I am going to read from chapter 4 in the book of Romans. I will read the first five verses of that fourth chapter.The subject that I will attempt to pursue is "Not faith, but Christ," "Not faith but Christ." Now, several years back, when I was a lot younger, folks would say "that fella will never amount to nothing." I have been determined all these years not to disappoint (laughing), but I hope that I don't disappoint you. Let me read now those five verses (Romans 4:1-5).
v.1. What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
v.2. For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
v.3. For what saith the scripture? ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS COUNTED UNTO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
v.4. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
v.5. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Remember, I am going to talk about this: "Not faith, but Christ."
Now God Almighty, who our brother so ably lifted up, described and brought before our very eyes this evening the true and the living God, God above all and over all. He reckons the believing man as having all righteousness -- I am right there so far. God reckons the believing man as having all righteousness though he has not done any -- I am right there. And though his faith is not righteousness, in this sense, it is that faith is counted to us for or in order to righteousness -- that we are justified by faith. Now faith does not justify as a work, or as a moral act, or as a piece of goodness, or as a gift of the spirit, but as a bond, but as a vital union, but as a connection between us and the Substitute.
Now the person and the work of Christ for us is the object of true faith. The spirit's work in us is that which produces this faith. In Exodus chapter 17 and maybe v. 7 or along there (v.6) it talks about God speaking to Moses to smite the rock that the water might gush forth. Now, without the touch of the rod the water would not have gushed forth. Is that right? Yet, it was the rock and not the rod that contained water. Now, the bringer of the sacrifice of the tabernacle or temple, was to lay his hand upon the head of the sheep or the bullock otherwise the offering would not be accepted for him. It was by way of identification that this lamb or sheep or bullock stands in my place in my steads, my sacrifice, dying for me. He was to lay his hands upon the offering or he would not be accepted for him. Now the laying on of the hands was not the same as the victim on which the hands were laid. The serpent-bitten Israelite was to look at the uplifted serpent of brass in order to be healed. But his looking was not the brazen serpent, it was not his act of looking that healed him, but the object to which he looked. So, faith is not our righteousness. Faith is not our righteousness! It joins us to the Righteous One and makes us a partaker of His righteousness.
Now, by a natural figure of speech, faith is often magnified as something great,whereas, it is actually and really nothing but our consenting to be saved by another. Now, let's suppose greatness is derived from the greatness of the object which it grasps or lays ahold of. So, faith is not our righteousness; faith is not our physician. As a matter of fact, it only brings us to the physician. It's not even our medicine, it only administers the medicine which was divinely prepared by Him who heals all of our diseases.
Our faith is but our touching Jesus. The one who was in that crowd who desired to touch Jesus, but she couldn't get through for the mass of human beings crowded around our Lord. But, finally she made it through and she touched the hem of His garment. When she touched the hem of His garment the Lord said, "Who touched me. I felt virtue being drawn out of me." Now, in reality, when we feel like we have touched Jesus, in reality,it's His touching us is what it is.
not our Savior. It was not faith that was born at Bethlehem's manger. It was
not faith that loved the Lord and gave Himself for us. It was not faith that
bore our sins on the tree in His own body.It was not faith that died and rose
again. Faith is one thing,but the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ is another
Now, let's not confound or mix up the two. That happens many times along the way. Let us not confound them or ascribe them to a poor, imperfect act of man that which belongs exclusively to the Son of God. Faith is not perfection, yet, only by perfection, either our own or another, can we be saved. Now, that which is imperfect can not justify and imperfect faith could not, in any sense, be a righteousness if it is to justify. It MUST be perfect. Faith must be perfect if it is to justify. It must be like the lamb, without spot and without blemish. An imperfect faith, may connect us with the perfection of another, but it cannot, of itself, do anything -- either in protecting us from the wrath to come or in divine ??? before God Almighty.
All faith here on this earth is imperfect. But, the believer's security and hope and comfort is this-it matters not how weak or how feeble or poor our faith may be if it touches the Perfect One. What more shall I say? ALL is well. The touch draws out the virtue that's in Him and we are saved by the grace of God. That slightest imperfection of our faith, if faith were to be our righteousness, would be fatal to our every hope. God has asked and provided a perfect righteousness, but He (nowhere, that I know of), asks or expects a perfect faith. A broken pitcher can convey water to a traveler's thirsty lips, so a feeble and weak faith will connect us with the righteousness of the Son of God. The faith that can only cry (that poor, weak faith, which all of us, to a measure are familiar with), poor weak faith, that can only cry, "Lord, help thou my unbelief" will do. Faith is not satisfaction to God. In no sense, order, or aspect can faith be said to satisfy God or to satisfy the Holy, inflexible, unerring law of God Almighty. Yet, if it is to be our faith, it must satisfy. Being imperfect it cannot satisfy. It cannot satisfy, not only because it's imperfect but because it is human. Faith cannot be our sin-bearer. That which satisfies must be capable of bearing our guilt and our shame. And, that which bears our guilt and our shame must be perfect. But, divine faith, nothing but divine faith, could accomplish that.
But, faith in itself, cannot accomplish propitiation. Faith cannot pay a payment to satisfy our debt. Faith cannot wash away our sins. Faith cannot provide any righteousness. Faith is not Christ or the cross of Christ. Faith is not the altar. Faith is not the mercy seat. Faith is not the incense. Faith does not work, but accepts a work that's already done 2000 years ago. Faith does not wash, but leads us to the fountain filled with blood that washes us and makes us clean everywhit, everywhit. Not a flaw, not a wrinkle, everywhit.
Always at the cross. You know these guys, I read it sometimes.They said Jesus has done all He can do, let's get on with it and do something else. Faith goes on-always at the cross. Always there. Where will you go? To whom will you go?
Faith is like a beggar with an outstretched hand -- always taking but never giving. Faith is never the rich man's gold. It's always the cable, never the anchor; always the knocker but never the door; not the palace nor the table; always the handmaid and not the mistress. It's the window that lets the light in.
Not faith, but Christ. Faith has no mooring in itself. It joins us to infinite worthiness, the infinite worthiness of Him in whom the Father delights, and in whom the Father presents us perfect in a perfection of Him. Faith is not that foundation laid in Zion. Faith only brings us to that foundation, grounded and settled that we may not be moved from the hope of the Gospel. It receives the good news!
The last thing I want to say is that faith never leads us away from the cross to which it first lead us to. It's not faith, it is Christ. He is our all and in all, not justified by faith in order to have a righteousness.