(35) 6-10-2020 Wednesday Service -  Commentary by J. Vernon McGee on Verses Referenced in Tonight’s Service



For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek [Rom. 1:16].


"I am not ashamed of the gospel" ("of Christ" is not in the better manuscripts). Paul says, "I am debtor.... I am ready.... I am not ashamed." I am a debtor -- that is admission; I am ready -- remission; I am not ashamed -- submission. These are the three "missions" of Paul: admission, remission, and submission.


Why did Paul say, "I am not ashamed of the gospel"? As I walked down the streets of Ephesus and looked at the ruins of marble temples, I realized that there was not a church building in Ephesus in the first century. In Ephesus was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the gorgeous temple of Diana (or Artemis), but there was no church building. I suppose there were folk in Rome who were saying, "Well, brother Paul hasn't come to Rome because he is just preaching a message geared for poor people. The message he preaches is without prestige; there are no great temples connected with it. He would be ashamed to bring it to an important place like Rome." So Paul says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel."


Now why is Paul not ashamed of the gospel? "It is the power of God"! The Greek word translated "power" is dunamis, from which we get our word dynamite. It is dunamis power! It is the kind of power Dr. Marvin R. Vincent calls divine energy! In itself the gospel has power, innate power.


It has power for a very definite thing: "It is the power of God unto salvation." That is the end and the effect of the gospel. "Salvation" is the all-inclusive term of the gospel, and it simply means "deliverance." It embraces everything from justification to glorification. It is both an act and a process. It is equally true that I have been saved, I am being saved, and I shall be saved.


The gospel is "to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." It's to everyone. It includes the entire human race, irrespective of racial or religious barriers. And it is personal; it is directed to every individual -- "whosoever will may come."


It is universal in scope, but it is limited to "every one that believeth." This statement wraps up election and free will in one package. The only way of procuring salvation is by personal faith.


"To the Jew first, and also to the Greek" does not imply that the Jew has top priority to the gospel today. The important thing is to make sure the Jew is on a par with the Gentile as far as evangelism is concerned. Chronologically the gospel went to the Jew first. If you had been in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, you would have seen an altogether Jewish meeting. And Paul in his missionary journeys took the gospel first to the Jewish synagogue, but in Acts 13:46 we are told, "Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles." The gospel began in Jerusalem, a Jewish city, then spread to Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.


Dr. Stifler calls our attention to three very pertinent truths in this verse: the effect of the gospel -- salvation; the extent -- it is worldwide -- to everyone; the condition -- faith in Jesus Christ.


For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith [Rom. 1:17].


"A righteousness from God is being revealed" is a literal translation. It should not be the righteousness of God, because that would be His attribute, and God is not sharing His attribute with anyone. It is a righteousness, and it is from God; it is not man's righteousness. God has already said that He will not accept the righteousness of man, for the righteousness of man is as filthy rags in His sight according to Isaiah 64:6. Paul is talking about the imputed righteousness of Christ. God places a lost sinner in Christ, and He sees him in Christ. The believer is absolutely accepted because of what Christ has done for him. The only method of procuring this righteousness is by faith. It is a by-faith righteousness. You can't work for it; you can't make a deposit on it; you can't buy it. You can do nothing but accept it by faith. "And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith" (Phil. 3:9).


The word for "righteousness" is dikaiosune. This word occurs ninety-two times in the New Testament, thirty-six times in Romans. The phrase "a righteousness from God" occurs eight times in this epistle. The root word dike means simply "right." Justice and justify come from the same word. "To be right" is the primary meaning, which is the antonym of sin. Dr. Cremer gives this apt definition: "It is the state commanded by God and standing the test of His judgment; the character and acts of a man approved of Him, in virtue of which the man corresponds with Him and His will as His ideal and standard." The righteousness he is talking about is what God demands, and it is what God provides -- it is a righteousness that is from God.


"From faith to faith" simply means out of faith into faith. God saves you by faith, you live by faith, you die by faith, and you'll be in heaven by faith. Let me use a homely illustration. Quite a few years ago I was born deep in the heart of Texas. When I was born, my mother said the doctor lifted me up by my heels, gave me a whack, and I let out a cry that could be heard on all four borders of that great state. I was born into a world of atmosphere and that whack started me breathing. From that day to this I have been breathing atmosphere. From air to air, from oxygen to oxygen. Much later, in the state of Oklahoma, I was born again. I was saved by faith, and from that time on it has been by faith -- from faith to faith.


"As it is written" refers to Habakkuk 2:4, where the statement is made, "...the just shall live by his faith." This is quoted in three great epistles of the New Testament: Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews.


"The just shall live by faith" -- justification by faith means that a sinner who trusts Christ is not only pardoned because Christ died, but he also stands before God complete in Christ. It means not only subtraction of sin, but addition of righteousness. He "was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification" (Rom. 4:25) -- that we might stand before God complete in Christ.


The act of God in justification by faith is not an arbitrary decision on His part. He does not disregard His holiness and His justice. Since God saves us by grace, this means that there is no merit in us. He saves us on no other ground than that we trust Jesus. God is in danger of impugning His own justice if the penalty is not paid. He is not going to open the back door to heaven and slip sinners in under cover of darkness. But because He loves you, Christ died for you to make a way. The Lord Jesus Christ is the way to heaven. Since Christ paid the penalty for our sin, salvation is ours "through faith in his blood" (Rom. 3:25). The hymn writer is correct --


Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.


This concludes Paul's introduction. Now he begins a new section in which he reveals the sin of man. My friend, this is "sinnerama." The universal fact is that man is a sinner. The ecumenical movement is always away from God. We can put down the axiom that the world is guilty before God; all need righteousness. In this section Paul is not attempting to prove that man is a sinner. If you attempt to read it that way, you will miss the point. All Paul is doing is stating the fact that man is a sinner. He not only shows that there is a revelation of the righteousness of God, but that there is also the revelation of the wrath of God against the sin of man.


Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee.


(35) 6-10-2020 Wednesday Service




But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith [Gal. 3:11].


Even the Old Testament taught that man was saved by faith. It does not say that anyone was saved by keeping the law. If you find that somebody living back under the law was saved by keeping the law, let me know. I have never read of anyone who was saved by keeping the Mosaic Law. As you know, the heart of the Mosaic system was the sacrificial system. Moses rejoiced that God could extend mercy and grace to people even under the law -- that is the reason his face shone as it did. In Habakkuk 2:4 it says that "...the just shall live by his faith."


And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them [Gal. 3:12].


This also is an important verse. Faith and law are contrary principles for salvation and also for living. One cancels out the other. They are diametrically opposed to each other. If you are going to live by the Law, then you cannot be saved by faith. You cannot combine them. They are contrary.


Let me illustrate this. Our daughter came to visit us while we were in Florida, and we wanted to return to California by train. That was the time when passenger trains were being phased out. We tried to get a train route to California without going through Chicago -- both of us wanted to avoid Chicago. Well, it seemed as though we would have to go halfway around the world to go from Florida to California; so we had to come back by plane. When we got the tickets, I said, "Wouldn't it be nice if we could go by train and plane at the same time -- sit in the plane and put our feet down in the train!" (I would feel much safer with my feet in the train, I assure you). But that's absurd. If we go by plane, we go by plane; if we go by train, we go by train. They have made no arrangements for passengers to sit in a plane and put their feet down in a train. My friend, neither has God any arrangement for you to be saved by faith and by law. You have to choose one or the other. If you want to go by law, then you can try it -- but I'll warn you that God has already said you won't make it. "The law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them."


Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee.


(35) 6-10-2020 Wednesday Service


COMMENTARY ON Hebrews 10:38, and Hebrews 11:1-3, by J. VERNON McGEE, THROUGH THE BIBLE SERIES.


Hebrews 10:38 (KJV)

38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.



Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him [Heb. 10:38].


This verse is a quotation from Habakkuk 2:3-4, quoted also in Romans and in Galatians. It is an important verse. Each epistle that quotes this verse puts a different emphasis on it. In the Epistle to the Romans the emphasis is upon "the just shall live by faith" -- how God justifies the sinner. Here in the Epistle to the Hebrews, the emphasis is upon "the just shall live by faith." There have been several references to the living God, and this epistle tells of a living intercessor. He is the same one who died on the Cross for us and came back from the dead. The emphasis is upon His resurrection and His being the living Christ at God's right hand. Therefore since we who are His own have a living God and a living Savior at God's right hand, we shall live by faith. As I have said before, our faith is not a leap in the dark. It rests upon the Word of God. The just shall live by faith. Now in the Epistle to the Galatians Paul emphasizes faith; the just shall live by faith.


"If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." Draw back means "to take in sail."



Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee.


What is Faith?


Hebrews 11:1-3 (KJV)

1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.

3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.


Definition Of Faith (11:1-3)


The first statement in this chapter is a scriptural definition of faith:


Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen [Heb. 11:1].

God has two ways in which men can come to Him today. The first is that you can come to Him by works. Yes, if you can present perfection in your works, God will accept you -- but so far nobody has been able to make it. Adam didn't, and no one since has ever been able to do it. Abraham didn't, and David didn't, and Daniel didn't. None of them made it by being perfect. Therefore, this is not a satisfactory way to come to God, but many people are hobbling along that futile route.


The only other way to come to God is to come by faith. Many folk don't find faith a very satisfactory way either and feel like the little girl who was asked to define faith. She said, "Well, faith is believing what you know ain't so." That is what faith means to many. They think it is a leap in the dark, an uncertainty, or some sort of a gamble. If that is what it means to you, then you do not have faith, because "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," which means that faith rests on a foundation.


To other folk faith is a great mystery. It is a sort of sixth sense, some intuition into the spiritual realm, or an open sesame to a new world. Faith to some of these people is like belonging to a secret order into which you are initiated, and there are some mystical works which God will accept in lieu of good works if you just believe hard enough. My friend, the demons do a pretty good job of believing, and they are not saved. There are a lot of cults and "isms" today which are demonic and are run by demons. Faith for these people is like a fetish or some good luck charm which you hang around your neck or carry with you. But that is not faith.


Charles Haddon Spurgeon said: "It is not thy hold on Christ that saves thee; it is Christ. It is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee; it is Christ. It is not even thy faith in Christ that saves thee, though that be the instrument. It is Christ's blood and merit." That is what saves you, my friend. Faith just lays hold of it -- that is all. Faith, therefore, is not something mysterious at all -- it is that which looks to the Lord Jesus Christ.


Faith is not something which is added to good works. Some folk in our churches today treat faith like it is the dressing which is added to the salad of good works. You have a salad and you put French dressing on it, or bleu cheese dressing, or Italian dressing. Many people just add their faith as a dressing on top of their good works. My friend, that is not faith at all.


Let's look at the scriptural definition of faith that is given to us here: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." I like very much what Dr. J. Oswald Sanders (of the China Inland Mission which is now called the Overseas Missionary Fellowship) said: "Faith enables the believing soul to treat the future as present and the invisible as seen." That is good.


"Faith is the substance of things hoped for." The Greek word for "substance" is hupostasis. It is a scientific term, the opposite of hypothesis or theory. It is that which rests upon facts. In chemistry it would be the chemical which settles at the bottom of the test tube after you have made an experiment.


In my college chemistry class the teacher would give each one of us students a test tube and ask us to find out what was in it. I would take some of whatever was in the tube and add another chemical or two to it and heat it on the Bunsen burner to discover what was in the tube. One day I nearly blew up the laboratory with my experiment because something had been put in the test tube which should not have been put there. Five years later the janitor who swept out the laboratory told me he was still sweeping up little pieces of the big glass Florentine receiver which I had used in my experiment! Fortunately, the glass flew only onto my vest and not into my eyes. I experimented with one test tube for two weeks before I went to the professor to tell him what I thought was in it. I said it was a certain kind of powder and he told me I was right. I had a substance in the bottom of the test tube, and the professor, because he knew his chemistry, was sure of what it was (I'll be honest with you, I wasn't too sure!). But that substance in the bottom of the test tube was what I was looking for. That is the reality. And that is what faith is -- faith is a substance.


Dr. A. T. Robertson translates substance as "title deed." What is the title deed? What is the substance? It is the Word of God, my friend. If your faith does not rest upon the Word of God, it is not biblical faith at all. It has to rest upon what God says. Actually, it means to believe God.


The question is whether you believe God or not. Don't come up with the "I've got intellectual problems" excuse, because that won't work. The thing that keeps men from the Word of God is sin. It is sin in your life that keeps you from coming to God. It is the heart that needs to believe -- it is "the heart that believeth unto righteousness." When you are ready to give up your sin, the Holy Spirit will make real to you the Word of God.


A very fine man who heads up a wonderful Christian organization in this country sent me (and other ministers) a book he had written and requested my evaluation of it. It is a very fine book, but it is in the realm of apologetics, proving that the Bible is the Word of God. It is one of the best books on the subject I've seen, and I told him so. But I also told him very candidly that I have come to the place in my ministry where a book like that is of no value to me. I already believe the Bible to be the Word of God. I've already been through all those little experiments. I have proven what it is. I know the Bible is the Word of God. I've put it all in the test tube. I've made the experiment. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for." I know it is the Word of God. The Spirit of God has made it real to me.


Paul wrote to the Colossian believers, "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding" (Col. 1:9). To know the will of God is to know the Word of God. He prayed that they might know the Word of God. The Greek word for "knowledge" which Paul used is epignosis. There were Gnostics in that day who professed to have super knowledge. Paul told the Colossians that he wanted them to have super knowledge which was genuine by knowing that the Bible is the Word of God, and he believed that the Holy Spirit would make it real to them.


Don't misunderstand me: I did go through a period in college when I almost gave up the ministry. I had an unbelieving professor who was an ordained Presbyterian preacher. I admired the man because he was an intellectual, but he was taking the rug out from under me and taking it out fast. The things he was teaching were about to rob me of my faith, and I had to go to God in prayer. Then I met a man who had two degrees for every degree the first professor had, and this man put me back on the track. He showed me that there were answers for the questions the other man had raised. So I have the answers for myself. I've got a substance in my test tube, and I don't need to make any more experiments today. I know the Bible is the Word of God.


Therefore faith rests upon the Word of God. Our dogmatism comes from the Book. That is the reason the writer to the Hebrews said in Hebrews 10:39, "But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." There are only two ways to go. Either you are going backwards, or you are going to go forwards. Anything that is alive cannot stand still. Out yonder in the forest there is regression and deterioration taking place, but there is also growth and development. Nothing alive out there is standing still -- it cannot.


"The evidence of things not seen." We have seen that faith is the substance of things hoped for -- that is scientific. The second word used here is "evidence." In the Greek the word is elegchos. It is a legal term meaning "evidence that is accepted for conviction." When I was studying classical Greek in college, I observed that this word is used about twenty-three times in Plato's account of the trial of Socrates. Evidence is something you take into court to prove your case. It is that which the entire business world rests upon. Business is transacted by faith. I have a credit card, and when I drive into the gasoline station I hand it to the attendant. When he takes the card, he believes the oil company will pay him; he believes that I am the owner of the card and that I am the one who will pay for the gasoline in the long run. I say that man has a lot of faith. The oil company also believes that I'm going to pay. (Actually, they know I am going to pay, because they will take away my card if I don't!) But the whole transaction takes place by faith. Any man who accepts a check written to him by another is moving by faith. This is elegchos, evidence which is accepted in a court of law.


Faith is not a leap in the dark. Faith is not a hope-so. Faith is substance and evidence -- substance for a scientific mind, and evidence for a legal mind. If you really want to believe, you can believe. You can believe a whole lot of foolish things, but God doesn't want you to do that. He wants your faith to rest upon the Word of God.

Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee.