Justification (Rom. 3:19-28) Part 5 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 02 July 2017

You see, the death Jesus died on the cross was our eternal damnation. What He endured on the cross was our Final Judgment! When Paul says, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus," he was in effect saying, "There is therefore now no Final Judgment for those who are in Christ Jesus." Your Final Judgment is not in the future; it is in the past, in the death of Jesus Christ if you believe in Him! When "the clouds be rolled as a scroll, the trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend…"; when those who rejected Christ call out to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb" (Rev. 6:16), we will be able to sing with wonder and transport, "It is well with my soul!" How is that possible? "My sin--oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!--my sin, not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more!"

 

Justification is an act of God's grace. If you believe in Jesus Christ, it's done, eternally done, once and for all. And the faith by which you receive this eschatological justification is extra-spective in nature: it looks away from ourselves--from our helplessness to live perfectly as God demands, from our hopelessness to earn our salvation, from our repeatedly failures and sins (even seventy times seven in a day!), from our disappointment in ourselves and even our disgust with ourselves--toward Christ who has done all things well! So, don't forget this when you fail again--look to Christ who is your justification and salvation! Don't forget this when you fall and make sure you fall into the nail-pierced hands of Jesus Christ!

 

 

Justification (Rom. 3:19-28) Part 3 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 14 June 2017

Justification highlights how our salvation is God's work, not our work. It is not that we don't do anything and just wait around for God to lift us up out of this world into heaven. No, we do have a lot to do, especially in our sanctification. Even in justification, we must believe. But none of what we do actually counts toward our salvation: "all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment…" (Isa. 64.6). If what we do as Christians is acceptable to God, it is only because Christ's righteousness covers the deficiency of our actions.

 

 

How, then, are we justified in Christ? In Rom. 4:5 we read, "And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness…." This is a wonderful statement, affirming the amazing grace by which sinners like us are saved. But to know how truly wonderful this statement is, we need to first understand how troubling this statement is from a legal perspective. Here, God is described as the One "who justifies the ungodly…." If we take our gospel lens off and read this statement, we should be horrified. To justify in the legal setting is to declare someone innocent because he is innocent (cf., Deut. 25:1, NASB).

Justification (Rom. 3:19-28) Part 2 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 14 June 2017

At this point, I'd like to talk about this idea of "faith alone," particularly in regards to the position of justification in ordo salutis. As it stands, conversion, which consists of faith and repentance, comes before justification. A question, then, arises: do we have to repentbefore we are justified? If so, we'd have to say that we are justified by faith and repentance. But isn't one of our Reformation sloganssola fide--that we are justified by faith alone? Are we really justified by faith alone or are we justified by faith and repentance?

When the Reformers taught the doctrine of justification by faith alone, they really meant by faith alone--that is, faith alone withoutrepentance: "Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification" (WCF 11:2). This immediately raises an alarm, doesn't it? We can easily imagine a scenario in which a person claims that he believes without changing his life in any way. Can we say he is justified?  

Justification (Rom. 8:19-28) Part 1 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 14 June 2017

What is justification? Our Catechism provides an excellent answer: "Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone" (WSC, #33). Justification is God's judicial act. In it, He declares two things about us: 1) that we are pardoned (based on Christ's sacrifice for our sins); 2) that we are accepted as righteous in His sight (only for the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, who lived a life of perfect obedience to God on our behalf). This grace is not for everyone: it is only for those who put their faith in Jesus Christ and what He has done for them. God imputes, or credits, Christ's righteousness to them. This grace of justification we receive by faith alone.

Conversion: Faith (John 1:12-13) Part 5 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 01 June 2017

When people think of faith as a gift of God, they often think that it is God who has to make our faith great by some mysterious, supernatural action on His part. This kind of thinking is damaging to our spiritual life. We neglect the means God has given to us for that very purpose. We also end up blaming God for our stagnant Christian life--if God is the One who gives us faith and our faith is small, whose fault is that? You see, if faith is a gift of God, it is not like a rare painting we hang on the wall just to look at and admire. It is like grains of wheat we are to plant and cultivate so they can produce thirty, sixty or even a hundred fold! We nurture our faith through the means of grace--the Word of God, the Sacraments and prayer. And we nurture our faith by exercising it and practicing it in our daily life. We do that by choosing each moment to live according to what we believe about God and His will for our life, what we believe about Christ and who we are in Christ and what we are called to do in this life, etc.

 

 

The great thing about faith is that it doesn't cost anything. Anyone can be a man/woman of great faith. We don't have to be rich, powerful, intelligent, or good-looking. In fact, the poorer we are in spirit, the easier it is! This is because, though we are small and our faith is little, our God is so great and trustworthy. How good it is to have someone worthy of our trust--for this life and for all eternity! And if we can't trust God, whom can we trust? God wants to bless us far beyond our wildest imagination! (Can we doubt that when He did not spare even His only begotten Son for us?) God wants to bless us so much but not against our will! For God wants a covenant relationship with us, which involves our whole being--intellect, emotion, and will! So then, let us open our arms of faith wide toward our wonderful God! To that end, let us be diligent in nurturing and increasing our faith in Christ and enjoy a greater measure of God's rich blessings for His people!

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