Big Words of the Christian Life: Propitiation

March 11, 2010 at 11:35 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 18 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Here are three Big Words of the Christian Life:

*Justification: the act of God, Who, by grace, declares sinners who have believed on Jesus Christ to be righteous

*Adoption: the act of God by which He grants believers an adult standing in His family

*Regeneration: the act of God which grants a second, spiritual birth, and new life, to the person who has trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior

Here is a fourth Big Word of the Christian Life:

*Propitiation: The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross which made it so that God could be both merciful and just in saving lost sinners

That is Propitiation defined. Here is Propitiation declared:

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;

Romans 3:25

God and Jesus work together in everything having do with salvation, so do not get the idea that God “set Jesus forth” because He was angry at Him. They are one God – one God in three Persons. (The Holy Spirit is also included in the Godhead.) Propitiation in general means to appease wrath, but God and Jesus sort of agreed that the Son would be the sacrifice for sin. Jesus did not plead with an angry God Who was prepared to destroy everyone. This was God’s plan, but God’s holiness and justice and wrath do require blood for the remission of sins. “Through faith in his blood,” says Romans 3:25, and to declare His (God’s) righteousness. Propitiation is the only way God could still be righteous and forgive sinners.

The sins that were past – the sins of the Old Testament and from the beginning of the world – had not been forgiven. They had been passed over through the forbearance of God.

Propitiation defined
Propitiation declared
Now,
Propitiation demanded:

Jesus Himself was the propitiation – and propitiation was the transaction between God and Jesus. Propitiation was the only possible meeting and satisfaction of God’s love and mercy with His wrath and justice.

Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

Hebrews 2:17

Jesus, the great High Priest, did what no earthly priest could ever accomplish in the Levitical system. He fully atoned for the sins of all God’s people for all time. Under the Levitical system of propitiation the high priest carried the blood into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled it on the mercy seat, between the images of angels looking down at the top of the ark, the dimensions of which represented the Law of God. God’s Law had been broken, and only His Own blood would satisfy His wrath and the curse caused by the breaking of His Law.

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

I John 2:1-2, emphasis added

If you have a Bible version that uses “sacrifice” or “atoning sacrifice” you are missing out on a big part of the richness of what God is telling us here. Our Advocate with the Father is not just some heavenly lawyer. He’s not some created being – not even an angel. He is Jesus Christ the righteous – and when God’s justice demands satisfaction for the penalty of sins, He not only brings payment in to the mercy seat, He is the payment – the bloody sacrifice that is demanded.

Propitiation defined
Propitiation declared
Propitiation demanded
And here’s the part that’s even richer:
Propitiation desired:

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

I John 4:10

God loved us – we did not love Him. He desired us – we did not desire Him. He sent His Son – not only to make the sacrifice, but to be the sacrifice. That’s propitiation! God did not just “demonstrate” His love. (Romans 5:8) He commended His love – He sent His love – His Son! Herein is love – do you want to know what love is? Do you want a motivation to be loving?

Propitiation defined: Tell people about it.
Propitiation declared: Look to Jesus whenever you don’t feel loving. In fact, look to Him all the time.
Propitiation demanded: Remember what our sin cost God.
Propitiation desired: Remember that God was not trapped by some mysterious cosmic law into doing what He did for us. He truly loves us.

Let’s love like Him – giving, providing, encouraging with words and deeds, covering the sins of others, fixing other people’s messes, getting involved in other people’s problems.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Regeneration (Part 2)

February 26, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

1. Regeneration is intelligible.
2. Regeneration is irrevocable.

When Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3:3 that, “… Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” the Greek Word which is translated as “again” also has the flavor of meaning something which comes from above, or from a whole other realm. And in fact regeneration does.

This is not only a second birth – it is a whole new kind of birth – a spiritual birth – wholly the work of God. Physical birth not only gives us resemblances to our parents, but it gives us part of their “natures,” too. When my kids get complimented for their looks, I have to say they get that from their mother. If they are accused of having a bad temper, or if they act ornery, I have to admit that they get that from their dad.

Regeneration is irrevocable. It can’t be undone. Naturally born children can’t be unborn. Spiritually regenerated believers can’t be unregenerated. At regeneration we inherit some of the characteristics of our Father:
-eternal life
-the ability to love
-walking in the light as He is in the light.

Regeneration will cause a resemblance between the Father and His children.

1. Regeneration is intelligible.
2. Regeneration is irrevocable.
3. Regeneration is imperative.

Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3:7 that, “… Ye must be born again.” This is not only a fact, it is a commandment. It is an imperative, as well as an indicative. Regeneration is the fundamental change in your nature – in your ontology, in your consciousness, in who you are on the inside – that allows your justification and your adoption and your sanctification. We speak of a dead person as being buried, but really we only bury a body. The person has gone somewhere else. A lifeless body can’t respond to stimuli. Spiritually dead people can’t respond to God in love.

Regeneration is real: it results in a real change in who you are. If I claimed I had just tripped and fallen in a mud puddle, and yet I looked perfectly clean and neat, you would think I was either lying or delusional. God is infinitely more powerful than a mud puddle. If you have a regenerating encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, you are going to be infinitely different. A profession of regeneration must be a reflection of a real work of God. It is always worth considering whether you truly have been regenerated. Has God supernaturally changed your basic nature from a sin-loving and righteousness-hating lost person, to a sin-hating and righteousness-loving child of God? Sadly, as Christians, we still sin, but one of the great blessings of regeneration is the in-dwelling, loving, convicting presence of the Holy Spirit.

1. Regeneration is intelligible.
2. Regeneration is irrevocable.
3. Regeneration is imperative.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Regeneration (Part 1)

February 18, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 53 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Justification is not how you get into God’s family. It is what God declares about you once you become part of His family: that you are righteous before Him because of having put your trust in Christ.

Adoption is not how you get into God’s family. It is how you enjoy your place in God’s family: God gives you the “standing” of an adult child.

Regeneration is how you get into God’s family.

And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Matthew 19:28

There is a sense in which all of creation will one day be regenerated. It will be returned to the pristine condition in which it was originally created by God. So, even though this type of regeneration is not precisely the same thing we’re talking about in the salvation of men, it does teach us that regeneration deals not only with re-creation – a new birth – a new start – but with a new start that is specifically directed to be “unto God.” The soteriological implication of regeneration is not just a re-creation for a blank slate of experimentation. It is a re-creation pre-ordained to set things right – with God Himself as the focus of all life.

The basis for our definition of regeneration in the salvific sense can be found in Titus 3:5: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”

We were not justified by our own works or merit. We are not adopted because of our own works or merit. We are specifically told that our very salvation in every aspect is completely of God. It is according to His mercy, which flows from Him.

The word “regeneration” means “born again.” When a person is “born” the reason that you know he has been born is because of one over-arching feature about him or her: Life. People have been born once in sin, and the experience of being “born” spiritually is a second birth. We call it – just as Jesus called it – being “born again.”

If we received only a physical form of life at our first birth, we must receive some “new” type of life at our second birth. Here is a fuller definition of Regeneration: It is the act of God which grants a second, spiritual birth, and new life, to the person who has trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior.

Over and above just having a definition, I want describe three main things about regeneration from Jesus’s most overt teaching about it: John 3:1-9.

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

John 3:1

Nicodemus would have been very religious. He would have sacrificed and prayed in keeping with the Old Testament law. He would have been moral, and would have been in the habit of giving generously to the poor.

The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

John 3:2

Maybe Nicodemus came to Jesus at night out of shame, or maybe just out of a desire to have a private conversation with Him.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:3

Nicodemus struggled with this idea, but not because he wasn’t sharp enough to grasp it, and not because the concept was too obtuse. No, he couldn’t see the point because he was lost and, therefore, spiritually blind.

Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

John 3:4

People did this with Jesus’s teachings throughout the New Testament. There was once a lady at a well who wanted to know how Jesus could give her water when He didn’t have a dipper, even though He was talking about the Living Water of eternal life. (John 4:6-14) When Jesus talked about eating His Body and drinking His blood, meaning fellowshipping with Him in the Life-giving blessings of His crucifixion, some may have accused Him of cannibalism. (John 6:47-66) Many of the people that Jesus encountered were spiritually, albeit willfully, blind – just like lost folks today.

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

John 3:5-7

Regeneration is intelligible. It’s understandable. It is basic. The meaning of it is simple (even though I don’t like the expression, “It’s simple to be saved,” because it minimizes the great and mighty work of salvation that the Lord accomplished in the plan of redemption.)

In a natural biological birth two parents are involved. In the Spiritual birth there are also two Parents involved: The Word of God…

Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

James 1:18

… and the Spirit of God (John 3:5).

In natural biological birth the baby’s effort does not play a part. In the Spiritual birth Christians are born by God’s will, not our own.

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1:12-13

There is a simplicity to regeneration. There is a mystery to it, too, but everyone is familiar with having a baby, and with the truth that a baby is a brand new life. Christians are brand new creatures in Christ Jesus from the moment of salvation, with a new kind of life: eternal life, God’s life.

1. Regeneration is intelligible.
Next time we will see that:
2. Regeneration is irrevocable.
3. Regeneration is imperative.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Adoption (Part 2)

February 10, 2010 at 11:05 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

We are using an acrostic to go through the privileges and responsibilities of several of the blessings of the Biblical doctrine of Adoption. Adoption is the act of God by which He grants believers an adult standing in His family. Last time we looked at assurance and direction. Now we turn to ownership.

A.ssurance
D.irection
O.wnership
P.
T.
S.

Adoption involves our inheritance in Jesus.

And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Romans 8:17 (emphasis added)

If babies or young children inherit property under our modern day legal system, they inherit in title only. They cannot access their inheritance. However, adult children immediately inherit from their parents in full: use and ownership.

Privilege: Great wealth

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

Responsibility: We must use that wealth to grow. We must grow in grace, wisdom, and mercy. We get our riches, through adoption, immediately, because we must draw on our riches to nourish ourselves spiritually.

A.ssurance
D.irection
O.wnership
P.resence (of God)

The presence of God – the Spirit of Adoption – is better at sanctifying us than rule-keeping in our own will power. Babies or little children are always prone to fear, because, to them, so much is unknown.

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Romans 8:15 (emphasis added)

Small children, being helpless, are in bondage to fear.

Privilege: Freedom from fear

Responsibility: Not to make up our own rules and regulations that we trust to stave off fear

Adults are not as fearful of the unknown as children.

A.ssurance
D.irection
O.wnership
P.resence (of God)
T.alking

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Romans 8:15 (emphasis added)

Babies can’t talk. Adult children of God can speak directly to God immediately through the Spirit.

Privilege: Speaking to God

Responsibility: Speaking for God

A.ssurance
D.irection
O.wnership
P.resence (of God)
T.alking
S.uffering

And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Romans 8:17 (emphasis added)

Babies aren’t “allowed” to suffer. God graciously allows suffering in His adult children to build character.

Privilege: Preparation for future glory

Responsibility: To suffer for the right reasons

For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

I Peter 3:17

The Apostles, the early Christians, and faithful Christians throughout history have counted it a great blessing to be considered worthy to suffer for Christ.

Under the Biblical doctrine of Adoption it is important to understand the joys of adoption – how the privileges outweigh the responsibilities. God does not treat us as babies, as little children, or as second-class citizens. Therefore, we must remember not to act like we are babies or little kids. We must have a child-LIKE faith – not a childISH faith.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:2

If you have been adopted into the family of God, live in the Spirit.

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

Romans 8:13

Live in the Spirit, and die to self by the Spirit. Little children beg for toys and candy; adult children ask for tools, weapons, and nourishment.

Food never tastes better than when you’re really hungry. If you are hungry right now, you need to ask God to fill up the emptiness in you with Himself. If you are a child of God, you need to empty out the junk food that is filling you up and keeping you from being hungry for God.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Adoption (Part 1)

January 29, 2010 at 10:48 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 17 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Adoption, in the common every-day sense of the legal adoption of a child, involves three entities: a parent, a child, and a family. So does Biblical Adoption. However, the Biblical doctrine of Adoption demolishes some of our false applications of earthly practices to Heavenly realities.

Supposedly, when Charles Spurgeon, who held different views about God’s sovereignty in relation to man’s will from John Wesley, was asked if he expected to see Mr. Wesley in Heaven one day, Mr. Spurgeon replied, “No.” The questioner was somewhat taken aback, until Mr. Spurgeon elaborated further: “I don’t expect to see him in Heaven because he will be so near the throne of God, and I will be way in the back.” This was undoubtedly a tongue-in-cheek remark, and an example of Mr. Spurgeon’s good-natured self-deprecatory humor, but the fact remains: Many people do believe that, in Heaven, there may be people standing closer to the throne of God than others. This type of theory seems to fit in with the idea of rewards given to believers at the Bema seat of Christ, but, in one sense, it is a very worldly concept.

It is true that some believers are more mature than other believers (Hebrews 5:12-14). However, no believers have greater family rights than other believers. All believers have an “adult” standing in the family of God. That is the meaning of Biblical adoption: It is the act of God by which He grants believers an adult standing in His family. We get into God’s family by “birth” (regeneration, the second birth). But we are given our standing (not our righteousness) by God through His act of adopting us. In other words, regeneration is how you get into God’s family. Justification is God’s declaration that you are right before Him in Jesus Christ. Adoption is how you experience your status as God’s child.

Your experience includes privileges and responsibilities. You are treated as an adult child, and God expects you to act like an adult child. The term “child” can refer to age or to relationship. Therefore, there are “adult children” (which sounds like an oxymoron, but is not in this case).

Adoption, like justification, happens instantaneously. I want to use an acrostic to help study some key blessings under the doctrine of Biblical adoption. With each of these blessings we receive both a privilege and a responsibility.

A.ssurance
D.
O.
P.
T.
S.

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

Romans 8:16

Immediately upon being saved, through the act of adoption, we have knowledge of our own standing.

Privilege: Adults, unlike babies, know and understand who their parents are. They understand what it means to be in a family.

Responsibility: To learn more and more about God.

A.ssurance
D.irection
O.
P.
T.
S.

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Romans 8:14

Babies cannot “follow” because they cannot walk. They have to be “carried.” Adults can walk. They can follow willingly. When my children were just learning to walk they would pull themselves to their feet and hold onto the edge of a piece of furniture. The reason they would let go of the furniture and take a few staggering, tentative steps to their dad was not because they wanted the independence of being able to move around freely on their own. The reason that they did it was because they wanted their father more than they wanted the security of the piece of furniture they were using to hold themselves up.

Privilege: We are able to walk in obedience.

Lost people cannot do this.

Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Ephesians 2:2

Responsibility: Being given the freedom to follow willingly, we must not walk after the flesh.

That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Romans 8:4

Next time, we will fill in some more of the acrostic:

A.ssurance
D.irection
O.
P.
T.
S.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Justification (Part 3)

January 20, 2010 at 9:03 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Previously we have seen:
1. God’s Motive for justification; and
2. God’s Meaning of justification.

Then we saw:
3. God’s Method of justification

This time, I want to look at the Marks of justification – what happens to you when you have been justified.

First, you enjoy a right relationship with God.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5:1-2, emphasis added

A key element of this right relationship with God is having peace with God. Justification itself is not peace – it is a declaration of peace. If you were at war with an earthly enemy, and you surrendered, you would most likely be:
(a) killed; or
(b) humiliated.
When you surrender to God you are given life, freedom, and peace. Being unjustified, you have (idiotically) no fear of God – or a fear that makes you run from God. That’s where you would be if there was somehow “peace” without justification. Say, for example, if God decided not to attack you or to justify you, but gave you the realization of what you are and Who He is: this would cause you to flee from Him in fear. But, being justified, you still have a fear of God – only now it’s a fear that makes you run to God, not away from God.

In other words, being justified, we have peace with God, and freedom of fellowship with God. Unjustified, we would have no access to God because we would stand condemned before Him. Being justified, God’s grace is our complete sufficiency.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5:1-2, emphasis added

Blessings from God come by grace, so we are free to ask for blessings. After all, He has declared us to be righteous.

To review: Being justified, we have:
1. Peace with God
2. Freedom of fellowship with God
Furthermore:
3. We have hope.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5:1-2, emphasis added

Hope makes us rejoice. Our hope is in knowing that God will share His glory with us.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Justification (Part 2)

January 12, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 7 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Last time, we looked at God’s Motive in justification:
1. There was no other way for sinners to be made righteous, unless God Himself did it.
2. He did it for His Own glory.

We also examined the Meaning for justification: It is the act of God, Who, by grace, declares sinners who have believed on Jesus Christ to be righteous.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 5:21

That’s an even more Biblical definition of Justification. God made Jesus to be sin for you and me, even though Jesus Himself never sinned, so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Jesus.

Here is an illustration I am borrowing from Roy Gustafson and Warren Wiersbe: Let’s say you decide to buy a Rolls Royce. You think to yourself, “Well, I spent a fortune, but I don’t care, because everyone knows that Rolls Royces don’t ever break down. Therefore, I won’t ever have to see a repair shop again.” However, sure enough, you do start to have car trouble one day. So, you call the dealership and immediately a mechanic arrives and fixes the car. Days and then weeks go by, and after a while you get worried about the cost of the repair, and, tiring of the dread, you are anxious for them to send you the bill. You call Rolls Royce, Inc., but they tell you, “We have no record anywhere in our files that anything ever went wrong with a Rolls Royce.” We might say that, when God justifies a lost sinner, there’s no longer an “official record” of that sinner ever having sinned.

Curtis Hutson illustrates this another way, by comparing God’s imputation of righteousness and willful “forgetting” of sins to the “clear” button on a microwave oven that lets you start over if you programmed in 30 minutes, when you only meant to program in 30 seconds. He says that God has a divine “forgetter.”

Having said all that, however, I do want to address a couple of misconceptions about justification. The purpose of this lesson is to try to make Justification very simple to understand, but remember, the deeper into theology we go, the more practical it gets.

It is important to know if you’ve been justified, and it is important to know what it means to have been justified, and it is important to live like you’ve been justified. Justification does not really mean that it is “just as if” you never sinned. Justification declares you righteous before God – it takes away the record of your sins. But remember, it is a legal, forensic term. When my wife and I got married, we were legally declared married when somebody said, “I now pronounce you man and wife.” But nothing physically changed about us at that instant. Justification is an event – it happens in an instant. There are other “big words” in the Christian life which are part of a process – such as “sanctification” – but the record of your sin, at the moment of true salvation, is really and truly covered with the blood of Jesus under the doctrine of Justification. Your slate is then “clean,” but your slate is not then “blank.” God is not, from that time on, watching and waiting, without knowing, to see whether you will ever sin again. No, He already knows you will sin after being justified. Therefore, we need to remember that Justification declares you to be, not only redeemed from the price of sin, but actually righteous before God. That is even better than “just as if” you never sinned.

Let’s review:
1. The Motive for Justification: We were meritless sinners with no hope for righteousness outside of God’s Own righteousness somehow being imputed to us.
2. The Meaning of Justification: It is the act of God whereby He, by grace, declares sinners who have believed on Jesus Christ to be righteous.

Now, let’s examine at the Method of Justification, meaning how it’s done – how God ordained it to be. We want to know why there is justification, what is justification, and how justification works. These inquiries mirror three of life’s biggest questions for every one of us: Why am I here? Who put me here? How did He do it?

I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God?

Job 9:2

Supposedly, the ancient philosopher Socrates, after much deep consideration, once said to his protege’ Plato: “It may be that God can forgive sin, but I don’t see how…” He was describing a real problem. God is just. We have sinned. God forgives sinners. But where did His justice go? Or: God is love. God gives us justice. But where did His love go?

Justification is God’s glorious solution to this problem. It cancels our sin debt, but not by having God overlook it.

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Romans 3:24

God’s justification and our redemption are by grace, not by merit. God did not see something in us worthy of justification. He justifies because He is the God of grace. He is not lonely. He is not frustrated. He is not lacking in worshipers. He needs nothing outside of His Triune Self to be complete and satisfied. The word translated “freely” in Romans 3:24 means “without a cause.” It describes the same idea behind the way the Jewish and Roman authorities tried, convicted, and killed Jesus: “without a cause.” There was no cause in Him for Him to be punished. There is no cause in us for us to be pardoned or saved – much less justified and given God’s righteousness and the standing we are given.

I want you to cancel the idea that you are basically a good person, or that God saw something in you that could really be useful, or that He finally got you to start acting the way you ought to act so that He could save you. NO! Salvation – redemption – regeneration – justification – is of the LORD!

So, Justification is by grace, and now we will see the other part of the Method of justification: it is through faith. And if it is through faith, it can not be of works.

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.

Romans 3:20

Oh, how the carnal man hates to hear this! He says, “But it MUST depend in some way on what I can do. I will accept God’s grace, but can’t I add some of my works to it? Surely I can’t admit that I am totally incapable of helping myself in any way.”

Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Romans 3:27-28

Now we see that Justification is all God – His grace, received by faith – nothing good inherently in us – nothing good we were able to do. But what about God’s holiness and justice? The Bible says that sin charges a debt, and that debt must be paid. The answer to this dilemma is that Justification is the act of God’s grace, appropriated by faith ALONE – in the blood of His OWN SON.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Romans 5:8-9

God poured out His wrath for my sins, but His Son took it in my place. The debt that was owed for my sins was paid – but Jesus Christ the Righteous is the One Who paid – and He paid it in full! “It is finished,” He said, and, because He was telling the Truth, I live! I have eternal Life. I am justified before God!

I not only can try to tell you what Justification means – I have had it happen to me personally. The devil accuses me of sin – I accuse myself of sin – you can accuse me of sin if you want. But when God hears the accusation and looks in His divine account books for the record of my sin, He does not see it there. The record He sees is the record of His Own dear Son coming up out of that empty tomb, with nail prints in His wrists, saying, “Paid in Full.
God says, “I have no legal record of the sins of the accused. He’s My child, My son. He’s RIGHT with Me – JUSTIFIED.

If that is your testimony, too, you need to stop listening to whomever or whatever is telling you that you are still guilty. If your testimony is that, “I really didn’t realize that justification is the gracious of act of God. I’ve been trusting in myself or my deeds or works,” then forsake that right now. Believe that Jesus Christ paid for your sins in full, and call upon Him to save you. You, too, can be Justified.

Next time, we will look at the marks of justification.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Justification (Part 1)

December 29, 2009 at 10:31 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 37 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Many Christians tend to shy away from some of the great Truths of the Bible for two reasons: One, they seem so hard to understand. Two, they just don’t seem as practical. We want our Biblical lessons to focus on how we can get money; how we can have happier marriages; how we can be healed; how we can beat stress; how we can have great sex. But the fact is, the deeper into doctrine you go, the more practical it becomes. We sometimes live very defeated Christian lives because we’re afraid to try to understand just what God has done for us in Christ Jesus.

In the past, I have taught basic discipleship lessons: salvation, baptism, everlasting security, church membership, sin, prayer, the world. These lessons on “big words” are not really more difficult. They just have more syllables in the title.

Justification

I want to focus on:
1. The Motive for Justification
2. The Meaning of Justification
3. The Method of Justification

I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God?

Job 9:2

Prior to our salvation we were not “just” with God: we were not righteous before Him. Why? We might say it is because we had sinned. But we must understand that the bigger issue is not that we had sinned – the bigger issue is that we are sinners.

Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 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.

Romans 3:19-20

One of the reasons God gave the Law is so that everyone could plainly see his/her own sinful condition – for none of us have ever come close to keeping the Law of God. Therefore, the Law “stops every mouth.” No one has a valid argument that they are not guilty before God.

God’s motive for justification – for somehow making guilty unrighteous sinners right before Him – is the Truth that there was absolutely no other way for us to do it. He has to do it for us – to make us righteous – or it could not be done.

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

Romans 3:21

Whose righteousness is involved in justification? Is it ours or God’s? God’s righteousness must be imputed to us in justification, for there is no other righteousness outside of God.

1. God’s Motive in Justification:
A. There is no other way.
B. It is for His Own glory.

Those are the motives for justification. We see why there must be such a thing as justification if we are to have a relationship with our Creator; if we were to be saved from judgment and hell; if God’s great plan of redemption and salvation is to bring Him the greatest glory of forever and all time.

1. The Motive for Justification
2. The Meaning of Justification

Now, I want to look at the meaning of justification – the definition. What is “Justification?” Justification is a forensic term – a legal term. It is the act of God, Who, by grace, declares sinners who have believed on Jesus Christ, to be righteous.

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 3:23-26

Everyone has sinned and come short of the glory of God, and not just a little short. No, we fell way short. We were totally depraved – completely without merit. God has freely justified those who have been born again by His grace. God gives His righteousness as a free gift. But it is through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, and it is not a cheap gift. Christ Jesus is the Propitiation. A propitiation is a sacrifice which satisfies the punishment that is justly due. God declares justification for the remission of sins, so justification is real, even though it’s an act of declaration, and not a physical change. God Himself shows that He is just through His Own act of Justification. God legally declares sinners to be righteous when – and only when – they believe in Jesus.

Justification happens instantaneously. It is not a process. If my kids turn on the yard sprinkler, and we all run through it, some of us get a “little wet” and some of us get a “lot wet.” There are different degrees of “wet.” But if we all run, and leap into the air, and land in the deep end of the swimming pool, then we all get completely soaked. That’s how justification is. In an instant, every Christian who truly believes is justified to the same degree as every Christian who has ever been justified. And that degree is 100% – fully soaking wet.

Justification is not something earned. It is not a process of working and getting good enough to be justified. God does it all. And it does not change.

After the end of the O.J. Simpson trial, people used to always ask me this question about O.J.: “But do you think he’s really guilty?” And I would respond: “No, I know for a fact he’s ‘not guilty.’ He was declared ‘not guilty’ in court.” That is not the same as saying he’s innocent. It is not the same as saying “he didn’t do it.” I don’t know if he “did it,” because I wasn’t there – and you don’t either. The jury came back and said “not guilty,” so legally he was declared not guilty.

I’m sure O.J. felt pretty good about the American legal system’s version of “justification” at the time, but God’s Justification is even better. In a “not guilty” verdict there is still a record of what was done. Justification is even better than a “pardon.” A pardon says that, whether you did it or not, we’re letting you go. Justification is saying: Not only are you not guilty – but you are completely righteous – all your record is wiped clean and there’s no more evidence of it. You are declared to have the same righteousness as Jesus Christ Himself.

Next time, we will see the Method of Justification.


Entries and comments feeds.