CMF eZine The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship. 5 November Romans 4:05 - not by work - by faith By Bob Flynn Romans 0 Comment "But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness," (NASB) "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." (KJV) "But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners." (NLT) "But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous, his faith is credited as righteousness." (NET) Speaking generally a man that works for a wage for services rendered is paid by the hour or by the job. We can see that Abraham was not a working man because he didn't earn that which he received. He received salvation by the only other means, Grace -- God's unmerited favor. He did so by faith, not the act of faith, but the object of faith, the Lord Himself. Remember: "for He was looking ahead and including them in what He would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate His righteousness, for He Himself is fair and just, and He declares sinners to be right in His sight when they believe in Jesus." (Romans 3:26 NLT) "And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: "Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith." He was even called the friend of God." (James 2:23 NLT) "But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness," (NASB) "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." (KJV) "But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners." (NLT) "But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous, his faith is credited as righteousness." (NET) Speaking generally a man that works for a wage for services rendered is paid by the hour or by the job. We can see that Abraham was not a working man because he didn't earn that which he received. He received salvation by the only other means, Grace -- God's unmerited favor. He did so by faith, not the act of faith, but the object of faith, the Lord Himself. Remember: "for He was looking ahead and including them in what He would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate His righteousness, for He Himself is fair and just, and He declares sinners to be right in His sight when they believe in Jesus." (Romans 3:26 NLT) "And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: "Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith." He was even called the friend of God." (James 2:23 NLT) Related 'Useless' Faith? Is there such a thing as ‘useless faith’ from a Christian worldview? Does the Bible answer the question? First of all, I think it fair to say that we (professing believers) almost always think about faith in a positive light, as does scripture. The Old Testament is full of men and women of faith. The New Testament tells us we are saved “by grace through faith”. On occasion, Jesus commended individuals for their faith. In the book of Hebrews there is a long list of notable men and women of faith, as well as heroic deeds that were the result of their faith in a great God. So what’s this about “useless” faith? Is it even a ‘thing’ from a biblical perspective? I suggest to you that it is, and that ‘useless faith’ is a serious topic at least twice in the Bible, once from the perspective of the Apostle Paul, and once from the perspective of James, the brother of Jesus, in the book bearing his name. The Apostle Paul addresses the topic from something the Bible claims is a historical fact, while James approaches it with human works in view. For a look at what Paul had to say about “useless” faith, we need only take a look at 1Corinthians, chapter 15, his great treatise on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the final resurrection of believers: 12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Cor 15:12-19) Apparently there were some in the Corinthian church who were denying the future resurrection of the dead, although it was being preached that Christ indeed rose from the dead, a fact attested to by witnesses. 12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? Paul then states that if Christ has not been raised, his (Paul’s) preaching and the faith of Believers in Corinth is in vain (useless) (v 14), a point he reiterated in v. 17. Moving on to what James has to say about “useless” faith, we’ll turn to James, Chapter 2. 14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.\ First Janes asks his listeners if want to be shown that faith apart from works is useless (v. 20) and then says very clearly that faith part from works is dead (v. 26). Clearly he is saying that faith without works is useless and dead, but in what context? We need only go back to an earlier verse (v. 14) to see that James’ conclusion is based on someone professing faith but never displaying works did not have saving faith. He is saying that if claims o having faith do not produce works, it was personal faith professed, but NOT saving faith possessed, and completely “useless”. So yes, there is such a thing as ‘useless’ faith according to the Bible, from at least two perspective: 1. If Christ died but was not resurrected, our faith and indeed Christianity itself is useless (1 Cor 15). This is a serious doctrinal issue. 2. If we say we have faith, but our faith does not result in works to the glory of God, we never had the ‘gift of God’ faith (See Eph 2:8-9) that actually saves (James 2:14-25). This is a serious personal issue. So we all have good reason to follow some sound advice from the Apostle Paul: “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Cor 13:5, ESV) Romans 3:30 - One God - One Faith - One Salvation "since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one." (NASB) "Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith." (KJV) "There is only one God, and He makes people right with Himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles." (NLT) "Since God is one, he will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith." (NET) Rom 3:30 Seeing it is one God - επιπερ εις ο θεος. This has been rendered, Seeing God is one. It however makes little difference in the sense: the apostle’s meaning most evidently is, it is one and the same God who made both Jews and Gentiles, who shall justify - pardon, the circumcision - the believing Jews, by faith; and the uncircumcision - the believing Gentiles, by the same faith; as there is but one Savior and one atonement provided for the whole. It is fanciful to suppose that the apostle has one meaning when he says, εκ πιστεως, By faith, and a different meaning when he says, δια της πιστεως, Through faith. Both the prepositions are to be understood in precisely the same sense; only the addition of the article της, in the last case, extends and more pointedly ascertains the meaning. It is one and the same God who shall justify the believing Jews by faith; and the believing Gentiles δια της πιστεως, by That Same faith. Dr. Adam Clarke Rom 3:30 Seeing it is one God,.... God is one in nature and essence, though there are three persons in the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; whence it appears, that he that is the God of the Jews, is also the God of the Gentiles, or there would be more gods than one; and that these are justified in one and the same manner, or God must be divided; for God, as he is one in nature, so he is one in will, in his promises, and in the methods of his grace: which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. The objects of justification are "the circumcision", the circumcised Jews, and "the uncircumcision", the uncircumcised Gentiles; the circumcision of the one does not forward, and the uncircumcision of the other does not hinder, nor neither of them effect the grace of justification: the justifier of them is one and the same, who is God; and the matter of their justification is the same, which is the righteousness of Christ; and the manner of it, or the means of their comfortable apprehension of it, is the same; for those phrases, "by faith", and "through faith", mean one and the same thing; see Philippians 3:9. Dr. John Gill So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law. (Romans 3:28 NLT) Circumcision was a sign that Abraham already had faith and that God had already accepted him and declared him to be righteous—even before he was circumcised. So Abraham is the spiritual father of those who have faith but have not been circumcised. They are counted as righteous because of their faith. And Abraham is also the spiritual father of those who have been circumcised, but only if they have the same kind of faith Abraham had before he was circumcised. (Romans 4:11-12 NLT) Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on Him. For "Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved." (Romans 10:12-13 NLT) When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, "Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions? "You and I are Jews by birth, not 'sinners' like the Gentiles. Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law." (Galatians 2:14-16 NLT) What's more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would declare the Gentiles to be righteous because of their faith. God proclaimed this good news to Abraham long ago when He said, "All nations will be blessed through you." (Galatians 3:8 NLT) Now a mediator is helpful if more than one party must reach an agreement. But God, who is one, did not use a mediator when He gave His promise to Abraham. (Galatians 3:20 NLT) There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28 NLT) For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. (Galatians 5:6 NLT) It doesn't matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. (Galatians 6:15 NLT) For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, (Philippians 3:3 NLT) So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. When you came to Christ, you were "circumcised," but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. (Colossians 2:10-11 NLT) I was much surprised by a recently published poll to find that only 35% of Evangelical Christians believe that Christ is the only way! It is pretty hard to miss the doctrinal implication herein described. The New Living Translation pretty well reiterates the reformation mantra: Salvation by Grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Romans 4:14 - Faith Inoperative "For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified;" (NASB) "For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:" (KJV) "If God's promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless." (NLT) "For if they become heirs by the law, faith is empty and the promise is nullified." (NET) Once again we see that faith is the foundation upon which salvation stands. Obedience to the law was an impossible dream because we could not keep it. So the Lord Jesus Christ provided the way (by faith) where we are able to live without being forever condemned by the weight of our own sin. If we could have been justified by the law then faith would useless. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die. (Galatians 2:21 NLT) For if the inheritance could be received by keeping the law, then it would not be the result of accepting God's promise. But God graciously gave it to Abraham as a promise. Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave His law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. Now a mediator is helpful if more than one party must reach an agreement. But God, who is one, did not use a mediator when He gave His promise to Abraham. Is there a conflict, then, between God's law and God's promises? Absolutely not! If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it. But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God's promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ. Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed. Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. (Galatians 3:18-24 NLT) For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God's grace. (Galatians 5:4 NLT) I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God's way of making us right with Himself depends on faith. (Philippians 3:9 NLT) For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God. (Hebrews 7:19 NLT) Rom 4:14 For if they which are of the law - Who seek for justification and acceptance by the Law. Faith is made void - Faith would have no place in the scheme; and consequently the strong commendations bestowed on the faith of Abraham, would be bestowed without any just cause. If people are justified by the Law, they cannot be by faith, and faith would be useless in this work. And the promise ... - A promise looks to the future. Its design and tendency is to excite trust and confidence in him who makes it. All the promises of God have this design and tendency; and consequently, as God has given many promises, the object is to call forth the lively and constant faith of people, all going to show that in the divine estimation, faith is of inestimable value. But if people are justified by the Law; if they are rendered “acceptable” by conformity to the institutions of Moses; then they cannot depend for acceptance on any promise made to Abraham, or his seed. They cut themselves off from that promise, and stand independent of it. That promise, like all other promises, was made to excite faith. If, therefore, the Jews depended on the Law for justification, they were cut off from all the promises made to Abraham; and if they could be justified by the Law, the promise was useless. This is as true now as it was then. If people seek to be justified by their morality or their forms of religion, they cannot depend on any promise of God; for he has made no promise to any such attempt. They stand independently of any promise, covenant, or compact, and are depending on a scheme of their own; a scheme which would render his plan vain and useless; which would render his promises, and the atonement of Christ, and the work of the Spirit of no value. It is clear, therefore, that such an attempt at salvation cannot be successful. (Dr. Albert Barnes) What the Farm Labourers Can Do What the Farm Labourers Can Do and What They Cannot Do "And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come."—Mark 4:26–29. HERE is a lesson for "labourers together with God." It is a parable for all who are concerned in the kingdom of God. It will be of little value to those who are in the kingdom of darkness, for they are not bidden to sow the good seed: "Unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes?" But all who are commissioned to scatter seed for the Royal Husbandman, will be glad to know how the harvest is preparing for him whom they serve. Listen, then, ye that sow beside all waters; ye that with holy diligence seek to fill the garners of heaven,—listen, and may the Spirit of God speak into your ears as you are able to bear it. I. We shall, first, learn from our text what we can do and what we cannot do. Let this stand as our first head. "So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground:" this the gracious worker can do. "And the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how:" this is what he cannot do: seed once sown is beyond human jurisdiction, and man can neither make it spring nor grow. Yet ere long the worker comes in again:—"When the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle." We can reap in due season, and it is both our duty and our privilege to do so. You see, then, that there is a place for the worker at the beginning, and though there is no room for him in the middle passage, yet another opportunity is given him further on when that which he sowed has actually yielded fruit. Notice, then, that we can sow. Any man who has received the knowledge of the grace of God in his heart can teach others. I include under the term "man" all who know the Lord, be they male or female. We cannot all teach alike, for all have not the same gifts; to one is given one talent, and to another ten; neither have we all the same opportunities, for one lives in obscurity and another has far-reaching influence; yet there is not within the family of God an infant hand which may not drop its own tiny seed into the ground. There is not a man among us who needs to stand idle in the market-place, for work suitable to his strength is waiting for him. There is not a saved woman who is left without a holy task; let her do it and win the approving word, "She hath done what she could." We need never quarrel with God because we cannot do everything, if he only permits us to do this one thing; for sowing the good seed is a work which will need all our wit, our strength, our love, our care. Holy seed sowing should be adopted as our highest pursuit, and it will be no inferior object for the noblest life. You will need heavenly teaching that you may carefully select the wheat, and keep it free from the darnel of error. You will require instruction to winnow out of it your own thoughts and opinions; for these may not be according to the mind of God. Men are not saved by our word, but by God’s word. We need grace to learn the gospel aright, and to teach the whole of it. To different men we must, with discretion, bring forward that part of the word of God which will best bear upon their consciences; for much may depend upon the word being in season. Having selected the seed, we shall have plenty of work if we go forth and sow it broadcast everywhere, for every day brings its opportunity, and every company furnishes its occasion. "In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand." "Sow beside all waters." Still, wise sowers discover favourable opportunities for sowing, and gladly seize upon them. There are times when it would clearly be a waste to sow; for the soil could not receive it, it is not in a fit condition. After a shower, or before a shower, or at some such time as he that hath studied husbandry prefers, then must we be up and doing. While we are to work for God always, yet there are seasons when it were casting pearls before swine to talk of holy things, and there are other times when to be silent would be a great sin. Sluggards in the time for ploughing and sowing are sluggards indeed, for they not only waste the day, but throw away the year. If you watch for souls, and use hours of happy vantage, and moments of sacred softening, you will not complain of the scanty space allowed for agency. Even should you never be called to water, or to reap, your office is wide enough if you fulfil the work of the sower. For little though it seem to teach the simple truth of the gospel, yet it is essential. How shall men hear without a teacher? Servants of God, the seed of the word is not like thistle-down, which is borne by every wind; but the wheat of the kingdom needs a human hand to sow it, and without such agency it will not enter into men’s hearts, neither can it bring forth fruit to the glory of God. The preaching of the gospel is the necessity of every age; God grant that our country may never be deprived of it. Even if the Lord should send us a famine of bread and of water, may he never send us a famine of the word of God. Faith cometh by hearing, and how can there be hearing if there is no teaching? Scatter ye, scatter ye, then, the seed of the kingdom, for this is essential to the harvest. This seed should be sown often, for many are the foes of the wheat, and if you repeat not your sowing you may never see a harvest. The seed must be sown everywhere, too, for there are no choice corners of the world that you can afford to let alone, in the hope that they will be self-productive. You may not leave the rich and intelligent under the notion that surely the gospel will be found among them, for it is not so: the pride of life leads them away from God. You may not leave the poor and illiterate, and say, "Surely they will of themselves feel their need of Christ." Not so: they will sink from degradation to degradation unless you uplift them with the gospel. No tribe of man, no peculiar constitution of the human mind, may be neglected by us; but everywhere we must preach the word, in season and out of season. I have heard that Captain Cook, the celebrated circumnavigator, in whatever part of the earth he landed, took with him a little packet of English seeds, and scattered them in suitable places. He would leave the boat and wander up from the shore. He said nothing, but quietly scattered the seeds wherever he went, so that he belted the world with the flowers and herbs of his native land. Imitate him wherever you go; sow spiritual seed in every place that your foot shall tread upon. Let us now think of what you cannot do. You cannot, after the seed has left your hand, cause it to put forth life. I am sure you cannot make it grow, for you do not know how it grows. The text saith, "And the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how." That which is beyond the range of our knowledge is certainly beyond the reach of our power. Can you make a seed germinate? You may place it under circumstances of damp and heat which will cause it to swell and break forth with a shoot, but the germination itself is beyond you. How is it done? We know not. After the germ has been put forth, can you make it further grow, and develop its life into leaf and stem? No; that, too, is out of your power. And when the green, grassy blade has been succeeded by the ear, can you ripen it? It will be ripened; but can you do it? You know you cannot; you can have no finger in the actual process, though you may promote the conditions under which it is carried on. Life is a mystery; growth is a mystery; ripening is a mystery: and these three mysteries are as fountains sealed against all intrusion. How comes it that there is within the ripe seed the preparations for another sowing and another growth? What is this vital principle, this secret reproducing energy? Knowest thou anything about this? The philosopher may talk about chemical combinations, and he may proceed to quote analogies from this and that; but still the growth of the seed remains a secret, it springs up, he knoweth not how. Certainly this is true of the rise and progress of the life of God in the heart. It enters the soul, and roots itself we know not how. Naturally men hate the word, but it enters and it changes their hearts, so that they come to love it; yet we know not how. Their whole nature is renewed, so that instead of producing sin it yields repentance, faith, and love; but we know not how. How the Spirit of God deals with the mind of man, how he creates the new heart and the right spirit, how we are begotten again unto a lively hope, we cannot tell. The Holy Ghost enters into us; we hear not his voice, we see not his light, we feel not his touch; yet he worketh an effectual work upon us, which we are not long in perceiving. We know that the work of the Spirit is a new creation, a resurrection, a quickening from the dead; but all these words are only covers to our utter ignorance of the mode of his working, with which it is not in our power to meddle. We do not know how he performs his miracles of love, and, not knowing how he works, we may be quite sure that we cannot take the work out of his hands. We cannot create, we cannot quicken, we cannot transform, we cannot regenerate, we cannot save. This work of God having proceeded in the growth of the seed, what next? We can reap the ripe ears. After a season God the Holy Spirit uses his servants again. As soon as the living seed has produced first of all the blade of thought, and afterwards the green ear of conviction, and then faith, which is as full corn in the ear, then the Christian worker comes in for further service, for he can reap. "When the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle." This is not the reaping of the last great day, for that does not come within the scope of the parable, which evidently relates to a human sower and reaper. The kind of reaping which the Saviour here intends is that which he referred to when he said to his disciples, "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest." After he had been sowing the seed in the hearts of the Samaritans, and it had sprung up, so that they began to evince faith in him, the Lord Jesus cried, "The fields are white to harvest." The apostle saith, "One soweth, and another reapeth." Our Lord said to the disciples, "I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour." Is there not a promise, "In due season we shall reap, if we faint not"? Christian workers begin their harvest work by watching for signs of faith in Christ. They are eager to see the blade, and delighted to mark the ripening ear. They often hope that men are believers, but they long to be sure of it; and when they judge that at last the fruit of faith is put forth, they begin to encourage, to congratulate, and to comfort. They know that the young believer needs to be housed in the barn of Christian fellowship, that he may be saved from a thousand perils. No wise farmer leaves the fruit of the field long exposed to the hail which might beat it out, or to the mildew which might destroy it, or to the birds which might devour it. Evidently no believing man should be left outside of the garner of holy fellowship; he should be carried into the midst of the church with all the joy which attends the home-bringing of sheaves. The worker for Christ watches carefully, and when he discerns that his time is come, he begins at once to fetch in the converts, that they may be cared for by the brotherhood, separated from the world, screened from temptation, and laid up for the Lord. He is diligent to do it at once, because the text saith, "immediately he putteth in the sickle." He does not wait for months in cold suspicion; he is not afraid that he shall encourage too soon when faith is really present. He comes with the word of promise and the smile of brotherly love at once, and he says to the new believer, "Have you confessed your faith? Is not the time come for an open confession? Hath not Jesus bidden the believer to be baptized? If you love him, keep his commandments." He does not rest till he has introduced the convert to the communion of the faithful. For our work, beloved, is but half done when men are made disciples and baptized. We have then to encourage, to instruct, to strengthen, to console, and succour in all times of difficulty and danger. What saith the Saviour? "Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Observe, then, the sphere and limit of agency, We can introduce the truth to men, but that truth the Lord himself must bless; the living and growing of the word within the soul is of God alone. When the mystic work of growth is done, we are able to garner the saved ones in the church. For Christ to be formed in men the hope of glory is not of our working, that remains with God; but, when Jesus Christ is formed in them, to discern the image of the Saviour and to say, "Come in, thou blessed of the Lord, wherefore standest thou without?" this is our duty and delight. To create the divine life is God’s, to cherish it is ours. To cause the hidden life to grow is the work of the Lord; to see the uprising and development of that life, and to harvest it is the work of the faithful, even as it is written, "When the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come." This, then, is our first lesson; we see what we can do and what we cannot do. II. Our second head is like unto the first, and consists of what we can know and what we cannot know. First, what we can know. We can know when we have sown the good seed of the word that it will grow; for God has promised that it shall do so. Not every grain in every place; for some will go to the bird, and some to the worm, and some to be scorched by the sun; but, as a general rule, God’s word shall not return unto him void, it shall prosper in the thing whereto he hath sent it. This we can know. And we can know that the seed when once it takes root will continue to grow; that it is not a dream or a picture that will disappear, but a thing of force and energy, which will advance from a grassy blade to corn in the ear, and under God’s blessing will develop to actual salvation, and be as the "full corn in the ear." God helping and blessing it, our work of teaching will not only lead men to thought and conviction, but to conversion and eternal life. We also can know, because we are told so, that the reason for this is mainly because there is life in the word. In the word of God itself there is life, for it is written—"The word of God is quick and powerful,"—that is, "living and powerful." It is "the incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth for ever." It is the nature of living seeds to grow; and the reason why the word of God grows in men’s hearts is because it is the living word of the living God, and where the word of a king is there is power. We know this, because the Scriptures teach us so. Is it not written, "Of his own will begat he us by the word of truth"? Moreover, the earth, which is here the type of the man, "bringeth forth fruit of herself." We must mind what we are at in expounding this, for human hearts do not produce faith of themselves; they are as hard rock on which the seed perishes. But it means this,—that as the earth under the blessing of the dew and the rain is, by God’s secret working upon it, made to take up and embrace the seed, so the heart of man is made ready to receive and enfold the gospel of Jesus Christ within itself. Man’s awakened heart wants exactly what the word of God supplies. Moved by a divine influence the soul embraces the truth, and is embraced by it, and so the truth lives in the heart, and is quickened by it. Man’s love accepts the love of God; man’s faith wrought in him by the Spirit of God believes the truth of God; man’s hope wrought in him by the Holy Ghost lays hold upon the things revealed, and so the heavenly seed grows in the soil of the soul. The life comes not from you who preach the word, but it is placed within the word which you preach by the Holy Spirit. The life is not in your hand, but in the heart which is led to take hold upon the truth by the Spirit of God. Salvation comes not from the personal authority of the preacher, but through the personal conviction, personal faith, and personal love of the hearer. So much as this we may know, and is it not enough for all practical purposes? Still, there is a something which we cannot know, a secret into which we cannot pry. I repeat what I have said before: you cannot look into men’s inward parts and see exactly how the truth takes hold upon the heart, or the heart takes hold upon the truth. Many have watched their own feelings till they have become blind with despondency, and others have watched the feelings of the young till they have done them rather harm than good by their rigorous supervision. In God’s work there is more room for faith than for sight. The heavenly seed grows secretly. You must bury it out of sight, or there will be no harvest. Even if you keep the seed above ground, and it does sprout, you cannot discover how it grows; even though you microscopically watched its swelling and bursting, you could not see the inward vital force which moves the seed. Thou knowest not the way of the Spirit. His work is wrought in secret. "Explain the new birth," says somebody. My answer is, "Experience the new birth, and you shall know what it is." There are secrets into which we cannot enter, for their light is too bright for mortal eyes to endure. O man, thou canst not become omniscient, for thou art a creature, and not the Creator. For thee there must ever be a region not only unknown but unknowable. So far shall thy knowledge go, but no further; and thou mayest thank God it is so, for thus he leaves room for faith, and gives cause for prayer. Cry mightily unto the Great Worker to do what thou canst not attempt to perform, that so, when thou seest men saved, thou mayest give the Lord all the glory evermore. III. Thirdly, our text tells us what we may expect if we work for God, and what we may not expect. According to this parable we may expect to see fruit. The husbandman casts his seed into the ground: the seed springs and grows, and he naturally expects a harvest. I wish I could say a word to stir up the expectations of Christian workers; for I fear that many work without faith. If you had a garden or a field, and you sow seed in it, you would be very greatly surprised and grieved if it did not come up at all; but many Christian people seem quite content to work on without expectation of result. This is a pitiful kind of working—pulling up empty buckets by the year together. Surely, I must either see some result for my labour and be glad, or else, failing to see it, I must be ready to break my heart if I be a true servant of the great Master. We ought to have expected results; if we had expected more we should have seen more; but a lack of expectation has been a great cause of failure in God’s workers. But we may not expect to see all the seed which we sow spring up the moment we sow it. Sometimes, glory be to God, we have but to deliver the word, and straightway men are converted: the reaper overtakes the sower, in such instances; but it is not always so. Some sowers have been diligent for years upon their plots of ground, and yet apparently all has been in vain, at last the harvest has come, a harvest which, speaking after the manner of men, had never been leaped if they had not persevered to the end. This world, as I believe, is to be converted to Christ; but not to-day, nor to-morrow, peradventure not for many an age; but the sowing of the centuries is not being lost, it is working on towards the grand ultimatum. A crop of mushrooms may soon be produced; but a forest of oaks will not reward the planter till generations of his children have mouldered in the dust. It is ours to sow, and to hope for quick reaping; but still we ought to remember that "the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain," and so must we. We are to expect results, but not to be dispirited if we have to wait for them. We are also to expect to see the good seed grow, but not always after our fashion. Like children, we are apt to be impatient. Your little boy sowed mustard and cress yesterday in his garden. This afternoon Johnny will be turning over the ground to see if the seed is growing. There is no probability that his mustard and cress will come to anything, for he will not let it alone long enough for it to grow. So is it with hasty workers; they must see the result of the gospel directly, or else they distrust the blessed word. Certain preachers are in such a hurry that they will allow no time for thought, no space for counting the cost, no opportunity for men to consider their ways and turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart. All other seeds take time to grow, but the seed of the word must grow before the speaker’s eyes like magic, or he thinks nothing has been done. Such good brethren are so eager to produce blade and ear there and then, that they roast their seed in the fire of fanaticism, and it perishes. They make men think that they are converted, and thus effectually hinder them from coming to a saving knowledge of the truth. Some men are prevented from being saved by being told that they are saved already, and by being puffed up with a notion of perfection when they are not even broken in heart. Perhaps if such people had been taught to look for something deeper they might not have been satisfied with receiving seed on stony ground; but now they exhibit a rapid development, and an equally rapid decline and fall. Let us believingly expect to see the seed grow; but let us look to see it advance after the manner of the preacher,—firstly, secondly, thirdly: first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. We may expect also to see the seed ripen. Our works will by God’s grace lead up to real faith in those he hath wrought upon by his word and Spirit; but we must not expect to see it perfect at first. How many mistakes have been made here. Here is a young person under impression, and some good, sound brother talks with the trembling beginner, and asks profound questions. He shakes his experienced head, and knits his furrowed brows. He goes into the corn-field to see how the crops are prospering, and though it is early in the year, he laments that he cannot see an ear of corn; indeed, he perceives nothing but mere grass. "I cannot see a trace of corn," says he. No, brother, of course you cannot; for you will not be satisfied with the blade as an evidence of life, but must insist upon seeing everything at full growth at once. If you had looked for the blade you would have found it; and it would have encouraged you. For my own part, I am glad even to perceive a faint desire, a feeble longing, a degree of uneasiness, or a measure of weariness of sin, or a craving after mercy. Will it not be wise for you, also, to allow things to begin at the beginning, and to be satisfied with their being small at the first? See the blade of desire, and then watch for more. Soon you shall see a little more than desire; for there shall be conviction and resolve, and after that a feeble faith, small as a mustard seed, but bound to grow. Do not despise the day of small things. Do not examine the new-born babe to see whether he is sound in doctrine after your idea of soundness; ten to one he is a long way off sound, and you will only worry the dear heart by introducing difficult questions. Speak to him about his being a sinner, and Christ a Saviour, and you will in this way water him so that his grace in the ear will become the full corn in the ear. It may be that there is not much that looks like wheat about him yet; but by-and-by you shall say, "Wheat! ah, that it is, if I know wheat. This man is a true ear of corn, and gladly will I place him among my Master’s sheaves." If you cut down the blades, where will the ears come from? Expect grace in your converts; but do not look to see glory in them just yet. IV. Under the last head we shall consider what sleep workers may take, and what they may not take; for it is said of this sowing man, that he sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed springs and grows up he knoweth not how. They say a farmer’s trade is a good one because it is going on while he is abed and asleep; and surely ours is a good trade, too, when we serve our Master by sowing good seed; for it is growing even while we are asleep. But how may a good workman for Christ lawfully go to sleep? I answer, first, he may sleep the sleep of restfulness born of confidence. You are afraid the kingdom of Christ will not come, are you? Who asked you to tremble for the ark of the Lord? Afraid for the infinite Jehovah that his purposes will fail? Shame on you! Your anxiety dishonours your God. Shall Omnipotence be defeated? You had better sleep than wake to play the part of Uzzah. Rest patiently; God’s purpose will be accomplished, his kingdom will come, his chosen will be saved, and Christ shall see of the travail of his soul. Take the sweet sleep which God gives to his beloved, the sleep of perfect confidence, such as Jesus slept in the hinder part of the ship when it was tossed with tempest. The cause of God never was in jeopardy, and never will be; the seed sown is insured by omnipotence, and must produce its harvest. In patience possess your soul, and wait till the harvest comes, for the pleasure of the Lord must prosper in the hands of Jesus. Also take that sleep of joyful expectancy which leads to a happy waking. Get up in the morning and feel that the Lord is ruling all things for the attainment of his own purposes, and the highest benefit of all who put their trust in him. Look for a blessing by day, and close your eyes at night calmly expecting to meet with better things to-morrow. If you do not sleep you will not wake up in the morning refreshed, and ready for more work. If it were possible for you to sit up all night and eat the bread of carefulness you would be unfit to attend to the service which your Master appoints for the morning; therefore take your rest and be at peace, and work with calm dignity, for the matter is safe in the Lord’s hands. Is it not written, "So he giveth his beloved sleep"? Take your rest because you have consciously resigned your work into God’s hands. After you have spoken the word, resort to God in prayer, and commit the matter into God’s hand, and then do not fret about it. It cannot be in better keeping, leave it with him who worketh all in all. But do not sleep the sleep of unwatchfulness. The farmer sows his seed, but he does not therefore forget it. He has to mend his fences, to drive away birds, to remove weeds, or to prevent floods. He does not watch the growth of the seed, but he has plenty else to do. He sleeps, but it is only in due time and measure, and is not to be confounded with the sluggard’s slumbers. He never sleeps the sleep of indifference, or even of inaction, for each season has its demand upon him. He has sown one field, but he has another to sow. He has sown, but he has also to reap; and if reaping is done, he has to thresh and to winnow. A farmer’s work is never done, for in one part or the other of the farm he is needed. His sleep is but a pause that gives him strength to continue his occupation. The parable teaches us to do all that lies within our province, but not to intrude into the domain of God: in teaching to the ear we are to labour diligently, but with regard to the secret working of truth upon man’s mind, we are to pray and rest, looking to the Lord for the inward power. Spurgeon, C. H. (1882). Farm Sermons. New York: Passmore and Alabaster. (Public Domain) Romans 1:17 - God's Righteousness Revealed Romans 1:17 "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.'" (NASB) "For therein is the G1343 righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The G1342 just shall live by faith." (KJV) "This Good News tells us how God makes us right in His sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, 'It is through faith that a righteous person has life.'" (NLT) G1343 (Strong) δικαιοσυ?νη dikaiosune? dik-ah-yos-oo'-nay From G1342; equity (of character or act); specifically (Christian) justification: - righteousness. G1342 (Strong) δι?καιος dikaios dik'-ah-yos From G1349; equitable (in character or act); by implication innocent, holy (absolutely or relatively): - just, meet, right (-eous). Righteousness (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia) ri?´chus-nes (?????, caddi?k?, adjective, “righteous,” or occasionally “just” ???, cedhek?, noun, occasionally = “riahteousness,” occasionally = “justice”; δικαιος, di?kaios, adjective, δικαιοσυ?νη, dikaiosu?ne?, noun, from δι?κη, di?ke?, whose first meaning seems to have been “custom”; the general use suggested conformity to a standard: righteousness, “the state of him who is such as he ought to be” Righteousness (Noah Webster) RIGHTEOUSNESS, n. ri'chusness. 1. Purity of heart and rectitude of life; conformity of heart and life to the divine law. Righteousness, as used in Scripture and theology, in which it is chiefly used, is nearly equivalent to holiness, comprehending holy principles and affections of heart, and conformity of life to the divine law. It includes all we call justice, honesty and virtue, with holy affections; in short, it is true religion. 2. Applied to God, the perfection or holiness of his nature; exact rectitude; faithfulness. 3. The active and passive obedience of Christ, by which the law of God is fulfilled. Dan 9. 4. Justice; equity between man and man. Luke 1. 5. The cause of our justification. The Lord our righteousness. Jer 23. Our misery and ruin being the product and consequent of our iniquity, that which will show us the way of salvation must needs show us the way of justification, and this the gospel does. The gospel makes known a righteousness. While God is a just and holy God, and we are guilty sinners, it is necessary we should have a righteousness wherein to appear before him; and, blessed be God, there is such a righteousness brought in by Messiah the prince (Dan_9:24) and revealed in the gospel; a righteousness, that is, a gracious method of reconciliation and acceptance, notwithstanding the guilt of our sins. Mathew Henry (1662 - 1714) Righteousness by Faith Orville J. Nave (1841-1917), A.M., D.D., LL.D. (Army Chaplain) Go Army! Genesis 15:6 "And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith." (NLT) Romans 4:3 "For the Scriptures tell us, 'Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.'" (NLT) Romans 4:5 "But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners." (NLT) Romans 4:9 "Now, is this blessing only for the Jews, or is it also for uncircumcised Gentiles? Well, we have been saying that Abraham was counted as righteous by God because of his faith." (NLT) Romans 4:11 "Circumcision was a sign that Abraham already had faith and that God had already accepted him and declared him to be righteous—even before he was circumcised. So Abraham is the spiritual father of those who have faith but have not been circumcised. They are counted as righteous because of their faith." (NLT) Romans 4:13 "For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith." (NASB) Romans 4:22 "And because of Abraham's faith, God counted him as righteous. (NLT) Romans 4:24 "for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in Him, the One who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead." (NLT) In Christ we have all that we require. His Gospel reveals His righteousness whose purpose is our redemption, transformation, and adoption. The concept that began the reformation, that we are saved by faith alone in Christ alone. Dear Heavenly Father how amazing is your love. It is like the words of the song: The love of God has been extended to a fallen race, Through Christ the savior of all men, there's hope in saving grace The Love of God is greater far, than gold or silver ever could afford, It reaches past the highest star and covers all the world! His power is eternal..eternal, His glory is supernal..supernal! When all this earth shall pass away, there'll always be the Love of God! It goes beneath the deepest stain that sin could ever leave, Redeeming souls to live again, who will, on Christ believe- will believe! The love of God is greater far, than gold or silver, ever could afford, It reaches past the highest star, and covers all the world! His power is eternal...eternal! His glory is supernal...supernal! When all this earth shall pass away, there'll always be, the Love Of God! (Bill Gaither) From faith to faith; that is, as say some, from the faith of God to the faith of men; from the faith of preachers to the faith of hearers; from the faith of the Old to the faith of the New Testament saints; or rather from one degree of faith to another; for faith, as it grows and increases, has clearer sights of this righteousness, as held forth in the Gospel. For the proof of this, a passage of Scripture is cited, Habakkuk 2:4 Dr. John Gill (1690-1771) Romans 3:22 - By Faith Rom 3:21-26 Must guilty man remain under wrath? Is the wound for ever incurable? No; blessed be God, there is another way laid open for us. This is the righteousness of God; righteousness of his ordaining, and providing, and accepting. It is by that faith which has Jesus Christ for its object; an anointed Savior, so Jesus Christ signifies. Justifying faith respects Christ as a Savior, in all his three anointed offices, as Prophet, Priest, and King; trusting in him, accepting him, and cleaving to him: in all these, Jews and Gentiles are alike welcome to God through Christ. There is no difference, his righteousness is upon all that believe; not only offered to them, but put upon them as a crown, as a robe. It is free grace, mere mercy; there is nothing in us to deserve such favors. It comes freely unto us, but Christ bought it, and paid the price. And faith has special regard to the blood of Christ, as that which made the atonement. God, in all this, declares his righteousness. It is plain that he hates sin, when nothing less than the blood of Christ would satisfy for it. And it would not agree with his justice to demand the debt, when the Surety has paid it, and he has accepted that payment in full satisfaction. (Matthew Henry Concise Commentary) "even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;" (NASB) "Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:" (KJV) "We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are." (NLT) "namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction," (NET) Paul now goes into an indepth explanation of God's plan to make us just in His eyes by faith alone, in Christ alone. A good place for us to remember that we live by faith! We walk by faith not by works, not by the law, or not by rules. We become a fulfillment of the law in Christ! It doesn't matter who you are. There is one way and only one! "Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6 NLT) Leave your burdens at the Cross and do not pick them up again! We live by faith! That is the wonderful story! Even the righteousness of God - That method of saving sinners which is not of works, but by faith in Christ Jesus; and it is not restrained to any particular people, as the law and its privileges were, but is unto all mankind in its intention and offer, and becomes effectual to them that believe; for God hath now made no difference between the Jews and the Gentiles. (Dr. Adam Clarke) Comments are closed.