Summary: Four facts about justification
Woodlawn Baptist Church
November 27, 2005
Introduction (see footnote)
As we get started, I want to read to you four verses from Paul’s letter to the Romans. First we’ll read Romans 3:24,
“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 4:5 says,
“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
Romans 5:1 says,
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Last of all Romans 8:30 says,
“Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
I want to speak to you tonight on this subject of justification. What is it? Why is it important and what does it mean to us? Perhaps of all the great doctrines of our faith, what the Bible teaches about justification must be among the most important. In fact, it has been said that “a right understanding of justification is absolutely crucial to the whole Christian faith…If we are to safeguard the truth of the gospel for future generations, we must understand the truth of justification. Even today, a true view of justification is the dividing line between the biblical gospel of salvation by faith alone and all false gospels of salvation based on good works.”
There are four facts about justification I want to remind you of tonight.
Justification Is A Legal Declaration By God
What exactly does it mean to be justified? I think in some ways we have so dumbed down the Bible and biblical terminology that we are frightened by words like this one. Webster’s Dictionary defines justification as being pronounced free from blame or guilt. Vine’s Expository Dictionary says that being justified is the legal and formal acquittal from guilt by God as Judge. In his book Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem defines justification as an instantaneous legal act of God in which he thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us. In this legal act God declares us to be righteous in His sight. The justification Christ offers frees one from the penalty of sin, and will keep one free from that penalty. Someone once said that justification means, “Just as if I’d never sinned.”
I want us to read Romans 3:9-23 together.
In this passage Paul, by the inspiration of God, lays out for us the scene of a court room in which a trial is taking place. Paul has argued the guilt of every man and woman, whether Jew or Gentile, as they are seen in the eyes of a holy and righteous God. The Gentile, even those who have never heard the gospel, is guilty due to the witness of the creation. The good or moral man: the “good old boy” is guilty due to the witness of his conscious. The Jew is guilty because of the Scripture he possesses.
All the elements of a court trial are present. In verse 9 we find the charge. We are all under sin: both the Jew and the Gentile. To say that we are all under sin includes all that goes with it: its guilt and its condemnation. Then in verses 10-18 we see the indictments against man. He is a totally depraved person. Our character is hopeless. “None are righteous.” Our speech is corrupt. Our conduct is ungodly. Sure there are different degrees to our depravity, but we are all guilty of sin. Remember the two mountains I have illustrated for you before. No matter how morally upright a person might be, if he is on the wrong mountain, whether on top or on bottom, he is on the wrong mountain. In this letter to the believers at Rome, Paul has masterfully demonstrated that there is not a single person who can stand before God as righteous and holy.
After bringing the indictments against man, verse 19 indicates man’s defense, “Every mouth may be stopped.” Think about the day of judgment. There will come a day when every one of us will stand before God alone. Just the thought of standing before God alone makes me shudder. Many think that they will somehow argue their case before the Lord or will put God on trial for what He did or allowed in their lives, and for those, I would agree with a statement I found somewhere that says “an attorney who would represent himself before the Lord has a fool for a client.” You see, when we stand before the Lord, the evidence will be so overwhelmingly obvious to us that “every mouth will be stopped.” There is no defense before God. Because we have no defense, verse 19 also gives the verdict against every man, including us: “and all the world may become guilty before God.” Why will every mouth be stopped? Because all are guilty!