Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 3 * BOOK 21
THE IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD
ROMANS 4 – 5:5
I’ve had people ask me what qualifications I have. Well, I’m just a layman, and a rancher, but I’ve spent a lot of time in The Book. People also ask me how I got the ability to teach. When I was in the service I was working in a operating room and they were doing kidney surgery on a fellow. We were all around that operating table and the tubes were going in and out of this guy from every body opening. The doctor was flushing those kidneys, and we were oooing and aaahing, and the Colonel stopped what he was doing and said, “Wait a moment folks, anyone who has done this procedure as often as I have can do the same thing.” And you know that’s the way I have to look at my teaching experience. If you teach 5, 6 or 7 nights a week for over twenty years then you could also do what I’m doing. That’s just where it comes from. When you’re in The Book that often, and you’ve got people bombarding you with questions, if I didn’t learn, then there would be something drastically wrong. But anyway that’s where I have gotten my education. Questions over the years from our students have made me study.
Now back to our study. We are still dealing with Abraham as the epitome of a man of faith who was justified by doing nothing, he merited nothing. He was raised in, and living in abject idolatry, he had no knowledge of the One true God, and yet God saw in that man the potential to believe what He said, and so he spoke to him, and as I have said before, I think God appeared to him in a physical form, and more than once. He came down and communicated with this man, and so now Paul, by inspiration, again goes back to Abraham as the perfect example of what it is to be justified, made totally righteous by faith and faith alone. Let’s start with Romans 4:13, and we’ll come on down to where we left off in the last lesson.
“For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith, For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath:…”
Now that’s hard for people to swallow, if only they knew that’s what this Book says they wouldn’t be so glib, and say, “Well I think I’ll make it because I’m keeping the commandments.” Hey the commandments can only bring them one thing, and that’s the wrath of God, it’s not going to bring them to Heaven. I had a lady call the other day and ask,“Now that we are under Grace does that mean we don’t have to keep the commandments, and don’t have to pay any attention to the Law.” Oh listen, I’ve never said anything like that. In fact I’m always saying that Grace is not a license. Let’s turn for a moment to Chapter 13. Nowhere do I or the Scripture teach that just because we are saved by Grace that we are now free to do as we please. Those Ten Commandants are still the perfect Law of a Holy God, there’s no denying that. And so Paul makes reference to them throughout his letters, but here in Romans he refers to them more than anyplace else.
“Owe (or defraud, that’s what the word `owe’ really means) no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another (and remember my definition of love which is seeking the other person’s highest good) hath fulfilled the law.”
And that’s the only way you can fulfill the Law, Israel certainly couldn’t fulfill it, they couldn’t keep it, they were constantly breaking it. But you see when love is operating, then you can’t break the Law. If you really love someone you can’t talk about them behind their back. If you really love someone you’re not going to steal what is theirs. If you really love someone you’re not going to enter into an immoral relationship, not if you really love them, and I’ve tried to stress this to young people. And when some young fellow says, “Oh, if you love me!” Bologna! That’s not love, that’s instant gratification. Always remember, true love seeks the other person’s highest good, whatever that may be. Now verse 9, and with this as the backdrop, under Grace what does it say?
“For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet;…”
Plain enough? Absolutely that becomes the guideline for Christian life. We’re not free to break the Law, but it’s just that we are not under the demands of the Law. In fact several years ago I would use this illustration in my classes here in Oklahoma of two kinds of marriages. Let’s just say we have an arranged marriage by the parents of a young man and young lady that have been brought together without any love involved, no romance, no courtship. I can visualize in order for that couple to get along even for twenty four hours, that you will find that she’s going to put a list of rules and regulations on the refrigerator door that lets the old boy know what she will stand for and what she won’t. You will do this, and not do that. So what does he do? Well, he looks at those rules like a bull at a new gate, and says, “Huh, I can do better than that,” and he puts his list up right beside it. And his list says to her you will and you will not, now what is that? That’s legalism. That’s law.
But let the two people come together by virtue of a courtship, romance, love, and marriage, do they need those lists? No, because love is going to accomplish it without having it written and demanded. It’s the same way in the spiritual. Yes, under the law God had to say “Thou shalt and Thou shalt not.” In fact I’ve made the point in my teachings, go through the Old Testament, and see how much love there is. You will find very little, and the reason is love wasn’t the key. It was commandments, but as soon as you get into Grace what is it? Love, love, love. Do you see the difference?
“Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace;…”
Now Grace is the next word that we must stop and define. Again I’m afraid that most of Christendom has no comprehension of this word. They just don’t understand the Grace of God. It’s His unmerited favor, that here the Holy, Sinless, Righteous Creator; Sovereign, Powerful, Infinite God, can reach down and become flesh, and walk those filthy dirty streets of Palestine and Jerusalem. He heard all the foul language of that day, just like it would be today, and He walked in the midst of all that. He went and suffered and died on a Roman Cross. We’re talking about the God of Creation remember. Why? Because He loved mankind, and that’s the only reason, and what’s most of mankind doing with it? They’re walking it underfoot, they couldn’t care less.
And you know I’m amazed that we get as much response as we do, because most people are just totally ignorant of an eternity to come. Some folks were telling me the other day that they had asked someone what was going to happen to them after they died? They responded with, “Going to Hell I guess.” They don’t know what they’re saying; most will say, “Well I never thought about it.” They never consider that after this life ends, whether it be ten years, eighty, or a hundred that there’s an eternity. We’re going to live in eternity someplace, it’s either going to be in God’s presence or the Lake of Fire out of His presence. But whatever, the Scripture says, “That if it’s going to be of Grace, then we have to keep our hands off of it, we have to let it be totally the unmerited favor of God on our behalf.” Now that’s Grace! Reading on in verse 16:
“Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,” In what realm? In the Spiritual. And the reason is that Abraham was the first that walked by faith without Law, without circumcision. Abraham came out of abject idolatry, and walked by faith, and that’s where we have to come from. Verse 17:
“(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) (and of course that’s back in the Old Testament) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.” I think that goes back even to the work of Creation where the Scripture tells us that God created everything out of nothing. And that’s God’s prerogative. He can take that which is nothing, and He can make it something, and only God can do that. I think it’s the same way in the spiritual realm on our behalf. We’re nothing, but God makes us something. See? Now reading on.
“Who (speaking of Abraham again) against hope believed in hope (in other words against common sense. Why? He’s a hundred years old. His wife is ninety, and God keeps telling them that they’re going to have a son. You’re going to have a nation of people come from your body. Now that’s against hope, yet against hope what did he do? He had genuine hope, and he knew how ridiculous it may have seem to the human intellect, to the physical understanding of reproduction, he knew that much, yet somehow or other God was going to bring it to pass, and of course we know He did), that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.” In other words, out of Abraham and Sarah came Isaac, Jacob, Esau and Ishmael of course. We have all these nations of people that came on the earth. Now verse 19.
“And being not weak in faith,…”
You know even ourselves, we’re living in a fast paced culture, and it’s awful easy to lose faith. Things begin to overwhelm us, and it’s so easy for any of us to suddenly think, “Where is God? I just can’t sense His presence. Why are these things falling in on me, where is He?” I imagine that people ask that everyday. Calamity, and accidents strike, and the first thing the human mind says is, “Well where’s God.” And it’s so easy then for faith to literally get crushed under the circumstances. But always come back to this man Abraham. I think Abraham was about fifty years old when God made all those promises to him while he was in Ur. And Abraham didn’t leave Haran until he was seventy-five years old. He didn’t father Ishmael until he was near eighty. And then finally, when he was a hundred and Sarah ninety, God performs and the promises become fulfilled. But you see he had almost fifty years with just the promises and nothing had happened.
I look at the circumstances and I can’t blame old Abraham a bit for listening to Sara, and having have a child by a slave girl. Can you? My, after all, God wasn’t doing anything. And you see this is where we come from so often. But God you’re not doing anything. Hey, we must sit back and and remember this is how God works. His wheels grind slowly, but surely. And finally after fifty years of promises here comes the child. Unbelievable? Yeah, from the human element. But you see it becomes a New Testament illustration. Oh I sometimes think all these things happened on purpose so that we could have it in our New Testament. Now finish verse 19:
“And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb (remember she’s ninety): He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief;…”
How many times have you gone back and looked at Israel when she stood at the gates of the promised land at Kadesh Barnea. They had just came from Sinai and they now have the tabernacle, the priesthood, and everything is now in place and God has promised that He would drive out the Canaanites by using hornets, and whatever needs to be done so that they will leave everything for you. Their gardens, their vineyards, and orchards, and fields and houses; everything is going to be ready for you. He would drive them out, and all they had to do was walk in and take it. And poor old Israel stood there. What was their problem? UNBELIEF!
They couldn’t believe what God said, and so their step of unbelief was, “Well, Moses send in spies. If the spies come back and tell us that we can do it then we’ll go in.” That wasn’t God’s idea. God never instructed those twelve spies. He finally condescended, and said, “Yes, go ahead.” But you see they were gone forty days and then they came back with that horrible report, “Oh we can’t take it, because they’re like giants and we are like grasshoppers in their sight.” And they moaned and groaned all that night. What was their problem? Unbelief, and to show you that in Scripture, let’s go for a moment to the Book of Hebrews Chapter 3. Let’s jump in at verse 16. I feel the Apostle Paul wrote this great book.
“For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses, But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness?…”
Usually when I teach this verse we have to remember that we need to back up just a few weeks, and around Mount Sinai. Moses had been up on the mountain for thirty or forty days, and the children of Israel said, “Oh we don’t know what’s happened to Moses.” So they go to Aaron and what do they ask for? An idol, and Aaron goes along with the idea, and comes up with the craziest story you ever heard. He said, “He had thrown this gold in the fire and out came this golden calf.” We know that’s ridiculous, but that’s what it says. Nevertheless, not only did they make the golden calf, but what was their behavior around it? Abject immorality as was always part and parcel of idolatry. Here they were in their stark nakedness and abject immorality. And of course God judged them for those sins, and a few thousand died because of it.
But nevertheless when they get up here to Kadesh Barnea, and the land is in front of them, it wasn’t the unbelief that they practiced around that old golden calf that brought in the wrath of God. Oh that was easy for Him to forgive, but it was their unbelief that they could not take the land that God said they could. And that was His controversy, that was it, it wasn’t anything else, but the fact that they couldn’t take Him at His Word. Now it’s going to be the same way with millions of people that will come before the Great White Throne. We’re talking about good people, but what was their sin? Unbelief! They could not believe what God said concerning the work of the Cross. And I grant you that it is hard from the human element to comprehend that the Creator God took on flesh and was crucified, was buried and rose from the dead. And by that act of death and suffering, and then being raised from the dead, then God can pass out Salvation to the whole human race (Reference I Corinthians 15:1-4). It’s hard to comprehend. I explained pardon several lessons ago. I maintain that every human being that has ever lived has already been pardoned by virtue of the work of the Cross. Their pardon is accomplished, the only reason they’re not going to receive it is they will not appropriate it by faith. And you see that’s what’s going to make their eternal doom so horrible. For jillions of years they are going to say, “I rejected my pardon.” And this is what we have to understand; and this is where it becomes our responsibility to let people know that they don’t have to go to that awful place, they don’t have to be separated from God. Their pardon is already done, just believe it. Now read on in Hebrews Chapter 3.
“And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that (were immoral? No, but to them that) believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”
And we have the same problems today. Oh if I can clean up my act, and change my ways, then I’ll become a Christian. But that’s not the way you do it. You do it when you are yet ungodly, and we’ll come to that when we get to Romans Chapter 5. Now continuing on in Romans Chapter 4 for a few more minutes.
“He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded (there wasn’t an ounce of doubt in Abraham’s mind that God was going to do what He said He was going to do) that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it (his believing + nothing) was imputed to him for righteousness.”
I mentioned a few lessons back that `imputed’ was a bookkeeping term in the Greek. It was just like putting it on the account. And so Abraham’s believing was literally placed to his account on the ledgers of Heaven that he is now a righteous man. Now verse 23.
“Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;” It’s not going to stop with Abraham. But now it leaps almost four thousand years to your time and mine, and here we are almost four thousand years after the fact, and it’s still appropriate.
“But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed (we can get the same put to the account as Abraham did. And how do we do it?), if we believe (oh listen, how many different groups have put everything else in there except that? If we do this and if we do that, but beloved that’s not what it says. If we believe) on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;” There’s your Gospel again. Do you see it? That Christ died for you, was buried, and rose from the dead. And that’s all you must believe for your Salvation. (Reference I Corinthians 15:1-4 another good one is Romans 10:9-10) Now let’s finish the chapter with verse 25:
“Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.”
Oh, if Christ had not been raised from the dead, then the Apostle Paul couldn’t have written about justification. Then the plan of redemption would have never been complete. But He did. He arose victorious over sin, the old Devil, the old flesh, and the world around us, and we take it by faith. Another verse came to mind in II Corinthians that we need to use right here.
II Corinthians 5:21
“For he (God) hath made him (The Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
What does that mean? We know Christ was God, we know He was sinless, we know He never committed a single sin, not even in the thought processes. So what has He done with that? He has imputed it to our account. And now God looks on you and looks on me, and He doesn’t see Les Feldick or any of you by name, He sees Christ! Because everything that Christ was and is has now been placed on you. How? By Faith! But you see it doesn’t stop there. Of course we’re going to get busy, of course we’re going to be a testimony, of course we’re going to have a concern for lost people. There is nothing that thrills me more than to have a new convert be suddenly overwhelmed with the lost condition of their family, or loved ones, their neighbors, or the people they’re working with. And they get consumed with the fact that these people are lost, and that’s as it should be. That’s how God intended it to be. That’s why He’s left us here, that we can constantly remind lost people that it isn’t what you do, or what you think you can become, but rather it’s what you do in the area of faith. Do you believe it? Have you appropriated it? Have you genuinely considered Who Jesus was?
I had a gentlemen several years ago come into my kitchen, and his first question was, “Who in the world is Jesus Christ?” And it was a legitimate question, because he didn’t know. But listen, when the Holy Spirit begins to reveal to our understanding who He is then we know that He’s the God of glory who died for us.