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Sermon #47[i] — Romans Series


      Title:                                 Righteousness, Faith,

            and Unbelief


      Text:                                  Romans 4:23-25

      Subject:               Faith’s in Christ



If God the Holy Ghost will enable to do so, I want to preach to you about Righteousness, Faith, and Unbelief. That is my subject — Righteousness, Faith, and Unbelief. Oh, how I pray that God will graciously and effectually speak his Word to you this hour by the voice of this preacher, for Christ’s sake! My text is Romans 4:23-25. — Righteousness, Faith, and Unbelief (Romans 4:23-25). Open your Bibles to that passage — Romans 4:23-25. I am here, bringing this message, for three reasons:

·      The Glory of God

·      The Comfort, Edification, and Consecration of God’s Elect

·      The Salvation of Your Souls


Have you found Romans 4? Let’s read the text together — Romans 4:23-25.


(Romans 4:23) Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; (24) But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; (25) Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.


Proposition: Unbelief is damning; but faith in Christ is saving.


Paul said much about Abraham and his faith in this chapter. But it was not his purpose to exalt Abraham. We are admonished in the Book of God to give honor to whom honor is due (Romans 13:7). Without question, we should do that. But nothing in this Book was written to exalt any man. Paul’s purpose (the purpose of God the Holy Ghost) in this chapter is to teach us how sinners are saved through faith in Christ: by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. He tells us in our text that everything written here about Abraham, his faith, and the righteousness of God imputed to him “was not written for his sake alone, but for us also, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.” — Oh, may God give you faith in his darling Son, our Lord Jesus Christ!


Divisions: I want to talk to you about three things in this message.

1.    Righteousness

2.    Faith

3.    Unbelief




First, let me remind you that the righteousness of God imputed to Abraham was not the righteousness of his faith, but the everlasting righteousness performed, established, and brought in by the doing and dying of the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior. Believing on Christ, “they which are of faith are blessed faithful Abraham” (Galatians 3:9). We are blessed with the same righteousness God imputed to Abraham. The righteousness of God given to Abraham is “the right of redemption(Jeremiah 32:7) that belongs to all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.


Both faith and righteousness are by the work, operation, and gift of God, not by man’s will, work, and worth. Abraham had no more faith than that which God gave him and wrought in him. Like you and me, all he had he owed to the Lord.


Christ alone is the object of faith. He is both the Author and the Finisher of our faith. By him all who believe, whether strong in faith, or weak in faith, are justified from all things (Acts 13:39).


As I said before, much is said in this chapter, and in other parts of Scripture, about Abraham’s faith, and the fact that it was imputed to him for righteousness. Sadly, there are many who take that to mean that Abraham’s faith was imputed to him for righteousness. Clearly, that is not the meaning of God the Holy Ghost in Genesis 15:6 and Romans 4:3, where we read that “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

·      To say that faith itself, his act of believing God, was imputed to Abraham for righteousness makes justification a matter of works and merit, giving glory to the creature, not the Creator.

·      To say that faith itself, his act of believing God, was imputed to Abraham for righteousness makes righteousness and justification conditional, determined not by the will and grace of God, but by the will and work of man.


Faith, which is the gift of God, not something created by man’s will, choice, and decision, has but one office, one work. Faith receives that which is freely given.


(John 1:11) He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (12) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (13) Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.


Abraham’s faith did not become his righteousness by imputation. Rather, Abraham’s faith received the righteousness God gave him and the imputation of it.


Look at our text again. The Spirit of God declares that “it” shall be imputed to us also, “if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.What shall be imputed to us? Certainly not Abraham’s faith! Rather, it is the great object of that faith, “the righteousness of God,” the righteousness that our great Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished for us by his obedience unto death as our Substitute. — Christ and his justifying righteousness, is what is spoken of as being imputed to Abraham and to all who believe on him unto life everlasting. Like Abraham, all who believe are made the righteousness of God in and by the perfect righteousness of God our Savior! Looking wholly to Christ as the Lord our Righteousness, we are justified and have acceptance with God.

·      Faith receives this great blessedness; but faith does not accomplish it.

·      Faith has assurance of this great blessedness; but faith does not accomplish it.

·      Faith enjoys this great blessedness; but faith does not accomplish it.


(1 Corinthians 1:30) But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.


(2 Corinthians 5:20) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. (21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.


The righteousness received by faith in Christ is the righteousness of Christ, “who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification (v. 25). What great mercy! What great grace! What great peace is ours when God the Holy Ghost gives us faith in him “who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification!There is no guilt left upon the consciences of sinners delivered from the curse of the law by Christ on the cross, dying as our Surety and Representative. There can be no condemnation to his people whose sins were put away, as is evidenced by the fact that Christ arose from the dead for our justification. Because righteousness in Christ is imputed to us, sin can no longer be charged upon the conscience. The death and resurrection of Christ is our security.


(Romans 8:1-4) There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (3) 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: (4) That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.


(Romans 8:28-39) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (31) What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (32) He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (33) Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. (34) Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (36) As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. (37) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (38) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, (39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Because there can be no separation from Christ, there can be no interruption to our perpetual righteousness and justification in him! He has wrought out and brought in an everlasting righteousness, which is unto all and upon all that believe! — “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit!




Second, I want everyone who hears my voice to hear this. — The righteousness of God is freely bestowed upon, given and imputed to, every sinner who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. I want, by the Spirit of God, to persuade you to trust my Savior.


In recent months I’ve received numerous letters from an elderly lady who is dying. She has been religious all her life, trying to work her way into God’s favor. About a year ago, she started listening to our messages. Now, she is learning something about her sin and the horrid evil of false religion. She is tormented with guilt. She keeps asking me.

·      “How can I know that I am one of God’s elect?”

·      “How can I know that Christ died for me?”

·      “I pray and beg God to save me. How can I be saved?”


I keep telling her, as I have been telling you all these years, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). Salvation does not come by something you do, not even by praying. Salvation comes to faith in Christ.


(John 3:36) He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.


Our Lord Jesus, after he had been crucified and was risen from the tomb, before he ascended to the right hand of God, gathered his disciples and said to them…


(Matthew 28:18) All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.


(Mark 16:15) And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. (16) He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.


This is exactly what Paul is talking about in Romans 4.


(Romans 4:3) For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.


(Romans 4:23) Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; (24) But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; (25) Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.


This was not just written for Abraham’s sake alone (that he believed God and it was imputed to him for holiness, righteousness, and justification). This is message is for us. — If you believe on him who raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, righteousness shall be imputed to you, just like it was to Abraham.


In John 6:28, the Jews asked our Lord Jesus, “What shall we do that we might work the works of God?” The Savior answered them and said, “This is the work of God that you believe on him whom he hath sent,” that you believe on me, the Christ, the Son of God.


This is the very work of God. You might be asking, “What should I do that I might work the works of God?” This is the work of God — That you believe on him, on the Lord Jesus whom God has sent.


You can wage religious battles where you wish and you can raise issues anywhere you desire, such as politics, prophecy, morals, or methods. You can take whatever direction you choose to take. My friends; this is the issue. The question is belief or unbelief. The question is faith or unbelief. — “Do you believe on the Son of God?


This is what God the Holy Ghost tells us about everything written in the Word of God


(John 20:31) These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.


Five Things About Faith


Let me briefly show you five things written in the Book of God about believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, five things about faith in Christ, five things about what we sometimes call “saving faith.”


1.    Faith in Christ is the gift of God (Ephesians 1:15-20; 2:1-10; Colossians 2:8-15).


(Ephesians 1:15) Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, (16) Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; (17) That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: (18) The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, (19) And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, (20) Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.


(Ephesians 2:1) And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; (2) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (7) That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (8) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast. (10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.


(Colossians 2:8) Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (9) For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (10) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: (11) In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: (12) Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. (13) And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; (14) Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; (15) And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.


2.    Faith in Christ is believing God, believing God’s testimony in his Word concerning his Son (1 John 5:1, 10-13).


(1 John 5:1) Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.


(1 John 5:10-13) He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. (11) And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (12) He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (13) These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.


3.    God commands you to trust his Son ((Isaiah 45:22; 1 John 2:23).


(Isaiah 45:22) Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.


(1 John 2:23) Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.


If God himself commands you to trust his Son, you may trust his Son.


(John 6:35) And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (36) But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. (37) All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. (38) For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. (39) And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. (40) And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.


·      No one can come.

·      Anyone may come.

·      Someone shall come.


4.    Faith in Christ is resting in him (Matthew 11:28-30). — To believe on Christ is to keep the Sabbath of Faith, ceasing from your own works. It is entering into his rest.


(Matthew 11:28) Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (30) For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.


5.    Faith in Christ is the fruit and evidence of eternal life and salvation in Christ (John 3:36; Hebrews 11:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5).


(John 3:36) He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.


(Hebrews 11:1) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.


(1 Thessalonians 1:4) Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. (5) For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.


Faith in Christ is the gift of grace that brings with it the knowledge and enjoyment of every other gift of his grace. All covenant blessings, all the benefits of salvation, all the gifts of God are experienced, known, and enjoyed by faith in Christ (Romans 5:1-11; 2 Timothy 1:9-10).

·      Election

·      Redemption

·      Forgiveness

·      Righteousness

·      Assurance


(Romans 5:1) Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (2) By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (3) And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; (4) And patience, experience; and experience, hope: (5) 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. (6) For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (7) For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. (8) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (9) Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. (10) For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (11) And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.


(2 Timothy 1:9-10) [GOD] hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (10) But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.


Faith is saving. — Our Lord Jesus twice said to sinners saved by his grace, “Thy faith hath saved thee” (Luke 7:50; 18:42). Faith is saving. — “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.




Third, I want you to understand that unbelief is damning. If you go to hell, it will be your own fault, and your fault alone. If you go to hell, you will go to hell because you choose not to believe God. God is not going to send you to hell for telling a lie, stealing, or committing adultery or murder. Horribly evil as those things are, God will not send you to hell for doing those things. — God doesn’t even send folks to hell because of Adam’s transgression (Ezekiel 18:20). — God sends people to hell because of their obstinate, proud, willful unbelief. — “He that believeth not shall be damned!


It is unbelief that shuts a person out of the Kingdom of God. This was the summary of Israel’s whole problem. When they left Egypt and journeyed across the wilderness and came to Kadeshbarnea and looked out over the Promised Land and sent the spies down into the land, they came back and said, “We can’t take it.”


Two of them said that they could take the land and the rest of them said that they couldn’t. They turned around and went back into the wilderness and there they wondered for 40 years, until they all perished in the wilderness. Out of all of the hundreds of thousands of men who left Egypt that were over 20 years of age, only two entered the Promised Land. And this is the reason God gives in the Book of Hebrews, “They could not enter in because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:19).


It wasn’t the golden calf they made that prevented them from entering. It wasn’t their rebellion against Moses. It wasn’t their complaining or murmuring. It was unbelief! — “They could not enter in because of unbelief!” — “Therefore, take heed brethren, lest there be found in you an evil heart of unbelief.” — Our Lord said, “If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”


Five Reasons for Unbelief


What are the causes of unbelief? Why will you not believe God? Why do you persist in your unbelief? Why do you choose not to believe? — I’ll tell you why; and I will show it to you from this Book. Are you listening? Here are five reasons for unbelief, five causes of unbelief. Wherever you find unbelief, here are the reasons.


1.    The first cause of belief, the first cause of all sin, (for that matter), is the fallen, corrupt, nature of men since the fall of our father Adam. — It is a matter of the will being fallen. It is a matter of the will being in bondage. Our Lord said, “Ye will not come to me that ye might have life. No man can come to me.”


2.    The second cause of unbelief is satanic influence. — “I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” Satan, through his subtlety and craftiness deceived our mother Eve and tricked her. He lied her into sin. Satan was the influence of unbelief then; and Satan is the influence of unbelief now.


3.    The third cause for unbelief is spiritual ignorance (Romans 10:1-4).



(Romans 10:1) Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. (2) For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. (3) 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. (4) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.


4.    Fourth, your pride is the cause of your unbelief. — Cain is a prime example of what I am saying.


Ebenezer Erskine said this many years ago: “The pride of men will do anything for salvation. The pride of men will do anything for life, except believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, except be saved by grace alone. They will do anything rather than be saved by grace alone.”


Pride leads a man to do anything you tell him to do except be saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Pride will do anything except look to Christ. — You would rather do anything than take your place in the dust as a sinner, a dead dog sinner, in need of mercy before the throne of the sovereign Christ!


5.    I will give you a fifth cause of your unbelief, and that is the security and the safety you feel in a false religious profession. You’ve got a refuge. I don’t know what it is, but you’ve got a refuge in which you feel secure, or at least try to make yourself feel secure.


(Isaiah 28:14-20) Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. (15) Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: (16) Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. (17) Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. (18) And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it. (19) From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report. (20) For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.


You can’t make peace with God except through the great High Priest that God has ordained, nor can you make peace with God without a blood sacrifice that is suitable to God. You can’t make peace with God without God’s law being honored. You can’t make peace with God without God’s justice being satisfied.

·      An Experience

·      A Decision

·      Baptism

·      A Feeling

·      Reformation of Life

·      Religious Duties

·      An Altar


Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid in Christ the Lord. There is none other name in heaven given among men, whereby, we must be saved. The Son of God says, “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth. I am God and there is none else.”


Why does God send sinners to hell because of unbelief? Why would God send a good boy like you, or a fine girl like you, or an upstanding man like you, or a fine, fine lady like you to hell for unbelief? — I’ll tell you why. Unbelief…

·      Tramples underfoot the blood of Christ!

·      Does despite to the Spirit of grace!

·      Calls God a liar!

·      Calls the sacrifice of Christ foolishness!


Your unbelief is your relentless assault upon the throne of God, your mad attempt to shove God off his throne and set yourself up as God. For that, for your unbelief, God will send you to hell! — Oh, may God have mercy upon you, and give you faith in his dear Son. With the gift of faith he gives all, for the gift of faith is the gift of his Son, who is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by him!


Illustration: “He who gets the son gets all.”






Don Fortner








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[i]    Danville — Sunday Morning — March 15, 2015

     Fairmont Grace Church — Sylacauga, AL (FRI-03/06/2015)


     Reading:    Romans 10:1-17