Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Righteousness Of God!

"Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." "He believed God, who quickeneth the dead." --Romans 4:3,7.

Let us now, after listening to the words of our Lord Jesus about our fellowship with Him in the cross, turn to St. Paul, and see how through the Holy Spirit he gives the deeper insight into what our death in Christ means.

You know how the first section of Romans is devoted to the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ. After speaking (1:18-32) of the awful sin of the heathen, and then (2:1-29) of the sin of the Jew, he points out how Jew and Gentile are "guilty before God," "All have sinned and come short." And then he sets forth that free grace which gave the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (3:21-31). In chapter 4 he points to Abraham as having, when he believed, understood that God justified him freely by His grace, and not for anything that he had done.

Abraham had not only believed this, but something more. "He believed in God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth the things that are not as though they were." The two expressions are most significant, as indicating the two essential needs there are in the redemption of man in Christ Jesus. There is the need of justification by faith, to restore man to the favor of God. But there is more needed. He must also be quickened to a new life. Just as justification is by faith alone, so is regeneration also. Christ died on account of our sins; He was raised again on account of our justification.

In the first section (down to chap. 5:11), Paul deals exclusively with the great thought of our justification. But in the second section (5:12 to 8:39) he expounds that wonderful union with Christ, through faith, by which we died with Him, by which we live in Him, and by which, through the Holy Spirit, we are made free, not only from the punishment, but also from the power of sin, and are enabled to live the life of righteousness, of obedience, and of sanctification.

(Andrew Murray - Secrets Of The Cross - Seventeenth Day)


Michael said...

Dear Samuel,

Not Saved by Faith Only

Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. (James 2:24)

It cannot get any clearer than the verse in James that good works are necessary for Christians to truly have the life that Jesus promises.

Common objections…
James is not speaking of salvation. But notice that the verse immediately preceding refers to Abraham’s saving faith…

And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. (James 2:23)

The book of James is hard to understand and therefore this verse should be ignored. In fact, Martin Luther wanted to remove this book from the Bible.

But the verse is actually easy to understand for those who accept Catholic teaching. Shame on those Protestants…interpreting the Bible as their sole authority with preconceived doctrines.

Anonymous said...

Have you not read Ephesians 2:8,9? "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast."
Verse 10 fits in nicely with James 2:24: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Verse 23 of James said that Abraham believed God and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: it doesn't say that Abraham did any work to become righteous. Neither do we as protestants nor as Catholics need to do any works to be saved. Works are proof of our salvation, not a condition for it. We must take the whole of scripture together and not go by any other "authority".

Michael said...

Open your Bible to Acts 5:29-32… But Peter and the Apostles answered and said, “We must obey GOD rather than men…(32) and we are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom GOD has given to all who obey him.”

Those verses are unmistakable that we have to do our part by obeying the commandments of GOD.
Then there is the dreaded (by Protestants) James 2:14-26 which starts with (14) “What will it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but does not have Works? Can the faith save him?…(17)

So faith too, unless it has Works, is dead in itself…(20) Faith without Works is useless…(21) Was not Abraham our father justified by Works when he offered up Isaac his son upon the altar? (22)

Do you not see that Faith worked along with his Works, and by the Works the faith was made perfect?…(24)

You see that by Works a man is justified, and not by faith only….(26) For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so, Faith also without Works is Dead.”

‘Subjective Salvation’ in action, is shown for that whole section written by St. James.

I could go on and on with verses like this, and could ask questions such as, why is there a need for the ten commandments, since we are ‘automatically saved’? I think you get the message from what I have shown.

Read Matthew 25:31:46. It is all about doing good works in this life. Then there is Revelation 14:13, “And I heard a voice from Heaven saying, ‘Write: blessed are the dead who die in the Lord henceforth. Yes, says the Spirit, let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them.’”

Is that clear enough that works are needed in addition to faith? Still not convinced? Then how about another crystal clear verse? Revelation 22:12, “Behold, I come quickly! And My reward is with Me, to render to each one according to his works.”

I must call it to your attention that the Bible mentions Faith Only, once and only once, in one verse, and in that verse it says NOT by Faith Only. (James 2:24)

Sam said...

why is there a need for the ten commandments, since we are ‘automatically saved’?

Why? To show us our absolute, utter need for and dependency on Christ alone!

I cannot say it any better than the apostle Paul... who in Romans 3 says

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

Michael, the law shows us our utter bankruptcy before God. Our utter worthlessness! As the prophet Isaiah says "We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away." (Isaiah 64:6)

It is when we see our complete lack, our helpless estate... then, and only then do we see our true need for a Saviour (for Jesus Christ)... it is then, and only then that we truly repent (give up) and put our complete confidence, our faith, our hope for heaven in Christ!

Paul continues...

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

Romans 3:9-25a

We are not all 'automatically saved'... we are saved when, and only when, we truly repent, turn from our unbelief, give up striving to justify ourselves by the law - and look solely to Christ for our salvation. Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling!

The man who has surrendered to God, whom God regenerates (that is gives a new heart - see Ezekiel 36)... he now has new desires! God puts a new heart within him and the sin he once loved, he now begins to hate and the God he once hated, despised and ignored, he now begins to love and obey!! The Spirit of the living Christ indwells him, and he begins to bring forth good fruit to the Fathers glory!

He is not saved by his works... he is saved by repentance and faith in Christ... and when he is born again... then good works follow!

Sam said...

Michael, consider this...

And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Matthew 3:17

When you die, if you want to take God an offering of pleasing aroma, then why on earth would you present him with a tattered bag full of your own self righteous works? Has God ever said "with him I am well pleased" about you and your "good" works?

There is only one sacrifice pleasing to the Father, the blood of His only begotten Son - who was crushed under the Fathers wrath and made to be an atoning sacrifice for all those who would be called out unto faith in Him.

The Father has not prescribed any other acceptable means for eternal salvation, save the blood of Jesus Christ!

Have you ever wondered how incensed God might be at an individual who comes before him relying on something other than the blood of Christ? Are you relying on something other than the blood of Christ to save you?

To come before God and present your own works is nothing short of declaring "I didn't think the blood of your Son was worth staking my eternity on! I didn't think the blood of your Son was enough!"

Will you say that to God? "I'm not prepared to trust the blood of your Son to save me - it is not enough!"

Take the case of an earthly father who, not sparing his own Son, puts him to death to save the life of another. What do you suppose the reaction of that father might be when the recipient of this merciful act tips the sons blood down the drain? Pleased? Indifferent? Angry?

Would not your response be, that man deserves to die!

In the same way, a man who refuses his interest in the blood of Christ deserves eternal hell!


Michael said...

... and when he is born again... then good works follow!

Born Again in Baptism

One key Scripture reference to being "born again" or "regenerated" is John 3:5, where Jesus says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."

This verse is so important that those who say baptism is just a symbol must deny that Jesus here refers to baptism. "Born again" Christians claim the "water" is the preached word of God.

But the early Christians uniformly identified this verse with baptism. Water baptism is the way, they said, that we are born again and receive new life—a fact that is supported elsewhere in Scripture (Rom. 6:3–4; Col. 2:12–13; Titus 3:5).

No Church Father referred to John 3:5 as anything other than water baptism.

Michael said...

Dear Samuel,

Private interpretation of Scriptures can be exceedingly harmful to self and others. This has divided Christianity into hundreds if not tens of thousands of segments.

Too many individuals claim their position is right and are unwilling to freely discuss the position taken or to be submissive to moral authorities.

Holding to a personal position, or one of heretical source, places one's eternal soul in jeopardy. Such people often become instruments that lead others to perdition.