds very sad, to think that millions of people have been deceived by the devil into believing that there's some other way to God. And it is sad to think about all those millions of people being deceived. But the fact that it's sad, doesn't change the fact that it's also true, does it? It is still true! There's only one way, so we need to build or grade up the road to salvation in Christ because He's the only way. As the Scripture said, "Cast up." In other words, make the road plain. Mark the road with good sign boards. Be a witness. Stick to the old Word here, because this is the way! The only way that brings men to Christ --- planting or bearing precious seed.
John 3, has a good passage to think about at this time. John 3:14-16 says: "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." You may remember from your Old Testament the story of the children of Israel. Because of their own sinfulness and sin that they committed, God sent fiery serpents among them. And these serpents, every time they bit one of them, that man died.
Moses then went to the Lord and asked for a cure or a remedy for the sin, and a remedy for these snake bites. And the Lord told him to take a brazen serpent and lift it up in the form of a cross on a pole and that's what it's referring back to here in John chapter 3:14, when he says, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness." He's talking about this emblem that God had told them to lift up. Now, the way this worked was that those who were bitten by the serpents --- these were deadly, poisonous serpents --- those who were bitten by a serpent, if they looked at this cross God had told him to raise up, God promised they would not die, but be healed.
All they had to do was just have enough faith, enough belief in what God had said through Moses to look, just turn their head and look at this emblem, which, of course, is a picture to us of the cross where Christ died for us. All they had to do was just believe strongly enough to look. That's all: "just look and live," as the old song says, that's all they had to do. And those who were bitten by the serpent, if they had the faith to look, then they were healed and saved. If they refused to look, they refused to believe and look, then they died from the biting of the serpents. And this is used as a picture of the salvation that we have in Christ.
Again, in John 3:36, there's another good verse to read. It says: "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." Now notice here, it does not say, "He that believeth on Mohammed hath everlasting life," does it? It doesn't say anything like that at all! It doesn't say, "He that sincerely believes so and so or such and such is going to be saved." It doesn't say that either, does it? But it says, "He that believeth on the Son." This is the way - the only way, "Hath everlasting life." And then, just to be sure that nobody can twist that and make it mean something that He didn't say, He went ahead and said it in a negative fashion, when He said, "He that believeth not the Son shall not see life." So either one of those ways, positive or negative presentation of it, completely eliminates all other ways of salvation, doesn't it? It totally eliminates every thing except the one way, which is in Christ!
Now, as we go on a step further, it says, not only "Cast up," but it says, "Cast up the highway." What lesson can we learn from that? "Cast up the highway." It's not enough just to build up or grade up the road to salvation in Christ, Who is the only way! Not enough just to make the road plain, to mark the way with good sign boards, to be a witness and so forth. But we need to pave the road to salvation. Make it as easy as possible for men to come to Christ. Pave the way. Put down a good wide freeway. Pave the road to salvation. Put up lights along the way. Not just sign boards, but put up lights along the way, with directions clearly marked and proclaimed.
Although it's referring to the Millennial Kingdom times, we can see a beautiful illustration of what happens when people get saved if we turn over to Isaiah 35. It is specifically referring to the kingdom age, but does give us a beautiful picture of what happens when people get saved. Isaiah 35:5, reading down through verse 8, says: "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened." Now, who's the blind man when we're thinking about the subject of salvation? The unsaved man, isn't it? "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped." Who's the deaf man? The unsaved. Their eyes have been blinded, the Scripture says, so that seeing, they see not. Or having eyes, they see not. And having ears, they hear not, as the Scripture tells us. And what has happened to them? Why do they have ears and don't hear and yet, have eyes and see not? Because they've been blinded by the God of this world!
Satan has blinded them. "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart." Those that are crippled by sin, they can be healed by coming to Christ. And the hart, in case you haven't looked up to find out what that is, it's a deer-like animal or like one of our jumping antelopes, here in Africa. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart. "And the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out and streams in the desert." Now, what's the wilderness? The wilderness of sin, in our picture. The wilderness, out there in the middle of the desert of sin, a stream of water can break forth, the Word of God.
And men can be saved from death and damnation by drinking of the water of life. "And the parched ground shall become a pool." This man who used to be a drunkard, this man who used to be an alcoholic, this man who used to be a rascal, when he really gets saved, instead of being parched ground, he becomes a pool for others to drink from! It makes a difference, doesn't it? A big change takes place. "And the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes." Even in the wild places where the vicious wild beasts lay, there'll be grass. "And an highway shall be there," and I like this part that's coming up now, "an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it," but listen to this now, "but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein." That is, even a fool can see the way, if we just prepare the way and pave the way properly, even a fool can see how to be saved.
You know, it's not our job --- I find sometimes in working with young Christians or even sometimes with older Christians as well, they seem to have the idea that it's our job to prove the Bible, or to prove what God says. That is, to prove that what He says is true. But this is not really our job. It's okay, if you have someone who is reasonable and willing to listen, you can prove that the Bible is true and you can prove that what God said is true. But that's not really our main job. Our job is to just tell them what God said; not try to prove to them what God said. Our job is to proclaim the truth, not to try to prove that it is the truth. Our main job is just to tell them the truth, preach the truth, teach the truth to them.
As we go on, our passage tells us not only to cast up the highway, not only to pave the road to salvation, but gather out the stones. Yes, gather out the stones. There are little stumbling blocks in the way of many people coming to Christ. And this gathering out the stones, we can use as a lesson to us to make it as easy as possible for men to come to hear the gospel. Make it as easy as possible, but don't make it in such a way that we're not teaching them the right way, just in order to get them to come. But we must NOT COMPROMISE on what we're teaching and preaching. In other words, it doesn't do any good to do that. That's a waste of time and effort, if we compromise the message in order to get them to come! Yes, make it as easy as possible for men to come to hear the gospel, but be sure it's the right way. The right way, the only way, is in Jesus Christ! There is only one way, and Jesus is that only way.
John 14:6 says: "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." Again, all this idea of men saying there are many ways to God, this one little verse completely destroys that teaching! There is only one way to God. There is no man that can come to the Father, but by Jesus. There's no way that anyone ever has, ever will, or ever can, come to God, except through Christ, as He said, "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
As we think about this --- "gather out the stones" --- let us resolve to make it as easy as possible for men to come to hear the gospel, while being sure that we're preaching it and teaching it the right way. Let us recognize and emphasize that there's only one, Jesus the way, as He taught us in John 14:6.
As we think of these things, there is something else we need to think about, and that is, it will cost something! It will cost something! But, oh, the joy of it all. It's going to take a lot of long, hard hours to build a church here in Africa! But think of the joy of hearing the Master say at the end of the trail, "Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy Lord." It's worth it, isn't it? It's worth whatever it costs!
Always remember the reference we read to you earlier in Psalms 126:5-6: "They that sow in tears, shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." So, although it's going to cost to go out and spread the seed, yet it is going to be wonderful because it says that we'll doubtless return with rejoicing, bringing our sheaves with us! No doubt at all about it.
From another reference to the Kingdom age, we have another beautiful picture of the joyous way of God and the glorious changes when a soul is saved, in Isaiah chapter 43:19. It says: "Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth." And this certainly fits with us today in this new work, doesn't it? "Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert." God will make a highway in the wilderness and rivers in the midst of the desert. And that's our purpose here, to make a highway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert. That's what really happens when men come to know God and receive Him as their Savior.
Now the last thing that we want to notice is this. Remember it says, "Lift up a standard for the people." I checked in the Oxford Dictionary to see their exact definition of the word "standard". And they define it this way. They say that a standard means, "a distinctive flag, especially a flag of a cavalry regiment; also a rallying principle." And that fits perfectly with our new church project today, doesn't it. A distinctive flag, especially a flag of a cavalry regiment. Now who usually takes the point when you're in a battle? The cavalry leads the charge! They usually push through first, and they're followed immediately by the infantry. But who generally leads the way? The cavalry often takes the point!
So this fits especially well, this dictionary definition of the word "standard". "Distinctive flag, especially the flag of a cavalry regiment." So we're on the point here now! We're right out front. We're going to get everybody shooting at us, but the thing for us to do is to sound the charge and just go right ahead! Let the trumpet sound the charge.
And I like that second definition of "a standard" that it gives: "a rallying principle." The standard is the old blood-stained banner of Christ, isn't it? And the rallying principle is the same! The Living Word and the written Word of God which tells us all men need to know about God. In fact, it tells us all we can know about God. There's no way we can know about God, except from and through His Word.
Let's lift up the blood-stained banner --- The blood-stained banner of the cross for all to rally around and follow and serve the King in this place. Let's never give an inch in battle for God and souls. Never back up. Never back down. Let us always do like Paul taught in Philippians 3:14, when he said: "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." I like to think about the old song we sing sometimes. It is the old marching song of Christians down through many years, "Onward Christian Soldiers, marching as to war. With the cross of Jesus, going on before. Christ our Royal Master, leads against the foe. Forward into battle, see His banner go." And what's the banner? The blood-stained banner of the cross! "Onward Christian Soldiers, marching as to war. With the cross of Jesus, going on before."
I want to challenge you today, each of you, as we are just beginning in this new work together, that each of us should commit ourselves completely and totally to following this blood-stained banner --- holding it high!
Great patriotic things have been written about the flags of man, the standards men follow into battle.
One of the greatest stories of such patriotism relative to a flag, for Americans , one could think of would probably be the raising of the stars and stripes again on Mount Surabachi. When they had captured that last big stronghold of the Japanese in the march toward Japan, in winning this battle for Iwo Jima, with the U. S. Marines, on top of the mountain. There were dead men everywhere, thousands of them, Americans as well as Japanese. And a little group of Marines got to the top of the mountain. They took the flag and raised it there.
What we need to think about now and as long as we draw breath --- Let us raise the banner, the standard of Christ: the old blood-stained banner. Let's defend it, and lift it up!
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