This sermon was originally published in Let's Worship Magazine.
Isaiah 6:8 (KJV): "I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? And I said, Here am I; send me."
William Bennett, following the shocking assault of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent war on terrorism, wrote a book titled "Why We Fight."
Bennett's concern was that Americans had lost sight of their values and unity around those values. Critics questioned the motives of the United States in wanting to go after the terrorists. Bennett wanted to set those values and motives in clarity.
The real issue is "Why We Go."
Why would people leave the security of their own homes to take the gospel to people in unsafe places?
Why would someone leave the comforts of America to reside in a land where electricity shuts down most of the day, or where it's not available at all just to preach the truth about a carpenter who lived 2,000 years ago?
When Hudson Taylor was director of the China Inland Mission, he interviewed missionary candidates.
"Why do you wish to go as a foreign missionary?" he asked one group.
"Because Christ commanded us," replied one person. "Because millions are perishing without Christ," answered another. Many other replies were made, explaining why various members of the group wanted to go as missionaries. Finally, Hudson Taylor said: "All of these motives, however good, will fail you in times of testings, trials, tribulations, and possible death. There is but one motive that will sustain you in trial and testing: namely, the love of Christ."
I. Isaiah's confrontation, comprehension, and compelling call
1. Isaiah's confrontation. Some 750 years before the incarnation of Christ, Isaiah saw a compelling vision (Isa. 6:1-5).
Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord. Isaiah saw the holiness of the Lord. Isaiah saw the truth about himself and his culture clearly in contrast to God's transcendent holiness and purity.
2. Isaiah's comprehension. The vision of God's glory and holiness and the fresh understanding of humanity's separation from God compelled Isaiah to commitment (Isa. 6:6-8).
Isaiah was cleansed (Isa. 6-7).
Isaiah was commissioned (Isa. 8).
3. Isaiah's compelling call. As we understood why Isaiah "went" as God's spokesman, we will have a sharpened understanding of why we are to go.
Illustration: Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962), a world-famous violinist, earned a fortune with his concerts and compositions, but he generously gave most of it away. Therefore, when he discovered an exquisite violin on one of his trips, he wasn't able to buy it. Later, having raised enough money to meet the asking price, he returned to the seller, hoping to purchase the beautiful instrument. But to his great dismay it had been sold to a collector. Kreisler made his way to the new owner's home and offered to buy the violin. The collector said it had become his prized possession and he would not sell it.
Keenly disappointed, Kreisler was about to leave when he had an idea. "Could I play the instrument once more before it is consigned to silence?" he asked. Permission was granted, and the great virtuoso filled the room with such heart-moving music that the collector's emotions were deeply stirred. "I have no right to keep that to myself," he exclaimed. "It's yours, Mr. Kreisler. Take it into the world, and let people hear it."
When Isaiah saw and heard of the glory and holiness of God, he knew he had to take God's truth into all the world so all could hear!
II. Why we go
1. We go because of God
Humanism begins with people. It has also been the devil's goal for human beings to focus on themselves before they focus on God. But Isaiah is not the center of the vision. God is.
We don't go because human beings are better people when they receive Christ - though they are.
We don't go because marriages and families are rescued when Christ is enthroned in the home - though they are.
We don't go because nations are able to live in liberty and peace when founded on Christ's truth - though they are.
We go first and foremost because of God, His compelling glory, purity, and love.
2. We go because of the needs of others
If we have the spirit and mind of Christ, we will have a burden for people separated from God and His hope.
We will understand we live in fallen cultures, ravaging people's lives.
We will go because we want to be instruments of Christ's rescue, redemption and reconciliation of people with Himself.
3. We go because we are called and commissioned
Every follower of Jesus Christ is in the position of Isaiah when he received his call and commission.
We are called through our relationship with Christ. The call is part of the whole "package" of salvation.
We are commissioned through the Great Commission.
Isaiah was prepared for service by the cleansing work of the purifying fire. This happened as Isaiah yielded himself to God's purpose. Let us yield ourselves to the fire - the Spirit of God - that will cleanse and empower us to go.