The Forgotten Secrete of Justification
In 1517 Luther penned a document attacking the Catholic Church’s corrupt practice of selling “indulgences” to absolve sin. His “95 Theses,” which propounded two central beliefs—that the Bible is the central religious authority and that humans may reach salvation only by their faith and not by their deeds—was to spark the Protestant Reformation.
Sola scriptura ("by Scripture alone")
Sola fide ("by faith alone")
Sola gratia ("by grace alone")
Solus Christus or Solo Christo ("Christ alone" or "through Christ alone")
Soli Deo gloria ("glory to God alone")
Explaination: [looking at this picture of a path that disappears…]
The path is unknown
The destination is unknown
Someone, who is unknown to you, tells you that they have walked the path and cleared it from it’s many dangers so you are now safe to proceed.
If you send your own trusted scouts then you have verified the safety
If you choose another path and deal with the dangers yourself then you have conquered the unknown
If you decide that you have a 50/50 chance that this stranger is right and you figure that even though you are not sure you believe him you are game for a risk then you have guessed correctly
But if you believe the stranger and proceed on the path then you have exercised faith in the actions of the stranger
When we talk about being justified before God we are talking about salvation. And when people think of being saved they usually think of “doing”.
The 2010 website of the Chicago Bears football team presented a series of videos that followed the team's rookies from their first arrival at training camp and on through the preseason. One video showed part of coach Lovie Smith's first orientation talk with the rookie class.
Of course, the biggest thing on each rookie's mind is whether he will make the team. Rookies know that the team roster begins with 80 players who come to camp. After a few weeks the coaches cut the team down to 65 players. Then before the season actually begins all NFL teams are required to trim down to 53 players. Of the 19 rookies who were invited to the 2010 Bears training camp, the team would likely keep only around 7.
Lovie Smith knew that, and so he addressed the rookies' concern in his talk to the 2010 class.His challenge to them was, "Make us put you on the team."
In other words, play so well in practice that the coaches couldn't imagine cutting you. Make us put you on the team. Take the decision out of the coach's hands. Let your performance make the decision for us.
Most religions and most people of the world think that God makes the same sort of speech about who will get into heaven. "Do you want to 'make the team' and have eternal life? Make me put you on the team. Live such a good life, do so many good deeds, that I could not imagine rejecting you. Take the decision out of my hands."
The counterintuitive truth is that God works on a completely different basis than football coaches do. People who think they can perform so well that they can make God add them to heaven's roster because they are so deserving of it will be rejected. This is the idea of salvation by works, and it is the opposite of salvation by grace. God saves us by his grace and his grace alone, through faith in Jesus Christ.
I'm not a practicant, but I pray. I read the Bible. It's the most beautiful book ever written. I should go to heaven; otherwise it's not nice. I haven't done anything wrong. My conscience is very clean. My soul is as white as those orchids over there, and I should go straight, straight to heaven. -Sophia Loren
Abraham as Model of Faith
1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, And whose sins have been covered. 8 “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”
Abraham was the Father of the Jew...
3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
6 Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
“Credited” = חשׁב [ha-shawv] (Hebrew) - λογίζομαι [lo-geez-o-my] (Greek)
Making it clearer...
4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,
Validating with theological context from Psalm 32:1-2 (...
6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, And whose sins have been covered. 8 “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”
We can make our understanding of Faith even clearer...
Abram’s history…father Teran, wife sari (barren) comes from Ur of Chaldeans through Canaan to Egypt for a time and then back to Canaan
Lot (nephew) captured in war Abram defeats 3 kings who attacked Sodom and Gomorah
1 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.” 2 Abram said, “O Lord God, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.” 4 Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” 5 And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
The belief came before any sign of completion
1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Faith is belief that happens in the face of the lack of evidence.
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; 18 it was he to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants shall be called.” 19 He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.
When Paul says that Abraham was credited as righteous in God’s sight due to his belief in God’s promise, he was saying that Abraham was saved not because he did the right thing or became the right person. He was saved because he believed in God’s promise.
5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,
7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,
We are saved/justified, not because we do the right things, not because we are or become the right person, but because we believe that Jesus death on a cross and resurrection from the dead took care of our guilt and provided us with His righteousness.
So Paul says:
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Anytime you make your relationship with Jesus Christ and God the Father a matter of doing what is right or being the person who is right you are not exercising faith.
One of the latest Lowe's [Hardware] commercials shows a proud do-it-yourselfer installing a new ceiling fan in his family's living room. After he proudly gives the fan one last little turn, climbs off the aluminum ladder, and steps aside to turn on the switch. After he turns it on, he stands with his hands on his hips, satisfied with his brilliant, money-saving work. Within a second of the first rotation of the blades, the central motor sparks and the entire fan crashes to the floor, crushing a small table on its way down. The scene cuts away to the outside of the house, looking at the clear bay window of the room where the man stands. It's quiet and bright outside. Suddenly, the ceiling fan comes flying through the picture window and lands in the yard, disrupting the peaceful moment. The words flash on the screen: "Need help?" An online version of the ad includes these words from Lowe's: "Installation can be tricky. Come to Lowe's. We've got all the tips and tools you need to get the job done right."
Doing the right thing and being the right person is the result of salvation.