Justification by Faith
This blog is based on the outline of a sermon preached by Jimmy Chrisman at Liberty Avenue Baptist Church, Berea, KY, on October 22, 1978; and transcribed on May 24, 2021 for this blog by J. David Chrisman (with the intent of retaining his original style and structure).
Romans 3:23-28: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely [without any cost] by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation [mercy seat] by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified [declared righteous] by faith apart from the deeds of the law.
In 1512, a young man by the name of Martin Luther was serving as a professor in the University of Whittenburg. He was a man of deep religious convictions. He has entered the monastery of the Roman Catholic Church and had now been made a university professor. One day he was sent to Rome on some business to see the Pope. When he arrived, he began climbing the “sacred stairs” – kissing each step as he went. During this time, a quote from the Bible came to his mind, “The just shall live by faith.” After serious consideration of this, he renounced his connection with the Catholic Church and went out to preach the doctrine of justification.
This same doctrine had been preached many years before by the Apostle Paul, but it had been lost in the mystic maze of a ceremonial religion. From Luther’s experience began what is called the Reformation.
Luther’s foundational texts are found in four different books of the Bible: Hebrews 10:38; Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; and Galatians 3:11. These passages do away with the belief that man is saved by anything except his faith in Jesus Christ.
WHAT IS JUSTIFICATION?
It is the act by which God declares a sinner just and righteous – as if he has never sinned. It is more than a pardon – for a pardon merely frees from the penalty of sin but not from the guilt of sin. Justification frees from all guilt and blame.
When a sinful soul comes in faith to Jesus, God declares him righteous as if he had never sinned. He becomes absolutely spotless in the sight of God. Oh, this is a glorious doctrine which makes us just and righteous before a high and holy God!
THE NEED FOR JUSTIFICATION
Who needs justification? All of us need it.
As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; (Romans 3:10)
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)
If all of us have sinned, if all of us are unrighteous, then all of us need justification. You and I and every person in all the world need justification.
HOW ARE WE JUSTIFIED?
We are not justified by works.
knowing that a man is not justified [declared righteous] by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. (Galatians 2:16)
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20)
We are not justified by living a good moral life, nor by keeping the law, nor by following the Golden Rule, nor by performing charitable deeds. You may live the best life in all the world – sell all you have and give it to the poor – do unto others as you would have them do unto you – observe the law right down to the letter, and yet you will not be justified in God’s sight. “The just shall live by faith” – not by works.
We are not justified by performing religious duties.
A man isn’t justified by offering prayers, by doing penance, by joining the church, by church attendance, by baptism or the Lord’s Supper. Our works don’t save us; we are saved by the works of another. We are saved by the death of the Lord Jesus on Calvary’s Cross. We are justified through His death, and all who come and appropriate Him to themselves by faith are entirely justified.
We are justified as a free gift of God.
Romans 3:24 – being justified freely [without any cost] by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Too many people are trying to pay for their salvation; but the free gift of God bestows salvation upon man. It is hard to make man understand that salvation costs nothing. God gives unto us eternal life. If we pay Him for this life, He is not giving us anything. I do not mean by this that salvation costs nothing. It did cost Someone everything that He had. It cost Jesus Christ His life blood, but He gives it to us as a free gift. Justification originated in the heart of God. It then flows down through Calvary and through Jesus Christ to the heart of man.
We are justified through the blood of Christ.
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. (Romans 5:9)
We are counted righteous through His blood that was shed upon Calvary. We were under the curse, but He redeemed us by His blood. We deserved to die, but He took our place before God – took upon Himself all the penalty of a broken law, and now we are counted righteous because of Him. The one and only ground for our justification is the blood of Jesus Christ.
4 Surely He has borne our griefs [sicknesses] And carried our sorrows [pains]; Yet we esteemed [reckoned] Him stricken,
Smitten [Struck down] by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded [pierced through] for our transgressions, He was bruised [crushed] for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes [blows that cut it] we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him [caused to land on Him] the iniquity of us all.
We obtain justification through faith in Christ.
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, (Romans 4:5)
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified [declared righteous] by faith apart from the deeds of the law. (Romans 3:28)
If we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior, our faith brings justification down to us. God is asking only that we believe in His Son. If we do, it is counted to us for righteousness. The question then is no longer, “What works do you have to offer?” but instead “Have you put your complete faith and trust in the Lord Jesus?” When a man repents of his sins and accepts Jesus Christ by faith, he is justified forever.
Such faith brings confession (Romans 10:9-10). If it isn’t a faith which brings confession, it isn’t a faith which brings salvation and justification. You may have a mere opinion in your mind about Christ, but if this opinion does not bring action, it is not a justifying faith. If your heart is right, if you are justified by faith, you are not ashamed to confess Christ as your Savior. You are happy to follow Him in baptism, in a good life, and in church membership.
Such faith brings forth good fruit. James 2:14 asks, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” The faith which a man merely says he has but which doesn’t cause him to work for Christ is a faith that doesn’t save. It takes real faith to save a sinner, and this real faith will lead to confession and to good works.
HOW DOES JUSTIFICATION WORK?
It is an instantaneous act. Ephesians 5:8 teaches us, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” The very moment you are born again, you are justified before God. The emphasis here is on the word “now.” When you trust Christ, He saves you. All who accept Christ as Lord and Savior are justified in that very moment. When we approach God through Jesus Christ, we do not have to wait for our forgiveness. He forgives and justifies us in the very moment when we come to Him through Christ.
It is an irreversible act. A court doesn’t hold a man in jeopardy the second time for the same crime. Likewise, when God declares us justified, no one can change this verdict! All of the devils of Hell may assail our soul, but that cannot reverse this great act of justification.
It is an unpurchasable act. A man may donate his money and his material possessions, but it will not justify him in the sight of God. You cannot earn it, nor can you do anything to deserve it. It is a free gift made possible by faith in the Lord Jesus.
THE BLESSINGS OF JUSTIFICATION
It brings a full and free pardon. It is a pardon which covers all sin – past, present, and future – from the moment of birth to the moment of death. Men limit God when they say He saves men and justifies them and then permits them to go to Hell because of some sin that is thereafter committed. But God doesn’t save on the installment plan – we are His and He justifies eternally!
It produces perfect standing with God. Sin has marred our standing with God. It has come between us and Him; but through justification, we can stand blameless before God. When God looks at us through the blood of Christ, He sees us as sinless and perfect. You are now a child of God through being justified!
It brings peace with God. It is the true peace which the world cannot give or take away! Are you troubled on the inside? Are you anxious, not knowing what will happen to you when you die? Then come to Jesus and He will indeed give you the peace that passes all understanding!
Oh, my friends, the sinner without Christ is on his way to death – no hope shines across the pathway for him. And then one day, he looks to the Savior upon the cross. He hears a voice say unto him, “Do you believe?” And with all his heart, he cries out, “I do believe – I do believe in Jesus Christ and I accept Him as my Lord and Savior.” That moment – that very moment – he is free, he is saved, he is justified. His soul is flooded with happiness and joy. His sins are forgiven and he stands before God as one of His children. Hell and eternal suffering are forever abolished so far as he is concerned. He is walking with the Lord and he is going home to Heaven.
Don’t you want this great salvation and this marvelous justification to be yours? You can have it because of the One who died upon Calvary’s Cross for you and for me. Come and give your heart to Him today!
© 1978 by Jimmy Chrisman
© 2021 by J. David Chrisman
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.