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by Dr. C. L. Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, April 28, 2019

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

Our text is an invitation to talk with God. “Come now, and let us reason together.” A modern version translates it as, “Come now, let us settle the matter.” We could say, “Let’s settle this. Let’s talk it over.” One preacher said this is an invitation to “come to the table” before God.

What did they need to talk about with God? In verses 2 through 6 God told the people of Israel about their sin and rebellion against Him. Verses 7 through 9 told about the judgment that came because of their sin. Verses 11 through 15 explained how their religious habits would not help them. Then God invited them to think it over, to “reason together” with Him. Though their sin was blood-red, it could be washed white as snow. It could be forgiven and forgotten if they would turn to Him. Our text says,

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

“Come now, and let us reason together.” This morning I want you to do that. I want to have a talk with you. I want to ask you some questions. Then think about what I say. “Let us reason together.”

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I. First, what is your life like now?

What do you do in your life? You wake up. You get dressed. You eat breakfast. You go to school or work. Then you come back. You eat dinner. You talk with your family or your friends. You watch TV or do something on the computer. Then you go to bed. That is an ordinary day.

Some days are a little different. You go out to see your friends, or go to a movie, or do something else. Once a year you go on vacation to do things somewhere else. On Sunday you get dressed up and go to church. But the pattern is the same. There’s nothing great or wonderful about your life. There’s nothing really new. The Bible talks about this. King Solomon, the wisest man in the world, said, “There is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us” (Ecclesiastes 1:9, 10). There’s nothing new under the sun. Your life isn’t much. What’s so good about it?

That’s your outward life. But what about your inward life? What about your heart? Inside is sin and selfishness. The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). That’s what’s in your heart. That’s your inward life. Inside you are angry with people. Sometimes it comes out. Sometimes you keep it quiet. But it’s always there. Inside, you think badly about other people. Sometimes it comes out and you say it. Most of the time you don’t. Sometimes you talk bad or even curse, under your breath, so people can’t hear you. But it’s what you think inside.

Sometimes you have a dirty mind. Think of what you look at on the computer. You know – and God knows. I won’t say what you would do with a girl or a boy if you could. But you know – and God knows. Inside you have a sinful heart.

Let’s face it. Your outward “persona” – what you want people to think you are – is good, but your inward heart is bad. You want to look good. You want people to think you’re good. You sure don’t want them to know about the way you really are. Your outward show is a lie. Your heart is tricky. The Bible says your heart is “deceitful.”

Inside you are selfish. You don’t want anyone telling you what to do. You want to be free to do something they don’t like – and just to be free for its own sake. Some of you live with your parents. You think, “When I’m old enough I’ll be on my own. And then I can do what I want.” Well, then your life will be the same as what other people that age are doing – nothing special there – but you’ll be out from your parents. Even though they’re nice, you want to be out and away from them. Some day you will leave the church. You’ll be out and away from God. Anything to be out and away, and have it your way – even if it ruins your life. You want to be you, no matter what it costs. And if you insist, God will let you be just that. He’ll leave you alone with your sin. He’ll leave you alone with yourself.

II. Second, what will your life be like in the future?

You’re not happy now. You have good feelings and bad feelings. But you’re not really happy. Life isn’t supposed to be like this. You think there must be something more. So you look to the future.

You hope the future will be bigger and better. You want a good job. You want to make money. You want a house and a car and all the nice things people can have. You want a girlfriend or a boyfriend. You want to get married and have children. You want things to be bigger and better than they are now.

But wait a minute! Then you’ll be like people older than you. Are they happy? They have more than you do. They do things you can’t do now. They have more freedom than you. But they may have less. They don’t have the glorious life of personal freedom that you hope for – and they hoped for. They have obligations. They have bills to pay. They have to work. They have less free time than you! Are they really happy? If they’re not Christians, the answer is “no.” By the time they are thirty years old, their illusions are gone. Their dreams are over. They just have to get along with the way things are, and live until they die. That’s all.

Isn’t that what the Bible says? The Bible says, “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Do you want to live your life until it’s over, and that’s all? Do you want to go on with your private weirdness? With your selfishness? With your inner anger? With your evil desire? With your private life? Do you want to go on as unhappy as you are? As lonely as you are? Keep on living, and you will.

But you may think, “I want to break out of the crowd. I want to be successful. I want more money and a higher life than other people.” But will you be happy inside? Think about the celebrities who have money and fame. Are they happy? They go into relationships and then break up. Some get into drug problems. Some of them wind up with no money in the end! Are they happy inside? No, they are not! Listen to what King Solomon said. He was the super-success of his time. He was the richest and the wisest man in all the world. Solomon said,

“I gathered me also silver and gold...So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy...Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:8-11).

He had anything he wanted. But it meant nothing in the end. All his riches, all his wisdom – it was vain, worthless. Even if you’re the best in the world, it will all mean nothing.

And it will be worse when you’re old. As an old man Solomon said, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Your body will fail you. I don’t have the same body as when I was young. I can’t run up the stairs. I need glasses. I wear hearing aids. I have other problems. Someone said, “You keep on living until something falls apart. Then you go on for a while until something else falls apart.” That’s what will happen to you. The days will come when you have no pleasure. And then you will die.

What will happen on earth after you die? Other people will be alive – your children, some of your friends. But in the end you will be forgotten. The Bible says, “There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after” (Ecclesiastes 1:11). I have paid in advance for my funeral and my burial plot. At least that much will happen. Some people will remember me. They’ll even visit my grave once in a while. But that’s all. And one day nobody will remember me. “Neither shall there be any remembrance.”

Do you know how your children will turn out? You want them to be higher and better than you. You want them to start with more advantages than you had, and not make the same mistakes you did. But you don’t know what they’ll be like. Albert Einstein had two sons. Did they do anything important? No. Winston Churchill saved the world from Hitler. His son Randolph had every advantage. But he was unworthy of his father. He had a bad temper. He smoked and drank heavily. He died of a heart attack at the age of 57. King Solomon was the wisest man in the world. When he died his son Rehoboam became king. Rehoboam was a wicked man. In his time the nation was broken in two. Rehoboam the son of Solomon died and went to Hell. No, you don’t know what your children will be like.

You don’t have much to look forward to. And you know it. Look around. There isn’t much to life. When I was young a woman named Peggy Lee sang, “Is That All There Is?” She said, “Is that all there is, is that all there is? If that's all there is, my friends, then let's keep dancing.” She saw there was nothing to life. She said, “Then let’s keep dancing.” That sounds like a cute answer for a young person, but it’s no good in the end. Peggy Lee was married and divorced four times. Then she died. “Is that all there is?”

That’s your future. You will go on with your heart. You will go on with your wicked desires. You will go on in your selfishness. You will go on in your weirdness. And you will not be happy. You’ll wonder if there is anything better. Finally you’ll decide it won’t get better and you’ll just keep on living. You will be empty and miserable in life, and empty and miserable in death. You will die in your sins and be lost in Hell forever.

So I ask you, Do you want to live like you are? Do you want to be like you are? Or do you want to be different? Do you want to get out of what you are now? Do you want to escape? Will you? Do you have a plan for that?

III. Third, what is your wrong and faulty plan to escape?

We’re here in church this morning. In our church we constantly preach the Gospel. We preach that Christ died to pay for your sin, that He shed His Blood to wash your sin away, and that He rose from the dead to give you life. We call on you to trust Jesus and be converted. If you trust Jesus your sin will be forgiven. You will live a Christian life. You will go to Heaven when you die and live forever with Christ. That’s the meaning of life. That’s the answer. That’s what you hear week after week.

Some of you aren’t planning to find the answer. You’re here out of habit. You’re here because your family and your friends are here. When the time comes, you’ll go your way. You’ll have the unhappy life I talked about. You’ll live and die, never finding the answer.

Some of you would like to find the Saviour. I ask you, “What is your plan?” You say nice words like, “I want to be saved. I want to trust Christ.” But you haven’t trusted Him. You are no closer to trusting Christ than you were a month ago, or a year ago. In fact, you’re farther away from Christ because you have sent Him away again and again.

In a way, you do have a “plan.” Your plan is to sit here. That’s all. You sat here last week, last month, last year. You’re sitting here now. You may sit and talk with me after the service. But you won’t trust Christ. Instead, you plan to sit here for another week, month, and year. You hope that by sitting in this Gospel preaching church that someday, somehow, you’ll trust Christ. You’ll trust Him in a better time – a better time for the church, a better time for your life – but not now. You don’t think, “I need Jesus now.” You comfort yourself and think, “I’ll trust Jesus someday.”

But you won’t! You have sat for months and years already. Did it save you? Did you trust Christ? Were you converted? No, you were not. What makes you think it will save you to do this for another year? It won’t. What will you say at the Last Judgment? You may say, “Lord, I was in the church.” The Lord may ask, “What did you do in the church?” You can only say, “I sat in my chair.” But how does that save you? Jesus will say to you, “I never knew you: depart from me” (Matthew 7:23).

IV. Fourth, what is a good plan for you?

This message is more of a talk than a traditional sermon. You have heard many sermons. They were true, but you did not hear them. I will try to speak to you in a different way, one that you may hear.

I could tell you to trust Christ, and so you should, but you will not hear me. Trusting Jesus is the answer, but you have heard those words before and you have not listened to them. I could tell you to “strive to enter in” to Christ (Luke 13:24), and so you should. But you have heard those words. You have not striven, and you are not striving now. The way you are, it doesn’t look like you will ever strive.

What can I say to you now? That brings me back to our text,

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

The text says, “Come now, and let us reason together.” Yes, you can be forgiven. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” Today I am asking you to obey the first part of our text and “reason together.” I am asking you to sit down at the table. I am asking you to think about settling this business. You’ve let it go long enough. Think about yourself. You haven’t got much to be happy about. Do you like your life? Do you like yourself? You won’t have much to be happy about in the future. Think about your sin. Think about your selfishness. Think about your strangeness. Take a good look at yourself. Do you want it to be like this all your life? Are you happy with the way you are?

Then I wish you would think, “I don’t want to be this way. Not now and not for the rest of my life. I don’t like the way I am now. I don’t like the way I’m going.” I’m thinking of a young man who lived year after year in sin and strangeness. Then he woke up and desired to be different. He thought seriously about things he had ignored. He thought about his sin and about Christ. He trusted Jesus and was converted.

I wish you would think, “This conversion is real. I haven’t found it. But I’m going to take it seriously. I’m going to get down to business.” One man said, “I’m going to face the music.” “Face the music” means to face up to yourself. Look at your actions. Look at your words. Look at the way you are inside. Decide that you’ll face up to all that. Then don’t dismiss what you hear in church. Don’t take it lightly. Don’t forget about it during the week. I pray that you will face up to yourself and seek conversion in Christ. If you would like to speak with me about this sermon and about trusting Jesus, please come and sit in the first two rows. Amen.

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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Jack Ngann:
“Though Your Sins be as Scarlet” (by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915).



by Dr. C. L. Cagan

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

I.    First, what is your life like now? Ecclesiastes 1:9, 10;
Jeremiah 17:9.

II.   Second, what will your life be like in the future? Ecclesiastes 1:2;
Ecclesiastes 2:8-11; 12:1; 1:11.

III.  Third, what is your wrong and faulty plan to escape? Matthew 7:23.

IV.  Fourth, what is a good plan for you? Luke 13:24; Isaiah 1:18.