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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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CHRIST ALONE

James Montgomery BoiceJames Montgomery Boice:

The church of the Middle Ages spoke about Christ. A church that failed to do that could hardly claim to be Christian. But the medieval church had added many human achievements to Christ’s work, so that it was no longer possible to say that salvation was entirely by Christ and his atonement. This was the most basic of all heresies, as the Reformers rightly perceived. It was the work of God plus our own righteousness. The Reformation motto solus Christus was formed to repudiate this error. It affirmed that salvation has been accomplished once for all by the mediatorial work of the historical Jesus Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification, and any ‘gospel’ that fails to acknowledge that or denies it is a false gospel that will save no one. (“The Five Solas of the Reformation”)

RIGHTEOUSNESS

Samuel A CainFor our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. (1 John 2:29 ESV)

To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. (Proverbs 21:3 ESV)

God is righteous, but absolute righteousness is not possible for human beings. Men are not pronounced righteous based on personal virtue, but are declared righteous by grace through Jesus Christ. These persons produce the fruit of righteousness because God is working in them. Living a righteous life is not easy for anyone. The righteous life requires discipline and humble obedience to God. With determination the heart can be trained in righteousness. In time, the Christian will find that more of his attitudes and actions are guided by righteousness as he becomes more like Jesus.

The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient and infallible rule of saving knowledge, faith, and duty. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein He pardons our sins and receives us as righteous in His sight. Whom God effectually calls, He freely justifies by pardoning sins and by accounting them [Elect] as righteous. This is accomplished by imputing Christ’s active obedience to the law and His passive submission in death to the elect. Through faith in Christ, the righteousness of Christ is given to us. This is known as “imputed” righteousness. When we place our faith in Jesus, God credits the righteousness of Christ to our account so that we become perfect in His sight. “For our sake he made him [Jesus Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV) Continue reading

JUSTIFICATION

John BunyanJohn Bunyan:

“And, indeed, this is one of the greatest mysteries in the world; namely, that a righteousness that resides in heaven should justify me, a sinner on earth!” (“Justification by an Imputed Righteousness”)

Look to the Scriptures!

John GillWe must look to the Scriptures to end every controversy and to light our way in the darkness of ignorance. Read your Bible! John Gill writes:

Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein; and ye shall find rest for your souls. (Jeremiah 6:16)

If you are at a loss about the Extent of Christ’s Death, and know not what part to take in the controversy about general and particular Redemption, look to your way-marks, the scriptures, and take your direction from thence; and there you will observe, that those whom Christ saves from their sins are his own people, for whose transgressions he was stricken; that he gave his life a ransom for many, for all sorts of persons, for all his elect, Jews and Gentiles; that they were his sheep he laid down his life for; that he loved the church, and gave himself for it; and that he tasted death for every one of his brethren, and of the children the Father gave him; that those that are redeemed by him, are redeemed out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation (Matthew 1:21; 20:28; John 10:25; Eph. 5:25; Heb. 2:9-12; Rev. 5:9).

If the affair before you is the doctrine of Justification, and the query is, whether it is by works of righteousness done by you, or by the righteousness of Christ imputed to you, or about any thing relating to it, read over the sacred pages, and especially the epistles of the apostle Paul; and you will easily see, that a man cannot be justified in the sight of God by the works of the law, or by his own obedience to the law of works; that, if righteousness comes by the law, Christ is dead in vain; that men are justified by faith, without the works of the law; that is, by the righteousness of Christ, received by faith; that they are justified by the blood of Christ, and made righteous by his obedience; that this is the righteousness which God approves of, accepts, and imputes to his people, without works; and which being looked to, apprehended and received by faith, is productive of much spiritual peace and comfort in the soul (Rom. 3:20, 28; Gal. 2:16, 21; Rom. 5:1, 9, 19; 4:6). (“The Scriptures: The Only Guide in Matters of Faith”)

Justification by Death

Quoting R.C. Sproul:

“I’m afraid that in the United States of America today the prevailing doctrine of justification is not justification by faith alone. It is not even justification by good works or by a combination of faith and works. The prevailing notion of justification in our culture today is justification by death. All one has to do to be received into the everlasting arms of God is to die.” (Saved from What?)

Westminster Confession Of Faith: CHAPTER 11 – OF JUSTIFICATION

Westminster Assembly

In 1643, the English “Long Parliament” convened an Assembly of Divines at Westminster Abbey in London. Their task was to advise Parliament on how to bring the Church of England into greater conformity with the Church of Scotland and the Continental Reformed churches. The Westminster Assembly produced documents on doctrine, church government, and worship. I have been providing one chapter of the Confession every few days in order to encourage the general knowledge of its contents:

CHAPTER 11

1. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness, by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

2. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.

3. Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to his Father’s justice in their behalf. Yet, inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them; and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead; and both, freely, not for anything in them; their justification is only of free grace; that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.

4. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification: nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.

5. God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and, although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.

6. The justification of believers under the old testament was, in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the new testament.

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