For the next couple of weeks Pastor Jim will be working through Romans 3 and 4, teaching about the essential and life-changing doctrine of justification by faith. So let’s start thinking about it now.
Martin Luther (German 16th century monk) famously said something like this: “The doctrine or teaching by which the church stands or falls is justification. It’s so wonderful and important that this doctrine cannot be studied enough or too deeply.”
We haven’t said what justification is yet. But let’why this doctrine matters so much to the Christian life:
Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones was an influential Welsh Bible teacher and pastor in London for 30 years, starting in 1939, during World War II. He said that lots of people would come into his office for counseling and pastoral care. And he would ask, “Are you a Christian?” Often their reply was, “I’m trying.”
Jones would fire back, “Well, which is it? There is no trying to be a Christian. You either are or you are not.”
To use the language of the Bible, “You are either in the kingdom of light or enslaved in the kingdom of darkness. You are either justified by God or you are condemned by God.”
“I’m trying” on the surface sounds humble, like I haven’t arrived yet. To which we can say, “Join the club! No one in the church has arrived. The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.”
But “I’m trying” reveals a heart that still believes I have to do more to get God to accept me.
“I’m trying” forgets Jesus words in John 3:16-18, that whoever believes in Him, is not condemned.” Go look it up!
“I’m trying” doesn’t yet understand what it means to be justified by God’s grace as a gift. (Romans 3:23-25)
“I’m trying” corrupts Christianity into another form of good advice rather than what the Bible says Christianity is: good news.
So we need a continue rediscovery of this doctrine of justification by faith alone in Christ alone. This gift puts to death the “I’m trying” forms of Christianity. What is justification by faith alone? It’s answering the question of how am I accepted by God?
I’ll leave you to meditate on the words of the Heidelberg Catechism question 60, which sums up the Bible’s teaching beautifully: How are you righteous before God?
Only by true faith in Jesus Christ.
Although my conscience accuses me that I have grievously sinned against all God's commandments,
have never kept any of them,
and am still inclined to all evil,
yet God, without any merit of my own, out of mere grace, imputes to me
the perfect satisfaction,
and holiness of Christ.
He grants these to me
as if I had never had nor committed any sin,
and as if I myself had accomplished all the obedience which Christ has rendered for me,
if only I accept this gift with a believing heart.
All the Scripture references can be found here: http://www.heidelberg-catechism.com/en/lords-days/23.html
What does God see when He looks at you in Christ? Blameless, holy, beloved, obedient just as Jesus is. Because we are justified God treats us as if we had never sinned and have perfectly obeyed. Justification by faith is the anchor, the one-time, forever, act of His free grace.
Try it this week – ask someone what they think Christianity is about? Perhaps you will have an opportunity to explain the wonder of being justified by grace alone.
See the “I’m trying” nailed to Jesus’ cross who said, “It is finished.”
9:00am – Sunday School – Come and see how Jesus was troubled in heart so we may not be. We are looking at John 14:1-6 together.
10:15am – Pastor Jim is teaching through Romans 3:21-31 – “By Faith Alone”
See you Sunday! Grace and peace,