Summary: The content, source, and evidence of faith that brings acquittal from guilt of sin.
Acquittal Through Faith In Christ Rom. 5:1
INTRO.: One word used in the New Testament to describe our salvation is "justification." This is a word borrowed from the court room. It has the meaning of being acquitted from guilt for a crime. In our American system of jurisprudence, a person may be acquitted because of insanity, self defense, insufficient evidence, or because it is clearly indicated someone else has committed the crime of which he is accused.
In contrast, the Christian is acquitted of his sinful acts and thoughts because Christ bore his guilt on Calvary. It is the righteousness of Christ that wins our acquittal when we accept His sacrifice as our own.
John Calvin wrote; "We explain justification simply as the acceptance with which God receives us into His favor as righteous men. And we say that it consists of the remission of sins and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness."
The basis of our acquittal from the guilt of sin is our faith in Christ.
We are acquitted, or justified, by the blood of Christ through faith. This is the only hope we have for eternal life.
For this reason, the subject of faith becomes very important. Let’s see what the Bible says about faith that brings justification.
I. What are the beliefs that bring justification in Christ?
A. "Faith" and "belief" are synonymous in the New Testament:
1. Both translate the same Greek word.
2. Hebrews 11:1 expresses the absolute confidence of true faith.
3. Heb. 11:3 gives an example. We did not see the formation of the universe, but it is in existence. Common sense tells us there must be a Creator. The Bible tells us it is God. We believe.
4. Heb. 11:6 uses "faith" and "belief" as synonyms.
B. What, exactly, is the content of saving faith? What must we believe to be saved?
1. After following Jesus for two years, the Apostle Peter came to the conclusion He was God’s Son and He said He would build His Church upon this foundational truth. Matt. 16:16-18
2. Paul’s summary of the Good News about Jesus: I Cor. 15:3, 4. These truths are the bare essentials of belief in Jesus.
3. His victory over death is convincing proof He is God’s son. Rom. 1:4
4. If we believe these things, we should have no trouble surrendering our lives to His control. Not only did He die for us, He rose from the dead and has power to raise us.
C. Even this saving faith is only the beginning of the Christian life:
1. There must be growth and progress in the spirit life just as in the physical.
2. Spiritual growth is a lifetime imperative and involves the development of the divine nature within us. II Peter 1:5-7
II. How is this faith that justifies acquired? How can we be sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see? (Heb. 11:1)
A. Just as in a court of law, belief is based on the testimony of eye witnesses:
1. Jesus prayed for those who would believe through the message of the Apostles. John 17:20 The Apostles were all eye witnesses of the resurrection.
2. John published his testimony in writing so that others might believe and have life. John 20:30, 31. The same can be said of all the New Testament authors.
3. It is made very clear in Rom. 10:17: Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the Word of Christ.
4. You can see the importance of knowing God’s Word and sharing it with others.
B. There are many examples in the New Testament to show faith comes through the Word of God, the message of Christ.
1. Acts 2:41: Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized and added to the Church.
2. Acts 8: 12 When the Samaritans believed the message Phillip preached, they were baptized.
3. Acts 17:2, 3: In Thessalonica, Paul "reasoned" with them from the Scriptures and they were persuaded.
C. But, don’t get the idea you have to know everything in the Bible to arrive at faith and be acquitted:
2. More knowledge is desirable, but a simple belief in Jesus Christ as God’s Son and a willingness to surrender to Him is enough to bring acquittal for the guilt of sin. It is the foundation upon which everything else is built.
3. If you are ready to surrender your life to Christ in faith, do not wait until you know everything you want to know about the Bible or Christian life.
III. What is the proof or evidence of faith that leads to acquittal?