Is the Salvation of Jesus Really and Truly Free?! (Surely there are strings attached, right?) #178
Hello friends and happy Tuesday to you! The Bible readings are strange and divided up today, so we don’t have the time for a proper introduction or any of our usual small talk, because I used up all of my brain power trying to parse our readings for the day. 😉 Today’s Bible passages include Deuteronomy 28:20-68, Psalms 119:25-48, Isaiah 55, and Matthew 3. Ok, I guess in the final analysis that wasn’t too complicated, but I am slightly intimidated by math despite the fact that I married a math teacher, and I was myself a professional math teacher (long term substitute!) for 7 weeks of my life. One day, I’d like to compile a list of tent-maker jobs I’ve had since going into ministry. I think the list would be close to 50 – maybe more – different jobs I’ve had where I’ve earned more than $500. I don’t actually know how to make tents, like Paul did, but sometimes when you are young in ministry, (and old in ministry!) you do whatever you need to do! Here’s a partial list of non-ministry jobs I’ve had since going into ministry: Mover, painter, roofer, yard maintenance, high school English teacher, High school French teacher, High school math teacher, Junior high history teacher, College history professor, College Bible/theology professor, College computer science professor, private investigator, process server, fabric store employee, long term storage employee, job interview coach, radio host, web designer, computer repair guy, computer business owner, online marketing specialist, seminary teaching assistant, seminary grader, seminary remote video equipment operator, Uber driver, writer, videographer, law clerk/interviewer, blogger and there’s probably more, but now you’re bored, so let’s talk about today’s topic:
A few days ago, in Revelation, we heard about how Jesus offers the water of life FREE of charge. If you’ve lived in the world for long enough, you know by now to be skeptical of every free offer, right? Today in Isaiah we’re going to hear more about the same offer, so let’s read our passage and consider whether or not the salvation offered by God is really free or not.
“Come, everyone who is thirsty,
come to the water;
and you without silver,
come, buy, and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without silver and without cost!
2 Why do you spend silver on what is not food,
and your wages on what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
and you will enjoy the choicest of foods.
Isaiah 55: 1-2
It’s an appealing offer, isn’t it? Living water from God that you don’t need money to buy – it is free and without cost. What does this mean, and is it really free? To begin to understand the meaning of this passage, we have to fast-forward a little bit to Jeremiah:
For my people have committed a double evil:
They have abandoned me,
the fountain of living water,
and dug cisterns for themselves—
cracked cisterns that cannot hold water
So – living water comes only from God – we can’t make it ourselves, and we can’t dig wells to find it. We get a further tiny little clue in John 4:
13 Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again.14 But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life.”
So – we find out that this living water from God is both free and eternally fulfilling in some sort of way – this offer sounds better and better – but NO ONE RIDES FOR FREE, right?
Let’s keep going – I think we get a bigger clue about this free and living water from Jesus in John 7:
37 On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.38 The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.”39 He said this about the Spirit. Those who believed in Jesus were going to receive the Spirit, for the Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.
Now we see that the Living Water is the Holy Spirit and it is also the salvation that Jesus earns on the cross. Jesus offers it without cost to all who realize they are thirsty and have need of drink. Is it worth it, this free drink that costs everything? Let’s ask Charles Spurgeon to help us understand:
‘He that hath no money,’ refers to the sinner who is emptied of all self-sufficiency; he has no merit to plead before God, no natural power, no good thing of his own. He is the one to whom this invitation is given: ‘he that hath no money.’ Those who will perish are those who think they have much money; they imagine that they could buy Heaven itself if they wished to do so. They expect that their tears, their prayers, their Bible-readings, their alms-givings, their respectability, their church-goings or their chapel-goings, their observance of the ordinances, and so on, will procure them a seat before the eternal throne of God. They have much money according to their mode of reckoning; but, to such people, God never gives the right to drink of the river of the water of life. Unless his grace should prevent it, they will perish, with all their supposed wealth, and go down, like the rich man in the parable, to lift up their eyes in hell, being in torments. But if you, dear friend, have nothing of your own,—no merit, no power, no strength, no atom of anything that can recommend you to God,—there comes to you the gracious invitation of our text: ‘Ho, every one that thirsteth,’—ye who are old, and ye who are young; ye who are rich, and ye who are poor; ye who are educated, and ye who are illiterate; ye who earn your bread by the sweat of your brow, and ye who gain it by the sweat of your brain,—‘Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters;’—and if you have no money, you are bidden a second time to come, and ‘buy wine and milk without money and without price.’
The invitation is also most abundant in its provision. A thirsty soul needs water, and it is already provided; all that your soul can need is provided in the covenant of grace. God has not to make a feast for you. His oxen and fatlings are killed, and he has sent out his servants to say to you, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ Everything is ready except yourself. The fountain filled with blood is ready, the robe of righteousness is ready, the ring for your hand, the shoes for your feet, the music and those that shall make merry with you, all are ready and waiting. There is no unreadiness in the Kingdom of God’s grace; the unreadiness is all in your poor unready soul…
Notice, too, in our text that there is not only water provided for the thirsty, but there is wine for those who are not only thirsty, but so faint that they say they have no power to drink. Well, then, here is wine to revive them. They are faint and feeble, but God’s grace shall be as strengthening medicine to them, to put new life into them. The grace of God is not only a blessing to you who feel that you can receive it; but to you who seem utterly powerless, it gives the power which enables you to receive itself.
The text also speaks not only of wine, but of wine and milk. If you are such a little child that you cannot endure wine, it being too strong for you, then here is milk, milk for babes.
And as if that were not enough, the Lord further says, ‘Eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.’ You are invited to ‘buy, and eat;’ so both food and drink are provided for you. In fact, poor sinner, all you can desire or need, for the benefit of your immortal soul, you will find treasured up in Christ. There is nothing that is needed to make you fit for Heaven but what you can find in Christ. He will be both Alpha and Omega to you,—the first letter of the alphabet of grace and the last letter of its triumph in glory. You shall find Christ to be food suitable and convenient for the nourishment of your spiritual nature. You strong men can ‘buy, and eat,’ for in the gospel there is an abundance of strong meat provided for you; and you weak ones can ‘buy wine and milk,’ for here is the reviving cordial, and also the strengthening milk from the breast of Divine love all ready for you. So, you see, there is [abundant]provision for you; and where God is so liberal with his provision, shall we be stinted in our desires? I
Terence Peter Crosby, “Introduction,” in C H Spurgeon’s Forgotten Early Sermons: A Companion to the New Park Street Pulpit: Twenty-Eight Sermons Compiled from the Sword and the Trowel, ed. Terence Peter Crosby (Leominster: Day One, 2010), 267–269.