Justification by faith alone
We believers love to speak of our conversion to Christ and the stuff of salvation in a general way. It is amazing that when God led us to repent of our sin and to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, we were forgiven and were declared righteous before Him. It is so amazing because God is absolutely holy and we absolutely are not. It sounds almost too good to be true, doesn't it?
Not long ago, I spoke with a man who struggled to understand that God had forgiven all of his sin. It was puzzling to him that God's work did not stop at forgiveness but that he was justified by God. He would say, "Today, I don't feel like God has forgiven me." Or, "I can't understand how God could make me acceptable to Himself; He is holy but I am not."
However, the truth is not affected by this man's feelings. The Bible is clear, Christians are justified by faith alone, in Christ alone. This is true, even if the truth of justification has not taken full ascent in the heart. It takes time to swallow and mentally process truth.
Thanks be to God, he justified us in Christ without our help, or cognizance of it. Then He is ever patient with us, as we grow up in the Word to grasp what he teaches. Thus to grow in our knowledge of justification we ask: What exactly is justification?
"Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein He pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone. Romans 3:24; Ephesians 1:7; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 5:19; Galatians 2:16; Philippians 3:9" (C. H. Spurgeon).
Justification is God's action, not ours. We who are in Christ are declared righteous by God. This declaration is based wholly on Jesus Christ's righteousness. We have no righteousness of our own to offer. We are forgiven of our sin and clothed in the righteousness of Christ, made righteous in God's eyes. Jesus Christ's righteousness has been imputed to the believer, and it will never be taken away.
Our response is to believe and trust in God. When our heart grows cold it's rather easy to forget about justification. The best medicine is the Word. Read the verses above (within their contexts) to discover for yourself. One of my favorites is, "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:20-21).
Another great justification text is Romans 8:1, "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
I pray that you'll grasp the biblical truth of justification by faith alone, in Christ alone. May God bless you mightily, as you serve Him.
Chris Cookston is the pastor of Prineville Community Church. He can be reached at 541-447-6315.
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