I’ve been doing a series on Sunday mornings entitled, “Covenant Lessons.” It has been rather unusual, because it has taken me 2-3 weeks to even finish a single sermon in the series.
So as I was preparing for this coming Sunday, I saw it was going to do the same thing, so I decided to split the sermon. Here is the first part of it, part 4a as it were.
I will be preaching this Sunday morning, June 22nd, 2008.
COVENANT LESSONS PART 4a
Credited to our account
Genesis: 15:1-6; Galatians 3:1-14.
We are continuing in our series entitled, “Covenant lessons.” In this series, we have been looking at the similarities between Abraham and Paul, with some application thrown in for us.
Today, we are going to be looking at the subject, “credited to our account.”
Allow me to read a story by J. Wilbur Chapan from his book, “Present day parables.”
Two young girls came to my office the other day and asked me if I
would pray for them. I said: “Why cannot you ask for yourselves?” and
they said: “Why, we are not worthy to ask for ourselves;” and then
they told me about a dear friend and a cousin of theirs, and one of
them said: “The Major could ask things from God, because he is good,
but I could not ask so much.” I said: “God would not give Major
anything because he is so good. If he gives him anything, it is
because he has put to his credit his own righteousness. If he should
ask for anything according to his own merits he would be cast out, a
poor, undeserving sinner, and so would I.” Then I said: “Suppose you
had a kind friend visiting you in New York, who was pretty well off,
and after she was here two or three weeks she should say ‘I am going
to leave two hundred dollars with Mr. Macy for you to purchase goods,
and I want you to get whatever you wish;’ I said: Suppose you should
go down there, you would not say ‘I should not dare to buy a hundred
dollars’ worth here; I will buy four or five dollars’ worth.’ Who
would get the benefit of that except Mr. Macy? Why, he would say to
you ‘This money is paid, the same as if you had paid it; it is to your
credit, and you are very foolish if you don’t get the benefit of it.’
Now you are entitled to two hundred dollars’ worth, and I will venture
to say that you would not let any of that money be lost, but it would
all be claimed to the last cent, and you would feel that you were
entitled to it, although you hadn’t paid a penny yourself. That is the
way we go to God. We have nothing to present to him as a claim, but on
the books of God to our credit the infinite righteousness of Christ
has been deposited, and God comes and says: ‘In his name, ask my help
as far as that credit will go. You have not any right, but he has a
right, and he gives it to you.’ ‘Oh!’ she says’ ‘I see it. Why, I
think I could ask anything of God now.’ “
This incident illustrates the meaning of justification; it is not that you are pardoned and slipped through because God has given you some type of passive permission. That is not very creditable; but you are lifted right up into the peace of Jesus himself, and you stand where he stands. The very moment after you have come to him he puts you in his place and represents you to the Father. Now that is justification. We are made righteous through the righteousness of Christ. There is no difference between Major and his
little cousin; no difference between George Muller and you poor sinners. Both are perfectly justified as much as Christ is, the moment you accept Jesus as your righteousness.
What does it mean to be justified before God? Is there anything that we do on our part? Is it based on any works that we might do and perform? Is it something that we earn?
Well, this is what we are going to look at as we continue in our series, “Covenant Lessons.”
The goal for this sermon is to see that we are justified before God, not by our works, but through Christ’s work on the cross. Through Christ we are declared righteous, or His righteousness has been credited to our account.
Let’s look at both Abraham this morning and Paul next week and see what the Holy Spirit would say to us through the preaching of His Word.
1. Righteousness credited to Abraham.
Genesis 15:1-6 ESV – After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” (2) But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” (3) And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” (4) And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” (5) And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” (6) And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
A. The first thing I want everyone to notice from this passage is that during the appearance of the Lord to Abram, he is childless.
His heir is not of his flesh and blood but the flesh and blood of another, his head servant.
B. In Genesis 12, when God first appeared to Abram, He promised to make of Him a great nation.
After all these years, still no children. Could it be that God had forgotten His promise to Abram?
C. How many of you have ever felt that God has forgotten His promises toward you?
You are God’s chosen child, chosen before the foundation of the world. He called you out of the darkness of your sin. But is that all there is? Just being saved from your sin and saved from hell? No, that is not all there is. He called you out of darkness, so that you might be the righteousness of God in Christ. If we could just see ourselves as God now sees us – justified and righteous – this would powerfully influence our daily lives.
D. God takes Abram outside to look at the stars and remind Him of His covenant that He had made with him all those years before.
Genesis 15:5 ESV – And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
It didn’t matter to God how long it has been and how old Abram is – He made covenant with him and the Lord was going to accomplish it.
As a believer in Christ, it doesn’t matter if you feel clean, justified, righteous, or worthy. The fact of the matter is God has declared you all those things and it is His responsibility to make you what He has declared over you. Our responsibility is to match our practice with our position (sanctification on our part).
E. Abram has righteousness credited to his account.
Genesis 15:6 ESV – And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
At dictionary.com, the word credit means, “Confidence in a purchaser’s ability and intention to pay, displayed by entrusting the buyer with goods or services without immediate payment. An entry of payment or value received on an account. Any deposit or sum of money against which a person may draw. To bring honor, esteem, etc., to; reflect well upon.”
The word in Hebrew is CHASHAB (khaw-shab’). It means, “To count, to devise, to think, to imagine, to reckon, to purpose, to esteem, to account, to impute, to forcast, to regard, to calculate, to make a judgment.”
When God saw that Abram remained steadfast to the promise He made to Him, He credited, or imputed righteousness to His account.
F. In theological circles, you hear the word “imputed”, especially as it pertains to Christ’s righteousness. Does anyone know what that word actually means?
Well, at Dictionary.com, there is a number of definitions to the word. I want to use two of them.
The definition of imputed as it pertains to the law of the land: “to ascribe to or charge (a person) with an act or quality because of the conduct of another over whom one has control or for whose acts or conduct one is responsible.” This would be like a parent being responsible for the actions of the child.
The definition as it pertains to theology: “to attribute (righteousness, guilt, etc.) to a person or persons through substitution; ascribe as derived from another.”
Let me read verse 6 from the Amplified Bible.
Genesis 15:6 AMP – And he [Abram] believed in (trusted in, relied on, remained steadfast to) the Lord, and He counted it to him as righteousness (right standing with God).
This means two things for us: (a) Once we are in Christ, He takes on the responsibility to mold us and shape us into His image, like a parent would, so that our actions might become more like His actions (sanctification on God’s part); (b) Through His substitutionary sacrifice, we have been declared righteous, right standing with God.
What does that mean? The righteousness that we are declared by God through the substitutionary death of Christ is the righteousness He lived by – i.e. perfect, without sin. This is not saying, we are perfect, and without sin, but that this is the type of righteousness that has been credited to our account.
As Christ-followers we need to understand something….any righteousness that we try to earn or work to live by, comes far short to the righteousness of God in Christ. Christ became our substitute. He lived what we cannot live – the law and all its requirements perfectly. Through His substitutionary death on the cross, His righteousness has been credited to our account.
How many of you recently got a rebate check from the government? It was credited to your account for you to use. It is the same with Christ’s righteousness. It is credited to our account, so that by faith we walk in it. What do I mean by this? We trust that although we are imperfect vessels, Christ Jesus is perfecting us through His Spirit.
We know longer have to hold our head down because of our past. He was washed us, cleansed us, and the Father has declared us righteous, justified by His Son.
Next week we are going to look at what Paul has to say about being righteous and being justified before God.
If you are unsure this morning of where you stand with the Lord, please, don’t leave this place unsure, come forward, and call on His name.