The Congregational Pulpit
And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if you be able to number them…
The expression "counted for righteousness" does not signify, "considered as a righteous act"; but it means, "accepted for righteousness." Righteousness, such as would satisfy God's holy law, he had not; but faith he had: and God takes this faith as a substitute for righteousness, and reckons it to him as righteousness.
1. This faith was an entire surrender of himself to God, and renouncing of his own will and wisdom.
2. It was an implicit confidence in the Divine faithfulness and veracity.
3. It looked to God's promise; and that promise contained, in germ, the whole doctrine of the gospel.
4. This faith showed itself in holy obedience.
I. WE ARE BY NATURE, AND IN OURSELVES, UNRIGHTEOUS.
II. WE ARE NOT ABLE TO SAVE OURSELVES BY WORKS.
III. TO BE MADE RIGHTEOUS MEANS TO BE SET PERFECTLY RIGHT WITH GOD'S LAW.
IV. THIS CAN BE DONE FOR US ONLY BY FAITH. In other words, our salvation must be of grace; it must be accomplished for us by God; and we must acquiesce in His method, and surrender ourselves to His power.
V. FAITH, IN RESTING UPON GOD'S WORD, RESTS UPON A STATEMENT, A DOCTRINE, AND A PROMISE. The statement is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died, rose again, and now sitteth at God's right hand. The doctrine is that His death was an express and all-sufficient atonement for our sins; so that God now, looking at it, can be just and the justifier of the ungodly. The promise is that all sin shall be remitted, and all righteousness imputed to him who truly repents and shelters in the atoning sacrifice of Christ.
VI. YET FAITH HAS A PRACTICAL RESULT. He who thus believes is saved. He is inspired with love to God; he is renewed in the Divine likeness, and made a partaker of the Holy Ghost; and therefore he must delight to keep God's commandments and do His will. Application:
1. To the ungodly. Seek justification, and so flee from the wrath to come.
2. To those seeking to be righteous. Will you study God's method of righteousness, which is by faith, and at once fall in with it?
3. To believers. Cultivate more faith, and rest confident of never perishing, but having eternal life. Beware of relapsing into the spirit of merit mongering and legalism.
(The Congregational Pulpit.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.