A fellow got up one morning and decided he no longer was going to shave himself, he was instead going to the barber for his morning shave. The town barber also happened to be the local preacher in town. When the guy walked into the barber shop the barber/preacher was not there, he was out visiting for the church but his wife Grace was in the shop. The man said to Grace, "I want a shave." Grace told him to climb up in the chair and she gave him a shave. When Grace was finished he asked her how much for the shave and Grace said, "Twenty dollars.""Twenty dollars, that seems a little steep," the guy replied. Grace said: "That's my charge." So the guy gave her $20 bill and went on his way. The next morning when he got up he went to the mirror and looked and his face was as smooth as when he was shaved the day before. He checked the following the day, same thing, a week went by, two weeks and his face stayed as smooth as a baby's face. Finally after the third week he stopped back in the barber shop and Grace happened to be there. The guy said to her: "Grace, I can't believe I still don't need another shave. You did some kind of magnificent job." And Grace replied, "Well, you have been shaved by Grace and once shaved always shaved!"
We keep talking about justification, but I want to know if I am forgiven.
Basically justification is the same as forgiveness of sins, remission of sins, and the washing away of sin, in the sense that God removes them from the books and does not hold them against us. This is clear from Paul’s line of thought from Romans 3:27- 4:8.
After talking about justification through faith throughout these passages, Paul proves his point by citing Psalm 32:1-2, a psalm of David, in Romans 4:7-8. Paul makes much of the faith of Abraham Romans 4 but we are not going to talk about that much. Talked about it in Hebrews.
This passage shows that justification and forgiveness are one and the same. God justifies sinners by forgiving them, by not holding their sins against them.
Justification and forgiveness applies not just to sins, but to whole persons. It is not just my individual sins that are forgiven; I am a forgiven person.
It is important to see that this is not a gradual process. Justification is an act of God that results in an immediate and complete change in our status before God. Pass out Double Cure graph. (I wish I could put this in these notes. If you need an idea of how this graph looks, you'll have to e-mail or call me) Focus on conversion and then solid black line.
Changed from being 0% forgiven to being 100% forgiven. Justification is also an abiding state, one that begins in the act of conversion and continues in its fullness until the end of time(100%) as long as we remain in union with Christ.
We should not think that only some of our sins are forgiven, that we are 65% or 92% or 98% forgiven. That would not be enough. Thanks be to God, all of our sins are forgiven through Jesus Christ. This is the essence of justification.
Are we saying that we believe in once saved, always saved? Graph seems to indicate this. No, turn over to Hebrews 6:4-8. This is talking to Jews who had become Christians, but who are now thinking about abandoning their Christian faith and going back to Judaism. The theme of the entire letter is the danger and foolishness of such a decision. If this decision is not possible, then the whole book of Hebrews is a sham.
The fact that those to whom this passage speaks are true Christians is shown in the statement that, if they fall away, vs. 6. To speak of renewing them again to repentance indicates that they were once in a state of repentance, indicative of salvation.
It is also clear that this passage warns against the reality of becoming truly lost, as opposed to simply losing one’s rewards in heaven. Vs. 6 warns against becoming fallen away. Vs. 8
Leads to a question, what constitutes “falling from grace” or “falling away”?
Must remember the doctrine of grace, Romans 3:28. We not only initially become justified by faith; we also remain justified by faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ.
Falling from grace occurs when faith in the blood of Jesus dies.
Thesis: What are the ways in which faith may die? 3 ways
Slow starvation of faith
Faith does not come into existence fully grown but begins with a stage of infancy, in need of maturing and strengthening. Like a baby faith must constantly be nurtured and nourished.
Because of this God has provided us with spiritual disciplines such as those in Acts 2:42-47.
To neglect these things allows faith to weaken or even to die. This is a true sense in which “faith without works is dead”- James 2:26.
Look up Matthew 13:5-6. This represents Matthew 13:20-21.
If we are not careful to extend our spiritual roots, spiritual starvation is the result.
Strangulation of faith by sin
After conversion, if a Christian allows sins to continue and to flourish without fighting against them, they will sooner or later choke the life out of his faith.
This is where the second gray line in the graph of the double cure takes on some meaning. Sinners have different levels of goodness. Arbitrary 25%. At conversion the new Christian’s level of goodness does not zoom immediately up to 100% like forgiven line. But the overall direction of one’s goodness is upward. If it goes down continually, then we have a problem.
Matthew 13:7. Jesus explains in Matthew 13:22.
Some are tempted to think that because God’s grace forgives all sins and salvation is assured, it does not matter if we keep on sinning. We will talk about this more from Romans 6 on.
If one continues to live a life controlled by the sins of the flesh, he will surely go back into a state of spiritual death. Romans 8:13: For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live
2 Peter 2:20-22
Continuing to sin is like opening the gates of the fort and inviting the enemy inside.
A Christian will be bothered by his sins. Difference between oops sins and habitual sins. When oops sins become habitual sins then we have a problem. To Cain in Genesis 4:7: sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.
Romans 6:14: For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
1 Peter 1:5: through faith are shielded by God’s power. This is true but we must make a deliberate effort to keep our faith alive and strong. The words of 2 Peter 1 are also true: vs. 5 and then vs. 8-11.
Sudden Spiritual Suicide
A deliberate decision to stop believing in Christ, renouncing the Christian faith.
The first two usually come before this one. Start to wonder if made a mistake by becoming a Christian, and then renounce Christ.
There are people who have intellectual doubts about Christ and the Bible.
Other might allow a personal tragedy to destroy belief in Christ and the loving Creator.
The main thing here is unbelief. Hebrews 3:19: So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
Even though this is true, we see Abraham, who had sins in his life and was not diligent, but still was justified. Romans 4:20-22
E. How can one be restored after such a fall? Hebrews 6:6 makes it sound like it is impossible. Not going to get into that but focus on Romans 11:23: And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
Parable of the Prodigal Son. Luke 15:24: For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’
Also the story of Simon the Sorcerer from Acts 8 may be regarded as an actual instance of a believer, Simon, who fell from grace and is then instructed y Peter to repent and pray in order to be received into grace again- Acts 8:22.
Conclusion and invitation:
What line does our assurance of salvation depend on? Not the goodness line; our assurance does not depend upon what percent good we are. It depends upon the forgiveness line. As Christians we are constantly by God’s grace 100% forgiven. Even if we are 25% good we are still 100% forgiven.
Many Christians have the mistaken idea that every time they sin, they drop from 100% forgiven down to zero. AFter they do some kind of penance, they go back to 100%. The cycle constantly repeats itself. The constant fear is that we will die at 0% and thus be lost.
This is an example of merging the two lines. Yes, they do relate together but they are different. It is erroneous to think that as long as one is not sinning (is 100% good), he is 100% forgiven; but when he sins, he loses all his forgiveness. Forgiveness, and one’s salvation status in general, thus depends upon one’s works. Mixture of law and grace.
It is knowing that we are 100% forgiven, even in the midst of our struggles, that gives us assurance of salvation. Next time we’re in an airport notice the difference between passengers who have confirmed tickets and those on standbye . Those who have confirmed tickets are relaxed, their confident and expectant. Those on standby hang around the ticket counter, they pace and pace all because of uncertainty. God offers us freedom from the burden of uncertainty, so we can know for sure where we stand with God.