The Goal of Our Justification
P. G. Mathew | Sunday, October 12, 2008
Copyright © 2008, P. G. Mathew
"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Rom. 5:1).
We are living in a world of great economic, political, and natural turmoil. In times like these, we need an intellectual apprehension of the gospel. Otherwise, we will not stand. Those who are simply emotional will have no foundation on which to stand.
In Romans 1:18-4:25, Paul gave us an exposition of the doctrine of justification by faith. How can a sinner be right with God? How can a sinner under the wrath of God be declared righteous? How can his sins be forgiven forever? Now, in Romans 5-8, Paul teaches us concerning the complete certainty of our ultimate and final salvation. The justified shall surely be glorified.
Look at the beginning of Romans 5:1: "Therefore, having been justified by faith." "Therefore" points to logic. The Christian faith is logical and reasonable. "Therefore" means in the light of what Paul has told us in the previous section. "Therefore" means on the basis of justification by faith, in the light of a past action of justification by faith, not by our own merit, but in the light of a once-for-all action of justification by God. "Therefore" refers to our justification by grace through faith in the blood of Christ. By this divine action, our final salvation will surely come to pass. In other words, as we read in Romans 8:30, the justified are glorified. Martin Luther says that "the Apostle [Paul] speaks as one who is extremely happy and full of joy."1 That is the way we ought to behave also. It is like seeing Canaan from Mount Pisgah. From here we see heaven and soon will experience glorification and be with God forever. We can be certain of it because God has declared us righteous.
The goal of justification, therefore, is glorification. This truth ought to fill every believer with inexpressible and glorious joy. My question is, have you been justified? Have you confessed Jesus Christ as your Lord? Have you trusted in Jesus the Son of God, who was delivered over to death for our transgressions and raised from the dead for our justification? If we have so trusted in Jesus Christ, then we must rejoice always under all circumstances. Because we have been justified, we shall be glorified to live with God eternally. From the shame of our sin and guilt and death, God in Christ has brought us to eternal glory. Therefore, rejoice and be exceedingly glad.
We want to consider certain blessings that flow abundantly to us on the basis of our justification by faith. Three of them are recorded in Romans 5:1-2: peace, presence, and triumphant praise. We will speak only of one blessing in this study: peace with God.
Justification Leads to Peace
St. Augustine correctly said, "Our hearts are restless until they find rest in God." Nothing in this world can give peace to the ungodly. Before God saved and justified us, we were helpless (Rom. 5:6), ungodly (Rom. 5:6), sinners (Rom. 5:8), and enemies of God (Rom. 5:10). The sinful mind is at enmity against God (Rom. 8:7).
But the Supreme Court of heaven declared us just on the basis of the propitiatory, bloody sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Paul writes, "[We] are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished-he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus" (Rom. 3:24-26).
Jesus Christ paid the penalty for all our sins by his death. "The soul who sins is the one who will die" (Ezek. 18:20). I sinned, but Christ died. Six times in this chapter Paul makes reference to the death of Jesus Christ because it is the basis for our justification (Rom. 5:6, 7, 8, 9, 10). Paul says he was the worst of sinners and a blasphemer, but Christ loved him and gave himself for him. I say to all believers, "Jesus died for your sins. You trusted in him and prayed the sinner's prayer. You are justified and saved forever. You now have a heavenly Father whom you can call, 'Abba, Daddy.' Because we are justified, saved by the death of Christ, because our sins are all forgiven, because we are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus, we have peace with God."
Reconciliation with God
Before, we could look forward only to wrath and anger. But now we have peace with God (Rom. 5:1). Paul uses the present tense, meaning we continually have peace with God. God was our enemy and we were his. But Christ's death on the cross changed all that. Paul describes how Christ destroyed man's enmity toward God and man:
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and its regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to those who were far away and peace to those who were near. (Eph. 2:14-17)
Elsewhere he writes, "Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight without blemish and free from accusation" (Col. 1:21-22).
Friends, we were at war with God, our neighbors, our families, and ourselves. Now the enmity gone forever. God is no longer our judge and we are no longer under his wrath. We are free from the accusations of our conscience, the devil, and everyone else.
God Is Our Heavenly Father
God has reconciled us to himself through Christ. Because he poured out his wrath on Christ, there is no more wrath against us. God is now our heavenly Father. We can call him, "Abba," an Aramaic word that speaks of great intimacy between a father and his children. It can be likened to our word "Daddy." This word appears three times in the New Testament always in reference to God the Father. Jesus himself used it as he prayed in Gethsemane: "Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will" (Mark 14:36).
The heavenly Father has become our Daddy and we are his children. Paul also speaks of this great truth: "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father'" (Rom. 8:15). There is a change of relationship. God is our Daddy. He loves us now and will love us forever. He has loved us from all eternity.
"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1). Because we have peace with God, we have peace with our neighbors, peace in our families, and peace in the depths of our beings. God is now our Father and we are his dear children. Jesus said, "I have called you friends" (John 14:15). God is our friend and Jesus is our older brother, our only mediator. God loves us and we love God. Having peace with God means we have a friendly relationship with him, that we commune with God. This peace does not just mean a cessation of hostilities. Shalom in Hebrew speaks of well-being, of blessings, of prosperity, of enjoying a restored relationship. We now have fellowship with the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. We were prodigals, but the Father has invited us to come into his home and has given us all the privileges of sons.
Peace with God
We have peace with God, says Paul, "through our Lord Jesus Christ." It is an objective peace brought about by Christ's propitiatory death. In Romans 5:1-11 Paul speaks five times of this peace coming through Christ (vv. 1, 2, 10, 11). It comes only through the atoning work of Jesus Christ. That means no one can be justified apart from Christ; no other religion can accomplish this. Jesus alone is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). He is the only Savior of the world, both for Jews and Gentiles. Christ is the only mediator between God and men.
Jesus is the Prince of peace because he alone brought righteousness through his life and death, and from that righteousness comes peace. Jeremiah says the Lord is our righteousness (Jer. 23:6). Isaiah declares, "The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest" (Isa. 32:17-18). We experience such peace because the righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed to us freely.
Paul says Jesus Christ is our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and glorification (1 Cor. 1:30). "Redemption" there means that. Wealth cannot give us peace. Neither can power, fame, brilliance, education, health, beauty, or mind-altering substances. Only by being justified by faith can we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus wants us to experience this peace. He is ever calling sinners to come to him: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). Elsewhere he says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10). The devil promises peace and pleasure, but his intent is to destroy us. But Jesus came to give us eternal life and eternal peace. Christ invited us, the Holy Spirit drew us, and we came to him by faith. We were enemies, but God changed us inside out by his effectual call. We are no longer enemies of God. We came to Jesus and he gave us peace.
Jesus says, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:27). Christ's peace is not a subjective feeling that changes; it is an objective peace. It is not the kind of peace the United Nations and other international bodies try to accomplish. This infinitely superior, divine peace of Christ comes to all who trust in him and call upon his name. It flows from him to us in abundance, filling our anxious, miserable hearts to overflowing. Jesus himself says, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). Because of this objective peace with God, we also enjoy a subjective peace in our hearts. (PGM) We enjoy the peace of God that Paul speaks about in Philippians 4:7, a peace that passes all human understanding, a peace of God that guards our hearts and our minds and makes us stable, immovable even in the midst of death.
This is the only peace that can steady us. What happens to us in this world may shake us to our very core. It is like a compass when it is hit. The needle may go back and forth, but soon it goes back to pointing to the north again.
Beware of False Peace
We must, however, beware of a false peace that comes through a false gospel and a false faith. Jeremiah speaks of those who use religion to make money and acquire power and political influence: "From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain. Prophets and priests alike all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. 'Peace, peace,' they say where there is no peace" (Jer. 6:13-14). That is why people crowd into churches that merely entertain and soothe, but never speak about sin, the wrath of God, hell, justification, holiness, and obedience to God's moral law.
Paul speaks about this: "For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. . . . Such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if Satan's servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve" (2 Cor. 11:4, 13). Of such people John writes, "They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us" (1 John 2:19).
Examine yourselves and see whether you are in the faith. Make your calling and election sure.
Benefits Resulting from Justification by Faith
In his treatment of this passage, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones makes several points because of justification by faith.2
Our minds are at rest. Due to this change of God's relation to us, and our God-caused change of relation to him, our minds are now at rest. God was our enemy and we were his. We deserved his wrath and deserved to die. But Christ died in my place and now God is reconciled to us and us to him. We confess God who justifies the ungodly. We have peace with God. Lloyd-Jones says that without intelligent understanding of this gospel, without satisfying our reasonable minds, we cannot have peace with God. That is why emotionally driven people can never have peace. The mind must understand what happened. Our reason must be satisfied. In the parable of the sower, the fourth soil people alone understood the gospel and they alone were saved (Matt. 13:23).
God loves us in spite of our still being sinners. Though we have been justified by faith, we may still sin. But all our sins have been paid for by Jesus Christ. No sin remains on us. Our position is changed from being enemies of God to being sons of God. Yet when we sin, we will experience discipline from our heavenly Father. He disciplines us as sons for our benefit so that we may share in his holiness, because without holiness no one will see God.
Our accusing consciences are silenced. We agree with God that we are sinners. We have sinned in the past, we may sin in the present and in the future. But when we trusted in Christ, God justified us. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all our sins.
The devil is silenced. The devil comes to tempt us, trip us, and swallow us whole. He comes like a roaring lion. But John tells us, "They overcame [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony" (Rev. 12:11). This is objective reason: "the blood of the Lamb" stands for atonement, for a propitiatory sacrifice. In other words, it does not matter how we feel. When the devil tests us, we overcome him by pleading the blood of Jesus Christ and articulating this doctrine of justification by faith. Peter tells us, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith" (1 Pet. 5:8-9). James says the same thing: "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (Jas. 4:7). John assures us, "The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). Then he writes, "Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith" (1 John 5:4). Our articulation of the gospel overcomes the world and the devil.
Death itself is silenced. The sacrifice of God's Son delivered us from the fear of death to which we were enslaved. Paul writes, "'Death has been swallowed up in victory.' 'Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 15:54-57; see also Heb. 2:14-15). Jesus said, "Whoever lives and believes in me will never die" (John 11:26). Elsewhere he says, "Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life" (John 5:24).
We will not be condemned at the final judgment. Paul writes, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1). He elaborates elsewhere, "What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus who died-more than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us" (Rom. 8:31-34). Then he asks: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" The answer is given: "Neither death nor life . . . nor anything else all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord (Rom. 8:35-39).
Our justification is certain. The final point Lloyd-Jones makes is that if we fall into sin, instead of questioning our salvation, we must remember that we have been justified by faith. Our relationship with God is certain; we are justified. But we must not conceal our sin. We must repent, confess, forsake, and embrace chastisement, and then go out and live a transformed life by faith. In other words, when Christians sin, we sin as sons, and our heavenly Father disciplines us for our own good. Paul writes, "That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number have fallen asleep" (1 Cor. 11:30). That is discipline. But we must always keep in mind that we were not justified on the basis of any goodness in us, but only on the righteousness of Christ.
Do You Have Peace?
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have been justified forever by the Supreme Court of heaven through the saving work of Christ alone. God justifies the ungodly; you are justified by faith in Jesus Christ, not on the basis of any good works. And the goal of your justification is glorification. Your final and complete salvation is secure and sure and certain. The justified shall be glorified.
Therefore, enjoy peace and fellowship with God. One hymnist wrote,
There's a peace in my heart that the world never gave,
a peace it cannot take away.
Though the trials of life may surround like a cloud,
I have a peace that has come here to stay.
When peace like a river attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll,
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
'It is well, it is well with my soul.'
My sin-oh the bliss of that glorious thought-
my sin, not in part, but the whole,
is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul.
If you have not received by faith the salvation of Jesus Christ, you are insulting God and calling him a liar. The wrath of God is now abiding upon you (John 3:36) and you shall die in your sins. At the final judgment, you shall be condemned and experience the eternal fire of God's wrath. Heed this solemn warning of the Lord: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time, their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them. . . . I lift my hand to heaven and declare: As surely as I live forever, when I sharpen my flashing sword and my hand grasps it in judgment, I will take vengeance on my adversaries and repay those who hate me" (Deut. 32:35, 40-41).
But if you are reading this, there is still hope. Paul writes, "Now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:2). Jesus calls you today to come to him. Come to Christ! Come as you are, as a sinner, with all your burdens and anxieties, and he will set you free. God will justify you forever and you will experience peace with God, the peace of God, peace with your neighbor, peace with your family, and peace within yourself.
1 Quoted by Douglas Moo, New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1996), 297.
2 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans: An Exposition of Chapter 5, Assurance (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1972), 17-23.
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Copyright © 2008, P. G. Mathew
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