Dr. Jim Brown was greatly used of God for many years as both a pastor and evangelist. He went to Heaven in December of 2013.
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations for his name: Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. 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. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:1-17)
I’d like to take verse seventeen as my text tonight, “The just shall live by faith.” Three times in the Word of God that statement is used identically. A fourth time it is used with a little variation. But four times in the Word of God, God says, “The just shall live by faith.”
If God says something, you and I ought to believe it, and we ought to get excited about it. But if God takes the time to reiterate something, and to go over it four times, and say, “The just shall live by faith,” then certainly we ought to sit up and pay attention, shouldn’t we?
I have a very simple outline, very easy to understand. There are four simple thoughts I want to share with you. First of all, I want you to see the PEOPLE OF THE PROMISE. The Bible says, “The just.” Secondly, you’ll see the PLAN OF THE PROMISE, and that is, “shall live.” Thirdly, you’ll see the POWER OF THE PROMISE, and that’s “by faith.” Then you’ll see the PURPOSE OF THE PROMISE, and the Bible says, “from faith to faith.”
Somebody says, “Preacher, that’s not a promise at all. That’s a command. The just shall live by faith.” I believe it’s a promise. Because He says, “The just shall live by faith.” Life is a promise, isn’t it? When He says, “The just,” He’s talking about believers. He’s talking about the justified. If I had begun this study and I had said, “You know, Brother Corle is an evangelist, and as an evangelist he ought to live by faith,” you would have said, “Amen. That’s right. Evangelists ought to live by faith.” If I had said of a missionary, “He’s a missionary, and missionaries, bless God, ought to live by faith,” then you would have said, “Amen. That’s right. Missionaries ought to live by faith.” If I had said, “The pastor is a man of God. He’s surrendered his life to the will of God. He ought to live by faith,” then you would have said, “Amen.”
But God didn’t say, “The missionary, the evangelist, or the pastor ought to live by faith.” God said, “The just shall live by faith.” The “just” are those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life; those who have been born again; those who have been saved through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As far as I’m concerned, probably the greatest doctrine in the Bible is the doctrine of justification. Thank God for forgiveness. Forgiveness says we’re guilty, but we don’t have to pay that divine penalty. But I get more excited about justification every day. Forgiveness simply means I’m guilty, but I don’t have to pay, although I’m still guilty.
You probably saw back some time ago when they had the O.J. Simpson trial. I didn’t probably watch five minutes of the whole thing. I watched just long enough to decide it didn’t look like they were trying him. It looked like they were trying everybody else. So I don’t really have an opinion about whether he was guilty or whether he was innocent. But I do know this, if he was innocent, he’s innocent, and if he’s guilty, he’s guilty. It doesn’t matter what the judge said, and it doesn’t matter what the jury said, because they can’t change what’s true. Whatever he was, he is. That’s the way it is. That judge can say, “He’s guilty.” That judge can say, “He’s innocent.” That jury can pass on it. That doesn’t change one thing. Whatever he is, that’s what he is.
But did you know that justification is different than forgiveness? Do you know what justification does? Justification takes somebody who is known guilty, and makes them innocent. That will change your prayer life! Sometimes we don’t pray because we don’t feel like we’re worthy to pray. We think exactly right. We are not worthy to pray, unless we are praying in the name of Jesus, and the only way we’re worthy then is because we were made worthy.
I like the song that says, “Everything that’s mine is His, but also everything that is His is mine, because I’ve been justified.”
Those of us who have known each other and went to school together know some things about each other. I could tell you some stories about some of these guys. I enjoy reminding them where they came from. When I go back and get around my dad, he loves to tell those sorry stories about me. When you stay around people that know you well, humility is not a problem. They will keep you humble. You may get out with this crowd who has just known you for the last few years. You may impress them. But the folks that live with you are not impressed.
The wonderful thing about justification is that when we come to God, we are in a state of innocence just like Adam was when God created him. That means that I don’t have any past. I’m not sure you’re getting this. What do you have to be discouraged about? How in the name of heaven can you keep from living when God has justified you? God said that He made us just as if we’d never sinned. “The just,” the people of promise, “shall live,” that’s the plan of the promise.
In Genesis, God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life. That was God’s plan. The Bible says the gift of God is eternal life. The Bible says that God gives us everlasting life. The Bible says in John 10:10 He gives us abundant life. It almost makes you think life is God’s plan, doesn’t it?
It’s amazing, because we don’t really live. What we basically do is exist. If I went to you and said, “Does the Bible teach that you have everlasting life?” you’d say, “Yes.” If I said, “Brother, does the Bible teach that you have eternal life?” you’d say, “Yes.” I’d say, “Do you have everlasting life?” And you’d say, “Yes.” I’d say, “Do you have eternal life?” And you’d say, “Yes.” Then I’d say, “Does the Bible teach that you have abundant life?” And you would say, “Uh...”
On doctrinal grounds, we’re safe to say we have everlasting life, right? On doctrinal ground, we’re safe to say we have eternal life, right? Are we on safe ground doctrinally to say that we have abundant life? Now, you told me you have everlasting life. You said you have eternal life. What about abundant life?
Do you know what you are? You’re charismatics, but not doctrinally. You say, “That bunch of charismatics. All they do is go on their feelings.”
What about, “I’d have been there Sunday, but I didn’t feel like it.”
“Preacher, I wanted to visit my bus route. I just didn’t feel like it.”
“I know I ought to go soulwinning. I just didn’t feel like it.”
“If I ever get to where I feel like praying, I’m going to pray more.” You’re charismatic. You’re living your whole life based on your feelings.
I’m not against feelings. Thank God for feelings. I love them. I’m glad God made us emotional, aren’t you? It makes it good when you kiss your wife. It makes it good when you go hunting or go to a ballgame. I’m glad for emotions. I’m not criticizing emotions at all. But somewhere along the line we ought to base this thing on the Word of God that never changes, because our emotions are constantly changing.
The day you got saved, God gave you everlasting life. The day you got saved, it started for you. It started that day, and it lasts forever. That’s everlasting. The day you got saved, God also gave you eternal life. But you say, “Eternal life and everlasting life is the same thing.” No. Everlasting started one day and it will never end. Eternal never started and will never end. I believe the only thing that is eternal is God. Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God...” When you got eternal life, God had to come live within you. That’s the reason we believe in eternal salvation.
We’re in good shape so far. We have everlasting life. We have eternal life because God came to live within us. Now the same Bible that says that says we’ve got abundant life. So if I said, “Do you have everlasting life?” you would say, “Yes.” If I said, “Do you have eternal life?” you would say, “Yes.” If I said, “Do you have abundant life?” you would say, “Are you kidding? Do you know who I’m married to?” “Are you kidding? Do you know who my pastor is?” “Are you kidding? Do you know where I go to church?” “Are you kidding? Do you know all the problems I have? Everything is falling apart. Everything’s bad.”
What you’re doing is telling me what you’re experiencing. So you have experimental Christianity. You say you believe in the fact rather than the feeling. But you only believe in that when it comes to eternal life. You don’t believe in that when it comes to abundant life. If you did, and I know I’m getting on dangerous ground, you’d start confessing what God said instead of what you feel.
You say, “I know what’s reality.” Oh? Do you? “I know what’s happening in my life. I’m miserable. I’m having problems. I can’t get along with my wife. My kids aren’t doing right. I am miserable.” Well, the Bible says you have joy. The Bible talks about peace. That’s what God says.
So you say you don’t have peace. And I tell you, “God says you do have peace.” You say, “I don’t care what God says. I know how I feel.” The Bible says, “Let God be true, and every man a liar.” So should I believe you or believe God?
Someone says, “I know I’m saved. I know I’ve trusted Christ. I know I’ve been born again, but I just don’t feel like it.” You would say, “It doesn’t matter how you feel. The only thing that matters is what God said.” Then can I tell you that when the Bible says, “The just shall live...” it doesn’t matter how you feel. What matters is what God says, and God’s plan for you is life. So, since God’s plan for you is life, why don’t you wake up and live instead of living under the circumstances? instead of you being dominated by the world?
We are reacting to other people’s reaction to the Word of God. Independent Baptists are listening to some guy preach, and because he’s reacting some way, we’re reacting another way. What you ought to do is get a Bible. You ought to get a God. You ought to get a prayer closet, and you ought to say, “God, it doesn’t matter what anybody or anything or any other bunch believes. I know what the Word of God says.” You can live with that. You can go on. It doesn’t matter if hell freezes over. It doesn’t matter what this crowd believes or what that crowd believes. The only thing that matters is what God said.
You can have a ministry and you can build a local church and you can win souls and you can preach the glorious Book, and you can have a ball. Because you don’t have to worry about anything but God, and you try to be a friend to other people.
Some of you say, “Well, that’s why I don’t go to any of those meetings, because of all the things that are said.” Well, the Bible says if you’re going to have friends, you ought to be friendly. So you just sit over there and suck your thumb and be friendly with yourself. “Well, I’m just trying to be like Jesus.” No, you’re not. The Bible says He’s a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. All it takes is for you not to like them, and you’re not their friend. I’m friends to a lot of people I don’t like.
You don’t have to like everybody. You have to love them. But you don’t have to like everything about them. I hate to shock you, but your wife is not real thrilled with you, either. But she still had better be your best friend.
I heard a lady the other day. I’m sure she meant well. She was talking to a whole bunch of girls. She said, “Now, if your husband is a preacher, you don’t ever want to tell him anything negative. When he comes home you need to tell him that was the best sermon, and that everything was great,” and all that kind of stuff. I thought, “Dear Lord, somebody ought to tell that lady not to lie.” Your best friend will be your wife. I’m not talking about a nagger or somebody who gripes and complains all the time. I’m talking about the fact that your wife ought to be honest.
There are sometimes that I need my wife to look at me and say, “Honey, I don’t know. I’m not sure. I don’t know what happened.” Usually I do know when she says that. You do too don’t you?
God’s plan for you is life. You’ve heard it. You know about it. It happened on a Sunday morning. There was a large crowd, and somebody had a heart attack in the morning service. They called for the EMT to come in. They stood at the back and looked over the crowd. They checked five people before they finally found the one that had the heart attack. Forgive me, but some of you would get checked! You say, “Well, I’m alive.” Well, it’s not real easy to discern. You can’t really tell.
Life is a choice. Deuteronomy 30:19 says, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life.”
God’s way is life. The Bible says, “The just shall live...” Guess whose way is death? The devil. Are we on safe ground doctrinally there? That’s what happened in Genesis. Sin came by one man and death by sin. Then what are you going to do with another verse that says, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death”? It doesn’t say the end thereof is death. It says “...the ways of death.”
If I understand this right, we can be saved, born again, justified, on our way to heaven, not going to suffer the second death, but still live in the ways of death. Is that safe? That’s what some of us are doing, isn’t it? You say, “Yeah, I know what you’re talking about, Preacher. You’re talking about those people who are saved and then go back to the bar.” That’s true. “Yeah, Preacher, I know what you’re talking about. You’re talking about those people who get saved and then go back into immorality.” That’s true. “You’re talking about that crowd that’s saved but they never tithe..” Yes, or that guy that’s saved and pastoring a church, but he does it his way. Or that missionary that goes to the field because God called him, but once he gets over there, because of pressure or whatever reason or laziness, or sorriness, he does it his way. Or that evangelist that surrenders and goes out, and everything seems to be going by faith, but when he gets out there he starts building on his own platform.
I was trained in the business field, then I went back to school and got some Bible and so forth. I got some on-the-job training in business, and I’ve watched it. What a lot of us do, when we surrender to preach or when we get right with God, we really meant it and we started out right. But somewhere along the line we just traded platforms. It’s our ambition. It’s our goal.
Don’t misunderstand. I’m goal-oriented. I believe that you ought to be very positive and all of that. But you need to be sure where you got that. Is that just your drive for success? or is that the will of God? Is that the platform that God has? Is that something you got in prayer or from the Word of God? Is that something that God put in your heart or that God stirred you up about? or is that just you wanting to be “top dog”? If there is one thing I know about, it’s pride. I have enough of it. I can recognize it in other folks.
The Bible says, “The just,” that’s God’s people, “shall live,” that’s God’s plan, “by faith.” That’s God’s power.
In order to get saved, it wasn’t just you doing the best you could, is that right? When you got saved you had to surrender to God. Have you ever noticed that you can go to just about any Christian you know and say, “Brother, how are you doing in your Christian life and in your spiritual walk?”, and they’ll say, “Well, I’m doing the best that I can.” Isn’t that what we say? Well, let me ask you this. If doing the best you can wasn’t good enough to get you saved, why is doing the best you can the way you’re supposed to live the Christian life? It looks to me like you’d have enough sense to figure out that if you didn’t start this thing that way, you’re probably not going to be able to continue it this way.
Can I tell you what they’re getting out of our churches and our Christianity? “We’re doing the best we can.”
The Southern Baptists said years ago, “Give us a tenth of your money, and a seventh of your time, and we’ll take the world for Christ.” That’s a good slogan. It’s a good logo. It’s just not Bible. God is not interested in a tenth of your money and a seventh of your time. He’s interested in 100% of everything you are. You’re bought with a price. You’re not your own. You don’t deal it out to God. “Okay, God. Show up. We’ll give you a little.” No, sir. You belong to Him. You’re to glorify Him in your body. That has to do with your habits. That has to do with the places you go. That has to do with everything in your daily life. And in your spirit. That has to do with your attitude.
I know some people that are so separated they don’t even squeak when they walk. But they look down their spiritual nose at everybody else who is not like them. I know some others, bless their heart, they’re as nice as they can be. They can get along with the devil, but they’re as worldly as the devil, too. Somewhere along the line they ought to both get there. There is something about holiness and godliness and all of that, but there is also something about that attitude unto the Lord.
The Bible says, “The just shall live by faith.” You and I are supposed to live the way we got saved. That means by faith.
Now I need to ask a question of you. I know that when you got saved, you had some faith. You may not know it, but I do. Because the Bible says you’re saved by the faith of the Son of God. So when you got saved, He gave you some faith, didn’t He? What I need to ask you is what have you done by faith since then?
Some of us, bless our heart, the last thing we did by faith was get saved. Yet we’re commanded to grow in faith, aren’t we? Am I off the trail here? Aren’t we supposed to live by faith? Then what have you done by faith?
Do you know what I know about you? I know that the majority of you, if you believed that if you handed a gospel tract to somebody this afternoon, that they would get saved, you would hand them one, wouldn’t you? You don’t want people to go to hell. Even if you’re bashful, and even if you don’t know all the verses you think you ought to memorize and everything else, if you thought that by telling somebody how to go to heaven you would change their destiny from hell to heaven, you would overcome your fear and you’d tell somebody, wouldn’t you? So, I’m assuming, since you’re not going to do it, that evidently you don’t think it works.
You say, “Well, I’ve tried it, and it didn’t always work.” Well, I’ve been fishing and not always caught fish. But I’ve been often enough and caught enough that it makes me want to keep going. I’ve been hunting and not killed what I was hunting for. But I’ve been often enough and killed what I was I hunting for often enough, that it sure makes me want to keep going.
I don’t win somebody every time I witness for Christ. I talked to a Japanese guy the other night. He was riding a bicycle for five months. He flew his bicycle over here, and he’s riding a bicycle across the United States. He’s been here two and a half months. His family is Buddhist.
I had him in the house. He had a little tent and was staying outside. I let him come into our trailer and take a shower so I could talk to him about the Lord. I bought him something to eat. I sat down and talked to him. I don’t know how much he understood or how much he didn’t understand. But I did what I could. I’ve prayed for him several times since then. I witnessed to him by faith, believing that God would honor His Word. It would have been wonderful if he had gotten saved right then, but he didn’t. But by faith I can believe that the Word will still produce fruit in that man’s heart. By faith I can believe that if I’ll do what God said, God will do what He said.
When was the last time you prayed a prayer by faith? For most of us, our prayers aren’t much, are they? We have a Christian wish list. We just write it all down. “Lord, it would be nice if You’d take care of this and this.” We don’t even mean it, because we only pray one time. Just let your kid get sick. You’ll pray several times that day for him.
My boy flew to Louisville last night. I have caught myself praying for him no less than a dozen times since he got on that plane. It’s just on my mind. I love him. Maybe we just found out why people are not getting saved. It doesn’t affect us. We don’t have that burden. We talk about the burden of the Lord. The burden of the Lord was to get the world saved. He went to Calvary. We don’t carry that burden.
Now, we may have our own burden. It may blow us out if we plan a big day and it snows that day. “I don’t know what’s the matter. Here we are trying to have a big day for God, and God sends snow. God’s against us.” Well, who are you doing it for?
I knew a fella, a good guy. It was his twelfth anniversary. He said, “If we don’t have twelve hundred on our twelfth anniversary, I’m taking it as a sign from God that I’m supposed to resign.” The guy was running about 800 then. It wouldn’t have been out of the question for him to have 1200. They had that many a number of times.
This was in Arkansas. It doesn’t snow a lot there. But that day he was going to have 1200, they got about 13 inches of snow. They had less than 200 in Sunday School. He decided God was against him. You’re not laughing because you almost believe it. Who are you doing what you’re doing for? Why are you doing what you’re doing? We spend half our time trying to talk God into blessing what we’re doing.
Why don’t you figure out what God is doing and get in on it? Did you know God has a program? Did you know God has an agenda? Did you know God has a plan? Maybe you could get in on it instead of trying to talk Him into getting in on yours. It’s not near as hard to get Him to bless what He’s doing. You may have a little trouble getting Him to bless what you’re doing, but you won’t have any trouble getting Him to bless what He’s doing.
“The just shall live by faith.”
The Bible says in Romans 1:17, “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” You got saved by faith, right? That was saving faith. Now comes living faith. The Bible says, “...from faith to faith.”
You say, “We have a missions program.” I’m not talking about the mission program. What did you give by faith? “We have a soulwinning program.” I’m not talking about your soulwinning program. Who did you witness to? “Our preacher prays...” I’m not talking about your preacher. I’m talking about you.
Have you ever noticed that Christianity is personal? It’s a thing between you and God. When God said, “The just shall live by faith,” that means that one day you had enough faith to get saved. Now you’re supposed to grow in faith. That means you’re supposed to be moving toward that living faith. That means you need to get to where everything you do is by faith.
Most of us understood that we were supposed to live by faith. We started trying to make some decisions by faith, didn’t we? Do you remember the first faith promise you made? Then one day you started thinking about it and you said, “We can’t do that.” The scissors of reason clipped the ribbon of faith, didn’t it?
You started out and you were going to talk to people about Jesus. You believed God could use you. You didn’t understand. But you believed God could. Some preacher got up and said, “God can do anything.” And you believed God could use you. Then some guy walked up and said, “Aren’t you the guy I used to get drunk with?” And the devil said, “Who do you think you are going out there telling somebody else about Jesus? Look at how sorry you’ve been.”
Before my dad got saved he used to be pretty bad to drink and fight. Years later he went back and was Pastor of the First Baptist Church in the same little town where he had done all the fighting and drinking and everything else. One of his old drinking buddies saw him. It had been years. Daddy was in his fifties. He met my dad on the streets of Cave City, Arkansas. He walked up to him and said, “Brown, I can’t believe it. It’s good to see you. Do you know, somebody told me you were a preacher. “
Daddy said, “I am a preacher. I’m Pastor of First Baptist Church right there.”
The guy looked at him and said, “Man, how in the world, after as much whiskey as you drank and as many fights as you’ve been in, and as much wicked things as you did, how in the world can you ever stand up there and preach to anybody?”
Daddy said, “Well, there are two reasons. Number one, I’m not the same man I used to be. Old things are passed away, and all things are become new. Number two, I never preach Brown. I just preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” That’s pretty classic. Did you get it?
You won’t have too much problem if you’ll just preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified. You’ll forgive me, but if you go to preaching your experience, you could mess up bad.
“The just shall live.” That’s God’s plan. If you’re the just, that’s His plan for you. “By faith.” That’s God’s power, isn’t it?
Where in this spiritual pilgrimage are you? You’re saved, right? But what about vision? What about faith? What about belief? You say, “Well, that’s not that big a deal.” Matthew 13:58 says, “And he (Jesus) did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” That’s the opposite of faith, unbelief. Unbelief is what sends somebody to hell. Unbelief is what keeps a church from doing what God wants it to do.
Do you know why you don’t pray? Because you don’t believe. I just had a motor blow up a little while ago. They wanted $8,500 to fix it. It didn’t matter. They could have said $20,000. When you don’t have any money, it doesn’t matter how much it is. We wound up getting it fixed for about $5,000. God provided that money. We have a few little things that still need to be done, so it wouldn’t hurt if I had a thousand or fifteen hundred dollars more.
I met this brother who is a missionary. There are two reasons I’m not going to ask him for that fifteen hundred dollars. Number one, I’m not sure that he has it. Number two, I am sure that if he had it he would give it to me.
That’s the same reason you don’t pray. You don’t believe. Number one, you don’t believe God can do something, or number two, even if you might believe God will do it for him or for him or for him, you still don’t believe God will do it for you.
Hold it. I thought you were justified. I thought you were in an innocent state when you come to God in prayer. Then you have as much right to pray as anybody in the world has a right to pray. You don’t pray in your name. You pray in His name. That’s enough. “The just shall live by faith.”