The Bible speaks of Christ as having three types of relations to mankind which define his relationships with each of us. There are relationships that are purely governmental and then there are relationships that are purely spiritual. The third type of relationship that which combines both governmental and spiritual relations.
In this chapter we want to show four things:
- We will show what Gospel Justification is not.
- We will show what Gospel Justification is.
- We will point out the conditions of Justification.
- We will define the foundation of Gospel Justification.
What Gospel Justification is not
The most simple definition of Justification is “pronouncing someone just.” Another way to define Justification is, “Just As If I Had Never Sinned.” Whether Justification is done merely in words or in a more practical way by treatment, it must have some sense that it is a governmental act. The question that we ask when we come to consider Justification as a governmental act is whether it proceeds from the judicial, executive, or legislative department of government. In other words, is this act of Justification a forensic proceeding, or does it consist in a pardon, setting aside the execution of an incurred penalty, which would make it an executive or legislative act.
Since this is one of the most important facts to be considered in any type of theology, we must first state that Gospel Justification is not a judicial act, a forensic proceeding. There are many who have held that it is a forensic proceeding as did Dr. Chalmers of a previous generation. We will see why this was a grave mistake. The very word forensic comes from forum, “a court.” When we talk about a forensic proceeding we are referring to the judicial branch of government which has the responsibility of defining the facts of the case and then declaring the sentence that the law prescribes based upon the facts that are in evidence. The judicial branch cannot amend and existing law or write a new one for any reason. Their only power is to use the laws as they exist and make a just determination of the facts that are presented and then to declare the sentence that the true spirit and meaning of the law requires. No court can pardon or set aside the execution of prescribed penalties. Only the executive branch of government can offer pardon and the legislative branch can amend existing laws or write new laws. With this in mind, the only way to be justified through forensic or judicial justification is by universal obedience to law. This means that only one crime, breach of law, would be enough for the court to condemn. The court could never in this case justify or declare that the one convicted was just. Since Gospel justification is the justification of sinners, it is impossible and contradictory to say that a sinner can be declared just as a judicial forensic act. The only way that forensic justification can be declared is when the evidence proves that the person in question has not in any way violated the law. This could never be said of a sinner, therefore forensic justification is an impossibility. This is why the Bible declares very plainly that no one can be pronounced just by the deeds of the law, or even by the law itself. This is also why those that hold to the notion that old testament sinners were justified by keeping the law and now that we are in the age of grace, the facts concerning justification have been changed. God does not lie and he does not change. Romans 3:20 says, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
Now it will be argued that we are not justified by our own obedience to the law, that is not the intent. The argument is that since Jesus obeyed the law that his obedience was imputed to us and therefore we can be justified by this imputed obedience. When Abraham is discussed in the Book of Romans in the Bible, his imputed righteousness was not based upon God acting in his behalf but rather it is based upon the faith that Abraham had in the promises of God. That is not judicial justification as we will see as we discuss this further.
What is gospel justification?
Gospel justification is not the act of pronouncing a sinner just as a judicial or forensic declaration, but rather it is a governmental decree of pardon where the penalty is set aside and the sinner is treated as if he or she were just, even though they are forensically sinners. The evidence is against them and yet they are treated as if there is no such forensic evidence. Thus, those whom the law had pronounced guilty, and upon whom the sentence had already been passed, a sentence of eternal death, get rewarded by the executive branch of government as if they had truly been righteous. So what we are talking about is a practical and not a literal pronouncing of the sinner as just. What a wonder that a sinner can thus be treated as if he were wholly righteous when the forensic evidence strongly proves that he has greatly sinned. The Bible agrees with this position:
- The Old Testament system of sacrifices taught that a person was pardoned upon the conditions of an atonement, repentance and faith. Under this system, those who were penitent were accepted mercifully and never acquitted as a forensic or judicial act. The Mercy Seat in the Ark of the Covenant covered the broken law and the blood of the sacrifice came between the broken law and the glory cloud in symbolic covering of the sin of the penitent. Romans 46-8 talks about the blessedness of a man whose sins are covered and to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Since the verse is quoted from Psalms, both David and Paul are seeing justification as the pardon of a penitent sinner.
- The New Testament teaches what the Old Testament position was and we will see more about it later.
- Sinners cannot be justified any other way. For them to be pronounced just as a forensic act is both absurd and impossible.
Conditions of Justification
When we discus the difference between the conditions and the grounds of Justification, we must note that the ground of Justification is the cause or fundamental reason that a person is justified. The fundamental motive for all of moral law is, as we have seen previously, disinterested benevolence, or love. The classic statement is “For God so loved….” We have already seen that they could never be justified by “forensic” justification since that would mean that they would be required to have universal, perfect, and uninterrupted obedience to the law of God. As sinners, the forensic evidence shows that they have failed miserably if this were the ground. In fact, there is no forensic evidence which would justify them. As we saw above the sinner is pronounced just by an executive decree, not because he has been forensically found to be just, but because the law has been satisfied in the person of a substitute who paid the penalty that the law required. This is because the executive office has a desire to show mercy as long as certain conditions can be met. In the Old Testament it was a pure lamb that took the death penalty and the sinner was then treated as if he were not a sinner even though the evidence said to the contrary. In the New Testament, Christ has accomplished this same thing forever, fulfilling the justice of God and making the way clear for God, in an act of executive pardon, to pronounce the sinner just even though the evidence proves the opposite.
Some try to say that the sovereignty of God has made the obedience of Christ a substitute for our obedience which thus makes us justified by reason of his obedience and they thus confuse the doctrine of imputed righteousness by making it based upon the obedience of Christ to the law of God rather than his substitutionary death for sin. The truth is that even Jesus had to obey the law for himself. We have seen earlier that God cannot arbitrarily will something which is contrary to moral law. With that in mind, Jesus would be required to love his Father and his neighbor just as any other being in the universe. This obedience would be what qualified him to be our substitute and to die for us. It is not the obedience of Christ which justifies us but his death. The obedience only makes him qualified to die in the behalf of sinners because he was not required to suffer death for his own sins. The way to understand this is to ask the question, would Christ have been qualified to die for us had he sinned? The answer is no, of course not. Why? Because the moral law also applied to him and if he broke that law he would also need the sanctions of the law. If Christ did not owe obedience to Moral Law, then he could not have virtue. If he did not owe obedience to moral law, then benevolence in him would not be a virtue. There is no virtue without obedience to law and if Christ did not obey the law for himself, then he has no virtue. So, if Christ was required to obey moral law in order to have true virtue or benevolence, then he could not have obeyed in our behalf to make us forensically justified. It goes back to the fact that the moral law is not founded in the will of God but in the law of benevolence and the best end for the whole universe. This can be seen in John 3:16 where it says, “For God so loved….”
Now we get to the conditions. The best definition of a condition is “that without which…” In other words, conditions must be in place to make the action of God in justifying a sinner plausible. We could say that even though God loves with disinterested benevolence and has a very strong desire to show his mercy, still there are conditions that must be met or God cannot justify anyone. There are valid conditions that will allow God to justify the sinner.
- The most important condition in the justification of sinners, that is, the condition that allows the pardon and acceptance of penitent sinners is the vicarious suffering of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world. Don’t confuse this condition with the ground of justification. When we say the “ground” we mean the moving or procuring cause of justification. As we have repeatedly seen the ground of all moral law is disinterested benevolence and when we talk about Justification we cannot discuss the subject without making the statement that we have just alluded to, namely, “For God so loved…..” It is because of the benevolence and merciful disposition of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit that the atonement was made possible. So to make it more clear, we say that the love of God created the atonement but the atonement did not create the love of God. However, in order for God to show his love and still satisfy his justice in holding fast the sanctions that had been set forth since the beginning of time, the penalty of death as the punishment for sin, he sent Jesus Christ to die. God provided an atonement for sin. It was God’s desire to love and still show that He is a just God that created this wonderful truth. This is why we can look at any religion in the world and determine the truth or error of that religion. Most religions make an attempt at creating forensic justification by creating a code of rules which, according to them, will allow God to proclaim them just. The problem with that view point is that no justice was exacted on the sins that were committed and as we have shown previously, it is impossible to live in a state of benevolence and commit sin at the same time. The other flaw in false religions is that they make the foundation of obligation the will of God rather than the disinterested benevolence of God. In Islam, believers are required to kill, maim, commit suicide and otherwise follow the will of Allah. This because the will of Allah is the foundation of moral law to anyone who follows Islam. Other religions agree that Christ provided an atonement but they hold that the atonement is the foundation of justification and one of the conditions is to obey as if a person were on probation so that if they violate their probation then the penalty that was paid by Jesus Christ no longer has any influence in their justification. Rather, they hold, the person must now pay that which has already been paid for them, merely because they violated a condition which is not taught in the Bible. Again, some make the atonement as coming not from the love of God in His effort to show his mercy, but from the wrath of God as some form of effort to appease his love of judgment. Still others consider that Christ made a full payment of the “literal” debt of all mankind so that the fact that we are justified is not based upon the mercy of God. This view says that Christ actually suffered the same amount for an eternity in hell as if all the souls in hell for all eternity had suffered through Him. This would be another way of saying that God has no mercy and he is demanding a payment be made in full before he can release the condemned. In addition, those who hold to this view teach that because Christ died and the sinner has been elect of God to receive salvation that they have a right to demand justification on the ground of justice because the sin has been paid for in a literal sense. It is as if the sinner can come to God and say, “Here is the price that was paid, therefore, I demand my justification.” Now to confound matters worse, they claim that Christ only died for the elect so that only those who have been chosen by the election of God have the right to be justified and that the atonement of Christ was limited to those for which he made a full payment and not for anyone else. They completely discount the scriptures that teach that Christ died for the sins of the “Whole World.” Then there is another extreme that holds to this fact of Christ dying for the “Whole World” and because they don’t put proper conditions to allow God to pardon the sinner, they become universalists who claim that no one goes to hell and God will save everyone. There are other views which make the atonement to be the ground of justification so that because the debt is paid, grace has been offered by the atonement and obedience of Christ but not by the act of justification. They are still part of that group that considers justification to be a forensic act. We are saying here in contrast to all these views, that the atonement of Christ is a necessary condition of safely showing the love of God in his act of justifying and saving sinners. It was because of the mercy of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit that an atonement was even offered. That means that the love and mercy of God is the ground and that the atonement was one of the conditions of justification. God would have saved everyone without an atonement had it been possible, but then there would be no justice and God would not be God.
Christ’s sufferings and death were vicarious as shown with the atonement. It was not his keeping the law that was vicarious, but his death. He owed perfect obedience to the moral law and only because He successfully obeyed the law was he able to offer a vicarious death that he did not owe, having never sinned and deserving no penalty for His own sins. He suffered death to answer the governmental demand for the infliction of a penalty on the guilty. He could not do works in our behalf, but he could suffer in our behalf. The reason is that he owed the works in order to fulfill the law and qualify him to be our substitute in his death. He did not owe his death, having complied perfectly with the law. This act of substitution is fully documented in both the Old and New Testaments. This is the leading thought throughout the scriptures and throughout the history of the world. Here are some examples of these verses:
Leviticus 17:11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
Isaiah 53:5-6 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (6) All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
Matthew 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
John 3:14-15 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: (15) That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
John 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Romans 3:24-26 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (25) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (26) To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Romans 5:6-9 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (7) For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. (8) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (9) Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
Romans 5:11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
Romans 5:18-19 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. (19) For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
1 Corinthians 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
1 Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Galatians 3:13-14 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: (14) That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
Hebrews 9:12-14 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. (13) For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: (14) How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Hebrews 9:22-28 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. (23) It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. (24) For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: (25) Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; (26) For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (27) And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: (28) So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Hebrews 10:10-14 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (11) And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: (12) But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; (13) From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. (14) For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
Hebrews 10:19-20 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, (20) By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
1 Peter 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
1 John 3:15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
1 John 4:9-10 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. (10) Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
There are other passages that we could quote showing that the vicarious atonement of Christ is a condition of the pardon and acceptance of sinners.
- The next condition for Justification is repentance. As we have stated before a condition is “that without which” or a person cannot be pardoned without this. It is certain from all of scripture and even natural religion that none can be pardoned without repenting of their sins. We have discussed this at length earlier but it must be understood in the mind of God that the sinner is truly calling out of a heart of repentance and turning from sin and self to Christ. This is not about works for salvation, but a heart-felt loathing of the life of sin and a genuine turning to God as a single desire of the heart. One need not be profound but like the man in the Bible that cried out, “Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.” It is a literal turning from a mindset of self-gratification to the wondrous joy of knowing the Lord. The Bible is full of such truth.
- The other side of repentance “from” sin is a turning “to” Christ in faith. We have talked about this and seen the nature and necessity of faith. May error in their conception of what faith really is. The Bible says that faith has substance. Faith is not just a fantasy as if we could conjure any “deity” in our mind and just because we believed that “deity” to exist, our faith created the deity. Our faith is not so. It has substance, we believe in a real God who truly did create the heavens and is alive today to live in us and lead us in our lives. As such, God is one that communicates with us through the Word of God, preaching, teaching and other means. We communicate with Him through prayer. It is a live relationship. We talked earlier about what it means to know God. A faith that does not result in a person coming to know God is only a fantasy and not the real thing. Some say that faith is the positive side of Salvation and that repentance is the negative side. No one that truly comes to know God will remain in the same state of sin and wickedness or their faith is only fantasy. Faith and repentance work together. The more one comes to know God, the more they turn from their old life and ways. Repentance, as I have said earlier, is not a one time occurrence. Repentance starts the day a person calls upon the name of the Lord, and continues for his whole life. People who have the fantasy view consider the act of faith or saying a prayer as the condition that saves them. They don’t consider that they are saved by Christ through faith. Faith is not just a mystical fantasy, as I have said, but something that involves something deeper, coming to know God through Jesus Christ. No one can separate the love of God from faith. It is His love that pierces our heart and causes us to want to know him and the power of His resurrection. It is His love that causes us to allow him to rule in our heart producing sanctification in our lives. So many speak of faith as if it stands alone, but it is obvious from what we have said that they work hand in hand.
Here is what the bible says regarding faith as a condition of salvation:
Matthew 16:15-16 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? (16) And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
John 6:28-29 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? (29) Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
John 6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
John 8:47 He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
John 11:25-26 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: (26) And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
Acts 10:43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
2 Thessalonians 2:10-11 (10) And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. (11) And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
1 John 2:23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.
1 John 5:10-13 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. (11) And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (12) He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (13) These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
- The fourth condition of justification is something that is just as important as the conditions we have already discussed in the sense of it being “not without which.” This condition is present sanctification which cannot be denied. Sanctify means to set apart or to consecrate to God’s use. Every person who comes to God is sanctified on the day that they are saved. They are set apart to God’s use. The Holy Spirit comes to live within and begins the purifying process in the heart. We use this as a condition because if there is no change, if there is no process of becoming more holy, if the Holy Spirit does not enter and begin to show fruit in the life of a person, then we can only assume that the above mentioned repentance and faith are also lacking in the life of the new believer. Repentance and faith never occur without the accompanying condition that is so closely associated with them, namely, sanctification. Ephesians 2:8,9 talks about being saved through faith as a gift of God without works. Romans 4:2 says that if Abraham were justified by works he can glory but not before God. Then in James 2:17 it says that faith if it has not works is dead, being alone. So we can see that works or sanctification is eternally joined to faith and cannot be separated but it is wrong to make the works so important that we lose site of faith founded upon the love of God. The truth is that sanctification begins the day we get saved and continues throughout life until the day we are called home to be with Jesus. II Corinthians 5:17 says that if any man is “in Christ” as we have spoken about in previous chapters that they are a “new creature.” The reality is that if there is no “new creature” then the repentance and faith must also be doubted as being the genuine pr0oduct. The Holy Spirit WILL make changes in the life of every believer or we must doubt if the Holy Spirit is present in that life. It is just as easy to say that a person is justified with the condition that the Holy Spirit has come to life in his life. No one will argue the fact that none can be justified without the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is another one of those “not without which” facts that we are calling conditions of justification. Since we can safely say that the Holy Spirit comes in on the day of salvation, we can also say that He comes in on the day of our repentance and faith. In addition, we can say that the day He comes into the life of a believer is also the day that the believer is sanctified, or set apart completely to God. We are saved on the condition of our obedience to moral law, which is only another way of saying that we obey moral law the day we repent and believe. When discussing this condition of sanctification there is one group that would agree with sanctification as a condition but they would make it some form of works for salvation. On the other hand there are others which eliminate sanctification as a condition completely which creates the type of salvation spoken of in James. God has always linked true faith with works that follow. Here are some of the scriptures which support sanctification as a condition of justification:
1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Romans 8:1-34 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (3) For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: (4) That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (5) For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. (6) For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (7) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (8) So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. (9) But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. (10) And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (11) But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (12) Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. (13) For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (14) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (15) For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (16) The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (17) And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (18) For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (19) For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. (20) For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, (21) Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (22) For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. (23) And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (24) For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? (25) But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. (26) Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (27) And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (28) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) 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. (31) What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? (32) He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (33) Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. (34) Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
What we are saying regarding sanctification that if the verses above have no part in the life of one who claims to be a Christian, then we must go back to the definition of a condition being “that without which” or we could say that without the above being present in the life of a professing believer, we could draw no other conclusion that without the indwelling Holy Spirit who makes intercession for us and sanctifies the believer, there is no justification. Sanctification in this sense is consecration to God in life and service as directed by the Holy Spirit who indwells the believer. What has happened in the world of Christianity and of the doctrine of justification is that we are so afraid to preach repentance and sanctification as being integral parts of the conditions of salvation that we have made being saved a two step process. The first step is faith and then years later a person consecrates their life to God. The truth is that the day that the Holy Spirit moves into the life of a believer, his life is already consecrated to God or he is not saved. We make a mistake in not informing new converts of this fact. People certainly do perish for lack of knowledge.
At this point I must state that we separate from Charles Finney on this point since he taught that when a person is no longer fully consecrated to God he is no longer saved which is an impossibility as he admits when he talks about the doctrine of perseverance where he teaches that the Holy Spirit keeps us to the end.
1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (4) To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, (5) Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
John 10:27-29 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (28) And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (29) My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
1 John 3:4-10 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (5) And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. (6) Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. (7) Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. (8) He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (9) Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (10) In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
1 John 5:10-15 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. (11) And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (12) He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (13) These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (14) And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: (15) And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
If a person could be saved, indwelt by the Holy Spirit and then be lost again, then we would find many Scriptures in conflict. For one thing, the Holy Spirit would leave and the promise of God that he will never leave us or forsake us would be proven to be false. Also, since salvation is being “born again” or “born from above” we would be required to admit that after having been born from above, that then God has decided he failed and he needs to destroy that which was born again by the Spirit of God. It would also be impossible to be saved if that could ever happen as we see explained very clearly here:
Hebrews 6:4-9 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, (5) And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, (6) If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. (7) For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: (8) But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. (9) But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.
It is plain here that being saved again a second time is impossible if one could fall away. The scripture also makes it clear just what we have been saying, namely, that sanctification accompanies salvation. This is brought out in the reference to the fruit that results from salvation. It says that when the earth brings forth the expected fruit it is received as a blessing. If it brings forth thorns and briers, it is burned. To bring forth fruit is a part of sanctification and bringing forth briers is indicative of a life without sanctification. Again we conclude that sanctification cannot be less than a condition of justification.
- Next is perseverance throughout life. We must remember that when we speak about conditions we are talking about, “that without which” or we can say that if these conditions do not exist in the life of a person, then there is a fundamental flaw regarding faith. As we speak of the condition of perseverance regarding faith and obedience we are saying that in the end the true character of our faith will show itself in such a way that the Christian’s faith and obedience remain consistent until their dying day.
The Foundation or ultimate ground of the justification of sinners in Christ.
- Though many teach that Christ suffered the penalty in such a way that his suffering equaled the total of suffering that every being in the universe would endure if they had been cast into hell and that his suffering was an exact payment for this total of eternal suffering for all of mankind, they try too hard to make it a quid pro quo, a full payment rather than the ground or moving cause whereby sinners can be justified. They try to make justification a grace of “exact justice” which would mean that there is no grace in the act of pardoning the sinner since the debt had been fully met by Christ in this way. This would mean that the Christian need only believe and “demand” this “exact justice” because his payment is accomplished. What we have said before is that Christ did not suffer “retributive justice” where he suffered the literal penalty for every man but rather that he suffered “public justice” where his death is representative of all men based upon his nature and relations to those for whom he died. What we mean is that he has publicly demonstrated that God’s justice is complete in allowing a substitute to endure the suffering and thus he can now show mercy to the sinner because justice is satisfied. Thus the ground of justification is not the conditions that we mentioned but rather that public justice is satisfied. Christ could not have suffered the full exact amount for every man because:
- It would be impossible to be in hell billions of eternities in paying for every sinner.
- The nature and relation of Christ to the government of God was such that such a payment was unnecessary for God to safely forgive sinners. He did not need to suffer the same amount that they would need to suffer.
- This would also mean that since Christ suffered the whole payment of eternity in hell for every living being then universalism would be right which claims that no one is going to hell because Jesus paid the literal amount of debt for every sinner in the universe.
- The problem with this theory is that they claim that Jesus obeyed the demands of the law for every man which would make them just before God and then he also suffered the exact penalty that all men deserve which is almost a double payment. It would make God unjust in demanding that his son obey for every man and then still condemn them unless Jesus paid their exact punishment as if he had not obeyed at all.
- This would all mean that pardoning a sinner for sin is no grace or unmerited favor at all because the exact payment is paid which requires nothing of the sinner. It is simply that the debt is paid, period. Justification based upon these facts as the ground of becomes a stumbling-block to the truth.
- Secondly, our own works, or obedience to the gospel and the moral law are not the ground of our justification. We can’t claim faith, repentance, love, life, or anything that we do as the ground of our justification. They are only conditions, “not without which” we are justified but they are not the ground of justification. These things are only conditions that exist when we are saved but they are not the reason that we are justified. People that use this reasoning are placing our very faith in the place of Christ so that it is faith that saves not Jesus Christ the Savior.
- Thirdly, we cannot even make the atonement, the fact that Christ was our mediator, or any other action that he performed as the ground of or the root reason for our justification. The work of Christ, his death, his resurrection, and his being our advocate are great conditions that must be part of the picture but they are not the ground of our justification. They are not the fundamental reason for our justification.
- We cannot say that the work of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying a sinner and converting them to Christ is the foundation of our justification, the reason we are justified.
- The only true ground or reason for our justification is the infinite disinterested love of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit and because of this love, his infinitely benevolent love, he allows, permits and encourages everyone to be saved because he is promoting the very highest good of universal being. To put it into the current vernacular, God loves all mankind and wants the best for everyone. That is the ground of our justification.
- Christ is 1. King. 2. Judge. 3. Mediator. 4. Advocate. 5. Redeemer. 6. Surety. 7. Wisdom. 8. Righteousness. 9. Sanctification. 10. Redemption. 11. Prophet. 12. Priest. 13. Passover, or Lamb of God. 14. The bread and water of life. 15. True God and eternal life. 16. Our life. 17. Our all in all. 18. As the repairer of the breach. 19. As dying for our sins. 20. As rising for our justification. 21. As the resurrection and the life. 22. As bearing our grief’s and carrying our sorrows. 23. As he, by whose stripes we are healed. 24. As the head of his people. 25. As the bridegroom or husband of his church. 26. As the shepherd of his flock. 27. As the door by which they enter. 28. As the way to salvation. 29. As our salvation. 30. As the truth. 31. As being made sin for us. 32. That we are made the righteousness of God in him. 33. That in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead. 34. That in him all fullness dwells. 35. All power in heaven and earth are said to be given to him. 36. He is said to be the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 37. Christ in us the hope of glory. 38. The true vine of which we are the branches. 39. Our brother. 40. Wonderful. 41. Counselor. 42. The mighty God. 43. The everlasting Father. 44. The prince of peace. 45. The captain of salvation. 46. The captain of the Lord’s host.
- What we are saying here is that Christ IS OUR JUSTIFICATION. That is why we need to know God, obey the moral law, because Jesus carries out the whole program of God and it is He that we must see in our mind’s eye as John Newton did when he wrote Amazing Grace. The Holy Spirit does not speak of himself, he speaks of Jesus, he shows the things of Christ to us his people as sent by Christ for that very reason. Can’t you see, Jesus is our EVERYTHING. His love is the foundation of everything we have discussed in this site. The foundation of morality is definitely knowing God and no one can be moral without Jesus Christ who wants the best end for every living being.
There is a song we sing in church and the first verse and chorus go like this:
God held a great golden balance,
And one side was weighted for me.
The other side held such perfection
As He had demanded there be.
God held it up in the middle
And my side soared high with my sin.
I cried for my side to be balanced,
Then Jesus the Savior stepped in.
I’m justified, and I’m happy in Jesus today
The sins I’ve committed are all in the past,
They’ll never condemn me ’cause He holds me fast.
I’m Justified! I’m Justified!
And I’m happy in Jesus Today.
That is what Foundations of Morality is all about, coming to know God and becoming one of the most happy people in the world. You know you have the best friend in Jesus and you have your sins forgiven and you are promised by God that cannot lie that you now have a place prepared for you in Heaven. What could be better than that in the whole universe. This benevolent God has had mercy on our souls and given us a gift that will never die, an eternity with the lover of our souls in the most beautiful place in the universe, with Jesus and all of our loved ones. Do you know him? If not, watch the video entitled, “Metting Jesus Video.”