Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 4 * BOOK 21
REDEMPTION AND JUSTIFICATION
Now to return to our study in the Book of Romans, and that would be in Romans Chapter 4. We have been talking about Abraham of course who had been steeped in idolatry as a young man in the city of Ur, and where upon God reached down in Grace, and told him to leave the city, his family, and go to place that He would show him. And Abraham believed God! Now we’ll look at verse 5 again, where Paul again is building his case that Abraham was declared righteous only because he believed God. Now we’re going to carry that a little further in these succeeding verses.
“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
So when you believe on the one that can justify ungodly people, then that faith or that kind of believing is counted. Now that word counted here comes from a Greek word that was a bookkeeping term, and is used in many other places in Romans as imputed or put to the account. In fact let me show you the same word in a setting that will be easy to understand. Let’s come back to the Book of Philemon and it’s the same identical word, and yet here it is used in a way that we can readily understand the setting. Now if you remember Onesimus had been a slave and had run away from his owner Philemon, and while he was away Onesimus had come across Paul’s Gospel and had become a believer. And now Paul says to be an obedient believer that he should go back to his master Philemon, but he doesn’t want Philemon to come down hard on Onesimus as a disobedient slave, and so Paul is pleading with Philemon to accept the man back as a Christian brother without any punishment. Now as we come into verse 18, we will find this such a beautiful illustration of the word `imputed’ as we see it in the Book of Romans. But let’s begin with verse 15:
“For perhaps he (Onesimus) therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord (now Philemon now has a real servant in Onesimus, not only for his physical need but Onesimus is now a believer, and that would give him a fellowship)? If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself (Paul is saying to Philemon, when Onesimus comes back to you open the door to him like you would if it were me). If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account;”
Now what’s Paul talking about? Impute it to me. Paul says if Onesimus owes you anything of monetary value then don’t take it from him because after all he was still just a common slave, but rather Paul says, “Put it to my account and I’ll pay it when I come.” Now it’s the same Greek word that we see back here in the Book of Romans as counted in verse 5. In other words here as an unbeliever we have this long list of debts that there is no way we can pay. It’s just a burden, and there is no way we could ever pay it off. But by virtue of our believing the Gospel for our Salvation, what has God done with that debt? Canceled it! And on the other side of the ledger God puts the whole bank roll of heaven to our account. Now again that’s beyond our comprehension. But that’s what Salvation does. It cancels our sin debt and never again will God confront any believer with his sins.
I remember years ago I was asked to call on a couple who had been going through some trying times, and the husband had a debilitating disease, and I didn’t know them that well. I had never met them but I stopped by at the insistence of some of their friends just to encourage them a little bit. And as the lady of the house escorted me to the door as I was leaving she said, “Les isn’t this all because of some horrible sin in our past?” I said, “Now wait a minute. Are you believers, do you know the Lord as your Savior?” She said “Oh, yeah.” I said, “Then don’t you know what the Scripture teaches that all your sins have been forgiven?”
“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses (past, present, and future):”
It’s been wiped off the slate and never will you be confronted with sin when we stand before God. If The Lord should come this very moment and you and I had done something this day before noon that was wrong, and we hadn’t had time to confess it, do you think we are going to come up in The Lord’s presence and have Him say, “Now wait a minute that Wednesday before noon you sinned and haven’t taken care of it.” Why of course not. We’re forgiven the moment we sin, and that’s so hard for people to comprehend. They say, well, then that’s license. No it isn’t. That’s just simply the Grace of God that says that God will never come back at us and accuse of still having sin on our ledger. It’s been wiped completely clean, and the whole bank roll of Heaven has been put to our account. And what am I talking about? God’s righteousness! All of God’s righteousness has been imputed to our account, and that’s what it said concerning Abraham. Now let’s read on.
“Even as David…”
Now the Old Testament economy, when it comes to forgiveness and Salvation as I have said so often, is hard to put your thumb on it. It’s hard to reckon some of these things. They had Salvation, no doubt about it. But it wasn’t as delineated as we see it now in Paul’s teachings. For us, I mean the whole thing is just laid out so beautifully. It’s explained and we can understand it. But nevertheless there was still a Salvation in the Old Testament that Paul could go back and relate to, and he even uses David, and we don’t ordinarily think of David as the man of faith that Abraham was, but here’s what it says.
“Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth (puts to the account) righteousness without works,”
God imputes righteousness without our doing a thing. Now let’s not confuse that with Christian good works. Turn with me for a moment to the Book of Ephesians, Chapter 2.
“For by grace (the unmerited favor of God) are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves (there isn’t anything you and I can do for Salvation except believe): it is the gift of God:” Just ask yourself this question, Do you work for a gift? Do you merit a gift? Never! If so then it would no longer be a gift.
“Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Now look at verse 10. As a result of our faith in the finished work of Christ being accomplished on our behalf, and it is now appropriated by our faith, God has imputed His righteousness to our account, but what does He expect?
“For we are his workmanship,…”
In other words when God saves us He doesn’t leave us like a wreck, but rather He makes us a new person. He gives us a whole new personality, we’re not the old person we used to be, so we are a new creation. Now I stand to be corrected but I believe the word “workmanship” has the same Greek connection as our word “symphony.” And I like that. There are a lot of people who don’t care for symphony music, but I still like a beautiful symphony orchestra. I think it just has sounds that are unbelievable. Now in that symphonic music are all these various types of instruments, and they all melt together for that beautiful sound. Now what brought all that together? The composer. As he sat and was able to put all the scores of all these various instruments together and when they all play the song, out comes this beautiful music. Now that takes something. All right, now that’s where we are, when God transforms us and makes us His child we become a symphonic work of art. We become a thing of beauty. That’s what we should be, we’re His workmanship. We are the result of the work of the eternal God because we believe.
“For we are his workmanship, created (what does that imply? Just as big a miracle as when God created the universe, and I want people to know that. that when God saves a son of Adam and makes him a new person, it’s as great a work of creation as when He created the universe in the first place. That’s what people need to comprehend, that as a believer we are a unique creation of the only Creator in the universe, and that’s God Himself) in Christ Jesus unto good works (absolutely!),….”
God expects the believer to perform the good works, but not for Salvation. Good works are a result of Salvation. Remember when we were studying in the Book of Matthew, Chapter 25 at the end of the Tribulation. Christ will bring all the survivors before Him in Jerusalem. There won’t be many of them, but the ones that survive He is going to separate them. The believers from the unbelievers, sheep and goats, and He’s going to say to the sheep the following:
“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels (that’s us as believers) with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats; And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, `Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:'”
It wasn’t their good works that performed their Salvation, but rather their Salvation that caused them to perform the works. And then when He comes to the goats, the unbelievers He said:
“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, `Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels; For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked. and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison and ye visited me not.’ Then shall they also answer him, saying, `Lord, when saw we thee an hungred or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?’ Then shall he answer them saying, `Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me:'”
What’s Christ saying? You didn’t receive, and believe their message of Salvation, but on the contrary you rejected it and you had no concern for their physical needs. So Depart: Well what was their problem? They didn’t believe. And why had the ones on the right, the sheep, met their need? Because they were believers. Their good works followed their Salvation. And it’s the same way here in this verse in Ephesians. I think anyone can understand that our society today would not be in the mess that it’s in, our welfare system wouldn’t be the gross mismanaged mess that it is if the Christian community would have done their good works from day one. But we failed. See, in reality all these welfare programs should have been carried on by the believing element. But you see, too many Christian good works have gone by the board, as well as everything else, but here the Scripture says:
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained (what does that mean? This is the way He set it up, and this is the way He planned it that the Christian community should be the practitioner of good works) that we should walk in them.”
Now go to I Corinthians Chapter 3. We’ve touched on these things before, but we need to repeat some of these things from time to time. Now here Paul is dealing with this other side of our Christian experience. He’s not dealing with the Salvation end of it, but rather the works/reward part of it. And let’s look what he says:
I Corinthians 3:9-11
“For we are laborers together with God (we can’t do anything alone): ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder (Paul says), I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man (believer) take heed (be careful) how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay that that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
In other words, He’s the foundation of our Salvation experience. He’s the foundation of our Christian life, and by virtue of our Christian life and works we become builders. We are building onto this building that we are constructing with God, and God gives us six materials to build with. Three of these materials will withstand the heat and fire, and three of them will go up in a puff of smoke. Now let’s look what the Scriptures say:
I Corinthians 3:12,13
“Now if any man build upon this foundation (as believers) gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s (believers only) works shall be made manifest (put in the spotlight): for the day shall declare it (the day when we come before the righteous Judge in Heaven), because it shall be revealed by fire;…” This is not hell fire. One of the descriptions of Christ is that He has eyes of fire as we find in Revelation Chapter 19.
“His (Christ) eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns: and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.”
So as we come up before Him, and I think it will be at the judgment seat of Christ in II Corinthians Chapter 5, it will not be for Salvation, never to answer for sin, but we’ll have to answer for rewards. What, as a believer, have we done to further the Kingdom. And so those fiery eyes will penetrate our whole Christian record. What did we build with? Was it wood, hay, and stubble, or gold, silver, and precious stones or maybe a mixture of both. Now when those fiery eyes are finished, what’s going to be left? Only the three elements that won’t melt in heat. So that means only the gold, silver, and precious stones. And on that basis God is going to give us rewards then for eternity. Responsibilities is what I think the rewards will be. This has nothing to do with the crown, but responsibilities that will be given to us in the Kingdom.
Now then, believers have a lot of wood, hay, and stubble, and it will count for nothing. Others are going to have a little gold, silver, and a few precious stones symbolically, and they’re going to receive rewards. Others are going to have a lot of those, and they will receive a lot of rewards. So what’s the whole lesson? Yes, we’re saved by faith + nothing, but what are we immediately to do? Work and serve, and do everything to God’s glory because the rewards are piling up. I heard many years ago someone put it just that way. “Everything that you do for God’s glory, you’re sending ahead.” It’s waiting for us. It’s going to be there when we get there, and then we’re going to be able to cash in on these rewards. While we’re here let’s clear up a few false impressions as we read verses 13-15.
I Corinthians 3:13-15
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest (not a single believer will escape these fiery eyes of the Lord as He judges our works): for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned (he’s got nothing but hay, wood, and stubble. He never worked for the gold, silver, and precious stones), he shall suffer loss (not of his Salvation, but rather of rewards, he’ll have none): but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
Now that’s what The Book says. You and I might think that they won’t deserve being saved, but your Salvation is not based on works. Their Salvation was based on their faith and nothing else. We should always strive for rewards and live a fruitful life for our Lord. And listen, those rewards are going to be enjoyed for all eternity. What’s seventy or eighty years in this life by comparison? It’s absolutely nothing. You know Paul used so often the analogy of the Olympic athletic, Why do you suppose they trained? Why did they strive to win? Because of that silly little wreath that they could take home, and it would be dried up even before they got home. So Paul’s analogy is this: “If those men did all of that just to get a silly little wreath for their rewards, then how much more we should strive for rewards when we have something that’s not going to shrivel up and die, but is eternal.” Now back to Romans.
“Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputed righteousness without works, Saying, `Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.'”
Why? Because they are all forgiven!