"Life ... Promised Before Times Eternal" (continued)
One simple thing governed the babyhood of the race, and it is the characteristic of all spiritual babyhood. In doctrine we call it "Justification by Faith." I am afraid I am rather tired of that phrase, for it sounds so theological! Justification by faith is the mark of spiritual infancy, the beginning of spiritual history, but I think some of the music has gone from that phrase. What is justification? Another word used is, as you know, righteousness. But what is righteousness by faith? I love a certain translation, which translates that word "righteousness," or "justification," like this: 'Right standing with God.' Is that not lovely? 'Being in right standing with God.' Is not that what the whole world is craving for? Is that not what the whole human race longs for? Is that not what we all desire more than anything else? God, being what He is, so perfect, so holy, so particular, is it possible that you and I, being what we are, should be in right standing with Him?
You know, in business that is a very important thing. In the commercial world, if one business is asked to do something for another, they look at their books to see what transactions they have had with them before, and they say: 'Are they in right standing with us? Have they paid all their accounts? Are they in our debt? Are they on good terms with us? Are we quite satisfied with them? Can we trust them? Can we commit our business to them? It all depends upon whether they re in right standing or not.
That is how it is between humanity and God. So far as humanity is concerned, God may very well ask: 'Are they in right standing with Us? Are they in debt to Us? Have they been right in their business transactions?' That is all gathered up into one word, so far as God is concerned: "Are they in the Lord Jesus? If they are it is all right. All the debts are paid and all the business is clean. We can go on with them. We can commit out interests to them." That is right standing with God, justification by faith, righteousness by faith.
Now you notice what Paul said in that passage in the Letter to the Romans which we read. What is the basis of the New Testament? Life because of right standing with God. That is wonderful! Can it be true? Brother, or sister, worried to death about yourself and how God looks at you, worried because you think that God looks at you as you look at yourself, here is this wonderful word which is the beginning! The antediluvians just received life on the basis of right standing with God. That is all!
What about Abel? Do you think that he was a perfect man? But the whole of Abel's life is gathered up into one thing: he believed God, and he knew that he was in right standing with God (Hebrews 11:4).
What shall we say about Enoch? I think he was a very wonderful person. If you read the chapter in Genesis where Enoch is mentioned, you find that it is all about people who are dying because of sin. This one lived so many years and died, that one lived so many years and died, and you are ready to go on with the whole miserable story - but it is interrupted. It just says, in Genesis 5:24: "Enoch walked with God - he was in right standing with God - and he was not; for God took him." Then you go back to more of the miserable story, until you come to Noah.
(continued with # 9)