Archive for the ‘Justification by Christ’ Category

Justification by Christ 20

September 30, 2016

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

“4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” — Romans 4:4-5

Subject: We are justified only by faith in Christ, and not by any manner of goodness of our own. The following things may be noted in this verse:
And in the next verse, which immediately precedes the text, “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt,” the word there translated reckoned, is the same that in the other verses is rendered imputed and counted, and it is as much as if the apostle had said, “As to him that works, there is no need of any gracious reckoning or counting it for righteousness, and causing the reward to follow as if it were a righteousness. For if he has works, he has that which is a righteousness in itself, to which the reward properly belongs.” This is further evident by the words that follow, Rom. 4:6, “Even as David also described the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.” What can here be meant by imputing righteousness without works, but imputing righteousness to him that has none of his own? Verse 7, 8, “Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered: blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” How are these words of David to the apostle’s purpose? Or how do they prove any such thing, as that righteousness is imputed without works, unless it be because the word imputed is used, and the subject of the imputation is mentioned as a sinner, and consequently destitute of a moral righteousness? For David says no such thing, as that he is forgiven without the works of the ceremonial law. There is no hint of the ceremonial law, or reference to it, in the words.           Jonathan Edwards, Justification by Faith Alone

It is true that Luther said something that is translated “Justification by faith alone is the article upon which the Church stands or falls.” But he did not mean that the mere intellectual apprehension of a few facts about it was what upheld the Church or what the Church was built on. It is not the mere recitation of a doctrine that matters; it is Christ in the soul that matters. It is not that the soul is truly justified by faith as such; the soul is actually justified by Christ and by Christ alone. That is the essence of the teaching and that is the essence of the Church.

What our hearts must learn and that in the inward man is that is that our adding a work or works destroys the truth of the Gospel of grace alone. We must not miss this. If the righteousness of Christ is imputed or reckoned to sinners who are saved, and sinners must rest/trust/have faith in Christ alone, then sinners must not look to themselves for any contribution to what Christ has done and gives by grace alone. The concept behind the idea of one work needed by a human being is that Christ Jesus has not done enough. When human beings try to add (whether they think they are or not) one work of a few works to the finished work of Christ, they destroy the whole Gospel and it is no longer of Christ alone.

We have hard heads and hearts and we have learned the ways of Arminianism and Pelagianism well since those are the ways we are born in. We can learn the doctrine that Christ imputes His righteousness to us and yet we can not search our hearts to see if we have lost all hope in our own righteousness and our own works. While we can believe the doctrine, our hearts must truly lose hope in our own works and our own righteousness if we are going to truly believe the doctrine from the depths of our souls. Our proud hearts trust and rest in our own works (though perhaps hidden from us) and must be broken and humbled so that we will not trust in them. We cannot just simply believe from the head that Christ imputes His righteousness to us when our hearts hold tightly to our own works.

Our hearts want to do anything they can to hide the glare of the light of truth from them. We want to hold to works of the moral law and dismiss the words of Paul by saying that those things are only from the ceremonial law. However, as Edwards so clearly shows, there is no real way to read the text except to say that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us quite apart from our keeping the moral law. Those who are dead in sin are completely and utterly destitute of righteousness and any ability to do anything righteous in the sight of God. If sinners are not saved by Christ alone, they will never be saved. If sinners have to come up with one work to add to the work of Christ, they cannot come up with that one work. Besides that, the work of Christ is perfect and complete. There is nothing that He left to do and there is nothing we can do. It is by grace alone.

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Justification by Christ 19

September 25, 2016

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

“4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” — Romans 4:4-5

Subject: We are justified only by faith in Christ, and not by any manner of goodness of our own. The following things may be noted in this verse:

4. It is evident that the subject of justification is looked upon as destitute of any righteousness in himself, by that expression, it is counted, or imputed to him for righteousness. — The phrase, as the apostle uses it here and in the context, manifestly imports that God of his sovereign grace is pleased in his dealings with the sinner, so to regard one that has no righteousness, that the consequence shall be the same as if he had. This however may be from the respect it bears to something that is indeed righteous. It is plain that this is the force of the expression in the preceding verses. In the last verse but one, it is manifest, the apostle lays the stress of his argument for the free grace of God — from that text of the Old Testament about Abraham — on the word counted or imputed. This is the thing that he supposed God to show his grace in, viz. in his counting something for righteousness, in his consequential dealings with Abraham, that was no righteousness in itself.          Jonathan Edwards, Justification by Faith Alone

Those who are justified have no righteousness in and of themselves. They are utterly “destitute” of righteousness themselves and whatever righteousness they have it is imputed to them. To those poor souls who have learned that they are utterly destitute of righteousness, this is good news. They are the ones that God justifies by Christ alone and grace alone. These are the souls that have learned that they are spiritually poor or impoverished of spirit. If Christ does not save them for His own glory and by grace alone, they will never be saved. If God does not justify them in the sense of declaring them just on the basis of Christ alone, they will perish forever. If God does not impute the righteousness of Christ to them and declare them righteous based on that, then they will have no righteousness for all eternity. The poor soul that has been shown just how destitute it is rejoices when Christ becomes his or hers and has the imputed righteousness of Christ to stand in.

It is clear from the context of the passages dealt with and the rest of the Bible that it is sovereign grace that God shows sinners. The whole world has sinned (original sin, all born dead in sin) and the whole world continues to fall short of His glory. There is no one more attractive to God than another, but all are by nature children of wrath. All humanity come into this world as children of the devil and with the poison of asps in their mouths. All human beings come into this world and are opposed to God and at enmity with Him. Yet God saves some to the praise of the glory of His grace. Since it is to the praise of the glory of His grace, the Gospel of Christ alone is all about what Christ has done in the place of sinners. It is not about sinners being able to obtain merit by works or some form of godliness, but instead justification is all about His grace and Christ.

The grace that is spoken of is free-grace which is a grace that is not moved by anything in the human or done by the human. This is a grace that is moved from within God and is for His own glory. This is a grace that comes to sinners as destitute and helpless in themselves and so must have another do all that is needed to save them or they will not be saved. These have no access and no ability to obtain righteousness, so it is only by sovereign and free-grace that righteousness is imputed to them or counted as theirs. As Edwards notes, when God counted something to Abraham as righteousness, this shows that Abraham was not righteous in himself and had no righteousness to count as his.

But again, we must look at our own hearts in light of this. Do we trust (have faith) in anything we have done? Do we trust in the fact that we have believed? Do we trust in the fact that we have done what we think is a good work or trust in good works? Until we have been broken from trusting in anything we have done we will not trust in Christ alone. Until we are broken from looking to any righteousness in ourselves or have lost hope in our ability to do any righteous thing, we will not look to the imputed righteousness of Christ alone. But we must also realize that this being broken is also the gracious work of Christ by His Spirit in our souls. We must not look to our own ability to break our own hearts either. We must not look to our own lack or righteousness or lack of ability as something we have worked up and therefore we can be proud of in a perverted way. It is all a work of grace from beginning to end. It is all to the praise of the glory of His grace!

Justification by Christ 18

September 24, 2016

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

“4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” — Romans 4:4-5

Subject: We are justified only by faith in Christ, and not by any manner of goodness of our own. The following things may be noted in this verse:

It is evident in the words, that by the faith here spoken of, by which we are justified, is not meant the same thing as a course of obedience or righteousness, since the expression by which this faith is here denoted, is believing on him that justifies the ungodly. — They that oppose the Solifidians, as they call them, greatly insist on it, that we should take the words of Scripture concerning this doctrine in their most natural and obvious meaning, and how do they cry out, of our clouding this doctrine with obscure metaphors, and unintelligible figures of speech? But is this to interpret Scripture according to its most obvious meaning, when the Scripture speaks of our believing on him that justifies the ungodly, or the breakers of his law, to say that the meaning of it is performing a course of obedience to his law, and avoiding the breaches of it? Believing on God as a justifier, certainly is a different thing from submitting to God as a lawgiver, especially believing on him as a justifier of the ungodly, or rebels against the lawgiver.     Jonathan Edwards, Justification by Faith Alone

Whatever else faith is, the context utterly demands that it is not a way of obedience and is not a way of earning wholly or partially any righteousness to add to the righteousness of Christ. It is true that James teaches us that faith without works is dead, yet James is not teaching that works that flow from faith contribute in any way to God justifying sinners by Christ alone. The faith spoken of here is opposite to good works for justification and is opposite to merit. The faith spoken of here is not what faith can do, but it is all about Christ. The person with faith is the person with Christ. It is not about the works that one does with faith, it is the works that Christ has done and is imputed to the one with Christ.

The phrase of Scripture in its own context is crystal clear on this. We are told that the one whose faith “is counted for righteousness” is the one who does not work for justification and is the one who believes on Him “that justifies the ungodly.” There is no mysterious teaching here, but instead this is plain and straight to the point. The way of the Gospel of Christ and the Gospel of grace is the way of faith. It is not that faith is the single work we come up with that God rewards it with salvation and it is not a way of working harder or better. The way of faith is in accordance with the doctrine of election and in accordance with the way of grace alone. Romans 4:16 tells us this:

Romans 4:16 For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.

The passage just above (Romans 4:16) is in the direct context of Romans 4:4-5. Faith is not a way of doing good works in order to be justified. Faith is not a way of obtaining merit before God so that He will justify us. The biblical doctrine of faith teaches us that it is by faith in order that it may be in accordance with grace, that is, that based totally on the grace of God He will justify sinners by Christ alone. Faith is in accordance with grace so that the promise will guaranteed to all the descendants. In other words, since it is by grace all that the promise is for will be saved. The promise could not be carried out if it depended on the works of men, but instead it depends on the works of God and the promises of God. When sinners are justified by promise, that is, by Christ alone and grace alone, salvation does not depend on their own works and godliness. This is indeed good news.

In terms of the experience of the soul, this is profound. It does not depend upon the soul doing works and gaining merit, but instead the soul must learn not to depend upon itself and look to God alone to justify it by grace alone. The soul must learn to look to God as justifier by grace alone through Christ instead of the lawgiver who gives laws to be obeyed as a way of justification. Instead of working, the soul must learn not to work for justification. Instead of obtaining godliness, the soul must learn to look to God who justifies the ungodly. This is not an easy task, and instead it is as impossible to do this as it is to work for justification. It is Christ who alone can teach the soul and guide the soul in the way of humility and brokenness.

Justification by Christ 17

September 23, 2016

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

“4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” — Romans 4:4-5

Subject: We are justified only by faith in Christ, and not by any manner of goodness of our own. The following things may be noted in this verse:
2. It appears, that by him that worketh not, in this verse, is not meant one who merely does not conform to the ceremonial law, because he that worketh not, and the ungodly, are evidently synonymous expressions, or what signify the same, as appears by the manner of their connection. If not, to what purpose is the latter expression, the ungodly, brought in? The context gives no other occasion for it, but to show that by the grace of the gospel, God in justification has no regard to any godliness of ours. The foregoing verse is, “Now to him that worketh, is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” In that verse, it is evident that gospel grace consists in the reward being given without works, and in this verse, which immediately follows it, and in sense is connected with it, gospel grace consists in a man’s being justified as ungodly. By which it is most plain, that by him that worketh not, and him that is ungodly, are meant the same thing, and that therefore not only works of the ceremonial law are excluded in this business of justification, but works of morality and godliness.       Jonathan Edwards, Justification by Faith Alone

The essence of what the sinner does that is justified is vital to the biblical doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone. The person who is justified, that is, declared just by God on the basis of Christ alone is a person that does not work for salvation. This is so important, even utterly vital. The person that is declared just by God has given up on his works for justification and so does not work at all for justification. This does not mean that the justified person will not work out of love for God, but it teaches us that the justified person stops working for justification. While this text does not say what has gone on and is going on in the heart of the person, we can note that if a person has stopped working for justification, the heart of the person has been broken from looking to his own merits and his own abilities.
When God declares the sinner just in His sight, the sinner has stopped working for justification and the sinner is ungodly in and of himself. The sinner has arrived at the inward conviction that if he is working for salvation and that work did in fact contribute to salvation, then he would be earning something of his salvation. But Scripture is quite clear that works do not contribute to salvation. When the Holy Spirit is working in the conscience and in the heart of a sinner, that sinner begins to see that s/he is ungodly and cannot possibly contribute to justification in the slightest way. The sinner that sees himself as ungodly will know (if taught in the inward man) that there is no merit in his works and in fact the best of his works is full of sin. This person accepts the word of God and knows that s/he is ungodly and it must be Christ alone by grace alone if s/he is going to be justified.
Edwards makes a very important point in the paragraph (of his) above. In both verses 4 and 5 it is Gospel grace that is the issue. We cannot work in such a way to obtain merit because it is grace that justifies and not our works. If we had even a bit of godliness, then it is not Gospel grace that justifies apart from anything good found in us. The glory of God’s grace is that God justifies sinners because of Christ and nothing that the sinner has in terms of merit or godliness. In this way we see that Christ and grace shines in the justification of sinners.
Another issue, as pointed out by Edwards, is that it is not just the civil and ceremonial law that men are excluded from keeping as a way of merit, it is also the moral law. Men are ungodly which means that they do not keep any moral law at all in a way that is acceptable to God. It is not that God has divided His Old Testament laws up and now there are some we don’t keep and a few we do, but all law-keeping (for justification) is excluded in terms of His justifying ungodly sinners. All law-keeping is excluded in terms of His justifying sinners who no longer work for justification. The hearts of sinners that are justified by grace alone are broken from trying to earn any part of justification and their hearts are broken from any idea of trying to merit a part of it by their godliness. The justified sinner looks to nothing but Christ alone and His grace alone.

Justification by Christ 16

September 22, 2016

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

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” — Romans 4:5

Subject: We are justified only by faith in Christ, and not by any manner of goodness of our own. The following things may be noted in this verse:

1. That justification respects a man as ungodly. This is evident by these words — that justifieth the ungodly, which cannot imply less than that God, in the act of justification, has no regard to anything in the person justified, as godliness or any goodness in him, but that immediately before this act, God beholds him only as an ungodly creature, so that godliness in the person to be justified is not so antecedent to his justification as to be the ground of it. When it is said that God justifies the ungodly, it is as absurd to suppose that our godliness, taken as some goodness in us, is the ground of our justification, as when it is said that Christ gave sight to the blind to suppose that sight was prior to, and the ground of, that act of mercy in Christ. Or as, if it should be said that such an one by his bounty has made a poor man rich, to suppose that it was the wealth of this poor man that was the ground of this bounty towards him, and was the price by which it was procured. Jonathan Edwards, Justification by Faith Alone

In viewing the text (Romans 4:5) it is plain to see that there is nothing in the human being that would move God to declare the person just in His sight. The justification that God declares only respects the human being as ungodly. If God regards the person or beholds the person as ungodly, then the person is ungodly and there is nothing in the person that would move Him to save that person and there is nothing in Him that could declare the person justified in His sight. This is an important teaching regarding the experimental aspect of justification. The soul of the person that is seeking God asking Him to convert the person must not come to God with any hope in anything that the person has done or can do.

There is no room for pride in the person that desires for God to declare him or her just on the basis of Christ alone. Instead, the proud heart must be humbled and broken and stand naked before God. The proud heart of the natural person that looks to self for something and looks to self for some sufficiency cannot have those things if s/he is going to be justified by Christ alone. The heart of man must look to Christ and no one else, especially self. The proud heart that thinks that it can please God and be converted because it now believes or that it came up with faith is still looking to self with trust. If God regards the soul as ungodly, then the soul should regard itself as ungodly and seek the Lord to open its eyes in order to see self in that way.

Edwards is showing all who will read his writings that justification is all of grace and nothing else but grace. In other words, sinners are justified by Christ and Christ alone and there is nothing but ungodliness in the soul of the person. This is seen in the following illustrations. First, when Christ gave sight to the blind, we never assume that there was some sight before the act of mercy in granting sight. No, the person was born blind and Christ gave the person sight. Second, if a rich man saw a man that was totally impoverished and made him rich, we should not assume that the rich man saw that the totally impoverished man had some riches and then gave him more to make him even richer. Both of these illustrations show the absolute folly of trying to attribute something to the ungodly that would move God to save them.

The justification of sinners is by Christ alone and He is moved by Himself and His grace alone. When sinners hear the truth of justification, they will either look to self to some degree or they will seek the Lord to empty them of all of their hope and trust in self. There is no middle ground. If the soul that has Christ trusts in Christ alone and the proud soul is not right before God, then souls should seek the Lord to humble them and break them from their trust in themselves. If God saves the humble, yet unregenerate souls are full of pride and enmity against God, then those who see the truth of justification should seek the Lord to empty them of pride and to break their hearts from their enmity toward God. The soul that God declares just before Him based on Christ alone by grace alone will work the trust that sinners have in themselves out that they may rest in Christ alone.

Justification by Christ 15

March 29, 2016

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?”

While it may not only appear repetitive but actually be so, it must be stressed over and over to our hearts which so tend to rely on self in some way that we are justified quite apart from ourselves. This requires a stripping of self and pride to even grasp this beyond the mere intellectual propositions, but for the heart to grasp this it requires a deeper and deeper humility. We must grasp this in the depths of our souls and we must personalize it, though perhaps we should say that God must work it in us that it would be personalized.

Jonathan Edwards spoke of an evangelical humility which was deeper than any legal humility could bring. This is very, very true. A legal humility can only bring us to the point of seeing that we cannot keep the law, though that is very important, but grace brings a humility that empties us of our tenacious grasp on self. Grace will bring the soul to where it delights in abasing itself and delights in being saved by free-grace alone. The soul must be taught of the Lord these things and it must learn them from the depths of the heart that these things are true of it.

When we see that only those who are effectually called are freely justified, we must know that is true of me. Now what must I do? It empties us of all hope in self if we truly grasp that. It empties us of all hope in anything we can possibly do and it causes the soul to cry out to the Lord with a broken heart. This broken heart has learned that it can do nothing to cause God to save it, but that does not keep it from seeking the Lord and crying out for grace so that it can seek Him truly. This soul is so deeply humbled that it sees that even its seeking falls short of His glory. At some point this soul will stop working and striving for righteousness and look to Christ and His righteousness alone. Oh how the humbled soul knows that salvation is for the sake of Christ and it loves that as well.

The soul taught of the Lord realizes how much religion that it has trusted in and how much of self it had previously trusted in rather than Christ alone, though indeed it thought it did. The soul that the Lord teaches will be brought to a point where it sees that it studied by Bible for self and prayed for self, but now it is broken by grace and it looks to Christ and His righteousness alone. Perhaps the soul was trusting in self to have faith and the Lord broke that heart from trusting in self for faith and now the soul looks to Christ for faith as well as looking to Christ for faith.

This humbled and broken heart now knows that it was not because it was special in the eyes of God that He saved it, but it was for the sake of Christ and His name that it was saved. While this will be frightening to the soul at first since the soul is loathe to be broken from trusting in itself for something, the kindness and love of God will not leave it alone to trust in itself. The soul must be moved by the kindness of God who teaches these things in the inward man to realize that a full trust in Christ means to trust that God saves sinners for the sake of His name alone. Oh how this is a dagger to the pride of man, yet in the hands of the gentle Savior it is a loving strike of the dagger and it is precisely what each soul needs. The doctrine of justification is not just a series of propositions that the mind holds to, but instead it is a glorious teaching of what God does in the soul as well. Our minds may accept these things as true, but we don’t hold them from the heart until the Lord teaches them to us. This requires painful work in the soul as only the Physician of souls can do.

Justification by Christ 14

March 28, 2016

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 sovereign pleasure of God is displayed in the certain redemption of His elect from their fallen estate to spiritual and eternal life. In this great work, He has done whatsoever He has pleased. It is true, that the unalterable decree of election rendered redemption unavoidable; notwithstanding, it is impossible that it could ever become undesirable, in the eyes of the God of everlasting love. It pleased Him to choose them, therefore it must be pleasing to Him to redeem and possess them. (John Stevens)

It is such a delight to meditate and think upon what it is to be freely justified by free-grace. There is no assurance in modern views of justification that depend upon man’s choice or man’s repentance or man’s works. It is almost as if some say that one is justified by faith but then go on to hold to sanctification by works of some kind. God saves sinners according to His good PLEASURE, and we must not forget that pleasure part. It pleases God to save some to the glory of His great name. There is not one unimportant aspect to justification, and this is certainly one that we must not forget.

When the 1689 says that God saves for Christ’ sake alone, we must know that it is the Son that the voice from heaven said that in Him (the Son) He (the Father) was well-pleased. The pleasure of God is in His Son and the pleasure of God is in all that the Son dwells in and manifests the glory of God in and through. It is the very pleasure of God to shine forth His glory in and through the Son and it is the doctrine of justification where the attributes of God meet in the Son. In the doctrine of justification we have the meeting of the indwelling glory of God in His people by the Son. In the doctrine of justification we have the eternal covenant between the Father and the Son set forth. In the doctrine of justification we have the cross of Christ and His free-gift of righteousness imputed to sinners meeting and kissing to the glory of His great name.

As this great doctrine is the doctrine that the Church stands or falls upon, it is not just some dry setting forth of doctrine, but it is here where God shines forth His glory and His pleasure in His glory. It is here that we can behold the glory of God and His delight in His own glory. It is here that we must lose all hope in ourselves and behold the free-grace of God in giving His Son that He delights in and delighting Himself in bruising the Son (Isaiah 53) because in that He could behold His glory in the Son and in the Son saving sinners. God is pleased to save sinners in the Son and it is here that sinners can have assurance.

In the doctrine of justification we are enabled to behold the glory of God shining forth in Christ and His saving sinners to the glory of His free-grace. In the doctrine of justification we are enabled to see and taste of the very pleasure of God in saving sinners for the sake of His own name and for Christ’ sake. When the Lord is pleased to turn our hearts from ourselves and our works as having any part in our justification, then we can see how the pleasure of God in Christ is our assurance. The Father’s wrath was satisfied by the work of Christ on the cross and His requirement of a perfect righteousness was satisfied in the life and obedience of Christ. When sinners are enabled to see that in Christ all the wrath of the Father is gone and that He has given them a perfect righteousness and that He has had great pleasure in doing so, they may rejoice in the pleasure of God and their hearts may be quieted and humbled.

Justification by Christ 13

March 22, 2016

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 sovereign pleasure of God is displayed in the certain redemption of His elect from their fallen estate to spiritual and eternal life. In this great work, He has done whatsoever He has pleased. It is true, that the unalterable decree of election rendered redemption unavoidable; notwithstanding, it is impossible that it could ever become undesirable, in the eyes of the God of everlasting love. It pleased Him to choose them, therefore it must be pleasing to Him to redeem and possess them. They were chosen to obtain salvation and eternal glory through redemption; and the Son of God was chosen to redeem them from all iniquity to God. Redemption is the great and main channel, though which the river of boundless grace flows out from the eternal throne of the triune God, to an elect world. All spiritual blessings were ordained to reach the sinner, though Calvary’s free and complete redemption. This blessed work of Emmanuel is governed by election; on which, as upon its proper basis, it securely rests. And in this solemn and wondrous transaction of Jesus Christ, good pleasure is for ever displayed. It pleased the Father to appoint the Son, who is the Lord of glory, to ransom His chosen family from deserved death, to endless and given life. It pleased the Lord to bruise Him, on whom, by imputation, He had laid the sins of His elect, in the ancient covenant of His grace. Thus, that a peculiar people should be redeemed, arose from their having chosen from everlasting in Christ, as their heavenly Head. On His Headship by grace, is founded His suretyship in mercy: He, being their Head, became also their Savior. He covenanted as their representative, and therefore died in their stead. He accepted the imputation of their crimes; and by thus being made sin, He became the lawful victim of punitive justice, and the all-sufficient Savior of His lost people. In Him the Father is well-pleased; and by Him, He has done whatsoever His has pleased. (John Stevens)

Justification by Christ 12

March 16, 2016

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.

Justification by Christ 11

March 15, 2016

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?”

In just wanting to get back to the God-centeredness of the Bible and the focus on God, we must know that God justifies sinners because of Himself and His own glory. Fallen men want a God that is focused on them rather than His own glory, but that is not how the thrice holy God is. He loves Himself as triune and the Gospel flows out of that perfect love for Himself and His love for His own glory. Jesus Christ loved the Father and in accordance with the Great Commandment He loved the Father with all of His heart, mind, soul, and strength. It is out of love for His Father that He gave Himself for sinners. This is an important concept and in fact is a glorious teaching.

John 14:31 but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here.

The Lord Jesus Christ was headed to the Christ and His words were captured in Scripture and we can read them in John. He wanted the world to know that He loved the Father and so He did exactly what He was commanded to do. From eternity past the cross was planned and the Lord Jesus willingly and lovingly headed to the cross out of love for His Father. It is this that sinners can rest in. It is this that can give sinners confidence before the living God. Jesus Christ loved the Father perfectly and perfectly carried out the desires and plans of the Father.

The greatest hope that an Arminian can have, whether in name or a practical Arminian though a professing Calvinist, is in my choice. If it was my choice to trust in Christ, then my deepest trust is in myself and my choice. However, Romans 9 points us away from ourselves and points us to God and His electing grace. We are pointed to the mercy, compassion, and the love of God rather than our weak choice. Oh how utterly glorious this is if we could only get beyond thinking of self all the time.

Look at the 1689 with God-centered lenses. God, as thrice holy and perfect in every way, could never save sinners based on their own sinful and weak choices. God effectually calls and it is God who effectually justifies as well. There is simply no room for my choice to make a difference in the issue. This effectual justification means that there is not one thing lacking in it, but all is given by free-grace and all is accomplished by Christ. This cannot be emphasized too much. A free justification means that this justification is free of causation in the human being and that it is all of the initiative and work of God. This leaves no room for the sinner to work up faith on his or her own even if s/he could work it up which no one can. What man cannot do God does easily and perfectly. What man cannot do God accomplishes for His own glory. Man is justified completely, utterly, and totally by Christ alone. Man is justified, completely, utterly, and totally by grace alone and to the glory of God alone. With that in mind, true faith can only come from the work of God in Christ and given by grace. Nothing is left to do in the perfect and free justification that God works.