JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH - Part III
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."
ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD
The doctrine of justification by faith is not a new thing, but rather was given to Abraham thousands of years ago, and in fact, was the greatest word ever given to a human being. It’s found in Genesis 15:6, ”And he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness.” In this one verse, we find the meaning of the doctrine of justification by faith.
You see, God demands righteousness, but it’s not the righteousness that we offer up, but rather the righteousness of Christ. Anything else that is offered is looked at by God as self-righteousness and therefore unacceptable to God.
As Abraham was saved by faith, we are saved by faith as well. As Abraham was declared by God as being justified-all by faith and none of himself-we also are declared justified by faith and not of ourselves. The whole doctrine of justification hinges upon one act that forever changed the course of human history: Calvary. This means that the Cross, which is the central theme of the Bible, must be at the center of our faith. We cannot be saved without the Cross. Neither can we live a holy life pleasing unto God without the Cross. At the Cross, Jesus Christ satisfied the demands of the broken law, and did so by giving His life as the ultimate sacrifice to bring man back in right relationship with God (Eph. 2:13-18). When a person expresses faith in Christ and the Cross, His perfect, spotless righteousness is instantaneously imputed, or credited, to that individual. In reality, God cannot, nor will not, impute His righteousness upon an individual without their faith being anchored in the Cross of Christ.
If God is just, which He is, then how can He justify an obvious guilty sinner? That answer can be found in Romans 3:24-26:
”Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him who believes in Jesus.”
In these verses, you have the answer as to how God, who is just, declares someone who is obviously guilty of sin, justified. It’s all found in Jesus Christ. It is based on the faith in the finished work of Christ, and that finished work of Christ alone. Anything else is self-righteousness, which God cannot accept. In order for anyone to be saved and to be justified, they have to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and as Saviour. This was the plan of God. The Cross is the plan of God. For man to be joined together with God, there had to be a death, and that death had to be of a perfect offering, and not one single person who had ever lived fit the bill. As the Scripture says, ”All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
Only God could fit that bill, and He did so by becoming man, the only Man who had ever lived who was perfect, who never sinned, and who was never sick. He became man-the Man, Christ Jesus-to be that perfect offering, and to do what man could not do for himself: redeem himself from sin. That’s why a person must accept Christ in order to be saved, or justified. It has to be through the finished work of Christ alone whereby men can be saved. At the moment of acceptance of Jesus Christ, in the mind of God, that person has been joined together with Christ in His death, His burial, and His resurrection (Rom. 6:3-5). And when Jesus Christ rose from the dead, that individual rose with Him in newness of life.
The Cross made it possible for men to be saved. The Cross made it possible for men to be justified. Before the Cross, men looked to the sacrificial system, and what it represented, to be saved. In other words, they were looking forward to the coming of the Redeemer, for that’s what those sacrifices symbolized. Now, since the Cross has become a reality, man is justified by looking back at what Christ accomplished. As stated, the Cross is the central theme of the Bible, for the Bible is the story of the Cross, and the Cross is the story of the Bible.
THE END RESULT OF JUSTIFICATION
There is something I remember hearing that has stuck with me from then until now. It’s something I use quite a bit when preaching, whether it be at Crossfire, the rallies, Family Worship Center, or on one of my programs on the Sonlife Broadcasting Network, and it’s this: When a person is saved, he has been declared justified, which means “not guilty.” However, justification doesn’t stop there. Not only does it declare an obvious guilty sinner not guilty, but justification goes a step further and says he is “innocent of all charges.” Now, you know this just as much as I do, there is a difference between being found not guilty and being innocent of all charges.
One says not enough evidence has been found to declare a guilty verdict. The other says that person is innocent and did not commit the crimes that were leveled against him. We were guilty of the charges that Satan brought against us. However, due to our faith in Christ and what He did at the Cross, not only did our heavenly Judge declare us not guilty, but also innocent, meaning that we did not commit the crimes of sin.
More than that, it means not only have we been declared not guilty and found innocent, but also as though we have never sinned a day in our lives. Hallelujah! But there’s one more declaration that needs to be made, and that is that we are declared perfect by our heavenly Father.
Now, we know that we are not perfect, but since we have been placed in Christ, His perfection becomes our perfection, and we can be looked at by God as perfect. God cannot accept anything other than the perfection of Christ. This perfection can only be gained by the believing sinner who places his faith in Christ and Him crucified and nothing else.
The Cross provided the keys to justification by which we can have peace with God, justifying peace. We can know that our sins have been washed away and that we’ve been declared not guilty, innocent, as though we’ve never sinned a day in our lives, and perfect-all through faith in the finished work of Christ.
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