A Study of Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 1:18)


Here is a special people addressed, “a small remnant.” They tremble and fear under a feeling sense of their guilt and utter unworthiness; but God mercifully calls unto them, saying, “Come now, and let us reason together.”

Some people think they are as good as any of their neighbours, and a deal better than most, and they try thus to comfort themselves. But unless God brings them to repentance and teaches them to place entire dependence upon Christ, they will sink into black despair. The LORD does not say, “Come pious, come virtuous,” but, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

The Pharisees have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge; they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, go about to establish their own righteousness, not submitting themselves to the righteousness of God (see Romans 10:3); and thus they delude their own souls. But the characters alluded to in our text feel themselves to be double-dyed sinners – outcasts from society and from God; justice seems to cast them off; law and mercy, all seem against them, to cast them off as sinners.

Do you really feel it?

Do you confess it before God?

If so, you are precious in His sight.

“A sinner is a sacred thing;
The Holy Ghost has made him so.”

God will appear and save such as feel their need of Him. He came to seek and to save such, even them that were lost. The seeds of iniquity are sown in your heart. Saul of Tarsus walked according to the law, blameless; but when God opened his heart, sin revived, and he died; and sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in him all manner of concupiscence (see Romans 7:8-9). He felt more deeply lost; his heart was circumcised, and he lay, before a heart-searching and rein-trying God, vile, polluted and miserable.

Listen to the nature of the call: “Come unto Me.” How endearing is this word, “Come.” What soul language! To think that the great Eternal God should thus affectionately invite poor sinners to come and reason with Him! We should think it an act of condescension if the queen were to reason with her plebeian subjects, or if a dignified person were to say to a poor, sick and famishing creature, “Come to me, and I will be your friend. I will relieve your distress, and comfort you.” The poor thing’s heart would gladly listen and leap for joy. But here you see Infinite Purity standing at the door of mercy, and saying to such as feel their desolate state, “Come unto Me.” Then think not to place any hope in what you have done, or what you can do; but come, poor sinner, just as you are, with your burden of sin and guilt; for Jesus says, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). You stand between love and mercy on the one hand, and law and justice on the other. Of old, the leper had to be taken to the priest before he could be pronounced clean. You have the leprosy in your heart, and the blessed Spirit must lead you to Christ, who is our High Priest, to be cleansed. Some might ask, “How are we to be led?” You must be blessed with that faith which is of the operation of God the Spirit. Faith in Him will lead you to holiness and purity. “The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17)

John, who heard, and all Christ’s people say, “Come.” To whom do they speak? Are you a sensibly-lost sinner? Have you been led to believe that Christ is a Saviour for the lost? Are you thirsting, panting and groaning for mercy? You are the characters addressed. Are you willing to be saved in God’s own way – by grace, and that God shall be glorified in your salvation? The LORD never says, “Come” to any before He has made them feel their need of Him; and He makes them not only willing but glad to come. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power” (Psalm 110:3).

So that there is a lawful coming. It is to come as a beggar, poor and helpless, maimed, halt, blind; feeling that you have no legs to stand upon, all your earthly props being gone. You then come breathing after mercy, sighing like the prisoner for liberty to believe. “But,” say some, “I cannot believe.” Why, you cannot disbelieve; for if someone attacked you and attempted to make you believe there is no God, he could not. What is believing? First, to believe that God is, that He is a rein-trying God, who will by no means clear the guilty, and not such a careless Judge as some imagine. Next, that Christ is a mighty Saviour – one who can save the guilty. And, next, that you are guilty and need such a Saviour. In these things you have the full assurance of faith; and by and by you shall have faith to believe that that Saviour is yours. The LORD draw you.
Ask yourselves, can you seek refuge anywhere else? Then cry mightily to God for pardon; for Christ, the God of your salvation, will hear you. Why, poor, dear soul, if it were possible for such a one as you to be sent to hell, they would not know what to do with you there. What! A poor sinner, groaning on account of his sins and panting after Christ as his Saviour, be sent to hell? Impossible! The very thought gives the lie to the gospel of God’s grace.
“Come now, and let us reason together.” What are we to reason about? About your unbelief. As though Christ had said, “Did I not come to save the lost? And yet, because you feel you are lost, you think I did not come to save you. You believe I came to deliver the captives and to set the prisoners free. You are bound, you are in prison, yet you think I will not set you free. Well, this is your carnal unbelief; but by My Spirit you shall be made free. You say your sins are so great and so many. Did I not save a David, a Manasseh, a Magdalene, a Saul of Tarsus, a Peter, though he swore he never knew Me, even after it had been revealed to him by My Spirit that I am the Christ? Is anything too hard for Me? I came to save sinners, not the righteous. And has it not been revealed to thee that I am just such a Saviour as thou needest? Come, now, and let us reason about these matters.”
This reason is not of a carnal nature. We cannot rightly go before God in our own strength, but in His strength; namely, in Christ, who is our strength and our shield. If we truly confess our wretchedness, vileness and total inability, God will enable us to reason, as expressed in Hosea 14:2: “Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto Him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.” Jacob wrestled with God and prevailed; but not in his own strength, but in the strength of Christ he had power with God and prevailed. Moses pleaded with God for the children of Israel; and what were his arguments? He prayed, “For the glory of Thy great name, save this people” (see Deuteronomy 9:25-29). As though he had said, “The glory of Thy great name is at stake.” And where is God’s great name? It is in Christ. But some in our day say, “Christ has done all He can to save sinners; and it only remains for sinners to do their part, and then they will be saved”; and yet they are so foolish as to pray to God to help them. Thus does human reason contradict itself. But this is not the reason God intends. A poor sinner will be like Job, confessing his vileness, and saying, “What shall I answer Thee?” (Job 40:4). God will answer thee, “I am thy salvation” (Psalm 35:3). You will say, “I am unworthy,” but God will say, “In Me thou shalt have peace” (see John 16:33). Thus He will glorify His name in the hearts of the people.


William Gadsby

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