Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Romans 3:20-26)
Preaching that shook the nation pressed upon its hearers, not the call to reformation, morality, family, or patriotism – but the ringing sound of the scriptural teaching of justification by faith in Christ. This scriptural doctrine rests not in the efforts of man nor in the sincerity of a deceived conscience. Righteousness of and by Jesus Christ comes not by church membership, baptism, nor any other means or efforts of man. Righteousness comes by the faith of Christ. May a portion of a sermon by whom the Great Awakening came to America probe our souls and conscience! This was the preaching that saved and brought revival to a nation! This is the preaching of which our nation was built upon! This is the truth that can deliver your soul from sin, death, and hell.
Are any of you depending upon a righteousness of your own? Do any of you here think to save yourselves by your own doings? I say to you … your righteousness shall perish with you. Poor miserable creatures! What is there in your tears? What in your prayers? What in your performances, to appease the wrath of an angry God? Away from the trees of the garden; come, ye guilty wretches, come as poor, lost, undone, and wretched creatures, and accept of a better righteousness than your own. As I said before, so I tell you again, the righteousness of Jesus Christ is an everlasting righteousness; it is wrought out for the very chief of sinners. Ho, every one that thirsteth, let him come and drink of this water of life freely. Are any of you wounded by sin? Do any of you feel you have no righteousness of your own? Are any of you perishing for hunger? Are any of you afraid ye will perish forever? Come, dear souls, in all your rags; come, thou poor man; come, thou poor distressed woman; you, who think God will never forgive you, and that your sins are too great to be forgiven; come, thou doubting creature, who art afraid thou wilt never get comfort; arise, take comfort, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of life, the Lord of glory, calls for thee. … O let not one poor soul stand at a distance from the Saviour. … O come, come! Now, since it is brought into the world by Christ, so, in the name, in the strength, and by the assistance of the great God, I bring it now to the pulpit; I now offer this righteousness, this free, this imputed, this everlasting righteousness, to all poor sinners who will accept of it. … Think, I pray you, therefore, on these things; go home, go home, go home, pray over the text, and say, ‘Lord God, Thou hast brought an everlasting righteousness into the world by the Lord Jesus Christ; by the blessed Spirit bring it into my heart!’ then, die when ye will, ye are safe; if it be tomorrow, ye shall be immediately translated into the presence of the everlasting God; that will be sweet! Happy they who have got this robe on; happy they that can say, ‘My God hath loved me, and I shall be loved by Him with an everlasting love!’ That every one of you may be able to say so, may God grant, for the sake of Jesus Christ, the dear Redeemer; to whom be glory for ever. Amen. (Sermons on Important Subjects; by the Rev. George Whitfield, A.M. (1832) pp 207ff)