Archive for the ‘Justification by Christ’ Category

Justification by Christ 10

March 14, 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 a very recent “sermon” the “preacher” was calling on people to make a choice to serve God. The sermon was empty of Christ, empty of the nature of sin, empty of the glory of God, and had nothing about the Gospel. At the end, he still called on people to make a decision to be saved or to join the church. It was striking that there was nothing about God in the sermon other than that He loves you and wants the best for you, though even that was not set out at all. In looking at the 1698 Baptist Confession of Faith and the passage from Romans 9, one cannot find a work about what the “preacher” was talking about.

Again, this may be repetitive, but the Gospel is not about the decisions men make and it is not about how much they keep the commitments they make. The issue is what God does. If I am even remotely close to being correct, in modern America God has been left out of the Gospel in the books and “preaching” that men do. I am constantly astounded (slow to catch on) how much God is forgotten on Sunday mornings and that is a bad sign for the rest of the week as well. The Gospel is about the God who effectually calls, not about how men make decisions. The Gospel is about how God justifies sinners, not about how much sinners accept Christ and pray a prayer.

It is simply impossible for a person to read Romans and Ephesians (and the rest of the New Testament) with any degree of understanding and come to any conclusion other than that God saves sinners according to His good pleasure and according to the glory of His grace. The Bible teaches us that God created all things for His own glory and that includes men. The Fall was a fall into sin and now men fall short of His glory. The Gospel cannot be anything but a way for God to be glorified in saving men and also returning man to a place where men now live to the glory of God.

If the above statement is true, then it is a different Gospel that focuses on men rather than on God. If God created all things for His glory and as a thrice holy God He cannot do anything with an inferior motive other than Himself and His own glory, then the Gospel is all about Him and His glory. It is simply not possible for it to be any other way. The Gospel is the Gospel of God, the Gospel of the glory of God, the Gospel of the glory of Christ, and so on. It is not the Gospel of man in any way and at any time. The Gospel is always about God and His glory in the face of Christ. The comfort that men have cannot be in themselves and their own decisions; it must be about what God has done in Christ. The Scriptures are so clear and the Confession reflects it that God saves for the sake of His own name and not for the sake of sinful human beings and their choices. God has no need of us and He has no need of anything we can do. We should bow low before Him and His glory and ask Him to humble us and bring us to die to self and pride and for Him to turn us to love His glory rather than our love for self.

Advertisements

Justification by Christ 9

March 13, 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?”

Luther was ready to die on the issue of justification. As quoted (more or less) above, the Church stands of falls on this doctrine. That means each local church stands or falls on this doctrine and each person stands or falls on this doctrine. If Luther was correct and is correct on this matter, then we need to have the same view of faith that he did. Again, it is not because Luther believed this was true, but if he was correct according to Scripture then we must have the same view of faith if we are going to believe the same Gospel. We also need to think about how God sent a great revival during the time of the Reformation and how God used the Gospel preached by Luther and the Reformers in many lands.

Luther was quite clear that a man was not ready to be saved until that man was humbled and broken before God. He even went so far (in The Bondage of the Will) as to say until a man was broken and humbled enough to give up his free-will he was not ready to be saved. For Luther the idea that a person could be saved by an act of his own faith was simply preposterous. Souls are saved by Christ alone, which is to say that souls are saved for the sake of Christ alone and by His works alone. The reason that souls are justified through faith (according to Luther) is so that the sovereign grace of God would be exalted. It is not that our teaching of faith should detract from grace and so detract from the sovereignty of God and His grace, but instead it was intended to protect it.

The teaching of the modern day has detracted from the nature of true faith and as such it no longer stands in the defense of God’s sovereign grace. At any point and at any time when any person teaches a view of faith (regardless of that person’s theological position or claim to that position) that detracts from the sovereign grace of God, that person has a false view of faith. This must be stressed, emphasized, and defended with all of our hearts if we are going to defend and preach the Gospel of grace alone. There is no defending and preaching of the Gospel of grace alone if we are not willing to defend the sovereignty of the grace of God and the fact that faith is by His grace rather than by human choice and free-will.

Romans 3:24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

As long as Romans 3:24 stands the Gospel is by a grace that is not moved by anything in the human soul and that includes faith. God gives faith as a gift by His grace rather than waiting to give grace to those with faith. “It is by faith in order that it may be by grace” (Rom 4:16). We must (MUST) defend this and preach this fearlessly and with all the intensity that God will give us. The Gospel is all by Christ and is all of grace and we must not denigrate that in the slightest way. In order to preach the freeness of God in the Gospel rather than the freeness of man we must preach that the Gospel of grace alone is quite apart from anything that man can do or anything in man. The freeness of God in the Gospel demands that He is free to give faith to whom He is pleased to give it and He is pleased to harden those whom He pleases in non-faith (unbelief). Oh how the glory of free-grace is set forth when the freedom of God to show grace to whom He pleases and when He pleases is set forth. However, when anything contrary to the freedom of God is preached and that includes His freedom to give faith as He pleases, then the Gospel of grace alone is not preached. Free-grace is necessary to a free justification of sinners!

Justification by Christ 8

March 12, 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 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.

Justification by Christ 7

March 10, 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?”

This is a vital subject and as such needs to be dealt with over and over. Faith is not a work of the fallen human soul by which a person is able to work it up and God responds to it with salvation. Faith is not an easy replacement for keeping the law. Faith is the work of God in the human soul and unites the human soul to Christ. The difference between these two views is enormous and is the difference between a works salvation versus one by grace alone. For the Gospel of grace alone to be truly by grace alone faith must be a gift from God. For the Gospel of Christ alone to be truly by Christ alone then faith must have been purchased by Christ and worked in the soul by the Holy Spirit. This is why we must always be vigilante to know what people preach and teach about faith.

We must be careful to understand that sinners are dead in sins and trespasses (Eph 2:1-3) and by nature are children of wrath. When it is said that a person is dead in sin, this means that the person is in bondage to sin and is dead to spiritual things. However, that person is not necessarily dead to spiritual things. That very nature must be changed in order to become a spiritual person and as such one who can exercise spiritual faith. Those who are dead in sins can have a physical faith, but never a spiritual faith. A spiritual faith is one that comes from a new heart and the person is united to Christ and as such has a proper object of faith and is constantly receiving from Christ Himself. A physical faith is one where the person is (in one sense) fixed on self for faith and looks to his faith to earn things from God. A physical faith is one that is quite in accordance with a dead and sinful nature and is also one that can be very, very religious.

A religious and physical faith may know a lot of truth and be quite solid in conservative and biblical doctrine, but it will never be taught the inward realities of those truths by the Spirit of God unless God draws that sinner and regenerates him or her. A religious and physical faith can be very external and very logical from a this world sense, but it is not united to Christ and as such does not have Christ and His spiritual blessings and gifts. The Pharisees can be said in many ways to have had a lot of faith, but it was not a true faith which always comes from Christ. The Pharisees had a lot of religion and believed fervently that they were the elect of God, but they did not have true faith but instead had faith in themselves and worked hard from that faith.

A religious and physical faith, since it is not united to Christ, will never have the love of God flowing through it to God and to others. Religious faith is from the selfish heart and is always about the selfish heart. Religious faith still flows from a fallen heart and does not need the life of Christ in that soul to be very religious and very moral in the externals. A true faith receives all from Christ and looks to grace alone for all it receives. A true faith knows that for it to do one good thing it must receive it from Christ first. A religious faith may in fact know that as true and say that it is true, but the religious faith can only know that in the head. The true faith which is united to Christ lives in utter dependence upon Christ for all things. The true faith, since it is united to Christ, will love as the fruit of the Spirit and will love God from love received. After all, only those who are born of God and know God can have true love (I John 4:7-8). This is true because only those that receive from God can love since God is the only source and origin of true love in the universe. True faith, then, must be a Divine work and given only to the children of God. It is the work of God, not the work of men. Let us point men to Christ for faith rather than point men to faith to have Christ.

Justification by Christ 5

March 8, 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 good news of this glory of a free-justification by free-grace just continues on. Why this subject matter is not a continually addressed in the churches is beyond me. In this we have the salvation of sinners and in this we behold the glory of God ever so brightly. The great God effectually calls some and then justifies them by free-grace. In justification He does not infuse or work righteousness in them in order to make them righteous, but instead He pardons their sins and for the sake of Christ He accounts and accepts their persons as righteous. This is not a legal fiction as some have called it, but He unites them to Christ and as such they are one person with Christ and as such their sins become His legal debt and His righteousness becomes theirs.

It is utterly vital to note and for the soul to have confidence in the fact that God declares sinners just on the basis of Christ alone. It is only this that gives sinners assurance in the presence of God, but it does not come by strength of intellect but only comes by the work of the Spirit in the soul. This growing to rest in Christ alone can only happen when the soul is broken from faith in self and love for self. God will discipline (train) His children and He will strip them of faith and hope in self that they may have faith and hope in Christ. The great hope of the believer is not in what God has worked in him or her, but what God has done in Christ Jesus. There is nothing that God has worked in a person and there is nothing that a person can do that will make them acceptable to God, but it is Christ alone who is acceptable to God.

The soul will usually have many trials of faith until it learns that it cannot trust in the works that it does. The soul will have many crises before it learns that the Law can never give it hope and assurance before God. The soul must learn that no obedience it can perform to the Law is the righteousness that pleases God. The person of the sinner is only acceptable to God on the basis of Christ alone. Some of the older Baptists and some of the Puritans taught that sinners must be broken and humbled by the work of God. Some have misunderstood that as meaning that in some way these things earned favor before God. Not in any way are those things acceptable to God. What we must see, however, is that the soul must be broken from self-love in order to love God. The soul must be broken from its self-righteousness in order to rest in the righteousness of Christ. The soul must be humbled from its great pride in order to receive grace. However, these things are the works of God in the soul and there is nothing in them that can please God as they are still imperfect. The soul must have Christ in order for God to be pleased.

The freedom that a true Christian has is beyond words. That Christians has Christ and as such his or her person is just before God because of Christ. The true believer has no works left to work in order to be justified, though the believer by grace has works of love to do. The true Christian is now free from the Law as a way of justification and by grace alone can love others for His glory. The true Christian has Christ and as such hell has been suffered in his or her place and heaven has been earned by Christ in his or her place and there is nothing left to be earned in order to enter into the eternal glories of God. It is being in Christ and Christ alone that enables the soul to be declared just in the sight of God. The living God does this by free-grace and there is nothing we can add to that free-grace. We can now see the beauty of God shining forth in the Law, but it does not condemn any longer and it should now be seen as the character of God on display. The glory of justification is the glory of God in Christ. It is perfect and cannot be added to, but instead it is to be received as grace alone and a grace that sinners can rest completely on.

Justification by Christ 4

March 7, 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 topic of a free justification that flows from the free-grace of God coming to sinners quite apart from their striving and their so-called good works simply sets out the beauty and self-sufficiency of God and His glory in way that those with new hearts simply cannot resist. The wickedness of men who think that all people only serve God and pretend to like Him in order to escape hell is simply wicked and detestable. The living God is beautiful in all He is and in all His ways. The living God has put Himself on display in Christ and has shone forth in Christ more of His beauties and glories than we can contain. Oh the glory of the Gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ if we would take the time to study it and pray over it.

The Westminster and the 1689 Baptist Confession set out the teaching of Scripture on justification quite succinctly, but beautifully. The words “Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth” is beautiful music to the ears when there is some understanding. Here is hope for poor sinners. It is not how much they will and how hard or how far they run, it is all of the grace of God. Here is hope for the unregenerate and the regenerate who are under attack. God is able to effectually draw sinners to Himself without their help and aide. God is able to justify sinners apart from anything the sinner can do. He does it all by Himself and for His own glory. There are perhaps many poor sinners who struggle with their hearts and lives not knowing the wonders of free-grace.

Struggling sinners need to hear of this free-justification. Yes it sounds too good to be true, and from a human perspective it is too good to be true. However, this is a Divine work and it is not too good to be true for Him. How does God declare sinners just who are not just in and of themselves? Note what the 1689 says in how He does not do it. He does not declare them just by infusing righteousness in them. This is simply great news. In other words, we do not have a level of righteousness we must obtain before we are declared just. God does not help us some here and there and then declare us just, but He has accomplished a perfect righteousness in Christ and it is given by a free gift by free-grace. The glories of this free-grace should deliver our hearts from self-righteousness. God declares sinners just and it is not based on what they have done, are doing, or will do. God declares sinners just and it is not based on what He will do in them, but instead of what Christ has done.

This is great news for sinners that God has opened their eyes to their hearts and they now see their sin. This is news beyond what our hearts can contain. God takes vile and wretched sinners and quite apart from any righteousness in them and yet while they are still in their sins, God takes those sinners and draws them to Himself and without anything in them to attract Him He declares them just. This is the great hope of sinners who have yet to find Christ. They should seek Him praying and reading the Scriptures that they may know more of this great and free-grace. This is the great hope of those who already have Christ as they continually fall short of His glory. If they had to wait until He infused enough righteousness in them, they would have to wait thousands and millions of lifetimes, though even then it would still be impossible. Yes we struggle with sinful hearts and yes we have doubts and at times are overwhelmed. But Christ is sufficient and Christ alone. He does not need out help and does not want our help in the slightest. Blessed are the impoverished of spirit.

Justification by Christ 8

March 4, 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 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.

Justification by Christ 3

March 2, 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

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.

Justification by Christ 2

March 1, 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

The doctrine of justification is at the heart of the Gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ and when a professing church falls from the truth of the heart of this it stops being a true church at all. It is not a true local church when it does not preach the truth of the Gospel. It also appears that a person can preach the doctrine of it and still miss the heart of it which is centered upon God and His glory in Christ. A person that has not had his or her heart broken from self and pride will view justification from the view of self and pride and as such will miss the heart of the God-centeredness of true justification. For example, a person can profess the truth that God effectually calls sinners and not be effectually called. A person can agree that God accepts people as righteous based on the righteousness of Christ alone and still not be accepted as righteous by God. We must be very careful on these things.

Underlying this great doctrine of justification is the deadness and helplessness of man in sin and of God’s sovereign choice to show grace or not as He pleases. It is true that God saves those with faith, but we must deal with the question of why one has faith and another does not. If one reads the article above it has a great and grand truth that is at the very least implied in the great doctrine of justification though it is ignored in our day. It is the unity with Christ and that a person must be united to Christ Himself before any of the benefits of justification can be his or hers. Since it is Christ Himself that we must have in order to be justified, it throws quite a different light on the nature of justification and of the utter impotence of the so-called free-will. It is a far different thing for the will to make a choice for Christ than it is for Christ to be joined to the person and for the two to become one. It is Christ who saves and as such we must have Christ Himself and be in Him and also Christ in us. It is not enough to say that one simply believes the facts about Christ. One must actually be united to Him and be one with Him.

Those who are justified are effectually called by God. These sinners do not call themselves and do not come to Christ by themselves, but instead they are called by God. Jesus taught us very clearly in John 6 that we cannot come to Him but instead we must be drawn by Him. He also taught us that this happens when sinners are inwardly taught of the Father. What we must learn, then, is that God draws men and men do not come of themselves. This shows us the very glory of free grace instead of the wonder of the power of the choices of men. Men cannot come to Christ of themselves and so they will not come unless the Father draws them. Men cannot truly repent, though they can stop certain actions out of self-love, unless it is granted them and worked in them by God. Men must learn to seek the Lord to teach them in the inner man the truth and also the experience of themselves. It is not enough to know that I am depraved, God must teach the soul by the Spirit and His work of conviction that man has no ability or power in spiritual things.

The doctrine of justification by Christ alone and grace alone is built on the solid foundation that God draws sinners to Himself efficaciously which means that sinners do not come on their own power and ability. This is why the older writers and theologians taught sinners to seek the Lord that He would give them a new heart that they would be able to believe. Sinners need new and believing hearts worked in them by sovereign grace rather than just a mere choice. Sinners need the living Savior to actually and really save them. Sinners are saved in this efficacious call of God who applies Christ to them, but before sinners have Christ applied to them their wicked hearts that are full of self and pride must be convicted and broken. Only the humble can receive grace and as such God just teach sinners their great need of grace and of their need to bow before God with nothing in them and simply looking to Him alone who can do this mighty work in them. The doctrines of free-grace and a free-justification do not stand alone and are not intellectual doctrines alone, but God must teach these things in the hearts of men.

Justification by Christ 1

February 23, 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

The Reformation was a time of great turmoil and change. The Reformers went back to Scripture as the standard though they used the Church Fathers extensively. What each person must come to grips with is what the Gospel is and to whom do we look for guidelines on the Gospel. We must also wrestle with what it means to believe the Gospel and to truly be saved. We must also know that there is a huge difference between believing that justification by grace alone through faith alone is true and actually being justified by grace alone. Unbelievers can know the facts of the Gospel but they cannot see the glory and beauty of the Gospel and are not justified by God apart from His grace. It is not believing that the biblical truth of justification is true that one is saved, but one must actually be declared just by God in order to be saved.

In the modern day there is no doubt that there is a widespread departure from the doctrines set out during the time of the Reformation. But of course that is not a huge problem unless the magisterial Reformers were wrong about what Scripture taught on this subject. However, if they were right, then any person and any professing church that does not teach that is teaching a false gospel. If the Church or churches stand or fall on this doctrine, then many churches have fallen. Just as bad in one sense, though perhaps more deceitful, are those professing churches that hold to this in creed and yet never really talk about it or preach on it. This great doctrine may be mentioned, but it is never taught or emphasized from the pulpit.

If justification is at the very heart of the Gospel, then the Gospel cannot be taught apart from teaching on justification. One can also think of justification as being the teaching where the great doctrines are collected and emphasized, but the reality of the matter is that Christ is the heart of the Gospel and Christ is the heart of justification and all Christian teachings. This is to say that each church stands or falls not only on if it teaches justification, but how it teaches it. One can teach justification in such a way where it is all doctrine full of true propositions, but if Christ is left out then it is not taught properly and biblically.

The Church stands or falls upon this article. It is quite shocking that something that the Church stands or falls upon is not taught clearly and more often. The only thing that one can conclude is that the professing Church no longer really believes that it stands or falls upon the great and glorious doctrine of justification. People seem to be more concerned with morality and propriety than with the great and glorious Savior and how He saves sinners. People seem to think that the “Church calendar” is so important and yet the Gospel is of such little importance. People seem to think that the Sacraments are so important and that church order is so important and the Gospel is left begging to be taught.

When the professing Church leaves or simply ignores justification it ignores the Savior and Lord of the Church. When this great doctrine is not thought important enough to focus on and spend time on, the professing Church certainly appears not to be standing any longer. One can be quite conservative and hold to a good creed, but that is not the same thing as preaching the resurrected and living Jesus who is at this moment reigning and ruling and who saves sinners through the Gospel. People are not saved in any other way than by Jesus Christ Himself saving them in accordance with the Gospel. Those in the churches are only brought up and nourished in the faith by this Gospel.

The Gospel is all about the glory of God in the face of Christ and it nourishes and strengthens doubting souls who are assailed daily by false teaching and the deceptions of sin, the world, their own hearts, and the devil. Apart from preaching this great Gospel of grace alone, how will sinners live by grace to the glory of God? God has revealed Himself in Christ and at the cross of Christ, yet this will not truly be taught unless the doctrine of justification captures our hearts. When God breaks the hearts of sinners from their pride, this is the doctrine that they must have. When God sends true revival among His people, this doctrine is set forth and taught. Without question we are not in a time of revival in this land today but instead we are in the midst of a great famine.