I remember when I was a boy, growing up at the First Baptist Church of Harrah, Oklahoma, our pastor (Hoyt Aduddell) had just preached one of those messages that sticks with you for some reason. The reason this particular message stuck with us, is that throughout the sermon, which was on greed, he continually used the phrase, “Gimme, gimme, gimme.” “Gimme, gimme, gimme” he said, and that phrase was drilled into our minds repeatedly throughout the message. On the way out, feeling quite spiritually mature as an 8-year-old, I remember saying to my dad on the way out: “‘Gimme, gimme, gimme.’ That sounds just like the girls to me.” (I have three younger sisters.) But I’ll never forget: Dad looked over at me and said, “Sounds like all four of you to me!” Dad really put me in my place that day — and I needed it. It’s not just that my sisters were all greedy sinners and I wasn’t. We ALL are greedy sinners, and I needed to include myself in that number too.
The old Puritans said that one of the devil’s strategies is to get us to think that we are an exception. That the things that God has said in His word apply to “other” people, but not us. Somehow we are special. We are an exception to the rule. Other people are sinners but we are not. Or others’ sins are unacceptable, but we have good excuses for ours. Or others’ sins can be forgiven, but not ours — ours are too great. In one way or another, he wants us to think that we are an exception to the rule — which cuts us off from God’s word, and from His grace.
But our verse for today, Isaiah 53:6 reminds us of that none of us are “an exception to the rule,” we are ALL “in the same boat.” All of us have sinned, without exception. And what Jesus did, He did “for ALL of us” — YOU included. But there’s also something you have to do about it, if you want what Jesus did, to be applied to your life.
I. All Of Us Have Sinned
“All we like sheep have gone astray …”
The Bible here gives us one of the most foundational doctrines of our faith: that ALL of us have sinned. It says, “ALL we like sheep have gone astray.” This picture of mankind being like sheep is a common one in scripture. David famously said in Psalm 23, “The LORD is my shepherd.” Psalms repeatedly refers to God leading His people like sheep. Some of those are very comforting pictures; that we are like sheep and God is like a Shepherd to us. But the picture of us as sheep here in Isaiah 53:6 is not flattering. It says here that we are like sheep in that we have all gone astray. Getting lost and going astray is what sheep tend to do. They are infamous for not being the smartest animals, and for continually going “off course.”
There was a video out this week on social media, of a guy wrestling a sheep out of a big ditch. It looked like the ditch was meant to act as a kind of “fence,” to keep the sheep in the field. But this sheep had somehow gotten into it, and could not get out. The video shows this man pushing and wrestling for some time to try to get the sheep out of the ditch — and finally, after some great exertion, he pushed the sheep up out of the ditch, and set him free to run back in the pasture. So the sheep gets out, runs down about 15 feet — and jumps right back into the same ditch again! I just busted out laughing when I saw that; I thought, “Unbelievable!” What in the world?! Is anything more foolish than a sheep?!
The answer is YES: WE ARE! God knew what He was doing when He compares us repeatedly in His word to sheep. Just like sheep, we have gotten off course; we have taken the wrong way; we have “gone astray.” God’s told us the way to live; He’s told us what to do, and what not to do, but we’ve all ignored God’s directions. Then when God graciously gets us out, we jump right back in again! We’re just like sheep. And that picture of going astray like sheep is a good description of what “sin” is. Sin is when we ignore God’s wise directions to us. It’s when we purposefully disobey Him; when we do what WE think best or what we want to do, instead of what He told us to do. Sin is when we think what God told us not to think; when we say what God told us not to say; when we do what God told us not to do; and when we’ve left undone what God told us we should do.
All that is sin. And sin has characterized the whole human race, from Adam & Eve down to the present day. God told them not to eat the fruit from the garden, and they did anyway. And Romans 5 says Adam has passed down his sin nature to every member of the human race, so that we are all born with a sin nature, and we have this in-born inclination to sin. And when we come to a time in our life when we need to choose right from wrong, we have chosen what is wrong. ALL of us.
But we need to understand; it’s not just “the whole world” who has sinned; it’s YOU and I personally. We personally, are sinners both by nature, and by choice. Sometimes we like to point at the problems of “the world” out there, but we are really good at avoiding putting the blame on ourselves personally, as if “WE” were just so better than everyone else. But we are ALL sinners, just like everyone else. ALL of us.
For years, the Exxon Valdez was considered to be the worst oil spill disaster in history. It was surpassed by the big BP spill in the Gulf in 2010, which was four times bigger than the Exxon Valdez. But did you know there is actually a worse source of polluting oil than both of those put together — and it may surprising to you — and that YOU may be a part of it. They tell us that individual Americans dump oil from their cars and lawnmowers and so on, into the ground, and all together, that oil poured out adds up to more than TEN TIMES the amount of the Exxon Valdez spill. We may think: it’s those big companies that are the problem; our little bit doesn’t hurt anything. But it does hurt. WE are part of the problem too.
And that’s something we need to realize about our SIN, too. It’s easy with all that’s going on in the world today to look at what people are doing “out there” in the world and say: “Oh, those bad sinners out there! Look at “all them”: committing adultery, and practicing homosexuality, and having abortions, and wanting something for nothing, and taking advantage of people” — and all the while overlook or excuse the sin in our OWN lives. We need to make sure we don’t do that. The Bible says “ALL of us like sheep have gone astray.” “ALL means ALL.” “All” means it’s me too. “All” means it’s you too. ALL of us have sinned against God, all of us have gone astray from Him, all of us have separated ourselves from Him and all of us deserve His punishment. ALL of us, without exception. We need to make sure we really “get” that. The Bible is so clear: “ALL of us like sheep have gone astray.” ALL of us have sinned.
II. All Of Us Had Our Sins Paid
“The Lord has laid the iniquity of us all upon Him”
Since, as we have seen, all of us have sinned, all of us deserve the punishment that is rightly due to us for our sins. God said in Ezekiel 18:4, “The soul that sins shall die.” And it’s not just talking about physical death, which sin brought on all of us in the world, but spiritual death, separation from God’s glory forever in hell. That’s what we deserve. But in God’s mercy and grace, He provided a way to pay for our sins.
The Bible says here that although all of us have gone astray like sheep in our sins, “The Lord has laid on HIM the iniquity of us all.” The “Him” it is talking about here is Jesus. Jesus is who Isaiah 53 is all about. Isaiah 53 is one of the most amazing portions of scripture in all the word of God. It is many people’s favorite chapter of scripture. It was was written 700 years before the time of Christ, by Isaiah the prophet. And it is so amazing, because 700 years before Jesus’ birth, this chapter describes just what He would do for us when he came. Anyone who reads this chapter today, can tell immediately that it is describing Jesus.
And what does it say about Him? The most significant thing it tells us about Him here is that He paid for OUR sins, in HIMSELF. And it says that not once, but repeatedly. Verse 4 here in Isaiah 53 says:
— “surely OUR griefs, HE Himself bore”
— “OUR sorrows, HE carried.”
Verse 5 says:
— “HE was pierced through for OUR transgressions”
— “HE was crushed for OUR iniquities”
— “The chastening for OUR well-being fell upon HIM”
— “By HIS scourging, WE were healed.”
Do you hear that theme, over and over: JESUS took what was due to US, on HIMSELF. OUR penalties, fell on Him. Over and over Isaiah 53 teaches us that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins.
Several years ago, the wife of a pastor friend of mine in Oklahoma went out to her car at school and found a traffic ticket on it. But when she looked at it closely, she saw that the ticket was actually not for HER car, but for a similar car, with a different license plate! Some sly person was trying to get HER to pay for THEIR ticket! That’s a pretty good deal, if you can get it, to get someone else to pay for YOUR transgressions!
But the Bible says that is exactly what Jesus did: He paid for our sins when He died on the cross. I Peter 2:24 says “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross.” Jesus took on Himself the payment for our sins.
And the thing is, He did it, not just for some select few; it says He did it for ALL of us: “The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of US ALL.”
Again, “ALL” is the word God uses here. Jesus He did that for ALL of us: I John 2:2 says “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins — and not for ours only, but also for those of the WHOLE WORLD.”
One of our Southern Baptist seminary presidents said a few years ago, that because of what God’s word teaches, he can go anywhere on the face of the earth, and look anyone square in the eye, and say to them with a clear conscience: “Jesus Christ died for your sins.” The same thing is true right here where we live. And even better, we can know that the same thing is true for US: that Jesus died for OUR sins. Let’s make it clear today:
— There is not one person here in this room, whose sins Jesus Christ has not died for!
— There is not one sin committed by anyone in this room, which has not been paid for, by the death of Jesus on the cross!
That sin you feel so terrible about; the one the devil always brings up to make you feel bad; THAT sin — was paid for by Jesus. On the cross He cried out: “It is finished; it is paid in full.” YOUR sin, MY sin, ALL the sins of ALL of us, have ALL paid in full by the death of Jesus on the cross.
ALL of us can say with the words of that great hymn:
“My sin, O the bliss of this glorious thought;
My sin, not in part, but the whole
Is nailed to the crosse and I bear it no more!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!”
“ALL of us had our sins paid” by Jesus. But that’s not quite the end of it; there’s one more thing you need to know:
III. All Of Us Must Respond Personally
There’s one more point that we need to make here, although it is not directly contained here in Isaiah 53:6, it is all through scripture; and that is that we must all RESPOND to what Jesus has done for us, personally.
All of us have sinned; Jesus paid the penalty for all of us; but for us to receive the benefits of what Jesus did for us, we must all personally respond. We must personally repent of OUR sins, and trust Jesus as OUR own personal Lord and Savior.
The Bible is full of verses that demand a personal response:
— Romans 10:13 says “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” He died on the cross for you; He died for everyone. But you must personally call upon Him, and ask Him to save YOU, in order to be saved.
It’s like the COVID tests that have come out. The government has announced that every home can have as many as 8 “free” COVID tests (they’re actually not “free”; we are paying for them with our tax money), but nevertheless these are available without further charge from the government. But they aren’t just automatically mailing them to every house. You have to call or respond on their website in order to get them. They are provided, and available, for everyone. But you don’t get the benefit of it, unless you ask for it.
And that is the way it is with salvation too. As we saw, Jesus bore ALL our sins on the cross. There is NO sin you have committed, which cannot be forgiven by the blood of Christ. BUT YOU HAVE TO ASK FOR IT! You have to personally respond.
Paul said to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:21 that he didn’t hold back anything from the gospel message; he said he was “solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We see here that there are two necessary elements of our response to the gospel, repentance, and faith. And both of them must be personal:
— You must repent of YOUR own sins
— and You must put your own faith in Jesus as YOUR own Lord & Savior.
You have to personally repent of YOUR sins — you must admit that your sins are wrong (which many people are not willing to do; you can’t be forgiven, if you don’t admit you’ve done wrong) and you must be willing to repent, which means “change your mind” and turn around and go in a different direction. God will help you to do that; but you must be willing to ask Him to help you do it. Again, so many people are just not even willing to turn from their sins. They want to be forgiven, and say that they are Christians, and going to heaven, but they are making no effort at all to turn from their sins. Let me make it clear: if you are not willing to turn from your sins, you cannot be saved. Too many people today think it doesn’t matter; that they can just keep on sinning, and they’ll go to heaven because Jesus died for us all. That’s not true, and it’ll send you to hell! Repentance — turning from your sin — is a very neglected part of the preaching and teaching in many American churches today; you don’t hear much preaching on repentance. But as Paul said in Acts 20, it vital part of the response God asks to the gospel. You must repent of your sins, to be saved.
And you must personally put YOUR faith in Jesus as YOUR Lord & Savior, in order to be saved. That’s why we as Baptists don’t baptize babies. This is one of the important doctrinal distinctives that separates us as Baptists from many other denominations. We don’t baptize babies. And the reason is just what we are talking about here: there must be a personal response to the gospel of repentance and faith. A baby doesn’t understand anything about sin or repentance or faith; he or she is not capable of making a personal response. They must be of an age where they know that they personally have sinned, and they put their own faith in Jesus as THEIR Lord & Savior, to be saved. There must a personal response.
And that is true for all of us. We have all sinned. Jesus died for all of us. But we must all personally respond to the gospel. If you do not personally respond the gospel, then you will not be saved.
Ruthanna Metzger is a professional singer, and several years ago she was asked to sing at the wedding of a very rich man. The reception for the wedding was going to be held afterwards, in the top two floors of the Columbia Tower in Seattle, a very exclusive spot. There was a beautiful glass and brass staircase that led up the reception, where waiters in tuxedos served hors d’oeuvres. They cut a ceremonial ribbon at the bottom of the stairs leading up to it. The bride and groom led the way, and those invited all followed. At the top of the stairs, a maitre d’ with a bound book greeted the guests and asked each of them: “May I have your name please?” When Ruthanna and her husband got there, she told them their names, Ruthanna and Roy Metzger. The maitre d’ said, “I’m not finding it. Could you spell it, please.” She did. He said, “I’m sorry, your name isn’t here.” She said, “There must be some mistake, I’m the singer. I sang for the wedding.” He said, “It doesn’t matter who you are or what you did, without your name in the book, you cannot attend the banquet.” And he told a waiter: “Show these people to the service elevators, please” — and they were ushered to the garage. Ruthanna’s husband turned to her and said, “What happened?” Ruthanna burst into tears. She said, “When the invitation arrived, I was busy, so I never bothered to RSVP. Besides, I was the singer. I thought surely I could go to the reception without returning the RSVP!” She’d never responded. And she was not let in. Ruthanna said she was so dismayed that by her own neglect, she had missed that amazing reception. But as she is a Christian, she said it was also a very chilling experience for her as well, because she realized that what happened to her at that reception, is going to happen to many, many people in eternity too.
You’ve got to make a personal response to the gospel.
It’s not enough to realize that you have sinned.
It’s not enough to realize that Jesus paid for your sins on the cross.
The Gospel comes with an RSVP — you have to RESPOND to what Jesus did for you. YOU must repent of YOUR sins. YOU must put YOUR faith in Jesus as the Lord & Savior of YOUR life.
You must personally respond to the gospel. Just like with Ruthanna Metzger and that wedding, it doesn’t matter who you are; it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in this life. Jesus said in Matthew that many would stand before Him and say, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” But He said He would declare to them: “I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. There’s no excuses, no “outs.” YOU must respond personally to what Jesus did, by repenting of YOUR sins, and putting YOUR faith in Jesus as YOUR Lord & Savior — or you will not gain entrance to the kingdom of God.
YOU have sinned.
YOU have had your sins paid for.
But YOU must personally respond to what Jesus did for you.
If you’ve never done it before, why don’t you do it, right now?