Justification by Christ 12

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?”

With the ideas of God-centeredness and of the source of faith in mind, we can think of what it means to pardon sin. Either God pardons men for sin because of Himself and the work of Christ or He pardons men for sin because men come up with faith. We need to set things out like this so we can see them in the light that they are really in. There is no real middle ground between the two, it is simply one or the other. It is true that men will have faith if God gives them faith, but that is far different than telling men to look to themselves to believe in order to be justified. Would we urge Esau to just believe that God loved him and wanted him to believe and be saved? Again, once it is put in that type of light we may see some issues rising to the top.

What we must see is that urging men to faith is tantamount to urging them to do something so that God will save them. We must urge men to look to Christ to give them faith as that is the only place or location where true faith will come from. This is not just an option, it is vital. Men will look to themselves for faith if they are not looking to Christ. If they are looking to themselves, then they are not looking to be justified by free-grace alone. If they are looking to themselves for faith, they can only come up with a false faith as self can never come up with true faith. It is God who effectually calls men, not themselves. It is God who draws men to Himself, not men themselves. It is God who regenerates men at His mere pleasure, not men themselves. It is God who alone can be the source of true faith, not men themselves.

The 1689 is so clear in this matter as it sets out the teaching of Scripture, though it seems as if so many who say they believe the 1689 have either not read this part or have forgotten it. It says clearly, of faith, “which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8 is also as clear as Romans 9 on this: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” True faith cannot come from the soul dead in sins and trespasses and can only come from God as a gift. Faith is the work of God and it is the gift of God. Since God cannot be moved by men or anything external to Himself, God cannot be moved to give faith to men and He cannot be moved by a faith (not true faith) that a man can come up with. Yes, this is going over the same ground over and over. However, in our day it seems as if this basic truth has been forgotten.

We note that God saves sinners and justifies them on the basis of Christ alone. That leaves no room for one work that can move God to justify sinners. Any work that man can come up with to move God would mean that justification is not on the basis of Christ alone. Men are saved on the basis of Christ alone and that means man contributes nothing to his justification and that includes faith. Christ has purchased all spiritual blessings for men and it is in Christ that we have spiritual blessings. Men can only have faith if it comes from God and God only gives spiritual blessings based on Christ and in Christ. This is the glory of free-grace. Man is in bondage and cannot change his own heart to have a true faith which is a spiritual faith. God must give it to man by free-grace and that gives men assurance and comfort based on God and not men.

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