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Duty of Gratitude for Divine Grace: Blessings of Grace: Justification- Book Seventh- Chapter 3- Section 2

Book Seventh

CHAPTER III.

SECTION II.–JUSTIFICATION.

ALL WHO BELIEVE IN CHRIST, ARE JUSTIFIED BY HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS IMPUTED TO THEM.[53]

Justification is the act of a judge acquitting one who is charged with crime. It is the opposite of condemnation. In Deut. xxv. 1, the judges of Israel were commanded, in the discharge of their official duty, to justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked.

Justification is a higher blessing of grace, than pardon. The latter frees from the penalty due to sin, but it does not fully restore the lost favor of God. A pardoned criminal, and a just man who has committed no crime, stand on different ground. The distinction between pardon and justification may be illustrated by these words of Job, “God forbid that I should justify you.”[54] If, in this passage, we should substitute the word pardon for justify, every one would perceive an important change in the meaning. This change shows the difference between pardon and justification. Such is the greatness of divine grace to the sinner who returns to God through Jesus Christ, that he is treated as if he had never sinned; and this is imported to the declaration that he is justified. We are, however, not to conceive of these as separate blessings. It is not true that one sinner is justified, and another merely pardoned: but every penitent believer is both pardoned and justified. As repentance and faith are duties mutually implying each other, so pardon and justification are twin blessings of grace, bestowed together through Jesus Christ. All whom Jesus delivers from the wrath to come are freely justified from all things, and presented faultless before the presence of his glory.

Justification is attributed, in the Scriptures, to the blood and the obedience of Christ: “Being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”[55] “By the obedience of one, shall many be made righteous.”[56] Both his blood and his obedience were necessary to magnify the law, and make it honorable. His blood signifies the endurance of its penalty; and his obedience, the fulfilment of its precepts. On this endurance of the penalty, our deliverance from wrath is based; and on his fulfilment of the precepts, our complete justification before God. Justification, however, could not be complete, without deliverance from the penalty; and it therefore required both the blood and the obedience of Christ; or, in the language of Scripture, “his obedience unto death.”

Justification is by faith. On this point, the Scriptures are explicit. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.”[57] By him all that believe are justified from all things.[58] Faith does not justify, because of its own merit. Other graces co-exist with it in the heart of the believer; as repentance, love, &c. And these have equal claim to merit; and especially love, which is the fulfilling of the law,[59] but faith is selected as the justifying grace; and Paul assigns the reason, “It is of faith, that it might be by grace.”[60] In the very exercise of faith, merit is renounced, and the sole reliance is placed on the merit of Christ. Hence faith is opposed to works: “To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”[61] In faith, the sinner as ungodly comes to God, who justifies the ungodly,[62] through Christ, who died for the ungodly.[63] He presents no plea, and entertains no hope, founded on personal merit, but relies wholly on the blood and obedience of Christ. Faith is an exercise of the believer’s mind; and as such, it is as much a work as repentance or love, and it produces other works: for, “Faith worketh by love.”[64] But it is not as a work, or as producing other works, that faith justifies; but as renouncing all personal merit and self-reliance, and receiving salvation as a gift of free grace through Jesus Christ.

In justification, righteousness is imputed, accounted, or reckoned. “David describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness.”[65] Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness:[66] “For us, also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe.”[67]

How God can justly account an ungodly man righteous, is a problem which it required infinite wisdom to solve. How it was solved Paul has informed us. Him hath “God 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 that believeth in Jesus.”[68] The propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, and faith is that sacrifice, are the means which God employs for the solution of the difficult problem: and these solve it completely; God himself, the perfectly just one, being judge. We may not be able fully to understand the solution, and perceive all its fitness and beauty; but we may learn much respecting it, from the light which the Scriptures throw on it; and, where we fail to comprehend, we ought patiently to wait for the further light which eternity will disclose.

When the Scriptures speak of justification by the obedience or blood of Christ, faith is supposed; otherwise, those passages which speak of justification by faith, would be without meaning. And in like manner, when they speak of justification by faith, the obedience and blood of Christ are supposed; otherwise, it would be unmeaning to say, “Justified by his blood;” “By his obedience many are made righteous.” What Christ did and suffered, and also our faith in Christ, are necessary to effect our justification; and the part which each of these has in the process, is an interesting subject of inquiry.

We have already seen that faith does not justify as a meritorious work. If it justified on the ground of merit, it would need to possess sufficient merit to satisfy all the demands of the law, both perceptive and penal; and in that case the obedience and sufferings of Christ would be unnecessary. It is not jointly meritorious with the obedience and sufferings of Christ; for they are in themselves perfect: and, without addition from the works of the sinner, magnify the law and make it honorable. Christ, and Christ alone, is the end of the law for righteousness, to every one that believeth.[69] Faith disclaims all merit of its own, but receives Christ as the propitiation that God has set forth, and, as the end of the law, fully satisfying all its claims. Faith distinguishes those to whom righteousness is imputed: “it is unto all, and upon all them that believe:”[70] but it is not, in itself, either in whole or in part, the meritorious cause of justification.

But merit is ascribed, in the word of God, to the obedience and sufferings of Christ. His blood is represented as a price paid, and a price of such value, that our deliverance from under the law may, on the ground of it, be justly claimed: “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold; but with the precious blood of Christ.”[71] “He was made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.”[72]

“Ye are not your own: ye are bought with a price.”[73] As a commodity may be claimed, when its full value has been paid, and the purchase completed; so our deliverance from the condemnation of the law, and our justification before God, may be claimed on the merits of Christ’s obedience and sufferings. Avenging justice is satisfied: “He is the propitiation for our sins.”[74] “The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake.”[75] He gave himself an offering and a sacrifice to God of sweet smelling savor.”[76]

When the Scriptures speak of Christ’s blood as the ground of our justification, his obedience is supposed: and, on the other hand, when his obedience is mentioned, his sufferings are supposed. His obedience to the precepts of the law would not have sufficed, if he had not also endured its penalty: and if, while enduring his sufferings, he had not loved God with all his heart, his sacrifice would have been polluted. A lamb without spot was needed; and perfect obedience was therefore necessary to render his offering acceptable. His active and passive obedience are both necessary to make a complete salvation; and when only one is mentioned in the Scriptures, the other is supposed.

In being made under the law, Christ became our substitute; and his obedience and sufferings are placed to our account, as if we had personally obeyed and suffered, to the full satisfaction of the law. We are thus justified by the righteousness of Christ imputed to us: “He who knew no sin, was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”[77] Our sins were imputed to Christ when he died for them; and his righteousness is imputed to us when we receive eternal life through him. He was treated as if he had personally committed the sins which were laid on him: and all who believe in him are treated as if they had personally rendered that satisfaction to the law which was rendered by his obedience and sufferings.

Nothing can be accounted the meritorious cause of justification, but the obedience and sufferings of Christ: yet faith is indispensable: “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; and the wrath of God abideth on him.”[78] By him all that believe are justified.[79] Faith, then, is the turning point, by which a sinner’s condition is determined. In God’s method of grace, all the benefits of Christ’s satisfaction to the law are made over to the sinner, as soon as he believes: and faith, therefore, serves to him instead of a perfect personal obedience to the law. On his believing in Christ, he is treated as if he had personally rendered a perfect obedience to the law: and this is the import of those Scriptures which say that faith is imputed to him for righteousness. It is not so imputed, because of any merit which it possesses; but because it is that which the Gospel recognises in the sinner as entitling him to the full satisfaction that Christ has rendered. When faith is said to be imputed for righteousness, the obedience and sufferings of Christ, on which faith lays hold, are viewed as connected with it, and constituting the meritorious ground of its acceptance.

That the sin or righteousness of one should be imputed to another, has been thought by some to be inconsistent with the principles of justice, the province of which is, to give to every man his due. From some cause, the notion of imputation has prevailed in all ages, in the sacrifices which have been offered, both by divine authority and by heathen worshippers. This notion has the full authority of God’s word, and evidently lies at the foundation of the salvation which infinite wisdom and goodness have provided for guilty men. It would, therefore, be extreme folly in us to reject this salvation because of an objection which may arise to our erring reason in determining the abstract principles of justice. There is no higher rule of justice than God himself; and what the Judge of all does, must be right.

In explaining the imputation of Adam’s sin, we showed that there is a threefold union between Adam and his posterity, rendering the imputation of his sin to them as an act of justice. There is, in like manner, a threefold union between Christ and his people, rendering the imputation of their sin to him, and of his righteousness to them, consistent with justice.

1. There is a union of consent. Christ consented to the righteousness of the law, in its condemnation of his people, and to the necessity of satisfaction: and they do the same. He consented to become a substitute for them, and render the required satisfaction in their behalf: and they joyfully accept the favor. While in impenitence and unbelief, they do not approve the law, or its sentence, and do not acknowledge the obligation to make satisfaction. When they become sensible of this obligation, the first effort is to make satisfaction in their own persons. In this state of mind their consent with Christ is only partial; and the Gospel does not pronounce them justified. But when they become convinced of their utter inability to render satisfaction in their own persons, they give themselves up to Christ, and not only consent, but pray to be found in him, not having their own righteousness, but the righteousness which is of God by faith.

How the union of Christ and his people rendered it just in God to inflict the penalty of their sins on him, and to justify them, we cannot claim fully to understand. God knows well what his moral government requires; and as he has approved the arrangement, we may be sure it must be right. We may hope to obtain further knowledge of this glorious mystery when the counsels of infinite wisdom are unfolded to our view in the future world.

But even here we may see, in part, a fitness in the procedure. Without the consent of Christ, we cannot suppose that justice would have laid our iniquities on him: and, without the consent to be saved by him, which faith yields, we cannot understand how justice would have been honored in our being justified. As the consent of Adam’s descendants to the deed of their father, in rebelling against the law of his Sovereign, justifies the imputation of his sin to them; so the consent of Christ and his people to the divine scheme of grace, justifies what is done to them both in the execution of the scheme.

2. There is a spiritual union. As Adam was the natural head of his posterity, so Christ is the spiritual head of his people. Adam’s descendants are born from him according to the flesh, and possess the nature which existed in him as its beginning or fountain. Christ’s people are born of the Spirit, and possess the spirit which was in Christ without measure; so that, “If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”[80] This union is like that of the head and members of the human body: “and by one spirit believers are all baptised into this one body.[81] It is like the union of the vine and its branches; through all which the same vitalizing and fructifying sap circulates. This union secures the perfect consent, which has already been notice, between Christ and his people; and further illustrates the fitness of that arrangement by which they are regarded as one in the administration of God’s moral government.

3. There is a federal union. As Adam was the federal head and representative of his descendants; so Christ stood, in the covenant of grace, as the federal head and representative of all whom the Father gave to him. For their sakes he undertook the work of mediation; and for their sakes he did and suffered all that was necessary to the full execution of the work. Justice, and every other attribute of the divine nature, concurred in the arrangement, by which he was to see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; and by the knowledge of him to justify many.[82] And now, justice, and every other attribute of the divine nature, fully sanction the arrangement, by which his righteousness is imputed to all his elect people, on their believing in him. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died.”[83]

The imputation of Adam’s sin to his posterity, is an act of justice; the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to believers, is an act of grace. The former is on the proper level of justice; but the latter rises above it. Justice has nothing to say against it, but, on the contrary, is fully satisfied and abundantly honored by it; yet the plan did not originate in the justice, but in the love, of God, which provided the needed sacrifice. This distinction ought never to be forgotten. If our condemnation, is our natural state, is not just, our deliverance from it is of debt, and not of grace. When we feel, in every power of our minds, that we are justly condemned before God, and that his wrath is our righteous due; we can then receive Christ and salvation by him, as the gift of God, the free gift, the unspeakable gift, of his grace.

The Apostle James says: “A man is justified by works, and not by faith only.”[84] In this he appears, at first view, to contradict the words of Paul: “A man is justified by faith, without deeds of the law.”[85] James has assigned a reason, which furnishes a clue that leads to a perfect reconciliation of this apparent contradiction: “For,” says he, “faith without works is dead.”[86] Faith alone, is dead faith; and dead faith, according to his teaching, does not justify; and this doctrine, Paul does not contradict. The justifying faith of Paul, is living, working faith. He says expressly; “Faith works by love.”[87] James does not exclude faith from justification; but, on the contrary, introduces works, not as excluding faith, but as making it perfect: “By works was faith made perfect.”[88] As thus perfected, faith justifies, according to his teaching: and this is precisely what Paul teaches. The works which Paul excludes are not works of faith, but works of law–not works, evidencing the genuineness and vitality of faith; but works, claiming to be, in whole, or in part, the meritorious cause of justification. Such works are excluded, because they would imply an imperfection in Christ’s work, and give the sinner a ground of glorying. It is manifest that James insists on works, merely as evidences of faith: “Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.”[89] Even words, as well as works, are necessary, to give evidence of faith: “With the heart, man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation.”[90] So far as words prove the presence or absence of faith, it is true, that, “By thy words thou shalt be justified; and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”[91] But words without works, avail nothing; for Christ teaches that, “Not every one that saith Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.”[92] And words and works together, avail nothing, without faith; for, whatever a man may say or do, if he believe not, he “shall be damned.”

A difference of opinion has existed as to the proper date of justification. Some have regarded the day of judgment as its proper date. It is an act of God, as Judge; and, in the judgment of the great day, the Judge will publicly pronounce, on every individual, the sentence which will determine his condition through eternity. Then God’s judgments will be fully revealed; but a partial revelation of them is made in the present life: “Even now, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness, and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.”[93] It is true, “He that believeth not, shall be damned;[94] but it is also true, “He that believeth not, is condemned already.”[95] In like manner, it is true that Christ will publicly own his people in the great day, and pronounce the final sentence in their favor; but it is also true, that they are justified in the present life. Hence Paul says: “Ye are justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”[96] “All that believe are justified from all things.”[97] The same rule by which the eternal state of men will be determined in the great day, is now made known on the authority of him who will sit on the throne of judgment then, and who is now the Judge of all the earth. By this revelation, men are already condemned or justified, according to their character. That character is often secret here. In the great day, God will judge the secrets of all hearts; but he will not establish a new rule of judgment: so far as that rule has been correctly applied here, its decision will be confirmed in the last day by the final sentence.

Some have dated justification in eternity past, regarding it as grace given in Christ Jesus before the world began. Justification is not a secret purpose in the bosom of God, but a revelation from him, and therefore it cannot be eternal. It implies, not only the accounting of the sinner righteous, but the declaring of him righteous; other wise, it would not be the opposite of condemnation; and neither justification nor condemnation can be from eternity. God’s purpose to justify is eternal, and so is his purpose to glorify; but it is improper to say that believers are justified from eternity, as to say that they are glorified from eternity. It is clearly the doctrine of Scripture, that, on believing in Christ, men pass from a state of condemnation into a state of justification.

[53] Acts xiii. 39; Rom. iii. 21, 22, 25, 26; x. 4; Gal. ii. 16; iii. 22, 24; Phil. iii. 8–10.

[54] Job xxvii. 5.

[55] Rom. v. 9.

[56] Rom. v. 19.

[57] Rom. v. 1.

[58] Acts xiii. 39.

[59] Rom. xiii. 10.

[60] Rom. iv. 16.

[61] Rom. iv. 5.

[62] Rom. iv. 5.

[63] Rom. v. 6.

[64] Gal. v. 6.

[65] Rom. iv. 6.

[66] Rom. iv. 3.

[67] Rom. iv. 24.

[68] Rom. iii. 25, 26.

[69] Rom. x. 4.

[70] Rom. iii. 22.

[71] 1 Pet. i. 18, 19.

[72] Gal. iv. 5.

[73] 1 Cor. vi. 19, 29.

[74] 1 John ii. 2.

[75] Isaiah xlii. 21.

[76] Eph. v. 2.

[77] 2 Cor. v. 21.

[78] John iii. 36.

[79] Acts xiii. 39.

[80] Rom. viii. 9.

[81] 1 Cor. xii. 13.

[82] Isaiah liii. 11.

[83] Rom. vii. 33, 34.

[84] James ii. 24.

[85] Rom. iii. 28.

[86] James ii. 17.

[87] Gal. v. 6.

[88] James ii. 22.

[89] James ii. 18.

[90] Rom. x. 10.

[91] Matt. xii. 37.

[92] Matt. vii. 21.

[93] Rom. i. 18.

[94] Mark xvi. 16.

[95] John iii. 18.

[96] 1 Cor. vi. 11.

[97] Acts xiii. 39.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

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The Wednesday Word: Is Jesus Enough for your Religion? Part 2

It is a hard and bitter pill to swallow, but the truth is, everything we do is flawed! But does that matter? It certainly does if we are relying on our religious rituals to get us to Heaven. However, if we are relying exclusively on Jesus, His person and performance, then we are already saved. We have no need to work to gain something from God. Christ’s perfections and righteousness have now delivered and set us free to enjoy Him. If we truly believe that Jesus is enough, then we must accept that we have been brought out from the dreary treadmill of religious performance. Now, as those who have been delivered from the tyranny of having to impress God with our works, we find that there is life abundant in the Gospel.

Will everything we do for Jesus from this time onwards be perfect? It’s exceedingly doubtful (Jeremiah 17:9). Will those around us who are following Jesus do everything correctly? It’s not likely! If this were continually remembered, then there would be fewer fussings and fightings among the followers of Jesus. Disappointments would diminish, and disillusion would disappear. So many have broken off fellowship and gone out on their own because another flawed, imperfect Christian, just like them, hurt them. Or maybe it was the Pastor! He ran off with the piano player! So let’s all quit! Wait a minute, is Jesus not enough for us? He didn’t hurt us or for that matter run off with anyone. He is faithful, loyal and genuine! Are His faithfulness and loyalty enough for us?

In times like those, I’d forgotten that Jesus is enough!

Remember this, the church, although it is comprised of followers of Jesus, is really a hospital for hurting people; it’s full of the walking wounded. Don’t be surprised, then, when one of them turns around and bites you. But as for us, let’s keep our eyes on Jesus. He did no sin, there was no deceit in Him, yet He, “was numbered among the transgressors. We all deserve condemnation, but we have been acquitted by mercy, love and grace working together in concert with God’s justice. Now we are pronounced not guilty, not because of our religion, but because of the person and performance of the Lamb.

Let me ask you then, what do we have that we didn’t receive by grace? He was condemned, we got the acquittal! He suffered, we got the peace. He was put to shame, we inherit glory! He was put to death, we got the abundance of life. Our sins were imputed to Him. His righteousness is imputed to us. This is Amazing Grace!

Why then are we so judgmental towards other weak, frail and flawed followers? We need grace, so do they! What’s so special about us that our rights must be preserved? Jesus had rights, yet He laid them down. He went to the cross where He was mocked as an impostor. He had the right to save Himself, but He laid it down. So now, all that we have, and are, and hope for, is due to the doing and dying of Jesus. That’s the kind of religion’s that is enough for us.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com

The Wednesday Word: Is Jesus Enough for your Religion? Part 1

Romans 10:3-4 … “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes.”

All of us are religious by nature. After all, religion is man’s system and way of approaching and worshiping his God. Religion, is the expression of worship and belief. Religion is man’s way of doing the things he feels his God wants him to do. Religion expresses all that a man believes about his God and how he should be served.

As believers, however, we need to be so very cautious of our religion: unknowingly and invariably, our system of religion can unintentionally replace the Gospel.

When our system of religious observances substitutes itself for the Finished Work of Christ, we are in trouble. We may be sincere, decent, reliable and religious and yet have nothing that God recognizes as being valid or acceptable. We may be very ardent about our religion, but our zeal will not gain us Christ’s righteousness. If Christ alone is not our way to the Father, we have, as yet, not come to God. At the end of the day, it was Christ who said, “No man comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). So long, therefore, as we are mistaken about the way to God, we are in darkness. If we do not know the way to approach God, our worship, sincere as it is, is unacceptable. Indeed, we ourselves are unacceptable. We have missed the Way…the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 3:12)! To replace Christ with our system of religion is both toxic and lethal. Religion does not and cannot give us a Righteousness that fits us for heaven!

To have access to God, we must have Jesus, His doing, dying and rising again. He is supremely superior to our system of religion. For access to God, nothing more than Jesus is needed, but nothing less than Jesus will do. He is enough!

We cannot work our way into God’s favour by our religious practices. Try it, if we must, but it’s a wasted effort. We, by doing so, are relying on man’s religion, not God’s. To try to work our way into heaven’s favour is to entirely miss the mark. To attempt to work our way into God’s approval is to actually fly in the face of the Gospel. Such religious behaviour, whilst commonplace, has no basis in gospel reality and no resemblance to that in which God delights.

The problem happens, when a person thinks that his religious system will ultimately give him favour with Heaven. But here’s the difficulty. Such a person, by his religious activity, admits to being on a quest for forgiveness and acceptance. He has, therefore, got things upside down. The gospel truth is this, acceptance and forgiveness begin our walk with God, they are not the end result. Our acceptance is secure only through the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:12). The only acceptable works which impress the Father are the works of His Son. The Father is well pleased with Jesus. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega of good works! We do not need, therefore, to attempt to be saved by anything we do. As believers, we have already been saved by works; Christ’s works, not ours.

Our salvation is discovered in Christ alone, not in ourselves. It is through Christ alone that we are saved. Jesus is the Saviour. He is God incarnate. It is, therefore, of no surprise that He effectively carries out His work of salvation. In Christ, we have redemption through His blood (Ephesians 1:7). It is by grace alone that the people of God become accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6). It is Jesus alone who is the Saviour of men, and, no matter how religious we become, we are not, and cannot be, our own saviours.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com

The Wednesday Word: Is Jesus enough For Your Righteousness?

Humanly speaking, one of the reasons people don’t come to Christ is simply because they don’t feel they need to. After all, they reason, it’s only sick folk who go to the Doctor. These traditional thinkers believe they are decent and good and, therefore, are qualified, by their goodness, to approach God. As Spurgeon says; “There are people who quite misunderstand the gospel; they think that righteousness qualifies them to come to Christ; whereas sin is the only qualification for man to come to Jesus.”

When we are keenly aware of our sins, it is then that we see our need for the Saviour. The more we understand of the Holiness of God, the more we see the necessity to be clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Nothing but a perfect righteousness is suitable for our approach to God. Either we are covered in our own sins or by His righteousness alone.

So, let’s look again at Jesus. See Him once more at Golgotha. Look at them, stripping Him of His clothes, the very clothes the sick had touched for healing. There He is, naked and ashamed! But why? It was so that we, who have no righteousness of our own, might be clothed in His perfect righteousness and be unashamed. Without His righteousness we would all, as it were, stand naked and exposed before the Justice of God on the Day of Judgment. Is His righteousness enough for you?

Look at Calvary. With angry nails, they fastened Him to the cross. They pierced the feet which had carried Him to proclaim the Good News. With hatred, they hammered their spikes into His hands. What harm had those hands ever done? They were the hands of help and healing yet in their rage they fasten those hands to the cross. Hear the blows of the hammer, listen to His screams, see the blood. Take note, see and above all, rejoice for here is the love of God!

“Here is love, vast as the ocean,

Lovingkindness as the flood,

When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,

Shed for us His precious blood.

Who His love will not remember?

Who can cease to sing His praise?

He can never be forgotten,

Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days.”

William Rees

Who nailed Him there? Was it the Jews for jealousy? Was it Pilate to show his power? Was it the soldiers for spite? No, it was our sins that nailed Him there—yours and mine. As J.C. Ryle says, “Our sins struck the hammer.” It was our sins that bruised and wounded Him. It was we who crucified Jesus.

But, have you embraced this sacrifice as your own? Since you are reading this, the chances are that you’ve heard much about the cross. But is Jesus your righteousness? George Whitefield said it like this, “Here’s something we must learn, going to Church and being good will not give you access to God. The only access we can have is if we have the righteousness of Christ? Nothing but Christ! Nothing but Christ! We need Christ alone and Christ only to be our righteousness.

He went on to say; “If you love Him and He is your righteousness, let the righteousness of your Lord be continually in your mouth. Talk about His righteousness. Recommend it to others! Think of the greatness of the gift, as well as of the giver! Tell everyone you know that Christ is your righteousness and you are saved, not because you are good but because Christ Jesus is your righteousness. Let everyone know that the Lord is your righteousness and that you are waiting for the Lord Jesus to come back from heaven to fetch you!”

Jesus is excellent! Even though our sins had caused a sinkhole of destruction, in Christ, we are brought out of its depths to the Throne.

Now we face our destiny. We have an appointed day, a Day of Judgment: But in that Day, He, the Lord Jesus will present us faultless and flawless before the Throne with exceeding joy (Jude 1:24). Then shall the Judge declare us, “NOT GUILTY!”.

Is this enough for you? Is there anything you would like to add to the Righteousness of Christ?

God forbid! Jesus is enough.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com

Old and New Perspectives on Paul: A Third Way?

January 14, 2016 1 comment

By J. V. Fesko

John Barclay, professor of divinity at Durham University in England, has written a sizable contribution to New Testament studies in Paul and the Gift. His basic thesis is that gift is the proper first-century category for comprehending Paul’s term grace (2). His primary focus is examining the divine gift giving, which for the apostle Paul is God’s gift of Christ (4).

Barclay believes gift is the best way to understand Paul’s concept of grace for three chief reasons.

First, grace is a multifaceted concept that theologians frequently use but seldom define. Some stress the incongruity of grace (giving to an unworthy recipient); others the efficacy of grace. Barclay points out that these different “perfections” of grace (conceptual extensions) aren’t better or worse interpretations of the concept, just different aspects of it (6). He identifies six possible perfections of grace (70–75, 563):

•Superabundance—the size or permanence of a gift

•Singularity—the giver’s sole and exclusive desire to express benevolence and goodness

•Priority—the timing of the gift, namely, that it takes place prior to the initiative of the recipient

•Incongruity—a gift given without regard to the worthiness of the recipient

•Efficacy—the effect of the gift, namely, what the gift is designed to accomplish

•Non-circularity—the gift escapes reciprocity and a system of exchange

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 2-Chapter 13-Righteousness for the Unrighteous

CHAPTER 13-RIGHTEOUSNESS FOR THE UNRIGHTEOUS

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (#Ro 1:16-18).

If I had but one sermon to preach and the whole world for an audience, this is the message I would bring. I would not allow a false modesty to keep me from saying that the truth in this sermon is most vital to every man.

Paul says that he is not ashamed of the gospel because it is what God uses in saving sinners. Then he tells how it saves, namely, be revealing “the righteousness of God,” or how an unrighteous man may become righteous before God. Here is the touch & tone of the true gospel: it reveals how a sinner can become right with a holy and just God.

SOME NECESSARY OBSERVATIONS

1. Salvation is a dire necessity because men are UNRIGHTEOUS, both by inheritance and practice. God is a Lawgiver and the failure of moral beings to obey His law makes them unrighteous in His sight. And this unrighteousness merits and must receive penal punishment from God. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (#Ro 1:18).

2. Unrighteousness is universal among men. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no not one” (#Ro 3:10). This means that no man is righteous by his own record, on his own account, in his own right. In himself considered, every man is ruined by the fall and cursed by the Law. “For it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (#Ga 3:10). “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may be come guilty before God” (#Ro 3:19).

3. Every man out of Christ is under the moral law of God as the way of life “For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them” (#Ro 10:5). Many think that all were under the law before the coming of Christ, and that since His coming all are under grace. If this were true, all before Christ were lost and all since are saved. This would mean universal damnation in one period of time and universal salvation in another period. It is the function of law to punish the disobedient; it is the part of grace to save the disobedient. All men have been saved alike by grace through faith, whether in Old Testament times or since the coming of Christ. All sinners have the same Saviour regardless of the age in which they lived. The Old Testament believers looked forward to the coming Saviour; New Testament believers look back to the Saviour who has already come. “What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were” (#Ro 4:1-17); “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (#Ga 3:21-24). The only way to be saved is to get out from under the moral law of God, and the only way to do this is to trust Jesus Christ, who is “the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (#Ro 10:4).

4. To be saved a man must have a righteousness that conforms to all that the law of God demands. Otherwise the sinner would be saved at the expense of justice. No attribute of God suffers in the salvation of sinners. The principle of justice operates in salvation as truly as in damnation, the difference being that in salvation the Divine attributes of mercy, grace, and love come in to satisfy justice by giving up Christ to be punished as the Surety of His people. Christ died for my sins in the sense that He was punished for them, and if He was punished for them then a just God will not punish me for them. “Free from the law, O happy condition, Jesus has died, and there is remission.” The righteousness of the believer is called “The righteousness of God.” This phrase occurs frequently and is one of the most important expressions in all the Bible. To be saved the sinner must have the righteousness of God, and this is what is revealed in the Gospel of Christ.

MEANING OF THE EXPRESSION

The righteousness of God does not mean the justice of God. God is righteous in the sense that He is just, but the Gospel does not save by telling us that God is just and will give us what we deserve. It is not good news to tell the criminal that the law will give him justice, neither is it good news to tell a sinner that God will give him justice—that would be bad news. Nor can the expression refer to a righteousness God requires from the sinner. To tell a sinner that God will save him if he will perform all the righteous acts called for in the law is to mock him in his helplessness and leave him forever hopeless.

The expression we have before us refers to the righteousness God has provided for sinners. This is good news indeed! Men need a righteousness (right standing before God), and without it are eternally doomed, and to be told that God has provided through the cross the righteousness demanded by His justice is the best news ever to fall on human ears. And so the Gospel reveals a righteousness provided and not a righteousness demanded; a righteousness imputed and not a righteousness imparted; a righteousness imported from heaven and not a righteousness exported from earth. The righteousness of God is a garment divinely woven and not one of human manufacture. When the fig-leaf aprons of Adam and Eve would avail not, “The Lord God made coats of skins, and clothed them” (#Ge 3:21). Striking type of the failure of human works in salvation, and of the Lamb of God Who put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

The righteousness of God comes to the sinner through faith. “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested…even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe” (#Ro 3:21,22). “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (#Ro 10:4). “Him who knew no sin He made to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (#2Co 5:21 R.V.).

My dear reader, if you are lost, let me urge you to acknowledge before God and men that you have no righteousness of your own, and then trust Jesus Christ for the righteousness He provided by His obedience unto death—even the death on the cross. Then you can say with Isaiah, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God: for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation: he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness” (#Isa 61:10).

“Jesus, thy robe of righteousness
My beauty is, my glorious dress;
Mid flaming worlds, in this arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.”

THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD DESCRIBED

1. AS TO ITS AUTHOR. As already noted, Jesus Christ is the Author of this righteousness. He Worked it out by His death on the cross. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (#Ro 5:19). This verse unmistakably teaches that we are guilty by the disobedience of Adam and righteous by the obedience of Christ. To be justified—by God one must either be righteous in person or by proxy. Theoretically, there are two ways to be righteous before God: one is by personal obedience “Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD” (#Le 18:5); “For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them” (#Ro 10:5), the other is by the obedience of a substitute and Surety. Practically and actually, there is but one way and this is through Faith in Jesus Christ, the Surety of the better covenant “By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament” (#Heb 7:22); “But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises” (#Heb 8:6).

2. IN ITS EXTENT. The righteousness Christ wrought for sinners reaches to every born again believer. “And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (#Ac 13:39); “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (#Ro 10:4); “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:” (#Ro 3:22); “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (#1Co 1:30); “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” (#Ro 5:1). The righteousness Christ provided was not needed for Himself, for He was God. Officially, back in eternity, Jesus Christ was in the form or place of God, and His righteousness was that of the Lawgiver. To be righteous as a lawgiver, the law must be enforced and the disobedient punished. To be righteous as a lawkeeper the law must be obeyed. And so Christ kept the law for us, and also paid the penalty we had incurred by violating the law. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:” (#Ga 3:13). Here is an irrefutable argument for the Deity of Jesus Christ. If He were only a man He would have had His own obligations to the law of God, and although a perfect man He could not have rendered account before God for other men. We sometimes hear people say that they would trust Jesus as Saviour without being convinced of His Deity. But the writer makes bold to say that he would not trust Him if He were only a man, however good and glorious. The Bible says, “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils” (#Isa 2:22). No created being can save sinners. The Godhood of the Lord Jesus is absolutely necessary to His Saviourhood. The eternal Word became a man to represent other men before the court of heaven. “And if any man sin, we (the believers) have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (#1Jo 2:1). Our Redeemer at Calvary is now our advocate in heaven.

THE FIRST AND LAST ADAM

In #1Co 15:45,47 “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit…The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven,” Jesus is called the second man and the last Adam. Here He is considered not personally but representatively. Considered as an individual, Jesus was not the second man nor the last Adam. There were many men between the Adam of Eden and the Adam of Calvary, and there have been many men since Jesus. He is called the second man and the last Adam because there are but two representative men. God deals with all men through two men, and our eternal destiny depends upon which of these two men we have our standing in before God. Believers are accepted in the Beloved “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (#Eph 1:6), and are complete in Him: “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:” (#Col 2:10). So believers, considered as moral beings, have obeyed the law in the person of their representative and substitute, and are therefore righteous before God. Jesus Christ is “The Lord our Righteousness” (#Jer 23:6).

“When from the dust of death I rise
To claim my mansion in the skies,
Even then shall this be all my plea—
“Jesus hath lived and died for me,”

3. IN ITS DURATION. How long will the righteousness Christ provided last? It hardly needs to be argued that it will last forever. “Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness” (#Ps 119:142). “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (#Heb 10:14).

“The righteousness of Adam or angels could only exist while they were in a state of obedience. The law was binding on them in every moment of their existence. The moment they disobeyed the advantage derived from all their previous obedience ceased” (Robt. Haldane). In contrast Jesus Christ was the God-man, and all that He did partook of His personal excellencies; therefore, in a limited period of time, He could work out a righteousness of infinite value in every respect. “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke and the earth shall wax old like a garment…But my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished” (#Isa 51:6).

The paradise in which Adam was placed at his creation was here on earth. This paradise was lost through disobedience. But the paradise which we have promised us will be ours by virtue of the obedience of the last Adam, and is an inheritance which is incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for those who are kept by the power of God through faith. “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (#1Pe 1:4,5). It is on the ground of this righteousness that God justifies the believer from all things, and delivers him from going down into the pit of everlasting destruction.

“Alas and did my Saviour Bleed? And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head For such a worm as I?

Was it for crimes that I have done, He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown! And love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkness hide, And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the might Maker died For man the creature’s sin.

But drops of grief can neer repay The debt of love I owe’
Here Lord, I give myself away, “Tis all that I can do”

—Isaac Watts

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 2

Salvation is not by our own merit, but is of the Lord alone

October 26, 2015 2 comments

Spurgeon 3Effectively, it all comes of God; and I am sure we must add, meritoriously. We have experienced that salvation is wholly of him. What merits have I? If I were to scrape together all I ever had, and then come to you and beg all you have got, I should not collect the value of a farthing among you all. We have heard of some Catholic, who said that there was a balance struck in his favor between his good works and his bad ones, and therefore he went to heaven. But there is nothing of the sort here; I have seen many people, many kinds of Christians, and many odd Christians, but I never yet met with one who said he had any merits of his own when he came to close quarters. We have heard of perfect men, and we have heard of men perfectly foolish, and we have thought the characters perfectly alike. Have we any merits of our own? I am sure we have not, if we have been taught of God. Once we thought we had; but there came a man called Conviction into our house one night, and took away our gloryings. Ah! we are vile still. I don’t know whether Cowper said quite right, when he said, —

“Since the dear hour that brought me to thy foot
And cut up all my follies by the root
I never trusted in an arm but thine —
Nor hoped but in thy righteousness divine!”

I think he made a mistake, for most Christians get trusting in self at times, but we are forced to own that “salvation is of the Lord,” if we consider it meritoriously.

Charles H. Spurgeon- God Alone the Salvation of His People-A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath