Sermon 11: Connecting the Dots Between Justification and Sanctification

Connecting the Dots Between Justification and Sanctification
Series: Redemption
Pastor Tim Wiebe

Romans 6:1-23

  • The more we appreciate justification, the greater desire we will have to live a godly life.
  • Justification unites us to God.  Christ’s death has purchased this, and somehow we have mysteriously died with Christ.
  • We died with Christ.  If we have died with him, we have been purchased by him and now have the ability to live a new life.  Because we are justified by God, we can live a holy life.  We do not live a holy life in order to be justified by God.
  • Our loyalty has changed.  We no longer are slaves to sin, we are slaves to Christ.
    • Slavery in the first century was more like voluntarily being owned by someone else rather than forced labor.
    • People don’t think slavery exists any longer today.  But if we look at our credit card statements and how you spend your time, it will tell others what you are a slave to.  Ask yourself what commands your attention and affection and you will find your idols.
    • Romans 6:23 is the “Twitter version” of the gospel.
  • So many Christians become susceptible to “plateau Christianity.”  There might not be any big dives in your spiritual walk, but there aren’t any spikes either.  Are you loving the doctrine of justification?  Are you trusting the Lord for your sanctification?
  • Ask yourself: Is there a disconnect between my view of justification and how I pursue sanctification?
  • Sanctification is not about ramping up enough self-effort to do it on your own.  It’s about grace-motivated obedience.
  • This passage alludes greatly to baptism.  Are you dead to sin?  If so, are you baptized?  Ask yourself: If I’m already dead to sin, what is preventing me from identifying with Christ through baptism?

Sermon 10: Three Big Words

Somehow I forgot to record my notes for Sermon 9 last week.  I think I lost my notes on the bulletin.  Sorry about that if you are really following along!  Let’s continue though with sermon 10.

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Three Big Words
Series: Redemption
Pastor Steve Moltumyr

Romans 3:21-26

  • What’s so great about Romans?  It shows how sinful, inexcusable, guilty, and speechless people are before God and then shows God’s solution to this mess.
  • When you read the first two chapters of Romans, someone may object, “There is so much wrong with the world, I don’t want to hear bad news about myself.”  But the truth is that there is bad news about us, but God has provided a way through his Son to be reconciled to him.
  • The three big words in this section are Justification, Redemption, and Propitiation.
  • Justification (v. 22-24): God declares you righteous because of his Son Jesus.
    • Paul writes that we are “justified freely by his grace.”  How is this possible?  It is possible “through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.”
    • This separates Christianity from all the other religions of the world.  Every other religion requires a moral performance record that God must accept.  For the Christian, Jesus is their perfect moral performance record.
  • Redemption (v. 24): To buy back or liberate through a purchase.
    • What Jesus is for us is a kinsman redeemer.  This has Old Testament roots in the book of Ruth.
    • There were three requirements for a kinsman redeemer in ancient times.
      1. You must be a relative.
      2. You must love the person.
      3. You must bear the cost of their debt.
    • Boaz did this for Ruth.  Everything he owned became hers.  His name became her name.   His life became her life.  Jesus is the ultimate Boaz for us — the ultimate kinsman redeemer.
  • Propitiation (v. 25): To satisfy anger; to turn away from wrath.
    • The wrath of God is not emotional crankiness.  It is legitimate, holy anger against sin.
    • Some people say that God should just be loving and good and not angry at sin.  It is love and justice that makes God angry at sin.
    • When wrong is done to you, either you make the offending person suffer or you suffer in forbearing their sin and forgiving them.
    • Some people get in a huff about God requiring a blood sacrifice.  They say it’s primitive or gross.  But Christianity is the only religion in which God himself shed his own blood.
    • God is more loving than man’s view of God.  God gave his own life for us.  The next time someone says the God of the Bible is not loving, ask them, “What did it cost your God to love you?”  More often than not, they will not have an answer.

Does James Contradict Paul?

Part 8 in an 8 part series. View series intro and index.

Over the centuries, some have argued that the apostle James in his letter contradicts Paul’s doctrine of justification.  The proof text for this, they say, is James 2:14-24.  James says, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (v. 24).   The argument people make, however, is that we need faith in Jesus plus works, not simply faith.  This is unconvincing for (at least) two reasons:

  1. James’ context is to convince people that intellectual faith is not enough to save them.  He says, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?  Can that faith save him?” (2:14).  In other words, there is no fruit of the Spirit in this person’s life (Gal. 5:22-23).  Are they even saved in the first place?  Probably not, James would say.  James wants his readers to not have dead faith or demon faith (vv. 19, 26).  He says that faith without works is dead—meaning that it is not alive and therefore doesn’t exist.  It’s not really there at all.  So in Paul’s mind, justification is a legal act of God in which he declares a person not guilty.  In James’ mind, justification is a person’s righteous actions that happen because of God’s legal act.  If the first kind of justification never happens, the second will never happen.  James wants people to test their faith.  Is it simply intellectual? traditional? cultural?  Make sure, James says, that you aren’t dead or demonic.
  2. Paul continually quoted and referred to Abraham being justified at a much earlier time than James refers to.  James refers to Abraham being justified in his actions much later in his life.  The Greek word dikaioo can also mean, “To show, exhibit, and evidence one to be righteous, such as he is and wishes himself to be considered.”  James is concerned with practical, daily living (the book is referred to as “The Proverbs of the New Testament”).  When James writes that Abraham was “justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar,” he is referring to an action later than what Paul refers to.  Paul quotes over and over again Genesis 15:6 in Romans 4.  Abraham doesn’t offer up Isaac until Genesis 22:10.  Perhaps there were 15 or 20 years in between these events (Abraham had to wait for Isaac’s birth, and Isaac would have been old enough to walk up the mountain with Abraham).  That is why James writes, “The Scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’” (v. 23).  Abraham simply proved he had faith with his works.

This is a clear teaching in Scripture and one that separates Christianity from essentially ever other religious system in the world.  Christianity teaches that we come to God by faith because of his grace.  Other religions teach that we come to God by mustering up good deeds, hoping that we will have accomplished enough.  This takes all the pressure off of us to perform for God or “keep our slate clean” before him.  It shows that God is a loving,  gracious, merciful, compassionate, and forgiving God.  Wayne Grudem said, “This fact should give us a great sense of joy and confidence before God that we are accepted by him and that we stand before him as ‘not guilty’ and ‘righteous’ forever.”

That deserves a great “Amen!”


Justification by Faith

Part 7 in an 8 part series. View series intro and index.

John Stott has said that faith merely receives what grace offers. We are saved by grace, yes, but we must believe (i.e. have faith) in order to be saved.  Grace is God’s doing.  Faith is man’s responsibility.  Romans 3:28 is the staple verse in which Paul boldly proclaims this truth: “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”

Paul writes that Abraham is the father of all those who “walk in the footsteps of [his] faith” (Rom. 4:12). He later says, “For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith” (4:13); Abraham was “fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (4:21); “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:1).

In Galatians 2 and 3, he tells us more of the same. “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ” (2:17). “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith…Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham…So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith (3:6, 7, 9). “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law…so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith” (3:13, 14), “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (3:26).

Another way to describe faith is to say that someone “believes.” When you believe, you essentially put your trust in someone or something. When you believe, you are convinced of something (see Rom. 4:21 above; cf. Heb. 11:1). Galatians 3:22 says, “But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise of faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”  It seemed best to God to ordain all people under the curse of sin so that we could not achieve righteousness before him by the law. Paul echoes this in Romans 4: “Righteousness will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (vv. 24-25). Later on in Romans 10, Paul says that we are justified when we believe with our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead (vv. 9-10).

Some may ask, “What about the Old Testament? They had the law. Certainly they were not justified by faith!” On the contrary, they were. Habakkuk 2:4 says, “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.” This verse is quoted in Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:37.

The greatest argument for justification by faith for Old Testament saints is, of course, Abraham. That is who Paul focuses on in Romans 4. He says that Abraham could not have been justified by works because righteousness was counted to him before he was circumcised (v. 10). He says, “He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still circumcised” (v. 11a). Paul tells us why this happened: “The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised” (vv. 11b-12). Abraham was saved, not by his works or obedience to be circumcised, but by his faith. “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” (Rom. 4:3).

To be continued.


Justification by Grace

Part 6 in an 8 part series. View series intro and index.

The pillar of the Reformation was “justification by faith.” Justification is by faith alone, but if there was no grace—unmerited favor from God—there would be no opportunity for faith. God’s grace is the foundation for our faith.

Romans 4:16 makes this clear: “That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring.” Justification is by faith, then, in order that the promise of eternal life may depend wholly on grace, not works.

If justification came to men by anything other than grace through faith, it would be on the basis of works. We must hold firm to this truth, otherwise this precious pillar of the Christian faith come tumbling down. Man would be exalted, not God. Man would get the glory, not God. Man would be most powerful, not God. As Wayne Grudem said in the introduction, if the gospel is to go forth in power for generations to come, we must firmly uphold this truth.

This is clear in other passages, too. Outside of the epistles, in Acts, Peter tells the Jerusalem church, “But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as [the Gentiles] will” (15:11). In Romans 3:24, Paul says that people “are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Later, in 4:4, he writes, “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.” In Titus 2:11, Paul writes, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people.” Later in 3:7, he says, “So that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

In Galatians 2:21, Paul contrasts works of the law with God’s grace. He says, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” God’s grace cannot be canceled-out. Jesus died for our sins—this was grace. But if we could be righteous from our own good works, then Jesus’ death (i.e. God’s grace) would be null and void.

Perhaps the most popular passage on the distinctive roles of grace and faith is found in Ephesians 2:8-9. Paul writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this [i.e. faith] is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Grace is the foundation for all that Christians do. It is even the foundation and reason for the faith that comes to us when we believe.

To be continued.