IS A MAN RIGHTEOUS IN GOD’S EYES?
text is this: “That if thou shalt confess with
thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised
him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto
righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same
Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how
shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear
without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is
written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and
bring glad tidings of good things!”
seems to be much confusion today regarding when an individual is saved, that is,
when a person is declared to be righteous in God’s eyes.
Some think that only after a man is dead and resurrected in Christ’s
likeness can he be righteous. In a
sense this is correct, for “…when he shall appear, we shall be like him;
for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
Then we shall be sinless in our experience.
Then we shall experience righteousness, but our question in this message
deals with when God views us as immaculate.
Some would have us to believe that we are righteous in God’s eyes only
upon our baptism. That is they
teach that the waters of baptism wash away our sins and make us righteous before
God. Others would have us think
that only after coming to the front in a religious meeting and praying a certain
prayer we are then righteous in God’s eyes.
And so I raise the question and will seek to answer it from the
Scriptures, “When is a man righteous in God’s eyes?”
I do not refer to the eternal purpose of God where God views all His
works as already accomplished, but rather refer to the experience of men in
We did not read the first part of chapter ten of Romans, but there Paul
tells us about the Jews. He writes,
“…they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to
establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the
righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness
to every one that believeth.” (
The famous British Baptist preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, in
preaching on the subject of election had as his first point, “There is such a
thing as election.” My first
point in this message is, “There is such a thing as justification – that is,
there is such a thing as being declared to be righteous in God’s eyes.
In Romans chapter 4 and verses 1-8 we read of a man who experienced this
justification, that is, he experienced being viewed by God as righteous.
There we read these words: “What shall we say then that Abraham our
father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory;
but not before God. For what saith
the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for
righteousness. Now to him that
worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the
ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God
imputeth righteousness without
works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and
whose sins are covered. Blessed is
the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” (Romans 4:1-8).
these things regarding this imputed kind of righteousness.
This righteousness is something Abraham “found” or discovered.
He did not earn it nor did he qualify for it.
He did not know about it, but discovered it in his experience as God
dealt with him. This, then is a
truth that God must reveal. It is
unknown to the natural man and can only be understood from the Scriptures.
Notice that this righteousness came to Abraham when he believed God.
It is not, cannot be, of works because it is of grace.
This righteousness comes not because of a combination of works and grace
as some think, for such a combination automatically by it’s very nature
negates grace. Speaking of election
which is by grace unto salvation, Paul wrote, “And if by grace, then is
it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be
of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” (Romans
11:6). The principle is
clear and is this: you cannot mix works and grace and still have grace!
To add man’s works for righteousness to God’s free grace is to change
the nature of grace so that it is no more grace, but rather works. If I do
something which earns God’s favor, He does not give it, but pays me with His
favor because I have worked for it. To
preach such synergism is not to preach the Gospel of Christ!
Notice this, and this is very important!
This justification or righteousness before God is not just the
forgiveness of past sins. Revelation
1:5 says that Jesus, “…loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own
blood.” Now I ask you, what
sins did Jesus wash us from? The
answer is “our sins.” All
our sins! For when Jesus died to
pay for sins, I had committed none. All
my sins were yet future when Christ paid for them and the truth of justification
is that we are declared to be righteous. We
are declared to be sinless. When we
are justified we are viewed by God as immaculate.
Proof positive is in that Paul goes on in Romans chapter four to quote
David in the Psalms as saying, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord
will not impute sin” (Romans 4:8). According
to Paul and David, there is a blessed state of justification where God does not
write down sin on our account sheet! He
does not impute sin to His children.
Remember the story of Balaam? Most
of the time we think only of Balaam’s donkey and how she spoke to the prophet.
Sometimes we miss the point. Balaam
was a prophet of God. The enemies
So there is such a thing as being righteous in God’s eyes.
Abraham found it. The next
question we want to consider is this: when does it occur?
Does it occur at the moment a person comes forward in a religious
meeting? Does God declare a person
righteous when he prays a certain prayer? Is
this what is meant by “calling on the name of the Lord?”
Or, as some say, does God declare a person righteous when he is baptized
in water? When?
and 15 we read: “How then
shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they
believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a
preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How
beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad
tidings of good things!” Notice
that (1) calling follows belief; (2) believing follows hearing; (3) hearing
follows preaching; and (4) preaching follows being sent.
Let us reverse the order and put it in the way we usually think.
(1) First the Holy Spirit speaks to a Church and the Church is responsive
and sends out a preacher. This is
the New Testament pattern. No other
entity in the world has authority from God to send out a preacher other than a
New Testament Baptist Church. No
association, community, fellowship, mission board, convention or union has this
authority. Only a New Testament
Church can rightly do this sending out. (2)
The preacher preaches the Gospel. (3)
The Gospel is believed – not just in the head, but in the heart.
That means that faith has come to the individual and is exercised toward
Jesus Christ. (4) Then these
believers call on the name of the Lord. They
do! The Bible says in verse 14, “How
then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?”
Calling on the Lord is something that believers do!
Unbelievers cannot do it! Unbelievers
can mouth empty words that may be called by some people a prayer, but only
believers can truly call on the Lord. Praying
a prayer does not make an unbeliever into a believer.
According to verse 14 only believers can and do genuinely call upon the
Lord! Let me illustrate this in this way. I
do not know what the modern medical practice is, but I am told that many years
ago when a baby was born, it was sometimes, at least, picked up by the feet and
given a swat on its bottom. Of
course the baby immediately screamed! Such
a procedure probably helped clear out all the mucus that might have been in the
throat and nasal passages of the infant. It
also provoked the baby to take in a great gulp of God’s air, thus filling its
lungs to capacity. I suppose the
scream tested the baby’s vocal chords. But
the scream of that baby did not make it alive.
The scream of that baby was evidence of it’s being alive, but did not
in any sense make it alive! Now,
without the swat, babies cry and scream at times.
This is the natural course of events in the life of a baby.
So it is with believers. They
call on the Lord. Calling on the
Lord does not make them a believer. Be
clear on that point!
Calling on the Lord does not make an unbeliever into a believer!
But genuinely calling on the Lord is evidence that those who call are
believers! Only believers begin and
continue a lifetime of calling on the Lord in the Scriptural sense.
Paul wrote in 2 Timothy
“Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity,
peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
Notice Paul does not say “with all them that have once upon a time
called on the Lord.” The idea
that you can call one time on the Lord and be saved and go on in life and never
call on the Lord again is foolish. Believers
call on the Lord – not once, but again and again.
They do! It is a
characteristic of a believer in Jesus Christ to be often calling on the Lord.
The Psalmist cited this evidence in testifying to the righteousness of Samuel.
He wrote, “Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel
among them that call upon his name…” Psalm 99:6 – Capital
letters added for emphasis). What a
recommendation! To be reckoned “among them that call upon his name”
is to be reckoned up among the host of true believers.
Believers call on the Lord! It
is an evidence of spiritual life. True
believers will be found calling on the Lord and confessing with their mouth
regarding Christ and their faith in Him (Romans 10:9).
we come to the question. Does
justification, that is, does a man become judicially righteous in God’s eyes
at the time he calls on the Lord? Does
a man become judicially righteous in God’s eyes at the time he is baptized?
Or does a man become judicially righteous in God’s eyes at the point of
faith? What does the Scripture say?
The Scripture says, “Abraham believed
God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness”
Abraham was not righteous in God’s eyes when he prayed or was
circumcised, but when he believed! This
is the testimony of the New Testament. In
we read, “For
after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God
by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” God
saves who? He saves them that
believe! Let us take a little
“tour” through the New Testament and just read what the Word of God says.
“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.”
Who has authority to become the sons of God – those who are
baptized? Those who pray a certain
kind of prayer? Or is it those who
believe? In John
are these words:
“But 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.”
Who has this eternal life? Those
who believe! In Acts
we read these
clear words: “And by him all that believe are justified from all things,
from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”
Here it is clearly stated that justification, that is being declared
to be righteous in God’s eyes, comes to “all that believe.”
Again in Acts
said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy
house.” The requirement for
salvation is not calling on the Lord – not praying some so-called
“sinner’s prayer,” but the requirement is faith!
which says, “Even
the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and
upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.”
The righteousness of God is by faith and is unto all and upon all
them that believe! Plain words.
Nothing here about being baptized for righteousness or praying or calling
on the Lord or doing anything else for righteousness!
we find these
words, “But we are not of them
who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the
soul.” At what point is the
soul saved? This verse is clear.
It is upon believing that the soul is saved.
One more Scripture should suffice. In
we read these
words, “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….”
Who is it that has eternal life?
The answer is plain and simple. It
is those who believe on the name of the Son of God!
And these may “know” that they have this never-ending life!
From these and other Scriptures it is clear that justification, that is
being judicially declared to be righteous in God’s eyes, comes at the point of
faith, not at some subsequent point in time when a person acts on that faith and
confesses his faith, or prays to the Lord, or is baptized.
What could be clearer to the unbiased mind?
To persuade someone to be immersed in water when he is yet in unbelief
and then to tell that person that because they were baptized they are righteous
in God’s eyes is to deceive them. The
Bible does not teach that it is at the point of going under the water or coming
up out of the water that a man is viewed by God as righteous.
Imputed righteousness does not come that way!
But to persuade someone to make a false calling upon the Lord, that is,
to solicit and to elicit a prayer from the mouth of a man who is yet in
unbelief, and then to tell him he is saved because he prayed - that is the worst
kind of deception! Let me say that
another way. To get someone to
“come forward” in a religious meeting – a thing unknown in the New
Testament – and then instruct them to pray, telling them they will be saved as
a result of their prayer, gives a person a false confidence.
Human nature will trust in the prayer and not in Christ!
The person will have come forward as an unbeliever and will return to his
seat as an unbeliever who is deceived into thinking he is saved because he
prayed. He will think he is saved
because of something he did – and thus the glorious gospel of the free grace
of God is turned into a false gospel of works for salvation.
have these people walking our streets. They
have been deceived. They came
forward in some kind of evangelistic campaign or meeting.
They were sincere in wanting something, but had not repented of their
sins nor received faith in Jesus Christ. But
they were told to pray a certain prayer and they did it.
And they returned to their place just as lost and dead in their sins as
they were before they stood up from their seats.
Now they are cynics. Whereas
once they would at least listen to the Gospel, now they speak against it.
I hear them saying, “I tried Christianity.
I went forward and prayed, but nothing happened.
There is no reality in Christianity.
It is false. I know.
I tried it and it doesn’t work.”
What harm we do when we do not follow the Bible exactly!
Why are we not content to follow the example of the apostles and other
New Testament preachers? They
simply preached the Gospel and left the results in God’s hands.
There is no record that they ever told anyone to come forward or to pray
a certain prayer in order to be declared righteous in God’s eyes.
But the power of God was on them and men asked them, “Sirs, what
must I do to be saved? And what was their answer? “And
they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” (Acts
They did not tell them to call on the Lord and by doing that they would
be saved. They told them that men
are righteous in God’s eyes by faith in Christ!
we have considered Abraham. Abraham
had positive righteousness imputed to him – that is set down on his account
sheet – when he believed God. That
is clear. But does that have
anything to do with us today? Yes
it does. Consider how Paul closes
chapter four of Romans. Romans
4:23-25 says, “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was
imputed to him; But for 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
offences, and was raised again for our justification.”
Romans chapter four was not written that we might read it and wonder
at the man Abraham and marvel at how God blessed him.
No! It was written for our
sakes. For we shall have the same
judicial, positive righteousness charged to our account upon believing!
Do not marvel at Abraham and the grace given to him.
Rather rejoice, believer, at the grace given you!
The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8, 9, these words, “For by grace are
ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of
God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
The Cornilescu (Romanian language) translation may be of interest to
you here. It says clearly in
translation, “For through grace you were saved through faith, AND THIS (i.e.
this faith – CAP) DOES NOT COME FROM YOU, but is the gift of God.”
God gives “…the faith of God’s elect” (that is what the
Bible calls saving faith in Titus 1:1) and at the point of faith, the time of
believing, righteousness is imputed to the believer.
In closing let me ask you a question.
Have you believed to the saving of your soul?
I do not refer to mere intellectual or mental understanding.
I do not refer to mere mental assent where in you agree in principle to
the facts of the Bible or to the facts of the Gospel.
I ask if in your heart, your innermost being, you have believed the
Gospel in such a way that all your hope, confidence, trust, and expectation is
in Jesus Christ? Do not think you
shall be saved because of something you have done.
The only way anyone is righteous in God’s sight is through faith in the
Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, a man can
be righteous in God’s eyes, by grace, through faith which is the gift of God.
And this righteousness is charged to your account at the point of faith
in Jesus Christ. Imputed
righteousness comes at the point of faith!
Do not be deceived, but rejoice in the simplicity that is in Jesus Christ
and salvation through faith in Him. Amen.
Grace Bible Baptist Church
26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726