Justification by Christ 8

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

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?”

The difference between a faith given by God and a faith that man works up is enormous, even very enormous. The passage just above in Romans is so clear as to this point. It is God who will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, not men who will have mercy on themselves. It is God who will have compassion on whom He will have compassion, not men who will have compassion on themselves. It is in the hands of God to love or hate as He pleases. It does not depend on men to will or run, but instead it depends on God to have mercy. God has mercy on whom He pleases and He hardens as He pleases as well. The Gospel of grace alone comes to the sinner through faith. The only way we can harmonize Romans 9 with justification by faith alone is if God gives to those whom He pleases this faith.

Paul teaches us in Romans 11:6 that “if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.” One thing that this text teaches us is that one work makes grace no longer to be grace. If grace is to be 100% pure grace in order to be grace at all, it cannot be diluted with even one work of man. This should teach us that faith is not a work of man but faith is the gift of God and the work of God (John 6:29). We must never, ever back off from this in the slightest. We must always hold to a free-grace and a sovereign grace and that means we must always hold to grace as 100% pure. The glory of this Gospel of grace alone is God Himself and His glory on display. It is to the degree that we denigrate the Gospel of grace alone that we attack the entire character of God.

It is true that the New Testament puts a lot of stress on faith, but why does it do that? Is it so that men can know that faith is in their own power and that they must work it up? Is faith nothing more than a decision or prayer of men who decide that they want to go to heaven? What a horrible denigration people have done to the whole biblical teaching on faith. Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our faith, so man cannot be the author or finisher of his own faith. It is God who by His great mercy and grace who gives faith and as such man cannot give it to himself. Faith is the work of God in raising sinners from the dead and giving them spiritual life, so we know that faith cannot be the work of dead sinners themselves. It is God who upholds faith each moment as He indeed upholds our very physical breath at His mere pleasure as well.

In a very real sense the whole Gospel hangs on our views of faith. If faith is the work of man, then man is in charge of his own salvation. However, if faith is the work of God, then the whole of salvation is by grace and grace alone. If true faith can be the work of man, then we need to point men to themselves to believe as they please. Since true faith is the resurrection power of God in the souls of men, we must point men to Christ. We must preach Christ to them as the true object of faith and yet the author of faith. We must preach free-grace to men so that they will look to Christ for faith which only comes by grace. We must preach to true Christians that if they are lacking in faith, they will not find it in themselves but they should seek it from Christ. Faith, whether justifying faith or a faith that grows, can only come from Christ by free-grace. Let us look to the true author of faith for the grace of faith.

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