JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH - Part I
Romans 5:1-2 – "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."
The greatest experience that one could ever have is the experience of being born again. There is no greater moment in an individual’s life that can quite compare to the time in which they are saved. If you think back for a moment to your own personal life, you will see that one second you were once lost, and suddenly you were found. You were once declared unrighteous, and the next thing you knew-in a quick moment of time-you were declared righteous.
What a day that was for me as a 5-year-old boy, sitting on the edge of my bed, not wanting to go to sleep, but demanding that my father preach me a sermon. He did. Now, it wasn’t some long, drawn-out message that lasted an hour. No, it was quite the opposite; his little sermonette only lasted about three minutes. But when he gave the altar call that night, it was for me, and when I said yes to Jesus Christ, in an instant I was saved, born again, a new creation in Christ Jesus. It was the single greatest day of my life, and it set me on a path that has led me to where I am today.
I want to take a closer look at what it is to be justified by faith, what it means to be justified by faith, and what takes place when a person is justified by faith. It’s more than saying a few words. Rather, it is a life-changing experience that declares us applicants for so many things. As well, we must state that this “free gift,” as Paul would put it, is available for anyone who would simply ask. In fact, the theme of salvation is and has always been “whosoever will,” which means that this is for anyone who would like to have it, and it’s available for all, no matter their color, creed, socio-economic background, or anything else.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE JUSTIFIED?
To properly define justification, we need to look at what both the Hebrew and Greek say about this word. The Hebrew root for justification is sadag and means “righteous or righteousness.” The Greek word for justification is dikaio, and this means “to acquit, to vindicate, or to pronounce righteous.”
The meaning of this word, both in the Hebrew and in the Greek, lends itself to the fact that the word justification is a legal term and a legal work. It declares an obvious guilty sinner justified by God through the means of faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and what He did for us at Calvary’s Cross.
Let’s say it a better way. Humanity, and I speak of all humanity, owed a tremendous debt to God, a debt, incidentally, that we could not pay. The debt held against us was too much for us to pay on our own accord; the bill too high. Consequently, there was nothing that we could do to pay down this debt. Knowing this, God did something that would literally alter the course of man, or anyone who would believe. God would step out of eternity and into time, take on the form of man, but never sin, and pay the debt that He did not owe so that man might be declared righteous. His death on Calvary’s Cross would be accepted by God as the legal payment that many owed, which places the work of Christ on the Cross as a legal work.
MAN: GOD’S HIGHEST CREATION
Let’s go back even further. Through God’s omniscience, He knew that He would create this universe, that He would create this planet we call Earth, and that He would create his highest creation and possession-man. David would write of this and say, “For you have made him a little lower than the angels, and have crowned him with glory and honor” (Ps. 8:5).
However, the word angels here in this text really should have been translated as Elohim, which means “the Godhead.” It was an unfortunate translation, but what David was really saying was, “For you have made him a little lower than the Godhead.” This one verse proves that mankind was, and is, for that matter, God’s highest creation.
Man was created by God, however, what man is now is not what man was intended to be. When we see mankind, we see the evil side of man-the heartache, pain, suffering, murder, hate, envy, strife, and the like. If we want to see what man was intended to be like, we need look no further than Jesus Christ. He is the perfect Man. He never sinned a day in His life, and His purpose in coming was to do what the first Adam could not do: Redeem mankind and restore all that the original man lost in the fall.
Upon simple faith in Christ, we are placed into Christ and become one with Christ. This means that His righteousness becomes our righteousness, and His perfection becomes our perfection. Now, let me clarify that last statement. I personally do not believe in sinless perfection, and I do not believe that any Christian can reach a status of becoming sinlessly perfect. There has only been, and will ever be only one person who can say that He was sinless and perfect in every way and that one is Jesus Christ.
What I mean when I say that is, the perfection of Christ comes upon us to where God the Father no longer sees our sin; He sees the perfection of His Son. It also means that His victory is now our victory. Hallelujah! Whatever was lost at the fall by the first Adam, Jesus (the second Adam) purchased back through His death at Calvary’s Cross.
CONDEMNATION VERSES THE FREE GIFT
Paul, in the fifth chapter of his epistle to the Romans, contrasts what Adam brought to this world, and what Christ brought to this world. Through his failure, Adam brought condemnation and guilt into the world. He plunged the entire human race into a morass of sin from which we could not remove ourselves.
Picture a person trapped in quicksand. He can’t get out on his own, and the more he fights to get out, the quicker he sinks and perishes. That is exactly what has happened to the human race. We have been trapped in the quicksand of sin with no chance of escape through our own accord. This is why Jesus came! He came to pick us up out from the quicksand of sin and place us on solid ground. Paul would declare that this was the free gift. Jesus did it freely for anyone who would simply believe. And when that person believes-irrespective of age, location, or socioeconomic background-he or she is instantly cleansed from all sin and is born again.
This article will be continued in the September issue of The Evangelist.
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