True justifying faith
‘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.’ Genesis 15:5–6
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Romans 3:21–31
Answerable to Abraham’s faith is the way of justification now, by faith in the same object, and upon the same ground. The object is Christ. No other name is given, no other name is desired or regarded by those who are truly convinced of sin. He is appointed of God and proposed to them and set before them as wisdom, righteousness, and so forth. The Holy Spirit who has convinced them of sin, convinces them of righteousness, the necessity of it—that it is not in themselves and that it is in Jesus.
The ground (or warrant) is the promise, and that under no less outward discouragements than Abraham had to encounter. The guilt of sin, the power of corruption, the stress of temptation, the delay of comfort—by these things the soul is sometimes startled and put almost to a stand. But faith prevails and reasons, as Abraham, ‘God has promised and is able also to perform—therefore I will hope against hope’ [Romans 4:18].
We conclude then that a venturing upon Jesus from the invitation of gospel promises is true, justifying faith. To such, his righteousness is accounted as their own, and, notwithstanding all their fears and infirmities, they are accepted in the beloved; their state is safe. O blessed are ye of the Lord that are seeking salvation in this way. But this faith in the lowest degree, if but as a grain of mustard seed, will have fruits: love, desire, obedience. Though in many things they come short, they will be pressing forward.
FOR MEDITATION: Two sorts of persons then are in a dangerous state:
(i) they who seek salvation by the works of the law. If they can be saved in their present way, Christ has died in vain.
(ii) they who talk of faith and are utterly destitute of its fruits, who have a form without the power. This is the proper description of a corpse. So James says the faith of such is dead [James 2:26].
SERMON SERIES: GENESIS, NO. 31 [2/2], GENESIS 15:5–6