Justification by Faith
JUSTIFCATION BY FAITH
Nahum 1:2-3, 5-6 2 A jealous and avenging God is the LORD; The LORD is avenging and wrathful. The LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries, And He reserves wrath for His enemies. 3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, And the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.... 5 Mountains quake because of Him, And the hills dissolve; Indeed the earth is upheaved by His presence, The world and all the inhabitants in it. 6 Who can stand before His indignation? Who can endure the burning of His anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, And the rocks are broken up by Him.
Isaiah 13:9-13 9 Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, Cruel, with fury and burning anger, To make the land a desolation; And He will exterminate its sinners from it. 10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises, And the moon will not shed its light. 11 Thus I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud, And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless... 13 Therefore I shall make the heavens tremble, And the earth will be shaken from its place At the fury of the LORD of hosts in the day of His burning anger.”
1 Samuel 2:10 10 "Those who contend with the LORD will be shattered; Against them He will thunder in the heavens, The LORD will judge the ends of the earth;
Zephaniah 1:17-18 17 And I will bring distress on men, So that they will walk like the blind, Because they have sinned against the LORD; And their blood will be poured out like dust, And their flesh like dung. 18 Neither their silver nor their gold Will be able to deliver them On the day of the LORD's wrath; And all the earth will be devoured In the fire of His jealousy, For He will make a complete end, Indeed a terrifying one, Of all the inhabitants of the earth.
Hebrews 10:30 says: “We know Him how said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
We are working our way through the book of Romans and the opening chapters are all about wrath.
· Rom 1:16 – because 1:18
· 1:24 God gave them up as a judgment,1:26,1:28
· 1:32 those who practice such things deserve to die
· 2:1-2 You have no excuse – God’s judgment rightly falls on those who practice such things and you practice them
· 2:6 He will render to each one according to our works – and our works are insufficient
· 2:12 – we will all perish – word used to refer to coming to ruin, destruction and death
· 2:16 on the day God judges the secrets of men, their conscience will bear witness against those who did not formally have the law, but sinned against the law on their hearts and are guilty
· 3:5-6 If our sin serves to show God’s righteousness, is He right to judge us, of course, He is the only rightful judge of the world.
These opening chapters of Romans are not just about universal sin and guilty before God. They are about the wrath and judgment that our sin deserves and will certainly get.
If we understand even a fraction of the holiness and glory and power of God almighty, then the verse we ended with last week should be a terrifying one.
3:20 – by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight.
• We have all sinned – the Law highlights that sin and condemns us as guilty before an all holy God.
• Nothing we can do will ever justify us in God's sight... no human being will be justied in his sight by anything they do...
• So we stand condemned as lawbreakers, convicted criminals, God's enemies and therefore the rightful objects of God's wrath.
That is what makes the next paragraph one of the most glorious in all the Bible for those who know they are lawbreakers and who live in fear of God.
But now a righteousness from God has been manifested!
1 God's way of righteousness (3:21)
Now – with the coming of Jesus Christ, God has made manifest His way of righteousness. A way that men and women can be made right before God, they can have a right relationship with God, they can go from being His enemies to being His friends.
• Righteousness that doesn't come from man
• The Greek is emphatic here- its literally an “apart from the Law righteousness” Doesn't come from keeping the law, it is not earned through merit or gained through performance
• Its a righteousness which comes from God and given to man as a gift
• It's a righteousness which is attested to in the Law and the Prophets. In other words, although this way of righteous has now been manifest, it is not a new idea. The Old Testament reveals that it has always been God's intention to make men and women righteous before Him in this way.
This way that God has made for men to be made right in His sight is also called “justification.”
Ironic that we give gifts at Christmas time supposedly to remember the gift God gave us in the incarnation. But the greatest gift we have ever recevieved is undoubtedly our justification.
Justification is the good news of the gospel, that God has made a way for sinners to escape His wrath and be reconciled to Him.
Read Rom 3:22-30
This passage explains and describes this gift. There are 6 characteristics we will highlight this morning
1. Justification is a personal gift (22)
Who is this gift given to?
All who believe. Not all - God did not provide justification for all.
He probably could have, but He didn't.
There are many, who because of their sin are God's enemies and will remain under His wrath for all eternity.
But to some, God gives the gift of justification. In other words, there is something personal about this gift. It's not a universal, indiscriminate gift, but a gift specifically given and personally received by faith. Both the giving and receiving is a personal, one-on-one interchange between God and the individual concerned.
There is no distinction:
Paul is going back to this Jew/ Gentile issue here. He went to great lengths to show that both Jew and Gentile will be judged unrighteous by the same standard.
So here emphasizes that they will both be made righteous by the same gift – there is no distinction.
Justification is given to all who believe, Jew and Gentile alike, slave and free alike, man and woman alike, young and old alike. There are no favourites and no exceptions. ALL who believe.
Application: Salvation is personal for God – God personally saving you, reconciling you, justifying you.
1) Its a personal gift 2)
2. Justification is an undeserved gift (23-24)
Justification is a gift we do not deserve.
a) we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Word used for sin here has the idea of missing the mark, not hitting the bulls-eye which is the standard of God' perfection.
Fallen short of God's glory. Uses present tense verb – to emphasize that this is not just something we did wrong – this is something that describes us, or characterizes us as human beings.
This is our permanent and abiding condition – we have failed to reflect the glory of God. We are not what God created us to be – His image bearers.
So its obvious by our actions and our very nature that we don't deserve this gift.
b) What follows the word “justified” is the Greek Word “dorean” which means “justified as a gift” without payment, gratis. The word also means “without reason or cause, undeservedly.” It means that there is no grounds, or reason or cause in us for this gift. As some translations put it “freely” given. This was not earned, or merited in any way. This gift was freely given, no strings attached, no hidden Agenda's, no catch.
c) Just to be clear we don’t miss the point, we are told it is by “grace”. Its a free gift by His grace. Grace by definition is an unearned, unmerited gift.
3 different ways we are emphatically told that there was absolutely no reason why we should ever have been given this gift!
1) personal gift
2) Undeserved, unearned, unmerited gift
3. Justification is a priceless gift (24-25)
You will notice that I didn't say Justification is a free gift. It's freely given, its unmerited, but it is by no means free!
If I give you a Lambougini countache as a gift – that Lambougini is not free is it... its stolen (I could never afford a Lambougini)
Let's say it wasn't stolen. That means I had to lay out a whole lot of money in order to give you such a costly gift, didn't I
How does the gift of justification come? – comes through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood.
The word “redemption” means, to effect release by the payment of a price.
Taken from the slave market where in order for a slave to go free someone had to pay the price necessary to secure his or her freedom.
In order for God to offer us the gift of justification, a great price had to be paid to effect our release – it cost the blood of Christ.
That's a shorthand way of referring to the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross.
Who was willing to pay such a great price? Not just Jesus Christ – note here, God put Him forward as an atoning sacrifice, a propitiation
Because God is just, infinitely just, perfectly just. Because God is by His very nature just – He cannot think or act in anyway contrary to His inner sense of justice. God is rightly outraged at sin.
If you were to see someone stealing your car, or defacing your property, or abusing your daughter or hitting your wife – would it not trigger a righteous outrage in you? An almost uncontrollable urge to stop it. When someone completely disregards the rules of the road and flies through a red robot and nearly wipes you out – isn’t the ensuing road rage you display, at some level justified?
Sin is very personal for God, it’s an offence against His very nature. Sin tarnishes God’s reputation, dishonours His name, defaces His property, undermines His authority, denies His goodness, questions His wisdom, and detracts from His glory. Sin is puny little creatures showing God the middle finger and daring Him to do anything about it…
Sin is an outrage to God and He rises up against it in finite wrath.
So God puts forward Jesus Christ, His own beloved son, as the means for satisfying His wrath.
Remember that is what word “propitition” or “atoning sacrifice” means – that which turns someones disfavour into favour. Someones fury into friendship.
God puts Christ forward as a propitiation – means He poured out His His wrath on Jesus Christ so that He could pour out His love on you.
So the highest price is paid. There is no greater price God the Father could have paid then to make His own precious Son the object of His wrath. There is no greater price Jesus Christ cold have paid then to become sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
Peter reminds us that you “were not randsomed from the futile ways inherited from you forefathers, with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a Lamb without blemish or spot.” (1 Pet 1:18)
Application: justification is one of the most tangible, objective means of demonstrating the love of God toward those who believe.
Do you ever wonder whether God loves you, whether He really, really loves you? Look no further than what He did to justify you – the price He was willing to pay to ransome your freedom, to avert His wrath…
1) personal 2) unmerited 3) costly, priceless
4. Justification is a God exalting gift (25-26)
God’s way of righteousness shows that God is both just and justifier. He is both righteous and merciful, all good and all loving.
Sufficient to point out that Justification exalts God, it vindicates His character, it demonstrates His righteousness.
a) In the past, God didn't always treat sin as it deserved. The flood is what sinners deserve, complete annihalation. God should have destroyed us long ago – but He didn't. Not because He was overlooking sin, or ignoring sin or going soft on sin. He was simply putting up with it, being patient with sinners until the time He would provide justification.
b) Justification upholds righteousness or justice of God because in Christ God treats sin as sin deserves – He punishes Christ with the full punishement, so that He can offer us a full pardon. It allows God to be both just in punishing sin and yet still be the justifer of those who have faith in Christ.
God is not righteous one moment and gracious the next. He is not angry one moment and then forgiving the next. God is always all these things. His nature doesn’t change. When God is passing over sin and demonstrating grace – there is in His mind, a basis for His grace and His justice. Both His wrath and His mercy are right. We don’t serve a capricious God.
Application: security – God’s is always the same and His character is upheld.
Justificatin is a God exalting gift because it demonstrates both the righteousness and the love of God.
• Righeousness in punishing sin as sin deserves
• Love in choosing to punish sin in Christ rather than in sinners like you and I...
5. Justification is a humbling gift (27-30)
So justification is a humbling gift as far as man is concerned.
a) It's humbling that my God would do that for me...
b) It's humbling because it calls me to rely completely on what God has done and not on anything I have or could ever do.
Boasting is excluded because of the principle of faith.
Justication by works = means I seem to make myself right with God by what I do. I seem to prove to God that I am good enough, that I am worthy of His approval. It is seeking to find merit in self.
Justification by faith = is just the opposite. It's believing that I am so completely sinful that I could never gain approval in the sight of a holy God. It is depending on the merits of Christ, someone else rather than self- merit.
As one writer puts it: “Faith is self-renouncing, works are self-congratulatory. Faith looks to what God does. Works have respect to what we are.” Murray pg 123
Only one God and therefore only one way that anyone, Jew or Gentile, can be made right with that one God.
• Yahweh who justifies Jews by circumcision
• Allah who justifies Muslims by their way
• Vishni who justifies Hindu's by their way
• Only one God and only one way the men of every time, place, culture and language will ever be made right in His sight.
6. Justification is a lawful gift (31)
Pay attention for these last few minutes because this is important.
First 3 chapter of Romans revolves around this problem of Divine Law:
• God has given the Law, God will judge as all according to the standard of His Law, we have broken the Law and humanly speaking therefore have no hope of ever being right in God's sight.
• Justification is God's way of righteousness, God's way of giving us a right standing before Him. How does God's way of righteousness then relate to this issue of God's Law?
Do we then nullify the Law by this faith? Do we make it useless, meaningless, pointless?
Does the Law have absolutely no value in establishing a right relationship to God?
No, not at all – we establish the law. The law is fufilled in us.
This is key – so often we think of justification as forgiveness. Our sin is forgiven, and it is. But justification is more than that.
See the Law is not only about prohibitions – what we must not do. It is equally about what we must do.
The preface to the 10 commandments (Deut 6) = you shall love the Lord you God with all your heart, soul mind and strength.
1. 4 Keep Sabbath.
2. 5 Honour you father and mother.
3. Many other commands which tell us what we should do, not just what we must not do toward God and man.
Fulfilling, upholding the Law requires more than avoiding wrong, it includes doing right. If we were to fulfill the Law perfectly, we would not only avoid doing wrong, we would do right. We would not only avoid God's disfavour we would earn His favour, we would gain possitive merit.
Through faith in Christ – we fufill the LAW – not by virtue of our righteous works, but by His perfect righteousness.
Justification has to do with our legal standing before God. Since God will judge us all according to the standard of the Law, Justification must give us a right standing according to standards of God's Law. No only are we free of guilt for our wrongdoing because they were punished in Christ – but we are possively credited with Christ's righteousness.
God regarded Christ as if He had committed our sin and then He treated Him accordingly. He regards us as if we had peformed Christ's righteous works and then He treats us accodingly.
Justification - Just as if I have never sinned (not accurate), only half the story
Justification - Just as if I had perfectly kept the Law.
Is there anyone who has ever lived, who has lived a life more righteous and holy and pleasing to God than Jesus Christ?... In justification God recons the righteous life of Christ to your account and then He treats you accordingly.
Can you see how utterly ridiculous it is then, to try to win God's approval through anything we do. We insult God and Christ when we try substitute His perfect works with our pathetic attempts....
· Personal for God, personally intended for me.
· Umerited – thus can’t forfeit
· Priceless – God willing to pay that price
· God exalting – satisfies God’s character, maintains His integrity, God is always the same,
· Humbling – totally dependant upon Christ and not at all on me = security.
· Lawful – fulfills the law.
SECURE IN OUR RIGHT STANDING WITH GOD – SO HE DID IT ALL!
I close with Luther's own account of his conversion: “ I had indeed been captivated with an extraordinary ardor for understanding Paul in the Epistle to the Romans. But up till then it was ...a single word in Chapter 1, "In it the righteousness of God is revealed," that had stood in my way. For I hated that word "righteousness of God," which, according to the use and custom of all the teachers, I had been taught to understand philosophically as ...the formal or active righteousness, as they call it, with which God is righteous and punishes the unrighteous sinner.
Though I lived as a monk without reproach, I felt that I was a sinner before God with an extremely disturbed conscience. I could not believe that he was placated by my satisfaction. I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners, and secretly, if not blasphemously, certainly murmuring greatly, I was angry with God, and said, "As if, indeed, it is not enough, that miserable sinners, eternally lost through original sin, are crushed by every kind of calamity by the law of the decalogue, without having God add pain to pain by the gospel and also by the gospel threatening us with his righteousness and wrath!"
Thus I raged with a fierce and troubled conscience. Nevertheless, I beat importunately upon Paul at that place, most ardently desiring to know what St. Paul meant.
At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, "In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, 'He who through faith is righteous shall live.'" There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, "He who through faith is righteous shall live." Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. ...
And I extolled my sweetest word with a love as great as the hatred with which I had before hated the word "righteousness of God." Thus that place in Paul was for me truly the gate to paradise.