The Bible says in Romans 6:7: “For he that is dead is freed from sin.”
Today’s God’s Great Salvation quote is from Curtis Hutson. He said: “If turning from your sins means to stop sinning, then people can only be saved if they stop sinning. And it is unlikely that anyone has ever been saved, since we don’t know anyone who has ever stopped sinning.”
Our topic today is titled The Verdict: Not Guilty (Part 3) from the book, “So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ” by Dr. Charles Ryrie.
To be sure, justification is proved by personal purity. It does not come because of any reformation or commitment to change; but, once justified, we show this by changes in our lives. “He who has died is freed [literally, justified] from sin”. We stand acquitted from sin so that it no longer has dominion over us. Justification before the bar of God is demonstrated by changes in our lives here on earth before the bar of men.
THE VIEWPOINT OF JAMES
This was the perspective of the apostle James when he wrote that we are justified by works. Unproductive faith is a spurious faith; therefore, what we are in Christ will be seen in what we are before men. Men cannot peer into the courtroom of heaven to observe the Judge rendering a verdict of “not guilty” in respect to the sinner who believes. But men are spectators in the courtroom of life here on earth. When they see changed lives, they can know that there has been a heavenly verdict; that is, justification. When they do not see changes, then they may question and doubt. Justification by faith is necessary in the court of heaven. Justification by works is the only thing people can observe in the court on earth.
James gives an example of nonworking faith in the case of someone who sees a fellow believer in need of food and does not help meet that need. Faith that is not moved to relieve the hungry man’s need is nonworking faith.
The Bible says in Romans 3:21-23: “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 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: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
Today’s God’s Great Salvation quote is from A.C. Dixon. He said: “We need a quickening of faith; faith in the power of the God of Pentecost to convict and convert three thousand in a day. Faith, not in a process of culture by which we hope to train children into a state of salvation, but faith in the mighty God who can quicken a dead soul into life in a moment; faith in moral and spiritual revolution rather than evolution.”
Our topic today is titled The Verdict: Not Guilty (Part 2) from the book, “So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ” by Dr. Charles Ryrie.
HOW CAN SINNERS BE RIGHTEOUS?
If justification does not make us righteous, what does? Also, if we cannot make ourselves righteous enough to satisfy a holy God, what hope is there that anyone can ever be justified? Will God have to condemn all people? Can He lower His standards enough to let some into heaven? Or is there some way He can change the sinner into a truly righteous person so that He can truly announce it so? As mentioned earlier, it is the latter course of action that He takes.
And how does God do that? By joining us to Jesus Christ when we believe. And because, then, we are in Christ, we have His perfect righteousness imputed to us; that is, placed on our account, so that we are in reality righteous in God’s sight.
Impute is the key word. It means “to place to the account of.” Perhaps the best illustration of imputation is the story told in the book of Philemon. Onesimus, the slave who ran away from his master Philemon in Colosse, found Paul and received Christ in Rome. At that point, Paul asked Onesimus to return to his master, assuring Philemon in a letter he sent along with the former slave that “if he [Onesimus] has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account.” Likely this indicates that Onesimus had stolen property or money from Philemon when he ran away. In other words, Paul assured Philemon that he would pay whatever was necessary so that Onesimus need not be charged for anything he may have owed. Similarly, God imputes or puts on the believer’s account the righteousness of Christ, so that in His sight we are completely righteous and He can announce it as so.
The Bible says in Romans 5:1: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:”
Today’s God’s Great Salvation quote is from John R. Rice. He said: “When you get saved, you get saved not because you deserve it, but because you simply let God save you and because you confess your own poor sinful state and your inability to save yourself.”
Our topic today is titled The Verdict: Not Guilty (Part 1) from the book, “So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ” by Dr. Charles Ryrie.
Justification is one of those important words in the Scriptures that is either seldom defined or poorly defined. It simply means “to announce the verdict ‘not guilty.’”
THE CONCEPT OF JUSTIFICATION
Justification does not make a person “not guilty”; it announces the fact that the individual is not guilty before God. Or to put the concept of “not guilty” positively, justification announces that the person is righteous before God. Again, it does not make the person righteous, but announces the fact that he is righteous.
As part of the Old Testament law for Israel, one of the provisions was this: “If there is a dispute between men and they go to court, … the judges decide their case, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked.” The judges did not make the person righteous or wicked, nor could they. He was already righteous or wicked when he appeared before the judges. What they did was examine the case and pronounce the verdict. They did not change the person’s character or actions; they announced a verdict that they believed to be true and verified.
When King Solomon stood before his subjects at the dedication of his temple, part of his prayer was this: “If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath, and he comes and takes an oath before Your altar in this house, then hear in heaven and act and judge Your servants, condemning the wicked by bringing his way on his own head and justifying the righteous by giving him according to his righteousness.”
Again it is quite clear that the person is righteous or wicked before the verdict is rendered. The verdict does not make him so; it announces what is so.
The courtroom, therefore, is the stage for the concept of justification. When the judge justifies the person standing before him, he announces that the person is not guilty of whatever the charge was. In the courtroom of God, He announces not only that the sinner who has believed in Jesus is not guilty, but that he is perfectly righteous before Him. Justification includes more than bare acquittal. The judge is not only saying that the one standing before him may go without penalty, but he also declares that as far as the law is concerned, the person is blameless and righteous.
The Bible says in Romans 4:23-25: “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”
Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Bible Knowledge Commentary by Dr. John F. Walvoord and Dr. Roy B. Zuck:
Mentioning the Lord Jesus led Paul to state again the Savior’s central place in God’s program of providing righteousness for sinful people by grace through faith. Both Christ’s death and His resurrection are essential to that work of justification. He was delivered over (by God the Father) to death for our sins. Though not a direct quotation, these words in substance are taken from Isaiah 53:12. Also He was raised to life for our justification. Christ’s death as God’s sacrificial Lamb was to pay the redemptive price for the sins of all people so that God might be free to forgive those who respond by faith to that provision. Christ’s resurrection was the proof (or demonstration and vindication) of God’s acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice. Thus because He lives, God can credit His provided righteousness to the account of every person who responds by faith to that offer.
In chapter 4, Paul presented several irrefutable reasons why justification is by faith: (1) Since justification is a gift, it cannot be earned by works. (2) Since Abraham was justified before he was circumcised, circumcision has no relationship to justification. (3) Since Abraham was justified centuries before the Law, justification is not based on the Law. (4) Abraham was justified because of his faith in God, not because of his works.
Today’s quote is from Horatius Bonar. He said: “The gospel is the proclamation of free love; the revelation of the boundless charity of God. Nothing less than this will suit our world; nothing else is so likely to touch the heart, to go down to the lowest depths of depraved humanity, as the assurance that the sinner has been loved — loved by God, loved with a righteous love, loved with a free love that makes no bargain as to merit, or fitness, or goodness.”
Our topic today is titled “What is the Gospel? (Part 3)” from the book, “So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ” by Dr. Charles Ryrie.
THE KEY ISSUE IN UNDERSTANDING THE GOSPEL
Some of the confusion regarding the meaning of the Gospel today may arise from failing to clarify the issues.
One is, What is it that bars me from heaven? What is it that prevents my having eternal life? The answer is sin. The second issue is, How can my sins be forgiven? I need some way to resolve that sin problem. And God declares that the death of His Son provides forgiveness of my sin. “Christ died for our sins”—that’s as plain as it could possibly be. Sinners need a Savior. Christ is that Savior and the only valid one. Through faith I receive Him and His forgiveness. Then the sin problem is solved, and I can be fully assured of going to heaven.
I do not need to believe in Christ’s second coming in order to be saved. I do not need to receive Him as my present intercessor. But I do need to believe that He died for my sins and rose triumphant over sin and death. I do not need to settle issues that belong to Christian living in order to be saved. I do not need to pledge a portion of my future income in order to be saved. I do not need to be willing to give up smoking in order to be saved. Matters of carnality, spirituality, fruit-bearing, and backsliding relate to the Christian life, not to the issue of salvation. Only the Lord Jesus, God who became man, could and did resolve that problem by dying for us. He had to be human in order to be able to die, and He had to be God in order for that death to be able to pay for the sins of the world.
Keep the key issue in the Gospel clear: We are sinners and Christ died to provide forgiveness for our sins.
THE DIRECTION OF THE GOSPEL
We also must keep the direction of the Gospel clear.
The good news is that Christ has done something about sin and that He lives today to offer His forgiveness to you and me. The direction is from Christ to me. It is never from me to Him. I do not offer Him anything. How could I? What could I possibly offer that would help meet my need? To offer the years of my life is to offer something very imperfect and something that can do nothing to forgive my sin. To vow my willingness to change is to affirm something I will not consistently keep; and even if I could, it would not remove the guilt of my sin.
Of course, when I receive eternal life from His hand, I bow before an infinitely superior Person. But I bow as one totally unable to do anything about my sin. I bow as a recipient of His grace and never as one who donates anything to Him. In salvation I am always the recipient; the donee, never the donor. If I try to donate anything with respect to becoming a Christian, then I have added a work, and salvation is no longer solely and purely of grace. Keep the direction straight, and keep His grace unmixed with any work.