- How do we Receive Righteousness? Luke Kneebone 57:17
I want to begin this morning by way of a question, and the question might seem like it has a simple answer that we all might first be able to answer very quickly. But I want to consider this because I believe that possibly we don’t really understand. And this is a dilemma that we face in our own Christian experience, and we see the result in our lives.
The question is, “how do we receive righteousness?”, (congregation: by faith). Some of us have answered it, and yes that’s true, but how do you receive, by faith, righteousness? And this is what we want to consider this morning. But in order to answer this question I want to begin by looking at the simplicity of salvation. And how the Bible often puts it in such a simple way and yet it seems to us when we’re trying to bring someone to a point of being saved or someone that has received Christ, it seems so complicated.
I want to read to you here beginning in the book of John, I think John has become one of my favourite books of the Bible. The gospel of John, chapter 1 and beginning with verse 12, and I want to read through a series of verses mostly here in John, we’ll move to Acts and then one in Romans. And I just want you to note how simple salvation is presented in the way of how one receives salvation. Now when I say “salvation” I’m also referring to righteousness or justification or being saved. All those are reflecting of the same idea.
Let’s turn to John chapter 1 verse 12 and we read here, and move with me, I want to go through John and I want you to see how simple it is in the time of Jesus to be saved. Compare that to today within your own experience or in trying to share the gospel with someone else, and tell me whether you see if there seems to be a complication today. It somehow, it seems that there’s so much stuff added to the simplicity of the gospel. John Chapter 1 verse 12, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”
Now here John uses this idea of being saved or justified or receiving righteousness by using these words, “to become the sons of God”. And he says here, to receive and believe on His name is all that is necessary to become a son of God. Let’s turn over to chapter 3 verse 15. Jesus speaks to Nicodemus here. He says, “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
Let’s move over to verse 16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Let’s turn over to verse 18, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Verse 36, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
Turn with me to chapter 5 verse 24, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life…”. Chapter 6 verse 40, “And this is the will of him that sent me, that everyone which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” Chapter 6 verse 47, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” Let’s go to the book of Acts chapter 16 and verse 30. Paul and Silas here were imprisoned, the earthquake, the jail door was rent open. And the man when he finds out that the prisoners were all still bound, none had escaped, he come into Paul and Silas and he says, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And Paul says to him, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
Turn with me to Romans chapter 1 verse 16, Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.” I could continue reading verse after verse and we could come to the same conclusion. What does it take for a person to receive eternal life? To be saved? or become a son of God? or a daughter of God for that matter? In the time of Jesus what did it take for someone to receive salvation, to be declared righteous, made justified? To be called a Son of God. What was it? what did they need to know? What was required? The only thing required? And you find this in the whole of the New Testament – believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. This is true that one is saved by faith. One receives righteousness by faith. But the New Testament sums it up in this way, “believe” and you’re saved.
So the question then begs to be asked, what does it mean to believe that I might be saved? But before considering this I want to have a look at Romans chapter 3 and verse 20 because there’s a, the difficulty with the gospel being so simple is man’s nature. Notice here what it says in Romans chapter 3 and verse 20, and you’ll find this through all Paul’s epistles and his letters that he’s constantly dealing with this issue that is working against the simplicity of the gospel in order for one to be saved. In Romans chapter 3 and verse 20 Paul puts it this way, he says, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
In Romans chapter 4 and verse 2 it says, “For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.” The gospel is presented, and salvation hinges upon one thing and one thing alone, and that is belief or we could say faith. Those words are used interchangeably when it comes to one being saved, or being justified or being declared righteous or s son of God, or receiving eternal life. To believe or to have faith is all that is necessary for one to be saved. But that is an element that is working against this within the human nature where man desires to do something in order to be saved. And we find this conflict going from the beginning of creation, or after the fall I should say, beginning with Adam and Eve and following through to the time of the Jews. Its that in order to be accepted with God, something we need to do.
Now, I want you to just think about this verse here that Paul makes it very clear, and he presents this argument over and over again. He says in Romans 3 and verse 20, “therefore by the deeds of the law”, “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight”. By the deeds of the law, and I want to pause here because I think we need to expound on this, what is Paul meaning when he says, “by the deeds of the law” no flesh shall be justified? What did Paul have in mind, what was Paul thinking, what was he grasping hold of the concept when he said, “by the deeds of the law”? What do you think is captured in that idea, “the deeds of the law”? Do you think he had in mind there, what we were discussing in the Sabbath School? Fasting, sackcloth, bowing down oneself. Do you think he had in mind there, the rituals and services that the Jews carried on that were given to them through the law of Moses? Do you think he even had there in mind the moral law that was given on the Mt Sinai? “By the deeds of the law” shall no flesh be justified.
If we were to put this in perspective today, you know what Paul is really telling us I believe is that the minute you try and do something to account it for your salvation or you believe is necessary for your salvation you have just stepped into righteousness by works. And you’re trying to justify yourself by something you do, be it the most righteous thing you could think of. For he does mention here, the “deeds of the law” no flesh shall be justified. And I want you to think about this, because its only as we begin to really think about what this really means can we find the inefficiency of the method by which we have sought to be saved. And sometimes you know what we say, we say “well its our duty” therefore we’re going to do these things. God requires, if I don’t I’ll be lost. And that’s true, and it seems like its a paradox but yet if you were to do anything, whether it be (I don’t have it here), but any of the principles of faith that we profess. If any of those is the reason you believe you’re saved, by your observance, by your Sabbath keeping, by your eating, by your drinking, by your dressing, by what you say. If anything of that in your mind has to do with your salvation, immediately you stand as one that is in need of righteousness, not as one that is declared righteous.
And Paul stresses this through his letters over and over, but more clearly does he present it here in the book of Romans. The inability of anything that man is enabled to do of himself that can bring him into a saving relationship with his God. Following that verse where he says, “by the deeds of the law” no one will be justified, or we could say no one is saved by doing something. Following that verse in verse 21 he says, “but now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested.” So on one hand Paul begins by saying that, he says that nothing you can do will bring righteousness, nothing you can do, no ceremonial acts, no righteous deed, not matter how much, how called for, how dutifully we do it, how much desire we carry it out, or with anticipation of energy and anxiousness – salvation does not depend upon that, but “now the righteousness of God without the law” is being manifested. Even the “righteousness of God”.
Now let’s have a look at Romans chapter 3 and verse 28 a little bit further down Paul, Paul there brings now the counter-argument. He says, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” And this is what was given in answer to my question – how does one receive righteousness? In it was correct. But if someone asks you, what does it mean to receive righteousness or be saved by faith? If nothing I do can bring me into a saving relationship with God, then what does it mean to have faith to be saved? What is required of a man that he might be saved? That question was asked over and over through the New Testament. “What must I do to be saved?”. And the answer was given, often, believe. Believe. Believe. The question you might be asking is “what does it mean to believe?” and what are you believing in? Because sometimes it says believe on the one who raised Jesus from the dead, other times it says believe in Jesus. What are we believing in that brings righteousness?
Let’s turn to Acts chapter 13 verse 38 and 39, it says, “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Here in the book of Acts its summed up in two verses. That through Jesus Christ is brought forgiveness of sin and that its by believing you are justified not by the law of Moses. But what does it mean to believe? Salvation hinges on one word. Salvation, a saved person and a non-saved person hinges on one thing. Not their deeds, not their acts not their lineage, not their heritage. But on one thing that everyone has access to. And Paul presents his argument and he says that if its only by faith then it doesn’t matter whether you’re a Jew or whether you’re a Greek, whether you’re a Gentile, it doesn’t matter. Then salvation is now free for all men. If its only for those that are by the law, then only Jews would receive salvation, but he says its by promise, by faith that one is declared righteous and saved.
Now let’s move because this is where its going to come to the answer. What does this mean to believe in order to receive? And I would be foolish not to bring this question to you now and to ask you, do you have the assurance of salvation? Because over and over and over again in the Bible I can show and I can prove to you and I can give you so much evidence that those in the New Testament church had assurance of their salvation without question. Let’s have a look here, let’s move to Romans chapter 4 and we’ll be staying a lot here in Romans chapter 4 because this is where Paul in this whole chapter seeks to answer. And when you go through this, and you see it, you’ll see that is absolutely as simple as it sounds – to believe. And the question is answer, what does it mean to believe? What are you believing in or on? What is it? If righteousness, if your salvation, your eternal destiny hangs upon this, shouldn’t we know what it is to believe?
If I was to ask, and to ask a show of hands, who is saved now, right now at this moment? How many of us would say yes with assurance, like Apostle Paul would or Apostle John would or Phillip or any of the other Apostles. They would speak with confidence on this matter. Romans chapter 4 and verse 3, we read verse 2, lets read now verse 3. And Paul takes us back to an experience in the Old Testament to give us the answer. He says, “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”
How was Abraham made righteous? Paul here is quoting Genesis chapter 15 verse 6, he’s quoting what Moses wrote in regards to Abraham’s experience. How does the Bible say that Abraham was made righteous? Well he did what the Apostles have been telling everyone that wants to be saved. He believes God. Isn’t that what we read in the New Testament? If you want to be saved – believe! Have faith. Believe. So what did Abraham do, what did Abraham experience, what happened to Abraham that the Bible might record to Abraham that he was made righteous – or was imputed to him, his faith was accounted as righteousness.
Let’s read, “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” And then he adds these two next verses in here, he says, “Now to him that worketh”, he’s talking about those that do something to merit their salvation or their righteousness, “now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” To him that worketh, the reward of that work is not for your salvation but is to increase your debt. Verse 5, he says, “but to him that worketh not”, when was the last time you heard someone say that you can be saved and do no work, without doing any work – you can be saved outside of the basis of works. When was the last time someone said, if you only believe in Jesus Christ, you would be saved right now. Not tomorrow, remember the verse that says, “Today is the day of salvation”. And when you tell someone this, they think about it, they think that time must go on before they’re saved. Yes, if works were required to be saved, then yes time then needs to be and today might not be your day of salvation. It might need to be next week because you’ve got to do some things first. But salvation is not dependent upon what you do. Otherwise, as it says of Abraham in verse 2, he would have something to boast in. And so would you and I. And this is what I mentioned earlier, something that would work against the simplicity of the gospel is man’s own need to do something because then he can glory in what he can do for his salvation.
Abraham, if he was justified by his works or what he did, could boast because it was what he’s done and that suits the carnal heart. But the gospel is so simple, but it runs against the human nature. You know you could be saved right now without a moments delay. It only requires one thing – to believe. It doesn’t require attendance to church, it doesn’t require that you study Sabbath School or not, it doesn’t require that you’re a vegetarian, that you’re not a vegetarian. For your salvation to stand right with God right now, is determined upon one thing – its upon belief or faith.
Now let’s see, how then was Abraham declared, what was it that he believed, what did it mean for him to believe and he was accounted righteous? Let’s move on. Let’s go to verse 6 and verse 7. And its important here, you see that Paul here is pulling from the Old Testament Scriptures. Constantly he uses Isaiah, he used Psalms, he used Genesis to reinforce to believers in that day the simplicity of the gospel and how the gospel was found throughout the entire Old Testament. And he says this in verse 6, he says on the back of his faith is counted for righteousness, he says, “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.” So David wrote about the person that is declared righteous when he’s done nothing. Just believed. And he’s quoting here from the Psalms, he says “saying”, verse 7, “blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” This is what it means to be righteous, when your iniquities are forgiven, and your sins are covered. And verse 8, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”
This is what it meant to be righteous. And how does one come into being righteous, receiving righteousness? Well so far, its simply by believing. Now what does this mean to believe God? Because simply, Abraham believed. I want to ask you this morning, have you believed God for salvation before? Can you say you believed God and you were saved that very moment? That your sins were blotted out, passed away, that your iniquities were covered that you stood now as a son or daughter of God at that moment. Not in the future, not after you’ve done something, not after you’ve seen whether you’re obedient or not, but right at that moment. Have you believed unto salvation?
Let’s clear up here what it means to believe. Let’s look at Romans chapter 4 and verse 18. And this is where it becomes, it becomes so simple and yet we’ve made it so complicated today, how a person is to be saved. Let’s read verse 18. Now here, he is identifying, you could read the whole chapter, chapter 4 is excellent in describing here the experience of Abraham, how Abraham received. Earlier on, just quickly, he says there that Abraham was not made righteous after his circumcision otherwise only those who are circumcised could be made righteous. But it says, he was made and declared to be righteous in chapter 15. He wasn’t given the sign of circumcision until a few chapters later in Genesis. But Paul says here in verse 18, referring to Abraham, now we’re looking at what Abraham believed, what was it, what was the belief of Abraham that God imputed righteousness because of his faith.
Verse 18, he says, “Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.” Now let’s go back to Genesis here. We need to look at what Abraham believed and then God says, you’re accounted righteous. What was it that Abraham believed that made him righteous? Now, initially when I’m thinking of this, I’m thinking well what about believing in Jesus as his Saviour. What about believing his sins are forgiven, what about confessing his sin. Now this is Paul who talks about these things, but notice what he says how someone is made righteous, and what it is that makes a person righteous.
Let’s go back to Genesis, because we need to understand what it was. What was he believing here? What was the story, what was going on here, that Abraham is said to believe God and he’s declared to be righteous at that moment without the works of the law, or the deeds? Genesis chapter 15 and the verses, verse 6, but the context is found a little bit earlier that sets up this whole situation. Chapter 15 verse 1, we’re going to get to verse 6, but verse 1, he says, “After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision…” Now this is the time when Abraham was still called Abram, had not yet been called Abraham. And chapter 15 follows chapter 14 and chapter 14 is all about the battle that Abraham went to fight with these kings that had taken and captured all the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah. And who was in Sodom and Gomorrah? Who was important to Abraham there? Lot. Now, Abraham had already interceded on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah but failing 10 righteous men in Sodom and Gomorrah, God was going to destroy the city. God only pulled out, there was four of them, then there was three of them, and they were questionable still. It does say, it vexed Lot’s righteous soul. So lot is counted as righteous. So let’s say one. One righteous man comes out of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Now before this, obviously this happened after, but before this, there was a fight between the four kings and the five kings. And the ones of Sodom and Gomorrah and the other cities surrounding there had lost and taken off all the people of Sodom and Gomorrah had been captured and taken off. Lot and his family were part of that. Abraham gets word of it and pursues with 300 trained men born in his own house. And he’s going up against 5 kings with all their armies and they’ve just completely slaughtered Sodom and Gomorrah. And here’s Abraham with 300 men born in his own house, his own servants and he goes out pursuing them. And he gets back victorious, comes back and he won’t take a single thing. The king of Sodom comes out and he says, you know, just give me back the people, take all the spoil. And Abraham says, I won’t touch a thing, I made a promise to God, I won’t touch a thing that It might not be said that you have profited and made me wealthy. He says except those other men that went with me, he says, the others, there were some others, he says let them take what they’ve needed. He says I won’t take it.
And then who comes to meet him? Who comes to meet him? Melchizedek, priest of the most high God. And Abraham , it says, payed tithes to Melchizedek. But Melchizedek blesses Abraham and he says, “the Lord has blessed thee” in that battle. And then, this is the end of that chapter and Abraham now in a vision God comes and speaks to him in chapter 15, “saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield…” God has just given him a great victory and the priest of the Most High has come and blessed Abraham and now God turns up in a vision to Abraham and says, he says, I will be your shield, don’t be afraid. Here’s Abraham, 300 men that can actually fight plus the women and children in the middle of the land of Canaan with all the Hittites and Hivites and Canaanites and the Sodomites and all the rest of the people and this is supposed to be the promised land and he’s in the middle of this land and now God turns up and says, don’t be afraid I’m your shield and I’ll protect you, and I’m thy exceeding great reward.
And Abraham says to the Lord knowing he was called out of the Ur of the Chaldees that he might come and inherit the land of Canaan and he’s there but he hasn’t possessed the land. He hasn’t yet received the promise and he says to the Lord, he says, Lord “what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless” and this Eliezer in my house is mine heir. How am I going to inherit this land if I don’t have any inheritance to inherit it? Except this servant, who’s not of my offspring and the promise is, “And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.”
God says to Abraham, Eliezer is not going to be your heir. He says, one that comes from you that is born of you is going to be your heir and he says, Abraham come out here, come and look at the stars, number the stars if you can number them, that’s what your children are going to be like. That’s your seed. If you can number them, you’ll be able to number your inheritance. And Abraham is there knowing that he doesn’t have even one son and God shows to him multitudes of children. He says, so shall thy seed be. And verse 6, “And he believed…”, now this is Abraham, “and he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”
What did Abraham believe that made him an inheritor of the gift of righteousness? Did God tell him to believe on the sacrifice of the Lamb? Did God tell him to believe that his sins were forgiven? Did God tell him to go and do certain things? If you read that, it didn’t even have anything to do with salvation, yet here he was believing and he was accounted righteous. How can one believe what God says and be called righteous? He didn’t even confess his sin. He didn’t even repent. How can God call one righteous simply because he believe what God said. Before he had confessed, before he had any of those things, how does God account one to be righteous simply on the fact that he believes God to do what God says he’d do.
Isn’t that how he was made righteous? Now was this a different righteousness that Abraham was imputed? Is it a different righteousness that we get when we confess our sin and we’re forgiven and we’re justified, is that different than what Abraham was made? Are they different righteousness? Let’s check just to make sure, because what if they were different righteousness’s. What if that one that he was declared was that he was just accounted righteous, he was accounted as a righteous man and the righteousness that we receive is the righteousness that forgives our sin. Let’s have a look. Go back with me to Romans, because if it was, then obviously it wouldn’t be quite that simple, yes we could continue believing what we believe in terms of how we receive righteousness, if we now what we believe.
But let’s have a look here what Paul says regarding how Abraham was declared righteous and what is this righteousness. Is it the righteousness that one is declared to be just, to be forgiven, iniquities to be covered? The same righteousness that one receives the moment that he is now called the son of God? Child of God? Is it the same righteousness that Abraham received that makes one an inheritor of eternal life? Romans chapter 4 verse 23. It says, “Now it was not written for his sake alone…” what was not written for Abraham’s sake alone? Well, that he was accounted righteous, because he believed, “…But for us also.” Who was this example written for? Who was it according to Paul? How one receives righteousness? He says but it was not written just for Abraham that he was imputed righteousness, but is also for us, “…to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”
Now let me ask you the question, is it the same righteousness that we need to be called the sons of God? When Abraham declared righteous, was he now seen as a son of God? An heir of eternal life? Was his sin blotted out or forgiven? Covered? Remember what David said? In chapter 4 verses 6 and verse 7, “even as David describes the blessedness of the man”.. that receives righteousness. He uses David to clarify the righteousness that Abraham made righteous with. What is that? it’s the forgiveness of sin, the clearing away of the sin that is between me and God. Righteousness. Its the same as what we understand today. What we need. Jesus said, blessed are those that do hunger and thirst after righteousness. In the Mount of blessing. Matthew chapter 5.
But let’s have a look here, because when I was reading I was trying to understand whey can God call someone to be righteous, forgive their sin, count them with eternal life, make them a son of God based on believing a promise God made. That had nothing to do with salvation. Let’s have a look carefully again, Genesis chapter 15 and verse 6. The promise that God made to Abraham when he said, go out and look at the stars that will be your seed your inheritance, your children. And Abraham, it says, he believed God. What did that have to do with salvation? That promise? What did that have to do with him becoming righteous? Nothing. But there was one thing, that I can find, I can’t find anything else coming out of here, except that Abraham believed God to do what God said God would do.
Now notice how Paul puts it. Let’s read here verse 18, it says of Abraham now here. And this is now describing what it meant for Abraham to believe. What does that mean because when he believed, it was fact, he was accounted righteous, he was forgiven, he was the Son of God and he was the inheritor of eternal life right at that moment, standing there looking out at the stars. He was now declared to be a child of the living God. An inheritor of eternal life. Notice what it was, what was it that he believed? What did it mean to believe? He says, “who against hope”. Now what was the promise that he was believing in? God spoke and gave a promise to Abraham that he would be what he is not now. What was Abraham now? Childless. He didn’t have an heir to his name. Except their servant Eliezer. But God said, you will be what you are not now. And Abraham believed God to do what God said He would do. And at that moment, when He could take God to do what God said He would do, is when he received righteousness.
It says, “Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.” That’s quoting in Genesis. And so, “not weak in faith”, see here it changes the word believe to faith now. He believed God and now he uses the word faith. He was not weak in faith, what does it mean not to be weak in faith? “he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb.”
What did it mean for Abraham to believe? It meant to believe against hope. When hope didn’t present itself, he believed in spite of the lack of hope. And what was it all based on? The promise? Or in the One that made the promise? If you can believe the promise, you must believe in the One who gave the promise. Read the next verse with me it says, “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief.” What did it mean for Abraham to believe when God said your children will be like the stars of heaven. When Abraham it says, “he believed”. What was it to believe? He believed that despite what the situation presented itself to be. Despite him being old and Sarah not able to have children, he would believe God who made a promise and he would not be weak in faith. He staggered not at the promise. Even though everything was against him, “but was strong in faith, giving glory to God. And being fully persuaded…”, twenty-one here, I want you to notice verse 21 this is what really captures the thought. He says, “and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.”
When it says there in Genesis chapter 15 verse 6, and he believed God, what did it mean for him to believe God? That he was fully persuaded that what God had said, God would do. To believe means to be fully persuaded in what? Fully persuaded that God is faithful to His word. That what God says, God does. And how does this, and you know, I was thinking and trying to understand this and its so big and its so hard to even capture the thought so I’m going to express. I’m thinking about the sanctified life and I’m thinking about sanctification, is there some point in your life when you believe that you’re a child of God. That the circumstances look as vague for your victory as what they look to Abraham and his seed. What kept him going? What gave him the victory? What gives one the victory in the sanctified life? What it is? They believed the same God, to do the same thing He said He would do when He promised it. And that is what gives victory to a Christian.
Its the same belief that justified a man is the same belief that sanctifies a man. Not anything that he can do, but that God will do what God says He will do. And so, I’m just diverting a little bit here, but let me just put it this way. If a person has been justified, and believed God like Abraham did and there is accounted to him for righteousness. And when I mean believe, he is fully persuaded that God will do what God says He will do. Then when one now walks, we could say, into the sanctified life now, he’s passed that point of initial justification, now you begin to live in light of justification and the first temptation arises at your face and it looks as bleak, the situation looks just as bleak as Abraham considering himself. God didn’t, its so amazing you know, God when He promises, He doesn’t promise small. God didn’t promise Abraham and only show him what it would be like when the children got to Egypt and show him those people that came out of Egypt – that’s your seed. He put it in such a perspective that there was no way Abraham could even finitely grasp. His faith was either completely challenged, put to the test or he wouldn’t believe at all.
With God its not partial or mid-way. When the temptation comes, if you believe that God has said He’ll do what He will do and that He’s given you victory already in Jesus’ name, who conquered the Devil and sin the when temptation comes, the only thing that will make you victorious is if you believe that God will do what God said He will do. And if you stand at that moment in your life when a temptation, when a trial or a conflict, whatever it might be, stands before you, your only hope is the same faith that justifies a man. And what was that? To believe God will do what God said He’ll do. Despite the bleak situation. So you’re in front of temptation, it presents itself, the question is – what do you believe? That I’m not going to make it? That its too big for me? That its too great, I can’t resist? Or believe what God has said. There’s only two possibilities. Unbelief or belief. And at that moment you make the decision. Do you believe or do you doubt? Are you in unbelief?
You know that experience is found through the whole Old Testament Scriptures in the life, the children of Israel. It was because of unbelief they didn’t go into Canaan. Why? Because they didn’t believe that God had given it to them, and that God would conquer. And therefore, they went 40 years back into the wilderness. They didn’t believe that God could provide a table in the wilderness and they provoked God and sinned again. They said, will God give us in the wilderness? Would He provide a table in the wilderness for us to eat?
In Hebrews it says, chapter 4, it says they couldn’t enter into his rest because of unbelief. You know the reason Jews were rejected as God’s nation, it Romans chapter 10 it says because of their unbelief were they cut out. What was their unbelief in? Jesus challenged them on this in John chapter 8. They said God is our Father, Jesus said the Devil is your father. If you believed God, you would have believed me, for I have proceeded form the Father. Jesus was challenging their belief in the Father. Regardless of their profession, they professed to be children of Abraham, the sons of God, and yet their belief, their faith had no more value in it then when they were standing on the borders of Canaan about to go in and they turned back.
So salvation comes from one thing and one thing alone, its believing God will do what God says. And its written for us today, that we might also be imputed with this righteousness by faith. Then what does it require for one to receive righteousness? To become a child of God? What does it require then? At the moment which a person can believe God to be faithful to His word is the moment one is declared righteous. At that moment, a person that is under the condemnation becomes a child of God, an inheritor of eternal life. Do you see why? See the gospel was made so simple that no one could miss out. If it was by works, then some people would have an excuse, they could not attain to it, they could not accomplish it, they could not meet. But its simply by belief that God would do.
Now the question is, how does someone come to a belief then in God? Does God give evidence? I should ask this question, is the faith or belief that one is required to receive salvation, is it a blind faith? Is it a blind faith where in complete and total ignorance you must stand out beside yourself and believe what you have no grounds to believe in? Let me ask you about Abraham, right here Abraham. Did Abraham stand out in blind faith or did God already set the foundation for which He would now build his faith on? And plant his faith on?
Today, its simple. If you meet someone on the street, just an anybody, no name no title, not a CEO, not a bank manager or not someone that’s reputable or has integrity. If you meet somebody on the street, in today’s age, do you have faith in them to do what they say they’ll do? Say your life was at stake. Your life was hinging upon them that you’ve just met on the street doing what they said they’ll do, you know if, I could help you then come tomorrow night and I will…how would you be sure that you could believe against hope that you could be fully persuaded that they’ll do what they said they’ll do? If there was no track record of evidence? If you had never seen them before, you don’t know their reputation, you don’t know what their like, you have no one else as a witness even of them.
Abraham, that’s why I read the context here, Abraham had gone into battle, he’d come back, God had given him the victory, the priest of the Most High Melchizedek had gone out and blesses him, and tells him that he’s blessed by God. God turns up and then tells Abraham, “I’m your shield”. Abraham probably gets it by now, God just protected him. Abraham comes back victorious, he’s blessed by the priest and now God comes and says “now I’m your shield, I’m your exceeding great reward”. And not only that, God had led him from Ur of the Chaldees out. Abraham had reason to believe God and to rest his faith upon.
What about the children of Israel? When you read here in the book of Psalms, you read the children of Israel’s experience when they complained and they murmured against God and sinned against God about the manna. This is before they got the manna, they said, “can God furnish a table in the wilderness”? It says they sinned against God by saying that. What were they saying when they did that? That God could not do and be faithful to what God was doing and had promised to do. To lead them to the land of Canaan. He didn’t say He would lead a dead people there. He would bring them there so they could inherit it. And so in the middle of the desert, just before this, they had seen the rock part and water gushed out and He’d given them water. They had seen the Red Sea, they had gone through the Red Sea, they had been delivered form the greatest nation and now they say, “can God provided a table in the wilderness?”. Was that faith or unbelief? Unbelief!
Now, was it founded unbelief? In the sense they had no evidence to know whether God would do that? Absolutely not. So God gave evidence, and He said now believe Me. Trust Me. Here’s the record. Here’s the evidence. Here’s the record to show I’m faithful, now put your trust in Me, completely, wholeheartedly and I’ll continue to do for you. Why do you think we’re given the whole Old Testament. You know what it is? Stories of God’s faithfulness.
I want to ask you today; do you have reason to believe in God? Can you think of even just one reason? If not the multitude of witnesses that have found. Hebrews says in chapter 12, after it goes through chapter 11 about all the faithful men, it says we are clouded, with so great a cloud of witnesses, what is the cloud of witnesses? Men that lived by faith, men that God accomplished His word, men that could believe and God accomplished what He said He would do. He says now, do you have outside of the witnesses, do you have evidences around you that can testify to God’s faithfulness, that you can truly trust Him? And that He will do what He says? Why then are we so much in unbelief? For example, your belief that you’re sitting here and your life, minute by minute, second by second is maintained by God. Do you believe that? Are you sure you believe that? Definitely?
Who said that He sustains your life? Its through John, through Psalms, God says, Christ is the sustainer of all things. That all things now exist and to continue to exist. Is that an evidence that God is faithful to His word? Can you walk outside and see the tree and the birds and you, I’m sure you would tell me you believe that God created all that. Is there life still on this earth because God sustains it all and is faithful to His word? Do you have evidence to see that God is faithful to His word? Do you have experiences in your own life, to prove to testify that God is faithful to His word? That God has come through. That God has been there when you needed. That God has rescued you even through the dark times.
Why is it so hard to believe then? Its like God presents, you know He says about Israel, stiff-necked people, I’ve stretched out my arm to this untoward generation. They’ve seen the arm of God. They were reminded, tell your children of what God has done. Why? So they might have belief and faith, so they can hold God to it. And God will accomplish in them, what he’d accomplished before.
Abraham was declared to be righteous, not through blind faith. But God had given him reason by which he could put his faith on. And so if people are not saved today. Or let’s say us. If we are not saved today, right now, why is it? Where does the problem lay? Is it because of evidence that God has been faithful? You know what Romans begins, Romans chapter 1 after Paul begins his introduction. Romans chapter 1 he says that God has manifested Himself to man and they are no longer ignorant because God has revealed Himself to them, but they have put God out of their thoughts, and God have them over to a reprobate mind to carry out the lusts of the flesh.
God says, the visible things of God are seen in His creation but man hardens his heart by turning away and putting out those evidences, by not contemplating, by forgetting what God has done. By being ignorant of what God has done, deliberately.
It truly is, salvation is simple. The evidences are there. The facts are there. So how does one receive righteousness? How does one receive righteousness? Its by believing God will do what God said He will do. Has God promised to remove sin? Has God promised to give victory? Has God promised that He’s faithful and just? Has God promised that He would never leave or forsake? Does God promise that He would not cast out any who come to Him? Are these God’s promises? When will we start believing God to do what God said He would do? The problem is not what God hasn’t done, the problem is what you haven’t done with what God has done.
And so, in your life, with the amount of knowledge you have about God and the Old Testament, I could probably ask you 100 questions and you would know the stories of the Old Testament. You know about Jericho, Jericho was an act of faith. You know about Moses, going through the Red Sea, it was an act of faith. You know about Noah, he was called righteous because he believed God 120 years before the rain came. And yes, belief brings about action. Faith always brings action. The problem is that what some people say is faith is little more than just a breath of fresh air. Its no more than just a gasp of your mouth. Its not faith, and its revealed by the action that follows.
How and when are we going to believe God to do what God says He will do? I want to close with two more verses, and they are found in the same book 1 John chapter 5 and vesre 4 adn 5. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world…”, what is it? what is it that overcomes the world? Faith. And what is faith here? What is it? To believe God would do what God said God would do. And that is what gives you victory. If you’re experiencing failure in your life, its because somewhere in your faith, in your belief you are failing. Somewhere you have chosen to deny the evidences of God that are presented before you. Verse 5, “Who is he that overcometh the world…”, who is it that overcomes the world? Well its done by faith, but who is it? “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?”
You often find that what you are to believe on changes, some you got to look to the cross, remember? John 3, look to the cross and you’ll be saved. You believe. Look to Jesus Christ, believe He’s the Son of God and you’ll be saved. Noah, believe God sends rain and you’ll be saved. Abram, believe God will make you the heir of many children, and you’ll be saved.
Today, God says my word is full of evidence. The world around is full of evidence. He says I’ve stretched forth my arm in reference to what God has done, to a stiff-necked people. I believe God would say the same today. Despite what God has given to us. Do you think Moses had an exciting time going through the Red Sea? We have more evidence of what God has done today than the world has ever seen before. And there’s more coming. In your only life, in what you see around you, in the works of God, in the testimonies, in other people’s experiences, and yet we’re the most unbelieving people. I can say that because we don’t see the result of believing people.
And then we must conclude then, if we’re the most unbelieving people, that we’re the most unsaved people because only believing people are saved. Its about believing God to do what God said He would do.
We got to finish, we’re over time. There’s so much we could go into, there’s so many things that we could look at, it would take months as we open this subject up. Not only sanctification, but glorification – oh that we could really believe God. Its not because He hasn’t provided evidence, but because we like the children of Israel have shut our ears, we’ve stopped our eyes and our hearts we’ve hardened against God, the evidences of God.
Today is the day of salvation, why do we wait? If we wait, there’s only one reason. Its because we want to wait. We don’t want to believe. We don’t want to yet give up and let God.