3154. Concerning The Forbearance Of God

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No. 3154-55:349. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, April 20, 1873, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, July 22, 1909.

Or do you despise the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? {Ro 2:4}


For other sermons on this text:

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1714, “Earnest Expostulation” 1715}

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2857, “God’s Goodness Leading to Repentance” 2858}

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3154, “Concerning the Forbearance of God” 3155}


1. It is a great sign of love on God’s part that he condescends to reason with men. When they had offended against him, he might have said to them, “I will punish you for your offences,” and he might have gone his way until the day for carrying out his threat arrived. But instead of doing so, he is unwilling that any should perish; according to his own declaration, he has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but would rather that he should turn to him and live; and therefore he pauses and expostulates. When a man has been greatly offended by another, and is very angry with him, he does not usually stop to reason with his opponent, his anger is too hot for that. But if he is of a meek and gentle spirit, and anxious that the quarrel should be ended, he begins to reason with the other man, and says to him, “Why did you act so unkindly towards me? Why did you treat me like this? You have acted most unjustly; have you no sense of right? I have not deserved this from you; why then did you deal like this with me? Come now, do you utterly hate or despise me, or why do you continue to annoy and provoke me like this?” In such a way as this, but with infinite tenderness, the Lord reasons with sinners. So, dear friend, if you are still unconverted, regard it as a clear proof of God’s lovingkindness towards you that he again sends to you the word of expostulation. Take it for granted that he desires your good, and wishes you well, otherwise he would not have told his servant to say to you, “Do you despise the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”

2. From the context, it would appear that there were some, in Paul’s day, as there are in ours, who, seeing the great wickedness of mankind, and observing that God did not at once destroy the ungodly, deduced from that fact that they themselves might sin with impunity. Since God did not launch his thunderbolts at even very gross sinners, and strike them with immediate and total destruction by pestilence, famine, or sword, these people wickedly said, “What does it matter what sins or crimes we commit? Evidently God is asleep, or winks at such deeds as these; or perhaps there is no God at all. Anyway, let us live in sin, and take pleasure in it, for there will be no evil consequences for us if we do so; we may eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and enjoy ourselves to our hearts’ content, and there will be no one to call us to account.” So that, from the very fact that God was merciful and gracious, they inferred that they might be sinful and rebellious; and because God’s foot was slow to come in vengeance, they imagined that God’s hand would not be heavy when he did come, and they said, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” It was to a sinner of this kind that Paul asked the question, “Do you despise the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering?” I am going ask that question of you who are here; and I pray that the Holy Spirit may apply it to the conscience of every unconverted man and woman.

3. I. Now, first LET US HONOUR THE GOODNESS, FORBEARANCE, AND LONGSUFFERING OF GOD.

4. The description given by the apostle is threefold: “the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering.” I shall probably not be wrong in saying that God’s “goodness” may refer to the way in which he has overlooked all our past sins, so that he has not yet dealt with us in justice concerning them; that his forbearance may refer to our present sins, the transgressions of this day and hour, and that his longsuffering may refer to our future sins, for he knows that we shall continue to sin, yet he does not destroy us, but still bears with us. What a heavy weight is on my mind and heart as I think of the forbearance of God towards the impenitent with regard to their past sins! Why, there are some of you who have committed sins that you would be ashamed to have mentioned,—sins against light and knowledge too, which you knew to be sins, not merely one or two, but very many. It would have been the easiest possible thing in the world for God to have destroyed you; yet he has not done so. How long can you keep your temper when you are provoked? Five minutes? Half-an-hour? “That is a long time,” you say. Suppose, you were insulted to your face, how long would you hold your peace and bear it? An hour? I fear there are not many of you who would do that, but that you would soon give an answer to the man who had dared to challenge you like this. What then shall I say of God, who has borne with some here thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, perhaps eighty years, in which the mere fact of their living has been an insult to him, for they have lived in opposition to his will and his law, and have often defied him to his face, and in their provoking blasphemy, have even invited him to damn their bodies and souls? Oh, the amazing mercy of a God who can bear with a sinner for twelve months, who can even bear with him for fifty times twelve months, and can still stand, and in tones of pity and entreaty say, “‘Come now, come even now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord: ‘though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.’”

5. Then, next, it is a great mercy that God bears with your present sins, so do not despise the riches of his forbearance to you now. Most of you have long been hearers of the gospel; you are sitting in the place where you have sat and heard the gospel preached hundreds of times, and the very pew you are sitting in might witness against you that, although you have heard it for so long, you have refused to obey it. You have promised better things, but you have never performed them; you have lied, not to men, but to God. You have lulled your conscience to sleep when God has spoken to you through it, and you have even quenched his Holy Spirit when he has striven with you; yet, up to this moment, God who, without uttering a word, could send your guilty soul to hell, forbears to do so. He cries “How can I give you up?” He looks the rebel in the face, and says to him, “How can I damn you? How can I cast you into hell? My heart churns within me; my sympathy is stirred.” It is indeed great grace for God to do this; and he is doing it now. Every moment that an unconverted man is outside of hell, God is revealing towards him the riches of his forbearance, and it is a great strain on divine mercy when men continue to sin notwithstanding this forbearance. The Roman lictors used to carry on their shoulders the rods with which prisoners were condemned to be beaten, and in the centre of the rods was the axe for the final punishment of death; those rods were tied together with cords having many knots, and the lictors would untie the knots slowly while the judge waited to see if the prisoner would say something that should prevent him from being beaten; but when the last knot was untied, they bared his back to scourge him. The judge still looked at him to see if there was any sign of repentance; and if there was not any, then came the axe. So, with regard to some of you, God has been undoing the knots one by one,—indeed, and he has beaten you with more than one of his rods; you have suffered from sickness and poverty, and many other tribulations. God’s rods are striking you now, but he is slow to take up the axe. He is stern in his judgment on the impenitent, but he is very full of pity and compassion, and unwilling to deal the death-blow if it can be prevented. “Turn,” he says, “turn from your evil ways; for why will you die, oh house of Israel?” and with all the eloquence of words he cries to men that they would turn to him and live.

6. Then there is the longsuffering of God with regard to sins that are yet to be committed. Oh sinner, you cannot promise that you will not sin in the future! You may foolishly say, “I will not”; but the Ethiopian might sooner change his skin, and the leopard his spots as that you, who are accustomed to do evil, might begin in your own strength to do well. The fountain of your heart is foul, so polluted streams must continue to flow from it. You are born into such a race, and you have added to your natural depravity by your constant sinfulness so that you will still go on to sin until grace changes and renews you. How is it that God, who knows this, does not strike you out of existence? Is he going to spare you for still another year to set your hard heart against his love? Sinner, does God intend to spare you for another seven years’ fornication and lust? Will he permit you to live another ten years to still be a thief? Shall you have another twenty years in which every Sabbath shall be spent in sin, and in which almost every night shall see you reeling as a drunkard through the streets? Oh, if God knows that you will sin like this, how is it that he bears with you? If the destroying angel is told what you will be, he will stand with his sword drawn, or with his hand on its hilt, and say, “Commission me, dread Sovereign, to cleanse the earth of those who blaspheme your name, and break your law, and it shall be done!” But God says, “Put up your sword into its sheath, and wait a little longer! They shall have another appeal, another invitation, and another entreaty.” Oh, that these might avail with them, and that they might turn to God, and live!

7. Besides this threefold appeal in the text, God’s goodness is revealed in great abundance: “Do you despise the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering?” Truly God’s mercy towards us has been like a mine of riches. What has God not done for some of us? If I were not, at this moment, a believer, I should be of all present here one of the most ungrateful. I will state my own case knowing it to be similar to that of many others who are present. Cradled in the home of piety, nurtured with the tenderest care, taught the gospel from my youth up, with the holiest example of my parents, the best possible checks all around to prevent me from running into sin; yet, notwithstanding all that, sinning and revolting more and more; but checked by conscience, as when a steed tries to leap out, but its rider reins it in; yet still resolved to sin, determined to go further and even further into it, and even being angry with God for checking sin; trying to get the bit between one’s teeth, and to run away from God, and sin worse than before; then struck down by the hand of God in sickness, alarmed, terrified, resolving to live differently, but being raised up to health again, shaking off serious impressions with a laugh, and going back to the follies of sin again; then once more rebuked, made to tremble, thunderstruck, and awed before God; hearing of the precious Saviour, yet putting him off, and saying that another day would be soon enough to be a Christian. That is my sad story until sovereign grace met me, and that is also the story of many others present here.

8. Yet, all the while, God has kept you supplied with the blessings of providence so that you have never suffered from poverty; he has preserved you from the dangers and trials and troubles which a great many others have had to endure; he has placed you where an earnest gospel ministry never lets you rest in your sin; he has put you where faithful friends entreat you with tears to care about your immortal soul; he has raised you up from sickness, perhaps preserved you in the day of battle, delivering you when many others died all around you. Has God done all this for you, and are there in your mind no tender thoughts towards him, no grateful memories of his great mercy? Oh, think of where you might have been long ago! Might they not have said over your dead body, “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust”? Indeed, long ago there might have been a portion for you in that dread place where the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. Think of the gracious promises that are still proclaimed in your hearing, that, if you return to the Lord, he will have mercy on you, and will forgive you all your trespasses. Think of the Christ of God who died for sinners on the cross. Think of the Spirit of God who has come down to earth to strive and plead with sinners. Think of the Father’s almighty love, which is bestowed on all those who put their trust in Jesus Christ his Son. Oh, there have indeed been riches of mercy, riches of goodness, riches of forbearance, riches of longsuffering, and, man, do you despise all this? Woman, over there, do you despise all this? All this mercy has passed before you in one long panorama for many years; what do you say about it? Do you not say, “My God, forgive me that I have slighted you for so long”? Or will you still despise the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering?

9. I might, if I had time, try to measure the longsuffering of God; and if I did, I should need four lines. The excellence of God’s goodness is revealed by four considerations. First consider the Divine Person who reveals it. Remember who God is; think how great he is. No one likes to be insulted by his inferiors, then how can God bear to be insulted by the creatures whom he has made, the creatures who owe him their very breath? How can God endure to be opposed and defied by one so utterly insignificant and unworthy as man is? Yet he does not crush his rebellious creature as he well might.

10. Think next of his omniscience. We sometimes bear with people because we forget much of what they have said or done; but what would it be to have before your mind’s eye all the evil speaking of twenty years ago, and all the harsh sayings and unkind acts of a long life of enmity against you? Yet, though God has all our sins always before him, and our most secret sins in the light of his countenance, he still forbears to strike and destroy us.

11. Think, too, how powerful he is; no one can escape from him when he pursues them. Moses could run away from Pharaoh, and hide in the land of Midian, but where could we flee to escape from the vengeance of God if he had resolved at once to punish all those who had rebelled against him? How could we have stood up against him? Where are the bars of brass that could resist the omnipotence of the besieging God? None of his creatures can stand against him, any more than the stubble can stand against the flame, or the tow against the fire. And yet he has such forbearance that he has put up with us for all these years. Oh you blessed God, I love you for your amazing patience towards me and my fellow sinners that you still spare us though we have so severely provoked you!

12. Then take another measuring line, and consider the being to whom God’s goodness is revealed; that is, man. Think of what man is, and then ask yourself if such a little insignificant creature dares to proclaim war against God! Does he have the audacity to defy God, and to say, “I will not do what you have told me to do?” Why, the ant that crosses your path, on a summer evening, is not half so insignificant in comparison with you as you are when compared with the almighty God. And it is man, who has received so much from God,—man, who could not live an instant without God’s permission and support, who stands up and says that he will not be God’s servant, and that he will not accept the Saviour whom God has appointed! Oh you heavens, how is it that you do not fall and crush the miscreant? Great God, it is only because you are God that you do put up with sinful men for so long!

13. Another measuring line is this,—consider the conduct to which God’s goodness is a reply; in other words, consider what sin is. There is not a person here who has ever seen sin as it really is in God’s sight. In the least sin there is more evil than there is even in hell; for hell is at least the vindication of divine justice, but sin defies that justice. Sin is an unlimited and unmitigated evil; and there are some sins that are so insolent, so aggravating, so wilful, and men go so much out of their way to commit them,—there are some sins that are repeated so often, even in spite of chastisement,—there are some sins that are so polluting, so defiling, in which a man degrades and ruins others as well as himself, and there are some sins so infamous that it is incredible that God still bears with the men who commit them, and that, while he holds back the thunderbolts of justice, he holds out the silver sceptre of mercy, and says even to the chief of sinners, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.”

14. Then if we wanted one other measuring line, it should be the consideration of the blessings which God’s goodness brings. Our common mercies, daily bread, clothing to put on, health for necessary labour, rescue from peril, preservation from death, the institution of the Sabbath, the gift of the Bible, the gospel of salvation,—these are immeasurable blessings; who then can calculate, the riches of the goodness and forbearance and longsuffering of God?

15. I cannot help feeling ashamed of myself while I am talking to you on this theme, for I have a case to plead for God that I think I ought to plead much better than I do; and if I knew how to do it, I would do it, my gracious, blessed God. Alas! alas! there are some of you who treat God so badly, yet he has never done you any harm, and he is always doing you good. If his service were slavery, I should not wonder if you did not serve him. If to be his children were to be tortured and made unhappy I could not so much blame you; but since his service is perfect freedom, since his love is ineffable bliss, since his presence is heaven begun below, why do you flee from what is for your own highest happiness, and run away from what is all of God’s mercy to you? Oh sin, you have made men insane; you have given them over to a madness which makes them see no beauty in God, no charms in the person of the Redeemer, and no attraction in the salvation which he has bought with his own most precious blood! Oh Divine Spirit, I cannot plead as I gladly would; come, and make men value as they ought the riches of the goodness and forbearance and longsuffering of God!

16. II. Now let me briefly try to show you HOW MEN MAY DESPISE THE GOODNESS, FORBEARANCE, AND LONGSUFFERING OF GOD.

17. First, many people do it by never considering that they receive goodness from God. They take all that God gives them as a matter of course, and never think about it. If you have been very generous to some poor man, and have relieved his needs for several years, I think you must sometimes feel grieved if you find that he takes for granted and never shows any gratitude to you, but still expects you to do just as you have so for long done. You think to yourself, “I am not bound to help him, it is entirely an act of favour on my part.” You do not like to say, “I will not give him any more,” but you are strongly tempted to say so. Now if you have been ungrateful to your God for all his goodness to you, please do not continue to do so. The swine walk under the oak, and eat up the acorns that fall from it, but never grunt out their thanks for them; will you be such swine as that? Oh, do not do that! Rather imitate the little chicken, which drinks from the stream, and then raises its head as if to thank God. I know that there are many here who would not like to be considered ungrateful, neither are they so to their fellow men. I know you would scorn such a character; yet you are ungrateful to your best Friend, who has done far more for you than all the rest of your friends put together. Do not despise his goodness, and forbearance, and longsuffering by allowing it to remain unnoticed.

18. Some despise the longsuffering of God by opposing his intention in it. The intention of God’s goodness is to make bad men into good men; the intention of God’s mercy to impenitent sinners is to make them penitent. You say to God, “I will not have you for my God”; and he replies, “I will prolong your life; I will prosper you in business; I will multiply my favours to you.” Yet you still say, “But I am not going to be moved by all this.” God comes to your bedside when you are lying there very ill; the cold sweat of death is standing on your brow, and he draws the fever from your system, and again prolongs your life, and gives you another ten years here, yet you say to him, “I love you none the better even after doing all this for me.” Is that right? God has been gently leading you, not driving you, but drawing you towards himself out of love for you; so do not despise his lovingkindness by pulling the other way.

19. There are some who do even worse than this, for they pervert the longsuffering and forbearance of God into a reason for being unbelieving. They say to themselves, “We have done very well in this world although we have never been religious. We have had a good time of it though we have never prayed. We have been raised up from sickness, though afterwards we never thought about religion any more; so we may do as we like; God will not be angry with us, he will not stretch out his hand, and strike us.” Ah! I know nothing that is more perilous to an ungodly man than to go on prospering; but whenever I meet an ungodly man who is in great trouble, I have a hope that God has chosen that man to eternal life, and that therefore he will not let him go to hell, but puts bars and posts across the road to block the way to perdition. But as for the man who is prosperous though ungodly, in regard to whom every wind seems to be favourable to his ships, and every season gives him better crops than his neighbours have, and whose children are multiplied, and so on,—do you know why God acts like this towards him? I can tell you.

20. I have heard of a Christian woman, who had a very wicked husband. He was a dreadful swearer, and always opposed her in every good thing; yet she was the kindest wife that a man ever had. One night, or rather, early in the morning, as he sat with his drinking companions, he told them that he had a splendid wife, and that, if they were all to go home with him, even though it was two o’clock in the morning, if she had gone to bed, she would get up and prepare supper for them without showing the slightest sign of displeasure, but would, for his sake, wait on them as if they were lords in the land. They went to the house, and the husband called his wife, since she had gone to bed; she put on her clothes, and came down, and got ready such things as she had, and made them all welcome. They asked her why she was so kind to one who was so brutal to her, but she would not answer. Another day, she said to her husband, when he asked a similar question, “I have prayed for you thousands of times, and I have done all I can to bring you to the Saviour; yet there is a dreadful fear in my mind that you will be lost. I am afraid you will continue to sin against God, and that you will be sent to hell, so I have made up my mind that I will make you as happy as you can be while you are here, for I fear that you will never have any happiness hereafter.” And I believe it is for the same reason that God lets wicked men get rich. “There,” says the Lord, “they shall enjoy themselves while they can. I will give them these things while they are here, for the time will come when I can show them no pity, but my inexorable justice must drive them from all pleasure for ever.” I think if there had been any true manhood in that man whom I have mentioned, he would have said to his wife, “Woman, do you feel like that towards me? Have you loved me so much, and prayed for me for so long, and have you put up with any inconvenience so that you may do me good? Then, at any rate, I will be unkind to you no longer, and I will hear what these things are that you say will make for my peace.” A sane man would talk like that; and if you are sane, please heed what your God says to you now. This is how he stated the case long ago, and he might state it to you in the same way: “Hear, oh heavens, and give ear, oh earth! I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knows his owner, and the donkey his master’s crib; but Israel does not know, my people do not consider.” Which of you would keep an ox or a donkey if it never served you in any way? Which of you would allow even a dog to be in your house, if it always attacked you when you came near it? Yet God has put up with you, his ungrateful creatures, for these many years. Will you never kiss the hand that feeds you? Are you more asinine than a donkey? Are you more of a beast than the ox itself is? Oh, may God deliver sinners from continuing such injustice towards him, and such cruelty to themselves!

21. III. Now, lastly, LET US FEEL THE FORCE OF THE LEADING OF GOD’S GOODNESS: “the goodness of God leads you to repentance.”

22. It ought to be reason enough for our not despising God’s goodness that it is a very unjust thing to despise it. I looked in classic history to see if I could find any parallel case to this between man and God, and I found one something like it. In Alexander’s day, a soldier, who had been shipwrecked, was hospitably received by a certain person, who took him into his house, and fed and clothed him; but, as soon as the soldier was able to get back to Alexander, he misrepresented the case with many falsehoods, and asked the great commander to give him the house of the man who had entertained him. When Alexander afterwards found out the ingratitude of the wretch who tried to deprive his host of his own house in order to get it for himself, he ordered him to be branded on the forehead so that he might be known everywhere as the ungrateful guest; but what branding iron and what coals of juniper shall ever be hot enough to brand the ungrateful being who was created by God, fed by God, put in the way of mercy, invited by grace, and yet still remained ungrateful?

23. Seldom is man so selfish to his fellow man as man is to his God; the very men who would scorn to rob their fellow men of a farthing go on robbing God without compunction all their lives. Men who are scrupulously just in their dealings with their fellow merchants will persist in injustice to the God who created them. What is the reason for this base conduct? Oh! please, do not continue it;—I would, with tears in my eyes, entreat you to continue it no longer. Are you not under great obligation to God? You know that he made you. Deep down in your soul there is a voice that says to you, “It is God who keeps you alive.” You know that it is so; then how can you imagine that the Creator and Preserver of all can be forgotten with impunity? Let me give you a text that will remind you how dangerous a thing it is to live in the neglect of God’s goodness: “The wicked shall be turned into hell,” (especially notice the next words,) “and all the nations that forget God.” When I began to quote that text, you may have said to yourself, “I am not wicked; I do not do anything outrageous”; but listen again to the rest of the verse, “and all the nations that forget”—not the nations that swear, or blaspheme, or rebel against God, but “all the nations that forget God.” “That is only one text,” you say. Ah! but here is another, and there are many like it: “How shall we escape if we”—what? “If we neglect”—that is all,—it is only a matter of neglect—“if we neglect so great a salvation?” Despising God by neglecting him, despising him by forgetting him, this is a grievous kind of despising that will bring men eternal ruin on.


   Lord, do thou the sinner turn!

   Rouse him from his senseless state;

   Let him not thy counsel spurn,

   Rue his fatal choice too late!


24. It may seem, to some of you, child’s play to face this congregation, and to speak as I am now doing; but the Lord knows it is no child’s play for me. I feel that I am accountable to God for all of you who, within a short time, will have to stand before my Master’s judgment seat; and if, at the last tremendous day, I were summoned to give an account of how I employed this opportunity of speaking to you, and if I should have to confess that I did not tell you plainly that the neglect of God would ruin you for ever, if I should have to confess that I was cold and indifferent,—as cold and indifferent as you now are,—then my soul would be crimsoned with your soul’s blood. But it cannot be, it shall not be so, for I entreat you, by the living God, and by the Christ who died to save sinners, by the certainty of death, by the certainty of judgment, by the splendours of heaven and by the terrors of hell, I beseech you to consider the goodness and forbearance and longsuffering of God. Turn to him with weeping and with supplication, and above all turn to the gospel as it is declared here, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved”; or, to put it in Christ’s own full way, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who does not believe shall be damned.” May the Lord bring you all to simple faith in Jesus Christ his Son, then to obedience to Christ in the matter of baptism, and then may he preserve you by his grace, until life’s last hour, never again to despise, but for ever to adore the goodness, and forbearance, and longsuffering of God, for his dear name’s sake!

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ro 4:1-5:2}

1. What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, has found?

What blessings really came to Abraham, the father of the faithful? What is the nature of that covenant of grace which God made with him?

2. For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something of which to boast about; but not before God.

Certainly, before God, Abraham neither boasted nor yet was justified by his works.

3. For what does the Scripture say?

That is the question for us always to ask, “What does the Scripture say?”

3. Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.

There is no doubt about that point, for we read, “He believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” {Ge 15:6}

4. Now to him who works the reward not is counted as grace, but as debt.

He gets what he earns, what he deserves to have; what he receives is “not counted as grace, but as debt.”

5-8. But to him who does not work, but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describes the blessedness of the man, to whom God imputes righteousness without works, saying, “Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

So then it seems that the blessings of salvation come to men through faith, and not through their own efforts,—not as the reward of merit, but as the simple gift of God’s grace.

9. Does this blessedness come then on the circumcision only, or on the uncircumcision only?

Is this blessing permanently secured for the natural seed of Abraham alone, or is it for others besides the Jews?

9, 10. For we say that faith was counted to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then counted? When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.

If you turn again to Ge 15:6, and then to Ge 17:10, you will find that Abraham was justified by faith before the rite of circumcision was instituted. The blessing came to him “not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.”

11, 12. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still being uncircumcised: so that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed to them also: and the father of circumcision to those who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had while still being uncircumcised.

The vital question is not, “How were we born?”: or “What rites and ceremonies have been practised on us?” but, “Do we believe in God? Do we have true faith in God’s Word? Are we trusting our souls to the keeping of God’s Son?”

13. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

The law was promulgated on Mount Sinai four hundred years after the covenant of grace was made with Abraham the father of believers, and so made with all believers, for they are his true seed, and God has entered into a covenant of grace and salvation with them.

14, 15. For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of no effect: because the law works wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.

So that the law is not for justification, but for condemnation. It is the law that reveals sin, and that shows sin to be sin; so men can never become right with God by the law.

16. Therefore it is by faith, so that it might be by grace; to the end that the promise might be certain for all the seed; {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1347, “How is Salvation Received?” 1338} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2159, “The Holdfasts of Faith” 2160}

That is, to all believers, who are the true seed of Abraham. He is the father of the faithful, and if you are one of the faithful, he is your father; and the covenant which God made with Abraham and his seed was made with you, and on your account, if you are indeed a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.

16-22. Not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (as it is written. “I have made you a father of many nations”) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickens the dead, and calls those things which do not exist as though they did. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your seed be.” And being not weak in faith, he did not consider his own body now dead, when he was about a hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: he did not stagger at the promise of God through unbelief; {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 733, “Unstaggering Faith” 724} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1367, “Strong Faith” 1358} but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was also able to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

Oh soul, if you are like one who is dead, if you are devoid of all strength, and grace, and savour, if you can only believe in God who can quicken the dead, if you will only trust your soul in the hands of him who is able even to raise dry bones out of their graves, and make them live, your faith shall be imputed to you for righteousness! Your faith is what shall justify you in the sight of God, and you shall be “accepted in the Beloved.” Oh, what marvels faith works! This is the root-grace, all kinds of good things spring from faith, but there must be faith as the root if there are to be other graces as the fruit. Do your God the honour to believe him,—to believe that he cannot lie,—to believe that he has never promised what he is not able to perform. If you will do that, it is clear that you are one of Abraham’s seed, and the covenant made with Abraham was made with you also.

23-25. 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 in him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2357, “The Two Pillars of Salvation” 2358}

See the great object of saving faith,—Christ, once dead, has been raised from the dead, and if you would be saved, you must rely on the crucified and risen Saviour. If you believe that Jesus the crucified is the Christ of God, the anointed Messiah and Redeemer, you prove that you are born by God; and if you trust yourself to the risen and glorified Christ, you have risen in him, and you shall rise to be with him for ever and ever.

5:1. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1456, “Peace: a Fact and a Feeling” 1450}

My friend, are these words true concerning you? Can you put your finger on this verse, and say, “This is true of me, ‘Therefore being justified by faith, we have—I have—peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’”? We who have believed in Jesus enjoy that peace; a deep, profound calm is on our spirit whenever we think of God. We are not afraid of him; we are not afraid to meet him even on his judgment seat: “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” Do you have peace with God? Are you sure that you have it? If not, maybe you are not justified by faith, for that is the root of it: “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

2. By whom also we have access by faith into this grace by which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

This is a golden staircase, justification brings peace, and peace brings access into this grace by which we are established; and then comes the joy of hope, and that hope fixes its eye on nothing less than the glory of God. Grace is the stepping-stone to glory; and those who are justified by faith shall in due time be glorified by love.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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