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Posts Tagged ‘Soli Deo Gloria’

The Wednesday Word: Grace not Debt

“Now to him that works is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that works not, but believes on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” (Romans 4:4-5).

Good gracious, that is an audacious statement, but it is perfectly correct and accurate.

God justifies the ungodly!

Why the ungodly? Because there is no other kind of people for Him to justify. All outside of Christ are ungodly. As Romans 3 explained, “There is none righteous and none that doeth good.” NONE! That’s comprehensive if you ask me.

So, let’s say it again, if God did not justify the ungodly, no one would be justified (acquitted). All are ungodly, some are very ungodly; but none are too ungodly to be justified. Why so? Because justification, (acquittal) is by grace— sheer unbounded grace, and not because of merit (what we deserve or earn).

At Calvary, infinite grace met unbounded demerit and grace triumphed.

Notice, we are not even told to believe that God justifies the ungodly. No, we are called to believe on Him,—on God Himself,—who justifies the ungodly (see our text).

Faith in God for justification implies the abandonment of any confidence we have in justification by our own good works. The old gospel Hymn by James Proctor deals so well with this. It says,

“When He, from His lofty throne,

Stooped to do and die,

Ev’rything was fully done;

Hearken to His cry!

Refrain

It is finished! yes, indeed,

Finished, ev’ry jot;

Sinner, this is all you need,

Tell me, is it not?

2) Weary, working, burdened one,

Wherefore toil you so?

Cease your doing; all was done

Long, long ago.

Refrain

3) Till to Jesus’ work you cling

By a simple faith,

“Doing” is a deadly thing-

“Doing” ends in death.

Refrain

4) Cast your deadly “doing” down-

Down at Jesus’ feet;

Stand in Him, in Him alone,

Gloriously complete.”

Our only hope of heaven is Jesus Himself. Our good works cannot bring us eternal life. As the scripture says, “To him that works is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” Now that is a plain, well-known matter. If we work for a wage, we’ve earned it. It is not grace, therefore, on the part of our employer to, at the end of the week, give us our wages. We’ve earned them.

But grace gives us what we haven’t earned or deserved.

Supposing you met a homeless stranger and you bought him a meal, that would be grace,—but only in a small measure. Gospel grace is much greater than that. Gospel grace is more akin to the following. Suppose a stranger plundered your home and robbed you and you, knowing who he was and what he had done, unbegrudgingly and gladly bought him a meal, that’s more like the grace of God.

We are saved by grace!

There is no question of working for wages to gain eternal life.

Salvation is “to him that works not— but believes on Him that justifies the ungodly,”—Gospel truth makes us repudiate our works as our hope of salvation. In grace, the Lord justifies the ungodly, the stranger, the destitute and the enemy. He is “the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.”

The blood of the Lamb is the basis on which He can righteously justify. That is why He “is just, and the justifier of him that believes in Jesus” (Romans 3:25-26). God justifies the ungodly—but some people would rather do anything other than simply trust themselves to Him. They would rather work than believe. They want their own righteousness and refuse to surrender themselves to the righteousness of God. They won’t submit, they won’t repent.

But, thank God, the most ungodly who trusts in Him is declared not guilty.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com  

Joy Because of Justification

by Erroll Hulse

WE have seen that humiliation because of sin is the first experience of Christianity and without it there can be no salvation. The good news of the Gospel is for sinners only. The self-righteous cannot be saved because they trust in themselves and their own works. The degree to which sinners will experience conviction and feel their guilt varies. After conversion the experience of humiliation because of sin can be intense as is seen in many examples — Job, Isaiah, Peter and Paul. The depth of humiliation has a profound effect upon the believer, particularly with reference to understanding and practising the doctrines of grace. Spurgeon put it this way:

Hardly a glimmer of the humbling truth of our natural depravity dawns on the dull apprehension of the worldly-wise, though souls taught from above know it and are appalled by it. In divers ways the discovery comes to those whom the Lord ordains to save. . . . There is a vital connection between soul-distress and sound doctrine. Sovereign grace is dear to those who have groaned deeply because they see what grievous sinners they are. Witness Joseph Hart and John Newton whose hymns you have often sung, or David Brainerd and Jonathan Edwards, whose biographies many of you have read.1

Also we have observed that the new birth takes place after, before or during conviction, i.e. in some cases it might precede, in other cases it might follow. That the new birth precedes saving faith and saving repentance is fundamental to the Reformed faith, but, again as we have seen, it has always been a matter of debate as to how much conviction or preparation goes on in a sinner before the new birth is wrought by the Holy Spirit. Some believe in more preparatory work prior to the new birth than others. Jonathan Edwards in his writings……

Read the entire article here.

Justification and Imputation

by Persis Lorenti

On October 31, 2017, many Christians celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. My church held a service where several pastors spoke on the theological importance of this historical event, namely the recovery of the doctrine of justification by faith alone through grace alone in Christ alone for God’s glory alone. This indeed is a wonderful truth that is the ground of the gospel. What then is the ground of justification? The doctrine of imputation.

Apart from God’s intervention, Romans 3:23 is true for every man, woman, and child. We have fallen short of the glory of God, and we have fallen in two respects. We are guilty of breaking the law, which is a capital offense. (Gen. 2:16-17) God cannot sweep our sin under the rug and maintain His holiness. Therefore, sin must be punished. (Ps. 5:4-6, Heb. 10:26-31) We are also guilty of not keeping the law. (Deut. 5:29-33) God our Creator rightfully demands perfect obedience, but our best efforts are filthy rags. (Is. 64:6) Therefore, these two mammoth obstacles must be dealt with in order for us….

Read the entire article at Reformation21.

Benjamin Keach on Justification

by Tom Nettles

Editor’s Introduction

Benjamin Keach (1640–1704) became a Baptist at age 15, preached as a General Baptist, and suffered persecution, imprisonment, and the pillory for his convictions as a Baptist. After serving as an elder in a General Baptist congregation from 1668-1672, he became a Particular Baptist minister and founded the church at Horse-lie-Down in Southwark in London. He spent the remainder of his years as a zealous preacher of the gospel, an effective polemicist, a theoretician on principles of biblical interpretation, a poet, a hymn-writer, and a writer of allegory. His clear and bold defense of the doctrines of grace was informed by his previous years as an Arminian. He lived with sincere conviction that the doctrine of justification by faith was indeed the doctrine on which the church stands or falls. His sermons and expositional writings were filled with explanations of the centrality of this doctrine to a proper understanding of the grace of God.

In an exposition of Luke 7:42, “And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both,” Keach had an applicatory section explain how grace reigns through righteousness. Grace is not elevated in an unjust way………..

Read the entire article at Founders Ministries.

Justification and the Old Perspective

by Jeffrey Stivason

Charles Spurgeon’s famous quip goes something like this, “I love to proclaim these strong old doctrines, that are called by nickname Calvinism, but which are surely and verily the revealed truth of God as it is in Christ Jesus.” We might say something similar about justification. We may describe it as the Reformed perspective or Protestant perspective on justification but it is nothing other than the truth of God revealed in Scripture. In this article, I simply want to point out the constituent elements of the doctrine of justification and make reference to their Biblical support.

First, we must affirm that man is fallen in Adam……

Read the entire article at Reformation21.

Justification and the New Perspective

Jeffrey Stivason

The New Perspective now feels old. Or to say it differently, it has gained stability in the academy and in the church. Tom Wright, its leading salesperson, is as intelligent as he is winsome. He also has the instincts of a pastor. Hence the Everyone’s Commentary, which has quickly become a staple in the church, is reaching, well, everyone! The New Perspective is leaching into the pews at an accessible rate. So, as we think about justification I think it’s a good idea that we address the New Perspective on Paul (NPP).

Let me begin by saying that Robert Cara, Provost, Chief Academic Officer and Hugh and Sallie Reaves Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, has gifted the church with a book titled, Cracking the Foundations of the New Perspective. It is a text meant to equip pastors who are ill-equipped to answer arguments rooted in Second Temple Judaism made by advocates…..

Read the entire article at Reformation21 

Why Evangelicals Must Engage Roman Catholicism

As I speak to different audiences and at various conferences, the question comes back over and over again: why should Evangelicals bother engaging Roman Catholicism? Let me suggest four reasons.

It’s a Global Issue

Wherever you go in the world – North and South, East and West – you will find people who call themselves Roman Catholics and with whom all of us will interact in one way or another on matters of faith. You will also encounter the Roman Catholic Church through its institutions and agencies: parishes, schools, hospitals, charities, movements, etc. According to the 2020 edition of the Pontifical Yearbook, Catholics around the world amount….

Read the entire article here

Justification and Roman Catholicism

by Stephen Unthank

It shouldn’t surprise Protestant readers that our Roman Catholic friends (or maybe they’re not your friends) really do believe that God justifies sinners. When they read Romans 3:19-26 they also say “Amen!” But of course, it’s what is meant by the term justify that needs careful clarification. In fact, it’s that very definition which makes the difference between calling our Roman Catholic neighbors merely a friend or a brother.[1]

The history of Rome’s understanding is itself variegated and in no way lends itself to an easy retelling, at least not in a short article like this. There’s a story about an argument over justification by faith, held during the two-decade deliberation of the Council of Trent, where “the Bishop of La Cava wrenched the beard of the Cretan Bishop of Chironissa, who had commented that he was either a knave or a fool for sounding a bit like Martin Luther on justification.”[2] And yet, you could turn to many of Thomas Aquinas’ statements on justification and easily conclude that he sounds exactly like Martin Luther. That is to say, there is not a clearly defined doctrine of justification which is easily traceable throughout the history of the Catholic Church. This is partly why there could be such a vague document like the Evangelicals and Catholics Together, which plays on how close Catholics and Protestants can seemingly come. Yet, being close is not the same thing as being faithful and when it comes to the Gospel, faithful is essential whereas being close is still an eternally distant “close.”

It is not quite right to say that the Roman Catholic church opposes salvation by grace through faith. Their own Catechism explicitly states that a person is made right with God by God’s grace, and that grace is accepted by faith. “The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit….

Read the entire article over at Reformation21  

The Wednesday Word: Grace! Grace! Grace! Part 2

by D. G. Miles McKee

Ephesians 2: 8-10.

“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast…..”

Matthew Henry’s commentary on our text says: “Every converted sinner is a saved sinner. Such are delivered from sin and wrath; they are brought into a state of salvation and have a right given them by grace to eternal happiness.

“The grace that saves them is the free, underserved, goodness and favour of God; and He saves them, not by the works of the law, but through faith in Christ Jesus, by means of which they come to partake of the great blessings of the gospel; and both that faith and that salvation on which it has so great an influence are the gift of God.”

Salvation is entirely by Grace. Paul says in Ephesians 2:1: “You has he made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins.” We were spiritually dead. We had no spiritual understanding. What did we deserve but a good burial? …If even!

In Ephesians 2:2-3 however, as we read on, we learn the strangest thing, we discover we were dead but walking .. literally we were “walking dead men”…. We were zombies-like walking according to the world system, which is against God, and following “the prince of the power of the air,” which is Satan.

There’s a story about a graveyard in an area in Ayrshire, Scotland, where once a stranger was buried. It greatly distressed the people of that particular parish, so much so that they put a notice up on the outside of the graveyard that read, “This graveyard is reserved exclusively for the dead who are living in this parish.” Funny!

But we were living dead people. We were alive, just like Adam was physically alive after he had sinned, but nevertheless spiritually dead. We were living and were dead, but God made us alive. Grace! Grace ! Grace!

Here’s a good way of looking at grace… Notice in Ephesians 1:1 the apostle calls believers saints. However, look at what we once were. Ephesians 2:1-3..

Dead,

Walking in the devil’s path,

Children of disobedience,

Children of wrath.

And what made the difference? It was grace.

In addition, 2 Timothy 1:9 tells us we are chosen by grace;

In Ephesians 1:7 we learn that we have redemption by grace;

We are adopted by grace Ephesians 1:5.

By that same grace we are accepted Ephesians 1:6.

By grace we have the forgiveness of sins Ephesians 1:7.

By that same grace we have been made alive together with Christ Ephesians 2:5.

He has glorified us by grace Ephesians 2:6.

Nowhere in the Bible is credit given to man regarding his salvation. It is all of grace! The making alive, the undeserved favour, the faith, the union with Christ, the good works that follow after salvation are all the gifts of Almighty God!

Is it any wonder then that Paul would write in Galatians 6:14 “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

To “glory” is “to boast”. Paul is saying that we cannot boast in anything except the cross of the Lord Jesus. That’s another way of saying that we are saved by grace. All our prosperity, all our accomplishments, all our doctrinal understanding, and even all the accumulated knowledge over our lifetime is nothing to glory about. We can boast only in the grace of God as seen in the cross, the cross of Christ! Glory to His name!

To be continued.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

The Wednesday Word: Grace! Grace! Grace! Part 1

Ephesians 2: 8-10.

“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Ephesians has been called the Alps of the New Testament because some of the things taught in it are amazingly glorious. Here are but two of them …

1) We are saved by grace plus nothing, and

2) We are saved by grace minus nothing.”

The Greek word for grace is “Charis.” It means, ‘unmerited and undeserved favour.’ It is, ‘God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.’

Martyn Lloyd Jones said, “There is no more wonderful word than ‘grace.’ It means unmerited favour or kindness shown to one who is utterly undeserving. It is a free gift to those who deserve the exact opposite, and it is given to us while we are ‘without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).

We are saved by grace!

We are delivered from the wrath to come by grace (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

We are given eternal life by grace (Romans 5:21).

Religion knows nothing of grace. Religion seeks to find favour with God by doing something (Romans 10:3). In religion, good works are a premium. But under grace, the sinner is freely declared not guilty. Have you grasped that for yourself?

But there’s more. The believer is not only forgiven he is also acquitted. And how is this done? It is done simply on the merits of another person, the Lord Jesus Christ (Leviticus 16; 1 Peter 3:18). Now that’s grace!

In Ephesians 2:6-9, Notice what grace isn’t!

‘It is not of ourselves.’

There was and is nothing we could do to deserve salvation. We may say, “What about faith? Isn’t that something I do?” No! Faith is a gift of God. It is not of works lest anyone should boast.

Have we then no work to do in this great matter of our justification? In a nutshell, NONE!

What work can we work to obtain personal salvation? NONE! What work of ours can buy forgiveness or make us worthy of Divine favour? NONE!

Has the Lord commanded that we crawl around the earth on our hands and knees? NO!

Has He decreed that we should whip ourselves and deprive ourselves of everything good? NO!

So, what work has God commanded us to do to obtain salvation?

Once more …NONE!

Romans 4:5 “To him that works not, but believes in Him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” There is only one work which can save us, and that work is not ours, but the work of the God/Man. And that work is finished (John 19:30). It can never be repeated. Salvation is all Grace, Grace, Grace!

SAVED!

‘Saved’ is another great Bible word from our verse. It means deliverance. It means life in contrast to the death. It must be remembered that God is obliged to save no one. All of us have sinned and rebelled. All of us deserve death, not salvation. God was not and is not bound to come and rescue a defiant humanity….that’s why we love GRACE!

In Ephesians 2:1 the Word says, “You has he (God), quickened (made alive), who were dead in trespasses and sin.”

He is speaking of spiritual death here and in the past tense. We were dead! But, things are different now. We have been made alive. We are saved. We are no longer under wrath…..we are saved. And how did we get saved? … Grace! Grace! Grace!

John Stott puts it this way: “You were saved through faith, and even this faith by which you are saved is God’s gift.” This is an essential truth. We must never think of salvation as a kind of a transaction between God and us in which He contributes grace, and we contribute faith. For we were dead and had to be brought alive before we could believe.”

To be continued.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com