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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 

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The Wednesday Word: I know I am Saved Because…..

December 12, 2018 7 comments

I know I am saved because I was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).

I know I am saved because the Eternal God became a man for me (1 Timothy 3:16).

I know I am saved because it was promised that Jesus, the God/Man, would save me (Matthew 1:21).

I know I am saved because Jesus lived for me and credited His perfect life to me (1 Corinthians 1:30).

I know I am saved because Jesus became a wrath offeringfor me (Romans 3:25).

I know I am saved because Jesus has given me the gift of eternal life (John 10:28).

I know I am saved because Jesus is the Shepherd who has never lost a sheep (John 18:9).

I know I am saved because Jesus is the Lawyer who has never lost a case (John 10:27-30).

I know I’m saved because Jesus is the Champion who has never lost a battle (Hebrews 2:10).

I know I am saved because I have been justified… declared not guilty and credited as being righteous (Romans 5:1).

I know I am saved because I have been reconciled unto God by the death of His Son (Romans 5:10).

I know I am saved because Jesus redeemed me. He bought and paid for me at the cross. I have redemption in Him (Ephesians 1:7).

I know I am saved because Jesus was buried for me (I Corinthians 15:4).

I know I am saved because Jesus rose from the dead for me (1 Corinthians 15:4).

I know I am saved because Jesus ascended into Heaven for me (Luke 24:50-51).

I know I am saved because Jesus was made a surety of a better testament for me (Hebrews 7:22).

I know I am saved because Jesus sat down in cosmic authority for me (Hebrews 10:12).

I know I am saved because Jesus, my High Priest, ever lives to make intercession for me (Hebrews 7:25).

I know I’m saved because Jesus intercedes to ensure all the benefits of His death are applied to me (Hebrews 7:25).

I know I am saved because the work Jesus finished on earth, He continually presents in heaven on my behalf (Hebrews 9:24).

I know I am saved because Jesus ever lives to save me to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25).

I know I’m saved because his intercession for me is always successful (Romans 8:34-39).

I know that I am saved because the Father always hears the Son (John 11:42).

I know I am saved because Jesus is the Author of my faith. He began it (Hebrews 12:12).

I know I am saved because Jesus is also the finisher of my faith. He will finalize it! (Hebrews 12:12).

I know I am saved because nothing can separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39).

I know I am saved because the Bible declares; “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God who also makes intercession for us” (Romans 8: 33-34).

I know I am saved because by one offering He (Christ) has perfected forever them that are sanctified (Hebrews 10:14).

I know I am saved because Jesus has purged my sins (Hebrews 1:3).

I know I am saved because my sins are forgotten (Hebrews 8:12).

I know I am saved because my sins are put away (Psalm 103:12).

I know I am saved because my sins are behind God’s back (Isaiah 38:17).

I know I am saved because my sins are cast into the depth of the sea (Micah 7:19).

I know I am saved because the Lord Yahweh has said, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins” (Isaiah 43:25).

I know I am saved because Jesus has promised to come back for me (John 14:3).

I know I’m saved because Jesus never lies (Numbers 23:19).

I know I am saved because;

“My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness

I dare not trust the sweetest frame

But wholly lean on Jesus name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand

All other ground is sinking sand.”

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 2-Chapter 10-Saving Faith

CHAPTER 10-SAVING FAITH

All is not gold that glitters; all is not silver that shines; every cow that moos does not fill the pail; neither will all who profess faith, and say “Lord, Lord” reach heaven. When we speak of saving faith the implication is, that there is a faith that does not save. We preach salvation by faith without any works of human merit, and in this we are right on safe ground. It is the uniform teaching of Scripture that the sinner is saved by faith only: “It is of faith that it might be by grace” (#Ro 4:16). If the sinner does anything beyond faith for salvation, he frustrates the grace of God. But we have reckon with counterfeits in the matter of faith, as in other things. There are many counterfeits in the realm of religion. Satan is the master counterfeiter. If God has a Son named the Lord Jesus Christ, then Satan also has a son who is called the son of perdition: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;” (#2Th 2:3). If God has His ministers, then Satan has his ministers who transform themselves into ministers of righteousness to deceive “Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (#2Co 11:15). If God has a gospel, then Satan has his gospel, which Paul calls another gospel, which is not the true gospel “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (#Ga 1:8). If Christ has His church, then Satan has his synagogue “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee” (#Re 3:9). If there is a faith called the faith of God’s elect, then Satan counterfeits this faith: “But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (#Heb 10:39). Counterfeit money passes through many hands without being detected, and many counterfeit Christians pass as true believers. It appears that Judas was not detected as a false professor by the other disciples, for no finger was pointed at him when Christ predicted that one of them would betray Him. This is a challenge to every professor, including the writer, to make sure he possesses saving grace and saving faith. Let us now consider:

SOME SUBSTITUTES FOR SAVING FAITH

1. There is what might be termed historical or theoretical faith.

This is a mere assent of the mind to the revealed truth. This is without any emotional or devotional element. The truth does not reach the inward parts, and the heart is not in it. It is lacking in love and trust. It is to believe about Christ as one might believe about Washington or Lincoln.

2. There may be a natural and temporary faith.

This finds illustration in the parable of the sower. The stony ground hearer received the word at once with joy, but not having the root of the matter in him, he endured only for a while, and under testing lost interest in what he had professed. Everything was on the surface, and therefore, was hasty and unreal; nothing more than fleshly emotion. It was not of God and therefore not abiding. In a real experience of grace, the word does not at first make glad. The Holy Spirit drives the truth through the bowels of self-esteem and the sinner feels bad. It is the Spirit’s way to expose the sinner to himself before He reveals to him Christ as Saviour. It is the conscious sinner who looks to Christ for salvation.

3. There is what the Scriptures call vain faith.

In showing the necessity of the resurrection of Christ, Paul says, “And if Christ be not raised your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (#1Co 15:17). The apostle is saying that faith in a dead Christ would be in vain. Here he was not thinking of the nature of faith, but of the object of faith. Vain faith is to trust that which does not have power to save. Weak faith may be saving faith, while strong faith may be vain faith. Strong faith in a dead Christ could not save, while weak faith in the living Christ is saving faith. This makes the object of faith of supreme importance. If the sinner trusts the wrong object, his faith will be vain. The only object of saving faith is the crucified and living Christ; the strongest faith in any other object will be worthless. All of us ought to have greater faith in Christ; however, it is not the strength of our faith that saves, but the strength of the saviour. Isaiah describes the idolator who makes his god from the same tree with which he warms himself and cooks his food. His strange conduct is explained thus: “A deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?” (#Isa 44:20). Spiritual insanity of the human race is amply revealed in the things people trust for salvation. Only those taught by God trust in Jesus Christ “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me” (#Joh 6:45).

4. Feelings may be substituted for faith.

Much preaching is calculated to produce feelings rather than faith. Preachers should beware of telling sob stories and getting sinners to act on their emotions when they have been given no saving object to trust. The true order in an experience of grace is:

Fact; Faith; Feeling.

4a) The fact of the gospel of Christ and Him crucified;

4b) Faith in that fact—-faith in what Christ did as Saviour;

4c) Feelings as the natural result of our reliance upon Christ as Saviour. We are not saved by our feelings, but if we trust Christ for salvation, we will have a sense of peace in our souls and a feeling of safety as we ponder what the Scriptures say about the power of His blood to save. And now may we consider more directly:

THE NATURE OF SAVING FAITH

There are two senses in which the word “faith” is used in the Bible. Sometimes—most of the time-the word means the act of believing, and a few times it means what one believes: his creed. In Jude 3 where we are exhorted to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,” the obvious meaning is that we are to contend for the body of truth given in the Scriptures. And Jesus appears to use the word in the same way when he says, “Thou believest that there is one God” (#Jas 2:19). This was the orthodox creed of the Jew according to “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:” (#De 6:4). But to have an orthodox creed concerning God is not the act of saving faith.

Saving faith as an act is a compound of belief and trust: belief in God’s testimony about His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and trust in Christ as the Saviour. To believe God on the question of salvation is to trust His Son as Saviour. John tells us that God has testified that there is eternal life in His Son and that to refuse to trust His Son is to make God a liar. “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (#1Jo 5:9-12).

Saving faith is accompanied by works; otherwise faith is a dead thing and has no value. We are saved by faith alone, but not by a faith which is alone. In the new birth there are three graces implanted in the human soul; faith, hope and love, and these three are inseparable. Hope presupposes faith, for we could not hope for the fulfillment of the promise if we did not believe the thing promised would be received. Faith is joined to love and works by love: “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (#Ga 5:6). Paul preached faith without works as any part of the procuring cause of justification. He also preached works as the fruit or evidence of faith. Paul and James were agreed on the nature of saving faith. James preached justification by works as evidence of real faith. He wrote about justification of profession. He insisted that a real living faith could only be shown by works. “Shew me,” was the challenge of James.

DEFINITION AND ILLUSTRATIONS

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews tells us what faith is and what it does. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report” (#Heb 11:1,2). Faith operates with respect to the future, things looked forward to with hope or expectation; and it also operates with respect to things which cannot be observed, things beyond scientific demonstration. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. The word for substance literally means, “That which stands under”. So faith is that which stands under hope to support it, to keep it from dying while waiting for what is promised. What is hoped for is not yet possessed, but faith is the assurance that it will be possessed. The word of God is the objective ground on which hope rests; one hopes for something because God has promised it. Faith furnishes a subjective ground for hope, for faith is the inward assurance that what is hoped for will be received. It is like this. God makes a promise in His word, hope begins to look forward to its fulfillment, and faith is the confidence or assurance that the thing promised will be forthcoming. Now saving faith is the assurance that all the blessings God has promised in Christ will be received. Some of these blessings, such as personal perfection, and a home in heaven, lie out in the future as matters of hope. If I did not believe that I would ultimately reach heaven and be conformed to the image of Christ, then I would be without hope as I face the future.

Faith is also the evidence of things not seen. Faith is the inward conviction that what God says is true, even though it is beyond reasons and scientific demonstration. This twofold definition of faith is followed by illustrations in the realm of the future and of the unseen. We have space for only two of these illustrations.

THE FAITH OF ABEL

“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts” (#Heb 11:4). Abel hoped for acceptance with God, and this hope was founded upon God’s promise. God had spoken to both Cain and Abel about the way of approach to Him, and acceptance by Him. Faith presupposes a divine revelation, for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (#Ro 10:17). The way God prescribed indicated that men are sinners, and can only be accepted on the ground of blood, for “without the shedding of blood is no remission” (#Heb 9:22). Both Cain and Abel were told what to bring as an offering to God. Cain, like the Pharisees of Christ’s day, rejected God’s counsel or verdict against himself, denied that he was a sinner, refused to bring the bloody offering God demanded and brought a mere thank-offering of the fruit of the ground. He thus acted in unbelief, and he and his offering were rejected. Abel acted by faith and brought the kind of sacrifice prescribed. He took the place of a sinner and brought a slain lamb. Both Cain and Abel offered in hope of being accepted, but Cain’s hope did not rest on faith in God’s word and ended in disappointment and despair. Abel’s hope was realized, and he obtained witness of acceptance with God on the ground of the gifts he brought. We have heard it said that if Cain had brought his fruit of the ground by faith, he too would have been accepted. The reply to this is that if Cain had brought an offering by faith, he would not have brought fruit, but the same kind of sacrifice brought by Abel. We are told that Abel brought a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which we are not to understand that it was a greater intrinsic worth, but it was more excellent as a confession of sin and a type of the promised bruiser of the serpent’s head.

THE FAITH OF NOAH

“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house” (#Heb 11:7). “Faith cometh by hearing,” so Noah had a revelation from God about a coming flood and how to escape destruction in it. This was something never seen and something beyond scientific proof. All that Noah had to act upon was what God said. Noah believed God. He was not interested in scientific proof of the possibilities of a flood. One never believes God as long as he tries to ascertain whether what God says is reasonable or possible. One never believes God when he puts what God says in the crucible of human reason and judgment.

SOME METAPHORS OF SAVING FAITH

Saving faith is represented under a variety of metaphors, some of which we will now consider:

1. Faith is committing the soul to Christ.

Paul speaks thus in #2Ti 1:12: “For I know whom I have believed (margin, trusted), and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” Paul had deposited his soul with Christ for eternal safekeeping with the assurance that it would be safely kept.

2. Faith is coming to Christ.

Christ says, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (#Joh 6:37). And again, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (#Mt 11:28).

3. Faith is receiving Christ.

Of Christ it is written: “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believed on his name” (#Joh 1:11,12). Faith is the empty hand receiving Christ as the one mighty to save. Faith has nothing to give as the price of salvation. Faith says, “Nothing in my hands I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling.”

4. Faith is feeding on Christ.

In the great discourse on the bread of life our Lord uses the words believing, coming, and eating interchangeably. See #Joh 6:32-58. Believing on Christ is the same as coming to Him, and both are the same as eating His flesh and drinking His blood. How absurd it is to take the words about eating His flesh and drinking His blood in the gross and carnal sense! These are figures of speech to represent the soul as appropriating the benefits of Christ’s death. Christ was offered for sin once, and nobody has His material body and blood, nor can it be manufactured by anybody. We feed upon His body and blood spiritually by faith and not with carnal mouths. There is nothing which can be put into our fleshly bodies or applied to them outwardly that will effect our salvation.

5. Faith is fleeing to Christ.

Under the Old Testament economy there were cities of refuge to which the manslayer might flee for safety. “And among the cities which ye shall give unto the Levites there shall be six cities for refuge, which ye shall appoint for the manslayer, that he may flee thither: and to them ye shall add forty and two cities. So all the cities which ye shall give to the Levites shall be forty and eight cities: them shall ye give with their suburbs. And the cities which ye shall give shall be of the possession of the children of Israel: from them that have many ye shall give many; but from them that have few ye shall give few: every one shall give of his cities unto the Levites according to his inheritance which he inheriteth. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come over Jordan into the land of Canaan; Then ye shall appoint you cities to be cities of refuge for you; that the slayer may flee thither, which killeth any person at unawares. And they shall be unto you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the manslayer die not, until he stand before the congregation in judgment” (#Nu 35:6-12). And so Christ is the sinner’s refuge from the danger of sin. We have two immutable things: God’s word and His oath so that “we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us” (#Heb 6:18).

6. Faith is looking unto Christ.

“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else” (#Isa 45:22). “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (#Heb 12:2). Truly, there is life for a look at the crucified One.

7. Faith is calling upon Christ.

“For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (#Ro 10:12,13). Those who will not call upon Christ in this day of salvation will call upon the mountains to fall on them and hide them from His face in the day of His wrath. But none who call now by faith shall call in vain, for Christ is a willing and able Saviour.

ILLUSTRATION

All the elements in saving faith may be brought out by the use of an old illustration. The thoughts, feelings, and action of a person who stands by a boat upon a small island which is threatened by rising waters, will represent the whole of saving faith. The person first regards the boat from a purely intellectual point of view. He believes the boat actually exists, just as the sinner believes there is a God and that there is a Saviour. As the stream rises and swells, the man will look at the boat with some sense of emotion and feeling of interest. And so the sinner under conviction of sin has a feeling of concern for his safety. When the man sees the rushing tide is about to sweep him into the raging waters, he gets into the boat as the only way of escape. Getting into the boat is what actually saves him, and he cannot be said to have trusted the boat until he gets into it. And so the sinner may believe that Christ is the Saviour, but he is not saved until he gets into Him by faith —not saved until He relies upon Him for salvation. The very essence of faith is reliance or trust. Every believer gladly confesses: “I broke God’s law, Christ came between; I’m depending on Him to save.”

“Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity joined with power;
He is able, He is willing doubt no more.

“Come ye weary heavy laden,
Bruised and broken by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all;
No the righteous—sinners, Jesus
came to call.

“Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him;
his He gives you; ‘Tis the Spirit’s
rising beam.”

—Joseph Hart, 1712-1768

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

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 2-Chapter 6-Justification, or the Divine Acquittal

September 18, 2015 Leave a comment

CHAPTER 6-JUSTIFICATION, OR THE DIVINE ACQUITTAL

Demosthenes well says that knowledge begins with definition. Every teacher needs to remember this, and be careful to define his terms. The Bible abounds in big words—-words of tremendous importance—-and we should exercise much care in defining these words.

The book of Job is full of questions. “Canst thou by searching find out God?” (#Job 11:7). “If a man die, shall he live again?” (#Job 14:14). “How can he be clean that is born of woman?” (#Job 25:4). “How should man be just with God?” (#Job 9:2). And this last question is repeated in #Job 25:4 “How then can man be justified with God?” This last question is to have our attention in this article. Let us fix the question in our mind: How can rebellious man, who has tried to dethrone the God of all the earth, find acquittal with God?

A man was once asked if he would not like to be saved. He replied: “Yes, but I do not see how God can save me without doing wrong.” This man was a thinker. He went on to say that he had sinned: that God’s word declares the wages of sin to be death, and that as a sinner, he must receive what he had earned. He confessed that he deserved to be punished, and could not see how God could remain just without punishing him for his sins. Job’s question was this man’s question.

There were no questions until sin entered the world. Eve was deceived into thinking that the forbidden fruit would make one wise and thus resolve all future questions. But this attempt to become wise resulted in separation from God with resultant darkness in the face of innumerable questions. Adam and Eve had been walking by faith—by faith in what God had said—but in disobedience they embarked upon a career of walking by sight, which means to believe what one sees. Eve saw that the fruit of the forbidden tree was good for food, and pleasant to the eyes. Now in salvation, the sinner is restored to the principle of walking by faith, which means to believe what God says. “The just shall live by faith” (#Heb 10:38). “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (#Ro 10:17). If sin reigned by bringing questions into the world, then grace reigns by giving answers to these questions. How can man the sinner be acquitted before the Holy and righteous God? This is a big question, but there is a blessed and infallible answer found in the Bible. We will consider:

THE NATURE OF JUSTIFICATION, OR WHAT JUSTIFICATION IS

Justification is that particular aspect of salvation which consists of deliverance from the guilt and penalty of sin. It is the legal aspect of salvation in which one has right standing before God as Lawgiver. So far as guilt and condemnation are concerned, the believer is as perfect as if he had never sinned. Paul challenges the whole universe to lay anything to the charge of God’s elect “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth” (#Ro 8:33). At Antioch in Pisidia, the apostle preached the crucified and risen Christ, saying, “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).

Justification is a forensic or law term. It does not refer to any inward work of grace as regeneration does. It has nothing to do with moral improvement, but with judicial standing. It means acquittal, vindication, acceptance before a judgment seat. The Council of Trent (1547) gives the Roman Catholic view of justification, in which the term is defined as “not the mere remission of sins but also sanctification and renovation of the inner man.” But such a definition confounds justification with regeneration and sanctification, other aspects of salvation.

Take the word in its every day use, and it will be obvious that it has nothing to do with improvement of character or moral change. To justify one’s views does not mean to change them or to correct them but rather to vindicate them. To justify a course of conduct does not mean a change of conduct, but the vindication of what one has done. To justify a friend does not imply any change in your friend, but the vindication of him before some judgment seat, it may be, the bar of public opinion.

Take a clear illustration from Scripture: “If there be a controversy between men, and they come into judgment, that the judges may judge them, then they shall justify the righteous and condemn the wicked” (#De 25:1). Here it is plain that no moral improvement is implied. The judges were not to make anybody better, but to declare who was right in the eyes of the law. A human court or judge can only maintain justice by justifying the innocent, but God maintains justice and magnifies grace by justifying the ungodly: “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (#Ro 4:5). There are no innocent people for God to justify, for all have sinned. The next question is that concerning the author of salvation.

THE AUTHOR OF JUSTIFICATION, OR WHO IS THE JUSTIFIER?

This question finds explicit answer in #Ro 8:33: “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” There is no salvation through self-justification. In #Lu 10:29 “But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?,” we are told of a certain lawyer who was willing to justify himself, but he was not saved thereby. Paul said, that even though he might not have anything against himself, he would not thereby be justified, for it is the Lord who judges “For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord” (#1Co 4:4). There were Pharisees who justified themselves before men, but that did not mean salvation. To be justified before God one must be justified by God. One might have a clean bill of moral health from his friends and neighbours, but to be saved he must be pronounced righteous by God. God Himself must pronounce the acquittal, else we stand condemned before His righteous law. One’s conscience may not condemn, but the question of guilt and penalty is not left to the conscience. Nobody’s conscience would consign him to hell. It is not the human conscience but a holy God who must first be satisfied before there can be justification. This leads on to another question:

THE SOURCE OF JUSTIFICATION, OR WHAT CAUSES GOD TO JUSTIFY THE UNGODLY?

The grand answer to this question is found in #Ro 3:24: “Being justified freely by his grace.” The adverb “freely” means “Without any cause or reason in the sinner.” It is the same word used in #Joh 15:25, where Christ says, “They hated me without a cause.” There was nothing in Christ to merit the hatred of men, and there is nothing in any sinner to cause God to justify him; the cause is in God Himself. It is not good in the sinner but grace in God that moves Him to justify. In #Ro 11:6, the apostle says, “And if by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace.” To mix anything of human merit with divine grace is to destroy grace. It is either all of grace or none of grace. There is no conjunction joining anything with grace as the source or cause of justification. And yet, men dare to mix something of man with the grace of God as the moving cause of justification. This is to divide the honour and praise of salvation between the sinner and the Saviour, between men and God. Men may do that here on earth, but in heaven all honour and praise are ascribed to God. And this calls for still another question:

THE JUST BASIS, OR MERITORIOUS GROUND OF JUSTIFICATION

On what ground can God justify the ungodly and yet remain just? It is on the ground of blood atonement, “Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (#Ro 3:24). “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (#Eph 1:7). “Much more then, being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (#Ro 5:9). “Christ and Him crucified” is the only righteous ground for the justification of any sinner. And there is no “AND” anywhere in the Bible connecting anything with His blood as the just basis of justification.

The only way God can justify a sinner without doing wrong is to charge the sinners’ sins to Christ and credit Christ’s obedience to the sinner’s account. This is called imputed righteousness, or the righteousness of God. It is the righteousness Christ wrought out on the cross when He was obedient unto death. God justifies the penitent believer on the ground of the obedience of his Surety and Substitute, Jesus Christ. Obedience is always necessary to righteousness. And as the sinner has no record of obedience, he is therefore unrighteous on his own record. If the sinner is to become righteous before God, it must be by the obedience of Christ. Whose obedience is reckoned to the sinners’ account. The sinner is saved by obedience, but it is by the obedience of “Christ, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (#1Co 1:30).

Let us remember that the Lord Jesus came to this world as a public or representative person. He was God before He became man, and as God He had no personal obligations to the law except to enforce it as Lawgiver. He Who gave the law was made under the law for the purpose of redeeming them that were under law, that we might be adopted as sons of God “To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (#Ga 4:5). Having no personal obligations, Christ could assume the obligations of a Surety. A surety is one who assumes all the legal responsibilities of the principal—-of the one who contracted the debt. As the Surety for His people, it was Christ’s duty to die. He himself said that He ought to have died. After His death and resurrection, He joined Himself to the two as they walked to Emmaus, and said to them: “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things?” (#Lu 24:26). It was in grace that He took upon Himself suretyship engagements, but when He did, He was duty bound to die for sinners. Even yet, we are not through with questions relating to justification. Let us consider:

THE WAY OF JUSTIFICATION, OR WHAT THE SINNER MUST DO TO BE JUSTIFIED

The sinner is justified by faith and by faith alone. “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (#Ro 3:28). “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God,” (#Ro 5:1). “It is of faith that it might be by grace” (#Ro 4:16). To add anything to faith on the sinner’s part is to add something to grace on God’s part. And since faith looks to Christ for salvation, to add anything to faith would be the same as adding something to Christ. Perish the thought! He must have all the glory.

Saving faith is much more than the mere assent of the mind to gospel truth, or to the acknowledgment of gospel facts. Trust in, or dependence upon Christ for salvation is a necessary element in saving faith. I believe in George Washington, that is, my mind acknowledges certain facts about him but it has never occurred to me to trust him for salvation. This might be termed historical faith—-the kind of faith nearly every one has in God and Jesus Christ. But a necessary element in saving faith is reliance or trust.

“Not saved are we by trying
From self can come no aid;
‘Tis on the blood relying,
Once for our ransom paid;
‘Tis looking unto Jesus,
The holy One and Just;
Tis His great work that saves us,
It is not try, but trust.

“No deeds of ours are needed
To make Christ’s merit more,
No frames of mind, or feelings,
Can add to His great store;
‘Tis simply to receive Him,
The holy One and Just,
‘Tis only to believe Him
It is not try, but trust.”

The virtue of faith lies in the worth of its object. Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection, is the only object of saving trust. Faith, however strong, in any other object cannot justify. This makes faith a thing as different as possible from merit. Richard Hooker says: “God doth justify the believing man, yet not for the worthiness of his belief, but for the worthiness of Him which is believed.” It does not make a beggar worthy of food to take it from the hand of his benefactor. Nor does it make a sinner worthy of salvation to receive it as a gift from Jesus Christ. It rather implies his unworthiness. The sinner is justly charged, but freely forgiven. It is not our faith, as a thing of merit, that is accounted for righteousness, but Christ the object of faith. The Lord Himself is our righteousness. We are not saved on account of our faith; we are saved on account of Christ. We are forgiven for Christ’s sake. We must not trust our faith, but Him. And now in closing, there is a final question.

THE EVIDENCES OF JUSTIFICATION, OR WHAT ONE DOES TO PROVE HIS FAITH

We are justified evidentially by works, and by works alone. The only evidences of saving faith are our works. And this includes baptism as a work of righteousness. Any man who claims to be saved and refuses to be baptized, when properly taught the significance of baptism, has a mark against him, in my judgment. We are saved by faith alone, but not by faith that is alone, for faith without works is dead. The man who has saving faith also received a holy disposition in the new birth—-a disposition or nature that seeks to please God. Saul’s first question after his conversion was, “Lord what wilt thou have me to do?” (#Ac 9:6). Saving faith works by love. In the new birth there were a triplet of graces brought into being: faith, hope, and love—-and these are inseparable.

There is no real difference between Paul and James on the subject of justification. They complement, but do not contradict each other. They deal with different classes in their treatment of justification. Paul writes about the justification of a sinner; James writes about the justification of a saint. Both of them illustrate their teaching by the same person: Abraham. Paul takes Abraham as a sinner and writes about justification in the sense of salvation; James takes Abraham, after he had been saved many years, and shows that he was justified by works when he offered up Isaac. Paul writes about God receiving a sinner; James writes about God approving a saint. Paul speaks of justification of persons; James speaks of justification of profession. One’s profession of faith is justified by his works. James challenges the faith of the man who says he has faith, but has no works—-can faith, the faith he talks about, save him? Every saved person is justified, both by faith and also by works. As an alien sinner, he is justified by faith in the blood of Christ; as a professing believer, he is justified again and again by his works. There is no way to show our faith except by our works. The saved man is one who is depending upon Christ alone for salvation and who, out of love, is daily seeking to please Him. The saved man is poor in spirit, mourning over his sins, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and longing to be perfectly whole. The saved man anticipates perfection, but does not claim it. And may both writer and reader be able to join Paul in saying, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (#2Ti 1:12).

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

“A Comparison of Systems”

September 2, 2015 Leave a comment

by A. A. Hodge (1823-1886)

1. What, in general, was the state of theological thought during the first three centuries?

During the first three hundred years which elapsed after the death of the apostle John the speculative minds of the church were principally engaged in defending the truth of Christianity against unbelievers — in combating the Gnostic heresies generated by the leaven of Oriental philosophy — and in settling definitely the questions which were evolved in the controversies concerning the Persons of the Trinity. It does not appear that any definite and consistent statements were made in that age, as to the origin, nature, and consequences of human sin; nor as to the nature and effects of divine grace; nor of the nature of the redemptive work of Christ, or of the method of its application by the Holy Spirit, or of its appropriation by faith. As a general fact it may be stated, that, as a result of the great influence of Origen, the Fathers of the Greek Church pretty unanimously settled down upon a loose Semi-Pelagianism, denying the guilt of original sin, and maintaining the ability of the sinner to predispose himself for, and to cooperate with divine grace. And this has continued the character of the Greek Anthropology to the present day. The same attributes characterized the speculations of the earliest writers of the Western Church also, but during the third and fourth centuries there appeared a marked tendency among the Latin Fathers to those more correct views afterwards triumphantly vindicated by the great Augustine. This tendency may be traced most clearly in the writings of Tertullian of Carthage, who died circum. 220, and Hilary of Poitiers (368) and Ambrose of Milan (397).

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

The Wednesday Word: 12 Marks of the Grace Believer!

September 2, 2015 1 comment

1. Grace Believers trust that they are saved entirely and utterly by someone else, the Lord Jesus Christ. They believe that their sole qualification for salvation is found, not in their worthiness, but in their unworthiness. The Grace Believer sees Christ as his complete acceptance before God (Philippians 3:4-9). The Grace Believer holds that Christ alone is his saviour. He believes, like the faithful of other generations that,“There is no Priest but Christ, no Sacrifice but Calvary, no Confessional but the Throne of Grace and no Authority but the Word of God.”

2. Grace Believers understand, along with the greats of the past, that to know Christ and Him crucified is not the minimum of spiritual knowledge but the maximum. The Grace believer knows that all doctrines find their hub in Christ Crucified. All doctrines indeed lead to and from the Christ of the cross. All teaching, responsibilities, and Christian activities find their centre in Christ Crucified. In Christ alone, the Grace Believer discovers the treasures of wisdom, knowledge and spiritual understanding (Isaiah 45:3; Colossians 2:3).

3. Grace Believers, as they grow in grace, rather than become self-satisfied and hard spirited, continue to develop in their understanding of their lack of worth. As the gospel-hammer breaks them, they increase in the comprehension that they receive favour, not because of themselves, but because of being in Christ! They understand that Christ’s worthiness is the source of all their blessings (1 Corinthians 4:7).

4.Grace Believers know that they have the full favour of God, not because of any works they have done or are doing. They have the full favour of God because of Christ alone. By faith, they grasp that the Father is well pleased with them and indeed rejoices over them. (Zephaniah 3:17) Indeed, the Father cannot be more delighted with His people than he already is. Grace Believers know they are not accepted by having their own righteousness which comes by fulfilling rules and regulations. They are in Christ and have Christ’s entire righteousness credited and reckoned to them (see Philippians 3:9).

5. As they grow in grace, Grace Believers refuse to make resolutions, vows and pledges to enable them to serve God in a fuller way. Grace Believers put no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3).

6. Grace Believers are not so foolish as to try self-improvement techniques. Instead, they focus on Christ and his glory. They know that change comes from looking outside themselves to the glorious person of Christ. They rejoice in 2 Corinthians 3:18; “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord”.

7. Grace Believers are confident of God’s past, present and future grace, yet they refuse to make a practice of abusing that grace. Grace, not Law teaches them to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. Grace, not law, teaches them to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world (Titus 2:11-12).

8. Grace Believers are learning to not get permanently discouraged with their performance. Instead, they are learning to focus on Christ and His performance on their behalf. One of the Grace Believer’s theme songs could be;

“It is finished!” yes, indeed,

Finished, every jot;
Believer, this is all you need,
Tell me, is it not?
Till to Jesus’ work we cling

By a simple faith,
“Doing” is a deadly thing—
“Doing” ends in death.
I’ll cast my deadly “doing” down—

Down at Jesus’ feet;
I stand in Him, in Him alone,
Gloriously complete.

9. The Grace Believer is so reduced by the sight of himself as a wretch … a sight graciously granted by the Holy Spirit in a non-condemning manner … that he soon discovers he has no room to practice arrogance and pride.

10. The Grace Believer holds that devotion to God arises, not from an obligation to repay God. On the contrary, the Grace Believer knows that we love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Devotion to God comes through the gospel.

11. The Grace Believer does not believe that blessings come as the result of our acts of consecration to God. That is to reverse God’s order. That is to teach law and not gospel. The Legalist makes man’s blessing depend on his personal dedication and devotion. Also, the legalist insists that the more we consecrate ourselves to God the greater will flow the blessing. According to his scheme, we move the hand of God by our works. To think like this, however, is to remove ourselves from the enjoyments of gospel blessings. This is to cease to look to Christ alone as our only acceptance before God.

12. The Grace Believer knows that grace has not made us a debtor to God. The Grace Believer does not try to repay the debt of grace he feels he owes. The Grace Believer holds that God, in giving His grace, did not put us into any contract with accompanying clauses and conditions. It is grace that saves and grace alone. It is faith alone which receives that which Grace alone in the person of Christ alone has accomplished. The Grace Believer does not serve God because he feels he owes God something. Rather, he serves God because He loves God and he loves God because God first loved Him.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

Abounding Grace Part 2

Believers have received past grace. We live in present grace and will receive future grace. Grace truly is abounding. However, there’s a bad teaching going around that says; “Because of grace, I must do everything I can to pay God back.” Girrrh! That’s so wrong! When we receive a gift, we do not expect to be charged for it. It is a gift. Do we now believe that God gives us His grace, but now He must be repaid? This kind of thinking militates against the gospel. Grace does not plunge us into debt. It liberates us!

The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Just as there’s nothing we can do to earn the gift, there’s nothing we can do to repay it. A gift is a gift is a gift!

There’s a designated word for trying to pay back God for His gift; it’s called legalism.

Where did we get this faulty idea that we must repay God? Perhaps, it sometimes comes from faulty choruses and hymns. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I love the old hymns. But when we talk about the “great old hymns” some of them were not so great. Consider, for example, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” I love that Hymn, but we don’t sing it in our meetings for two reasons. First of all it talks about ‘raising our Ebenezer’….I got tired of having to explain what that meant. The second and more serious reason is that one of the verses says “O to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be.”

But wait a minute! A debtor is someone who owes someone and is obligated to pay them back. Do you ever feel constrained to pay God back for His grace? If you do, you have been plundered by anothergrace robber! We are not debtors to grace.

Why does God give us grace? The simple answer is, He gives it because He wants to give it (Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 1:9).

Dr David Dykes of Tyler, Texas, in his series on Colossians, tells a famous story which comes from the book, ‘To End all Wars,’ by Ernest Gordon. He tells about a group of Allied POWs in World War II who were being forced by the Japanese to build the Burma Railway. The day’s work had ended; the tools were being counted, as usual. As the party was about to be dismissed, the Japanese guard shouted that a shovel was missing. He insisted that someone had stolen it to sell to the Thais. Striding up and down before the men, he ranted and denounced them for their wickedness, and most unforgivable of all their ingratitude to the Emperor. As he raved, he worked himself up into a paranoid fury. Screaming in broken English, he demanded that the guilty one step forward to take his punishment. No one moved; the guard’s rage reached new heights of violence. “All die! All die!” he shrieked. To show that he meant what he said, he cocked his rifle, put it to his shoulder and looked down the sights, ready to fire at the first man in the line. At that moment the Argyll (Highlander) stepped forward, stood stiffly to attention, and said calmly, “I did it.” The guard unleashed all this whipped-up hate; he kicked the helpless prisoner and beat him with his fists. Still the Argyll stood rigidly at attention, with the blood streaming down his face. His silence goaded the guard to an excessive rage. Seizing his rifle by the barrel, he lifted it high over his head and with a final howl, brought it down on the skull of the Argyll, who sank limply to the ground and did not move. Although it was perfectly clear he was dead, the guard continued to beat him and stopped only when exhausted. The men of the detail picked up their comrade’s body, shouldered their tools and marched back to camp. When the tools were counted again at the guard house, no shovel was missing. This brave soldier had obviously given his life for his friends. He took a punishment he didn’t deserve so that his fellow soldiers could live.

Let’s never forget that Jesus went to the cross and was punished so that we wouldn’t be. That’s grace! However, He doesn’t ask us to do anything to repay His grace…that’s grace abounding.

So I’ll say it again, God doesn’t say to us, I’ll give you my grace, but in return you have to do something for me.” God gives us His grace because He freely wants to. It is unearned on our part. Otherwise, it would not be grace. Do we now do something back for God? Yes indeed, we will be His thankful followers, friends and fellow workers….not because we are in debt to Him but because he has removed our debt by His Abounding Grace.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com