Justification by Faith

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The salvation of the true believer is so certain that God sees it as already done. The apostle Paul uses five verbs to outline what God has done in fulfilling His saving purpose. It is a golden chain of salvation that stretches from eternity past to eternity future.

God’s foreknowledge of the saved in Romans 8:29-30 is probably a reference to the election of the saved person. Believers are those God foreknew. Divine foreknowledge is a meaningful relation with a person based on God’s choice (Amos 3:2; Jer. 1:4-5). “He chose us in Him before the creation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).

This eternal choice and foreknowledge involves the goal or final end of that relationship. The Bible says those whom God foreknew, those He also “predestinated to be conformed to the likeness of His Son” (Romans 8:29). God determined beforehand the destiny of the believer. We will be conformed to the image of Christ (1 John 3:2). When all believers are made like Christ, our ultimate and complete sanctification, Christ will be “the Firstborn among many brothers.” As the ‘Firstborn’ He is in the highest position among others (cf. Col. 1:18).”

Not only are we saved for all eternity, but God has created a new race of humanity purified from all contact with sin and prepared to spend eternity with Him. The glorified Christ will the be Head of the new humanity (cf. 1 Cor. 15:42-58).

Those whom God foreknew, He predestinated, He called, He justified, and He glorified. When we heard the gospel of Jesus Christ there was the effectual call of God that worked deep in our hearts to bring about a spiritual birth. Those He called He justified through faith in Jesus Christ. This leads to our glorification. The apostle Paul is so sure of these things he speaks of the believer’s glorification, which is a future event, as if it were already accomplished (v. 30). It is a sure deal because it is God’s eternal plan.

This whole work of salvation begins in the heart of God and is gloriously fulfilled by Him. Man does not in any way contribute to the efficacy of salvation. It is wholly the work of God.

The effectual calling of God elicits the appropriate response of the individual and justification is therefore through the instrumentality of faith. Faith does not save the sinner. God saves the sinner by His grace through faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ for the sinner. These acts of God in the golden chain of salvation do not occur irrespective of faith. It is God’s purpose to save by grace through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus. Even here it is not to be defined in terms of human activities.

Justification of the believing sinner is the act whereby God declares the sinful person to be in a right standing before Him, not on the basis of his own merit because he does not have any, but solely on the basis of what Jesus Christ has done for him by dying as his substitute on the cross. Jesus Christ took the penalty of all our sins upon Himself and died to pay our penalty for sin. God punished those sins in the death of Jesus Christ so that He imputes the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ to the believing sinner’s account.

God acquits the believing sinner and takes him home to be with Him for all eternity. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (8:1).

Justification is the opposite of condemnation. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. We are condemned by God’s law, and the penalty must be paid in full. “The wages of sin is death.” No one can escape the condemnation. We are guilty. We are not innocent. The Law condemns us.

In justification a person is declared by God to be in a right relationship to God’s law. The believing sinner is not made righteous, but is declared to be in a right relationship. We have no righteousness of our own. Believers are declared righteous on the foundation of Christ’s atonement (Romans 3:25). The source of our justification is the grace of God (3:24). No one can make or declare himself righteous because we are all sinners. We can be right with God only if God does the saving work for us and that is exactly what God did in sending Christ to the cross. God can now be just in justifying us because of the atoning work of Christ on our behalf.

Justification is an act of the gracious justice of God in grace. God pronounces the sinner legally righteous and free from any liability to the broken law because His Son bore the penalty and paid it in full. We are therefore “justified by His blood.” We receive that declaration of God through faith. Have you responded to the effectual call of God by rejecting all other suggestions of salvation, and put your faith in Christ alone?

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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