Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Righteousness of Faith
by John Wesley
Prefaced & Edited by Dr. Riktor Von Zhades

But what saith it The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: That is, the word of faith, which we preach."
The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans [1]

It was once believed by this editor, that I could not be a Christian, because God only wanted “good people”2, and as such a sinner (and the worst of ones) as myself was unworthy to be called a child of the most high God. It was only, when it was revealed unto me by a friend, that it was in fact the very people He wanted, were those that were dead in their sins, and would earn only eternal separation from Him, that He came to save. For His desire was for none to perish, but that all should be saved. [Read Ezekiel 33:11; 2 Peter 3:9]

Therefore, brethren, friends, readers, take solace and know this, that you are saved by grace. You cannot work your way into heaven. There is no road as such, for if there were, there would be no need of the new covenant. The living of the good way, would be enough. Additionally, there is no such thing as my good outweighs my bad, as all mankind is guilty of sin. If the law says it is so, then the law convicts us all. Recall if you will our Savior Christ Jesus said, that not one tittle or jot of the law shall pass. [Read Matthew 5:18; Luke 16:17]

Herein below then, is a sermon on the righteousness of faith. Read carefully, and think upon it today.

The Apostle does not here oppose the covenant given by Moses, to the covenant given by Christ. If we ever imagined this, it was for want of observing, that the latter as well as the former part of these words were spoken by Moses himself to the people of Israel, and that concerning the covenant which then was. (Read Deuteronomy 30:11, 12, 14.) But it is the covenant of grace [Read Acts 2:21; Hebrews 9:15], which God, through Christ, hath established with men in all ages, (as well before and under the Jewish dispensation, as since God was manifest in the flesh,) which St. Paul here opposes to the covenant of works, made with Adam while in Paradise, hut commonly supposed to be the only covenant which God had made with man, particularly by those Jews of whom the Apostle writes.

Of these it was that he so affectionately speaks in the begining of this chapter: "My heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they may be saved. For I bear them record, that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness," (of the justification that flows from his mere grace and mercy, freely forgiving our sins through the Son of his love, through the redemption which is in Jesus,) "and seeking to establish their own righteousness," (their own holiness, antecedent to faith in "him that justifieth the ungodly," as the ground of their pardon and acceptance,) "have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God," and consequently seek death in the error of their life.

They were ignorant that "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth;" -- that, by the oblation of himself once offered, he had put an end to the first law or covenant, (which, indeed, was not given by God to Moses, but to Adam in his state of innocence,) the strict tenor whereof, without any abatement, was, "Do this, and live;" and, at the same time, purchased for us that better covenant," Believe, and live;" believe, and thou shalt be saved[Read Romans 10:13]; now saved, both from the guilt and power of sin, and, of consequence, from the wages of it.

And how many are equally ignorant now, even among those who are called by the name of Christ! How many who have now a "zeal for God," yet have it not "according to knowledge;" but are still seeking "to establish their own righteousness," as the ground of their pardon and acceptance; and therefore, vehemently refuse to "submit themselves unto the righteousness of God!" Surely my heart's desire, and prayer to God for you, brethren, is, that ye may be saved. And, in order to remove this grand stumbling-block out of your way, I will endeavor to show, what the righteousness is, which is of the law; and what "the righteousness which is of faith.

The righteousness which is of the law saith, The man which doeth these things shall live by them. [Read Leviticus 18:5] Constantly and perfectly observe all these things to do them, and then thou shalt live for ever. This law, or covenant, (usually called the Covenant of Works,) given by God to man in Paradise, required an obedience perfect in all its parts, entire and wanting nothing, as the condition of his eternal continuance in the holiness and happiness wherein he was created. It required that man should fulfill all righteousness, inward and outward, negative and positive: That he should not only abstain from every idle word, and avoid every evil work, but should keep every affection, every desire, every thought, in obedience to the will of God: That he should continue holy, as he which had created him was holy, both in heart, and in all manner of conversation: That he should be pure in heart, even as God is pure; perfect as his Father in heaven was perfect: That he should love the Lord his God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind, and with all his strength; that he should love every soul which God had made, even as God had loved him: That by this universal benevolence, he should dwell in God, (who is love,) and God in him: That he should serve the Lord his God with all his strength, and in all things singly aim at his glory.

These were the things which the righteousness of the law required, that he who did them might live thereby. But it farther required, that this entire obedience to God, this inward and outward holiness, this conformity both of heart and life to his will, should be perfect in degree. No abatement, no allowance could possibly be made, for falling short in any degree, as to any jot or tittle, either of the outward or the inward law. If every commandment, relating to outward things, was obeyed, yet that was not sufficient unless every one was obeyed with all the strength, in the highest measure, and most perfect manner. Nor did it answer the demand of this covenant, to love God with every power and faculty, unless he were loved with the full capacity of each, with the whole possibility of the soul. One thing more was indispensably required by the righteousness of the law, namely, that this universal obedience, this perfect holiness both of heart and life, should be perfectly uninterrupted also, should continue without any intermission, from the moment wherein God created man, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, until the days of his trial should be ended, and he should be confirmed in life everlasting. The righteousness, then, which is of the law, speaketh on this wise: "Thou, O man of God, stand fast in love, in the image of God wherein thou art made. If thou wilt remain in life, keep the commandments, which are now written in thy heart. Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. Love, as thyself, every soul that he hath made. Desire nothing but God. Aim at God in every thought, in every word and work. Swerve not, in one motion of body or soul, from him, thy mark, and the prize of thy high calling; and let all that is in thee praise his holy name, every power and faculty of thy soul, in every kind, in every degree, and at every moment of thine existence. `This do, and thou shalt live:' Thy light shall shine, thy love shall flame more and more, till thou art received up into the house of God in the heavens, to reign with him for ever and ever.

[However], the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise: Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven that is, to bring down Christ from above;" (as though it were some impossible task which God required thee previously to perform in order to thine acceptance;) "or, Who shall descend into the deep that is, to bring up Christ from the dead;" (as though that were still remaining to be done, for the sake of which thou wert to be accepted;) "but what saith it The word," according to the tenor of which thou mayest now be accepted as an heir of life eternal, "is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith which we preach," -- the new covenant which God hath now established with sinful man, through Christ Jesus. By "the righteousness which is of faith" is meant, that condition of justification, (and, in consequence, of present and final salvation, if we endure therein unto the end,) which was given by God to fallen man, through the merits and mediation of his only-begotten Son. This was in part revealed to Adam, soon after his fall; being contained in the original promise, made to him and his seed, concerning the Seed of the Woman, who should "bruise the serpent's head." (Read Genesis 3:15.) It was a little more clearly revealed to Abraham, by the angel of God from heaven, saying, "By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, that in thy seed shall all the nations of the world be blessed." (Read Genesis 12:15, 18.) It was yet more fully made known to Moses, to David, and to the Prophets that followed; and, through them, to many of the people of God in their respective generations. But still the bulk even of these were ignorant of it; and very few understood it clearly. Still "life and immortality" were not so "brought to light" to the Jews of old, as they are now unto us "by the gospel."

Now, this covenant saith not to sinful man, "Perform unsinning obedience, and live." If this were the term, he would have no more benefit by all which Christ hath done and suffered for him, than if he was required, in order to life, to "ascend into heaven, and bring down Christ from above;" or to "descend into the deep," into the invisible world, and "bring up Christ from the dead." It doth not require any impossibility to be done: (Although to mere man, what it requires would be impossible; but not to man assisted by the Spirit of God:) This were only to mock human weakness. Indeed, strictly speaking, the covenant of grace doth not require us to do anything at all, as absolutely and indispensably necessary in order to our justification; but only, to believe in Him who, for the sake of his Son, and the propitiation which he hath made, "justifieth the ungodly that worketh not," and imputes his faith to him for righteousness. Even so Abraham "believed in the Lord, and he counted it to him for righteousness." (Read Genesis 15:6.) "And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of faith, -- that he might be the father of all them that believe, -- that righteousness might be imputed unto them also." (Read Romans 4:11.) "Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it," i.e., faith, "was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed," to whom faith shall be imputed for righteousness, shall stand in the stead of perfect obedience, in order to our acceptance with God, "if we believe on him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered" to death "for our offences, and was raised again for our justification:" (Read Romans 4:23-25:) For the assurance of the remission of our sins, and of a second life to come, to them that believe.

What saith then the covenant of forgiveness, of unmerited love, of pardoning mercy "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." In the day thou believest, thou shalt surely live. Thou shalt be restored to the favour of God; and in his pleasure is life. Thou shalt be saved from the curse, and from the wrath of God. Thou shalt be quickened, from the death of sin into the life of righteousness. And if thou endure to the end, believing in Jesus, thou shalt never taste the second death; but, having suffered with thy Lord, shalt also live and reign with him for ever and ever

1 There is no occasion to seek high or low for the saving power; the word of reconciliation is nigh. The way of salvation is now both plain and easy. The law is magnified and made honorable by the death of Christ; and the doctrine of faith in his death and resurrection is fully proclaimed, and amply proved to be effectual to the purpose for which it was revealed. By the preaching of the Gospel the doctrine of salvation is nigh thee, and the saving influence is at hand: it is in thy mouth, easy to be understood, easy to be professed: and in thy heart, if thou art upright before God, sincerely desiring to be saved on his own terms, not striving to establish thy own method of justification by the law, which must for ever be ineffectual, but submitting to the method of justification which God has. - Adam Clarke - Theologian
2This is a lie from the father of all lies Satan. Surely he says, that you are not worthy to be saved.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

God Glorified In Man's Dependence
Part 2
by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
Edited by Dr. Riktor Von Zhades
29 That no flesh should rejoice in his presence.30 But ye are of him in Christ Jesus, who of God is
made unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.31 That, according as it is
written, He that rejoiceth, let him rejoice in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:29-31

Man's redemption is often spoken of as a work of wonderful power as well as grace. The great power of God appears in bringing a sinner from his low state, from the depths of sin and misery, to such an exalted state of holiness and happiness. "And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power" (Read Ephesians 1:19). We are dependent on God's power through every step of our redemption. We are dependent on the power of God to convert us, and give faith in Jesus Christ, and the new nature.

It is a work of creation: "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature" (Read 2 Corinthians 5:17). "We are created in Christ Jesus" (Read Ephesians 2:10). The fallen creature cannot attain to true holiness, but by being created again. "And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Read Ephesians 4:24). It is a raising from the dead. "Wherein ye also are risen with him, through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead" (Read Colossians 2:12-13). Yea, it is a more glorious work of power than mere creation, or raising a dead body to life, in that the effect attained is greater and more excellent. That holy and happy being, and spiritual life which is reached in the work of conversion, is a far greater and more glorious effect, than mere being and life. And the state from whence the change is made, of such a death in sin, and total corruption of nature, and depth of misery, is far more remote from the state attained, than mere death or nonentity. It is by God's power also that we are preserved in a state of grace. "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." (Read 1 Peter 1: 5). As grace is at first from God, so it is continually from him, and is maintained by him, as much as light in the atmosphere is all day long from the sun, as well as at first dawning, or at sunrising.

Men are dependent on the power of God, for every exercise of grace, and for carrying on the work of grace in the heart, for the subduing of sin and corruption, and increasing holy principles, and enabling to bring forth fruit in good works, and at last bringing grace to its perfection, in making the soul completely amiable in Christ's glorious likeness, and filling of it with a satisfying joy and blessedness; and for the raising of the body to life, and to such a perfect state, that it shall be suitable for a habitation and organ for a soul so perfected and blessed. These are the most glorious effects of the power of God, that are seen in the series of God's acts with respect to the creatures.

Man was dependent on the power of God in his first estate, but he is more dependent on his power now; he needs God's power to do more things for him, and depends on the more wonderful exercise of his power. It was an effect of the power of God to make man holy at the first; but more remarkably so now, because there is a great deal of opposition and difficulty in the way. It is a more glorious effect of power to make that holy that was so depraved, and under the dominion [Read Romans 6:19-21, 7:13-20] of sin, that to confer holiness on that which before had nothing of the contrary. It is a more glorious work of power to rescue a soul out of the hands of the devil, and from the powers of darkness, and to bring it into a state of salvation, than to confer holiness where there was no prepossession or opposition. "When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace; but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armor wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils" (Read Luke 11:21-22). So it is a more glorious work of power to uphold a soul in a state of grace and holiness, and to carry it on till it is brought to glory, when there is so much sin remaining in the heart resisting, and Satan with all his might opposing, than it would have been to have kept man from falling at first, when Satan had nothing in man.

They are also dependent on God for all, as they have all through him. It is God that is the medium of it, as well as the author and fountain of it. All that we have, wisdom, and the pardon of sin, deliverance from hell, acceptance in God's favor, grace and holiness, true comfort and happiness, eternal life and glory, we have from God by a Mediator, which Mediator we have an absolute dependence upon as he through whom we receive all. So that here is another way wherein we have our dependence on God for all good. God not only gives us the Mediator, and accepts his mediation, and of his power and grace bestows the things purchased by the Mediator, but he is the Mediator. [Read Galatians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8:6]

Our blessings are what we have by purchase; and the purchase is made of God, the blessings are purchased of him, and God gives the purchaser; and not only so, but God is the purchaser. Yea, God is both the purchaser and the price; for Christ, who is God, purchased these blessings for us, by offering up himself as the price of our salvation. He purchased eternal life by the sacrifice of himself. "He offered up himself" (Read Hebrews 7:27) and "He hath appeared to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Read Hebrews 9:26). Indeed it was the human nature that was offered; but it was the same person with the divine, and therefore was an infinite price; it was looked upon as if God had been offered in sacrifice.

As we thus have our good through God, we have a dependence on God in a respect that man in his first estate had not. Man was to have eternal life then through his own righteousness; so that he had partly a dependence upon what was in himself; for we have a dependence upon that through which we have our good, as well as that from which we have it; and though man's righteousness that he then depended on was indeed from God, yet it was his own, it was inherent in himself; so that his dependence was not so immediately on God. But now the righteousness that we are dependent on is not in ourselves, but in God. We are saved through the righteousness of Christ: he is made unto us righteousness; and therefore is prophesied of under that name, "the Lord our righteousness" (Read Jeremiah 23:6). In that the righteousness we are justified by is the righteousness of Christ, it is the righteousness of God: "That we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (Read 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Thus in redemption we have not only all things of God, but by and through him: "But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him." (Read 1 Corinthians 8:6).