Justification by Christ 3

1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 11

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.

Justification by faith alone is the article upon which the Church stands or falls. Martin Luther

Will God justify sinners that He has not called? Not according to the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. This is a startling teaching if one has not read it or thought about it before. This is a direct blow to the free-will crowd as well as various folks who think of themselves as Reformed and/or Calvinistic in our day. If God effectually calls all men, then all are justified by Him. However, if the Confession is correct then God only justifies those whom He calls. This is so hard for the self-dependent person to bear. This is impossible for Arminians to bear and so they will twist and twist away until they are satisfied with their own explanation.

Romans 9:13 Just as it is written, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.” 14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. 19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?”

Romans 9 (selected text just above) is so powerful to this point. It does not depend on the man who wills or runs, but it does depend upon God to show mercy. The mercy of God is not only in sending the Son to die for man, but for the Son to completely purchase a people and for the Spirit to work in them and for the Father to teach them inwardly. In all of this these dead sinners are drawn by grace alone and as such they are justified by grace alone. If sinners bring themselves to the Father, then they have something to do with their own justification. They came and others did not. They did a work in coming, they would say, while others did not. But the text is quite clear that it does not depend on the man who wills or runs, but instead it rests totally and completely on God to show mercy.

The Confession tells us that God freely justifies. The word “freely” does not just mean without cost, though indeed that is included, but that God justifies sinners without any cause within them. God declares sinners just based on Himself and His grace in Christ rather than on anything found in the sinner or anything that sinners can do. There is nothing that the sinner can do by running or willing that will move God to justify him or contribute in the slightest to his justification, but instead it is all of God and only of His grace in Christ. This is a point that must be driven home to the hearts of sinners, though it rarely is. God does not justify sinners because they pray a prayer or walk an aisle or do anything in an effort to be saved. He saves freely (without cause in the sinner) and anything the sinner tries to do to add to the salvation opposed to the Gospel of grace alone.

Sinners must seek the Lord in a way where they add nothing to the Gospel and in which the reality of it is that they are thoroughly sinful in all they do. Instead of the sinner trying to do things to move God to save him or her, sinners must read the Bible knowing that God does not save them because they read the Bible. Sinners should ask God to convict them of sin and to break their hard and proud hearts, but not because those things add anything to the work of Christ or because those things move God to save them. Only God can do those things as a way of effectually drawing them, but they add nothing to salvation. God has chosen to save sinners through the preaching of the Word and as such sinners should listen to biblical preaching. God only justifies those He has drawn to Himself, so sinners should seek Him without thinking for one moment that they are doing anything that moves them to God. They should seek Him knowing that He will have mercy on whom He is pleased to have mercy on and that they are contributing nothing to their salvation. God justifies freely means He justifies by free-grace and free and sovereign grace are at His mere pleasure to show as He pleases. Man can do nothing to obtain that as man is dead in sin and can do nothing to please God. The sovereign Lord alone can take a fallen man who is flesh and change his heart and make him into a spiritual man. Effectual calling alone can do that and those whom He has called He will justify by free-grace alone.

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