(Article for publication week of 2-6-AD 2013)
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
This week we return to our series on the doctrine of justification, the article of faith upon which the Church stands or falls (Martin Luther). We have given a fairly lengthy treatment of the cause of justification being God’s sovereign grace, and the sole grounds of justification, that is the imputed righteousness of Christ. If you missed any of those articles, or wish to read them again you may find them at matthewsevenfourteen.blogspot.com.
First of all this week I want to remind you that justification is a legal term. To be justified before the law is to stand innocent, or not guilty before the law. The believer in Christ stands in right relation to God’s law because he is justified by the righteousness of Christ (Romans 3:24-25; II Corinthians 5:21; Jeremiah 23:6). It is the righteousness of Christ Alone that enables a believer to stand innocent before God.
Secondly, I want to remind you that justification is a legal declaration about a man, not a change in his disposition. Justification is completely objective and wholly outside of the believer. Justification is an imputation of the righteousness of Another, not the impartation of a new nature. Now, to be sure God does impart a new nature to all those He saves, but that is to be considered under regeneration and sanctification, which we will take up after we have finished with justification. I emphatically declare to you that God does sanctify all that He justifies, but I declare just as emphatically that the holiness imparted to a man in regeneration and sanctification is not what justifies him before God. It is the righteousness of Christ Alone that gives us a right standing before God and puts us in right relation to His holy law.
Having reminded you of these glorious fundamentals, I now will (DV) proceed to show you that it is by faith alone that a sinner receives the justifying righteousness of Christ. Our text this week in Romans 5:1 begins with “therefore”. In other words, Paul the inspired writer of Romans is summing up and drawing a conclusion from all he has written before. When you are reading through the Book of Romans, or any of the New Testament epistles, keep in mind you are not reading a collection of thoughts, but a calculated argument. Many people have gone off on tangents by taking a verse out of its context, and we need to be careful about that. Paul’s conclusion to which he brings us at this place in his argument is that since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God. The believer is at peace with God because God considers him as righteous as His Own Son! That is shouting ground is it not?! God holds no enmity for His people because they are righteous legally in God’s court of judgment.
“Justified by faith” is a summary clause of everything that Paul says in the first four chapters of Romans. We are justified by faith. We are justified by grace. We are justified by Christ. All three of these expressions are saying the same thing in different words. Each of these expressions is looking at justification from different aspects. It is like taking a diamond and turning it in your fingers and viewing it from different angles.
I want to close this week by saying that no one is saved apart from a living and active faith in Christ as the only Saviour of sinners. And I also want to encourage the heart of every one of you who have received Christ as your Saviour that you are justified before God, and that forever. No one who truly believes in Christ shall be disappointed. God bless you all, my dear readers.