Monday, May 11, 2009

...the security of being justified by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. -Romans 5:1-2


"therefore having been justified by faith"


Justification is the heart and soul of the gospel. It is the Atlas, as Packer says, which bears on its shoulders the weight of all other Christian doctrines. To be justified means to be declared righteous by God. That the judge of the entire universe declares a man or a woman has right standing before Him. He is no longer under the judgment of God, no longer under the wrath of God, he is now the friend of God; more that that, he is the child of God; he is the son of God. God has fully and completely accepted him as righteous. That only happens by faith and faith alone. And that’s, of course, the great reformation truth. That God declares the sinner righteous on the basis of faith and faith alone.

As 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith so rightly states:
1. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing Christ's active obedience unto the whole law, and passive obedience in his death for their whole and sole righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God. (Romans 3:24; Romans 8:30; Romans 4:5-8; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:30, 31; Romans 5:17-19; Philippians 3:8, 9; Ephesians 2:8-10; John 1:12; Romans 5:17)

2. Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love. (Romans 3:28; Galatians 5:6; James 2:17, 22, 26)

3. Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are justified; and did, by the sacrifice of himself in the blood of his cross, undergoing in their stead the penalty due unto them, make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God's justice in their behalf; yet, inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them, and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead, and both freely, not for anything in them, their justification is only of free grace, that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners. (Hebrews 10:14; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; Isaiah 53:5, 6; Romans 8:32; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 3:26; Ephesians 1:6,7; Ephesians 2:7)

4. God did from all eternity decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did in the fullness of time die for their sins, and rise again for their justification; nevertheless, they are not justified personally, until the Holy Spirit doth in time due actually apply Christ unto them. (Galatians 3:8; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Timothy 2:6; Romans 4:25; Colossians 1:21,22; Titus 3:4-7)

5. God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified, and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God's fatherly displeasure; and in that condition they have not usually the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance. (Matthew 6:12; 1 John 1:7, 9; John 10:28; Psalms 89:31-33; Psalms 32:5; Psalms 51; Matthew 26:75)
But, of course, it is more than just the declaration. The reason God can declare the sinner stands right before Him is because He imputes to him (credits to him) the righteousness of Jesus Christ—which is a perfect righteousness. This righteousness is complete lacking nothing. It is the culmination of the active and passive obedience of Jesus Christ. He fulfilled the Law through perfect obedience to all of its standards by His sinless life and fulfilled its penalty by virtue of His vicarious, penal substitutionary death on the cross. It is in Christ’s righteousness that we are fully made "right with God." God was completely satisfied with the once for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Heb. 2:17; Roms. 3:24-26). He was raised from the dead for our justification. He had accomplished the covenant of redemption determined in times past eternal (2 Tim. 1:9-10) and has ascended to and is exalted at the right hand of the throne of God.

The substitutionary, atoning work was perfectly accomplished and the justice of God was completely satisfied.

That is why, the gospel never
begins with man and his needs,
but with God and his glory.
The issue of the gospel is not
how do we get sinful people to a holy God;
but how does a holy God come to sinful people
without violating His holiness and justice?
And the answer is the cross—
the once for all atoning and sacrificial
work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:23-25a, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness…”

Proverbs 16:6, “In mercy and truth atonement is provided for iniquity; and by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil.”

Psalm 85:10, “Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed.”

Psalm 32:1-2, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”

1 Corinthians 6:11, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
We are:
  • Justified by His blood – Romans 5:9
  • Justified by faith through our Lord Jesus Christ – Romans 5:1
  • Justified freely by His grace – Romans 3:24
  • Is not by works – Romans 8:3
  • It is by God – Romans 8:33
  • And is obtained by the resurrection of Jesus – Romans 4:25
On the cross of Jesus Christ, the sins of the elect have been punished; the penalty of sin atoned for; the guilt of sin expiated; God’s wrath against us and our sin propitiated; His holiness reverenced; His justice satisfied; His law fulfilled; His grace exalted; and sinners reconciled. It is not through a cooperation of the merits and/or good works of ourselves plus the grace of God by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ by faith. It is all of grace; it is all through Jesus Christ our Lord that the Sovereign Judge of the universe has made us right with Him; and we are justified.

With justification as the foundation of our salvation—the first great truth that represents the security of the believer in Jesus Christ is:

We have “peace with God”

The peace that Paul is speaking about here is not subjective peace, but objective peace. It is not a feeling, but a fact. Apart from salvation through Jesus Christ, every human being is at enmity with God, spiritually at war with Him (see v. 10; cf. 8:7), regardless of what his feelings about God may be. In the same way, the person who is justified by faith in Christ is at peace with God, regardless of how he may feel about it at any given moment. Through his trust in Jesus Christ, a sinner’s war with God is ended for all eternity.

As John MacArthur convictingly says,
“Most unsaved people do not think of themselves as enemies of God. Because they have no conscious feelings of hatred for Him and do not actively oppose His work or contradict His Word, they consider themselves, at worst, to be “neutral” about God. But no such neutrality is possible. The mind of every unsaved person is at peace only with the things of the flesh, and therefore by definition is “hostile toward God” and cannot be otherwise (Rom. 8:7).”
Not only are all unbelievers enemies of God, but God is also the enemy of all unbelievers. The Psalmist says that God is angry with the wicked every day (cf. Ps. 7:11). God is the enemy of the sinner, and that enmity cannot end unless and until the sinner places his trust in Jesus Christ. As Paul declared near the opening of this letter, “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18).

To those who foolishly think God is too loving to send anyone to hell, Paul declared, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things [the sins listed in v. 5] the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 5:6); “and the Lord does hate all who do iniquity” (Psalm 5:5).

You see beloved, hell is not the absence of God,
but the wrathful presence of God
poured out for all eternity
upon Satan and all his hellish hosts,
and all who have rejected Jesus Christ as
Lord and Savior of their lives in unmitigated fury and gaul.

But on the cross, Christ took upon Himself all the fury of God’s wrath that sinful mankind deserves. And those who trust in Christ are no longer God’s enemies and no longer under His wrath, but are at peace with Him.

In light of these truths, The Four Spiritual Laws could read like this:
LAW ONE: God is holy and has a plan for your life. His wrath abides upon all who do not believe in the Son and His eternal displeasure against all who reject His gospel of grace. But life and peace for all who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Lord and Savior. 

LAW TWO: There is nothing you can do in or by yourself to save yourself and have a right standing before God. Man is sinful, conceived in sin, by nature a child of wrath; and hopelessly lost; even our own righteousness is nothing but filthy rags to a holy God. All your good works are rubbish to Him as a means of salvation. You cannot escape the due penalty for your sin; His holiness and justice witnesses against you; His Law condemns you. You are guilty before God and apart from faith in Christ have no hope of eternal life.

LAW THREE: Jesus Christ came and died in our place to bring salvation, fulfill God’s law and all righteousness, to satisfy God's holiness and justice, to quench God's wrath, to destroy the works of the devil, and redeem for Himself people who in and of themselves are sinners and sinful into a right standing with God and to have peace with God forever. And by His resurrection from the dead, Jesus proved He is both Lord and Christ and secured our justification.

LAW FOUR: Repent of your sin, be reconciled to God, and confess Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior for eternal life and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead. Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him. Love Him more than all other loves including yourself; believe solely on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved. Salvation is through faith alone, by grace alone, in Christ alone, according to the Word alone, to the glory and praise of God alone. Once His love, mercy and grace are given to you, nothing or no one can ever take away your life which is hid in Jesus Christ - nothing can ever separate you from His love. This is God’s wonderful plan of salvation.

Paul assured the Colossian believers:
“For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him [Christ], and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach” (Col. 1:19-22).
The Theme of Romans 5 is Reconciliation.
Reconciliation with God brings peace with God. That peace is permanent and irrevocable, because Jesus Christ, through whom believers receive their reconciliation, “always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). “For I will be merciful to their iniquities,” the Lord says of those who belong to Him, “and I will remember their sins no more” (Heb. 8:12; cf. 10:17). In fact, Christ not only brings peace to the believer but “He Himself is our peace” (Eph. 2:14).

through the “the Lord Jesus Christ”

Sin strikes at God and says,
“I don’t care what You said, I’ll do what I want. Sin is God’s would be murderer. Sin would un-God God if it could. Sin defiles the conscience. Sin is irrational and forfeits blessing. Sin is painful—it hurts. Sin is damning. Sin is degrading it mares the image of God and man. Like Samson, it cuts the locks of purity and leaves men morally weak. Sin poisons the springs of love and turns beauty in leprosy. Sin defeats the mind, the heart, the will, the affections and it has made a whole world of people—all of mankind—children wrath by nature; objects of God’s wrath. Sin brings man under the domination of Satan and his sick sin system, which he controls. Man and the world is a slave to sin, open rebellion and defiance to God and a slave to Satan" (author unknown).
“Through our Lord Jesus Christ”
(5:1; 11; 23; 6:23; 7:25; 8:39.)

1 John 2:1-2 says, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” The Greek word for advocate (parakletos) means helper - one who comes along side. John uses this same term in regards to the Holy Spirit in John 14:16.

But this word also carries the tone of a more legal nature. It was used in rabbinical literature who offered legal aid or one who intercedes on behalf of someone else. Undoubtedly in this context it signifies that Jesus Christ is our heavenly “counsel for the defense.” What hope we have in Christ once we are saved that when we do sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.

We have “access by faith”

After the Tabernacle was built, and later the Temple, strict boundaries were set. A Gentile could only go into the outer confines and no farther. Jewish women could go beyond the Gentile limit but not much farther. And so it was with the men and the regular priests. Each group could go nearer the Holy of Holies, where God’s divine presence was manifested, but none could actually enter there. Only the high priest could enter, and that only once a year and very briefly And even he could lose his life if he entered unworthily. Bells were sewn on the special garments he wore on the Day of Atonement, and if the sound of the bells stopped while he was ministering in the Holy of Holies, they knew he had been struck dead by God (Ex. 28:35).

But Christ’s death ended that. Through His once for all atoning sacrifice, He made God the Father accessible to any person, Jew or Gentile, who trusts in the merits of Christ alone accomplished in that sacrifice. The writer of Hebrews encourages believers to “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

To make this truth graphic, when Jesus was crucified, “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” by God’s power (Matt. 27:51). His death forever removed the barrier to God’s holy presence that the Temple veil represented. Commenting on that amazing truth, the writer of Hebrews says, “Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:19-22).
Ephesians 2:18, “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.”

Ephesians 3:12, “in whom we have access with confidence through faith in Him.”

1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.”

We “stand in grace”

Believers will often fall into sin, but their sin is not more powerful than God’s grace. They are the very sins for which Jesus paid the penalty. If no sin a person commits before salvation is too great for Christ’s atoning death to cover, surely no sin he commits after salvation is too great to be covered. In verse 10 of this chapter the apostle declares, “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

If a dying Savior could bring us God’s grace,
surely a living Savior can keep us in God's grace.

Look with me in 5:20, “The Law came in that the transgression might increase,” he writes; “but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Standing in grace, we are in the sphere of constant forgiveness.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Rom. 8:31-34).

What is grace?
“Grace is a provision for men who are so fallen that they cannot lift the axe of justice; so corrupt that they cannot change their own natures; so adverse to God tha they cannot turn to Him; so blind they cannot see Him; so deaf they cannot hear Him; and so dead, that He Himself must open their graves” (G.S. Bishop).
Jesus said, “all that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37). Charles Spurgeon said, “Our finite sin can never exhaust his infinite grace.” We are great sinners, but He is a greater Savior! Amen?

But this is not cheap grace beloved.
Romans 6:18 says, “Having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”

“For the grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12).

We’re not only saved by grace, but sanctified by grace. 

We “rejoice in hope of the glory of God”

But the genuine Christian has no reason to fear the future and has every reason to rejoice in it, because he has the divinely-secured hope that his ultimate destiny is to share in the very glory of God. Jesus Christ guarantees the believer’s hope because He Himself is our hope (1 Tim. 1:1).

1 Peter 1:3-9 gives us these assuraning words of steadfast hope:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls." (emphasis mine).
Past, present and future sins have been swallowed up in victory by the once for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ at the cross. What wonderful cause for rejoicing and hope. Hebrews 10:10-12 says,
"By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.”
You know
“that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,” Peter reminds us, “but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (1 Pet. 1:18-21).
And when our own perishable and mortal bodies one day are raised imperishable and immortal (1 Cor. 15:53-54), they will be fit to receive and to display God’s divine glory. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:20-21).

The Holy Spirit is also Himself a guarantee of the believer’s security.
“In Him [Christ], you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:13-14).
“But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).
The promise of our glorification in Christ Jesus Paul proclaims in Romans 8:29-30 when saying,
“we are predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” In Romans 9:23, God has so predestined us, “in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory.”
I grew up thinking that one-day when my life is over and I am home with the Lord that there will be a giant rerun of my entire life for all to see… Every sin, every imperfection, every wrong deed I had ever done, thought of doing, or talked about doing would be played for all to see. I actually feared as a child going to heaven because of this kind of teaching. But when I read the Word of God, I see that the penalty of my sins have already been dealt with by Jesus Christ on the cross--completely and fully. He remembers them no more; He has separated them as far as the east is from the west; He casts them to the bottom of the sea... And isn't that good news? We will give an account for how we have lived here on earth in service to the Lord; but in regards to our sins--all of them—their guilt, penalty and God’s wrath against them have been already and entirely dealt with in Christ.

Through Christ, as Jude 24 says,
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever more.”


Rest in the truth of what our brother Charles Spurgeon has said:
“When Jesus gave himself for us, he gave us all the rights and privileges which went with himself; so that now, although as eternal God, he has essential rights to which no creature may venture to pretend, yet as Jesus, the Mediator, the federal head of the covenant of grace, he has no heritage apart from us. All the glorious consequences of his obedience unto death are the joint riches of all who are in him, and on whose behalf he accomplished the divine will. See, he enters into glory, but not for himself alone, for it is written, “Whither the Forerunner is for us entered.” Heb. 6:20. Does he stand in the presence of God?—“He appears in the presence of God for us.” Heb. 9:24.

Consider this, believer. You have no right to heaven in yourself: your right lies in Christ. If you are pardoned, it is through His blood; if you are justified, it is through His righteousness; if you are sanctified, it is because He is made of God unto you sanctification; if you shall be kept from falling, it will be because you are preserved in Christ Jesus; and if you are perfected at the last, it will be because you are complete in Him. Thus Jesus is magnified—for all is in Him and by Him; thus the inheritance is made certain to us—for it is obtained in Him; thus each blessing is the sweeter, and even heaven itself the brighter, because it is Jesus our Beloved “in whom” we have obtained all.”

1 comment:

Rick Frueh said...

"That is why, the gospel never
begins with man and his needs,
but with God and his glory."

Imagine a beam of light piercing straight through the empty vacuum of space. It is there but it cannot be seen until a planet is created and suddenly the light appears as it is reflected against that planet.

God's glory (all that He is) has always existed before creation, and His redemption existed even when Adam was made. But it wasn't until sin came into the world that this redemption appeared as it was reflected against the sin of man.

Without sin redemption was hidden, but against sin God's redemption is seen in the form of the cross. It begins with God's glory, and that glory is reflected in the gospel which is the eternal Rosetta Stone of all that God is.