Justification


Picture source: theresolved

[This is a sermon. Click here to read a version that touches the subject less superficially (more difficult to understand).]

Audio version:

Script:

I was asked to talk with you on the subject of justification.

To begin, I would like to state that there are 3 big groups in which we can divide the Christian Church, namely: Protestantism (to which this church belongs), Roman-Catholicism and the Orthodox Church. Now, I believe that on the subject of Justification, the Orthodox Church shows us a picture, which is, in my opinion, closest to Scripture although I do not agree with the power they give to sacraments like baptism. I just like to describe myself as a Christian, a follower of Christ and a member of His Body, not a member of one of the three groups, as I believe that all those groups contain errors.

Many protestants teach that there is only one form of justification before God, that is: “justification by faith”, which is also known as “sola fide”. I, however, hold that there are 2 forms of justification. That is: justification by faith and justification by works. Notice that I didn’t say: “I believe in 1 form of justification: justification by faith and works”. The 2 forms of justification should be clearly separated.

First, let us talk about justification by faith. I believe that my views on this subject are in agreement with the Protestant Church. I must state that I do not believe that a godless sinner is saved, when he comes to Christ, by his  faith and good works, but only by God’s grace and the sinner’s faith in Christ and what He has done for him on the cross. In that matter Protestantism  is correct and no works should or can be added here, to bribe God to be acceptable to Him. I will state it differently: The Bible makes clear that a godless sinner is justified by faith alone, when he initially comes to Christ. No merits (good deeds) can save him at that moment, since, it is clear that he showed no respect whatsoever towards God, while transgressing God’s law (1 John 3:4). He can only put his trust on God’s willingness to pardon sinners like him. As it is written: ‘What about Abraham, our early father? What did he learn? If Abraham was made right with God by what he did, he would have had something to be proud of. But he could not be proud before God. The Holy Writings say, “Abraham put his trust in God and that made him right with God.” If a man works, his pay is not a gift. It is something he has earned. If a man has not worked to be saved, but has put his trust in God Who saves men from the punishment of their sins, that man is made right with God because of his trust in God. just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin”’ (Romans 4:1-5 (NLV),6-8 (ESV)).

The Bible also says that: “Indeed, you [God] are angry; we have sinned, we have acted wickedly. We have all become like something unclean, all our just deeds are like polluted rags.” (Isaiah 64:4b-5a, NABRE)… This is clearly in agreement with the previous text in Romans, talking about the godless sinner, who cannot be justified by his good deeds.

But do these verses in Isaiah, as many Protestant reformers claimed and many modern day-protestants still claim, also talk about the Christian? No! They do not! [1]

They do talk about him, if he sins, and needs to be pardoned again “by grace, through faith” (Eph. 2:8-9) but they do not talk about the expected lifestyle of a born-again Christian! Let’s look at the beginning of the first verse of this passage, written by Isaiah: “You [God] meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, who remembers You [God] in Your ways” (Isaiah 64:5a, NKJV).

This is where the second justification, the justification by works comes in. Apostle James clearly stated: “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24, ESV).  James also said about Abraham, our father in the faith: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works” (James 2:21-22, RSV). The popular protestant theory is that Abraham’s faith justified him before God, while his works justified him before men. But is this what the context says?

Let’s take a look at the Old Testament context, which you can find in Genesis 22:18-19a: ‘”[God is speaking to Abraham, after he obeyed God by almost sacrificing his son:] Every nation on the earth will be blessed through your descendants. I will do this because you obeyed me.” Then Abraham went back to his servants.’ (ERV) We can now make 2 conclusions:

  1. The reason for the blessing of God was the obedience (= deed) of Abraham.
  2. Only after this work of obedience towards God, he went back to his servants.”. So Abraham did not try to show off his obedience before men. If he would have sacrificed his son, his son would not have been able to tell it to Abraham’s servants. There was no one else there. Therefore we can conclude that it was between him and God. It was obedience towards God and had nothing to do whatsoever with other human beings.

Furthermore, The Apostle James concluded what he wrote by stating: “For as the body without spirit IS dead, so also faith without works IS dead” (James 2:26, WYC, emphasis mine). A corpse IS dead, it does not just look dead.

John the Apostle stated: “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.” (Revelation 22:14-15, NKJV). He also stated: ” let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.” (1 John 3:7, NKJV). So one who does not practice righteousness but lives like the devil, will not be considered righteous.

To resume: A godless sinner, is pardoned, by grace through faith alone, without the works of the law, when he/she confesses his/her sins. This is also true for the Christian who has committed sin. But after having been forgiven, the Christian should now walk in holiness and obey God.

The Lord Jesus Christ said: “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20b, NKJV)

Thank you for your attention. May God bless you all and may He make you remember those things He wants you to remember.

Sermon preached in a Pentecostal (former Baptist) church in Douala (Cameroon) on August 13, 2015.

[This is a sermon. Click here to read a version that touches the subject less superficially (more difficult to understand).]




[1] I found a quote, later on, to illustrate this:

‘Some suppose that any works of righteousness or good works are filthy rags. Filthy rags, as many know, refer to dirty tampons. But that would mean that these verses are saying, “But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh dirty tampons, is accepted with him,” “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth dirty tampons is righteous, even as he is righteous,” “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your dirty tampons, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” and “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have dirty tampons: shew me thy faith without thy dirty tampons, and I will she thee my faith by my dirty tampons.” Obviously, there is nothing wrong with good works or works of righteousness. Good works done out of faith are not filthy rags.’
– Jesse Morrell, “Do Men Need to Repent of Sin or Just of Unbelief and Self-Righteousness? Are All Good Works Filthy Rags? Antinomianism Refuted by Jesse Morrell” (biblicaltruthresources)

Even later on, I came across the following videos, which also explains it fairly well:

2 thoughts on “Justification

  1. “Saved by grace through faith” is a dynamic, it is not referring to a “trust mechanic”, i.e. ” faith alone” like you mention in the article.

    Grace is divine influence upon our hearts freely provided and faithfulness is yielding to that divine influence. Thus when Paul speaks of being “saved by grace through faith,” he is speaking of a dynamic of transformation.

    Grace quickens (Eph 2:5) and grace is made effectual to the saving of the soul (2Cor 6:1). Thus there is no magic “faith alone” if someone sins, rather there is a first works of a real repentance out of which is born faithfulness by which the quickening may occur.

    Salvation is not a position, it is a manifest state having been born from above.

    Like

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