Justification: The Righteousness of Christ

justification in ChristJustification is the sufficiency of Christ (Part 1 of The sufficiency of Christ’s Righteousness)       ROMANS 5

Salvation from the penalty of sin is not gained by our efforts nor is it by works. However, we are granted righteousness, we are credited as righteous and we are credited with our salvation which is through a faith in Jesus.

  • Abraham’s life proved it
  • David’s words proved it

Do you want to enter heaven upon your death? Do you want to be counted among those who are saved? Then simply believe in the saving work of Jesus Christ and through faith you will be saved. But… you may still have concerns about this truth. Can you really find peace in the gospel and that kind of assurance? And can you be sure God is satisfied with our faith alone? Well, we know how bad we’ve been and we know in our heart just what we’ve done. And for that matter what some are still doing in some cases. And it’s just, that God is willing to let us stand before Him right now and on the day of our death and have no condemnation just because I believed something He stated in His Word. Is there no room for a little doubt?

Let’s take a look at Romans chapter 5. to be exact. Romans chapters 3,4 and 5 make up the core section in Paul’s letter to the Romans explaining how you receive the righteousness that is required to enter heaven. So these three chapters are the solution box for the problem of being unrighteous. Explaining how sinful men and women who fall short of the glory of God can obtain a solution that can happen outside themselves.

Paul began near the end of chapter three (verses 21-31) with that explanation of how we get our righteousness by God through faith. Then he moved to chapter four where he was explaining the Old Testament proofs, that the method of salvation, of grace is not something new. And he used Abraham as his example. It’s been as it has always been. Also he showed that it is not by a Jewish identity.

Now in the third part of this series, in chapter 5 called, The Sufficiency of  Christ’s Righteousness, Paul addresses two things. There are two possible questions to his explanation to how you are saved by righteousness, by God’s righteousness appropriated. The two questions that you might ask or the two objections you might ask: First – you might ask: How can I be sure I am cleansed by my faith? How do I know I have the justification I’ve been promised? As I stand here today how do I know my account in heaven is actual clear? Because I’m still experiencing hardship, I’m still experiencing trials, I still have bad things happening to me. Might those bad things be evidence that God is still dissatisfied with me? Maybe my standing is not so good with Him after all, right? Are they an indication I’m still in jeopardy because I lost my job or because I got cancer or because I see myself experiencing the consequences of my sin on a daily basis? Maybe I’m not so good with God after all. And don’t tell me all of us  haven’t thought like that at some point. Because even a Christian whose been around for a while and knows their Bible will still get those moments where they start to just maybe, just for a second think, is it still really the case God could like me. That I could be saved. I know it says that I am but I just don’t understand it anymore for the moment. Sometimes those thoughts race through our head.

Secondly, the question he wants to address is: how is this even possible – how does this plan even work? How can a ransom paid by one guy, Christ, be enough to pay for the sin problem of millions of people? Wouldn’t we need one sacrifice for each of us in order for this plan to work? One life for a life? How could one person die for everyone? That would seem to be like the math doesn’t work or something. I’m told that if I believe in the death of that One Man, it saves me from all my sin. And not only me, but also all men who would believe the same. Can something so sweeping really rest on the  shoulders of just One Man? Can I really trust in and rely on such a gospel?

So, if you’ve read and come through the first 4 chapters of Romans and are left with this conclusive understanding that it is only by faith we are saved, not by works. It’s good news to be sure. But is it almost too easy? And how solid can something be if it is based on faith? If it is based only on faith it seems tenuous. Today it’s here … but  tomorrow? Is it still here? What if I have doubts that rise in my mind tomorrow? Is my faith still intact and if not does that put something at risk? The whole thing seems very ambiguous.

So Paul addresses both of those concerns in this chapter.Even if you’ve never thought of these particular questions yourself, what Paul is going t do in the course of answering these things is to give us some bedrock theology that does help address other objections as well. Things that might come along from other people’s questions. Getting to the theology of this chapter is very important to understanding your faith.

  1. First, Paul addresses any concerns the readers might have that justification by faith alone leaves some room for doubt concerning our reconciliation with God. His satisfaction with us in other words. He answers that in verses 1-11
  2. Secondly, Paul explains how one man’s death could be sufficient to be credited for so many who are in sin. This ratio of  in the remainder of the chapter after verse 11.  

Finally, we have to remember that this entire chapter presupposes justification by faith alone.  Paul’s line of reasoning in this chapter makes utterly no sense whatsoever if we still think that works play some part in our salvation. Because the two questions Paul works to answer in this chapter are questions that only make sense if you accept that
faith alone is the means for salvation. In fact, look at how Paul opens the chapter…

Romans 5:1-5 (NKJV) **

Faith Triumphs in Trouble

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

**All scripture is from the New King James Version unless other wise noted

Paul begins with a classic conclusionary word, he says therefore, and what he means is he is moving forward from the previous analysis of the Old Testament proofs. Now drawing conclusions from the fact that he told you for sure that God’s plan for salvation is through faith and not by works. And as you move into the text it is important for you to understand that the conversation in this chapter, the whole of it – presupposes that you understand what I just wrote. It presupposes an understanding of justification by faith alone. These questions that he is addressing here, they arise from the fact that he just told you that it only takes faith in the sacrifice of Christ to be saved. That’s all it takes, just faith in what God is doing through Him. And for some that sounds too easy. Have you ever heard that? Sometimes you will hear that from someone who is hard-hearted and you’ll tell them about the Gospel and they will say – That is just too easy. Those words “it’s too easy” never comes to your mind if someone has told you that you have to work your way to heaven. No one ever says that. Because this chapter could not exist except for the fact that justification is by faith alone – Doctrine!

Notice in verse 1 Paul opens with that presupposition, he says, “therefore that we know we are justified by faith alone.” The Greek verb tense for ‘have been justified‘ is the aorist tense, which means an action that is complete in a moment but the consequences continue forever. It is a specific tense in Greek that we don’t have in English. But it says, being justified this way you have been declared innocent and that declaration happened in a moment, the moment of your faith and then that declaration never changes afterwards. Nor will it ever change. So we are justified forever by the faith we have. How can we be sure that this declaration never changes? That is the first question. Because Paul says we have peace with God through Jesus Christ. This is a very important concept in the New Testament, that is, peace with God. The word appears 58 times in just the Epistles of the New Testament. One classic passage in Ephesians:

Ephesians 2:14-16  (NKJV)

Christ Our Peace

14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one (Jew & Gentile), and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.

In Ephesians Paul says Jesus Christ is our peace because in His dying on a cross, He put to death the cause for our enmity with God. The cause for your enmity with God, Paul says, were the commandments of the Law. Those commandments convicted us of our sin and they stood as silent witnesses to our sin, reminding us that we are trouble with a Holy God Who will act in justice. But when Jesus died, He took the penalty of the Law for us. So that once a penalty was paid, there was no longer cause for enmity. God no longer has just reason to be our enemy. We are at peace.

So the Bible’s idea of peace with God means freedom from condemnation under the Law. It’s the opposite of enmity with God. And instead of God being our adversary because of our sin, we now  have a peaceful relationship with God. It’s the difference between Adam walking with God in the Garden and Adam barred from the Garden by flaming angels at the gate.  Our relationship with God doesn’t turn on emotion or feelings though it invokes those things. But it doesn’t rest on those things. Sin sets us against God because it puts us in jeopardy of His judgment. But when there is no longer any cause for condemnation because the penalty was paid on our behalf. Then the condemnation is removed and so is the jeopardy. We are at peace again.

So in verse 2 Paul says it’s Christ who gave us peace with the Father. We obtained peace with God by Christ’s death in our place, which is the grace of God by which we stand before Him without condemnation. And then pay attention to the order of things here. Its going to come back later in this section. He says we stand by this grace then he says that grace became ours as we were introduced to it by a faith.

Paul’s describing a chain of events. First came the payment by God through His Son which established peace. It made peace possible. Then later came our personal introduction to that act of grace by our faith in that payment. You and I are standing here today, by God’s grace, exulting or we could use the word boasting in our hope of seeing God’s glory one day. And we boast in that future hope even though we endure tribulations of one kind or another, Paul says in verse 3. Our confidence and hope in the face of troubling things in this life is extremely confusing to the unbelievers in the world. If you are having a hopeful attitude in the midst of trial in the world. They have a hard time understanding why we feel the way we do. This is the essence of 1st Peter 3:15 when he says be ready to give that defense. Because people see that in you and they wonder are you just oblivious or are you just trying to fool yourself, do you not pay attention to the news. Why are you with this hope? They will ask questions like how come bad things happen to good people. And after disasters, they ask how can there be a loving God? These are the reactions of an unbelieving world to what they see going on around them. But what we will do in the midst of that is generally boast that we have peace with God and a glory to come, that is our own glorification with Him. A day in which God’s name is praised around the whole world. A day in which Christ is ruling over all men, ultimately a world with no sin and free from the curse. And in light of that, the worse the world gets the more we continue to hold onto that hope. It’s like an opposite reaction as the world gets worse and worse which only exaggerates or increases our own hope for what comes next. What greater proof is there that we have been changed by our faith and that our standing before God has changed from condemnation to peace? Where before, we feared death, which is what the world fears, now we don’t. And we had feared trials of any kind because we had no assurance what would come after them. But now we don’t worry about tribulation because at its worse it merely hastens us into our glory. So who can touch us? That’s an attitude you only have when you understand what you have in Christ.

Next: Part two of the three-part series about The Sufficiency of Christ’s Righteousness –

 

 

“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”

Join our mailing list

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.