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Romans Series #29[i]
Text: Romans 3:24
Turn with me to Romans 3:24. I want us to pause today to consider one of the sweetest, and at the same time, most profound truths revealed in Holy Scripture. None is more important. And none is more precious.
(Romans 3:24) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Justified — That is the title of my message. — Justifie! Every sinner who trusts the Lord Jesus Christ is justified, justified freely by the grace of God through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
What a blessed, blessed thought! Justification and all the blessings that come with it arises and comes from, is accomplished, and bestowed upon sinners by our great God and Savior, the Three-in-One Jehovah: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! It is God’s work alone. It is altogether a benefit and boon of his boundless, free grace to our poor and needy souls in Christ.
Perhaps the most important fact revealed in Holy Scripture is the one which men most presumptuously ignore, the fact that God is just. — “Justice and truth are the habitation of his throne.” It is not possible for us to understand the grace of God, the judgment of God, or the work of God in Christ until we have some understanding of the justice of God. Because the Lord our God is just, he must deal with men upon the grounds of strict justice.
The justice of God is the rectitude and righteousness of his character which compels him to deal with all his creatures in strict accordance with their deserts. Justice and holiness are as essential to the character of God as love and mercy. God can no more put aside his justice in his dealings with men than he can put aside love from his character. Because God is just, the only way he can save a guilty sinner, the only way he can bring a sinner into an eternal union of life with himself, is if he can make the sinner guiltless and sinless in the eyes of his own law and justice.
This act of God’s matchless grace, by which he declares men to be guiltless and sinless is what the apostle Paul calls “justification.” Now, when God declares that a person is guiltless and sinless, perfectly righteousness before him, that person really is, in the eyes of God, perfectly righteous. Our righteousness before God is not just a merciful supposition, it is a blessed reality of grace in Christ.
Proposition: Every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is truly justified, perfectly righteous in the sight of God.
But how is this justification accomplished? This is the great question of the ages. — “How can a man be justified with God? Or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?” (Job 25:4). — “How can a man be just with God?” Job asked. — Then he said, “If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me. If I say I am perfect, it shall prove me perverse” (Job9:2, 20). — How can God be just and yet justify the ungodly? Find the answer to that question and you will have learned the gospel. And if you have not found the answer to that question, you do not yet know the gospel.
I know this — Because God is holy, just, and true, he demands an infinite satisfaction for sin. No man can ever be saved until he has suffered the just penalty of the law due unto his sins, so that his crimes and offences against the law no longer exist in the eyes of the law. God is as good as his word; and he said, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die!” The Lord God forbade Adam to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, saying, “for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” No sooner did Adam eat of that tree than Adam and all the human race died. — We died spiritually. — We began to die physically. — And we came under the curse of eternal death. — Eternal death in hell is the sentence of God’s justice upon sin, because finite man can never make an infinite satisfaction for sin.
Not only does the holy Lord God require an infinite satisfaction for sin; but he also requires of man perfect righteousness. — No man will ever enter into heaven in the blissful fellowship of God, no man will ever be accepted in God’s presence, no man will ever be brought into union with the eternal God until he is perfectly holy and righteous, even as God himself. God said, “Be ye holy, for I am holy. — Walk before me, and be thou perfect! — It shall be perfect to be accepted!” — Read Matthew 5:20 and 48.
(Matthew 5:20) For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 5:48) Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
God requires total, absolute perfection in all of his creatures. He will accept no man who is not perfect in holiness. Unless we render unto him a perfection of heart, perfection of thought, and perfection of life, with never so much as one deviation from absolute holiness, none of us shall ever see his face (Hebrews 12:14). If God ever accepted, delighted in, and was satisfied with anything less than absolute perfection, he would cease to be God.
Is man therefore without hope? God requires an infinite satisfaction for sin. We cannot give it. God demands absolute perfection. We cannot perform it. Are we all hopelessly doomed? Must we all perish? Is there no hope for fallen man? Yes, blessed be God, there is hope for sinners. He says, “I have laid help upon one that is mighty.” The Lord God has appointed One in whom “mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”
This is the good news of the gospel. God has set forth his own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as our Substitute and Representative. And as our Substitute, Christ has done for us what we could not do for ourselves, putting away our sins by the sacrifice of himself, bringing in an everlasting righteousness by his obedience unto death, and accomplishing our justification. Christ is that — “Holiness without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
· The Lord Jesus Christ has taken upon himself our nature. He is the God-man.
· The Son of God rendered unto God the perfection and righteousness which God required of men.
· Our Lord Jesus Christ made an infinite satisfaction for sin, by pouring out his life’s blood unto death at Calvary.
· Now, all that he did, he did as the Representative and Substitute of God’s elect; and all that he has done, we have done in him.
Every true believer has both rendered perfect righteousness to God and made an infinite satisfaction for his sin in the Person of Christ. — As the result of Christ’s finished work as our Representative and Substitute, it is a perfectly just thing for God to justify all who believe on him. — In saving our souls and bringing us to heaven, the Lord God deals with us in exact accordance with righteousness, justice and truth. He is gives us that which, in Christ, we deserve. The fact is, justice cannot allow one of those to perish for whom Christ lived and died and rose again.
Divisions: — In this message I want to show you five facts revealed in the Book of God about justification.
Here are five things which are plainly revealed in the Word of God about our justification in Christ. They are neither complicated, nor difficult to understand, except by those who refuse to bow to that which God has plainly revealed in Holy Scripture. These things are so plainly revealed that you cannot miss them, unless you want to miss them. They are written out in plain English in the Book of God you hold in your hand.
Before we proceed, let me give you a good rule of thumb to use in seeking to understand what is written in the Book. — Whatever a text, any text, seems to mean, the first time you read it, that is probably exactly what it means. This Book is not the hiding of God, but the Revelation of God!
1st, Every true believer was eternally justified in the purpose of God (Romans 8:30).
(Romans 8:28-30) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
Our justification did not commence in time, but in eternity. Paul, speaking of God’s eternal decree of predestination, declares that all of God’s elect were justified in his eternal purpose of grace.
John Gill was right on the money when he said, “God’s will to elect is the election of his people; so also his will to justify them, is the justification of them.”
My friends, God’s act of justification is entirely an act of his grace. It is God accounting and constituting us righteous, through the righteousness of his Son. From all eternity God has looked upon his Son as our Substitute, and looking upon us in Christ we are and always have been righteous in his sight.
The Lord Jesus Christ is described in this Book as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8; Isaiah 53).
(Revelation 13:8) And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
God set up his Son as our Surety, our Substitute, and our Redeemer, before the world began; and as such, in his own mind he looked upon Christ as having been slain for us from eternity.
Illustration: Abraham and Isaac
(Isaiah 53:1) Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? (2) For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. (3) He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (4) Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. (5) But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (6) All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (7) He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. (8) He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. (9) And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. (10) Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. (11) He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
Because God our Father looked upon Christ as one already sacrificed for us before the world was, all the blessings of grace were given to us in him (Ephesians 1:3-7; 2 Timothy 1:9).
Thomas Goodwin wrote — “We may say of all spiritual blessings in Christ what is said of Christ himself, that ‘his goings forth are from everlasting.’ In Christ we are blessed with all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3). As we are blessed with all others, so with this also, that we were justified then in Christ.”
There are three facts which compel us to look upon justification as an eternal act of God.
1. Had it not been for the fact that God looked upon his elect as being righteous and justified in Christ from eternity, he would have destroyed our race as soon as Adam sinned. God spares the wicked for the sake of the righteous.
Illustration: Lot and the Men of Sodom
2. The Old Testament saints were justified by Christ, just as we are today. And their justification was just as full, complete, and perfect as ours (Hebrews 9:15, 22; Romans 3:25).
3. If we were accepted in the Beloved before the world began and blessed in him with all spiritual blessings, as the Book of God says we were, we must have been accepted and bless as righteous either or as unrighteous. — It is beyond ludicrous to imagine that God accepted and blessed us in Christ as unrighteous, unjustified sinners!
Every true believer is eternally justified in the purpose of God. That is what the Book says.
(Ephesians 1:3-6) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
(2 Timothy 1:9-10) Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (10) But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
A Trusted Surety
(Ephesians 1:12-13) That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. (13) In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
2nd, All God’s elect were justified by Christ at Calvary (John 19:30; Romans 3:24-26).
(John 19:30) When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
(Romans 3:24-26) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (25) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (26) To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Spurgeon said — “In the moment when Jesus Christ paid my debts, my debts were canceled; in the hour when he worked out for me a perfect righteousness it was imputed to me; and therefore, I may, as a believer, say I was complete in Christ before I was born, accepted in Jesus, even as Levi was blessed in the loins of Abraham.”
The life of our Redeemer was as necessary for our redemption and justification as his death. In his life of obedience to the law and will of God, the Lord Jesus Christ worked out a perfect righteousness for us. In him I have obeyed God’s holy law (Daniel 9:24; Jeremiah 23:6; 33:16; 1 Cor.inthians1:30).
(Daniel 9:24) Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
(Jeremiah 23:6) In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
(Jeremiah 33:16) In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness.
(1 Corinthians 1:30) But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
In his death at Calvary, I died, fully satisfying the demands of God’s law and justice against me for sin (Galatians 3:13; 2:20; Romans 6:6-7; 8:1). In Christ I died.
(Romans 6:6-7) Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (7) For he that is dead is freed from sin.
(Romans 8:1) There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
(Galatians 2:20) I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 3:13) Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.
Since our Redeemer is both God and man in one glorious person, all that he has done is of infinite merit, value and efficacy for all who trust him. — He has effectually accomplished the eternal justification of his people.
Near, so very near to God,
Nearer I cannot be,
For in the Person of his Son,
I’m as near as He.
In thy Surety thou art free,
His dear hands were pierced for thee:
With His spotless garments on,
Holy as the Holy One.
This is complete, perfect justification. The law can require no more of us than perfect righteousness and infinite satisfaction (Ephesians 2:4-6).
(Ephesians 2:4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
Complete atonement Thou hast made,
And to the utmost farthing paid,
Whate’er Thy people owed.
Nor can God’s wrath on me take place,
If sheltered in Thy righteousness,
And sprinkled with Thy blood.
If Thou hast my discharge procured,
And freely in my room endured,
The whole of wrath divine:
Payment God cannot twice demand,
First at my bleeding Surety’s hand,
And then again at mine.
Do you see this? We were eternally justified in the purpose of God; and our justification was accomplished by Christ at Calvary.
By virtue of, and upon the merits of, the life and death of Christ as our Substitute, God is both just and the Justifier of all who believe on his Son. Now, in perfect consistency with his justice, God forgives all the sins of all his people. — “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” In Christ, God both punishes and saves the sinner.
3rd, Every believer receives complete justification by faith in Christ (Romans 4:25-5:1).
(Romans 4:25) Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
(Romans 5:1) Therefore being justified, by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Christ has justified us by his great sin-atoning sacrifice; and all who believe on Christ as Lord and Savior receive the many benefits of his finished work. One of those many benefits which we receive by faith is justification.
Faith does not cause God to justify us. The obedience of Christ has done that. But faith, resting upon Christ alone as Savior, obtains peace with God, even the peace of perfect, complete justification.
Faith does not merit justification with God; but faith receives justification. Faith is not the basis upon which men are justified; but faith is the instrument by which justification is received.
We are justified by faith in Christ in our own consciences in the sweet and blessed experience of God’s saving grace (Hebrews 9:11-15).
(Hebrews 9:11) But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; (12) Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. (13) For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: (14) How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (15) And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
4th, Every true believer is justified by his works (James 2:14-26).
(James 2:21-24) Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? (22) Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? (23) And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. (24) Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
James and Paul are not opposed to each other. In Romans Paul shows us the accomplishment of justification. Here James is showing us the fruit of justification. If a man is a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, he will justify his faith and prove its reality by works of obedience to God, even as Abraham did. Any faith which does not produce obedience to God is a false faith, a demonic delusion. It is not the faith of God’s elect. — James says, “I will show thee my faith by my works” (James 1:18).
What kind of works justify a man and give evidence (not to God, or even to himself, but to others) of the reality of his faith? Free grace is not opposed to good works. Rather free grace is the source, cause and motive of good works. What kind of works?
· Patient submission to the will of God (James 1:2-3).
(James 1:2-3) My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; (3) Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
· Love toward the people of God (James 2:15-16).
(James 2:15-16) If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, (16) And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
· Faithful obedience to the Word of God (James 2:21-24).
(James 2:21) Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? (22) Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? (23) And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. (24) Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
· Self-denial and sacrifice for the glory of God (James 2:23-25).
(James 2:23-25) And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. (24) Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. (25) Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
(James 2:26) For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
5th, And every child of God is continually being justified by Christ, our God and Savior.
Have you ever noticed that our justification by our God is declared to be an on-going, continual thing? Three times we read of justification being something that is presently performed (Romans 4:5; 8:33; Isaiah 50:8).
(Romans 4:5) But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
(Romans 8:33) Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
(Isaiah 50:8) He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me.
“He is near that justifieth me!” — He who is our God, our Justifier and our Savior, is constantly near and present with us. He is with us. He is in us. He surrounds us, all the time!
Pause and contemplate justification from this point of view. What blessedness there is here! What sweetness for my soul! What comfort for my heart! What peace, joy, and satisfaction! — “He is near that justifieth me!” Understand this, and you will sing in rapturous delight with Paul…
(Romans 8:31-34) What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (32) He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (33) Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. (34) Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
· God the Father gave his darling Son up to death to justify us (Romans 8:32).
· God the Son, our ever-blessed Christ, was delivered to death because our offenses and raised again because of our justification (Romans 4:25).
· And God the Holy Spirit raised him up from the dead. We are expressly told that our Savior was “justified in the Spirit” (1 Timothy 3:16). That could never have been the case, had he not satisfied both God’s law and God’s justice as our Surety (Romans 1:4).
But, over and above these glorious truths, as the foundation of every poor believer’s hope, mark it down that as God the Father, who justified Christ our Surety, was always near to him, so he who justifies us is always near us. — “The Lord is at hand!”
The charter of grace, and our pardon written down in it in letters of blood, the precious blood of Christ, is always near and at hand. Here it stands on eternal record, “God is just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.”
I am so glad the Holy Spirit saw fit to put this matter in the present tense, too. Certainly, we are not to infer that somehow or other justification is being continually accomplished. It is not. The work is a done deal, finished, complete, and perfect. Yet, we need continual declarations of it in our souls. Don’t we?
Let me show you what I mean.
· “He is near that justifieth me,” as my Advocate to plead my cause. When doubts arise in our minds concerning it, the Lord Jesus is near to open the Volume of Record, and there, by his Holy Spirit, show it to us, and by the same almighty power to incline our heart to believe it, giving us “joy and peace in believing.”
· “He is near that justifieth me,” when Satan accuses me, and fears arise, and doubts creep in (as they often do!), when both the law and justice of God seem to revive their claims, look not within, look not at yourself, but look away to Christ. Behold him in all his fulness, suitableness, and all-sufficiency, as your law-fulfiller and sin-atoning Surety, and cry out in these divine words which the Holy Ghost has given us, “He is near that justifieth me!”
(1 John 1:9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(Romans 8:1) There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
(Romans 8:33) Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
There is no sin in God’s book against his people. He see no sin in Jacob, neither does he behold iniquity in Israel. We are justified in Christ forever! When the guilt of sin was taken away, the punishment of sin was removed. For the believer there is no stroke from God’s angry hand — No, not so much as a single frown of punitive justice. The believer may be, is, and must be, chastised by his Father, but God the Judge has nothing to say to the believing sinner, except “I have absolved you. You are acquitted of all guilt and all sin, forever!” For the believer there is no punishment for sin, not in this world or in the world to come. Indeed, there is not even the remembrance of sin in our God against us. And he declares, “Fury is not in me!” In Christ we are free!
Sin stands in our way and Satan throws our sin in our faces to agitate us with perpetual warfare; but sin and Satan are conquered foes to every soul in union with the Son of God! Do you understand what this Book declares? “He was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin!”
“Here’s pardon for transgressions past,
It matters not how black their cast;
And, O my soul, with wonder view,
For sins to come here’s pardon too.”
Would you be justified with God? I mean, would you go home today completely clean, righteous, holy, and free of all guilt and sin forever, so completely free that you can never be in danger of incurring guilt again? — Believe on the Son of God. And believing hear him declare in your soul, — “Ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” Cry out to him, like the publican of old, “God be merciful to me, a sinner,” and go down to your house this day justified!
Blessed be his holy name forever, “He is near that justifieth me!” “There is therefore now no condemnation” for my soul! Write it down in the book of your memory and rejoice. — “He is near that justifieth me!”
[i] Danville — Sunday Morning—September 21, 2014
Grace Baptist Church — Dingess, WV — ((09/19/14)
Reading: Job 9:1-10:2; 25:1-6