KLMX Sermons

 

May 24, 2007

 

Bryan Kimsey

1st Baptist Church,

Des Moines, NM

 

Justified By Faith

 

Good morning!  You’re listening to the Tri- States Ministerial Alliance program on KLMX and I’m Bryan Kimsey from 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines.  We’ve looked at several fascinating topics this week.  From Genesis 3, we looked at the origins of sin, God’s curse upon that sin, and his plan for redemption.  Then we took another look at sin and saw that the greatest transgression is a violation of the greatest commandment, namely, our failure to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind.  Yesterday, we saw a progression in the book of John which demonstrated Jesus to be greater than John the Baptist, then greater than Jacob, greater than Abraham, and greater than all the prophets.  In several of these, Christ made the statement “I AM”, a statement which literally claims equality with God the Father.  Today, I’d like to look in the epistle to the Romans at a passage of just 3 words, but these are 3 words which open doors in a huge and nearly overwhelming room.  First, let’s ask God to guide us:  Our Heavenly father, hallowed be your name!  May you bless these words and use them for your glory, through the name of your only begotten son, Jesus Christ, who has paid the price for our redemption.  Amen.

 

The 3 words that we’ll examine in today’s message come from Romans Chapter 5, one of my favorite chapters in the Bible.  This chapter is so rich that I once preached for 3 days on this passage and still didn’t cover half of what I wanted to cover.    Today I’m limited to 15 minutes and we’ll just look at a sliver of the glory in this section.  Let’s first put the passage in context.  I’ll read Romans 4:20 through 5:2.

 

Romans 4:20-25  He [Abraham] did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,  (21)  and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.  (22)  And therefore "IT WAS ACCOUNTED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS."  (23)  Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him,  (24)  but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead,  (25)  who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

 

Romans 5:1-2  Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  (2)  through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

 

This passage is using the example of Abraham, the father of faith to show a critical truth about our salvation.  God had made a covenant with Abraham to make him the father of many nations and Abraham believed that God was able to perform what He had promised.  This was in spite of the fact that Abraham was an old man married to a woman past the age of child-bearing and the couple was childless.  In spite of these barriers, Romans tells us that Abraham “did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.”   Because of this, “it was accounted to him for righteousness”.  Now this word “accounted” is important.  It means “credited”, or “laid to his account”.  When you write a check and give it someone who then takes it to the bank, the banks transfer the money from account to account, and a payment is made, just as if you had actually handed the money over.  The money is “accounted”.  In the same way, Abraham is accounted with righteousness.  This does not mean he himself actually is righteousness, but it means that he is credited or accounted with righteous, as if he were righteous.  This is a very important distinction.  This process of crediting from one account to another is called imputation.  It’s a transfer of credits from one who has them to one who does not.  And we see this word imputation in v. 23-34 which says:

 

 “Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead…” 

 

Here we see that “it”, which is righteousness, is indeed imputed from God to Abraham, and we also see that this was written for our benefit.  Furthermore, we see that “it”, which is again, righteousness, will be imputed to us who believe that God raised up Jesus, our Lord, from the dead.   This, folks, is the gospel message!  We’ve looked at sin and the death which results of our disobedience toward God- that’s the Bad News.  This is the Good News.  If we believe that God provided Christ as atonement for our sins, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us (and our sins imputed to Him, but that’s another message for another time!), just as righteousness was imputed to Abraham, the father of faith.  I’m not making this up.  Look at v 24 and 25:

 

…It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead,  (25)  who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

 

Note the word “justification”.   The passage says that Christ was raised because of our justification.  In other words, so that we might be “justified”, Christ was raised.  What does this word “justification” mean? 

 

According to Webster’s 1628 dictionary, “justification” is:

 

4. remission of sin and absolution from guilt and punishment; or an act of free grace by which God pardons the sinner and accepts him as righteous, on account of the atonement of Christ.

 

A  key word in this definition are “remission”.  When you have cancer and go into “remission”, that means the cancer is no longer active.  “Absolution” mean you are acquitted- you have been tried and found “not guilty”.   These things refer to your sin and the resulting guilt and punishment.  The definition further says that “justification” is “an act of free grace by which God pardons the sinner and accepts him as righteous, on account of the atonement of Christ.”  So, justification is free- there is nothing you can do to earn it, or it would be earned and not free.  By justification, God accepts the sinner as righteous- again, this doesn’t mean the sinner is righteous, it merely means that God accepts him as such.  And this is done “on account of the atonement of Christ”.  See that word “account”?  That means that Christ’s righteousness is accounted to you.  This word “justification” then, basically describes the exact moment at which you are saved.  When God imputes Christ’s righteousness to your account, it wipes away your sins and death no longer has a claim on you.  Yes, your fleshly body dies, just like Christ’s did, but also just like Christ, you can look forward to a resurrection of that body.  So, do you see how critical this little word “justification” is the Christian faith?  The one little word has opened a whole room in which we find the words imputation, righteousness, and accounted,  and when we start studying those words we can glimpse a little bit of the amazing depth and width of the gospel message.

 

Now, let’s move on into Chapter 5:1-2 which says

 

Romans 5:1-2  Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  (2)  through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

 

Whenever you see a “therefore” you should ask what it’s “there for”.  It’s there because Paul gave us the example of Abraham to demonstrate that imputation of righteousness was in God’s plan from the beginning.  He then uses this “therefore” to state “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  And there are the 3 little words I promised at the beginning of this message: “justified by faith”.  Note that there is nothing added to faith- not works, not good will, not following the law- just “faith”.  It is through faith then, that we are seen as righteous in the eyes of God.  It is through faith that Christ’s atonement is imputed to us.  It is through faith and faith alone, that we are saved. 

 

Before we examine faith, note quickly that having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  This means that prior to justification, we were enemies with God (see Romans 5:10 for more on this), it also says that we must come through Christ, and Christ alone, for this justification.  Again, these two statements deserve much more investigation that I can give them right now, but I can’t let them go by without at least pointing them to your attention.  The question we should look at now is “Where do we get this faith, the faith by which we are justified?”

 

Many people say that we all have faith and just have to exercise it.  But 2 Thessalonians 3:2 is a prayer for deliverance “from unreasonable and wicked men for not all have faith.”  Plus, don’t forget, according to Romans 5:10, that prior to justification, you were an enemy of God- did you suddenly decide to become God’s friend, all on your own?  Let’s see what the Bible says about the origin of our faith:

 

Ephesians 2:8-9  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  (9)  not of works, lest anyone should boast.

 

This passage backs up our Romans passage in that salvation is through faith.  The Ephesians passage, though, says “that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God”.  In this sentence, what is “not of yourselves”?   This sub-clause modifies the noun immediately preceding it, and that noun is “faith”.   Therefore, faith is not ourselves, but is a gift of God.  In other words, the very faith through which we are justified, the very faith which believes that Christ made the payment for our sins, and the very faith through which we believe that God raised Christ from the dead and that He’ll do the same for us is not of ourselves, but is a gift of God.  Now, if this isn’t a humbling thought, I don’t know what is.  But think about it- what do you have that is yours?  God created the world, the universe, man, all the animals, and everything that is.  He gave us life, breath, our bodies, our souls.  Why is it so unreasonable to think that He also gives us faith?  Knowing our hearts (do I need to remind you of Adam again?), the passage says that faith is a gift of God and “not of works, lest anyone should boast.”  I don’t know about you but frankly, I find it extremely comforting to know that my faith isn’t of myself but that it’s a gift from God.  If saving faith was dependent upon my efforts, be assured that I would lose it.

 

 But there we have it- we are justified by faith and faith alone.  This faith is through Christ and Christ alone.  We must have it and God has it.  Don’t look to yourselves for this saving faith, look to God.   But don’t sit on your hands and wait for God to drop this faith in your lap.  Be like Jacob who wrestled with God and said “Won’t let you go unless you bless me.”  Be like the woman who begged for crumbs of faith from Christ.  Be like the blind men who cried out over and over “Son of David!  Have mercy on us!”  Recognize that you have sinned against Almighty God, repent, and ask Him for this saving faith.  Ask Him to apply the atonement of Jesus Christ to YOU.  And then praise God for his abundant grace and mercy and take no credit for yourself.

 

Let’s pray:  Our Heavenly Father, great in mercy and grace, we have all sinned against you.  We disobey your commands time after time after time.  We do not love you even a fraction of what we should.  And yet, in your abundant mercy, you have provided atonement for our sins in your only begotten son Jesus Christ, the one who became like us, yet without sin, and who died for our transgression, yet whom you raised from the dead.  Our Father open the eyes of the blind and turn the hearts of your enemies to Christ.  In his name, for your glory.  Amen.

 

Back to KLMX sermon, May 23, 2007, Christ is Superior

Forward to KLMX sermon, May 25 2007, How Can I Know I'm Saved?