By Doug Bell
3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,”
We return once again to the great truth of the Gospel. Paul states it many places and in many different ways.
1 Corinthians 15:
3¶ “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,“
8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
We could quote many more, but you get the gist. The Gospel (which translated means good news), is the very heart of the Bible. It is the reason Jesus came to this earth. And it is the only reason we have any hope of salvation!
In our verses for today we see in verse 4;
“Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.”
This is always where the Gospel must begin, INABILITY! To try to appease God in any way, form, or fashion by something we do, is to be defeated at the very start.
Look at the way Jesus explains it in the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5:
3“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.”
Vs. 3 begins “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit…” Why does Jesus begin here and why are they blessed? Because we must begin with man’s inability! ‘Poor in Spirit’ is to be translated as “Spiritually Bankrupt.” We in America know what a ‘bankruptcy‘ is. A person has accumulated much more liability (debt) than he is able to repay. He therefore goes before a bankruptcy judge and ask him, for his debt be forgiven. As a person who is Spiritually Bankrupt, we must go before the ultimate Judge (God) and plead that He forgive us of all the sins that we have and will have accumulated while we are in this world!
Why? Because all of our trying to ‘work’ for God’s forgiveness is an impossibility! But, someone says “But, I am a good person.” What does the Bible say to that man? First, it tells him “And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18). We think in relative terms. We are comparing ourselves to our neighbors. But, God says; “be perfect as I am perfect” and “be Holy as I am Holy.” And when we compare ourselves to God (as we must), we begin to see how far off the mark we are!
Secondly, We are not as ‘good’ as we think we are. Isaiah 64:
6 “But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.”
If our righteousness (our Best efforts) are as ‘filthy rags,’ how could we in any way consider ourselves to be ‘good’ before a “Holy, Perfect” God? The truth is, we can’t.
10¶ As it is written:
“There is none righteous, no, not one; 11There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God. 12They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
What can we do then? We who are so corrupt, sinful, and spiritually dead in sin?
Look at Matthew 5 again;
vs. 3- ADMIT you are ‘spiritually bankrup’ before your Holy God! Come to Him with empty hands, recognizing that you have NOTHING to offer Him (No good works of any kind!)
vs. 4- MOURN over the fact that you are lost in the condition you are in; without God, on your way to hell, and therefore, without hope!
vs. 5- Become Meek before your God. Meek doesn’t mean weak, but that you HUMBLE yourself before God. Admit you don’t have it all together (Don’t worry, He already knows) and you need His help.
vs. 6- “Hunger/Thirst for righteousness,”
This means you cry out to your Holy and Perfect God to give you the “gift” of Faith to believe what God has done in His Son Jesus Christ! That Jesus came and lived the perfect, good life for you ( because you couldn’t live it yourself!) And also, Jesus allowed Himself to be crucified (in your place.) He allowed your sins to be placed on himself, and bore all of the punishment that you deserved. And God accepted Jesus ‘vicarious‘ sacrifice (that means in your place), and showed He accepted it, by raising Jesus from the dead!
Come to Jesus in faith (NOT in works), the Bible says God is willing and waiting for those who come the way He has made. Won’t you come today, how about right now?
5 “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,”