Statement of Faith
The Four Most Important Things We Could Ever Tell
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Drawn to the Savior
A Godly Resume
Bullies in the Body
Valued by God
"I'd Love To, Lord, But..."
"The Blessings of Justification"
Theme: This passage describes the blessings that belong to those who are
declared righteous by faith in Jesus Christ.
(Delivered Sunday, January 31, 1999 at Bethany Bible
Church. All Scripture quotes are taken from the New American
Standard Bible, 1995 update)
A. The subject of this morning's text is the most wonderful thing that
a sinner could ever experience. Martin Luther called it the article of
doctrine on which the church stands or falls. It is, in fact, the very
heart of the Good News of the Gospel. It is the Bible's doctrine of "justification";
God's gracious act of declaring undeserving sinners "righteous" through
1. Do you remember the parable that Jesus told regarding a Pharisee
and publican (or tax-collector)? In Jesus' day, there was no one who
was thought of as more "righteous" than a Pharisee; and no one thought
of as more despicable a sinner than a tax-collector. The Pharisee, in
prayer, rehearsed all his righteous deeds before God; but the tax-collector
couldn't even look up to heaven. All he could do was beat his breast
and say, "God, be merciful to me, the sinner!" And Jesus said, "I tell
you, this man went to his house justified [i.e., dikaioġ; "declared
righteous"] rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will
be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 1:9-14).
2. This parable, to my mind, illustrates something of the blessedness
of the doctrine of justification by faith. There's no more wonderful
news to sinners than that God is willing respond to their plea for mercy,
and declare them "righteous" on the basis of what Jesus has done on
the cross for them.
B. We can't really discuss the implications of the Bible's teaching
on "justification" if we don't really understand what "justification"
itself means. It's one of those words we hear used, but rarely hear explained.
Here, then, is a biblical definition: Justification is an act of God in
which He declares an undeserving sinner to be genuinely righteous; having
credited the very righteousness of Christ to that sinner by means of his
or her faith alone. "Justification through faith", as we find it in the
1. ... A legal declaration of righteousness. It isn't that a sinner
is merely made to 'feel' righteous in a subjective way. Rather, God
"declares" the sinner to be objectively righteous in a forensic or judicial
sense -- regardless of his or her feelings. It's a legal declaration
rather than a feeling. Like Paul says in Romans 8:33; "Who will bring
a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies."
2. ... A genuine righteousness. God doesn't simply decide to overlook
the sinner's sinfulness and "pretend" that he or she is righteous when
that really isn't the case; nor does He simply "cover up" the sinner
with the righteousness of Jesus in such a way as to conceal his or her
real condition of sinfulness from His eyes -- as though simply covering
him or her with a "righteousness" coating. Rather, when God justifies
a sinner, He declares that sinner to be made really, genuinely, completely
righteous, because that sinner is "in Christ." Paul says, "But by His
doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and
righteousness and sanctification, and redemption ..." (1 Cor. 1:30).
Elsewhere, he says, "He [God] made Him who knew no sin [Jesus Christ]
to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of
God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21). The idea in these verses is that of being
actually "made" righteous with the full righteousness of Jesus Christ
-- not merely being covered up with His righteousness.
3. ... An imputation of righteousness. To "impute" something means
to 'attribute' it or 'credit' it to something or someone else. If, for
example, I had a 'zero' balance in my checking account, I would draw
some money out of my savings account and have it "imputed" or "credited"
or "attributed" to my checking account. The only way that the checking
account could have cash value is if it is "imputed" into it from another
account. Similarly, in God's act of justifying a sinner, he or she is
not made "righteous" on the basis of anything that they do -- nor on
the basis of anything God enables them to do. Rather, God completely
"imputes" genuine righteousness to them -- "attributing" it to them,
or "crediting" it to their account. Paul makes this point in Romans
5:18-19; comparing the imputation of the one sin of Adam upon the human
race with the imputation of the righteousness of Christ on those who
place their faith in Him. "So then," he says, "as through one transgression
there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness
there resulted justification of life to all men. For as thorough the
one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the
obedience of the One the many will be made righteous."
4. ... A righteousness through faith as opposed to works. It's important
to point out in all this that sinners are not "justified" on the basis
of their faith -- or on the basis of any other work they could do, for
that matter. They're declared righteous before God on the basis of two
things: that their sins were placed onto Jesus when He died on the cross;
and that His perfect obedience and righteousness imputed to them --
He became sin for them (and died in their place); and they became the
righteousness of God in Him. Faith isn't the cause of justification;
rather, its the means by which the sinner comes into possession of that
imputed righteousness. As it says of Abraham in Gen. 15:6, when God
made the promise to him that, even though he was childless, he would
one day have as many children as the stars in heaven, "Then he believed
the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness." Paul speaks about
Abraham's experience of being "justified by [that is, by means of] faith"
in Romans 4:19-25, where he says, "Without becoming weak in faith he
contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a
hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb; yet, with respect
to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong
in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God
has promised, He was able also to perform. Therefore it was also credited
to him as righteousness. Now not for his sake only was it written that
it was credited to him, but for our sakes also, to whom it will be credited,
as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,
He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised
because of our justification". Justification by faith is a faith in
what Jesus has done for us -- not a faith in "faith".
C. That, in short, is what "justification by faith" means. But in the
passage we'll be looking at this morning, we find not only the fact that
God is willing to justify sinners, but also what the benefits of being
justified are. In the fifth chapter of Paul's great letter to the Romans
-- a letter in which he systematically explains how God justifies sinners
like you and me by faith -- we find that he describes the blessings that
belong to those who He declared righteous. What then are the blessings
of being "justified" in the sight of God, as Paul describes them in Romans
5:1-11? Any single one of them would be enough for us to talk about all
morning. But I find seven mentioned in this passage. They are ...
I. PEACE WITH GOD.
"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have
peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (v. 1).
A. "Peace" here isn't meant to be understood as the same thing as "tranquility"
or "quietness of heart" -- as in the sense of Jesus' words, "Do not let
your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful" (John 14:27). The peace
that Paul here refers to means "an end of hostilities"; peace between
two parties that are at odds with one another -- in other words, "reconciliation."
1. Have you ever had a problem with someone -- something 'between'
you and them -- so that, when you saw them at a grocery store or shopping
mall, you duck around the corner to avoid them? Similarly, we are born
in a state of enmity toward God because of the guilt of Adam's sin imputed
to us, and because of the sinfulness of Adam's nature that we've inherited
from him as his children. There's a problem in our relationship with
our Creator -- something 'between' ourselves and Him. It's the guilt
of our sin. And we cannot be "reconciled" to Him until that sin problem
has been taken care of.
2. But when we've been declared "righteous" before Him through our
faith in Jesus' work on the cross for us, the problem of sin is taken
away. There's no longer something "between" us and God. We cease to
be in a state of enmity toward Him. We've been "reconciled" to Him --
meaning that the distance between us has been bridged, and we can now
"draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our
hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed
with pure water" (Hebrews 10:22).
B. I believe that every man or woman alive today needs to have peace
with God. I believe that an absence of peace with God in is at the bottom
of most of the problems and anxiety that people feel. One of the great
blessings of justification is that of finally having "peace" with God.
We're no longer in a state of enmity toward our Creator. What a wonderful
thing that is!
II. GRACE BEFORE GOD.
"... our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we
have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand
..." (vv. 1b-2).
A. Being "justified" means that, by God's grace, we've been declared
righteous by the God against whom we've sinned; and in that righteous
state, we've been ushered into His very presence by His Son who died on
our behalf We have been reconciled to God in the Person of His Son; and
now, it's as though the Son of the mighty King against whom we've rebelled
has brought us into the presence of His royal Father; and now, we are
introduced to Him completely forgiven of our rebellion and declared "righteous"!
We now are the objects of God's favor; and by God's grace, we're made
to remain in that condition of favor forever! By Jesus, we've been introduced
into grace; and it is in this grace that we stand!
1. Suppose that God, having shown us His grace in forgiving our rebellion
and declaring us righteous, were then to say to us; "Now that you are
declared by Me to be righteous, you are in My favor. I am now pleased
with you. Take care, then, to make the most of your situation. Do all
that you can to keep in my favor. Follow my commandments to the letter!
Do nothing to ruin your righteousness and, thereby, lose My favor and
become displeasing to Me again." If God had done that for us, it would
have been much more than we deserve.
2. But the fact is, that's not what He has done! He hasn't merely
reconciled us to Himself and then left it up to us to keep ourselves
in that state. He has placed us "in Christ"; and in Him, we have been
made "the righteousness of God" by His grace. And being in that state
of righteousness, it's only by His grace that we stay that way! Through
Jesus Christ His Son, we "have obtained (in the perfect tense, indicating
a completed act) our introduction by faith into this grace, in which
we stand" (again, in the perfect tense, indicating a once-for-all-time
state of being). We are not left to ourselves to keep from wandering
in and out of God's favor all the time. We've been introduced to a state
of favor before Him through Christ; and in Christ, it's in this state
of favor that, by being in Christ, we forever "stand"!
B. The implications of this are enormous!! Just think of how many discouraged
people there are that mistakenly believe that, though they may be made
acceptable to God on the basis of faith, they still must keep that acceptability
before God on the basis of their performance.
1. They know they could never be "good enough" to "become" loved and
accepted by God; but once saved, they still believe they've got to be
"good enough" to "stay" loved and accepted by Him. And so, they crack
the whip over themselves, pushing themselves harder and harder to be
a "better Christian" -- "better" usually being measured in terms of
"performance". They don't simply relax in the fact that they're already
made acceptable to God in Christ as they'll ever be!
2. Paul wrote to the Galatian church about this once. The Christians
in Galatia were fearful that, even though they were brought into God's
favor by His grace, they needed to keep the old Jewish ceremonies of
the Old Testament in order to stay in God's favor. Paul wrote to them
very strongly and urged them not to place themselves under those rules
and ceremonies. "Are you so foolish?", he asked them; "Having begun
by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" (Gal. 3:3).
"It was for freedom that Christ set you free," he reminded them; "therefore
keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery"
C. There is no way that you or I could ever stand before God on the
basis of "performance" -- that is, on the basis of our conformity to the
principle of Law. The Law was never meant to make us acceptable to God.
Paul said, "by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His
sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin" (Rom. 3:20). We
could never earn God's favor through obedience to the Law; and having
been brought into favor with God through the sacrifice of Jesus, we will
never be able to keep God's favor through the Law either. We stand in
a state of favor before God on the basis of Jesus' obedience to the Law
-- on the basis of His righteousness alone; and in that state, we don't
obey His commandments to become loved and accepted by Him -- rather, we
obey His commandments because we're loved by Him already, and always will
be! We've not only obtained our introduced into this grace through Christ;
but its in this grace we stand!
D. I sometimes watch my wife wrap her arms around my two boys and say,
"I love you, and I'm never going to stop." One of the blessings of justification
is just that -- God has loved us in Christ as an act of His grace; and
He's never going to stop! "For I am convinced," Paul says in Romans 8:38-39,
"that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things
present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any
other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God,
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." One of the great blessings of being
declared righteous before God by faith is that we can freely bask in His
grace! We can relax! We've already been made acceptable to Him by faith!
He's already declared us righteous; and He wont revoke His declaration!
III. HOPE IN THE GLORY OF GOD.
"... And we exult in the hope of the glory of God"
A. We weren't always in His favor. Paul describes the sinner's condition
before justification in Ephesians. In 2:1-3 he says, "And you were dead
in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to
the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the
air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among
them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the
desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath,
even as the rest." In verses 11-12, he says, "Therefore remember that
formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who were called 'Uncircumcision'
by the so-called 'Circumcision,' which is performed in the flesh by human
hands -- remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded
from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise,
having no hope and without God in the world." What a hopeless situation!
The outlook for someone in such a state is grim indeed! -- "by nature
children of wrath"; "having no hope and without God in the world" ...!
What could be worse?
B. But Paul tells us that one of the great blessings of being "justified"
-- being declared righteous before God -- is that we now have a whole
1. The prospect before us now is that of being sharers together with
Christ in His glory. The apostle John said, "Beloved, now we are children
of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that
when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as
He is" (1 John 3:2). That prospect comes from being "in Christ". Jesus
Himself prayed to the Father, "The glory which You have given Me I have
given to them, that they may be one, just as we are one; I in them and
You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may
know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me" (John
2. And what's more, this prospect of future glory in Christ is one
that is certain and sure. It's not called a "hope" because we merely
hope it will happen. Paul's meaning is that it's a "hope" in the sense
of a certain expectation; because, as he says in Romans 8:28-30, "And
we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those
who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. for
those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the
image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called,
He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified."
Do you notice that those whom God has justified will also be glorified?
That future state of glory is connected to our justification as its
final goal. Justification in Christ and the future glory of being conformed
to Christ are bundled together in a packaged deal of being "in Christ."
If one has been accomplished, the other is sure to follow.
C. I heard about an old, saintly Christian gentleman who said, "I may
not be much to look at right now; but one day, I'm goin' on parade!!"
That's true for all of us sinners who have been declared righteous before
God by faith in Christ! We "exult" -- that is, "boast in a joyful way"
-- in the hope of the glory of God!
IV. JOY IN TRIALS.
"And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations,
knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance,
proven character; and proven character, hope ..." (vv. 3-4).
A. The word here translated "tribulations" has its origin in a Greek
word that means to "squeeze" or "press" something; and so, this word is
a figure for pressing circumstances or distressing hardships.
B. This is where we really step out of the realm of abstract theology
and into the realm of practical, day to day living. If we were not in
a state of God's favor; if we were left in a condition of enmity toward
Him; it would be a very sensible thing to fear the difficult circumstances
of life. All the universe would seem to be against us; because we're not
right with the God of the universe. And one thing's for very sure: we'd
never rejoice in our tribulations unless we had absolutely gone nuts!!
1. But one of the blessings of being "justified by faith" is that
we can know for certain that, when going through a time of tribulation,
God is not punishing us. All our punishment has already gone onto Christ,
and He took our punishment for us. And what's more, His righteousness
before God was placed to our account.
2. That being true, then there's nothing left to think about our troubles
and trials but as things that our sovereign God permits to come upon
us in order to make us grow into the glorious image of Christ that He
has predestined us "in Him" to be.
C. Look at the way God uses the "pressure times" in the life of someone
that He has declared "righteous" before Him.
1. First, he says that tribulations produce "perseverance" or "patient
endurance". They produce the quality of learning to trust in God and
wait upon Him, relying upon His strength in the knowledge that He has
nothing in mind for us but our good. There is, of course, no other way
to come to a settled confidence in the sustaining grace of God this
by trusting His grace while going through tribulation.
2. He next says that perseverance produces "proven character." It
reveals what we really are inside. Someone has once said that the difficult
times of life don't make us into anything different -- they just show
us to be what we really are. If someone comes out of their trials a
bitter person, it's because, deep within, they were already bitter in
the first place -- and the circumstance simply proved their true character.
If someone comes out of their trials with a sense of confidence in God,
giving praise to Him for what He has done, it's because God developed
perseverance in them through the exercise of their faith in Him -- and
the circumstance simply proved their true character.
3. Next, proven character produces "hope". I believe that the "hope"
being produced here is meant to be understood as different from the
"hope of the glory of God" referred to in verse
4. This "hope" is the praise we'll receive from Jesus for having been
faithful to Him -- even while undergoing a time of trial; His "Well
a. The apostle Peter spoke of the heavenly inheritance God has prepared
for those He has justified; and he said, "In this you greatly rejoice,
even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed
by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious
than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be
found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of
Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and
though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice
with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome
of your faith the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1:7-9). The testing
of our faith through times of trials will have it's final product
in the day when Jesus is revealed in all His majesty as King of kings
and Lord of lords. And at that time, those trials will resound to
praise, glory and honor. He will get the praise and glory and honor;
and we will share in His joy!
b. And what's more, it's a hope that "does not disappoint", as it
says in verse 5, "because the love of God has been poured out within
our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." It's a hope
that already has a guarantee of victory to it because He already loves
us! All this, because He has declared us righteous in Christ!! Praise
the living God!!
V. CONFIDENCE IN GOD'S LOVE.
"... And hope does not disappoint, because the love
of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who
was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ
died for the ungodly. for one will hardly die for a righteous man; though
perhaps for a good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates
His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died
for us" (vv. 5-8).
A. Another blessings that come from being "justified" before God is
a confident assurance in our own experience of His great love for us.
What a wonderful thing it is to be loved by God -- but how much more wonderful
still to be confident in our knowledge of that love! We can know for certain
that all God promises to do for us, He will surely do -- because He loves
1. Just before He went to the cross for us, Jesus told His disciples
about the the depth of the relationship with God that would be brought
about afterward. He told them that, in that day, they would make requests
to the Father in His name. "... And I do not say to you that I will
request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you,
because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the
Father" (John 16:27). Later, He prayed for them, saying, "O righteous
Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You;
and these have known that you sent Me; and I have made Your name known
to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved
Me may be in them, and I in them" (17:25-26).
2. In fact, Jesus even prayed that the extent of God's great love
for us would become clearly known; "... that the world may know," He
prayed, "that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me"
(John 17:23). How can we help but gasp when we read that -- that the
Father loves us as much as He loves His own Son Jesus!! Oh, that the
fact of God's love for us would sink deeply into our hearts as a confident
B. How do I know that God loves me? I find that Paul mentions two ways.
1. First is a subjective experience -- that of the inner testimony
of the Holy Spirit. The love of God has been poured out within the hearts
of those He has justified through the Holy Spirit who was given to them.
If I may speak personally, I had this experience when I first trusted
Christ as my Savior. I felt the burden of my sins literally disappear
the moment I finally trusted Christ as my Savior; and it was as if I
felt the strong arms of God reach down from heaven and embrace me --
as if to say, "Finally; we're at peace! Oh; how I love you!!" That was,
I believe, the Holy Spirit testifying to the Father's love for me in
Christ. I have felt that affirmation of love again and again ever since
that first day. It has only grown deeper and deeper within me as a settled
2. But how do I know that I'm not just psyching myself up? How do
I know that this subjective experience of the love of God is a true
one? What objectively can I point to to validate it? This is the second
way Paul mentions that I know God's love for me -- it's because of what
Jesus did for me as an objective fact of history to demonstrate that
love. He died for me. "Greater love has no one than this," Jesus said,
"that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).
a. Look at the demonstration of that love. Paul says that, while
we were still sinners -- while we were still in a state of enmity
against God -- at the right time, two-thousand years ago -- "Christ
died for the ungodly."
b. And look also at the extent of that love. Paul makes the concession
that there might be some people who would be so daring as even to
lay down their lives for a good and worthy person. But God's love
was proven to reach much further and much deeper. He demonstrated
His own love's extent by the fact that, while we were still sinners
-- far from worthy; being His enemies -- Christ, the sinless Son of
God, died for us.
C. Love that would reach down this far for us is a love that is undeserved.
There's nothing we could ever do to make ourselves lovely enough to the
Son of God to move Him to leave the glory of His heavenly throne and die
for deplorable sinners like us. There's no other way to explain such a
sacrifice; He gave His life for us because He loved us first! And if He
first loved us when we were His sinful enemies, He will never take His
love from us now that we are his own children -- declared "righteous"
in His sight. "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over
for us all, how will He not with Him freely give us all things" (Rom.
8:32)? This is yet another blessing of being declared "righteous" in His
sight -- the certain knowledge of His love for us.
VI. SALVATION FROM GOD'S WRATH.
"Much more then, having now been justified by His
blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while
we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son,
much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (vv.
A. Paul begins this next blessing of justification with the words "much
more then ..."; showing that this is related to what he has just said
about the love of God as an argument from the greater to the lessor. If
He so loved us when we were still sinners -- which is the far greater
thing; then now that we've been declared righteous by Him out of His love
for us, He will surely spare us from His wrath against sin -- which is
the lessor thing.
B. This is a sobering point in our examination of this passage. So far,
we've talked about the grace of God toward sinners who receive that grace
by faith, in that He declares them "righteous". But we find that just
as God is gracious and ready to forgive; He is also just and is fully
prepared to pour out His wrath on sinners that will not receive His merciful
offer, but who continue to defiantly rebel against Him.
1. He declares His own character to Moses in this way: "The LORD,
the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding
in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands,
who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means
leave the guilty upunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the
children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations"
2. This gives us cause to stop and remember that while He is always
and ever ready to forgive any sinner that cries out to Him, "God, be
merciful to me, the sinner!"; He still remains a holy God and will not
put up with sin. To those who will not turn from their sins and receive
His gracious offer of "justification by faith", there remains this warning
of His wrath.
C. Again, let me speak personally. Before I placed my trust in the sacrifice
of Jesus on the cross, I felt very strongly that threat of wrath. I knew
for certain that I was in a state of enmity before God; and I spent most
of one whole year suffering from a dreadful fear of death; knowing that
I was a sinner doomed to hell. But when I trusted Christ, God declared
me "justified" in His sight. Immediately, that awful dread of hell was
gone. I can honestly testify that, in all my years of knowing Christ,
I have never again feared the wrath of God. Hell has been the furthest
thing from my mind; and I spend most of my time now day-dreaming about
the glories of the heavenly home Jesus is preparing for me, and of my
inexpressible joy at finally seeing the face of the Savior who loved me
and made it all possible. Salvation from the wrath of God is one of the
blessings of being justified in His sight.
VII. EXALTATION IN GOD HIMSELF.
"And not only this, but we also exult in God through
our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation"
A. Paul, it seems to me, has saved the best for last. Not only do we
exult in all these wonderful blessings from God that come from our being
reconciled to Him through justification, but we exult, most of all, in
the very One to whom we've been reconciled. Peace with God results in
an exultation in God Himself!
1. The Bible tells us that one of the great reasons God saves us from
our sins is so that we would eternally give praise to Him. Peter says,
"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people
for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies
of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
for once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you
had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy" (1 Peter 2:9-10).
He saves us for the very purpose that we might "exult in God through
our Lord Jesus Christ."
2. But there's another sense in which one of the blessings of justification
is that we might exult in Him. Jesus saved us from our sins so that
we might enjoy an experience of eternal, ever-satisfying, ever-thrilling,
ever-expanding fellowship with Him personally. Jesus prayed before going
to the cross for us, "Father, I desire that they also, whom You have
given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which
You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world"
(John 17:24). He wants us to be with Him and to behold His glory!! On
that same night, He told His disciples, "In My Father's house are many
dwelling places; If it were not so, I would have told you; for I go
to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will
come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may
be also" (John 14:2-3). To my mind, one of the most beautiful pictures
of the fellowship justified sinners like us will enjoy with Jesus in
heaven is found in Revelation 7:15-17; "... they serve Him day and night
in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle
over them. They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will
the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb in the center
of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs
of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes."
B. Of all the blessings that come from being declared "righteous" by
God, this is, by far, the most wonderful. We will exult in the very Person
of God through the One who made it all possible by His death for us. We
will be forever with the One who loved us and gave Himself for us.
A. I remember hearing about a believer who was once approached by a
member of a cult. This cult member was attempting to persuade this believer
to become a member. The Christian responded, however, in a surprising
way. He laid a challenge down before the cult member by saying, "Friend,
I have placed my trust in Jesus Christ -- the Son of God, who loved me
and gave Himself for me. Because of my faith in Him, God has already granted
to me "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Eph.
1:3). That's a whole lot! Now; if you think you've got something better
than that, tell me about it. I'd be very curious to know what in the world
it could possibly be!" Of course, the cult member had nothing to offer
that could beat what the believer already had.
B. I hope that, now that you know the rich blessings that come from
being justified through faith in Jesus' sacrifice -- peace with God, a
standing of grace before God, the sure hope of the glory of God, joy over
God's work through our troubles, confidence in God's eternal love, salvation
from the wrath to come, and exultation in the very Person of God Himself!
-- you'd know, too, that there isn't anything better than that the blessings
that come from being "justified" in God's sight.
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