Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Principles of Justifying Faith



SERMON            GMT14-014

SETTING:          North Kelso Baptist Church

SERVICE:          Sunday AM

SUBTITLE:        The Principles of Justifying Faith

SCRIPTURE:     Romans 4:23-25

SUBJ:                  Christians believe in God

SUMMARY:       Faith is the critical element of Christianity

SCHEME:           That the members of NKBC rest in the evidence of God’s satisfaction by the exercise of faith
         
1A     Justifying Faith believes in God’s Promise                  (Vs. 23)

          1B     The Origination of God’s Promise
          2B     The Clarification of God’s Promise
          3B     The Definition of God’s Promise

2A     Justifying Faith believes in God’s Person          (Vs. 24a)

3A     Justifying Faith believes in God’s Plan              (Vs. 24b)


4A     Justifying Faith believes in God’s Purpose                  (Vs. 25)

1B     God’s Purpose Included a Revelation
          2B     God’s Purpose Included a Rejection
          3B     God’s Purpose Included a Resurrection
 

The Principles of Justifying Faith
Romans 4:23-25

INTRODUCTION

A.   What is Justification? (Albert Barnes)

What is justification? It is the declared purpose of God to regard and treat those sinners who believe in Jesus Christ as if they had not sinned, on the ground of the merits of the Savior. It is not mere pardon. Pardon is a free forgiveness of past offenses. It has reference to those sins as forgiven and blotted out. Justification has respect to the law, and to God's future dealings with the sinner. It is an act by which God determines to treat him hereafter as righteous--as if he had not sinned. The basis for this is the merit of the Lord Jesus Christ, merit that we can plead as if it were our own. He has taken our place and died in our stead; He has met the descending stroke of justice, which would have fallen on our own heads if He had not interposed.

B.   Martin Luther wrote, “In these verses the whole of Christianity is comprehended.”

Paul is winding up his discussion on justification by faith. He writes, “It was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him; but also for us…”

C.   The knowledge that justification is by or through faith is of absolute importance to the believer.

THEME:  Christians believe in God

This is a good reminder for us all that faith in God is the critical element of Christianity.

PROPOSTION:  This morning I propose to you that if you believe in God as Abraham believed in God you are justified before God.

Interrogative SentenceWhat principles or truths does a person need to believe in order to be justified before God?

Transitional SentenceThis passage suggests four (4) principles that must be believed by faith in order to be justified before God.

·        Justifying Faith believes in God’s Promise
·        Justifying Faith believes in God’s Person
·        Justifying Faith believes in God’s Plan
·         Justifying Faith believes in God’s Purpose

[Let’s begin our study today of the principles of justifying faith by examining the first principle that needs to be believed. Justifying faith…

1A     JUSTIFYING FATIH BELIEVES IN GOD’S PROMISE (VS. 23-24a) 

          I want you notice first of all…

          1B     The Origination of God’s Promise

Paul spent a great deal of time in chapters three and four analyzing faith. Paul went into great detail describing and defining faith.

When you look close you will see that Paul wasn’t interested in faith in the abstract or in generalities. Paul was specifically interested in making his case for “justification by faith.”

In doing so, he used Abraham as an illustration to demonstrate what faith was, and to show us that Abraham was justified by faith. Paul also used Abraham to show us that Abraham’s faith was counted or actually reckoned to him for righteousness.

You remember Christ told the disciples, “…unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 5:20, NKJV)

In other words, the Scribes and the Pharisees thought that by their attitude and actions they earned or secured a righteousness that would be acceptable to God for justification and to go to heaven.

Jesus says that is enough. It is not the right type. You need a greater or really, a different righteousness than what the Scribes and Pharisees believed they had earned. 

Paul bears his heart in Romans 10:1-3. He writes, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved, for I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:1-3, NKJV)

This is very serious – this is exactly what all religions other than biblical Christianity also do. Man wants to earn forgiveness and his place in heaven by obtaining “a righteousness” through his own work or efforts rather than to submit by faith to the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

So, Paul explains what saving faith is and builds a case for justification by faith and faith alone. This is what sola fide means, faith only. No works, no efforts, no sacraments, no human contribution.

So Paul winds up his argument. But before he does he takes a minute in order to give us…

          2B     The Clarification of God’s Promise (VSS. 23-24a)

“Now, it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us.”

Basically Paul is saying I am quoting this faith of Abraham for a couple of reasons.

First – to really give you an accurate picture of Abraham’s faith. Paul is telling his readers that Abraham was justified before God by faith.

Second – he wants to tell his readers that this same justification of Abraham is the same justification for everybody who is in Christ.

Paul makes it clear that the case of Abraham is the most dramatic and outstanding example of how God chooses to provide the righteousness needed to be saved. Abraham is an example of the whole process of God regarding justification by faith. If you want to know how to be saved, or justified, study Abraham.
So, really what Paul is saying and what you need to know is that the information provided about Abraham is not limited or confined to Abraham.

This is the clarification that Paul is making here. What was true about Abraham is true of every man who has ever been, is being now, or ever will be reconciled to God and saved.

Justification by faith is the only way that God justifies man. No man will ever be justified by his own attitude or actions.

“Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh – no man - will be justified in His sight…” (Romans 3:20, NKJV)

“…being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24, NKJV)

No sacrament, no baptism, no cooperation with God, no infusion of grace, no penance, no works, no sacrifice, no act of obedience will ever provide the righteousness and justification that is required to enter into the presence of God.

So, Paul is telling the Romans that they are not to look at Abraham’s experience and conclude that this was exceptional or strange or even odd.

“…it was not written for his sake alone…but also for us…”

This clarification was written and meant for anybody who believes the same way Abraham did. If you believe that way Abraham believed you will be justified just like Abraham was justified.

Paul finished his clarification and comes back to his main theme. And that is the method or means of justification by faith alone.

Let’s move to… 

          3B     The Definition of God’s Promise

What is this faith that justifies? Truly this is the $64,000.00 question. How can a man be just with God? How do we define justifying faith?

Job asked this question centuries ago. Bildad made the statement, “…the dwelling place of the wicked will come to nothing.” Another way of saying this would be, “the house of the wicked will be destroyed.”

Job’s response to this statement was, “…how can a man be righteous before God?” Or, “…how can a person be declared innocent in the eyes of God?”

Job wanted to know and people ever since have wanted to know how they can have their sins forgiven. How can a man face God? How can a man approach God in prayer? How can a man face death without fear? How can a man think of the coming judgment without being deathly afraid?

This is what Martin Luther often said was the “crucial question of man.” This is really what Christianity is all about. How can I be square with my maker when I die and stand before him?

There is a great scene in the movie “The Green Mile.” A well liked criminal was executed in an electric chair. But an immature and cruel guard fixed it so that the execution would be drawn out and more painful. Then when the body was being wheeled away on a gurney he was messing around it and saying hateful things. Another guard grabbed this guard and said, “Leave him alone, he is square with the house now.”

What he meant was he committed a heinous crime and his punishment was to die and he was killed. That makes him square or even.

Well that is only the human mind rejecting scripture and trying to find a way to answer the age old question, how can a man be just before God? It is not paying for your crime nor dying in an electric chair. 

Justifying faith believes the promise of God. The promise of God originates in this lengthy discussion that Paul has written in these first four chapters of his letter to the Romans. The promise of God is clarified by Paul to ensure that no one thinks this promise is for Abraham alone. The promise of God is defined specifically to demonstrate that justification is by faith and faith alone.

Our theme is Christians believe God.

This is a good reminder for us all that faith in God is the critical element of Christianity.

Application:  The Jews sought a righteousness by their own efforts. They did not realize that keeping the law or by personal effort would they ever be justified. Do not make the same mistake and attempt to earn your justification with God and don’t think Abraham was a rare case. If you believe like he believed you are justified.

The second principle suggested by our passage is…

2A     Justifying Faith Believes God’s Person     (VS. 24a)

          What then, is this faith that justifies?

          It is a faith that believes God

“It was not written for his sake alone it shall be imputed to us who believes in him…”

This faith that Paul is talking about is a faith in God. I know that we often are told by people who are not believers that they “believe in God.” Our response, which is a correct response is usually, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble!” (James 2:19, NKJV)

And that is true. There is more than just believing God exists. What means is that this is a faith that believes God’s word. It is a belief that is concerned about the person of God.

It is not a simple acknowledgment of God, a “hey, I know you exist, and you are there.” It is a belief in Him that evokes a response. That response is faith and obedience to Him as God. There is a difference.

Everything starts with God, including salvation. It was God who elected those who would be saved to be saved. Salvation starts with God. God saves through Jesus Christ. All the work that Jesus did by his death and resurrection was to bring us to God, it was designed to reconcile us with God. God is the starting point for faith. God is the beginning of Christianity.

Christianity and salvation does not begin with you or even with Jesus Christ. It begins with God the Father.

We are told to “believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.”

Justifying faith is a faith that believes God. The starting point is believing God.

Our theme is Christians believe God.

This is a good reminder for us all that faith in God is the critical element of Christianity.

Application: Hebrews 11:6 says, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." We must diligently seek to know all that God wants us to do and then gladly do it.

So, justifying faith believes in the God’s Promises and it also believes in God’s Person or Nature. Thirdly….

3A     Justifying faith believes God’s Plan (Vs. 24b)

          “…who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.”

          Now Paul… Refines God’s Plan

Paul wants to narrow down this matter of belief. This belief in God is a belief in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.         

Paul narrows this down or refines it to a specific plan of God. Why?

Paul is concerned about the plan in which a man is reconciled to God. Look      at what he says,

“…it shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.”

Justifying faith is a belief in God, but not just a simple belief in God or in God.

What does Paul believe that God has said in the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

This is a very crucial question!

Our theme is Christians believe God.

This is a good reminder for us all that faith in God is the critical element of Christianity.

So, justifying faith believes in the God’s Promises and it also believes in God’s Person or Nature, and it believes in God’s Plan. Fourth

4A     Justifying Faith Believes in God’s Purpose

It seems to me that in this phrase Paul says three (3) very important things:

1B     God’s Purpose Included a Realization

First thing he says – Jesus is Lord

Look carefully at his wording. “…who believe in him who raised up Jesus our Lord…”

Not Jesus our Savior but Jesus our Lord. Paul is asserting that the resurrection is a proclamation of the indisputable fact that Jesus is Lord!

Jesus is Master – Lord – ruler over all things. His resurrection was the stamp of God on his divine authority.
The resurrection is the final proof, if any proof is needed, that Jesus is the Son of God, and that he is the Lord of Lords.

So, what or who is a Christian? What is true of the man who has been reconciled to God and justified by faith? He is a man who believes that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God. He believes what God has said in the word about the person of His son.

You cannot be a Christian unless you are clear about the person of Jesus Christ. You must believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord of Glory, that He is the eternal son of God and that he is one in substance with God the Father.

It is God, through His HS through the Word of God that reveals this truth to you.

So, justifying faith believes in the plan of God. The first thing you must believe is that Jesus is Lord.

[The second thing Paul says is…]

2B     God’s Purpose Included a Rejection

 “…delivered up because of our offenses...”

This is quite a statement! I think we need to look at it very carefully!

First of all notice – that Paul did not simply say “Jesus died.” It is a known fact that Jesus did die. But this is not the way a Christian who believes that Christ died states this fact.

The question is “What do you belief about the death of Jesus?”

                    The bible says he, Jesus was “delivered up.”

Quite a word delivered. It is the same word that you find in 8:32, “He spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all.”

                    First of all, it was God who delivered Jesus up.

                    What does it mean he was delivered up?

The word delivered is the Greek word paradidwmi It was used of casting into prison and giving someone up to justice. It gives us the idea of the judicial act of God giving up His Son to the justice that required satisfaction for sin and to pay the penalty that was due for sin, which was death.

God handed Jesus over to justice so that believers could experience the forgiveness of their sins. The promises of redemption and deliverance made by God could only be fulfilled or accomplished by the suffering and death of His son. God handed Jesus over to death.

This is what makes much of today such a farce and a day of foolishness. A huge number of people are “celebrating” or commemorating today as a day that they recognize that a real and historical person named Jesus died on a cross and was raised from the dead after spending three (3) days in the grace.

But they don’t believe the right thing about the death of Jesus Christ:

Why was Jesus delivered up or handed over to death by God? It was for or because of our offenses. Because of our sin!

This word offense is the Greek word paraptwma. It means “to fall beside or near something” or “to deviate from the truth and uprightness” – a sin.

God handed Jesus over to death for a specific reason. For our sins. Not for any general reason.

A true Christian believes Jesus was handed over to death by God because of their specific sins. Many who “celebrate” today do not believe and would not believe that Jesus was killed because of or for them.

So they make it a farce by thinking that the Romans were upset at Jesus or the Jews, more specifically the Pharisees and religious leaders plotted to have Jesus put to death, but because he was the good guy with the white hat God raised him from the dead and now we celebrate this resurrection of Jesus.

But get specific with them and say God handed Jesus over to death and to justice because of their sins and see what they believe.

So, justifying faith believes in the plan of God. The first thing you must believe is that Jesus is Lord. The second thing that you must believe is that God handed Jesus over to death for your sins. Paul says that there is a third thing you must believe:

3B     God’s Purpose Included a Resurrection

                   “…and was raised again for our justification.”

                             What does Paul mean?

                   In chapter five and verse nine (5:9) it says:

“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”

Paul is not contradicting himself! You cannot separate the death and the resurrection.

Why did God raise Jesus from the dead? Jesus’ death satisfied God’s holy wrath and anger. The penalty for sin had been paid.

Why raise him from the dead? The resurrection of Jesus was the loud proclamation by God of the fact that God was fully and completely satisfied with what Jesus did on the cross.

The last thing Jesus said while on the cross was, “It is finished!”

Jesus knew that all that was necessary to satisfied God was finished. The people watching the crucifixion heard him say it was finished.

But Jesus died. He was buried. He was lying in a grave. The people thought he was gone, it was over, his mission cut short by his death. Even his family, friends, and disciples thought it was over.

Listen to these pitiful, defeated, words, “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel...” (Luke 24:21)

God raised Jesus from the dead! God was satisfied! His wrath was appeased! His law was fulfilled.

If Jesus had not risen from the dead we might have reason to think that God was not satisfied with the death of Jesus. We might have thought our sins weren’t fully forgiven.

But he was raised from the dead. Jesus completed the work.

God declares believers just – or declares us to be righteous. We are declared to have the righteousness required by God to enter into the kingdom of God, to enter into heaven and to enter into the presence of God.

Justification is a declaration by God about our standing based on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

You cannot be a Christian without believing that God physically raised Jesus from the dead.

Believers are justified by the fact that the debt, the penalty for their sin has been paid for, that God is appeased and no longer angry. The proof for this declaration is found in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

This is the statement that is made by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. This is what we as true believers celebrate every day of the week, not once a year. The resurrection proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Son of God that Jesus died, and had to die in order to make atonement for our sins; that Jesus has risen from the dead and has taken His rightful seat at the right hand of God the Father in glory!

When God raised Jesus physically from the dead this was the statement he made!

So a believer in order to have justifying faith must stop trying to earn, purchase, deserve, warrant or merit his salvation. He must stop all works. He must belief that and rest in the fact that Jesus was handed over to death and justice and that God raised Him from the dead in order to be a true Christian.

A true Christian does not try to justify himself by penance, sacrament, or works.

How do you know if you have justifying faith? How do you know if you are a true or real Christian?

·        You must believe that Jesus is Lord of and over all things &you

·        You must believe that God handed Jesus over to death for your sins

·        You must believe that God physically raised Jesus from the dead

Our theme is Christians believe God.

This is a good reminder for us all that faith in God is the critical element of Christianity.

[What do you say we wrap this up?]

CONCLUSION

Bold shall I stand in thy great day;
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully through Thee absolved I am
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.
(Zinzendorf)

The terrors of law and of God
With me can have nothing to do;
My Savior’s obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view.
(Toplady)

Exhortation:  I exhort you this morning to believe that Jesus is Lord, that God handed Jesus over to death and justice for your sins, and that God physically raised Jesus from the dead. 

Paul wrote in Romans 8:31-34 

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, who shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who makes intercession for us.”


Let’s pray! J

2 comments:

KC Bob said...

Hope your Easter morning service is/was joyous Gregg.

Welcome to my world of verse. said...

A special Holy Day for you Gregg hope your service was special.

Yvonne.