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Sunday, April 24, 2005

Justification By Faith (1 of 3)

As we approach gospel ministry in Christ’s church, we find several principles to be particularly important: Justification by Faith (JBF), Sanctification by Faith (SBF), and Worship by Faith (WBF).
Definition: When we talk about justification, what we mean is this - how is a sinner "justified" or "made right" in God's sight? You see, Scripture is very clear: human beings have a problem. This problem is commonly called "sin," and its very, very, serious because it separates us from God.

While our sin is often expressed actively when we do things we shouldn't (or passively by NOT doing things we should), Jesus is clear that that sin stems from our hearts (Mk 7:20). We sin because we are sinners, and it is impossible for us to clean ourselves up (Mk 10:23-27). Christ's death on the cross is the means by which we are saved; we access that salvation by repenting of our sin and putting our faith in Christ. (Acts 2:23-24, 38-39).

So how is someone justified? We begin by affirming the five great “solas” of the Reformation – sinners are justified (made right with God) by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Scripture alone shapes our gospel message; God alone receives the glory.

Paul’s evangelistic messages in Acts 13-14 (NIV) illustrate the matter plainly: “through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him, everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses” (13:38-39). Luke calls this “the message of God’s grace” (14:3); it is accessed solely by faith (Heb 11:6) in Jesus (John 14:6). Unbelievers respond in joy, glorifying God (13:48, 14:27).

With Paul, our proclamation must be focused on what God has done, how he has fulfilled his promises to redeem sinners (Acts 13:32). Even our faith is a gift of God, that no man should boast (Eph 2:8-9). This is what makes the gospel such “good news” – God has done everything; our responsibility is simply to repent and believe.

Rom 3:21-28 describes a “great exchange” in which Jesus Christ does what we could never do ourselves, offering himself as propitiation for our sins. In the moment of our belief, he takes our guilt and we receive his righteousness. Thus man “is justified by faith, apart from works of the law” (3:28), and God is both “just and justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (3:26).

Justification by faith in Christ is at the heart of the gospel; anything less is NO GOSPEL!

So now let's take a look at Sanctification By Faith...

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