Brethren With Arms Elbow Deep in Calvinism (III):
In my previous articles I have discussed “Grace and Law” and “Faith Versus Works.” Now I shall show, in this last article, how the things mentioned serve to bring God and man together, showing the part each has in man’s “justification.” The teaching of some brethren on this worries me in many ways. For instance: (1) “. . . that it is bestowed, not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through faith in Christ; by means of which faith His perfect righteousness is freely imputed to us by God . . . .” (The Standard Manual For Baptist Churches, by Edward T. Hiscox on “Justification,” page 62.) This is pure Baptist Doctrine. It is wrong to assume that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to man without effort on man’s part. (2) Men do not realize the danger in getting off on these tangents, for when they decide they are wrong and will admit it, some of their converts that are more militant and radical will not change. There is also the danger when the champion of a cause defects and admits he was wrong that those who had faith in him may become disillusioned and quit altogether. Brethren, I plead with you to return ‘to the Scriptures before the damage is irreparable.
“Justification” is defined by Webster as: “Act of justifying or state of being justified: vindication; A being accepted by or made acceptable to God, as righteous or worthy of salvation.” In Vine’s Expository Dictionary of N.T Words we read the following: “Justification,” “a noun from Gr. dikaiosis, denoting the act of pronouncing righteous, justification, acquittal: it’s precise meaning is determined by the verb dikaioo (justify) meaning primarily, to deem to be right, signifies in the N.T. (B) To be righteous, to pronounce righteous.” (pages 284, 285, Vol. 2) Many make the mistake of making “justification” synonymous with eternal life. However, eternal life is a result of “justification” rather than being a part of it. Hear Paul on the matter, “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7). The only way we have eternal life is in promise. (cf. Mark 10:29-30, “. . . he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time;” “. . . and in the world to come eternal life.”)
I believe all can agree that we are “justified by Christ” which is the same as to say we are “justified in Christ.” Paul affirms, “there is therefore now no condemnation in Christ Jesus . . . .” “. . . the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:12). It is utterly impossible to separate Jesus from “justification.” Yet many today take one part of “justification,” build a fence around it, and ignore other passages. It is my purpose to pay due respect to all essentials active in our “justification.”
Four Essentials Of Justification
1. Grace: Rom. 3:21-24. In the context we see that “justification” is apart from the law of Moses or ourselves. Note especially verse 24, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Also, “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)” (Eph. 2:5).
2. Blood: Rom. 5:9-10. Notice the contrast in verse 9 of “now”and “shall be.””. . . being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” From this we again see that “justification” is one thing anal salvation from wrath, or eternal life, is another. We also read, “. . . we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son . . .” (vs. 10). His blood required His death.
3. Faith: Rom. 4:18-25. Of this faith Paul said, “. . . if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification” (Verses 24, 25). In Rom. 5:1 we read, “Therefore being justified by faith . . . .” Likewise in Gal. 3:26, “For ye are all the children (K.J.), sons (A.S.) of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”
4. Works: Jas. 2:24, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” Jas. 2:21-23 tells of Abraham being justified by works, and verse 25, of Rahab.
The question now arises, “Are there four different ways of obtaining `justification,’ or are the four essentials mentioned above a part of the whole?”
On “justification” by grace we read the following, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11-12). From this we learn that grace brings us righteous instruction from God on how to obtain salvation. From Rom. 1:16-17 we find from Paul that in the gospel are the instructions given by the grace of God. Leaving the elders of Ephesus, Paul said, “And now, brethren, I commend you to God and the word of his grace . . .” (Acts 20:32). God’s grace has given us through His favor and love, all that is, “. . . profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished (adequate, equipped) unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The parenthesis is taken from NASB. Peter proclaimed,
. . . His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness . . . .” (2 Pet. 1:3).
Grace is the divine part given by God.
On “justification” by blood Paul wrote, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past . . . .” “. . . that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:24-26). Christ by His blood made a propitiation (from the Gr. hilasterion, a noun, meaning appeasement, that which satisfies the demands of justice – Vines, page 224, Vol. 3). The phrase “by His blood” is to be taken in immediate connection with “propitiation.” In that the blood was shed for us freely after His death we shall again see that the blood used in our “justification” is by the divine power, not human. It is interesting to notice here that in Rom. 3:24-25, grace, blood and faith are all mentioned.
On “justification” by faith the Hebrew writer tells us, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6). Heb. 11 is recognized by all Bible students to be the chapter on faith. Paul joined grace and faith together when he penned, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not by works lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). We shall deal with works shortly, so let us at this time keep our attention on grace and faith by again hearing Paul, “By whom also we have access by faith into his grace . . .” (Rom. 5:2). “Access” is from the Gr. prosagoge, Lit., a leading or bringing into the presence of (pros-to, ago-to lead), denotes access, with which is associated the thought of freedom to enter through the assistance or favor of another. (Vines, page 21, Vol. 1). In our passage the door (access) is faith to get into the grace of God. Faith is an act of the human toward “justification.” Paul said, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).
On “justification,” we now turn to that which is least accepted by men and give our thoughts to works. From my previous articles, we have shown that in the Bible there are different kinds of works. The works of man that he might think would earn his salvation, and the works of God to which through our obedience we can have salvation. There is at this time much controversy among sectarians and some brethren over works, but the works I am speaking of in this article involves a doing of all that God commands. The confusion arises through their effort to pit the works mentioned by Paul and the works mentioned by James. The passages being Rom. 4:3-5 and Jas. 2:21-23. It is a strange thing that those who advocate from the passage in Romans ‘that Abraham was “justified by faith” and not works (while James states the kind of works that save and couples them with faith) do not read a little further in Rom. 4:12 and see how one can be “justified” like Abraham. Paul affirms in this passage that one must walk in the steps of the faith of Abraham. What were these steps? They are mentioned in Gen. 12, 15, 17, 22, the last thing he did being the offering of his son. God then and never before then, called him His friend. James said the same in Jas. 2:21-23, that Abraham was “justified” when he offered Isaac on the altar, the last thing he was commanded to do, and that it was by works. So we likewise are “justified” by the same faith as Abraham when we have done the last thing we are commanded to do to obtain pardon. Then and only then shall we be saved by God, that is, as God’s works are manifested in our lives by our obedience to His commands. Works are important and, like faith, make up the human part of “justification.”
Which of these four essentials can we set apart and refuse to accept and be “justified” by God? Picture man, if you will, as being separated from God by sins and iniquities. (Isa. 59:1-2). “How can man be reconciled with and justified by God?” The answer is simple. On God’s part, grace and blood; on man’s part, faith and- works. It is an intriguing, fascinating thing to see God and man working together to bring about “justification” by grace through faith. One act of man in bringing him in contact with the blood of Christ is baptism. “. . . that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death” (Rom. 6:3). Rom. 6:4-5 carries the same thought. Why is baptism into His death of importance? This is where the blood is contacted, for it was after death that the blood of Christ was shed, “But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (John 19:33-34). If the blood is not contacted in baptism, “How do we contact it?” We have noticed also in this article faith and works complementing each other. In Jas. 2:17-26 it is stated time and again. The reader might like to mull over another thought as we close: works are always plural, not singular, establishing the truth that man does more than the work, singular, of faith of John 6:28-29.
If we are not “justified,” it is not God’s fault. He supplied grace and the blood; therefore, the fault would lie in man’s not accepting his responsibility to manifest in his life faith and works. Without faith and works, the grace of God and the blood of Christ have been in vain