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Faith itself not the cause of justification – Louis Berkhof

January 20, 2016 Comments off

Scripture never says that we are justified dia ten pistin, on account of faith. This means that faith is never represented as the ground of our justification. If this were the case, faith would have to be regarded as a meritorious work of man. And this would be the introduction of the doctrine of justification by works, which the apostle opposes consistently, Rom. 3:21,27,28; 4:3,4; Gal. 2:16,21; 3:11. We are told indeed that Abraham’s faith was reckoned unto him for righteousness, Rom. 4:3,9,22; Gal. 3:6, but in view of the whole argument this surely cannot mean that in his case faith itself as a work took the place of the righteousness of God in Christ. The apostle does not leave it doubtful that, strictly speaking, only the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, is the ground of our justification. But faith is so thoroughly receptive in the appropriation of the merits of Christ, that it can be put figuratively for the merits of Christ which it receives. “Faith” then is equivalent to the contents of faith, that is, to the merits or the righteousness of Christ.

 

Bunyan’s inward man faint, but revived by Jesus Christ – Grace abounding exerpt

March 23, 2012 Comments off

255. Upon a time I was something inclining to a consumption, wherewith about the spring I was suddenly and violently seized, with much weakness in my outward man; insomuch that I thought I could not live. Now began I afresh to give myself up to a serious examination after my state and condition for the future, and of my evidences for that blessed world to come: for it hath, I bless the name of God, been my usual course, as always, so especially in the day of affliction, to endeavour to keep my interest in the life to come, clear before mine eyes.

256. But I had no sooner began to recall to mind my former experience of the goodness of God to my soul, but there came flocking into my mind an innumerable company of my sins and transgressions; amongst which these were at this time most to my affliction; namely, my deadness, dulness, and coldness in holy duties; my wanderings of heart, of my wearisomeness in all good things, my want of love to God, His ways and people, with this at the end of all, Are these the fruits of Christianity? Are these tokens of a blessed man?

257. At the apprehensions of these things my sickness was doubled upon me; for now I was sick in my inward man, my soul was clogged with guilt; now also was my former experience of God’s goodness to me, quite taken out of my mind, and hid as if they had never been, or seen: now was my soul greatly pinched between these two considerations, Live I must not, die I dare not. Now I sunk and fell in my spirit, and was giving up all for lost; but as I was walking up and down in the house as a man in a most woeful state, that word of God took hold of my heart, Ye are justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Rom. iii. 24. But oh! what a turn it made upon me!

258. Now was I as one awaked out of some troublesome sleep and dream; and listening to this heavenly sentence, I was as if I had heard it thus expounded to me: Sinner, thou thinkest, that because thy sins and infirmities, I cannot save thy soul; but behold My Son is by me, and upon Him I look, and not on thee, and shall deal with thee according as I am pleased with Him. At this I was greatly lightened in my mind, and made to understand, that God could justify a sinner at any time; it was but His looking upon Christ, and imputing His benefits to us, and the work was forthwith done.

259. And as I was thus in a muse, that scripture also came with great power upon my spirit, Not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His mercy He hath saved us, etc. 2 Tim. i. 9; Tit. iii. 5. Now was I got on high, I saw myself within the arms of grace and mercy; and though I was before afraid to think of a dying hour, yet, now I cried, Let me die: Now death was lovely and beautiful in my sight, for I saw We shall never live indeed, till we be gone to the other world. Oh! methought this life is but a slumber, in comparison with that above. At this time also I saw more in these words, Heirs of God, Rom. viii. 17, than ever I shall be able to express while I live in this world: Heirs of God! God Himself is the portion of the saints. This I saw and wondered at, but cannot tell you what I saw.

Source: Grace abounding to the chief of sinners, by John Bunyan

Jesus our righteousness before God – Grace abounding excerpt

March 22, 2012 Comments off

229. But one day, as I was passing in the field, and that too with some dashes on my conscience, fearing lest yet all was not right, suddenly this sentence fell upon my soul, Thy righteousness is in heaven; and methought withal, I saw, with the eyes of my soul, Jesus Christ at God’s right hand; there, I say, is my righteousness; so that wherever I was, or whatever I was a-doing, God could not say of me, He wants my righteousness, for that was just before Him. I also saw, moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse; for my righteousness was Jesus Christ Himself, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever (Heb. 13.8).

230. Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed, I was loosed from my affliction and irons, my temptations had fled away; so that, from that time, those dreadful scriptures of God left off to trouble me now; now went I also home rejoicing, for the grace and love of God. So when I came home, I looked to see if I could find that sentence, Thy righteousness is in heaven; but could not find such a saying, wherefore my heart began to sink again, only that was brought to my remembrance, He ‘of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption’ by this word I saw the other sentence true (1 Cor. 1.30).

231. For by this scripture, I saw that the man Christ Jesus, as He is distinct from us, as touching His bodily presence, so He is our righteousness and sanctification before God. Here, therefore, I lived for some time, very sweetly at peace with God through Christ; Oh, methought, Christ! Christ! there was nothing but Christ that was before my eyes, I was not only for looking upon this and the other benefits of Christ apart, as of His blood, burial, or resurrection, but considered Him as a whole Christ! As He in whom all these, and all other His virtues, relations, offices, and operations met together, and that as He sat on the right hand of God in heaven.

232. It was glorious to me to see His exaltation, and the worth and prevalency of all His benefits, and that because of this: now I could look from myself to Him, and should reckon that all those graces of God that now were green in me, were yet but like those cracked groats and fourpence-halfpennies that rich men carry in their purses, when their gold is in their trunks at home! Oh, I saw my gold was in my trunk at home! In Christ, my Lord and Saviour! Now Christ was all; all my wisdom, all my righteousness, all my sanctification, and all my redemption.

233. Further, the Lord did also lead me into the mystery of union with the Son of God, that I was joined to Him, that I was flesh of His flesh, and bone of His bone, and now was that a sweet word to me in Eph. 5.30. By this also was my faith in Him, as my righteousness, the more confirmed to me; for if He and I were one, then His righteousness was mine, His merits mine, His victory also mine. Now could I see myself in heaven and earth at once; in heaven by my Christ, by my head, by my righteousness and life, though on earth by my body or person.

234. Now I saw Christ Jesus was looked on of God, and should also be looked on by us, as that common or public person, in whom all the whole body of His elect are always to be considered and reckoned; that we fulfilled the law by Him, rose from the dead by Him, got the victory over sin, death, the devil, and hell, by Him; when He died, we died; and so of His resurrection. ‘Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise,’ saith he (Isa. 26.19). And again, ‘After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight’ (Hos. 6.2); which is now fulfilled by the sitting down of the Son of Man on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, according to that to the Ephesians, He ‘hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus’ (Eph. 2.6).

235. Ah, these blessed considerations and scriptures, with many others of a like nature, were in those days made to spangle in mine eyes, so that I have cause to say, ‘Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness’ (Ps. 150.1, 2).

Source: Grace abounding to the chief of sinners, by John Bunyan

What does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness? — A.W. Pink

February 10, 2012 Comments off

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” — Matthew 5:6

In Romans 1:16, 17a, Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith.” In Romans 3:22-24 we read, “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” In Romans 5:19, this blessed declaration is made: “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made [legally constituted] sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made [legally constituted] righteous.” In Romans 10:4, we learn that “Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

The sinner is destitute of righteousness, for “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). God has, therefore, provided in Christ a perfect righteousness for each and all of His people. This righteousness, this satisfying of all the demands of God’s holy Law against us, was worked out by our Substitute and Surety. This righteousness is now imputed to (that is, legally credited to the account of) the believing sinner. Just as the sins of God’s people were all transferred to Christ, so His righteousness is placed upon them (2 Cor. 5:21). These few words are but a brief summary of the teaching of Scripture on this vital and blessed subject of the perfect righteousness that God requires of us and that is ours by faith in the Lord Christ.

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness.” Hungering and thirsting expresses vehement desire, of which the soul is acutely conscious. First, the Holy Spirit brings before the heart the holy requirements of God. He reveals to us His perfect standard, which He can never lower. He reminds us that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). Second, the trembling soul, conscious of his own abject poverty and realizing his utter inability to measure up to God’s requirements, sees no help in himself. This painful discovery causes him to mourn and groan. Have you done so? Third, the Holy Spirit then creates in the heart a deep “hunger and thirst” that causes the convicted sinner to look for relief and to seek a supply outside of himself. The believing eye is then directed to Christ, who is “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jer. 23:6).

Like the previous ones, this fourth Beatitude describes a twofold experience. It obviously refers to the initial hungering and thirsting that occurs before a sinner turns to Christ by faith. But it also refers to the continual longing that is perpetuated in the heart of every saved sinner until his dying day. Repeated exercises of this grace are felt at varying intervals. The one who longed to be saved by Christ, now yearns to be made like Him. Looked at in its widest aspect, this hungering and thirsting refers to a panting of the renewed heart after God (Ps. 42:1), a yearning for a closer walk with Him, and a longing for more perfect conformity to the image of His Son. It tells of those aspirations of the new nature for Divine blessing that alone can strengthen, sustain, and satisfy.

Our text presents such a paradox that it is evident that no carnal mind ever invented it. Can one who has been brought into vital union with Him who is the Bread of Life and in whom all fullness dwells be found still hungering and thirsting? Yes, such is the experience of the renewed heart. Mark carefully the tense of the verb: it is not “Blessed are they which have hungered and thirsted,” but “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst.” Do you, dear reader? Or are you content with your attainments and satisfied with your condition? Hungering and thirsting after righteousness has always been the experience of God’s true saints (Phil. 3:8-14).

“They shall be filled.” Like the first part of our text, this also has a double fulfillment, both initial and continuous. When God creates a hunger and a thirst in the soul, it is so that He may satisfy them. When the poor sinner is made to feel his need for Christ, it is to the end that he may be drawn to Christ and led to embrace Him as his only righteousness before a holy God. He is delighted to confess Christ as his new-found righteousness and to glory in Him alone (1 Cor. 1:30, 31). Such a one, whom God now calls a “saint” (1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1), is to experience an ongoing filling: not with wine, wherein is excess, but with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18). He is to be filled with the peace of God that passeth all understanding (Phil. 4:7). We who are trusting in the righteousness of Christ shall one day be filled with Divine blessing without any admixture of sorrow; we shall be filled with praise and thanksgiving to Him who wrought every work of love and obedience in us (Phil. 2:12-13) as the visible fruit of His saving work in and for us. In this world, “He hath filled the hungry with good things” (Luke 1:53) such as this world can neither give to nor withhold from those who “seek the Lord (Ps. 34:10). He bestows such goodness and mercy upon us, who are the sheep of His pasture, that our cups run over (Ps. 23:5-6). Yet all that we presently enjoy is but a mere foretaste of all that our “God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9). In the eternal state, we will be filled with perfect holiness, for “we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2). Then we shall be done with sin forever. Then we shall “hunger no more, neither thirst any more.

– A.W. Pink (1886-1952)

Source: The Beatitudes, by AW Pink

Sound doctrine – Titus 2:1

December 8, 2011 Comments off

“Speak thou the things which become sound doctrine.” Titus 2:1

There are but two forms of religion in the world. One is true. The other is false. One is saving. The other is damning. One is “sound doctrine” the doctrine of Holy Scripture, the “doctrine of God our Saviour” (Titus 2:10). The other is false doctrine, “the doctrine of vanities” (Jeremiah 10:8). Those two forms of religion are free-grace and free-will.

Free-grace declares that salvation is the work of God alone. Free-will declares that salvation is, at least, in part, the work of man. Free-grace declares that salvation is conditioned upon the obedience of Christ alone as the sinner’s substitute. Free-will declares the salvation is ultimately and finally conditioned upon the obedience of the sinner himself. Any doctrine that makes salvation, eternal life, acceptance with God, and the reward of the heavenly inheritance to be dependent upon, or determined by YOU, at any point or in any measure, is contrary to sound doctrine. To receive, believe, or embrace such doctrine will be damning to your soul. (Read Galations 5: 1-4)

Gal 5:1  Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Gal 5:2  Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
Gal 5:3  For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
Gal 5:4  Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

(Shortened version by Pastor Don Fortner) from The Grace Bulletin May-June 2011)

Philippians 3:9 – Philpot

October 14, 2011 Comments off

“And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the  faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Philippians 3:9

Here are the two righteousnesses clearly laid down, in one or other of which we must all stand before God—the righteousness which is of the law, and the righteousness which is of God by faith in Christ. But bear this in mind, that a  righteousness to be available before God must be a perfect righteousness. This righteousness no man ever did or could produce by his own obedience to the law, for no man ever yet loved God “with all his heart and soul and mind and strength, and his neighbour as himself;” and if a man do not thus love God and thus love his neighbour, he is accursed and condemned already by that righteous law which curseth “every one who continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.”

Now the Apostle felt that as this righteousness could not be yielded by himself as a fallen sinner, he must necessarily fall under the condemnation and curse attached to that  holy law. Trembling, therefore, in his conscience, as feeling that the wrath of  God was revealed against him, and all unjustified sinners in a broken law, and knowing that he must sink for ever under the terrible indignation of the Almighty, if he had no covering for his needy, naked soul but his own righteousness, he fled out of it to find justification and acceptance, mercy and peace in the righteousness of Christ. Thenceforth he “was determined to know nothing, save Jesus Christ and him crucified,” and Jesus became to him his “all in all.” When once he had been favoured with a view of the righteousness of the Son of God, he wanted no other for time or eternity. He saw by faith the words and works of the God-man, and he beheld Deity stamped upon every thought, word, and action of that pure humanity with which it was in union, and thus investing them with a merit beyond all conception or expression of men or angels. He saw him by faith bearing his sins in his own body on the tree, and by his active and passive obedience
working out a righteousness acceptable to God, and such as he and all the redeemed could stand in before the great white throne without spot or blemish.

As a traveller overtaken by a violent thunderstorm gladly flies to a house by the wayside wherein he may find shelter from the lightning-stroke and the sweeping rain; or as a ship threatened with a hurricane bends every sail to reach in time the harbour of refuge, so does the soul terrified by the thunders and lightnings of God’s righteous law, seek for shelter in the wounded side of Jesus, and hide itself beneath his justifying obedience. This righteousness is here called “the righteousness of God;” for God the Father contrived it, God the Son performed it, and God the Holy Ghost applies it; and it is said to be “by faith” and “through the faith of Christ” because faith views it, believes in it, receives it, and gives the soul a manifested interest in it.

Praise God for his glorious works

January 16, 2011 Comments off

Sinner, thou thinkest that because of thy sins and infirmities I cannot save thy soul, but behold My Son is by Me, and upon Him I look, and not on thee, and will deal with thee according as I am pleased with Him. At this I was greatly lightened in my mind, and made to understand that God could justify a sinner at any time; it was but His looking upon Christ, and imputing of His benefits to us, and the work was forthwith done.

Source: Grace abounding to the chief of sinners