The Faith That Justifies: Its Origin and Growth (Romans Sermon 25 of 120)
August 13, 2000 | Andy Davis
I. The Insufficiently of Virtues
Please take your Bibles and turn to Romans, Chapter 4. This will be for a little while, anyway, maybe even a long while, our last sermon in Romans. We've been looking at the first four chapters in Romans and it stands as a unit. And together, those four chapters prepare you for the greatest day of your life, the day in which you'll stand before God to give an account for your soul, to prepare you for Judgment Day.
Now that's weighty, isn't it? And we've seen exactly how weighty that is, for Judgment Day stands before us, the heavenly court will be seated. The books will be opened and we will give an account. And if there is a message in this world that can take sinners like us and declare us righteous before such a holy judge, then it's well worth listening to. And we have listened all year.
Now, as we've looked at the message of Paul in Romans, it's been clear that justification, namely, that moment in which the righteous judge, God himself declares sinners like us, not guilty, justification occurs by faith alone. Now we're going to see out of the text this morning, the question comes, why faith? Why did God choose that attribute? Why not other things? Now perhaps some of you have seen this book, The Book of Virtues. It's a great book, written by William Bennett, or compiled really, by William Bennett. He was a former Secretary of Education. And he put this together. Books like this have been done for a long time. As a matter of fact, the oldest book in my library published in 1848 is a cyclopedia. I didn't know what a cyclopedia was, but it's an encyclopedia without the en, I guess.
Cyclopedia of Religious and Moral Anecdotes, same thing. Stories that illustrate moral behavior. And he lists 10 some odd attributes or virtues that would grace any godly character or any human being really for that matter. It's written for a secular audience. And so the stories are secular. But they point to virtues that are worth considering, for example, self-discipline or compassion, responsibility, friendship, work, courage, perseverance, honesty, and loyalty among others. So as he lists these virtues, I got to thinking, "Well, what would be wrong with some of those for justification?"
Self Discipline is Insufficient for Judgement Day
For example, he talks about the self-discipline of George Washington. George Washington, from an early age, trained himself to be a disciplined young man, even before he entered the military. And by the time he took control of the continental army, that self-discipline had reached it's full flower and it enabled him to go through incredible suffering and difficulty. Valley Forge, one set back after another to keep the continental army together, self-discipline. But if George Washington stood before God, justified of all his sins, it was not on the basis of his self-discipline, however admirable.
Compassion is Insufficient for Judgement Day
Or compassion for example. Clara Barton is someone that William Bennett talks about. Clara Barton is the founder of the Red Cross. She was called the angel of the battlefield. She went out on Civil War battlefields one after another, risked her life to tend to those that had been grievously wounded. Back in those days if you were wounded seriously, you probably were going to die. And she gave incredible comfort and care with amazing courage. And her vision of compassion has spread to include, not just warfare but hurricanes, and earthquakes, and all kinds of natural disasters and that's a vision she had even before she died. But if Clara Barton stood before the judgment seat of God declared righteous for all her sins, it was not on the basis of her compassion, however admirable.
Responsibility is Insufficient for Judgement Day
What about responsibility? We live in a time when people are becoming more and more irresponsible. They don't take responsibility. They don't feel a sense of responsibility because it costs something. Frederick Douglas is an example of responsibility. He was an escaped slave who labored tirelessly to help those who were still suffering from bondage simply because he felt an overwhelming sense of duty and responsibility to his people. And not only that but to the whole nation. Through his writings and his messages, his speeches, he held the "scorching iron of moral reproach" to America's conscience, holding each American citizen responsible for this moral evil called slavery. Thus, he was a hero to thousands for this undying sense of responsibility. But again, if Douglas stood before God declared righteous of all his sins, it was not because of his sense of responsibility.
Perseverance is Insufficient for Judgement Day
Or how about perseverance? Thomas Edison worked hard every day of his life to make the most of the creativity that God had given him, not a believer but he worked hard persevering, laboring. If you ever read the story of the invention of the light bulb, you know what I mean. All the different filaments and fibers he tried to make work and he was the one that said, "genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration" and he put in that perspiration, hours of unremitting labor. But if a man like Edison stood before God justified, it was not on the basis of perseverance.
Courage is Insufficient for Judgement Day
Or what about courage? Harriet Tubman led over 300 slaves through the underground railroad during the time before the Civil War, risked her life to do so. 20 trips she made, can't imagine the terror that would come in your heart at various times, incredible courage. But if Harriet Tubman stood before God justified for all her sins, it was not on the basis of her courage, however admirable.
Even Love is Insufficient for Judgement Day
You know, one trait that he left out was love. Isn't that one of the virtues you think of maybe number one? When you think of somebody who's exemplified love in a very public way, perhaps Mother Theresa would come to mind. She went to Calcutta and put those little bony arms of love around people that almost anybody else would have rejected. It's a terrible city. Poverty stricken, struck by one natural disaster after another. And for her conspicuous love and her courageous love, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But if Mother Teresa stood before God, justified, that is declared righteous on Judgment Day, it's not on the basis of her love, however admirable.
II. Why Did God Choose Faith?
Why did God choose faith? That is before us today. And not just any faith, a kind of a nebulous faith but according to our text, the faith in him who raised Jesus, our Lord, from the dead. That is the faith that justifies. Let's look now at Romans 4. Let's begin at Verse 18 and read to the end of the chapter.
"Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, 'So shall your offspring be'. Without weakening in his faith, Abraham faced the fact that his body was as good as dead since he was about 100 years old and that Sarah's womb was also dead, yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God that was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God."
And here's that definition we got last time Verse 21, "Being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised." Therefore, it's a good translation, "Therefore, it was credited to him as righteousness. The words 'it was credited to him' were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will be credit righteousness, for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification."
So I'm going to ask three questions of this text and they come right out of the text. First question is, Why did God choose faith? What is there about faith that justifies? Why did he choose that as the virtue, if you could call it that? And second of all, what is the origin and the sustaining power of this faith? Where does it come from? What is the relationship between Scripture, for example, and the faith that justifies and I would contend sanctifies as well? And then finally, what do we get out of this? What is our portion, our connection to this whole matter? These are the three questions I'm going to ask.
Let's begin by asking, "Why did God choose faith?" We went through a number of virtues, you can think of others, perhaps, that you would choose or exemplify, desire to exemplify in your life. But it is faith. Now look at Verse 22. Verse 22 in the NIV says, "This is why," or in other versions it says, "therefore, it was credited to him."
So there's something about faith that brings about the crediting of righteousness and that brings the question up, then what is it? What is in the nature of faith? Why did God choose faith? Now last week, we talked about what is justifying faith, what is the nature of it? There's no reason to preach that sermon again. I'm sure you remember all the points very well. But the fact of the matter is, Verse 21 gives us a beautiful definition of faith. Faith is a full assurance or a confidence in God that he has power to do the things he's promised. Isn't that a great definition? And God's made many promises in Scripture, hasn't he? He's covered us with promises. And it says in Corinthians that, "All of those promises are in Christ." Yes and amen. They all come to us through Christ.
And so we believe in a God, an invisible God, who's made promises to us and we believe those promises though we may see no evidence for it around us. And we've seen in Romans 4 an example of that kind of faith. Abraham was made an incredible promise, namely that he would have as many descendants as there were stars in the sky. "So shall your offspring be," said God to him. And Abraham believed that promise and he was justified. Declared righteous by God. So that is faith. It's Hebrews 11:1, "The assurance of things hoped for. The conviction or certainty of things not seen." And then Romans adds that it was based on the character and faithfulness of God who made the promise.
Answer #1: Faith Glorifies God
Well, I would give three answers to why it is that God chose faith. Number one, faith glorifies God. Faith glorifies God. Look at verse 20. It says that Abraham did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith giving glory to God. In other words, the strengthening of Abraham's faith gave glory to God. Now, glory to God means it reveals something of who God is. It exemplifies something of God's character.
The Universe Was Created for the Glory of God
Now, lest we forget, and it's easy to forget, this universe and everything in it was created for the glory of God. That's why we're here. And how easy it is for us to forget that. We get so centered on ourselves, don't we? We forget that we exist, that our heart is beating every moment for the glory of God. Whether we acknowledge that or not, we're created for that. And the heavens, which God pointed to when he said, "So shall your offspring be." The heavens exist for the glory of God. Psalm 19:1. "The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies proclaim the work of his hands." That's what it's here for. That's what you're here for.
Humanity was created particularly to bring glory to God. I love Psalm 96:7-8, "Ascribe to the Lord, oh families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name," the glory he deserves for the kind of God he is. That is our job description as human beings. But we don't do it, do we? We have forsaken the glory of God. We have, according to the Book of Romans, exchanged the glory of God for something lesser. We've traded it. The very thing that was our inheritance and our birthright, the thing that we should have been living for. We exchanged the glory of God for earthly things that don't matter. That's the essence of sin. We exchanged the glory of God, for all have sinned and lack the glory of God.
God is the Focus of Faith
Now salvation calls us back to the glory of God and therefore the thing that saves us must do the same. Do you see that? If we were to elevate one of these human virtues and say, "That is the thing which will declare us righteous," do you see the focus is on ourself, our love, our compassion, our self-discipline, you see? But faith looks outside of ourselves to God. There's nothing to boast in about faith. We're looking to a God who is faithful to keep his promises. And so you see why faith was chosen instead of these other virtues. These virtues could be complete and assembled and still have a dark, almost demonic pride behind them because we boast that we are so compassionate, boast that we are so loving or so disciplined.
But faith, where is the boasting? We are just reaching out with arms saying, "God, give me the thing you promised. And so faith glorifies God. Well, how does it glorify God? First, faith glorifies God because God is the focus of faith. Self can never be focus of faith. Let's not get confused about the modern language that is so annoying. You just need to believe in yourself. Well, that won't do on Judgment Day. It will not do on Judgment Day to believe in yourself. It will lead to hell. You must get up out of yourself to believe in the God who presents salvation to us in this message. The focus of faith is God. It's not a matter of see what I can do, but rather see what God has done and what he will do in me by his power.
Verse 25 says, "He, [mainly Christ] was delivered over to death for our sins," note the passive. Who delivered Christ over for our sins? It was God the Father. God delivered him over. God did this. He was delivered over to death for our sins, and he was raised to life, note the passive, who raised Jesus from the dead? It was God who raised him from the dead. You see, faith gets up out of ourselves to look at a God who has done these great things.
God is the Author of Faith
Secondly, God is the author of faith. He invented it. As a matter of fact, if you're a believer today, he wrote it on your heart. I like what it says in Hebrews 12:2 "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." He wrote faith on your heart at some point in your life. When you heard the gospel and believed, he wrote it. And then that verse that we have considered probably 36 times, "For it is by grace you are saved through faith and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." Not by works. You see, God gives the faith. It's a gift of God. God also not only gives the faith, he sustains it and perfects it. He nurtures the faith. If you've already come to faith in Christ, this is your business now. The sustaining and nurturing of your faith through something called sanctification and obedience, and the same one that gave you the faith for justification is going to nurture it and strengthen it right until you're finished.
God is the Sustainer of Faith
Now we started to consider this verse last time, but I had it printed on your bulletin, and that is Luke 22:31-32, just look at your bulletin. This is such a significant verse. And I'll tell you why it's significant, because there are many in this room here today who are claiming Jesus as your savior and Lord. You believe that Jesus will save you. You believe it, don't you, today? But how do you know you will believe it 20 years from now if God lets you live that long? How do you know? What is your assurance that what you believe today, you will believe 20 years from now?
If your answer is because I'm such a good believer, you've missed the whole message of Romans, but rather it is God who sustains faith in you. And here's good scriptural back up to prove it. Right before Jesus died, Jesus was breaking the news to his disciples that they are about to go through the trial of their life. "Simon, Simon," Jesus said, "Satan has demanded to sift you as wheat." Look at verse 32. "But I have prayed for you, Simon." "To what end have you prayed for me, Lord? To what end have you prayed for me? What did you pray for Jesus? I'd like to know." "I have prayed that your faith may not fail," that your faith may not give out through this trial."
Now I've asked before… Think about, who did Jesus pray to? To the Father. What business has the Father to interfere with Simon's faith? Every business. He's the one that gave it to him, and he's the one that will sustain it through the worst time in his life. Oh, yes, Simon will weep bitterly. Oh, he'll hit low. He will hit the bottom and he'll bounce. That's how low he will be, but he will not give in. His faith will not give out. And why? Because Jesus has prayed to the Father, that his faith may not fail and it won't fail. So let me ask the question again.
If you're a believer in Jesus today, what guarantee do you have that you'll still believe in him 20 years from now? Here's your guarantee. Jesus ministry in you will sustain your faith for every trial you go through. Now, Simon could've made it a lot easier for himself if he hadn't denied the Lord three times. We put ourselves through incredible pain through our sin, don't we? We don't have to go through the pain that leads us to weeping bitterly. If we choose that painful route, Jesus prays for us that our faith may not fail. "And when you have turned," Jesus said, "strengthen your brothers." There's no "if" in Jesus language here. It's an iffy thing. It's a coin toss, whether he will return. No. When you have turned, strengthen your brothers. You see that? There's your guarantee. God is the sustainer of faith.
God is the Tester of Faith
And then, finally, God is the tester of faith. He brings you through tough things, doesn't he? As you go through those trials, your faith gets stronger. He wants a strong mature faith. Not just the beginner faith of justification, but the strong faith of a mature, godly man or woman. And he's going to bring you through trials so that your faith gets stronger. Faith glorifies God.
Answer #2: Faith Accords with Grace and Guarantees Salvation
Now, the second answer to why God chooses faith is that faith accords with grace and guarantees salvation. Remember what Romans has taught us about ourselves. Who are we really? If you want to know who you really are, then read Romans. Romans Chapter 3 is a good summary of who we really are.
"As it is written, there is no one righteous. No, not one. There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless. There is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves, their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood. Ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes." Conversion happens when you put your name in each of those verses, and say, this is me apart from Christ. This is who I am, if it weren't for Jesus. And so, how do people like us get saved? Grace. God gives it to us as a gift, apart from what we deserve.
If we start listing our virtues, we haven't understood grace. It's not on the basis of any virtues that God sees in us, but rather, just because he is gracious, and loving, and does not treat us as our sins deserve. That's why. And so faith lines up well with that. And therefore, from that, we get a guarantee of salvation because it's not in you, do you see? It's coming from a God who is determined to save you.
Remember the back up for this, the scriptural verse, Romans 4:16. "Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring." Remember we talked about that word, guarantee. That's a sweet word. It means on Judgment Day, you will be welcomed by God despite all your sin. Guaranteed. Sing for joy at that word today. Sing again. I hope you sang when I preached it last time. Sing again. The guarantee, but it must be by faith. If it's some virtue in yourself, you may not have it sufficiently. It leads you to insecurity. Am I compassionate enough, if God has chosen compassion? Am I loving enough, if God has chosen love? Am I self-disciplined enough, if God has chosen that one? It leads to insecurity and therefore no guarantee of salvation, but faith looks outside of yourself and gives you a guarantee that you will be saved.
Now, again, you can choose to violate the principles of your faith. You can choose to go into sin, you can choose to try to test God's determination to save you. You're just going to hurt yourself, but you're not going to break that iron will. You're just going to hurt yourself. Believe me, God is vigorous in this matter of salvation. And if you choose to test him through sin, he will discipline you if you're a child of God. He will discipline you, and make your life miserable. But his determination to save you cannot be broken. It's a guarantee.
Answer #3: Faith Humbles Humanity
And then finally, because faith humbles humanity. All of this humbled us, do you see that? The answer isn't in us. It's not because we're such great believers that we get saved. But rather because by faith we are saved. Faith humbles us. Trusting in virtue leads to pride, but faith leads to humility. Therefore boasting is excluded. It's out. Except boasting in the Lord. These are the reasons I believe that God has chosen faith. Because faith glorifies God, because faith accords with grace and guarantees salvation to everyone who believes, and because faith humbles us when we need to be humbled.
You know what I've come to see as the opposite of faith in this sense, then? In 2 Corinthians, Chapter 1, Paul talks about some terrible trials he was going through so that he despaired even of life itself. And he said, but these things have happened, these trials have come to teach us not to rely on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead. That's the same thing he says here in Romans 4. To get our eyes off ourselves and look to God. When you get in over your head, you look to God, and you trust him and him alone. So therefore, the opposite of faith in that sense is what? Self-reliance. Self-reliance in the matter of salvation damns souls. But, if you get up out of yourself and look to Jesus and to him alone, you'll be saved. The opposite of faith is self-reliance in this sense.
III. What Role Does Scripture Play in This Faith?
The second question we want to ask is, what role the Scripture play in this faith? Now, look what it says in Verse 23-24. "The words, ‘It was credited to him’ were written not for him alone by also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead."
Answer #1: Scripture Gives Birth to Faith
So Paul is here getting to the issue of why was Scripture written? This leads us right to Paul's doctrine of Scripture. These words were written by God through Moses, Genesis 15, so that we might understand how we can be saved. We might understand how we can be saved. "All Scripture is God-breathed," he says in 2 Timothy 3:16. But what's its primary function? He said in Verse 15, 2 Timothy 3:15, "To make you wise for salvation, through faith in Christ Jesus." So, when you read Genesis 15:6, "it was credited to him as righteousness on the basis of his faith," you learn how you can be saved too. You see how it works? Do you realize that all of Romans 4 is just Paul's extended exegesis on just one half of one verse of the Old Testament?
He believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. Isn't that what he's been talking about the whole chapter? One little verse and now he's saying, why was that verse written? It was written for people like you and me who live here in Durham, North Carolina, the year 2000 to read the Scripture that we may know how we can stand before a holy, righteous God on Judgment Day and be justified for our sins. That's why Scripture is given. And so later, Paul will say in Romans 10:17, "So then faith comes from hearing the word." It comes from hearing the word. That's where it comes from. God uses Scripture to give birth to faith. James 1:18 says the same thing. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, so that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. The birth came when we heard the word. That's when the birth came. And therefore, Scripture is foundational to our salvation.
Now why did God choose to do it this way? Well, God can do anything he wants. But I think I can guess at what it is. Suppose all of you took a small piece of paper and wrote your name on it. Folded it up and put it in a vacuum packed, hermetically sealed, iron container and put it 100 feet under the earth and left it there. If the Lord didn't return 500 years later, somebody dug it up and they opened up that little container. And they pulled that paper out and unfolded it, what would it say? It would say your name. 500 years later, the same thing as the day you wrote it, doesn't change. And so the Dead Sea scrolls can be on earth, and 2000 years later they say the same thing the day they were written.
And so it points to a timeless, changeless God who makes promises that will never change. You see how Scripture supports faith. You read the Scripture and say, "Boy, it reads the same as it did when I was a boy." It's the same words, they're still here. God hasn't changed. In the midst of all this changeful world we live in, when I'm changing too, all the time God's word never changes. Heaven and earth will pass away, but his word will never pass away. And that gives us security, doesn't it?
Answer #2: Scripture Sustains and Matures Faith
And secondly, Scripture sustains and matures faith. Do you realize what this means? The same faith that justifies you, must move on now to sanctify you. Now I don't know when God is going to lead me back to Romans 5, 6, 7 and 8, four of the greatest chapters in all the Bible. But this is all about sanctification. What now? Now that we're justified, now what? Put sin to death. Grow in holiness. Be obedient to him. Well, that takes faith, doesn't it? Well, I contend it's the same faith that justified us, it just matures up into sanctifying faith and obedience faith. It's the same faith, there's no difference.
And so it said in Romans 1:16, "I'm not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes," that's faith, first for the Jews, then for the gentile, "for in the gospel the righteousness from God..." that's credited to righteousness, we'll get to that in a minute. "…Righteousness from God is revealed, the righteousness that is from faith to faith." The faith that justifies will bring you all the way home. Alright then, your business, as believers in Christ, is to strengthen your faith, alright? How do you do that?
Through Scripture, through considering what I'm saying to you this morning. Through going home and saying, "I can't get enough of the Bible, I want to read it again." And guess what? Your faith will grow stronger. And if you don't do this, if you neglect the word of God, your faith will be little and immature and so will your life. But if you give yourself to full attention to the word of God, you will grow up. 1 Peter 2:2, it says, "Like newborn babies, crave the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good."
IV. What Is The Result of This Faith? “Credited righteousness”
The third question we're going to ask today is, what is the result of this faith? Where does it come from? What do we get for it? What comes to us? Isn't it a fact what you're asking? What do I get through all of this? Is there a portion for me, is there a place for me at the table? Is there a table setting for me? Do I get to eat at this banquet? And what do I eat? Faith brings us into union with Christ. That is our portion. That's what we get. It's interesting to me the number of times "our" is in this little section here. Verse 25, "He was delivered over to death for our sins." It was our sins that nailed Jesus to the tree, isn't it? That, by the way, is your one true contribution to your own salvation. Your sins. Everything else comes from God. That's what you own. That's yours alone. That's what you contribute to your salvation. Our sins. And he was delivered over to death in place of our sins, to take the place, to receive God's punishment by his death on the cross. It was our sins that nailed Christ to the tree.
Also, it's our reading of Scripture. Look what it says in Verse 23 and 24, "the words were written not for him alone…" But also for who? For us! You're sitting here and reading the words. This is your reading. Therefore it's your faith that's getting built. This is your partaking in the feast, and our faith. Verse 24, "For us who believe in him who raised Jesus, our Lord from the dead." We are the ones who believe. We are the ones who exert faith. When God has written it in our hearts. We are the one that reach out and trust and believe, it is our faith, and therefore finally it is our imputed righteousness.
Do you know that 11 times in this chapter he talks about this? 11 times Paul. We get it. Oh no, you don't. I've said it 10 times, I need to say it one more time. 11 times. Verse 3, "Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness." Verse 5, "However to the man who does not work, but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited to him as righteousness." Verse 6, "David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness, apart from works." Verse 9 and 10, "we have been saying that Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited?" Do you get it? Do you see what Paul's doing? He's talking about a righteousness that isn't yours, that gets imputed or credited to your account.
Verse 22-24, "This is why it was credited to him as righteousness. The words it was credited to him were written not for him alone, but also for us to whom God will credit righteousness." Again and again, he says the same thing and you know why? This is our only hope folks. This is the only hope we have to stand before God on Judgment Day and be declared righteous. A credited righteousness that comes from outside of us that is not based on our good virtues, not at all, but comes to us simply by faith. It's our only hope. And it's a sure, certain secure hope, because God is the one who's made the promise. And our final portion is our Lord. Ain't that beautiful? The last time it says at Verse 24, "For us who believed in him, who raised, look, Jesus our Lord from the dead."
If you're saved, he's your Lord. He's our Lord. And he loves you. And he is all over your life. He's walking in and around it and through it, looking at it. He's sanctifying you. He's working in you. He is your Lord. That is your portion. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh, and my heart may fail, will fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Well, how do we apply this? Well, first of all, what's this I'm talking about? Am I talking about just this one sermon or four chapters of Romans over 30 sermons? How do we apply this? Well, let's just focus on this one sermon today. Total assurance if you're a believer. Someday, you're going to see God face to face and nothing can change that. Nothing. Now you can have a happy journey, an obedient fruitful journey or a miserable one. If you choose misery, eventually you're going to repent if you're a true child of God. Don't be too confident if you see nothing but sin in your life and never the fruit of repentance. Test yourself. But if you're truly a believer in Jesus Christ, total assurance is yours because of the doctrines that we've shared today. But your faith must grow from immature faith to mature faith. From like Jesus always said to his disciples, "You of little faith," to a full strong mature faith.
How does that happen? Do you know the answer? Read the Bible. Immerse yourself in its message. Never get enough. Eat it every day. Man does not live on bread alone said Jesus, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Read it. Saturate your mind in it. But buy it, you may grow up in your salvation.
And secondly to you believers, when you go through trials, rejoice. God is using it to strengthen your faith so that you do not rely on yourself, but on God who raises the dead. That's our doctrine. Rejoice when you go through that. And now there may be some who know themselves to be unbelievers. You know that you've never come to this kind of faith in Christ. Can I urge you, don't put it off? It's not going to be long before you'll stand before God to give an account for your life. The court will be seated and the books will be open. If you stand before God on the basis of your virtues, you will die and go to hell. But if you stand before God on the basis of the virtue of Jesus Christ and his imputed righteousness, you have pleasures at his right hand forevermore. Come to faith in Christ today.
In a few moments, we're going to sing a closing hymn. I'm going to be down at the front. If you want to come talk to me about your soul, we'll begin a conversation there, and once the music's over and the service is over, we'll continue. Please come and talk to me. And also if you would like to be a member of the church, you can come forward and talk to me about that as well. We'd love to have you take part in what God is doing here. To take part in the growth of this church. If you're a non-believer, don't let today go by. This is an opportunity to give your lives to Jesus Christ. Let's close in prayer.