Know Justification?

John Calvin once sermonized,

If, as we would have others believe, we are indeed Christians, we ought to be very familiar with what it means to be justified by faith.  Yet, how few of those who claim to love the gospel understand the justification spoken of so frequently in the Scriptures! This being the case, it is very important that we ourselves should know this doctrine, for without it we can have no assurance of salvation.

You should know justification well after hearing our sermon series on Galatians.  Want to hear then click here.

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The Believer, Being Married to Christ, is Both Justified and Sanctified

Proud nature may reject this gospel-theme,

And curse it as an Antinomian scheme.

Let slander bark, let envy grin and fight,

The curse that is so causeless shall not light.

If they that fain would make by holy force

‘Twixt sinners and the law a clean divorce,

And court the Lamb a virgin chaste to wife,

Be charg’d as foes to holiness of life,

Well may they suffer gladly on this score,

Apostles great were so malign’d before.

 

When as a cov’nant stern the law commands,

Faith puts her Lamb’s obedience in its hands:

And when its threats gush out a fiery flood,

Faith stops the current with her victim’s blood.

The law can crave no more, yet craves no less,

Than active, passive, perfect righteousness.

Yet here is all, yea, more than its demand,

All render’d to it by a divine hand.

Mankind is bound law-service still to pay,

Yea, angel-kind is also bound t’ obey.

It may by human and angelic blaze

Have honor, but in finite partial ways.

 

Thus doth the Husband by his Father’s will

Both for and in his bride the law fulfill:

For her, as ’tis a covenant; and then

In her, as ’tis a rule of life to men.

First all law-debt he most completely pays;

Then of law-duties all the charge defrays.

Does first assume her guilt, and loose her chains;

And then with living water wash her stains:

Her fund restore, and then her form repair,

And make his filthy bride a beauty fair;

His perfect righteousness most freely grant,

And then his holy image deep implant;

Into her heart his precious seed indrop,

Which, in his time, will yield a glorious crop.

But by alternate turns his plant he brings

Through robbing winters and repairing springs.

Hence, pining oft, they suffer sad decays,

By dint of shady nights and stormy days.

But blest with sap, and influence from above

They live and grow anew in faith and love;

Until transplanted to the higher soil,

Where furies tread no more, nor foxes spoil.

This excerpt comes from Ralph Erskine’s, Gospel Sonnets.  Written in 1720, it is precisely theological and beautifully poetic as it deals with the doctrine of justification and sanctification.  You can download and read a pdf copy on Google.  Thanks to the Whitehorse Inn for opening me up to this work.  Enjoy.

 

 

Our Second Bible Study Revisited

Ark of the Covenant

In case you missed the study, below is a transcript.

Part I

I often hear it said that we have to live incarnationally, be the gospel, and to redeem all things.  I have to admit that these statements make no sense to me.  How can I live incarnationally, when I am not the second member of the Trinity?  How can I be the gospel, when I never bore any sins perfectly on the cross?  Finally, how can I redeem a world that is “presently passing away?” (1Cor 7:31).  Has the fall affected everything so that we need to redeem all things like those of us redeemed from our guilt and corruption?  For instance, take my local plumbing company, does it need to be redeemed.  If so, what would Christian plumbing look like; do the standards of plumbing change when a Christian does them as opposed to an unbeliever? Continue reading

Our Standing Before God this New Year

By God’s providential hand upholding all things, we celebrate the New Year.  The New Year brings thoughts of the past and the future, and with thoughts of the old and new, how appropriate to think of the doctrine of justification and its definitive character.  Justification, the pardon and acceptance of God, is a once and for all act by God because of Christ’s merit alone.  Our standing before God past, present, and future is secure, the Apostle Paul clarifies, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1).  Paul explains that our present standing has been changed— we now have peace with God.  Not only our present situation, but because we are secure, we have confidence for our future standing.  Our peace with God gives confidence that we never need to fear the wrath of God, Paul continues, “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (5:9).  Our past, present, and future sins do nothing to our standing before God, once we have been justified.  The Heidelberg Catechism asks in Q60, “How are you righteous before God?”

“Only by true faith in Jesus Christ; that is, although my conscience accuse me, that I have grievously sinned against all the commandments of God, and have never kept any of them, and am still prone always to all evil; yet God without any merit of mine, of mere grace, grants and imputes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, as if I had never committed nor had any sin, and had myself accomplished all the obedience which Christ has fulfilled for me; if only I accept such benefit with a believing heart.”

Our standing before God is based on a definitive legal act of God.  Justification is a once and for all act.  God declares us righteous not by our work or transformation, rather our justification is grounded on the merit of Christ, his active and passive obedience.  Of course, the instrumental cause of our justification is faith alone.  Therefore, “by faith into this grace in which we stand…we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Romans 5:1–9 ESV).

Justification is the Heart of the Message of Salvation.

Purchase “Justified” and not your soul and learn that God justifies the “ungodly” (Rom. 4:5).  This book is written for the thoughtful lay person as well as pastors. It supplies background, and context for those not up to speed on this historical Protestant doctrine.  There are also chapters on the history of this doctrine, recent studies, insights into justification and preaching, and finally justification and the Christian life, how justification relates to sanctification.  Anyone who loves the doctrine of Salvation will find this collection valuable.