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The Golden Chain of Redemption (5)

Salvation Is from the Lord  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Romans 8:28–30 AV
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. 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. 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.

Introduction:
I. God’s Faithfulness (vs. 28)
II. God’s Foreknowledge (vs. 29a)
III. God’s Formula (vs. 29b)
IV. God’s Facilitation (vs. 30)
A. Predestined
B. Calling
C. Justification
As we consider, what is probably one of my favorite Doctrines of the Bible, we will break down the Doctrine of Justification into four separate groups that I believe that it is important that we understand.
First of all, we will start with a basic definition of Justification and then we will go into the particulars of the greatness of this Doctrine.
This is one of those Doctrines that the Grace of God is just on full display.
Now, do not get me wrong, the other Doctrines that we have looked at here are tremendous displays of the Glory and the Grace of God and Justification is no less as great and glorious.
Why?
Because it is one thing to forgive and to give sinners an eternal home in heaven; but it is another thing entirely the declare those same sinners to be righteous and it is another thing entirely to impute alien righteousness to those guilty sinners.
I trust that you will say with me at the end of this message that the Doctrine of Justification is a great and glorious Doctrine.
We will divide this into five sections so that we will be able to digest, in smaller proportions, what this Doctrine is all about.
First, we will see Justification Defined; Second, Justification Declared; third, Justification Dispensed; fourth, Justification Distinguished; and fifth, Justification Demonstrated.
Justification Defined
“Justification” is the Greek word “δικαιόω” and in its basic definition it means to render a favorable verdict.
It also carries the idea of a removal of guilt, to declare someone to be righteous.
The word was used in classical Greek to mean “to pronounce and to treat as righteous”.
Also, in classical Greek this word is used in a legal sense of things that are judged right.
So, as you can see from the usage in legal documents to its usage in the NT, is carried the idea of making things.
And as the word progressed and was used by the NT authors in relationship to God and His people, it came to mean a declaration that God has made of his people being righteous.
I can remember, as a young person growing up in Church, hearing that the word “justification” means that “God sees me just as if I had never sinned”.
And while that does demonstrate a part of what the word really means, we will get into the fact that being declared innocent (which is what that word does) and actually having righteousness are two different things entirely.
2. Justification Declared
Justification is a legal, or forensic declaration of righteousness, not an actual impartation of righteousness.
It states what God declares about the believer, not what He does to change the believer.
Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth The Nature of Justification: A Legal Declaration

In fact, justification itself effects no actual change whatsoever in the sinner’s nature or character.134 It is an instantaneous change of one’s status before God, not a gradual transformation that takes place within the one who is justified.135

Legal declarations like this are fairly common in everyday life.
When a minister declares that a man and woman are husband and wife, there is an instant legal standing of the couple that is standing before him.
Seconds before, the law regarded them a two distinct individuals.
Yet, as a result of this declaration the couples status before God and society has completely changed.
And while that declaration has profound and life changing implications, nothing about the couples character or nature changes as a result of the minister’s pronouncement.
It is a legal declaration only.
Take another example.
When a jury foreman announces to the court that a defendant is not guilty, his legal status changes instantly.
Seconds before the pronouncement of the foreman, the man was considered “accused”, innocent until proven guilty.
Yet, as a result of the verdict, his status changes in the eyes of the law.
Now, the verdict of the jury does not make the man innocent or guilty; his own actions are the basis of his innocence or guilt.
Neither does it free is life from any and all evil.
The foreman’s announcement simply declares the status of the defendant before the law.
Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth The Nature of Justification: A Legal Declaration

In a similar way, the justification spoken of in Scripture is God’s divine verdict of “not guilty—fully righteous” pronounced on the sinner. In the case of justification, it is not that the accused is innocent but that another has paid in full the penalty for his crimes.

One of the disagreements over the years has been on the the nature of justification.
For example, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that justification is not forensic, but transformative.
In other words, according to Roman Catholic Doctrine, to justify does not mean to “declare” righteous, but to “make” righteous.
Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth The Nature of Justification: A Legal Declaration

Now, it is true that the saving grace of God is transformative; those who are declared righteous in conversion will be progressively made righteous throughout the course of their Christian lives. However, this progressive transformation defines the reality not of biblical justification but of sanctification.

Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth The Nature of Justification: A Legal Declaration

The inevitable consequence is that the believer’s own imperfect righteousness replaces the perfect righteousness of Christ as the sole ground of justification.

Philippians 3:9 ESV
and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—
Scripture attests to the fact that this is the way we must understand justification.
The Biblical writers often use the word Justification and righteous is ways that are declarative and not transformative.
In the OT, the word tsadeq is used in a judicial context.
Deuteronomy 25:1 ESV
“If there is a dispute between men and they come into court and the judges decide between them, acquitting the innocent and condemning the guilty,
Isaiah 43:9 ESV
All the nations gather together, and the peoples assemble. Who among them can declare this, and show us the former things? Let them bring their witnesses to prove them right, and let them hear and say, It is true.
Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth The Nature of Justification: A Legal Declaration

As discussed above, judges do not make people righteous or wicked. They perform no transformative act that infuses righteousness or wickedness into the nature or character of a person. Instead, a judge merely declares a defendant to be righteous or guilty.

Also, notice what it says in the Proverbs.
Proverbs 17:15 ESV
He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord.
If justification were transformative, how could it be said to make a wicked person righteous is an abomination?
To justify the wicked is not to make him righteous but to declare him righteous when he is not.
The NT further gives evidence that Justification is declarative and not transformative.
Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth The Nature of Justification: A Legal Declaration

First, justification is shown to be declarative and not transformative in those instances in which God is the one said to be justified.

Luke 7:29 ESV
(When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John,
Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth The Nature of Justification: A Legal Declaration

If the sense of justification were transformative, this would be nothing short of blasphemy, for the notion that the people and the tax collectors could have effected a positive moral transformation in God is nonsense.

All that verse means is that God’s righteousness was vindicated and demonstrated.
Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth The Nature of Justification: A Legal Declaration

Second, justification is often clearly contrasted with condemnation, and condemnation obviously speaks of a legal declaration.

Romans 8:33–34 ESV
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Romans 5:18 ESV
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.
2 Corinthians 3:9 ESV
For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory.
Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth The Nature of Justification: A Legal Declaration

God’s justifying act is clearly contrasted with bringing a charge and condemning. But to condemn someone does not mean to make someone wicked; it means to render a verdict and declare that he is wicked. For the parallel between justification and condemnation to hold, we must also understand that justification does not mean to make righteous but to declare righteous.

Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth The Nature of Justification: A Legal Declaration

Therefore, when we turn to texts that speak of God justifying the believer in a salvific sense (e.g., Rom. 3:20–28; 4:4–5; 5:1; Gal. 2:16; 3:11, 21–26; 5:4), we ought to understand them to be referring to God’s instantaneous declaration that the sinner is in a right standing before him. These passages teach that God declares the believer to be righteous as a gift of his grace, which the believer receives by faith alone apart from works.

Now, if we stopped there, that would be great enough!
For a holy God to even declare wicked people righteous is an amazing thing, but then there is the dispensing of Justification that is even more amazing.
Next time!
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