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Saved by faith alone web

  1. 1. SAVED BYFAITH ALONE Understandingthe doctrine of justification by faith and how to teach it to children SAM DOHERTY
  2. 2. A series of devotional manuals for children’s workers “The Problems of a Children’s Worker - and God’s Solution” “Obedience to the Heavenly Vision” “Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership” “50 Years and Still Learning” “Salvation by Faith Alone” “Truths for Teachers” “God’s Word for God’s Workers Vol 1” “God’s Word for God’s Workers Vol 2” Electronic Edition Published October 2011 All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Published by Child Evangelism Fellowship ® Inc. Specialized Book Ministry Assisting Children’s Evangelists Worldwide P O Box 308, Lisburn, Co. Antrim BT28 2YS, Northern Ireland, UK © October 2001
  3. 3. Table of ContentsForeword ................................................................................................................ vGeneral Introduction................................................................................viiSection 1: Justification of Faith ......................................................................... 1 The Hinge of Child Evangelism Chapter 1 Guilty before God ................................................................ 8 The Need For Justification Chapter 2 Good Works Cannot Save .................................................. 1 3 Human Errors About Justification Chapter 3 Possible or Impossible? ....................................................... 1 7 Two Questions About Justification Chapter 4 Forgiven and Righteous ..................................................... 2 0 The Meaning Of Justification Chapter 5 Just and the Justifier ........................................................... 3 2 The Righteousness Of God Chapter 6 Salvation is of the Lord ...................................................... 4 0 The Source Of Justification Chapter 7 Saved by Grace Alone ........................................................ 4 5 The Reason For Justification Chapter 8 Wounded for Me ................................................................. 5 1 The Price Of Justification Chapter 9 Christ is Risen Indeed! ....................................................... 5 6 The Proof Of Justification Chapter 10 Forsaking All I Trust Him .................................................... 6 0 The Condition Of Justification Chapter 11 Faith the Root, Works the Fruit ......................................... 6 6 The Evidence Of Justification Chapter 12 Showers of Blessing ............................................................ 7 3 The Results Of Justification Chapter 13 Safe and Secure .................................................................. 79 The Permanence Of Justification
  4. 4. Chapter 14 Don’t Forget the Children ................................................. 8 6 TheTeaching Of Justification By Faith To ChildrenSection 2: Reaching Children with a Liberal Protestant Background 109 Chapter 1 Begin with the Background ............................................. 1 1 6 What Is Liberal Protestantism? Chapter 2 Decisions are Needed ..................................................... 124 How Should We React To Liberal Protestantism? Chapter 3 Consider the Children ...................................................... 1 2 9 How Does Liberal Protestantism Affect The Children? Chapter 4 Consider the Scriptures .................................................... 1 3 3 What Does The Bible Teach About Children? Chapter 5 Consider your Ministry .................................................. 143 How Can We Help These Children? Chapter 6 Consider your Message .................................................. 148 What Should We Teach These Children? Chapter 7 Salvation by Faith Alone ............................................... 150 What Must They Do To Be Saved? Chapter 8 Repent and be Baptised .................................................. 156 Are They Saved Through Baptism? Chapter 9 The Family of God .......................................................... 165 Is God The Father Of Every One? Chapter 10 The Legacy of Christian Parents ................................... 169 If Their Parents Are Believers, Are They Automatically Believers? Chapter 11 The Truth of God ............................................................. 174 Is The Bible Really The Inspired Word Of God? Chapter 12 The Person of Christ ....................................................... 179 Was Jesus Christ Truly And Completely God? Chapter 13 The Origin of Man .......................................................... 183 Are We The Product Or Result Of Evolution? Chapter 14 The Next Step ................................................................... 194 What Is Our Response?
  5. 5. Saved by Faith Alone v FOREWORD We live in an age that rightly encourages the youngest child to have aninquiring mind and to ask questions about everything and anything.Sometimes, however, it is forgotten that one of the tasks of parents andteachers, in seeking to fulfil their God-given function, is to encourage theasking of the right questions. Of all the questions that can be asked today, concerning life in thisworld and the problems we encounter, there is no more important,fundamental question which any boy or girl can ever ask than this – “Howcan a sinful human being, like me, find acceptance and favour with a holyGod?” This is incomparably the greatest and the most important matterthan can ever face any of us, while we are in this world. And the heart ofthe Gospel of Christ, is God’s answer to that vital question.Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness Bold shall I stand in that great day,My beauty are, my glorious dress: For who aught to my charge shall lay?’Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed, While through Thy blood absolved I amWith joy shall I lift up my head. From sin and fear, from guilt and shame. In the natural course of life in this world, our children are going topass through many trials, temptations, pressures and hardships. They aregoing to experience guilt, failure, disappointment and loss, along with manyjoys and pleasures. To anyone who wants to see children enjoying a rich,vital relationship to God, and persevering to the end, through all the stressesand disappointments that life will throw at them, I would say two things.First, grasp and understand this glorious doctrine of justification by faithalone, yourself; for when you really do grasp it, the exquisite joy, comfort,confidence and assurance it gives you, will compel you, secondly, to useevery means at your disposal to explain it to, and share it with, othersaround you. This book has been written to help you to do those two things. It was Thomas Watson who observed, “An error about justification isdangerous, like a defect in a foundation. Justification by Christ is a springof the water of life. To have the poison of corrupt doctrine cast into thisspring is damnable.” If we give ourselves to understanding and applyingthis doctrine, then the teaching of our children will have the quality of
  6. 6. vi Forewordeternity in it—it will be gold, silver and precious stones, not wood, hay andstraw. The author’s desire in writing this book is to see many children goingthrough life, ‘strong in the Lord and in the power of His might’, enjoyingthe blessed assurance that, ‘Jesus has lived and died for me’. May theLord our God, by the mighty working of His Holy Spirit, be pleased to useit to that end and purpose. Rev. John Keefe Minister of Sloan Street Presbyterian Church Lisburn, Northern Ireland
  7. 7. Saved by Faith Alone vii GENERAL INTRODUCTION This book is the latest in my series to help children’s workers worldwidein their lives and in their ministries. The other books which have beenpublished are listed at the beginning of this book; and if you have not receivedany of them, please let us know which of them would be a help to you andwhy, and we will send you whatever you don’t have. This book has two sections which are, as you will see, closely related. • The first section has as its theme “Justification By Faith”. This could well be the most important doctrine of the Christian faith. It is certainly the key doctrine as far as the Gospel message is concerned. It is therefore essential that everyone who evangelizes children should understand this doctrine and its many aspects, and also be able to teach it to the children. I trust that this first section of the book will accomplish both of these purposes. • There are many children who are growing up in, and are influenced by, Protestant churches which are called liberal or modernist. These are Protestant churches which have moved away from the historic doctrines of the Christian faith; and many children are influenced by their teaching in churches, Sunday Schools and religious instruction classes in schools. We need to know how to evangelize these children; and we also need to understand their background and what they have been taught. One of the main problems in these churches – indeed it could well be the main one – is that they no longer believe in, and teach, the biblical doctrine of justification through grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone. It is therefore appropriate that these two sections should be published together as one book. I trust that both sections of this book will be a help to you in yourpersonal life, and in your ministry to the boys and girls, especially to thosewho do not understand the doctrine of justification by faith. I would like to express my appreciation to Rev. John Keefe for writingthe foreword to this book. I had the privilege of being one of John’s schoolteachers when he was in his teens, and appreciated his Christian witnessin the school where I taught. He was also a help to me in my ministry tothe other pupils. I was greatly encouraged to learn that God had called him
  8. 8. viii Introductioninto full-time Christian ministry, and it has been a joy to see how God hasblessed him and used him in that ministry down through the years.
  9. 9. Saved by Faith Alone 1 Section 1: Justification by Faith“The Hinge of Child Evangelism”
  10. 10. 2 Section 1 — Chapter 1
  11. 11. Saved by Faith Alone 3 Table of ContentsSection 1: Justification by Faith ............................................................ 1 The Hinge Of Child EvangelismIntroduction .............................................................................................. 6Chapter 1 Guilty before God ............................................................. 8 The Need For JustificationRomans Chapter 1 v1–17 ................................................................................... 8Romans Chapter 1 v18—3 v20 ......................................................................... 9Chapter 2 Good Works Cannot Save ..........................................13 Human Errors About JustificationPaul’s Teaching in Romans..................................................................13Paul’s Teaching in Galatians...............................................................14Summary..........................................................................................14Chapter 3 Possible or Impossible................................................17 Two Questions About JustificationHow Can a Sinner Be Justified Before God?.........................................17How Can a Holy God Justify Sinners?..................................................17Chapter 4 Forgiven and Righteous..............................................20 The Meaning Of JustificationA Definition of Justification................................................................20Justification Results, First of All, in Forgiveness.....................................21Justification Results, Secondly, in Righteousness....................................24Justification is Instantaneous................................................................28Chapter 5 Just and the Justifier...................................................32 The Righteousness Of GodThe Righteousness Of God...................................................................32The Righteousness of Jesus Christ........................................................33Paul’s Teaching about the Righteousness of Christ.................................34The Meaning of Imputation................................................................36Only Two Kinds of Righteousness........................................................38Chapter 6 Salvation is of the Lord..............................................40 The Source Of Justification
  12. 12. 4 Section 1 — Chapter 1Justification Does Not Come from Man...............................................40Justification Comes Only from God.....................................................43Chapter 7 Saved by Grace Alone................................................45 The Reason For JustificationJustification is by Grace Alone...........................................................45Answers to Difficult Questions............................................................48Chapter 8 Wounded for Me ......................................................51 The Price Of JustificationA Look at Romans.............................................................................51A Look at 2 Corinthians.....................................................................52A Look at Galatians..........................................................................53Summary..........................................................................................54Chapter 9 Christ is Risen Indeed! ..............................................56 The Proof Of JustificationThe Resurrection Proves Our Justification...............................................56The Final Sign for Sceptics.................................................................58Chapter 10 Forsaking All I Trust Him............................................60 The Condition Of JustificationThe Sinner is Justified by Faith............................................................60The Meaning of Faith.........................................................................60A Faith which Fails and Falls Short .....................................................61Justification by Faith was the Key Doctrine of the Reformation .............62Justification by Faith is a Key Biblical Doctrine....................................62Chapter 11 Faith, the Root, Works the Fruit.................................66 The Evidence Of JustificationJustification and Regeneration Occur Together......................................66Justification is Followed by Sanctification............................................67A Grave Mistake...............................................................................68The Need for Self-examination...........................................................68Two Kinds of Righteousness................................................................69Justification and Works .....................................................................69Carnality and the Christian ................................................................70Teach the Children............................................................................71Chapter 12 Showers of Belssing ...................................................73 The Results Of JustificationNo Condemnation.............................................................................73Peace with God................................................................................74
  13. 13. Saved by Faith Alone 5Access to God..................................................................................75Eternal Life and Sure Glorification......................................................75Salvation from God’s Wrath................................................................76Joy...................................................................................................76God’s Sons and Heirs..........................................................................77Dedicated Service............................................................................77Chapter 13 Safe and Secure..........................................................79 The Permanence Of JustificationIs Everyone Who Claims to Be Justified Truly Justified?...........................79Can a Person Who Has Truly Been Justified Lose His Salvation? If So, How?.............................................................81Can a Justified Person Backslide and Go Back Into the World?...............83If a Believer Backslides What Happens to Him?..................................84Chapter 14 Don’t Forget the Children..........................................86 The Teaching Of Justification By Faith To ChildrenUnderstand and Explain What the Word Means...................................86Teach Justification through Bible Lessons.............................................87Teach Justification through a Flashcard Lesson.....................................89Teach Justification through the Explanation, Repetition and Learning of Bible Verses ..........................................................90Teach Justification through the Use of Illustrations................................92Teach Justification through the Use of the Wordless Book ..............................................................................98Teach Justification through a Simple Visual..........................................99Teach Justification through Stories from Church History.........................99Dawn Breaks over Europe..................................................................100Books for Further Reading on this Subject....................................108
  14. 14. 6 Section 1 — Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION John Calvin wrote: “Justification (by faith) is the main hinge on which religion turns.” I believe that it is the hinge on which our evangelism of childrenturns. Martin Luther said: “Justification (by faith) is the article (or sign) of a standing or a falling church.” I believe that the effectiveness of our ministry to children dependsupon our own understanding of the doctrine of justification by faith -and how we teach and apply this doctrine to the children. Martin Luther also said: “Justification is the chief article from which all other doctrines have flowed; the master and prince, lord, ruler and judge over all kinds of doctrine. If the article of justification is lost all Christian doctrine is lost at the same time. It alone begets, builds, preserves and defends the church of God; and without it the church of God cannot exist for one hour.” We as children’s workers should never neglect to teach this greatdoctrine to the children to whom we minister. If we neglect to do so wewill cause confusion and even harm to our children. The doctrine of justification by faith is one of the key doctrines ofthe Bible. In the New Testament the word “propitiation” is mentioned4 times; “redemption” 11 times; “reconciliation” 5 times but“justification” (and related words) 230 times. It is therefore necessary for us as children’s workers to have athorough biblical understanding of this doctrine, and its practicalconsequences, to apply this doctrine consistently to ourselves, andto give it a vital, and even a central, place in our ministry to children. We will study this doctrine under a series of headings with a chapterdevoted to each. One of these will be “The meaning of justification”.However we should, in preparation, and by means of introduction, makeseveral short, simple but necessary statements about justification byfaith.
  15. 15. Saved by Faith Alone 7 The word “justification” is a word taken from the law court. It is a legal term which declares a person to be righteous and not guilty, and which acquits him completely from the sentence or punishment which he deserves. The word “justification” is the opposite to the word“condemnation.” “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 also makes intercession for us” (Romans 8 v33, 34). The person who is justified will not, and cannot, be condemned. Justification is a statement, a declaration, a proclamation that a sinner, who is not righteous, is righteous in the sight of God. It declares him righteous, but does not of itself make him righteous. Justification is objective, not subjective. It occurs outside the person justified—and not within him. It changes his position but not his character. We will come back to each of these statements from time to timethroughout this section of the book and explain them more thoroughly. My prayer is that each of us, as children’s workers, will enter intoa new understanding of this great biblical doctrine; and that we will, atthe same time, make a new resolve and determination to teach iteffectively to our children. “For in it (the Gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1 v17).
  16. 16. 8 Section 1 — Chapter 1 Chapter 1: Guilty Before God The Need for JustificationPseen.” aul’s letter to the Romans is undoubtedly his masterpiece. Someone has described it as “the greatest display of logic the world has ever It was the only letter which Paul wrote to a church which he hadnot visited or founded. As a consequence, it covers a wide range ofessential truth and doctrine, and includes, I am sure, most of what Paulwould have preached if he had been there. The book of Romans contains the most detailed outline and studyof justification to be found in the New Testament. Paul’s letter to theGalatians is also, as we shall see later, a great additional help in theunderstanding of this doctrine. A study of the first three chapters of Romans shows us clearly whyjustification is needed—and that this is a universal need. Romans Chapter 1 v1–17 This section of the letter introduces the subject of justification andbuilds up to the key truths found in verses 14–17. Six simple statementscan be seen in these verses, all of which have obvious applications toyou and me and our ministry to children: Paul’s debt – “Both to Greeks and to barbarians” (verse 14). Paul was a debtor. He was in debt to preach Jesus Christ and His Gospel to all kinds of people. He “owed” them the Gospel. Preaching this Gospel was the means by which this debt could be discharged. Paul’s desire – “I am ready to preach the Gospel to you” (verse 15). Paul’s great desire was to preach. He was ready to preach the Gospel to everybody, in every place, at every opportunity and under every circumstance.
  17. 17. Saved by Faith Alone 9 Paul’s declaration – “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ” (verse 16). The world did not like the Gospel Paul preached and opposed Paul continually. But Paul was proud of that message and appreciated the privilege of having been called to preach it and never tried to hide or dilute his message. The dynamic (or power) of the Gospel – “It is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (verse 16b). One of the main reasons Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel and desired to preach it was because it had POWER. God used the message to save all kinds of sinners and to change lives. The design (or plan) of the Gospel – “To the Jew first and also to the Greek” (verse 16c). God wants all people to hear the wonderful Gospel. God’s plan was that it should be preached first to the Jews (and it was) but then that it should be preached to everyone of every race, colour and creed. The doctrines (or principles) of the Gospel – “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from (on the basis of) faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith” (verse 17). The righteousness of God is revealed in the Gospel. The Gospel does not only reveal that God Himself is righteous, but it also reveals that He declares us righteous through belief in the Gospel. Because of the faith we have placed in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, He puts His righteousness into our account. The one who believes is just, or justified, and that is the theme of the following chapters of Romans. Romans Chapter 1 v18- 3 v20 This section of the letter outlines clearly why justification and God’srighteousness are needed by every one of us. Everyone is a sinner. Weare sinful, unclean, dead, blind and enemies of God. Therefore weneed to be justified. We need to have our sin forgiven by a holy God.The two questions posed in Job 25 v4 are very relevant. “How then can man (a sinful man) be justified with God?” “How can he be clean (in God’s sight)?”
  18. 18. 10 Section 1 — Chapter 1 Paul proceeds in these verses to deal with man’s need of justificationin a logical and systematic way. Chapter 1 v18–1 v32 — The Heathen are GuiltyIn these verses Paul shows the need of the heathen/Gentile/non-Jewish/non-religious world. These are the people who know little or nothingabout the Bible, and who make no profession of faith in Christ. Thesewould include today’s atheists, agnostics, and non-churchgoers. Thesewould include the careless, the indifferent and those to whom God isirrelevant. They are all guilty before God Such people are ungodly and unrighteous. They deserve the wrath of God (verse 18). They can see God in creation if they wish to, and are therefore without excuse (verse 19-20). They have rejected what they could see or learn (verse 21). A number of consequences follow and result from these three facts (verses 22-32): They became fools (although they thought they were wise) (v22). They made their own gods (v23). God gave them up (v24-28). – to uncleanness (v24). – to vile affections (v26). – to a reprobate mind (v28). They engage in all kinds of unrighteousness (v29-31). They know what they are doing and enjoy it (v32). What a dark picture! But it is also a true picture of the non-religious/non-Christian world today. Chapter 2 v1–3 v8 — The Jews are Guilty These verses describe the Jews, the people of God. They were thepeople who had the Word and who were religious. They are also apicture of today’s religious but unsaved churchgoers, do-gooders andmoralists. These people are proud of what they have and what theyknow; they are proud of their background and their religious heritage.But Paul exposes the unrighteousness of the unbelieving Jew andreligious person, and explains that each of them is also guilty and also
  19. 19. Saved by Faith Alone 11needs to be justified. He judges others but does the same things himself (chapter 2 verses 1-4). He himself will be judged (verses 5-10). He is no different in God’s sight from the unsaved heathen (verses 11-16). He is proud of his so-called righteousness (verses 17-20). He is a breaker of his own principles and will therefore receive greater, not less, judgment (verses 21-2). He has many privileges (chapter 3 verse 1-2). But God judges these people also - despite their religion (verses 3-8). This picture of religious people is perhaps even darker than thatcontained in the first chapter. One of the greatest tragedies in the worldtoday is to see men and women, boys and girls, who think they areright and who think they are acceptable to God on the basis of theirown “righteousness” and their religion. These are often the mostdifficult to reach with the Gospel. Chapter 3 v9–20 — Everyone is Guilty Paul brings together what he has outlined in the two previous sectionsto conclude that “all the world is guilty before God” (3 v19). All are under sin (verse 9) None are righteous—no not one (verse 10) None seek God (verse 11) None do good (verse 12) They have sinful mouths (verse 13 & 14) They are guilty of sinful actions (verses 15 & 16) They have sinful attitudes (verses 17 v18) All the world is guilty before God (verse 19) There are no exceptions (verse 12) In this way Paul has clearly outlined man’s need for justification.Boys and girls and young people are in the same position and have thesame need. The picture is dark but it is necessary for everyone to see itand understand it. The verses which follow will show how God justifiesthe sinner. These verses, and the truths they contain, will shine, like
  20. 20. 12 Section 1 — Chapter 1diamonds, all the more brightly because they are being displayed on thedark background of the first three chapters. A Question Do you, my dear reader, understand and see clearly your position before God as a sinner who needs God’s forgiveness and salvation? It does not matter how religious you are, or how hard you try to be good, and to make yourself right with God. The first step in anyone’s salvation is to see his great need of that salvation. Have you seen your need?
  21. 21. Saved by Faith Alone 13 Chapter 2: Good Works Cannot Save Human Errors about JustificationT here are many who realise, understand and are convicted about their sinfulness as outlined in the first three chapters of Romans.Some of them also have a desire to be justified. But how? Man’s main mistake is to think that he can justify himself by hisgood works, by his religious activities and ceremonies, by Bible reading,prayer and church attendance and by trying to keep God’s commands.This is an answer which is very acceptable to sinful man because itgives him the satisfaction of being able to “save himself”, and it giveshim therefore a reason for self-congratulation. But it is wrong andcompletely unbiblical. Paul’s Teaching in Romans Before Paul goes any further in his letter to the Romans he dealsbriefly but clearly with this mistake in chapter 3 verse 20 - the versewhich immediately follows his detailed outline of man’s need and guilt. Paul has concluded in the previous verse (chapter 3v19) that allthe world is guilty before God. All the world is therefore condemnedby God because of their sin; this is the language of the law court; thisis a legal problem which needs, first and foremost, a legal solution. Paul now states clearly in chapter 3 v20 that: “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight.” The phrase “deeds of the law” means “good works”. Both phrasesdescribe attempts to keep God’s commands and to gain His favour byengaging in religious activities and observances. But Paul emphasizesthat it is a grave mistake to think that deeds of the law, the good workswhich we do, and the religious acts we perform can justify or makeright. The primary function of the law is to show the unsaved howsinful they are—and not to save them. The New Testament over and over again makes it clear thatsalvation is not possible through the keeping of the law and throughgood works.
  22. 22. 14 Section 1 — Chapter 2 Paul’s Teaching in Galatians In the book of Galatians Paul deals with the same theme and writesas follows: “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law” (Galatians 2 v16). “For if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain” (Galatians 2 v21). “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse” (Galatians 3 v10). “But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God” (Galatians 3 v11). “Therefore the law was our tutor (or school master) to bring us to Christ” (Galatians 3 v24). The NIV translation says “the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ.” Paul outlines four simple truths concerning the law in the thirdchapter of his letter to the Galatians: Those who rely on the law for salvation are under a curse (3 v10). No one is justified by the law before God (3 v11). The law does not and cannot impart righteousness or life (3 v21). The law prepares the sinner, shows him his sin and leads him to Christ (3 v24). Summary The Bible teaches over and over again that a man is not justifiedby the works of the law. What, then, does the Bible teach about the law? The law is good (Romans 7 v12, 14, 16; 1 Timothy 1 v8). But the law has no saving effect whatsoever (Romans 3 v20). The law tells you what you should do but it does not enable you to do it. The law has three main functions all of which are positive and necessary: It shows us our sin (Romans 7 v7, 8).
  23. 23. Saved by Faith Alone 15 It leads us to Christ (Galatians 3 v24). It gives guidelines for living to the Christian after he is saved (Romans 8 v4; 13 v10). BUT THE LAW CANNOT SAVE. Martin Luther said that the law was like a stick: “God first used it to beat me but later I used it to walk with.” In other words God used the law to show up his sin, faults and failings.God’s revelation of His standards showed him how far short he fell ofthem. This was a difficult time for him. But after he had trusted JesusChrist that same law gave him the standards by which he should live theChristian life. What a tragedy that so many people today all over the world—both young and old—are depending upon what they can do for theirsalvation! This is a terrible mistake which can have awful and eternalconsequences. Man is by nature sinful (Romans 3 v23), dead (Ephesians 2 v1,5),blind (2 Corinthians 4 v4), controlled by sin (Colossians 1 v13), andan enemy of God (Romans 5 v10; 8 v7) ). It is therefore impossibleand hopeless for him to save himself by trying to keep the law. OnlyGod can save! In 1937 Mr. J. Irvin Overholtzer founded the Child Evangelism Fellowship, the Mission with which I work. He was at that time already a middle aged man, and he had been a pastor for a number of years. However, the denomination to which he belonged believed and taught “salvation by works” and so did he. He and his colleagues believed that if they lived (and even dressed) in a certain way, and obeyed all the rules of the denomination they would (or might!) eventually be saved. But Mr. Overholtzer felt more and more uneasy about this teaching. So he decided to make a careful verse by verse, and word by word, study of the New Testament to see if what he believed was what the Bible taught. Over a period of time he came to see and understand the great biblical truth that
  24. 24. 16 Section 1 — Chapter 2 salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone through grace alone. His life was transformed, and for the first time he truly trusted Christ and had assurance of salvation. Soon after that God called him into a ministry to children, and he began the work of CEF which was to spread all over the world. But he never forgot the great truth that salvation is by faith and not by works; and this was always to be the heart of his message, and the heart of the ministry of Child Evangelism Fellowship. A Question Are you, my dear reader, depending upon your own goodness, acts of mercy, religious observance or good works of any kind to give you acceptance before God? If you are, you have not succeeded, and you cannot succeed. You need salvation and a Saviour—and the Bible will tell you how you can have both.
  25. 25. Saved by Faith Alone 17 Chapter 3: Possible or Impossible? Two Questions about JustificationA ll that we have read so far could give rise, in our minds, to two key questions. These are questions which really seem to beimpossible to answer. How Can a Sinner Be Justified Before God? This first question, or series of questions, are questions which sinfulman should be asking; even if he does not yet know the answer tothem. How can a sinner enter heaven when the Bible makes it clear that there is no sin in Heaven? How can a sinner receive and experience complete and absolute forgiveness of all his sin? How can an unrighteous person be declared righteous by a holy God—when he is not? How can an unrighteous person be seen as righteous? These questions were verbalized by Job: “But how can a man be righteous before God?” (Job 9 v2). “How then can man be righteous before God? Or how can he be pure who is born of a woman?” (Job 25 v4). How Can a Holy God Justify Sinners? This leads on to another yet closely related question. Reverentlyspeaking, God has a question, which seems from our point of view tohave no answer and to which only He knows the solution. How can God justify the ungodly, and still be just and righteous? It is, of course, true that God is a God of love, that He loves theunrighteous and that He wants to save them. The Bible makes thatvery clear (John 3 v16; 1 John 4 v8; Matthew 18 v14; 1 John 4 v10;Romans 5 v8; 2 Peter 3 v9). Why then does God not do so? Why doesGod not save everybody?
  26. 26. 18 Section 1 — Chapter 3 He cannot do this, because He is also a God of holiness,righteousness and justice. He must punish sin and He must punish thesinner. Otherwise He would not be just and righteous. It is impossiblefor God to justify the sinner unless He can provide a way to do sowhich would be in full agreement with, and not in conflict with, Hisjustice. And so we could restate this question from God’s point of view: How can God be just and, at the same time, justify the unrighteous? How can God declare a guilty person not guilty when he is guilty? How can God declare an unrighteous person to be righteous when he is not righteous? We will understand the answers to all these questions more clearlyas we study the subject of justification together in the chapters whichfollow. But just now we can see that Paul refers briefly to thesequestions, and gives a brief answer to them, in Romans 3 v25 and 26. “Whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” In other words, Paul writes that Christ became a propitiation forsin. This means that He became a sacrifice for sin and that He took thepunishment for sin due to the sinner, and shed His blood for sin. It isnow possible for God to justify the sinner who believes in Jesus, withoutin any way sacrificing His justice. The death of Christ has made it possible for God’s justice and thesinner’s justification to be reconciled. Sin must be punished by a holy God, but Jesus Christ, the Son ofGod, took God’s punishment for sin on the cross so that you and Iwould not need to be punished for it. God can now legally andrighteously forgive the sinner because the full penalty for his sin hasbeen paid by another. God can now justify the sinner and be, at thesame time, just—He is therefore “just and the justifier.”
  27. 27. Saved by Faith Alone 19 But as we will see later, and as this verse points out, this is onlytrue for those who “have faith in Jesus.” A Question Aren’t you thankful that God has provided a way for your salvation—through the death of His Son on the Cross? I pray that you have not only understood this great truth, but that you have also thanked God for His love, and put your faith in Jesus Christ. Then you can honestly say, on the basis of God’s Word and promises “I am saved; I am justified.”
  28. 28. 20 Section 1 — Chapter 4 Chapter 4: Forgiven and Righteous The Meaning of JustificationI t is now necessary, before going any further, to study in more detail what is meant by the word, and the theological concept of,justification. A Definition of Justification We will start with two simple but comprehensive definitions of whatjustification is and means. These definitions are quite similar.First Definition Justification is an act of God’s free grace wherein He pardonsall our sins, and accepts us as righteous in His sight—only for andbecause of the righteousness of Christ which has been imputed tous and received by faith alone.Second Definition Justification is a declaration, decree or proclamation by Godthat the sinner who trusts Jesus Christ is completely forgiven andthat he is righteous and pure in His sight on the basis of Christ’srighteousness and atonement. There are six basic truths concerning justification which can bededuced from this second definition and which need to be recognized: Justification is a declaration by God. It is something God says about the sinner who trusts His Son. Justification is therefore objective. It takes place outside the sinner, not inside. Justification deals with and changes the sinner’s position, not his character or personality. Justification is based upon the righteousness of Christ, not the righteousness of the sinner. Justification is purchased by the death and precious Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  29. 29. Saved by Faith Alone 21 Justification takes place at one moment in time (when a sinner puts his trust and faith in Jesus Christ). It is not a process. It is a once- for-all act of God’s free grace. It is also essential to understand and remember that justification hastwo results for the sinner who trusts Jesus Christ as his Saviour: Justification results in forgiveness. God forgives all the sin of the one who trusts Jesus Christ. Justification results in righteousness. God imputes or reckons the righteousness of Jesus Christ to the one who trusts Him. He puts it “to his account.” Justification Results, First of All, in Forgiveness At the moment of justification all past sin is forgiven by God. Thisincludes all sin committed up to the moment when the sinner put histrust in Jesus Christ. But it is important to emphasize that at the momentof justification all future sin is also forgiven. The clear teaching of the Bible is that all sin is forgiven when asinner is justified. “All sin” includes past, present and future sin. This complete and eternal forgiveness is clearly taught in versessuch as the following: “Who forgives all your iniquities” (Psalm 103 v3). “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103 v12). “For You have cast all my sins behind Your back” (Isaiah 44 v22). “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins” (Isaiah 44 v22). “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31 v34). “You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7 v19). “That your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3 v19). “Justified from all things” (Acts 13 v39). “Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin” (Romans 4 v8).
  30. 30. 22 Section 1 — Chapter 4 “Having forgiven you all trespasses” (Colossians 2 v13). “Your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake” (1 John 2 v12). The consequence of this total, complete and eternal forgiveness ofthe believer is that he will never be condemned by God for his sin. Allsin is forgiven. That is justification. Therefore, and because of this,Paul emphasizes in the book of Romans that the believer is absolutelyfree of condemnation. He will never be condemned. “Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin” (Romans 4 v8). “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8 v1). “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 also makes intercession for us” (Romans 8 v33, 34). “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5 v1). Dr. Ray Gustafson gives a good illustration of justification: “It seems that there was a man in England who put his Rolls-Royce on a boat and went across to the continent to go on a holiday. While he was driving around Europe, something happened to the motor of his car. He cabled the Rolls-Royce people back in England and asked, “I’m having trouble with my car; what do you suggest I do?” Well, the Rolls-Royce people flew a mechanic over! The mechanic repaired the car and flew back to England and left the man to continue his holiday. As you can imagine, the fellow was wondering, “How much is this going to cost me?” So when he got back to England, he wrote the people a letter and asked how much he owed them. He received a letter from the office that read: “Dear Sir: There is no record anywhere in our files that anything ever went wrong with a Rolls-Royce.” Now that’s justification. The devil accuses you, you accuse yourself, maybe your friends accuse you; but God checks the file and says, “There is no record anywhere in this file that My child ever did anything wrong.” That is justification – the gracious act of God in forgiving and declaring righteous one who believes in Jesus Christ.”
  31. 31. Saved by Faith Alone 23What a wonderful truth this is for the believers! The hymn writer,Charles Wesley, expressed it like this: “No condemnation now I dread Jesus and all in Him is mine Alive in Him, my living Head And clothed with righteousness divine”Eternal Forgiveness and Temporal Forgiveness The wonderful truth that justification results in the eternalforgiveness of sin may raise some questions and may even cause someapparent problems. Do Christians still sin? Yes, of course they do. Do they still need to ask for forgiveness? Yes, of course they do. But why should they ask for forgiveness if they are already forgiven? At the moment of justification all the believer’s sin - past, present andfuture - is forgiven from an eternal point of view by God the Judge, andwill never be remembered or brought up again to condemn him. But the child of God still sins. However, God is no longer his Judge. Heis now his Father and the Bible teaches that the child of God needs tocome to his Father, confess his sin and ask for forgiveness. The LordJesus teaches the children of God to confess their sins to their HeavenlyFather and to ask for forgiveness. “Our Father in heaven … forgive us our sins” (Luke 11 v2, 4). John teaches us: “If we (as children of God) confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1 v9). When we as Christians confess our sins to our Heavenly Father,He forgives us on a family basis and restores our fellowship. If theChristian does not do so, he will lose his joy, his peace, his fellowshipwith his Father, and his Father’s blessing. He may even be chastened by
  32. 32. 24 Section 1 — Chapter 4his Father. In other words, his fellowship with his Father is broken by hissin, but not his relationship. This relationship is eternal. In these last paragraphs we are speaking about sin from a “familypoint of view”, and the Bible teaches that it must be confessed anddealt with if we are to enjoy fellowship with God and His blessing. Weare not now speaking about sin from “an eternal point of view.” Thathas already been dealt with and forgiven. That issue is finished forever as far as the believer is concerned. God the Judge has forgiven allour sins from an eternal point of view. We are justified and havetherefore received “eternal forgiveness.” But God Who is now ourFather expects us as His children to confess to Him the sins we commitas Christians and He will grant us “family forgiveness.” A good illustration of these two types of forgiveness can be foundin John chapter 13 v1–17. In verse 6 the Lord Jesus comes to Peter andwants to wash his feet. Peter, in verse 8, refuses to let the Lord Jesusdo this. The Lord Jesus says that if He doesn’t wash Peter’s feet hewould have no part (or share) with Him. Peter then, and in typicalfashion, rushes to the other extreme and asks the Lord Jesus to washnot just his feet but also his hands and his head. The Lord Jesus answeredhim in verse 10 that this was not necessary: “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean” In other words, “You are already washed Peter, you are alreadyclean. But you need to have your feet washed.” This is an illustration of the fact that we as believers are alreadywashed, justified and clean in God’s sight. We are eternally forgiven.But, day by day, we need to have our feet washed because we havecome into contact with the world. We, as His eternally forgiven children,need constant and daily forgiveness. This forgiveness is an importantpart of the process of sanctification. But the question of eternalforgiveness has been dealt with, once and for all. Justification Results, Secondly, in Righteousness At the moment of justification God not only forgives all my sin;He also declares me to be, and says that I am, completely righteous.From that moment He sees me as pure and as righteous as Jesus Christ
  33. 33. Saved by Faith Alone 25is, and He looks at me through His perfect goodness. This aspect of justification is explained in the Bible in two differentways: God imputes, reckons or accounts the righteousness of Christ to the believing sinner. “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Romans 4 v3). “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted (imputed) for righteousness” (Romans 4 v5). “The blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works” (Romans 4 v6). “Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin” (Romans 4 v8). “That righteousness might be imputed to them also” (Romans 4 v11). “It was accounted to him for righteousness” (Romans 4 v22). “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (James 2 v23). Imputation is a legal, commercial and judicial term. It means to reckon or count, or to put into another’s account. When God imputes Christ’s righteousness to us, at the moment of justification, He sees it as now belonging to us. It is transferred into our account. It is God’s “free gift of righteousness” (Romans 5 v16 and 17) through Jesus Christ. If you had an account in a bank, and I had an account in a bank, I could transfer a certain amount of money from my account to yours. That is what imputation means. It is the transfer of Christ’s righteousness “from His account to ours.” Actually, there are three imputations or legal transfers taught in the Bible: The imputation of Adam’s sin to all humanity (Romans 5 v12–21). His sin was put into everybody’s account. The imputation of our sins to Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5 v21). Our sin was put into His account. The imputation of Christ’s righteousness to believers (Romans
  34. 34. 26 Section 1 — Chapter 4 4 v6–25). His righteousness is put into our account. Without the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us, God’s work within us could not save us. Christians who are regenerated, and in whom the Holy Spirit lives, still sin and fall short of the glory of God. So we need a righteousness which is greater than the righteousness we ourselves may possess in order to stand pure and spotless before God’s throne. That is only possible when we receive, through imputation, a righteousness from without, from Jesus Christ. The Good News of the Gospel is that God in His grace counts or reckons or imputes the righteousness of Christ to me—and sees me as righteous as Christ is. Dr. J. Montgomery Boice, a well known pastor and writer in USA, explained this “transaction” with reference to Romans 4 v3 as follows: “The words used are book keeping terms. They refer to accounting . . . When God justified Abraham He did two things, one negative and one positive. 1. He did what Paul quotes David as saying in verses 7-8 (a quotation of Psalm 32: 1–2), namely, God did not reckon his sin against him. How so? It is not merely that God simply struck Abraham’s transgressions from the ledger book of his life and then forgot about them, as if they could simply be discounted. God does not play imaginary games. True, He did remove the list of Abraham’s sins from his ledger, but that was only because He had first transferred it to the ledger book of Jesus Christ. Jesus took the liability of those transgressions on Himself and paid their price by dying for them. Abraham’s sin was not reckoned to Abraham because it was reckoned to Jesus Christ instead. 2. In a parallel action, God then also reckoned the righteousness of Christ to Abraham, which is what Genesis 15: 6 teaches. God took Christ’s righteousness and wrote it in Abraham’s ledger.” God clothes the believer with the righteousness of Christ. In this biblical illustration and explanation Christ’s righteousness is seen as a pure, spotless, white garment. At the moment of justification God clothes the believer with this garment. God now sees only the pure garment of Christ’s righteousness.
  35. 35. Saved by Faith Alone 27 My own righteousness is, in comparison to His, as filthy rags. I must be adorned, or cloaked, by His righteousness (a cloak which covers and deals with the uncleanness of my sin) – if I am to stand in the presence of a holy God. John Bunyan said that Christ wove a perfect garment of righteousness for thirty-three years and then gave it away to those who trust Him alone to save them. This illustration can be found in several places in the Bible: “For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61 v10). In Zechariah 3 v3, 4 we read, first of all in verse 3 about the filthy garments of the high priest which needed to be removed. Then the angel of the Lord (the Lord Jesus) says in verse 4, “I will clothe you with rich robes.” And He clothed the high priest with these garments in the next verse (verse 5). In Matthew 22 v11–14 the Lord Jesus speaks about a man who was not dressed in a wedding garment and was therefore not able to come to the marriage feast. Instead he was cast into outer darkness. Paul uses the same picture in Colossians 3 v9 when he writes that the believer has “put off the old man with his deeds” and has “put on the new man.” Both of these explanations and illustrations, using the concept ofaccounts and clothes, are biblical and clear. They show us thatjustification does not change us. Justification changes our positionbefore God and how He sees us. He now sees us as pure and as righteousas Jesus Christ is! This truth is well and clearly illustrated by the white page of theWordless Book. The Wordless Book is a little book used by manychildren’s workers to explain the Gospel message to children. It hasno words but has five pages each of a different colour. Each colour helpsto explain one part of the Gospel message:
  36. 36. 28 Section 1 — Chapter 4 The gold page speaks about God and heaven. The dark page speaks about sin and its consequences. The red page speaks about the Death of Jesus Christ on the Cross for sin. The white page speaks about salvation – about justification by faith. The green page speaks about the spiritual growth which follows faith in Christ. The white page is not a picture of what I am as a Christian. I knowthat I am not as clean and as pure as this page, because I still sin. Butit is a picture of how God sees me. He sees me as pure as His Son JesusChrist is. He sees me “just as if I’d never sinned”. That’s justification.The “charge sheet” is clean; in fact God has torn it up. The white page of the Wordless Book is not a picture of me; it is apicture of the righteousness of Jesus Christ which covers and cloaksmy sin, and which is “in my account”. This righteousness is mine byfaith in Him. Christ becomes my righteousness. He does not just helpme by His grace and power to become righteous (although He alsodoes that). But He gives me His righteousness before the throne ofGod’s judgment. Jehovah God becomes my JEHOVAH – TSIDKENU(God my righteousness -Jeremiah 23 v5, 6). Justification Is Instantaneous It is important to emphasize that justification happens at onemoment of time. It is instantaneous and not a process. It is completewhen the sinner trusts Jesus Christ as His Saviour: There are, therefore, two consequences: We cannot grow in our justification. No believer is more justified than another believer. Justification is not a process which makes us more and more holyas is taught by the Roman Catholic Church and also by a number ofProtestant churches. The moment a sinner trusts Jesus Christ two things happen: He is justified and has a new position before God. He is regenerated and has a new nature.
  37. 37. Saved by Faith Alone 29 Both of these happen together at that one moment of time. But at that same moment a process does begin. It is not a processof justification. That is already complete. It is the process ofsanctification whereby the justified and regenerated sinner becomesmore and more, little by little, like Jesus Christ. Justification has been compared to a criminal being pardoned atone moment of time, whereas sanctification is like a patient being healedgradually. If a man is a criminal in prison, condemned to death and if,at the same time, he is dangerously ill, he has two problems. A pardonis not enough because he is soon going to die because of his illness. Acure for his illness is not enough because he is condemned to death.He needs to be both pardoned and cured. This is a good illustration. Pardon is a picture of justification - a legal decision happeningoutside the person and at one moment of time. Healing is a picture ofsanctification - a process which starts at the moment of regenerationand justification and continues within the person - over a period oftime, indeed the rest of his life. The truth that justification is a once-for-all, instantaneous andcomplete act of God is taught in three ways: By the Bible verses which clearly refer to it as a once-for-all experience “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This could be translated “Since we have been justified by faith we have peace with God” (Romans 5 v1). “Everyone who believes is justified from all things” (Acts 13 v39). “A man is justified by faith” (Romans 3 v28). “Having now been justified (or since we have now been justified) by His blood” (Romans 5 v9). “Whom He called, these He also justified” (Romans 8 v30). “But you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6 v11). “That having been justified by His grace” (Titus 3 v7). By the illustration of justification given by the Lord Jesus in the Bible In Luke 18 v9-14 He told a story about a Pharisee and a publican.
  38. 38. 30 Section 1 — Chapter 4 The publican convicted of his sinfulness asked God to be merciful unto him. The Lord Jesus then said, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other” (Luke 18v14). He was already justified. That is the teaching throughout the New Testament. Through the clear understanding of the term justification and what it means: God has made a declaration. God has forgiven all sin. God has put the righteousness of Christ into our account. God has clothed us with the righteousness of Christ. These cannot possibly be processes. All of these represent once-for-all acts by God. The traditional teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, and anumber of Protestant churches, is that justification is a process during andthroughout a life-time, by which a sinner is made more and more righteousand is eventually justified. Justification, in other words, according to thiserroneous teaching, follows and is the result of sanctification. This erroneousteaching confuses and combines justification and sanctification. It teachesthat justification is granted to the righteous as a result of his sanctification,rather than granted to the sinner as the initial result of his faith in Christ. However, the Bible teaches that sanctification follows justification.Sanctification starts with and depends upon the inner change in asinner’s nature (which took place at his regeneration), and it makes himmore and more righteous. But this righteousness is, in a sense “his own”.It is imparted to him, it is far from perfect and it does, or should, grow anddevelop. But the righteousness of Jesus Christ which was imputed to himwhen he trusted Christ, is perfect and cannot grow or develop. The formula followed in this erroneous teaching is FAITH + WORKS = JUSTIFICATION. Whereas the Bible teaches FAITH = JUSTIFICATION + WORKS. Thomas Watson the English Puritan wrote “God does not justifyus because we are worthy, but justifying makes us worthy.”
  39. 39. Saved by Faith Alone 31My sin – oh the bliss of this glorious thought!My sin – not in part, but the whole,Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more.Praise the Lord,Praise the Lord, O my soul! H. Spafford Several Questions Do you have a full and clear understanding of what justification is and what it means? Can you truly say, “I am justified, I have trusted Jesus Christ as my Saviour”? Do you have the resulting assurance in your heart that all your sins are forgiven, and that God sees you today as pure and as righteous as Jesus Christ is? I trust that your answer to all these questions is a resounding “Yes”!
  40. 40. 32 Section 1 — Chapter 5 Chapter 5: Just and the Justifier The Righteousness of GodT he righteousness of God, which we have already referred to several times without explanation, is so important that we need todesignate a separate chapter to it so that we can study it in more detail andbetter understand what it means. The Righteousness of God It is not easy to describe the righteousness of God because sin limitsour knowledge of Him. His righteousness is difficult for us to understandbecause it is so completely different from any attempt at humanrighteousness. But the Bible teaches that the righteousness of God is thatdivine attribute or quality which displays the fact that He is holy, right andcompletely pure – and that everything He does is holy, right and completelypure. The righteousness of God means that God always acts in accordancewith what is right, and that He Himself is the final standard of what isright. “For all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He” (Deuteronomy 32 v4). “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18 v25). “I, the LORD, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right” (Isaiah 45 v19). The righteousness of God can best be seen in the law of the OldTestament (which is an expression of that righteousness); and in thePerson and teachings of Jesus Christ. We see God’s power in nature;we see God’s principles in the law; but we see God’s personality andpurity in Jesus Christ. When the Bible speaks about the sinner who trusts Jesus Christ asHis Saviour receiving the righteousness of God (Romans 3 v22) orbecoming the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5 v21) it cannotmean that we become like God and that we actually receive His divineattribute of righteousness, and actually become righteous like Him. The
  41. 41. Saved by Faith Alone 33Bible teaches, instead, that His righteousness is reckoned or imputed to usas believers, and that God sees us as righteous (even though we are not).The righteousness of God which is put into our account at the moment weare justified is the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ the Son of God. The Righteousness of Jesus Christ The Bible makes it clear that the righteousness of God which is imputedto us is the righteousness of Jesus Christ. “Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God; and righteousness” (1 Corinthians 1 v30). “For they . . . have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness” (Romans 10 v3, 4). “By the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1 v1). “Through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life” (Romans 5 v18). The Bible also teaches us a number of truths about Jesus Christand His righteousness: Jesus Christ is God and He is the image of His Father; As God He is intrinsically righteous. He is completely holy and without sin; He demonstrated that righteousness in and through His holy life and by His complete obedience to the Law of God; He showed that righteousness in His obedience to the plan and purposes of God by His atoning death on the cross. Jesus Christ demonstrates, both in His perfect life and in His atoningdeath, complete and absolute submission and perfection. He displayedHis righteousness. He showed that He, unlike us, was perfect in everyway. That is His righteousness. That is the righteousness of God whichis put into our account when we trust Him as our Saviour. From thatmoment onwards God sees us as perfect and as sinless as Christ is—because His righteousness has been imputed or transferred to us andour account. Consequently, when the New Testament speaks about the righteousnessof God (which is imputed to the believer) it refers specifically to the
  42. 42. 34 Section 1 — Chapter 5righteousness of God the Son, Jesus Christ, as displayed in and throughHis life and death here on earth. Paul’s Teaching About the Righteousness of Christ Paul in his letter to the Romans gives us three great truths aboutthis righteousness of Christ: The righteousness of Christ is revealed in and through the Gospel. “The gospel of Christ . . . for in it the righteousness of God is revealed” (Romans 1 v16, 17). “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed” (Romans 3 v21). The Gospel reveals the righteousness of Christ in two ways:- We see it demonstrated by Jesus Christ in His life and death. He lived a pure holy and righteous life, and He died as a perfect sacrifice for our sin. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5 v21). We see the possibility and reality of us receiving that righteousness—by faith in the Saviour Who is presented through the Gospel. “Even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference” (Romans 3 v22). This righteousness of Christ was prophesied in the Old Testament. It is not a new doctrine. “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets” (Romans 3 v21). In Romans 4 v3, 9 and 22 we read that Abraham believed God and that the righteousness of God was imputed to him. Romans 4 v6, 7 and 8 gives us David’s description from Psalm 32 v1, 2 of the man who believes God as having the righteousness of God imputed to him. The prophet Habakkuk declared in chapter 2 v4 of his prophecy “The just (or righteous) shall live by his faith.”
  43. 43. Saved by Faith Alone 35 This righteousness of Christ becomes mine when I trust Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. This is an overwhelming truth. When I trust Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour His perfect righteousness is imputed or transferred to me and my account and, from that moment on, God sees me as righteous as Jesus Christ is. God transfers the perfect righteousness of Christ to me as a gracious gift and He views me, from now on, as if I had never sinned and as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Jesus Christ accomplished. “For in it (in the Gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from (on the basis of) faith to faith; as it is written, the just shall live by faith” (Romans 1 v17). “Even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe” (Romans 3 v22). “But to him who . . . believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness” (Romans 4 v5). “Those who believe . . . that righteousness might be imputed to them” (Romans 4 v11). “Righteousness . . . it was imputed to him . . ., to us who believe” (Romans 4 v22-24). “Not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Philippians 3 v9). This is not my own righteousness. It is the divine righteousness. Itis the righteousness of Christ. It is an imputed, positional righteousnesswhich God sees as now mine when I trust Christ. JEHOVAH–TSIDKENU—God is my righteousness (Jeremiah 23 v5, 6). This righteousness is external; it is outside of me. It is not myrighteousness. It is Christ’s righteousness. But God transfers it to myaccount and my unrighteousness is covered, in His sight, by Christ’srighteousness.
  44. 44. 36 Section 1 — Chapter 5 “When free grace awoke me, by light from on high Then legal fears shook me; I trembled to die. No refuge, no safety in self could I see, Jehovah–Tsidkenu, my Saviour must be. My terrors all vanished before the sweet name My guilty fears banished, with boldness I came To drink at the fountain, life giving and free Jehovah-Tsidkenu is all things to me.” R M MCCheyne At the same time, as we will see later, the justified sinner isregenerated, and God begins to make him righteous through theprocess of sanctification. This is an infused righteousness—his ownrighteousness—which grows throughout his Christian life as hebecomes more and more like Jesus Christ. But justification or positionalrighteousness cannot grow. (It is interesting to know that the words “righteousness” and“justification” are basically, in Greek, the same word. The translatorsmade each decision concerning its rendering in English on the basis ofthe context.) The Meaning of Imputation Before closing this chapter we need to have another more detailedlook at the biblical concept of imputation. It is through this imputationthat the righteousness of Christ becomes mine in God’s sight. Imputation is a commercial or legal term which means thatsomething which belongs to one person is legally transferred to, or putinto the account of, another person. It means to reckon or account toone individual that which rightfully belongs to another. We have already seen that the Bible records three imputations orreckonings: In Romans 5 v12-21 Paul writes that the original sin of Adam is imputed or transferred to his entire posterity. Adam, as head of the human race, was our representative. So his fall and his sin were imputed to all of us, or transferred to our account. We are all counted guilty because of Adam’s sin. In 2 Corinthians 5 v21a we see how our sin was imputed to Jesus Christ.
  45. 45. Saved by Faith Alone 37 “For He (God the Father) made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5 v21a). God the Father thought of, or counted, our sin with its guilt and punishment as belonging to Jesus Christ. He “transferred our sin to His account.” So He then paid the penalty for all this sin. We see this same truth also in Isaiah 53 v6, Isaiah 53 v12; John 1 v29; Galatians 3 v13 and 1 Peter 2 v24. The third imputation is God’s imputation or transfer of the righteousness of Jesus Christ to the believer in Jesus Christ. God placed the righteousness of Christ and His perfect life of obedience into our account when we trusted Christ; He counts Christ’s righteousness as now belonging to us and sees us as pure and as righteous as Jesus Christ is. “God imputes to a sinner the righteousness of Jesus Christ that is, He accounts that sinner righteous though he is still inwardly unrighteous” C. L. Berkhof. “And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Philippians 3 v9). “That we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5 v21b). In Romans chapter 4, the Greek word which is translated “impute,” “count” or “reckon” is used eleven times. Righteousness was imputed to Abraham (v3, 9, 10, 22, 23), to David and the man he describes (v6) and then to us (v4, 5, 8, 11, 24). The righteousness of Jesus Christ is an attribute which He as Godpossesses and it was demonstrated in the perfect life He lived as a manhere on the earth. But it is more than that. The righteousness of Christis also a righteous standing which God grants, counts and transfers tothose unrighteous ones who trust His Son. This imputed righteousness,and it alone, makes us fit for the divine presence. Without it we could notbe saved, because we, of ourselves, could never be righteous enough to be
  46. 46. 38 Section 1 — Chapter 5in God’s presence. Martin Luther said: “This is that mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s; and the righteousness of Christ is not (just) Christ’s but ours. He (has) emptied Himself of His righteousness that He might clothe us with it and fill us with it.” Only Two Kinds of Righteousness As believers we have therefore two kinds of righteousness—oneof which is considerably higher and purer than the other. We have already seen that at the moment a sinner trusts Jesus Christ as his Saviour he is justified. He receives a righteousness which is not his own and is outside of him. It is the righteousness of Christ which is pure and perfect. God transfers this perfect righteousness to the sinner’s account. The justified sinner is clothed with this righteousness which covers all his sins; and when God looks at him He sees not the sin which is still there but the righteousness of Christ which covers and hides all that sin. This righteousness is received at one moment. It is complete. It cannot grow and it cannot be lost. It is a positional righteousness. It does not change the sinner. It changes his position before God. Consequently, when the sinner trusts Christ he is justified and has a new position before God, and a new and perfect righteousness, which is not his but which God sees as his. But at the same moment as God justifies the sinner He also regenerates him. Justification changes his position. Regeneration changes his person. Justification deals with the penalty for his sin. Regeneration starts to deal with the pollution of his sin. Justification is external and objective. Regeneration is internal and subjective. Both happen at the same time – and it is not possible to have one without the other. Regeneration is a new birth and the beginning of a new life. Atthat moment the process of sanctification begins. God the Holy Spirit worksin the believer’s heart and, little by little, He makes him more righteous.This righteousness is the believer’s own righteousness (although it is the
  47. 47. Saved by Faith Alone 39result of the Holy Spirit working in him). But this is a growing righteousness,far from perfect, and much below the righteousness of Christ. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer. But thisrighteousness is infused into the believer – and unlike the righteousness ofChrist it is far from perfect and needs to grow continually. Several Questions Do you understand the great truth that the righteousness of Christ has been transferred into the account of the believer and that God sees you, as a believer, as pure and holy as Jesus Christ is? Do you also understand that God, the Holy Spirit, is working within you to make you more and more righteous and more and more like Jesus Christ? Do you see the difference between those two kinds of righteousness—and are you praising God for both of them?
  48. 48. 40 Section 1 — Chapter 6 Chapter 6: Salvation is of the Lord The Source of JustificationF rom what we have studied and learned so far we can now come to certain conclusions concerning justification and its source andanswer several key questions. What is justification based upon? Where does justification come from? Why is it possible for guilty sinners like you and me to be justified? Justification Does Not Come from Man We need, first of all, to answer these questions from a negativepoint of view. The Bible makes it very clear that a sinner cannot be justified byanything he himself can do, or by anything which any other person,institution or church can do for him, or with him. No one can justify himself by his good works and his attemptsto keep the law. We have seen this already in chapter 2. “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3 v20). “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law” (Galatians 2 v16). If you and I truly understand man’s condition, by nature, and thefact that we are sinful, dead, blind, guilty and enemies of God, we willrealise how impossible it is for the source of justification to lie withinourselves. No other human being, church or institution can justify thesinner. The Bible makes it clear that the source of justification and thenew birth does not lie in what others do for the sinner.
  49. 49. Saved by Faith Alone 41 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, BUT OF GOD” (John 1 v12 and 13). The sinner is not justified because of his parents’ faith (“not of blood”). The sinner cannot justify himself (“nor of the will of the flesh”). No one else can justify the sinner (“nor of the will of man”).No church ordinance can be the source of justification. This includes baptism, confirmation and church membership.Abraham, for example, was justified before he received the sign ofcircumcision—not because of it, or after it (Romans 4 v16). The LordJesus told the repentant thief that he would be with Him that same dayin Paradise (Luke 23 v43) despite the fact that he had not been baptised,confirmed, nor was he a regular church attender! The Roman Catholic church teaches that “The instrumental causeof the first justification is the sacrament of baptism” and that “Thejustified eternal life is both a gift of grace promised by God and areward for his own good works and merits.” This teaching, or teachingquite similar to it, can also be found in many liberal Protestant churcheswhere justification is seen as having its basic source in man and theidea has been developed that God justifies the sinner by the moralimprovement of his life. They would certainly reject the view whichwe hold, that justification takes place once for all. But their beliefs arecompletely wrong and unbiblical.Salvation is not the result of works. There are many clear, biblical and logical ways in which we canknow for sure that our salvation can not be achieved by the good workswhich we do. The plain unambiguous statements of Scriptures (both Old testament and New Testament) make this clear. “Do not enter into judgment with Your servant, for in Your sight no one living is righteous” (Psalm 143 v2). “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law . . . for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Galatians 2 v16).
  50. 50. 42 Section 1 — Chapter 6 “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets” (Romans 3 v20). If we can be justified by works the death of Christ was in vain. “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain” (Galatians 2 v21). If salvation came by works it would not be of grace. “And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work” (Romans 11 v6). If salvation came by works it would be possible to boast. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2 v8, 9). When Paul taught on this subject he often referred to his ownexperience. He does this especially in his letter to the Philippians. Paul had been an exceedingly moral man: “Though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Philippians 3 v4-6). It seems that before he met Christ Paul’s thoughts about religioninvolved something like a life long balance sheet showing assets andliabilities. He had thought that being saved meant having more in thecolumn of assets than on the column of liabilities. And since he hadconsiderable assets he felt that he was very well off indeed! (There aremany “religious people” in our world today who believe and feel asPaul did at that time). Paul lists his “assets” in Philippians 3 v4-6: He was born into a Jewish family and circumcised, He was a member of God’s covenant people, He was of the tribe of Benjamin, He was a strict and faithful Pharisee, He was zealous in his defense and propagation of his faith,
  51. 51. Saved by Faith Alone 43 He felt himself to be blameless as far as the law was concerned. These were great assets from a human point of view. If anyonecould have been saved by good works it was Paul. But the day came when God revealed His own righteousness toPaul in the Person of Jesus Christ. When Paul saw Jesus Christ hebegan to understand for the first time what real righteousness was; andhe saw that his own “righteousness” was only as filthy rags – andcertainly no asset. Indeed it was a liability because it had been keepinghim from Jesus Christ where true righteousness could alone be found. Paul now learned to count his good works as nothing in order tohave Christ “and be found in Him, not having a righteousness ofmy own that comes from the law, but that which is through faithin Christ—the righteousness which comes from God and is by faith”(Philippians 3 v9). In other words, he moved his long list of cherished assets to thecolumn of liabilities (for that is what they really were) and under assetshe wrote “Jesus Christ alone”. Justification Comes Only from God The Bible teaches that the source of justification is completelyand absolutely in God—and God alone. Paul writes in Romans 3 v30: “Since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.” This verse teaches two truths: It is God, and He alone, who justifies. God justifies the circumcised and the uncircumcised, the religious and the irreligious, everyone and anyone without distinction—if they truly believe. Paul again underlines the fact that it is God and God alone Who justifiesthe sinner in Romans 8 verses 30 and 33. “Moreover whom He (God the Father) predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (verse 30). “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who
  52. 52. 44 Section 1 — Chapter 6 justifies” (verse 33). When we truly understand that justification is a declaration and alegal pronouncement by God the Supreme Judge then the source ofour justification MUST, of necessity, be absolutely and completely inGod. There can be no other answer. The Bible teaches that the source ofjustification and the basis for justification lie in God Himself and inGod alone. My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame But wholly lean on Jesus’ name. A Question Do you really and truly believe that it is God alone Who justifies, and that “salvation is of the Lord”? Then praise Him and thank Him for His grace, mercy and love which He extended to you.
  53. 53. Saved by Faith Alone 45 Chapter 7: Saved by Grace Alone The Reason for JustificationT he more intensely we study the doctrine of justification, and the more clearly we see that it is God, and God alone, who justifies,the more we begin to ask ourselves several important questions. Why does God justify sinners, rebels and enemies? Why does God justify some sinners and not others? Why did God justify me? These questions are not easy to answer. We have already seen that no one can do anything by himself to bejustified. We also need to add the fact that no one deserves to bejustified, and that includes each of us. We are by nature rebels against,and enemies of, God (Romans 5 v10; 8 v7). We deserve eternalseparation from God and punishment for our sins (John 3 v18-20, 36;Romans 3 v19). Yet He justifies us. Why does He do this? Justification Is by Grace Alone Paul answers these questions in a very simple but clear way inRomans 3 v24: “Being (or having been) justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Two words or phrases in this verse are of special interest to us:We are justified freely. The word “freely” used here means “as a gift”. In other words, ourjustification is without payment on our part and without any humanmerit. Measured by the standard of God’s requirement, human merit isimpossible. Man cannot earn the great blessing of justification. He canonly receive it as a gift from God.We are justified by His grace. Grace is God’s favour to those who do not deserve it. Grace is
  54. 54. 46 Section 1 — Chapter 7receiving that which we don’t deserve, and that which we cannot earn.Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones writes in one of his books on Romans: “Gracealways gives; whereas sin always takes away.” How true this statementis! Amazing grace! How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost but now am found, Was blind but now I see! (John Newton) This truth is taught over and over again in the Bible. One of the bestknown statements in the New Testament which emphasizes that justificationor salvation is by grace and grace alone is Ephesians 2 v8-9. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” The first three verses of Ephesians chapter 2 describe in four waysthe background of all who are now saved: We were dead . . . in trespasses and sins (verses 1 and 5). We were practising evil (verse 3a). We were enslaved to the world (verse 2a), the flesh (verse 3) and the devil (verse 2b). We were objects of God’s wrath (verse 3b). Then verse 4 starts with the word “But.” This “but” changeseverything, and emphasizes the intervention of God into the situation.If we had been left to ourselves we would have been hopeless and lostfor ever. God made us alive with Christ (verse 5)—we have life. God raised us up with Christ (verse 6)—we have freedom. God saved us (verse 8)—we have salvation. But all of this is on the basis of grace: “For by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2 v8).

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