April 21, 2024

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JUSTIFIED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST’S FINISHED WORK

IN THE DAYS OF HIS POWER SERIES.

TOPIC: JUSTIFIED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH

COMPILED EDITED BY-:
Rev. Innocent Chukwudi Peace-Udochukwu President Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM

“Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
—Romans. 3:24

The hill of comfort is the hill of Calvary; the house of consolation is builded with the wood of the cross; the temple of heavenly cordials is founded upon the riven rock, riven by the spear which pierced its side. No scene in sacred history ever gladdens the soul like the scene on Calvary.

The figure of redemption is very simple, and has been very frequently used in Scripture. When a prisoner has been taken captive, and has been made a slave by some barbarous power, it has been usual, before he could be set free, that a ransom price should be paid down. Now, we being, by the fall of Adam, prone to guiltiness, and, indeed, virtually guilty, we were by the irreproachable judgment of God given up to the vengeance of the law; we were given into the hands of justice; justice claimed us to be his bond slaves for ever, unless we could pay a ransom, whereby our souls could be redeemed. We were, indeed, poor as owlets, we had not wherewith to bless ourselves. We were, as our hymn hath worded it, “bankrupt debtors;” an execution was put into our house; all we had was sold; we were left naked, and poor, and miserable, and we could by no means find a ransom; it was just then that Christ stepped in, stood sponsor for us, and, in the room and stead of all believers, did pay the ransom price, that we might in that hour be delivered from the curse of the law and the vengeance of God, and go our way, clean, free, justified by his blood.

Let me just endeavour to show you some qualities of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. You will remember the multitude he has redeemed; not me alone, nor you alone, but “a multitude that no man can number,” which shall as far exceed the stars of heaven for number, as they exceed all mortal reckoning. Christ
Justification is God’s righteous act of removing the condemnation, guilt, and penalty of sin, by grace, while, at the same time, declaring the unrighteous to be righteous, through faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice.

Some Christians may be surprised to learn that the doctrine of justification by faith is not only found in the New Testament but in the Old Testament. Genesis tells us that Abraham, in response to God’s promise, “believed the LORD, and it was counted to him as righteousness”
(Genesis 15:6). Job sought to justify himself before God and in the end renounced his own righteousness (e.g., Job 32:2; 42:1–6). David was a man after God’s own heart, and yet he speaks of the blessing of justification apart from works: “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered”
(Psalm 32:1); “Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you” (Psalm 143:2).
Isaiah prophesies that the servant of the Lord will “make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities” (Isa. 53:11). And Habakkuk teaches us that “the righteous shall live by his faith”
(Habakkuk 2:4), a truth which he also exemplified in his own life
(Habakkuk 3:16–19).
Finally, Jesus himself teaches this doctrine in his parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, a parable he told “to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt” (Luke 18:9).

Justification by faith is the opposite of justification by our works of obedience to the law. As Paul says it in Romans, “we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:28). He also draws an enlightening contrast between the worker and the believer: “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness”
(Romans. 4:4–5). Recall that Jesus also teaches that the one who is justified before God is not the one who boasts in his or her own righteousness but the sinner who cries out to God for mercy. Isaiah prophesies that our justification will come about through the suffering of the servant for our transgressions. And David teaches that “no one living is righteous before you.” This means that none of us will be justified by our righteous works or our obedience to the law. Rather, we are justified through faith in Christ.
But wait. If we are justified by our faith, isn’t that still something we do? Does justification by faith throw the onus of our justification on ourselves? This question leads to my fourth point:

Justification by faith does not mean that our faith is the ultimate cause of our justification.
Once again, Paul clearly teaches that we are justified by our faith
(e.g., Romans 3:28). And yet he does not mean by this that our faith is the ultimate reason we are justified. The ultimate reason that we are justified is this: Christ “was delivered up [by God] for our trespasses and raised [by God] for our justification”
(Romans 4:25). Why then does Paul say that we are justified by our faith? Because our faith is the thing that rests upon and unites us to the Christ who was crucified for our sins and raised for our justification. Faith is belief in the truth of the gospel as well as trust in the God of the gospel. It is an act of the whole inner person (the heart, Romans 10:9), which is directed toward the word of God, God himself, and especially toward the crucified and risen Christ. But if our faith is the inward act of the heart believing and trusting in Christ, does this mean our outward actions don’t matter at all for justification?

The doctrine of justification by faith excludes our works of obedience to the law as a means or cause of our justification before God. But it also affirms that acts of love and good works necessarily follow from our faith as the fruit of our faith. For example, Paul teaches that “in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6). And James teaches that our faith is “completed by” our works (James 2:22), concluding that “a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24). On the surface, this seems to correct and even contradict Paul’s teaching about justification by faith. But it is better to see James correcting a misrepresentation of Paul’s teaching—one that would say our works don’t matter at all (cf. Rom. 3:8). In contrast, James teaches that our works do matter. Genuine faith must result in good works.

One necessary conclusion from Paul’s doctrine of justification by faith is the idea that God will therefore justify both Jewish believers and Gentile believers. If “all have sinned” and “are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:23–24), then it follows that God is the God not only of Jewish believers but of Gentile believers. Paul makes this point in Romans 3:29–30: “Or is God the God of the Jews only? Is he not God of the Gentiles also? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.” Again, in Romans 4:9 he asks “Is this blessing [of righteousness apart from works] then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised?” Paul concludes strongly in favor of the latter option.

The best livery for a beggar is rags, and the best livery for a sinner is to go to Christ, it is for him to go just as he is, with nothing but sin about him. “But no;” say you, “I must be a little better, and then I think Christ will save me!” You cannot get any better, try as long as you please. And besides —to use a paradox—if you were to get better, you would be all the worse; for the worse you are, the better to come to Christ. If you are all unholy come to Christ; if you feel your sin, and renounce it, come to Christ; though you have been the most debased and abandoned soul, come to Christ; if you feel yourself to have nothing about you that can recommend you, come to Christ.

I do not say this to urge any man to continue in sin. God forbid! It is repentance; it is the immediate leaving off the sin. But mark thee, neither by repentance, nor by leaving off thy sin, can save thee. It is Christ, Christ, Christ—Christ only.

But I know you will go away, many of you, and try to build up your own Babel-tower, to get to heaven. Some of you will go one way to work, and some another. You will go the ceremony way: you will lay the foundation of the structure with infant baptism, build confirmation on it, and the Lord’s supper. “I shall go to heaven,” you say; “Do not I keep Good Friday and Christmas-day? I am a better man than those dissenters. I am a most extraordinary man. Do I not say more prayers than any one?” You will be a long while going up that treadmill, before you get an inch higher. That is not the way to get to the stars. One says, “I will go and study the Bible, and believe right doctrine; and I have no doubt that by believing right doctrine I shall be saved.” Indeed you will not! You can be no more saved by believing right doctrine than you can by doing right actions. “There,” says another, “I like that; I shall go and believe in Christ, and live as I like.” Indeed you will not! For if you believe in Christ he will not let you live as your flesh like; by his Spirit he will constrain you to mortify its affections and lusts. If he gives you the grace to make you believe, he will give you the grace to live a holy life afterwards. If he gives you faith, he gives you good works after- wards.

Oh! believe on Christ, poor sinners; believe on Christ. Ye who know your guilt and misery come, cast yourselves upon him; come, and trust my Master, and as he lives, before whom I stand, you shall never trust him in vain; but you shall find yourselves forgiven, and go your way rejoicing in Christ Jesus.

SHALOM!

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