Imputed Righteousness - Romans 4:1-25, Episode 5

By Michael Pearl

Scripture: Topics: Romans Bible Study

Save for Later

Imputed Righteousness

Romans 41-25

In the book of Romans 4:1-25, this is episode five in our Bible study. And this is not a sermon. This is a Bible study. Word by word, verse by verse, all the way through the book of Romans. We are at The Door and I am Michael Pearl. We're located in Louisville, Tennessee. So if you'd like to drop in sometime this being taking place on a Thursday night right now, and you're welcome to come by sometime.

The inspired Word of God

2 Timothy 3:16 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished, done to all good works."  So it is the Word of God that's perfect, that is given by inspiration that we're teaching from.

Know you when I went to college years ago, many... Half a century ago. More than half a century ago, we had a doctrine that we studied called verbal, plenary inspiration of scriptures. That verbal means word for word, plenary means in its entirety. And so it was commonly believed among all Christians, that the Word of God was inspired. Every word, every syllable, every part in its entirety. And so we studied the Bible as the inspired Word of God, but you never hear that anymore.

What you hear some people say is they believe in the verbal, plenary, inspiration of the original autographs, which were lost. We don't have anymore. So we no longer have a verbal plenary, inspired scripture. Now we don't believe that we believe that God has preserved his words, a letter by letter, dot by dot, tiddle by tiddle. In the authorized version in English and other versions in other languages. Now that's the new and improved, easy to read that you can buy in any dollar store or marketplace today. These are what I call the commercial versions. They're the ones that have been stripped of the words of God. And the words of men have been put in their place.

Review of Romans chapter 3

Now in 3:10, we studied, we learned that it is written there's none righteous, no, not one. That's me. That's you. That's every religious person, that's every preacher, every mama, every daddy, every grandmother and every child that's reached the age of accountability. The state of accountability. We also learned in Romans 3, Therefore by the deeds of the law, there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: that the law cannot save us. The law was never meant to save us. The law was meant like an x-ray to reveal what is wrong with us inside.

Fallen Short

So we find in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Each one of us, every single one of us have come short. Now, some people like to think, "Well, I've not come as short as others have." And that may be true. You see a meth head walking out of the store over here with his teeth all rotted out and sores all over him, where he is been scratching and digging. And his body is skinny and frail. And maybe he's got venereal disease and he doesn't work. He's lazy. You look at him, you say, "Thank God. I'm not like that man." You know like the Pharisee did. And no, you're not. You work. And you live an honest life and you don't do all those wicked and godless things. So you've not come as far short as he has, but you have come short. So short, that you won't be able to reach the other side and make it in on your own effort. 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.

A New Righteousness

So Paul tells us in chapter three, the latter part, that there's a new righteousness, a different righteousness. That's not based on what you do. It's based on what God has already done in Jesus Christ. It is the very righteousness of God himself from eternity past that was manifested in Jesus Christ. That righteousness is received by faith.

Righteousness is unto all

Now he says that righteousness is unto all. That means God has provided and made it available to everyone in the human race. It's unto to all, but it's upon all them that believe. So the righteousness of God comes on those, upon those that believe. If you have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, the righteousness of God has come up on you. And when God looks at you now, instead of seeing your sin, he sees the righteousness of God.

So when God looks down from heaven, he no longer sees the filthy, vile life you've lived. He sees the righteous life that Jesus Christ lived. And so that's your ticket into heaven, is the works of Christ. He says, all have sinned for there's no difference. That is, each one of us has equally sinned. No matter your race, your culture, your religion.

I pushed the wrong button and I'm going backwards instead of forward. So we'll have to push it again. So he says that... We found out that there's a grace alternative to this salvation by works. This grace alternative is found in the death burial, and resurrection of Christ.

Romans 3:28

So we'll open our Bibles and start in Romans 3:28 and get the last three verses there before we get into chapter four, because it ties us to chapter four and gives us an understanding. He said, "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of law. Is he the God of the Jews only?"  So Paul is anticipating the conflict that may be between the Jew and the Gentile, because the Jew felt that he had a superior right to God. And that the Gentile could not come to God unless he went through all the Judaism protocols.

So he says, "Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles?"  He's asking the question, "Yes of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God,"  in other words, there's not one God for the Jews and one for the Gentiles. It's one God, "which shall justify the circumcision by faith," Circumcision is a Jew "and the uncircumcision through faith."  We talked about that in our last lesson.

So in 4:1, he begins... Well in preparation for 4:1. The Jew would ask, “but we have Abraham to our father.” (Luke 3:8) So why do we need this new gospel if we have Abraham for our father?

Abraham our father

Romans 4:1

"What shall we say then that Abraham our father," So the Jews were proud of that. He's our father, no one else's. And that was true. Abraham was the father of the Jewish race by blood.

But God also provided for Abraham to be the father of everyone who believes that is a father of faith. So he says, what should we say that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found. And I'd just noticed something this week, I had never noticed before. Here in the book of Romans. I do every time I go through it. And I'd always just brushed over that, what has Abraham our father found? And always just read that. What do we learn from Abraham about this thing of faith? But that's not the question. The question, what did Abraham discover? That's the question. What did he discover as pertains to flesh? So Abraham had an experience, a learning experience. Something happened in the events of life that caused him to discover something about the flesh and something about the Spirit.

Was Abraham Justified by Works or by Faith?

Romans 4:2 "For if Abraham were justified by works," If that were the case, "he hath whereof to glory, but not before God."  You see knowing that the Jew has this confidence in Abraham, he's saying, "Listen, if, as you now teach, you Jews, now teach that one is justified by works. And you point back to Abraham as your father. Did Abraham believe you were justified by works?" They would've said, "Yes, because look at all the works Abraham did. Abraham left where God called him to leave and he did.

Abraham followed him and Abraham obeyed God. And he said, but what did Abraham find out? If he were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory. In other words, he could have bragged. "but not before God." Now he's saying that there was a relationship between Abraham and God. Abraham discovered something that would not have allowed him to brag before God, because God would've known better. God would've seen through the brag.

What did Abraham find?

Romans 4:3 "For what saith the scriptures?" Now he's quoting Genesis. "Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness."  Now that's the subject tonight. That's the subject of chapter four, is believing God and having it counted to you for righteousness. So what did Abraham find? 

The Story of Abraham

Genesis 15:2-21 "And Abraham said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?"  So Abraham had someone that had been part of the household for a long time, probably raised up as a child. And so he'd become very dear to Abraham. And he was his steward. That means Abraham trusted him with all of his money, all of his bookkeeping, all his decision making. So this Eliezer was a very close, like family member of Abraham, a confidant. But he was from Damascus, which means that he was a Syrian. He wasn't of the same heritage as Abraham.

"And Abraham said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed:"  because God had said, I'm going to make a great nation out of you. And Abraham was getting impatient. He said, you've not given me any seed. For 25 years, Abraham had been waiting. "and, lo, one born in mine house is my heir. And, behold, the Word of the Lord came unto him saying, this shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir."

So Abraham believed God that God would make him the father of a great nation. But Abraham also thought that he'd have to do something to make that come about. He felt like he had to be engaged somehow, that God blesses those that obey. And God, if you do something, then God will serve you he'll work with you. So you got to have some works to go with your faith. So let's just claim this Eliezer and let him be the heir. Well, God said no.

Hagar’s Son

 And then later on in Genesis 16 "Now Sarai" and that's her name before the experience of having Isaac. "Sarai Abram's wife bear him no children: and she had a handmade in Egyptian whose name was Hagar." Now again, this is an Egyptian. If Abraham's through Sarah through Hagar had had a child, then the Jewish race would be half Egyptian instead of Jewish.

"and she had a handmade, an Egyptian whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened under the voice of Sarai."  So Abraham's already had one failed experience of the flesh trying to promote Eliezer.

A Failed Experiment

And now then he's going to produce a bigger failed experiment. He's going to actually take a woman who's not his wife, as a concubine, go in unto her, impregnate her and have a child who's now half Egyptian and offer that to God, to fulfill God's promise of an heir.

Learning From Works

So Abraham is learning something by his works. "And he brought him forth, and said, Look now toward the 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" that's God, "counted it unto him for righteousness."  So Abraham believes that God is indeed going to make him the head of a great nation. But like all of us, he's got the flesh working, human effort being active, trying to help God along and fulfill the promises of God.

The Mother of nations

Genesis 17:15-16 "And God had said unto Abraham, as for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah", which means princess. And the reason he called her princess that is the head of a kingdom. "shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations;"  That's why she's a princess. And she's going to be the "mother of nations; kings of people shall be out of her."

The Decedents of Abraham

Now, if you get a chart... I thought about showing that, but it just take too long. Of the descendants of Abraham through Sarai, you'll find that they're more than just the Jewish race. When you take Ishmael, who also came through Abraham and then Sarah had more than one child and you take all of the different descendants of Abraham and basically Abraham populated the enemies of Israel.

He populated the Arab nations. He populated Sheba and Dedan down in Saudi Arabia. Most all of the people in the middle east are related to Abraham, either through Keturah or through Hagar or through Sarah. And it's an amazing thing to look at. You can look it up online, just look up a family tree of them.

Abraham Laughs

Genesis 17:17-18 "Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed," when God says this to him (laughs). He's supposed to be... God's talking to him. This is supposed to be a serious, sober moment. He's already had these two bong doodles with the flesh and God's telling him, I'm going to give you a child through Sarai. He's a hundred years old or 99. And she's 10 years younger. She's about 89 and he's long past being able to have children. And she never was able to. So here these two wrinkled old prunes and God says, you two are going to produce a child and be the head of a great nation.

And Abraham's been believing God for 25 years. And he still believes God, but God does get funny sometimes saying ridiculous stuff like that. It must be some other way. So he laughed "and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is a hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is 90 years old, bear? And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might might live before thee!"  That's about 14 year old son of Hagar. That is the product of the flesh. "O that Ishmael like might live before thee!"  So Abraham loves Ishmael. He's raised him up now. And even though it was a work of the flesh, he has great confidence in it. Sound pretty religious, doesn't it.

A Covenant with Isaac

And so Abraham needs to learn something. Genesis 17:19 "And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shall call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him". The word Isaac means laughed. So Abraham laughed and so God's going to name his son laughed. That's funny.  "I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him."  God doesn't change. He doesn't accept or adopt our alternate path and he doesn't get upset and angry. He just restates it. And I think about five times, he restated this to Abraham throughout his life. And tells him, this is the way it's going to be. I've been telling you all along, Abraham. You and Sarah are going to produce seed. And so God deliberately put it off for 25 years until Abraham got way past when Hagar wouldn't have done him any good, no one would have. He's no longer able to produce children. And so now then it's time for faith. “Abraham believed God and God counted it to him for righteousness.”

Perfect Faith?

I am comforted by the fact that Abraham's faith was not perfect. If Abraham would've been constantly, "Hagar, you've got to be kidding me. Don't you know what God said? Oh, Eliezer? Not a chance. See, I believe God. Ishmael, oh, Ishmael no way. God's going to do it. It's going to happen." I mean, if he'd have been a Pentecostal, he would've named it and claimed it and said, "Don't say it. If you say it, you'll get the wrong thing. Don't speak unbelief. Just speak belief." But Abraham spoke a lot of unbelief. And what he spoke or didn't speak didn't change god's timetable. Didn't change anything. God was working something out and Abraham, the father of faith, father of faith, that's the kind of faith you and I usually end up with isn't it? Yes, we believe. But Lord help my unbelief. You remember that?

And so finally, at a hundred years of age, Sarah, the old gal gives him a baby and didn't stop there. I mean, when you get healed, you really get healed.

Cast out the Bondwoman

Genesis 21:10 "Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac."  So when Ishmael got a little older, got to be some jealousy between the two of them, Abraham still loved Ishmael, still gave him some preference.

And Sarah got tired of it. It was her idea, this work of the flesh. And now that she wants to drive Hagar, the Egyptian handmade and her son out into the desert and just dump them, forget them. Now we won't give a husband and wife message here, but it's got some implications.

All Nations shall be Blessed

Galatians 3:6 "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." Accounted is a word that you don't find in all your Bibles, only in the correct version. "And the scripture, foreseeing..."  Wait a minute. The scripture's prophet is a prophet. Scripture's prophetic. For scripture sees something. "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before..."  Before Christ, "before the gospel unto Abraham," Abraham had the gospel preach to him. Saying... and this is a quote again from the book of Genesis, "saying In thee all nations be blessed." So Abraham's belief was counted for righteousness. All nations would be blessed because through the faith of Abraham, righteousness would be imputed to all the nations and all the languages. So we're going to talk about this counted righteousness.

Counted for righteousness

There's a Greek word, logizomai, found in the New Testament 41 times. We do not need to go to the Greek to understand the English. In fact, I use the English to understand the Greek. Yes, I studied Greek in college, but if you want to understand the Greek, then you have to get the English King James Bible so you can interpret the Greek properly. You see, even the people who speak Greek and Greece today, are not able to understand the Bible in Greek, as it was written because the meaning of words have evolved just as the meaning of English words have evolved and French words have evolved. Words have evolved over the years so that they, although they'd be able to read the letters and pronounce the words, even the pronunciation would be different. And so you have to have a deeper understanding, that's based on searching the words of the text itself in whatever language you're searching in. And so 41 times the word logizomai is used. It's translated about eight or 10 different ways in the English. It's translated, counted, which is the passage we're looking at now.

Logizomai is also translated  as:

  • Accounted.
  • Numbered,
  • Reckoned,
  • Imputed,
  • Think,
  • Suppose

And several other ways, single individual translations. Now why all those different ways? English is a much broader language with many, many, many more times more words in it than the Greek language is. And where there was an understanding as to the shades of meaning and differentiation with certain words in Greek. The English has the ability to break those words down and give that shade of meaning more precisely. Therefore when translated correctly, it is easier to understand than the Greek is and easier to be accurate.

Dictionary Definition

Now, the Webster's dictionary defines account as, a record of debit and credit entries to cover transactions involving a particular item or a particular person or concern. That's an accountant. So the scriptures using that word, logizomai, says it was counted, logizomai, unto him for righteousness. Now the synonym for that is accounted, reckoned, imputed, supposed. Faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. Same word, logizomai. It was accounted to him for righteousness. God imputeth righteousness without works. He was numbered with the transgressors. That word numbered. There is the word imputed, accounted.

God is a bookkeeper

You say now, "Why the difference?" Well, if you go back and take the English meaning and try to superimpose, take the word imputed. He was imputed with the transgressors, that doesn't quite roll right. Or he was accounted, that would work okay. He was reckoned, that would work. Okay. So an accountant is one who works with numbers and books. He is a bookkeeper. So it's translated accounting, counting, numbering, imputing, reckoning. All of these are words used in bookkeeping. So God is a bookkeeper. He's keeping records.

Revelation 20:12 "and the dead were judged out of those things were written in the books..." So God's keeping books.

Malachi 3:16 "...a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought often upon his name."  Oh, God is keeping records, keeping books.

Imputed Righteousness

So we're talking about imputed righteousness now.

Romans 3:24 "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemptions in Christ Jesus:" Paul, in chapter three, anticipated this freely justification. Now the legal definition of impute is to infer or attribute responsibility or causation. You'll find this in law used quite a bit. To infer or attribute responsibility or causation. I looked this word up. It's interesting. That the word impute is not new in our Indo-European languages. In the Old French, it was the word imputer. In the Classical Latin, is imputar. And it's made up of in, to plus putare, to estimate or to think. Its origin, the word impute, originally is to prune, to cleanse. So to settle an account.

In other words, a thousand years ago, the word impute was being used in your Latin Bibles. A thousand years ago, the word impute was being used in your French Bibles. And of course in your English Bibles. 1400 years ago it's being used in Gothic, Bibles and other Bibles. And probably during Christ's lifetime in scriptures, in Latin, that word impute was found. So it's not new. It's not a new creation. It's a word that God has used in various Indo-European languages, all the way down to the present.

God Counts Abraham Righteous

So Abraham and Sarah believing God, had righteousness imputed unto them. Galatians 3:6 "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted".  Accounted, like an accountant counts the numbers. So God took Abraham's faith in his ledger and said, "Okay, let's sum all this up. Abraham believes, let's call that righteousness." And so God entered into the books that Abraham was righteous when all he had was a belief that he'd have a child as God promised.

So God is the accountant. And if God, the bookkeeper, chooses in heaven to write in his books that I am righteous because I believe, then folks, I'm not afraid for the books to be opened. Are you? I'm not afraid for the books to be opened. Because I know what's written in the books. The righteousness of Christ is to my account. So God drew from His own righteousness and counted it to be Abraham's.

Works or Grace?

Romans 4:4

Let's check the scriptures again. We're down in verse four now. 'Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt."  In other words, if you come to my house and volunteer to do weed eating for me because you say, "He's an old 71 year old man and it's hot. And so I'm going to do his weed eating for him." And I'll let you do that weed eating and you'll get through with it.

And I say, "Well, let me give you $5." Well, you just worked seven hours and you said, "No, I'm not taking your $5. I did that just because you're an old man and I'm being kind and being generous. So I just did that for you." Now that's grace. But now if you took my $5, then you just got the worst deal of anybody. I mean, you made less than a dollar an hour out there in the hot sun, weed eating, right? So you would change grace into debt, into a payment for your work if you took any money for it. Now God's not going to take any money or any works or any law keeping or any righteousness or any prayers or any promises or any tears or any repentance in exchange for salvation. When God gives it as a free gift, he will not. And you try to offer something. You change grace into debt. And grace ceases to be grace.

Romans 11:5 “For if by grace, it's no more works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work."  That's a pretty plain passage. Says just what I said much better, doesn't it? So it's got to be pure grace or pure works. It's not faith plus works. I heard someone just the other day say, "Well, you have to it's faith plus works." If it's faith plus works, then it's all works. And there's no faith and there's no salvation unless you're perfectly righteous.

Romans 4:4-5 "Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth it on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."  Now in verse five, there are two things you've got to "do" there to be saved. And putting that word do in parenthesis. Two things, what are the two things you've got to do to be saved in verse five? You say, "Well, one of them is believed." Well, what's the other one? Worketh not. Number one, you've got to stop working to be saved. Number two, then you've got to believe.

Saved from Drowning

It's like the time I was in the Current River in Missouri, preaching revival up there. 52, 3 years ago, 53. And there was this young boy that got swept down into the current really fast and he couldn't swim. I was downstream about a hundred yards. He's being washed in my direction, but he was being pulled out of the main current into the eddy of a big lake off to the side. So I swam as hard as I could upstream and tried to stay as close to the bank and out of the current as I could and then over into the lake. And when I got to him, I was totally, totally gone, exhausted.

He was going under, I grabbed him by the back of his shirt or tried to, and he climbed up on top of me. So I went under and went down because I knew that's where he didn't want to go. And of course he turned loose. Now it was clear water. I looked up to see where he was, came up behind him, grabbed him by the shirt, held him at arms length away from me and started swimming back downstream. I had to go about another 200 feet to get to the bank from where I was. And when I finally got ahold of his shirt and pulled him up, he says, "Praise the Lord."

he had the right words, didn't he? Now that struggle we had there when he was trying to help me, when he was trying to save himself, I had to turn him loose. And when God decides to save you and you start struggling to help him, he'll have to turn you loose because when you get through, I'm the one that saved him. That boy didn't save himself that day. When I finally got him to the bank, I couldn't get out of the water. I literally couldn't. I couldn't stand up. I couldn't crawl out of the water. I lay with my head out of the water for about 10 minutes till I got the strength to crawl up on the bank. And I was sick for two days. I had gone just my last bit of strength and then gone some more. And I'll never forget that.

And he won't either. His daddy contact me to thank me for saving him.

So Jesus is the savior and he's going to do it all. And he is going to do it all by himself. And when he gets through it, he's going to go away and brag. And he's going to say, "I did that. You didn't save yourself. You didn't have anything to do with it all. I did that." And you add anything to it and he won't save you.

Christians working their way to hell?

Hebrews 4:3-10 "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into His rest,"  God's rest, "he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his."  So many professing Christians are working their way to hell. They're just working and working to please God and working their way to hell. I've used an illustration for the military guys and the people on the street a lot. When somebody say to me, "Well, I want to be saved. I just can't. I've tried." And I used to be a real strong. I'd hold out my fist like this, and I'd grip it. I'd say, "Open up my hand. I've got a gift in there for you." I'd stick a quarter or something in it. And they'd start prying on my hand and they couldn't open it up.

I'd say, "Now what's wrong?" He'd say, "You won't open your hand." And I'd say, "Well, I'm not going to open it, but I'll give this to you, but you're going to have to quit struggling." And so he quits and I open my hand. I give him the quarters. He usually gives it back. I'd have gone to a nickel if they hadn't been giving it back. So opened my hand and he takes the quarter out. I said, "You see, God wants to come and save you, but you're all fisted up like this." And you say, "I'm trying." And God's saying to you, "Just relax, turn loose. Trust me." And when you relax and turn loose, then God can come and save you. So you got to stop working and start believing.

John 6:28-29 "Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent."  Scriptures are abundantly clear. You can find two or three passages in the book of James and the book of Hebrews where you can conjure up a concept of working your way to heaven. But I'd hate to go to hell on two or three obscure passages and ignore 115 clear verses and statements on salvation by faith without works.

Does God weigh our good works against our bad works?

We read in the book of Daniel, Daniel 5:27 "Thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting." So our sins, the record God keeps of our sins, weighs down the scale.

And what will we put in the scale to level it up? How will we pay for our sins? What answer will we give to balance out the scale? Some people say, "God weighs our good works against our bad works." I hope not. "But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear."  Isaiah 59:2

The only reason you can have confidence that God weighs good works against bad works and you might work your way in, is that you have no idea how sinful you are. You have no idea all the shades of corruption and godlessness and pride that you have in your heart. And if you were to get into the Words of God and let God's Spirit expose you, you'd realize that you're looking at a trillion billion to one odds of you ever being able to do anything to please him and you won't trust in that.

Can a Prayer Save you?

So here's a man that's praying. He says, "Well, I just pray and ask Jesus in my heart. Then I'll go to heaven." That won't balance out the scale. Jesus doesn't come into your heart. When you believe his Spirit comes into you and saves you and he doesn't come in because you ask him, he comes in because you believe. Walking down an aisle and praying a sinner's prayer will not make you go to heaven. It will not make you a Christian. Getting down on your knees beside your bed and saying, "Jesus, forgive me of my sins." Will not make you a Christian. It's when you believe the gospel of the Lord, Jesus Christ that you get saved.

Preaching in Prisons

I preached well over 2000 hours in the prisons and I never gave an invitation and lots of people got saved. Now, how did they get saved? I preached the gospel of Jesus Christ and I stood there and watched one by one these guys believe the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. You can see it in their faces. It's really fun.

I mean, you're preaching this kind of stuff and you see a guy out there, he's miserable. And then he looks, he's totally enthralled. Doesn't hear anything else going on anywhere. And then you start giving them what Jesus did, resurrection forgiveness, and you see the light come on. You see them begin to smile. Then you see them start squirming in their seat. And you know they're fixing to jump up and run. Are they going to shout? Are they going to do something? Now in fact, at that point I'd said, "If you want to be saved, put your hand up." They'd done this. If I'd have said, "If you want to be saved, come forward." They'd have run forward. But now why wouldn't you do that? Because I don't want them to go away thinking they got saved because they put their hand up. Or they got saved because they came forward or because they prayed to sinner's prayer. I want them to go away believing they got saved because Jesus gave them salvation by faith and faith alone. And so I don't tell them they're saved that day and I don't make any emotion of it. I wait and I watch them change. And if they don't change, then I know they didn't get saved, but they'll change if they got saved. And I've seen it happen, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds.

Street Preaching

I've been on the street preaching when I was younger, don't do that anymore. I've been on the street preaching and I've seen people walk by and start listening and get saved. Sometimes they start weeping, some tough old guy or prostitute just start weeping. And you just watch the Lord Jesus Christ come into their heart and soul. And I've followed them up and seen them days later, weeks later and years later, and a whole lifetime later walking in the faith because in a moment's time, they believe that gospel of Jesus.

Can Going Church Save you?

So some people they say, "Well, if I read the Bible, God will save me." It won't balance out your sins. Or if I go to church, join the church of your choice or better yet, join the church of Christ because it's the only church, right? So if you join the church of Christ, if you hear believe, repent, confess, be baptized and maintain good works and join the church of Christ, then you'll go to heaven. Seven steps. No, church won't get you in either. There is no church that's going to go to heaven, no building, no bylaws, no constitution, no eldership, none of that's going to take you in. You go in one at a time and you get in by faith and faith alone. So somebody said, "Well, I'll give my money. If I give a lot of money, then God will be pleased with that." Won't balance the scale.

Can Baptism Save you?

 "Oh, well, if I get baptized in water, then God will take away my sin." Nope, you can baptize the baby, you can baptize a sinner. I remember one time a guy came out of a bar where we had a ministry between two bars and across the street and bar, it was actually his nightclub on one side and a bar and a liquor store. And so this guy comes out and he is drunk. And couple other guys tried to witness to him. He said, "Oh, I'm already a Christian. Mike hear, he baptized me twice already." And I had. I'd baptized him twice when he was 16 years old and 18 years old or something. And they said, "Well, I don't think you got saved." So he came in, sat down. He heard the gospel and he professed a faith in Christ. And for the next 20 years, I saw him walk in the faith and walk obedient to the Lord and live a righteous and a godly life. So baptism didn't save him. Even my baptism did not save him and even baptized in the right church didn't save him. He had to believe.

Can Keeping the Commandments Save you?

All right, somebody says, "Well, I'll keep the commandments. That'll balance out the scale." Or "I'll dress modestly. I'll be a homeschooler. And I'll dress real modestly. And I'll wear them modest shoes and I'll make my hair look plain. And I won't wear any makeup. And I'll just look really drab and God will see that I'm like that because surely if you do that and you raise your kids that way, then they're all going to go to heaven because they're such good kids, right?" No, that won't get you to heaven either. You need to dress modestly, but it won't earn you anything with God. Muslims are a lot more modest than you are.

What can Save you from Sin?

And then there is one thing that'll balance the scale and that's Jesus Christ. When he comes in steps in it, he outweighs all the sin and he will balance the scale between you and God and the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son cleanses us from all sin. The blood will cover that sin and the righteousness of God will come upon you and you'll be declared to be his righteousness.

2 Corinthians 5:21 "For he hath made him to be sin for us, him who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

I am the Righteousness of God

When I was about 21, 22 years old, I was radical. Still am, I guess, but you could see it more then. And I bought about a thousand T-shirts and I went out and got some silk screen material. And I went to silk screen shop, learned how to make it. And I made a table with a vacuum table and I got the squeegees and I got the ink and everything. And I cut out a T-shirt that said, "I am the righteousness of God." And so I printed a thousand T-shirts and I tried to sell them and ended up giving them most of them away, but I had so many of them left over that for the next 15 years. That's the only kind of T-shirt I had till I wore the last one out.

And if you look at some old pictures of our family, most every one of them, I got that T-shirt on, I am the righteous of God. And I remember being in a grocery store and a woman in front of me, checking out, turns around and looks at that shirt I've got on and said, "Disgusting, how can you say that?" And I said, "Ma'am, this is not an earned degree. This is something bestowed upon me as a gift. Lord Jesus Christ calls me righteous because..." "I can't, that's you... Blasphemy!"

And I tried to explain to her, but she wouldn't accept the explanation. And I got that response quite often out in public from religious people. Who'd never read that verse of scripture, that God made us to be the righteousness of God that I am now the righteousness of God. So how can you claim to be that? Because God says I am. Remember, he crucified me. He buried me. We'll find in chapter five, he raised me again. He has seated me on the right hand. I am ascended and I'm adopted into God's family. All of that, God says is true.

2 Corinthians 5:19 "To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them..."  If you have sins, if you're laden with guilt and shame, there's no need for that sin to be imputed to you. God will impute his righteousness in its place. All you need to do is believe on the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart.

Heavens Filing Cabinet

So here's a file cabinet. It's got my file, my record and God, the bookkeeper, keeps it. And I'm a failed sinner. I'm rejected. I'm a law breaker. I'm dead in trespasses and sins. It's been ruled that I should be discarded, not my file, me. Now, every single wicked thing and godless thing and indifferent thing and cold and prideful thing I've done is in my record. And it cannot be deleted. God keeps it, the angels keep it. It's preserved. That record will be opened in the day of judgment unless Jesus Christ the perfect one, the sinless one, for 33 and a half years obeyed the law. Perfect righteousness. That's his file. So God, after Jesus lived a perfect life, when it came time for the end of Christ's life, God took my sin and he placed it in Jesus file cabinet.

And now Jesus is viewed as sin. In effect, God imputed my sin to Jesus. So he died as if he were the sinner so that I could live as if I were the righteous one. He took my place in sin and in hell. So I can take his place in righteousness and in heaven. He became what I am, so I can become what he is. He became a Son of man, so I could become a son of God.

So here is the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ now. And when I believe it's imputed to my account. So now placed in my file is the righteousness of God.

1 Corinthians 5:21 “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.”  Folks, that's the gospel. That's the gospel that saves. There is no other gospel of salvation. This gospel is not only found in Romans. You see it there in Corinthians. It's in Galatians. It's in Ephesians. It's in Colossians. It's in Timothy. It's in Titus. It's 1 John. It is throughout the word of God. It's in the book of Revelation. They overcame him by the blood of the lamb.

Paid in Full!

So God's record of me now reads paid in full. I no longer have a deficit. God has reckoned the righteousness of Christ to me. He has counted it as my faith, as if it were righteousness. So now here are the two files, yours and Jesus. How are you going to meet God? With your failed, sinner, rejected file or with the righteousness of Christ? That's the way I'm going to meet Jesus. My sin has been placed in the depth of the sea. It's remembered no more. It's behind his back. It's as far as the east is from the west. So that file is now my file. And now I rejoice that my sin has been washed away by the blood of the lamb.

King David

Romans 4:6-8

Now Paul calls another witness here in our text, King David. Verse six, "Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works," So David had an experience. David was a great sinner, but he found out that God will impute righteousness to you without working. "Saying..."  And this is what the scriptures say. In the Psalms, "Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin."

So Paul has called a witness for the Jews to show them that not only was Abraham justified by faith. So was David because David was a murderer, an adulterer, a liar and prideful. And yet God is going to base the millennial kingdom on David. David will be resurrected to reign over the earth for a thousand years from Jerusalem. Coregent with Jesus Christ.

Circumcision or Uncircumcision?

So the Jews say, Romans 4:9-11 "But we are the circumcision."  Verse nine, "Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only,"  So you can see where he is anticipating the Jewish response. "or upon the uncircumcision also?" The Gentile. "for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness."  That's what he's just said in the text. That's what it says in the book of Genesis. "How was it then reckoned?" This faith reckoned for righteousness. How was it reckoned? "when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision?"

In other words, did Abraham get counted righteous before he was circumcised or after he was circumcised? Because if it was after he circumcised, then you could say that circumcision was an act of obedience and therefore the cause of having righteousness imputed to him.

Are you Saved Before or after Baptism?

It's like today when people say you've got to be baptized in order to be saved. So let me ask you, were you saved before you're baptized or you were saved after you're baptized? I'm going to tell you what, I was saved before I was baptized. That's why I got baptized. I was already saved, on my way to heaven. I was already thanking God and rejoicing in Christ Jesus. Now I know some people got saved after they got baptized, but it wasn't because they got baptized, it's because after several years they discovered the baptism didn't save them. And they went back and believed the Lord Jesus Christ.

Abraham's Faith

Romans 4:11-13 "Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision.”  Circumcision was just a sign, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised. He already had the faith. “That he might be the father of all them that believed though they be not circumcised."  Now that happened when he was 99 years old. "that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:"  So unto us, as well as Abraham. "And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, that's the Gentiles. but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham,"  That's a Gentile who has the same faith that Abraham did. "which he had yet being uncircumcised. For the promise, that he should be heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith."  So he's shown the Jews that in the history of Abraham, the righteousness imputed to him before there was any law given. Moses law didn't come for another 500 years. And also before Abraham was circumcised.

The Door of Faith

So faith, we come to that door, carrying the luggage of our sin and the hope of entering in and God's strips of all of that. And we walk through the door with nothing. Now the Jew says, if we are justified without law, without circumcision, then the law is useless.

Are we Saved by the Law or by Faith?

Romans 4:14 "For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:"  If what you're saying, Paul, is true, then you're saying our whole experience as a Jewish race, keeping the law and having the temple and all this is useless, worthless.

Romans 4:15 "Because the law work with wrath:"  according to what you said, Paul. "for where no law is, there is no transgression."  And it's true that the law makes us transgressors. Without the law, it's like a posted sign.

No Trespassing!

When you come in my woods, I've got a hundred acres of woods back there. And when you're walking back there, you can get lost as to what's my property and what's my neighbors. Because on three sides, I've got neighbors with the same kinds of woods. There's some trees painted and my neighbors have put big signs that says, "Gabriel do not hunt here." For my son.

So they posted it to make sure Gabriel didn't get over and hunt on their land. And so that's what posting is. And that's what would make Gabriel a transgressor. Otherwise, if there're no markings, he might just wander over and say, Well, I had no idea this was your land. I thought I was still on mine."

So God has posted what's sin and what's not and it makes us transgressors.

A Sure Promise

Romans 4:15  "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 no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace;"  There could be no grace, unless it was faith. Could be no grace, if it was by works. "that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed;"

That's interesting, “to the end The promise might be sure.”  You see, I know I'm saved. I'm certain I'm saved. I have no doubt that I'm saved. And if you don't have that confidence that you're saved, you may be a young Christian who's been fooled with some false doctrine and caused to doubt. That may be true. But that's not a permanent state. That's not natural for a Christian, not to know that you're saved. It's sure.

Once Saved, Always Saved?

Now I talked to Pentecostals and Church of Christ and different ones and they tell me... And Mennonites and Jehovah's Witness, one is Mennonites and Amish. And they say to me that, "I don't believe in once saved, always..." Now I don't preach that, but that's what they tell me because when you preach salvation by faith, they say, "Then you believe in once saved, always saved."

They're pretty good theologians. And so I say to them, "Let me ask you a question. If you died right there, where would you go?" They never say to heaven. Say, "Well, I don't know yet." "Why don't you know yet?" "Well, because I haven't lived the rest of my life yet." "So you're telling me that the only way you could know is if you live the life that would qualify you?" "No, I don't think it's about works. I know it's about grace, but see, without any works, then you can't prove that you've got faith. And so unless I live the life that walking after the Spirit, then I'm not Christian." I said, "Have you lived that life so far?" "Well, I've tried to." "If you died now, where would you go?" "Well, I don't know." "Then you must feel like you maybe hadn't lived all the way up to that level yet right?" "Well, you believe in once saved, always saved." "I don't believe that." And they want to go back in this circular argument like that instead deal with the fact. When you have faith in Jesus Christ, the promise is sure. The salvation is sure. It'll never be sure if you're trusting your works.

Who quickeneth the dead

Romans 4:16-17 "not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made the 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."  That's a great passage. Who quickeneth the dead and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Now here's what God called. It wasn't but God called it and that made it.

No reason to hope

Romans 4:18-19 "Who against hope..."  Abraham against hope. No reason to hope. "believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, God quote, So shall they seed be. And being not weak in faith..."  There was a point at which he ceased to be weak in faith. "he considered not his own body now dead,"  He's saying that sexually his body was dead. He didn't consider that though. When he was about a hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb. He said he didn't consider that. In other words, Abraham, didn't look in the mirror or look at himself and say, "Okay, you're dead, old man." And he didn't look at Sarah and say, "Well, you're too far gone." There came a point when he stopped looking at the realities of himself and his wife. And he looked at the reality of what God said.

Hope in God

So against hope, he believed in the hope God offered. The hope was not inside. The hope was outside. Now that's key. You see, my faith is not something that springs out of me that I try to maintain or hold onto or promote. My faith is not based on what I feel, think or see. My faith is based on the reality of what God says. So I'm not believing in my faith. I'm believing in what God says. So my faith is simply a belief and the integrity of God and the confidence of God in what God said. And in that I trust.

Trusting in the God who promised

Romans 4:19-20"And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he is about a hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb: He staggered not at the promise of God". He probably staggered at everything else. "through unbelief, but he was strong in faith, giving glory to God;"  That's what faith does, that works can't do. Faith gives glory to God. "And being fully persuaded, that what he had promised, he was able also to perform."  So Abraham was trusting in the God who promised, where at one point and several points during his life, he's trusted in trying to fulfill that promise in his own works.

Imputed Righteousness

Romans 4:23-25 "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 unto 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 raised again for our justification."

So he said the same righteousness is imputed Abraham will be imputed to you if you believe on him, "that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;"  Because he was delivered for our offenses and raised again for our justification. "But for us also to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;"  Do you believe on him that raised up Jesus, our Lord from the dead? I do. And I'm confident. So I have the gift of righteousness, a free gift, undeserved, unearned, given to me by the grace of God.

Free from Sin

John 8:36 "If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed."  I'm free from my sin, all my sin. Past present, and future sin, it's done away with in Jesus Christ. So that's it.

Bible teaching with Michael Pearl.
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