Delivered a pre-communion message at Woodland Christian Church on January 12, 2020.
“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear.” (Isaiah 59:1)
This verse came to mind this week after learning that a prayer of mine, a prayer of twenty years, had been answered. That prayer is that my paternal grandfather would know the Lord. Presently he is ninety years old and quite frail, being barely able to hear and walk. Despite personally sharing the gospel with him many times over the years, I never heard him profess Christ or share anything about Christianity beyond an obligatory pre-meal prayer. Yet in the past few weeks a family acquaintance has told me that not only has he professed Christ as Lord and Savior, but stated, “I have very little to give the Lord at this point, but what I do have I will give to him.” To hear that come from my grandfather is truly amazing and fills my heart with such joy. I am thankful that I never stopped praying for my grandfather, but I confess that at times I wondered if there was any point in doing so. To that end, as we focus our minds on what Christ did for us on the cross, I want to remind you of three ways in which the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save:
- The Lord’s hand is not shortened by language. For if it were, why would God command us to send missionaries to every nation, tribe, and tongue? If God can work through the greatest of language barriers and cultures, why should we doubt whether our own communication skills are sufficient for preaching the gospel to those we know? Paul did not owe his preaching ability to his eloquence. Indeed, he specifically told the Corinthians that he avoided any eloquence of speech so as to distract them from the message of the gospel. Paul never requested prayer for eloquent communication. In Ephesians 6, this is the prayer that requested: “[Pray] for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel.”
- The Lord’s hand is not shortened by circumstance. I have heard stories of the gospel being preached through Morse code, as prisoners of war tapped on the walls of prison cells. I once heard a story of a garbage man who picked up a tract from the trash he was collecting, read it, and received Christ. Of course, we have all heard of deathbed conversions. I know now of at least one ninety year old who has been saved. These people are no less saved than the child who receives Christ and lives a life rich in good works. Coincidentally, it was my other grandfather, my maternal grandfather, who shared with me an unforgettable rhyme illustrating this truth. Referring to a horseman being slain in battle, it goes, “Between the saddle and the ground, was mercy sought and mercy found.”
- The Lord’s hand is not shortened by sin. Perhaps you know someone who is, in your opinion, too hardened to receive the gospel. They have lived a life of defiance or apathy toward spiritual things and you see no evidence of that changing. Let me remind you that you were too hardened to receive the gospel until God regenerated your heart. It is God that performed your heart surgery, taking out your heart of stone and giving you a heart of flesh. Moreover, perhaps your own sin scares you from preaching the gospel. Maybe you think to yourself, I have too much sin in my life to evangelize. Let me tell you this: if you think you have too much sin in your life to preach the gospel then the very thing you need to do is preach the gospel — but first to yourself. No matter where you are in your sanctification, you will never fail to be encouraged by articulating the gospel to yourself or to others.
Indeed, that is exactly why you taking communion right now. To be reminded of the gospel: that Christ lived the life you could not live, died the death you should have died, and rose from the grave. You are united with Christ in all of this because someone preached the gospel to a hardened sinner like you were, knowing that the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save.