- And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6).
- Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).
- For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3).
- But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness (Romans 4:5).
- For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, saying, "Peace, peace!" When there is no peace (Jeremiah 8:11).
Saturday, August 31, 2013
Jesus Christ: His Love, Promises, and Our Duty
Following a Wonderful Savior
By Mike Robinson
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory (1Timothy 3:16).
Since God keeps His promises, we should focus on Jesus. Christ is the Master in every realm known and unknown: the realms of nature, the church, the future, and the spiritual. Christ flung the stars across the cosmos; He is the Lord of the universe. Additionally, He is the ground of rationality, the Logos of all true philosophy, and the precision of mathematics. Jesus is the Captain of salvation for He overmastered sin, death, and the grave. He turned the darkness of death into the dazzling glory of the Resurrection. With Jesus no one needs religion to escape death’s grip; no one needs religion to be loved and accepted: Jesus is alive and He loves His own to the end.
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him (1 John 3:1).
Jesus is all wise, omnipotent, omniscient, and He is everywhere present; He is blessed and radiant in power and glory. He propitiates God’s judgment and wrath as He offers unconditional love to all His people. Jesus saves, redeems, protects, delivers and leads His people. Jesus, as God, accomplished the supreme purpose as the conqueror of darkness and wickedness. Jesus is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
Contemplate the glory of Christ. Rejoice in the wonder of His person. Delight in His friendship. Thank Him for His forgiveness and love Him for His loveliness. With Jesus you do not need manmade religion. So focus on Jesus, live upon Jesus, walk with Jesus, and follow hard after Jesus as you obey His word out of gratitude; moreover, love Him for all He is and all that He has done for you.
Expressing Love to God
Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind (Jesus).
Packer offers the following practical applications for expressing our love to God:
To worship God is to recognize his worth or worthiness; to look God-ward, and to acknowledge in all appropriate ways the value of what we see. The Bible calls this activity "glorifying God" or "giving glory to God," and views it as the ultimate end, and from one point of view, the whole duty of man (Ps. 29:2; 96:6; 1 Cor. 10:31). Scripture views the glorifying of God as a six-fold activity: praising God for all that he is and all his achievements; thanking him for his gifts and his goodness to us; asking him to meet our own and others' needs; offering him our gifts, our service, and ourselves; learning of him from his word, read and preached, and obeying his voice; telling others of his worth, both by public confession and testimony to what he has done for us. Thus we might say that the basic formulas of worship are these: "Lord, you are wonderful"; "Thank you, Lord"; "Please Lord"; "Take this, Lord"; "Yes, Lord." …This then is worship in its largest sense: petition as well as praise, preaching as well as prayer, hearing as well as speaking, actions as well as words, obeying as well as offering, loving people as well as loving God. However, the primary acts of worship are those which focus on God directly—and we must not imagine that work for God in the world is a substitute for direct fellowship with him in praise and prayer and devotion (James Packer, Your Father Loves You).
Make Note of the Power of the Gospel
During the Great Awakening through the work of God’s Spirit many people came to Christ; furthermore, by the preaching of Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield America was transformed. One of the most curious fads that appeared during that period of revival was an unexpected interest in shorthand in the American colonies. Almost everywhere people had pens in their hands as they hurried off to a revival service. They took their feather pen, portable ink well, and paper to write notes as many attendees recorded the sermon in shorthand. This led to a viral surge of shorthand books being purchased. During this mighty revival people were talking about Jesus and running to and fro while hearing the Cross preached; these inexperienced scribes were endeavoring to record every word for later study and meditation.
The preaching of Jesus Christ crucified and risen with the justification that comes by God’s grace led to the greatest revival America has ever witnessed.
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness (Romans 4:5).
You say hold on a minute; I know what justification means: declared righteous. Why is it so important? When I hear this type of questioning, I can understand the reason Martin Luther said: “I feel sometimes that you are so slow to receive it; that I could almost take the Bible and bang it about your heads.” These truths are essential, yet often we don’t really embrace them and it seems we need it pounded into our hearts. Thomas Watson rightly noted that justification is the “very hinge and pillar of Christianity.”
Van Til pointed out that “the idea of grace is wholly out of line with the idea of autonomous man.” Paul declared: “Let God be true and every man a liar.” We should believe God and not any man that attempts to controvert God’s Word. By God’s grace through faith in Jesus one is justified, forgiven, and accepted by God. That’s good news.
The Imputation of Christ's Righteousness
God the Father sent His Son, who is sinless and perfect in character, to live a perfect life in accordance to God’s Law and sacrifice himself for the sins of mankind. The sins of the repentant sinner are cast onto Christ: the perfect sacrifice. Furthermore, salvation includes the gift of the "righteousness of God" (Rom. 3:21, 22; 10:3; Philippians 3:9). This is the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 1:30). His life of sinlessness and perfect obedience to God's law on this earth was required to give believers a perfect record in regard to the postive aspect of Justification (Christ’s active obedience). The need for a human life of perfect obedience to God's law is one of the most important reasons that Jesus as God, had to become fully man (incarnate) and live as a man born of a virgin.
Romans 4:6 declares that God "imputes righteousness apart from works," hence this righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer's account. God forensically (legally) credits (imputes) the believer with the righteous acts that Christ performed as fully man on the earth. This is the great exchange: Christ gives his perfect holiness, righteousness in exchange for human sin. This is great news for sinners who by God’s grace alone turn in faith to God's Son: Christ takes their sin and believers receive His perfect record of law keeping and His perfect righteousness. God credits believers with the righteousness of Christ solely through faith by grace alone. Justification forensically renders the believer righteous and gives him peace with heaven.
Without justification, the unbeliever has no peace with God. We must never assert that there is peace, when there is no peace between the ungodly and God. Without justification by grace alone, there can be no real peace. Imputation is the biblical term for the positive element of justification. Through God’s grace by faith: The believer is judicially constituted as righteous. He is declared righteous. Christ preached in Matthew 5:48, “Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The law demands perfect obedience. This is a perfection equal to the Father’s perfection. Nobody except Christ has pulled that off, so we need a perfect righteousness that is not our own. We need to be justified by the works and righteousness of another. Justification is a forensic term which speaks of the Christian’s legal position before God. The believer is declared righteous despite his unrighteous deeds. The justified are given an alien righteousness. A righteousness that is not their own, but is imputed to the believer by faith alone. Not having a righteousness of our own insures that God gets all the glory.
We should delight in the good news of our justification and get stirred-up to teach others this stupendous truth: Christ came to save sinners. When we witness, we must hoist the person and work of Christ. After pressing the law on the heart of the wicked, share the gospel and justification with them. Pray that God changes their hearts, and that they cast themselves upon the person of Jesus Christ.
Obedience Motived by Gratitude
All Christians must understand that keeping God’s law doesn’t save their soul, but grace through faith in Christ alone saves them. And the Christian is to follow God’s law out of gratitude and love.
If you love Me, you will keep My commandments (John 14:15).
I … believe that I am, by Christ, freely and fully justified and acquitted from all my sins … yet, methinks, I find my heart more willing and desirous to do what the Lord commands … than ever it was before I did thus believe (Edward Fisher; notes by Thomas Boston: Marrow of Modern Divinity: Covenant of works & Grace: The Ten Commandments).
The Christian is motivated to obey God’s word by gratitude and love. The believer is to follow God’s law because he loves God and his fellow man. God is good and loving. This truth infuses obedient love into the believer’s heart, by the power and person of the Holy Spirit, through faith. If you love Jesus, you are called to follow His moral law. If a church loves Jesus, it is going to instruct and admonish its members to follow God’s law.
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