Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome. More specifically today’s passages is found in the fourth and fifth chapter of this New Testament book. “What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justified the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God I putteth righteousness without work, 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. Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? For we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it it then reckoned? When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: and the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet circumcised. 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: for where now law is, there is no transgression. 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, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. 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 Sara’s womb: he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:1-25).
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience hop: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is g oven unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:1-11).
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification. For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of the one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be Mande righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:12-21).
When you come to the fourth and fifth chapters of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome you will find the apostle further seeking to explain this justification of faith according to the free gift of God. Thus far within this epistle the apostle Paul has sought to convey the incredible and tremendous reality that we are justified without and apart from the Law of Moses. What’s more is the apostle Paul has sought to describe how we are justified by God without works lest any man among us should boast. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for as you approach the fourth chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul you will find him appealing to the life of the patriarch Abraham to further illustrate this incredible reality. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there is something truly captivating about the words and language the apostle Paul uses. There is something truly astonishing within this particular epistle for within it the apostle Paul desires to demonstrate that men and women are indeed justified according to the free gift from God that can only come by and through faith. This particular reality was first illustrated in the first chapter when the apostle Paul declared that he was not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus for he knew and understood that it was the power of God unto salvation. What’s more is the apostle Paul recognized that although the gospel was unto the Jew first and then unto the Gentile there was no distinction between the two. In addition to this the apostle Paul would declare how it was written in the Old Testament how the just shall live by their faith.
I am absolutely convinced there is a great need to pay close attention to the words which are found within this passage of Scripture for it brings us face to face with the supreme reality that exists within the concept of justification. There would indeed be those who think that we can indeed be justified by the Law of Moses and that righteousness can indeed be found in adherence and obeisance to the Law of Moses. The truth of the matter is that if justification and righteousness could indeed come by obedience to the Law and from the Law itself there would have been no need for the sacrifice of Jesus. In all reality I would dare say that it was the Law of Moses itself which necessitated and warranted the sacrifice which the Lord Jesus made upon the cross two-thousand years ago. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for when we think and speak of justification by faith we must recognize and acknowledge that this justification does in fact come by and through faith in a gift that was given unto us freely. There was and there absolutely no works we could ever attempt to attempt, achieve or attain that we might indeed experience this justification in the sight of the living God. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for there is something truly captivating about it when you take the time to think about it. This justification can indeed and can in fact only come by and through faith without and apart from the works of the Law—something the apostle Paul would further illustrate and demonstrate in the various epistles he wrote unto the churches.
It is with this in mind I invite you to consider just some of the passages found within the epistles the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints and churches which were scattered throughout Europe and Asia. I am absolutely convinced there is a great need for us to carefully consider the words and language that is found in these epistles and writings for they further illustrate the incredible truth surrounding this justification and how this justification cannot and does not come by works nor does it come through the Law of Moses itself. If you want to truly understand this concept of justification there must needs be a wonderful and powerful understanding that this justification does indeed and does in fact come as a direct result of our faith in the free gift of God that was given and bestowed unto us by the eternal and living God. Having said this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention first and foremost to the words which are found in the third chapter of this New Testament epistle written unto the Roman saints beginning with the twenty-first verse. Consider now if you will the following words presented in these various writings of the apostle Paul and how they further illustrate the knowledge and understanding that we are indeed justified by faith through and according to the free gift of the eternal and living God bestowed and given unto us:
“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? That a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes of the Gentiles also: seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:21-31).
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory ofg God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience, and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:1-11).
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to commendation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification. For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteousness. Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:12-21).
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:1-11).
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and preacher to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (That is, to bring Christ down from above) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (That is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) 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; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Gree: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him oof whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will p revoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Esias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people” (Romans 10:1-21).
Consider if you will the following words which are found the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia and how he described this justification which came by faith in the free gift of God through Christ and not by or through works:
“But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas was also carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build against the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God; for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Galatians 2:11-21).
“Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not a a mediator of one, but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many af you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” i(Galatians 3:19-29).
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherweith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be. And I, brethren, If I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? Then is the offense of the cross ceased. I would they were even cut off which trouble you” (Galatians 5:1-12).
It is quite clear—even from the writings of the apostle Paul unto the churches of Galatia within this epistle—that he sought to demonstrate and illustrate the tremendous and incredible truth surrounding this justification which comes not by nor through the Law. What’s more is that this justification does not come through any works we can conjure up within and throughout our lives. There are absolutely no works which we as the saints and people of God can do within our lives thinking and believing that they can and/or will somehow produce justification in the sight of the living God. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of as it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous reality surrounding this justification which cannot nor will not ever come through works, nor through the Law, nor even through circumcision. For the churches which were in Galatia it is quite obvious there were those who sought to creep in among them preaching a different gospel, a different Jesus and offering a different Spirit than that which they had received. This new gospel that was preached unto them suggested that they did in fact need to be circumcised that they might indeed and might in fact be saved and experience salvation in the sight and presence of the living God. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of when reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth of how the Jews which were present during those days sought to compel the Gentiles to be circumcised that they might experience salvation. What’s more is that not only would they experience salvation as a result of being justified but they would also experience justification which can and will only come through faith alone in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and the free gift of God. With this in mind I Invite you to consider the following words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts concerning those who sought to come to Antioch and troubled them concerning the need for Gentiles to be circumcised that they might experience salvation and justification:
“And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses” (Acts 15:1-5).
“And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, p unifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them” (Acts 15:6-12).
“And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: but that we write unto them, that they Alastair from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day” (Acts 15:13-21).
“Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: and they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well” (Acts 15:22-29).
When you read the words presented in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find that there were certain brethren which believed who came in unto the Christians which were at Antioch and troubled them. The means whereby they troubled them came through their preaching and declaring unto them that they needed to be circumcised in order that they might experience salvation and justification in the sight and presence of the living God. This is something which we must needs pay close attention to for when we come to the fourth epistle written by the apostle Paul unto both the saints which were at Rome as well as the churches which were in Galatia we find him emphatically declaring that we are indeed justified by faith alone in the free gift of God which comes by and through the person of Jesus Christ. There were indeed those who thought that the Gentiles needed to be circumcised according to that which was given unto Abraham that they might experience justification and be saved in the sight of the living God. The truth of the matter, however, is that this really isn’t so. If you turn and direct your attention to the tenth and eleventh chapters of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the apostle Peter being the first of the apostles and brethren to bring and preach the word and name of the Lord Jesus Christ unto the Gentiles. It would be unto Cornelius and unto his entire household the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ was preached unto. What’s more is that not only was the word and name of the Lord Jesus preached unto Cornelius and his entire household which were themselves Gentiles but they were also baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. As if this weren’t enough they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit without the Law, without circumcision and without being themselves Jews by nature. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts beginning with the tenth chapter and the first and opening verse:
“There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: he longeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. And when he angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devour soldier of them that waited on him continually; and when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa” (Acts 10:1-8).
“On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: and he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, and saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: wherein were all manner of four footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven” (Acts 10:9-16).
“Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made iniquity for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate, and called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there. While Peter through on the vision, the Spirit said unto hi, Behold, three men seek three. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye see: What is the cause wherefore ye are come? And they said, Cornelius the centurion a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends” (Acts 10:17-24).
“And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me? And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God” (Acts 10:25-33).
“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and work ethic righteousness, is accepted with him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: 9He is Lord of all) that word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he command us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of the quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:34-44).
“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peer, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days” (Acts 10:44-48).
I am absolutely convinced there is a great need to recognize and pay attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for within it we encounter and come face to face with Gentiles who knew not the Law nor were circumcised being baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. What’s more is that in this passage of Scripture we find Gentiles who knew not the Law nor were circumcised being baptized with water—baptism unto repentance for the remission of sins. In addition to this we find these Gentiles receiving the free gift of the Holy Spirit who not only came upon but also baptized and filled them. Within this passage of Scripture we find these Gentiles being baptized with the baptism of John in water as well as being baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire as the Holy Spirit would come upon them after being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the truly wonderful truth surrounding the incredible truth of Gentiles being justified in the sight of the living God before and without circumcision. As if this weren’t enough we find within this passage of Scripture Gentiles who knew not the Law nor gave themselves to it were indeed justified in the sight of the living God. Oh this is something truly captivating when you take the time to consider it for it brings us face to face with the truth around these Gentiles receiving the free gift of the Spirit which was indeed a sign, a seal and a pledge of that which was to come as the apostle Paul would write in the epistle written unto the saints which were at Ephesus.
It is absolutely undeniable and unmistakeable when reading the words presented in the New Testament that the free gift of salvation and justification was not for nor was it unto the Jews alone. Within the New Testament we find that the eternal and living God drew no distinction between Jews and Gentiles and that both could be justified in His sight and freely through the free gift which was received by faith. Within the tenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find the apostle Peter preaching unto Cornelius and his entire household and close friends the word, the name and the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the incredible truth surrounding the reality of these Gentiles who weren’t circumcised being baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Not only this but it was the Holy Spirit Himself who ordained, initiated and appointed this divine encounter between the apostle Peter and Cornelius and his entire household. This whole event wasn’t ordained by any man nor did it come from the will, plan or purpose of man. What we find within this passage of Scripture is that it was the living and eternal God Himself who orchestrated the events which took place on this particular day as the living God would send his angel to Caesarea and unto the house of Caesarea and would release the vision which the apostle Peter would see in Joppa. It was the work of the divine plan and operation of God that the apostle Peter and Cornelius and his household were brought together and it would be there in Caesarea where the living God would demonstrate that he made no distinction between Jew and Gentile.
If you return to the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome you will find him further demonstrating and illustrating that man is justified in the sight of God through the free gift of God by faith in the name of Jesus who is the eternal and only begotten Son. It was the apostle Paul who would later on in this epistle declare that if we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe with our hearts that God raised him from death to life on the third day we shall be saved. What’s more is the apostle Paul would also declare that it is with the heart that we believe unto righteousness and it is with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Oh there is something truly astonishing about this particular truth and something we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome for within this passage we find the apostle Paul further demonstrating this justification which comes by faith—and not only this justification which comes by faith but which comes without and apart from both the Law and by works. IN order to demonstrate and explain this justification without and apart from the Law the apostle Paul would indeed use the narrative and account of Abraham and how the living and eternal God justified him without and apart from the law. What’s more is that if you read the Old Testament book of Genesis you will find that not only did God justify Abraham without the Law for the Law did not come until Moses but the living God also justified Abraham without and apart from circumcision. The apostle Paul would indeed appeal unto the narrative and life of Abraham to demonstrate unto the saints which were at Rome that Abraham was justified without and apart from the Law and even works for neither had in fact come or were present at that particular point in time.
The more you read the words which are found in the fourth chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome you will find the apostle Paul using and appealing to the life of Abraham for it is the life of Abraham that demonstrates and reveals that we as the saints and disciples of the living God can indeed be justified without and apart from the works of the Law and even without and apart from circumcision. This is something which must needs be acknowledge when speaking about our own justification in the sight of the living God for we must needs recognize and understand that we have indeed been called to a place where we recognize that we are Gentiles who have indeed been grafted into the vine together with the Jews. What was indeed first and foremost unto and fore the Jews has been and still is available unto the Gentiles as well. We dare not and must not lose sight of and ignore this for through the life of Abraham the apostle Paul would demonstrate that Abraham who was the father of all those who believe and the father of faith itself was indeed justified by faith in the sight and presence of God without and apart from the Law and without circumcision. Abraham had neither circumcision nor the Law and was justified in the sight of the living God for it was written in the Old Testament book of Genesis that Abraham believed God and it was credited unto him as righteousness. Oh pause for a moment and consider this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding Abraham and how he simply believed and it was credited unto him for righteousness. Abraham neither performed any work nor obeyed and adhered to the Law and yet he was justified in the sight and presence of the living God. Abraham had not yet been circumcised in the sight and presence of the living God and that would be given unto him later on as a sign of the covenant which the living and eternal God had entered into with him.
It is at this juncture I find it absolutely necessary to first and foremost call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis. It is in the fifteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis we find the account of Abraham believing God and it being credited unto him as righteousness. It is in the fifteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis we find and encounter the tremendous truth surrounding Abraham believing God and how it was that faith which was credited unto him for righteousness. This is something we must needs recognize and understand if we are to truly understand the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the fourth chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome. Moreover the apostle Paul would indeed appeal to Abraham and his life when writing unto the churches which were in Galatia. As if this weren’t enough we find James also appealing to the life of Abraham when seeking to write and speak of demonstrating faith through works that we must indeed be justified in the sight of the living God. Of course we know and understand that James was in no way declaring that we are justified by works but that the faith which we are justified by must needs have a demonstration and manifestation. Abraham believed God and it was credited unto him as righteousness, however, Abraham was a man of obedience in the sight and presence of the living God. Abraham was a man who did indeed believe God and yet that belief, that faith, that trust and that confidence in the living God would be at the very heart and center of that which he did during those days in which he sojourned in the land of Canaan. What’s more is that even Abraham’s decision to leave his country, to leave his father’s house and depart unto a land unto which the living God would show him would be a demonstration of faith for Abraham would indeed follow and serve a God whom he had previously never encountered nor experienced.
Having said this I now invite you to consider the following words which are found in the twelfth and fifteenth chapters of the Old Testament book of Genesis. It is within these two chapters we not only find the word and voice of the LORD God appearing unto Abraham but we also find Abraham believing the word which the living and eternal God had spoken unto Him. It was that belief in the word which the living and eternal God had spoken unto him he would indeed be justified in the sight and presence of the living God. What’s more is that the life of Abraham must not be merely understood in terms of faith and belief in the word and voice of the living God and not also the demonstration of that faith through works. If there is one thing we must needs understand it’s that faith in and of itself is not enough and cannot stand for it needs an outlet. Faith without demonstration and manifestation among us within our hearts and lives is something which needs to be exercised for it to grow. Just as the physical body and muscles need to be exercised to grow and to become stronger so also does faith need to be exercised in order to grow stronger. Faith is not merely exercised through an inward belief and truth in the sight of the living God but faith is exercised by and through works. There is a great need for us to recognize and understand that faith demands, requires and even expects works for it is through the works our faith is exercised and worked out. It was the apostle Paul who instructed us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling and we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful and truth surrounding the need for both our faith and our salvation to be worked out within and throughout our daily lives as we walk with and before the eternal and living God. Consider now if you will the following words which are found in both the twelfth and fifteenth chapters of the Old Testament book of Genesis concerning the life and account of Abraham who was indeed the patriarch and father of faith and all those who believe and are justified by that faith in the sight and presence of the living God:
“Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall fall families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarnia his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builder he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Beth-el, and pitched his tent, having Beth-el on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builder an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD. And Abraham journeyed, doing on still toward the south” (Genesis 12:1-9).
“After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless,a nd the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abraham said, Behold to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the Lord: and he counted it to him for righteousness. And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaleees, to give thee this land to inherit. And he said, Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? And he said unto him, take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtle dove, and a young pigeon. And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece on against another: but the birds divided he not. And when the fowls came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away. And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell uponA Byram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. And he said unto Abram, know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them: and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river of Euphrates: the Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites” (Genesis 15:1-20).
AND HE BELIEVED IN THE LORD! AND HE COUNTED IT TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS! Please don’t miss the incredible significance and importance of these words for circumcision would not come until the seventeenth chapter which means that this justification and this righteousness came prior to and without it. What’s more is that there were a number of generations from the time of Abraham until Moses for we know that there would be at least four-hundred years of slavery for the children of Israel. What’s more is that there would be the generation of Isaac, the generation of Jacob and Esau, the generation of Joseph and his brethren and then the slavery in the land of Egypt would begin. What’s more is it would be eighty years into the life of Moses before the law was even given unto him. Consider how much time elapsed and passed between the time Abraham believed God and it was credited unto him as righteousness and the giving of the Law. Consider even more how Abraham was indeed justified without and apart from the Law and even the rite of circumcision which would be given unto him at a later time. Abraham simply believed the word which the Lord God had spoken unto him and it was credited unto him as righteousness. It would be this particular truth the apostle Paul would appeal to when writing and speaking unto the saints which were at Rome. The apostle Paul would appeal to this particular truth for through it he sought to demonstrate the undeniable and unmistakable truth that the Gentiles could indeed be justified without and apart from the Law as well as circumcision because Abraham himself was justified without the Law and without circumcision.
If you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul writing concerning Abraham and that if he was and could have been justified by works he had something whereof to glory—but not before God. Moreover the apostle Paul would also write concerning this justification of the words which David the psalmist wrote in the Old Testament book of the Psalms. It would be David who would describe this blessedness when he not only wrote of those whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered as being blessed but also of the blessedness of the man unto whom the LORD will not impute sin. When we think and speak about this reality and concept of justification we must needs recognize that it is directly linked to our standing in the sight and presence of the living God. This justification and righteousness comes not according to the Law nor does it come by and through circumcision and comes instead through the undeniable truth surrounding the Lord bestowing upon us righteousness. This righteousness can best be summarized and understood our iniquities being forgiven and our sins being covered. Moreover this righteousness—this justification—has at the very heart of it the living and eternal God not imputing sin against and upon the individual. Perhaps the best example of this is found in the words which Jesus Himself spoke unto Nicodemus when He declared that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believed in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Not only this but Jesus would also declare unto Nicodemus that God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it but that the world through Him might be saved. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it brings us face to face with the fact that Jesus came into the world and was given as a Son that all those who believe would not be condemned but would have everlasting life. In fact this is what is so beautiful about the narrative and account of the woman who was caught in the act of adultery.
As you read the narrative of the woman who was caught in the act of adultery you will find that not only was she caught in the very act but she stood guilty according to the Law of Moses. Moreover—not only was this woman guilty according to the Law of Moses but this woman also stood accused by religion in the midst of the Temple. ACCUSED BY RELIGION, GUILTY ACCORDING TO THE LAW! ACCUSED, GUILTY AND CONDEMNED! There is something truly captivating about the narrative concerning the woman who was caught in the act of adultery for she was brought into the presence of Jesus who was in the Temple accused of the religious leaders and even declared guilty according to the Law. What’s more is that not only was she guilty according to the Law of Moses but she was also condemned and judged by the Law itself. The scribes and the Pharisees not only accused this woman of being caught in the act of adultery and being guilty in the sight of the Law but they would also demand the sentence and condemnation of the Law. When Jesus heard their accusation and their condemnation He stooped down and began writing in the ground as though he had not heard them speaking. Upon pressing him all the more and further asking Him what His thoughts were Jesus would raise Himself up and declare unto them that he who was without sin might cast the first stone against the woman. The apostle John writes and records how one by one—beginning with the eldest and going on down to the youngest—they would depart from the Temple being convicted in their consciences. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that the only condition for being able to cast a stone—even if the Law demanded and required that stone—was to be without sin. What’s more is that there was only one person in the Temple that day who had every right to cast a stone at and against this woman and instead of choosing to cast stones He would write in the dirt.
WRITING IN DIRT RATHER THAN CASTING STONES! I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found here in the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John and I can’t help but think about the fact that not even religion could cast a stone at this woman. Despite the fact they were considered by many to be holy, and righteous, and just they each had to drop their stones in the midst of the Temple. There was not a single religious person left in the Temple who sought to cast a stone at this woman and even the apostle John writes how after all had left it was simply Himself and the woman who was left standing in the midst. When Jesus asked the woman where her accusers had gone and whether or not there was any to condemn her she simply responded by declaring that she had no accusers This is something we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words found here in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth that the only requirement for casting stones was to be without sin. Those whom culture and society might have considered as being able to cast stones were left dropping those stones to the ground and departing one by one being convicted in their own conscience. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for this woman stood in the presence of Jesus the Christ accused of religion, guilty according to the Law and even sentenced and judged by the Law. When this woman should have found herself being pummeled by stones and ultimately put to death she instead found grace, she instead found compassion and she instead found mercy. Jesus set the standard so high for one to be able to cast the stone that there was not a single person who could cast a stone at this woman. What’s more is not only was there not a single person who could cast a stone at this woman but none of her accusers nor those who would judge and condemn her would remain there in the midst of the Temple. With this being said the one person who could have cast a stone at her and the one person who had every right to do so not only chose not to cast a stone at her but also chose not to condemn her.
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the tremendous reality that is found in the fourth and fifth chapters of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome. The apostle Paul appealed to the life of Abraham to demonstrate that he was justified in the sight of the living God without and apart from works as well as without and apart from circumcision. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of when reading the words presented in this passage for the apostle Paul would also go on to describe how circumcision was given unto Abraham as a seal of righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised. Thus circumcision was not a prerequisite of righteousness but was rather a confirmation of that righteousness. The circumcision which Abraham and all Jews would receive in their flesh was a sign and seal of the faith which Abraham had before the living God. The sign of circumcision was indeed a sign and mark upon one’s physical flesh that Abraham was justified before and in the sight of the living God without and apart from it. This is something very few Jews understood and recognized and there were many of them who viewed it as a requirement for justification, for salvation and even for righteousness. What is so incredibly powerful about these words is that not only was Abraham justified in the sight and presence of God without and apart from circumcision and the Law but the apostle Paul would also go on to describe how while we were yet without strength—in due time Christ died for the ungodly. Moreover the apostle Paul goes on to write and describe how while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Still even further the apostle Paul continues and declares that when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son. WHILE WE WERE ENEMIES! WHILE WE WERE SINNERS! WHILE WE WERE WITHOUT STRENGTH! This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of when reading the words presented in this epistle for just as Abraham was justified without and apart from the Law and circumcision so also did Jesus die for us while we sinners, while we were without strength and while we were enemies. If we want to truly understand the words the apostle Paul we can and will understand that we have indeed been justified in the sight of God without and apart from works by and through faith alone in the sacrifice and shed blood of the person of Jesus who is both Christ and Lord.