Sermon 3154. Concerning The Forbearance Of God
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, JULY 22, 1909.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, APRIL 20, 1873.
"Or do you despise the riches of His goodness and forbearance and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadsyou to repentance?" Romans 2:4.
[Other Sermons by Mr. Spurgeon upon the same verse, are as follows-Sermons #1714, Volume 29-EARNEST EXPOSTULATION and #2857,Volume 49- GOD'S GOODNESS LEADING TO REPENTANCE.]
IT is a great sign of love on God's part that He condescends to reason with men. When they had offended against Him, He mighthave said to them, "I will punish you for your offenses," and He might have gone His way until the day for carrying out Histhreat arrived. But instead of doing so, He is unwilling that any should perish. According to His own declaration, He hasno pleasure in the death of the wicked, but would rather that he should turn unto Him and live. And, therefore, He pausesand expostulates. When a man has been greatly offended by another and is very angry with him, he does not usually stay toreason with his opponent-his anger is too hot for that. But if he is of a meek and gentle spirit, and anxious that the quarrelshould be ended, he begins to reason with the other man and says to him, "Why did you act so unkindly towards me? Why didyou treat me thus? You have acted most unjustly-have you no sense of right? I have not deserved this at your hands-why, then,did you thus deal with me? Come now, do you utterly hate or despise me, or why do you thus continue to annoy and provoke me?"In such a fashion as this, but with Infinite tenderness, the Lord reasons with sinners. So, dear Friend, if you are stillunconverted, regard it as a clear proof of God's loving kindness toward you that He again sends to you the word of expostulation!Take it for granted that he desires your good and wishes you well, otherwise He would not have bid His servant say to you,"Do you despise the riches of His goodness and forbearance and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadsyou to repentance?"
From the connection of our text, it would appear that there were some, in Paul's day, as there are in ours, who, seeing thegreat wickedness of mankind and observing that God did not at once destroy the ungodly, gathered from that fact that they,themselves, might sin with impunity. Seeing that God did not launch His thunderbolts at even the most gross sinners-and strikethem with immediate and total destruction by pestilence, famine, or sword-these people wickedly said, "What does it matterwhat sins or crimes we commit? Evidently God is asleep, or winks at such deeds as these. Or perhaps there is no God at all!Anyhow, let us live in sin and take pleasure therein, for there will be no evil consequences to us if we do so. We may eatthe fat, drink the sweet and enjoy ourselves to our hearts' content and there will be no one to call us to account." So thatfrom the very fact that God was merciful and gracious, they inferred that they might be sinful and rebellious! And becauseGod's foot was slow to come in vengeance, they imagined that God's hand would not be heavy when He did come, and they said,"Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!" It was to a sinner of this sort that Paul put the question, "Do you despise theriches of His goodness and forbearance and long-suffering?" I am going to put that question to you who are here-and I praythat the Holy Spirit may put it to the conscience of every unconverted man and woman!
I. Now first LET US HONOR THE GOODNESS, FORBEARANCE AND LONG-SUFFERING OF GOD.
The description given by the Apostle is threefold. "The riches of His goodness and forbearance and long-suffering." I shallprobably not be wrong in saying that God's "goodness" may refer to the way in which He has overlooked all our past sins, sothat He has not yet dealt with us in justice concerning them. His forbearance may refer to our present sins, the transgressionsof this day and hour, and His long-suffering may refer to our future sins, for He knows that we shall
continue to sin, yet He does not destroy us, but still bears with us. What a heavy weight is upon my mind and heart as I thinkof the forbearance of God towards the impenitent with regard to their past sins! Why, there are some of you who have committedsins that you would be ashamed to have mentioned-sins against light and knowledge, too, which you knew to be sins, not merelyone or two, but very many! It would have been the easiest possible thing in the world for God to have destroyed you, yet Hehas not done so. How long can you keep your temper when you are provoked? Five minutes? Half an hour? "That is a long time,"you say. Suppose you were insulted to your face, how long would you hold your peace and bear it? An hour? I fear there arenot many of you who would do that, but that you would soon give an answer to the man who had dared thus to challenge you.What, then, shall I say of God, who has borne with some here thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, perhaps 80 years, in whichthe mere fact of their living has been an insult to Him, for they have lived in opposition to His will and His Law and haveoften defied Him to His face? And in their provoking blasphemy have even invited Him to damn their bodies and souls! Oh, theamazing mercy of a God who can bear with a sinner for 12 months, who can even bear with him for 50 times 12 months and canstill stand-and in tones of pity and entreaty say, "Come now, come even now, and let us reason together, says the Lord: thoughyour sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
Then, next, it is no small mercy that God bears with your present sins, so despise not the riches of His forbearance to younow. Most of you have long been hearers of the Gospel. You are sitting in the place where you have sat and heard the Gospelpreached hundreds of times-and the very pew you are sitting in might witness against you that although you have so long heardit, you have refused to obey it! You have promised better things, but you have never performed them. You have lied, not tomen, but to God! You have lulled your conscience to sleep when God has spoken to you through it and you have even quenchedHis Holy Spirit when He has striven with you-yet up to this moment, God who, without uttering a word could send your guiltysoul to Hell, forbears to do so! He cries, "How can I give you up?" He looks the rebel in the face and says to him, "How canI damn you? How can I cast you into Hell? My compassions are moved towards you. My repentings are kindled together." It isindeed great Grace for God to do this-and He is doing it now! Every moment that an unconverted man is out of Hell, God ismanifesting towards him the riches of His forbearance. And it is no small strain upon Divine Mercy when men continue to sinnotwithstanding this forbearance. The Roman lictors used to carry on their shoulders the rods with which prisoners were condemnedto be beaten-and in the center of the rods was the axe for the final punishment of death. Those rods were bound with cordshaving many knots, and the lictors would slowly untie the knots while the judge waited to see if the prisoner would say somethingthat would prevent him from being beaten-but when the last knot was untied, they bared his back to scourge him. The judgestill looked at him to see if there was any sign of repentance-and if there was not any, then came the axe! So, with regardto some of you, God has been undoing the knots one by one-yes, and He has beaten you with more than one of His rods-you havesuffered from sickness, poverty and many other tribulations. God's rods are smiting you now, but He is slow to take up theaxe. He is stern in His judgment upon the impenitent, but He is full of pity and compassionate-and unwilling to deal the death-blowif it can be prevented! "Turn you," He says, "turn you from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?" Andwith all the eloquence of words, He cries to men that they would turn unto Him and live!
Then there is the long-suffering of God with regard to sins that are yet to be committed. O Sinner, you cannot promise thatyou will not sin in the future! You may foolishly say, "I will not," but the Ethiopian might sooner change his skin and theleopard his spots as that you, who are accustomed to do evil, might begin in your own strength to do well! The fountain ofyour heart is foul-so polluted streams must continue to flow from it. You are born of such a race and you have so added toyour natural depravity by your constant sinfulness that you will still go on to sin until Grace changes and renews you! Howis it that God, who knows this, does not strike you out of existence? Is He going to spare you for another year to still setyour hard heart against His love? Sinner, does God mean to spare you for another seven years' fornication and lust? Will Hepermit you to live another 10 years to still be a thief? Shall you have another 20 years in which every Sabbath shall be spentin sin and in which almost every night shall see you reeling as a drunkard through the streets? Oh, if God knows that youwill sin like this, how is it that He bears with you? If the destroying angel is told what you will be, he will stand withhis sword drawn, or with his hand upon its hilt and say, "Commission me, dread Sovereign, to cleanse the earth of those whoblaspheme Your name and break Your Law, and it shall be done!" But
God says, "Put your sword into its sheath and wait a little longer! They shall have another appeal, another invitation andanother entreaty." Oh, that these might be of use to them and that they might turn unto God, and live!
Beside this threefold appeal in the text, God's goodness is manifested in great abundance. "Do you despise the riches of Hisgoodness and forbearance and long-suffering?" Truly God's mercy to us has been like a mine of riches. What has God not donefor some of us? If I were not, at this moment, a Believer, I would be, of all here present, one of the most ungrateful. Iwill state my own case knowing it to be similar to that of many others who are present. Cradled in the home of piety, nurturedwith the most tender care, taught the Gospel from my youth up, with the holiest example of my parents, the best possible checksall around to prevent me running into sin-yet, notwithstanding all that, sinning and revolting more and more but checked byconscience, as when a steed tries to leap forth, but its rider reins it in-yet still resolved to sin-determined to go furtherand yet further into it and even being angry with God for checking sin, trying to get the bit between one's teeth and to runaway from God and sin worse than before! Then struck down by the hand of God in sickness, alarmed, terrified, resolving tolive differently-but being raised up to health again, shaking off serious impressions-and with a laugh going back to the folliesof sin. Then once more rebuked, made to tremble, thunderstruck and awed before God-hearing of the precious Savior, yet puttingHim off and saying that another day would be soon enough to be a Christian! That is my sad story until Sovereign Grace metwith me. And that is also the story of many others present here!
Yet all the while, God has kept you supplied with the blessings of Providence so that you have never suffered want. He haspreserved you from the dangers and trials and troubles which a great many others have had to endure. He has placed you wherean earnest Gospel ministry never lets you rest in your sin. He has put you where faithful friends plead with you with tearsto care about your immortal soul. He has raised you up from sickness, perhaps preserved you in the day of battle, deliveringyou when many others died all around you. Has God done all this for you and are there in your mind no tender thoughts towardHim, no grateful memories of His great mercy? Oh think of where you might have been long ago! Might they not have said overyour dead body, "Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust?" Yes, long ago there might have been a portion for you in thatdread place where the worm dies not and the fire is not quenched! Think of the gracious promises that are still proclaimedin your hearing, that if you return unto the Lord, He will have mercy upon you and will forgive you all your trespasses! Thinkof the Christ of God who died for sinners on the Cross. Think of the Spirit of God who has come down to earth to strive andplead with sinners. Think of the Father's almighty love which is bestowed upon all those who put their trust in Jesus Christ,His Son. Oh, there have indeed been riches of mercy, riches of goodness, riches of forbearance, riches of long-suffering and,Man, do you despise all this? Woman, away yonder, do you despise all this? All this mercy has passed before you in one longpanorama for many years-what do you say about it? Do you not say, "My God, forgive me that I have so long slighted You?" Orwill you still despise the riches of His goodness and forbearance and long-suffering?
I might, if I had time, try to measure the long-suffering of God. And if I did, I should need four lines. The excellence ofGod's goodness is manifested by four considerations. First consider the Divine Person who manifests it. Remember who God is!Think how great He is. No one likes to be insulted by his inferiors, then how can God bear to be insulted by the creatureswhom He has made, the creatures who owe Him their very breath? How can God endure to be opposed and defied by one so utterlyinsignificant and unworthy as man is? Yet He does not crush His rebellious creatures as He well might.
Think next of His Omniscience. We sometimes bear with people because we forget much of what they have said or done, but whatwould it be to have before your mind's eye all the evil speaking of 20 years ago and all the hard sayings and unkind actsof a long life of enmity against you? Yet, though God has all our sins always before Him and our most secret sins in the lightof His Countenance, He still forbears to smite and destroy us!
Think, too, how powerful He is-none can escape from Him when He pursues them. Moses could run away from Pharaoh and hide inthe land of Midian, but where could we flee to escape from the vengeance of God if He had resolved at once to punish all thosewho had rebelled against Him? How could we have stood up against Him? Where are the bars of brass that could resist the Omnipotenceof the besieging God? None of His creatures can stand against Him anymore than the stubble can stand against the flame, orthe straw against the fire. And yet He has such forbearance that He has
put up with us all these years! O blessed God, I love You for Your wondrous patience to me and to my fellow sinners that Youstill spare us though we have so sorely provoked You!
Then take another measuring line and consider the being to whom God's goodness is manifested-that is, man. Think of what manis and then ask yourself if such a little insignificant creature dares to proclaim war against God! Has he the audacity todefy God and to say, "I will not do what You have bid me do?" Why, the ant that crosses your path on a summer evening is nothalf as insignificant in comparison with you as you are when compared with the Almighty God! And it is man who has receivedso much from God-man, who could not live an instant without God's permission and support-who stands up and says that he willnot be God's servant and that he will not accept the Savior whom God has appointed! O you heavens, how is it that you do notfall and crush the miscreant? Great God, it is only because You are God that You put up with sinful men so long!
Another measuring line is this-consider the conduct to which God's goodness is a reply. In other words, consider what sini s. There is not a person here who has ever seen sin as it really is in God's sight. In the least sin there is more evilthan there is even in Hell, for Hell is at least the vindication of Divine Justice, but sin defies that Justice. Sin is anunlimited and unmitigated evil. There are sins that are so wanton, so aggravating, so willful and men go so much out of theirway to commit them! There are sins that are repeated over and over-even in spite of chastisement. There are some sins thatare so polluting, so defiling in which a man degrades and ruins others as well as himself. And there are some sins so infamousthat it is marvelous that God still bears with the men who commit them and that while He holds back the thunderbolts of Justice,He holds out the silver scepter of mercy and says even to the chief of sinners, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and youshall be saved."
Then if we needed one other measuring line, it would be the consideration of the gifts which God's goodness brings. Our commonmercies-daily bread, raiment to put on, health for necessary labor, rescue from peril, preservation from death, the institutionof the Sabbath, the gift of the Bible, the Gospel of salvation-these are immeasurable blessings! Who, then, can calculatethe riches of the goodness and forbearance and long-suffering of God?
I cannot help feeling ashamed of myself while I am talking to you upon this theme, for I have a case to plead for God thatI think I ought to plead much better than I do. And if I knew how to do it, I would do it, my gracious, blessed God! Alas,alas, there are some of you who treat God so ill, yet He has never done you any harm and He is always doing you good! If Hisservice were slavery, I would not wonder if you did not serve Him. If to be His children were to be tortured and made unhappy,I could not so much blame you. But as His service is perfect freedom. As His love is ineffable bliss. As His Presence is Heavenbegun below, why do you flee from that which is for your own highest happiness and run away from that which is all of God'smercy to you? O Sin, you have made men insane! You have given them over to a madness which makes them see no beauty in God,no charms in the Person of the Redeemer and no attraction in the salvation which He has bought with His own most preciousblood! O Divine Spirit, I cannot plead as I would-You come and make men value as they ought, the riches of the goodness andforbearance and long-suffering of God!
II. Now let me briefly try to show you HOW MEN MAY DESPISE THE GOODNESS, FORBEARANCE AND LONG-SUFFERING OF GOD.
First, many persons do it by never considering that they do receive goodness from God. They take all that God gives them asa matter of course and never think about it. If you have been very generous to some poor man and have relieved his needs forseveral years, I think you must sometimes feel grieved if you find that he takes it quite as a matter of course and nevershows any gratitude to you, but expectsyou to still do just as you have so long done. You think to yourself, "I am not boundto help him. It is entirely an act of favor on my part." You do not like to say, "I will not give him anymore," but you arestrongly tempted to say so. Now if you have been ungrateful to your God for all His goodness to you, I pray you not to continueso. The swine walk under the oak and eat up the acorns that fall from it, but never grunt out their thanks for them-will yoube such swine as that? Oh, be not so! Rather imitate the little chicken which drinks out of the stream and then raises itshead as if to thank God. I know that there are many here who would not like to be considered ungrateful, neither are theyso to their fellow men. I know you would scorn such a character, yet you are ungrateful to your best Friend who has done farmore for you than all the rest of your friends put together! Do not despise His goodness, and forbearance, and long-sufferingby allowing it to remain unnoticed.
Some despise the long-suffering of God by opposing His design in it. The design of God's goodness is to make bad men intogood men. The design of God's mercy to impenitent sinners is to make them penitent. You say to God, "I will not have You formy God" and He replies, "I will prolong your life. I will prosper you in business. I will multiply My favors to you." Yetyou still say, "But I am not going to be moved by all this." God comes to your bedside when you are lying there very ill-thecold sweat of death is standing on your brow and He draws the fever from your system and again prolongs your life-and givesyou another 10 years here, yet you say to Him, "I love You none the better even after doing all this for me." Is that right?God has been gently leading you, not driving you, but drawing you towards Himself out of love towards you-do not despise Hisloving kindness by pulling the other way.
There are some who do even worse than this, for they pervert the long-suffering and forbearance of God into a reason for beingunbelieving. They say to themselves, "We have got on very well in this world although we have never been religious. We havehad a good time of it though we have never prayed. We have been raised up from sickness, though afterwards we never thoughtabout religion anymore, so we may do as we like. God will not be angry with us, He will not stretch out His hand and smiteus." Ah, I know nothing that is more perilous to an ungodly man than to go on prospering! But whenever I meet with an ungodlyman who is in great trouble, I have a hope that God has chosen that man unto eternal life and that, therefore, He will notlet him go to Hell, but puts bars and posts across the road to block the way to Perdition. But as for the man who is prosperousthough ungodly, in regard to whom every wind seems to be favorable to his ships and every season gives him better crops thanhis neighbors have-and whose children are multiplied, and so on-do you know why God acts thus towards him? I can tell you.
I have heard of a Christian woman who had a very wicked husband. He was a dreadful swearer and always opposed her in everygood thing, yet she was the kindest wife that a man ever had. One night, or rather, early in the morning, as he sat drinkingwith his companions, he told them that he had a splendid wife and that if they were all to go home with him, even though itwas two o'clock in the morning, if she had gone to bed, she would get up and prepare supper for them without showing the slightestsign of displeasure, but would, for his sake, wait upon them as if they were lords in the land! They went to the house andthe husband called for his wife, as she had gone to bed. She put on her clothes, came down and got ready such things as shehad-and made them all welcome. They asked her why she was so kind to one who was so brutal to her, but she would not answer.Another day she said to her husband, when he asked a similar question, "I have prayed for you thousands of times and I havedone all I can to bring you to the Savior. Yet there is a dreadful fear in my mind that you will be lost. I am afraid youwill continue to sin against God and that you will be sent to Hell, so I have made up my mind that I will make you as happyas you can be while you are here, for I fear that you will never have any happiness hereafter."
And I believe it is for the same reason that God lets wicked men get rich. "There," says the Lord, "they shall enjoy themselveswhile they can. I will give them these things while they are here, for the time will come when I can show them no pity, butMy inexorable Justice must drive them from all pleasure forever." I think if there had been any true manhood in that man whomI have mentioned, he would have said to his wife, "Woman, do you feel like that towards me? Have you loved me so much andprayed for me so long, and have you put up with any inconvenience so that you may do me good? Then, at any rate, I will beunkind to you no longer and I will hear what these things are that you say will make for my peace." A sane man would talklike that-and if you are sane, I pray you now to heed what your God says to you! This is how He put the case long ago andHe might put it to you in the same way-"Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! I have nourished and brought up children andthey have rebelled against Me. The ox knows his owner and the donkey his master's crib, but Israel does not know. My peopledo not consider." Which of you would keep an ox or a donkey if it never served you in any way? Which of you would suffer evena dog to be in your house if it always flew at you when you came near it? Yet God has put up with you, His ungrateful creatures,for these many years. Will you never kiss the hand that feeds you? Are you more asinine than a donkey? Are you more of a beastthan the ox, itself, is? Oh, may God deliver sinners from continuing such injustice to Him and such cruelty to themselves!
III. Now, lastly, LET US FEEL THE FORCE OF THE LEADING OF GOD'S GOODNESS-"the goodness of God leads you to repentance."
It ought to be reason enough for our not despising God's goodness that it is a very unjust thing to despise it. I looked inclassic history to see if I could find any parallel case to this between man and God-and I found one something like it. InAlexander's day, a soldier who had been shipwrecked, was hospitably received by a certain person who took him to his houseand fed and clothed him. But as soon as the soldier was able to get back to Alexander, he misrepresented the case with manylies, and asked the great commander to give him the house of the man who had entertained him. When Alexander afterwards foundout the ingratitude of the wretch who thus tried to deprive his host of his own house in order to get it for himself, he orderedhim to be branded on the forehead so that he might be known everywhere as the ungrateful guest! But what branding iron andwhat coals of juniper shall ever be hot enough to brand the ungrateful being who was created by God, fed by God, put in theway of mercy, invited by Grace-and yet remained ungrateful?
Seldom is man so ungenerous to his fellow man as man is to his God. The very men who would scorn to rob their fellow men ofa farthing, go on robbing God without compunction all their lives! Men who are scrupulously just in their dealings with theirfellow merchants will persist in injustice to the God who created them! Why is this base conduct? Oh, I pray you, continueit not! I would, with tears in my eyes, entreat you to continue it no longer. Are you not under great obligation to God? Youknow that He made you. Deep down in your soul there is a voice that says to you, "It is God who keeps you alive." You knowthat it is so! Then how can you imagine that the Creator and Preserver of all can be forgotten with impunity? Let me giveyou a text that will remind you how dangerous a thing it is to live in the neglect of God's goodness-"The wicked shall beturned into Hell," (especially notice the next words), "and all the nations that forget God." When I began to quote that text,you may have said to yourself, "I am not wicked. I do not do anything outrageous." But listen again to the rest of the verse,"and all the nations that forget"-not the nations that swear, or blaspheme, or rebel against God-but "all the nations thatforget God." "That is only one text," you say. Ah, but here is another and there are many like it-"How shall we escape ifwe"-what? "If we neglect"-that is all-it is only a matter of neglect-"if we neglect so great a salvation?" Despising God byneglecting Him-despising Him by forgetting Him-this is a grievous kind of despising that will bring eternal ruin upon men!-
"Lord, do You the sinner turn! Rouse him from his senseless state. Let him not Your counsel spurn, Rue his fatal choice toolate!"
It may seem to some of you, child's play to face this congregation and to speak as I am now doing. But the Lord knows it isno child's play to me! I feel that I am accountable to God for all of you who, within a short time, will have to stand beforemy Master's Judgment Seat. And if at the last tremendous day I were summoned to give an account of how I employed this opportunityof speaking to you. And if I should have to confess that I did not tell you plainly that the neglect of God would ruin youforever. If I should have to confess that I was cold and indifferent-as cold and indifferent as you now are-then my soul wouldbe crimsoned with your soul's blood! But it cannot be, it shall not be so, for I do entreat you, by the living God and bythe Christ who died to save sinners-by the certainty of death, by the certainty of judgment, by the splendors of Heaven andby the terrors of Hell-I do beseech you to consider the goodness and forbearance and long-suffering of God! Turn unto Himwith weeping and with supplication and, above all, turn to the Gospel as it is here declared, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,and you shall be saved." Or, to put it in Christ's own full way, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but hethat believes not shall be damned."
The Lord bring you all to simple faith in Jesus Christ, His Son, then to obedience to Christ in the matter of Bapt-ism-andthen may He preserve you by His Grace until life's last hour, never again to despise, but forever to adore the goodness, andforbearance, and long-suffering of God, for His dear name's sake!
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: ROMANS 4; 5:1, 2.
Romans 4:1. What shall we say, then, that Abraham our father as pertaining to the flesh, has found?What blessings did really come toAbraham, the father of the faithful? What is the nature of that Covenant of Grace which God made with him?
2. For if Abraham were justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. Certainly, before God Abrahamneither gloried nor yet was justified by his works!
3. For what says the Scriptural That is the question for us always to ask, "What says the Scripture?"
3. Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness. There is no doubt about that point, for in Genesis 15:6 we read, "He believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness."
4. Now to him that works is the reward not reckoned of Grace, but of debt He gets what he earns, what he deserves to have!What he receives is "not reckoned of Grace, but of debt."
5-8. But to him that works not, but believes on Him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Evenas David also describes the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputes righteousness without works, saying, Blessed arethey whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Sothen it seems that the blessings of salvation come to men through faith and not through their own efforts-not as the rewardof merit, but as the simple gift of God's Grace!
9. Comes this blessedness, then, upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? Is this blessing entailed uponthe natural seed of Abraham, alone, or is it for others besides the Jews?
9, 10. For we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? When he was in circumcision,or in uncircumcision?Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision!f you turn again to Genesis 15:6 and then to 17:10, you will find that Abraham was justified by faith before the rite of circumcision was instituted! Theblessing came to him "not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision."
11, 12. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had, yet being un-circumcised:that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputedunto them, also: and the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the stepsof that faith of our father Abraham, which he had, being yet uncircumcised.The vital question is not, "How were we born?"Or, "What rites and ceremonies have been practiced upon us?" But, "Do we believe in God? Have we true faith in God's Word?Are we trusting our souls to the keeping of God's Son?"
13. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the Law, but throughthe righteousness of fait. The Law was promulgated on Mount Sinai 400 years after the Covenant of Grace was made with Abraham,the father of Believers, and so made with all Believers, for they are his true seed-and God has entered into a Covenant ofGrace and salvation with them.
14, 15. For if they which are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of no effect because the Lawworks wrath: for where no Law is, there is no transgression. So that the Law is not for justification, but for condemnation.It is the Law that reveals sin and that shows sin to be sin-so men can never become right with God by the Law.
16. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by Grace, [See Sermons #1347, Volume 23-HOW IS SALVATION RECEIVED? and #2159,Volume 36-THE HOLDFASTS OF FAITH.] to the end the promise might be sure
to all the seed That is, to all Believers who are the true seed of Abraham. He is the father of the faithful and if you areone of the faithful, he is your father! And the Covenant which God made with Abraham and his seed was made with you and onyour account if you are, indeed, a Believer in the Lord Jesus Christ!
16-22. Not to those only who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,(as it is written, I have made you a father of many nations) before Him whom he believed, even God, who quickens the deadand calls those things which are not, as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the fatherof many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall your seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered nothis own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of
Sarah's womb. He staggered not [See Sermons #733, Volume 13-UNSTAGGERING FAITH and #1367, Volume 23-STRONG FAITH.] at thepromise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fuly persuaded that what He had promised,He was also able to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.O Soul, if you are like one who is dead.If you are devoid of all strength, Grace and savor-if you can but believe in God who can quicken the dead, if you will buttrust your soul in the hands of Him who is able even to raise dry bones out of their graves and make them live-your faithshall be imputed unto you for righteousness! Your faith is that which shall justify you in the sight of God and you shallbe "accepted in the Beloved." Oh, what marvels faith works! This is the root-Grace-all manner of good things spring from faith-butthere must be faith as the root if there are to be other Graces as the fruit. Do your God the honor to believe Him-to believethat He cannot lie-to believe that He has never promised what He is not able to perform. If you will do that, it is clearthat you are one of Abraham's seed and the Covenant made with Abraham was made with you also!
23-25. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us, also, to whom it shall be imputedif we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offenses and was
http://www.spurgeongems.orgj See the great Object of saving faith? Christ, once dead, has been raised from the dead-and ifyou would be saved-you must rely upon the crucified and risen Savior! If you thus believe that Jesus the Crucified is theChrist of God, the anointed Messiah and Redeemer, you prove that you are born of God! And if you trust yourself to the risenand glorified Christ, you have risen in Him and you shall rise to be with Him forever and ever.
Romans 5:1. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ [See Sermon
#1456, Volume 25-PEACE-A FACT AND A FEELING.] My Friend, are these
words true concerning you? Can you put your finger on this verse and say, "this is true of me, 'Therefore being justifiedby faith, we have-I have-peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ'"? We who have believed in Jesus enjoy that peace-adeep, profound calm is upon our spirit whenever we think of God! We are not afraid of Him, We are not afraid to meet Him evenon His Judgment Seat! "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God." Have you peace with God? Are you sure that you haveit? If not, perhaps you are not justified by faith, for that is the root of it! "Being justified by faith, we have peace withGod through our Lord Jesus Christ."
2. By whom also we have access by faith into this Grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the Glory of God. This isa golden staircase-justification brings peace and peace brings access into this Grace wherein we are established! And thencomes the joy of hope-and that hope fixes its eyes on nothing less than the Glory of God. Grace is the stepping-stone to Glory-andthey who are justified by faith shall in due time be glorified by love!
or our justification. [See Sermon #2357, Volume 40-THE TWO PILLARS OF SALVATION].