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Justified by faith

Query for the Month

of

August 2009

Next up-date: September 1st 2009 (God willing).

Previous "Queries" are available. Click here to access.

Some perpetual questions ....

Is there really an immortal soul?

Do you know the difference between the "love" that is of Christianity
and the "love" that is of the world?
Click here to find out!
 

Click on the link for a good book on the character of our God which you can download for free and share amongst your friends.   It's called "Light through Darkness" and is one of the best books on this subject that I have ever read! 

(when you get to the site just click "cancel" and it will let you in.  Then click "order" to obtain a copy. )

In the meantime, try this site.   

And here's one where you can read it online.

 

Here's another great site on the character of God written in a way that's very easy to understand.


Some of the comments on this page are adapted from books in my library.  No recognition is given because they are not intended as authorities, but are used because they express my understanding clearly.

Query:               

A big question this month!!!

Romans 2:

12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13 (for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law to themselves: 15 which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) 16 in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.   

Romans 3:

19 Now we know that what things soever the law said, it said to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ to all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus . . . 27 Where is boasting then?  It is excluded.  By what law?  Of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. 

29 Is He the God of the Jews only?  Is He not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: 30 seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.   

 Why does Paul say that the "doers" will be justified in one place, and yet in another place say, "without the deeds of the law"?

Answer:

Let’s repeat the enquiry scripture, adding a few words of explanation and emphasis as Philip did for the eunuch in the chariot.  “And Philip ran there to him, and heard him read the prophet Isaiah, and said, ‘Understand you what you read?’ And he said, ‘How can I, except some man should guide me?’ And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him”.  Acts 8:30-31.

The first quote:

Romans 2:

12 For as many as have sinned without law [i.e. the knowledge of the law of God] shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in [the knowledge of] the law shall be judged by the law; 13 (for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by [their new] nature the things contained in the law, these, having not [the knowledge of] the law, are a law to themselves [i.e. they live by the “golden rule”]: 15 which show the work [the principles] of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) 16 in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.   

 [By the law is the knowledge of God’s character,

     for it is a transcription of His behaviour.]

The second quote:

Romans 3:

19 Now we know that what things soever the law says, it says to them who are under the law [and that’s everybody]: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty [of rebellion] before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is [only] the knowledge of sin.

21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested [in Christ], being witnessed by the law and the prophets [through symbols and prophecies];  22 even the righteousness of God which is [obtained] by faith of [from] Jesus Christ to all and upon all them that believe [in His power]: for there is no difference: 23 for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [but acceptors are now] 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus . . . 27 Where is boasting then?  It is excluded.  By what law?  Of works?  Nay: but by the law of faith.                

28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. [He/she is then restored to the Father/son-daughter relationship.] 

29 Is He the God of the Jews only?  Is He not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: 30 seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith [also]31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

Where two things in the Bible appear to be contradicting each other, then they are either two different things which are called by the same name, or they are meant to apply at different times.  Which do we have here?  One word which applies at two different times – and that word is, “justified”.  It means “just as if you have not sinned”. 

As far as the first statement is concerned it is about doing that which is right and proper in the light of the person’s knowledge, using the power of God.  We are told in the Scriptures, “to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin”.  James 4:17.  So lack of doing is not held against him who does not know, but it is against he or she who refrains from doing when they know what they should and can, do.  It’s all in the conscious mind.

Then we are told that there are some persons outside the details of the knowledge who do what is right anyhow because it is written in their hearts (but not in their conscious minds), and they are classed as if they were in the knowledge of the law, so all are judged by the same standard. 

Why do we need the knowledge?  And what is it? 

Jesus said, “And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be”, so He has told us of the standard and the result of the judgment.  Revelation 22:12.

That we may be prepared for the judgment, there is a message in the Bible which commands us to “fear God, and give glory to Him; FOR THE HOUR OF HIS JUDGMENT IS COME: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters”, the Creator.  Revelation 14:7.  The result of an acceptance of this and the following two messages is given in the words, “Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and [or, because they have] the faith OF [not in] Jesus”.  Verse 12. 

Therefore, in order to be prepared for our judgment, it is necessary that we should keep the law of God (the Ten Commandments) in our hearts, or better yet, in our hearts AND in our hands, for that law is the standard of character in the judgment, and actions show the character easily.  The apostle Paul declares, “As many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law .  .  .  in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ”.  Romans 2:12, 16.   And, as we have read, he says that it is “the doers of the law [through faith, who] shall be justified”. 

Faith in the power of God is essential in order to the keeping of the law of God; for “without faith it is impossible to please Him”.  And “whatsoever is not of faith is sin”.  Hebrews 11:6; Romans 14:23.  (Where do we get faith?)

It’s not the law which is in question here, but the justification which Paul writes about, and its timing.

And that is based on “knowledge”, which must be recognized. 

So where does that knowledge come from?

It is written in another place,

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved [justified].  How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach, except they be sent?  As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!’ [Isaiah 52:7]  But they [the hearers] have not all obeyed the gospel, for Isaiah says, ‘LORD, who has believed our report?’ [Isaiah 53:1]  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.   But I say, ‘Have they not heard?’ Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world”.   Romans 10:13-18. 

Whose sound?  The preachers?  Have they been to ALL the world and ALL who have lived in it?  No.  But the message is carried by both the preachers and the created world, as Paul had mentioned earlier in his letter.  Between them they have told the truth to all the world.  It is written of the Son of God that He is “the true Light, which lights EVERY man [and woman] that comes into the world”. John 1:9.  

Paul had written:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness [i.e. turn from it]; because that which may be known of God is manifest in [to] them; for God has showed it to them.  For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: because that, when they knew God [through His works], they glorified Him not as God [their Creator and Upholder], neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man [one like themselves], and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things [and worshipped them]”.  Romans 1:18-23.

So there is a knowledge which leads to faith in a Person, and that faith leads to the acceptance of the gift of salvation which brings us into a state of spiritual “sinlessness” with God (just as if we had not sinned).  For example, it is written;

.  .  .  He raised up to them David to be their king; to whom also He gave testimony, and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, which shall fulfil all My will’.”  Acts 13:22.   And again, “David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that He commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite [a worldly thing]”.  1 Kings 15:5.

Lateral thought:

At the moment we are “justified” the relationship of Father/son (or daughter) is established.

The knowledge that creates faith is first and foremost in the Scriptures, and what we are being told is that he (or she) who has access to a Bible will be judged by that word, while he (or she) that does not have the written word, but listens to the Spirit’s promptings, will be judged by what knowledge from the creation round about them He can write in their hearts regarding the Creator and Sustainer.  

For instance:

“The centurion answered and said, ‘LORD, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof [to heal my servant]: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.  For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, “Go”, and he goes; and to another, “Come”, and he comes; and to my servant, “Do this”, and he does it’. When Jesus heard it, He marvelled, and said to them that followed, ‘Verily I say to you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel’.”  Matthew 8:8-10.  

Thus we have:  “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law” which means that those who have refused to learn about God from nature (for this knowledge is “clearly seen”) will be lost BY THAT REJECTION, (those who have learned and accepted will be saved), while those who “have sinned IN the law shall be judged by the law”, for that is right and proper. 

Using an earthly situation, Jesus showed the reasonableness of what He is doing right now in the judgment.  He said, “And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.  But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes.  For to whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more”.  Luke 12:47-48.

However, this illustration presupposes that the servants are part of the household. 

In other words, the servants are pictures of those who have been “justified” into the kingdom of heaven.  They are no longer of the world, but in the family of God, for “justified” has two applications.  (The “servants” have become “sons” [or daughters] as in the parable of the prodigal son.  See Luke 15:18-19, 21-24.)

We are “justified” (made just as if we had not sinned) when we first come to the LORD in repentance asking for forgiveness and cleansing from our entire PAST life.  Then this past life is “crucified” [put to death] with Him, and the person is resurrected to a new one by an EXCHANGE of lives.  Romans 6:6; 5.  So great is this change in the individual that it is called a “new” beginning, a “new” birth with a new Parent, sometimes referred to erroneously as “righteousness by faith”, but it is really JUSTIFICATION by faith. 

It is true that the “sinner” who becomes a “saint” through the exchange of lives has IMPUTED to him or her the full measure of Christ’s righteousness at that time, and therefore in a sense it could be called, “righteousNESS by faith”, but to be “righteous” by faith really means to DO righteous actions by faith in God’s promises, and that can only FOLLOW the new birth.  It is plainly written, “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that does righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous”, for we DO it IN His righteousness.  1 John 3:7.   We are told:

Psalm 106:3

Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that does righteousness at all times.   

1 John 2:29

If you know that He is righteous, you know that every one that does righteousness is born of Him.   

1 John 3:10

In this the children of God are manifest [clearly seen], and the children of the devil: whosoever does not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loves not his brother.   

From the moment of rebirth on, our LORD “gives us the victory” over every temptation.  1 Corinthians 15:57.  The righteousness by which we do this is called “imparted” righteousness, for we can now USE it in place of our own efforts.  He has promised, “There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it”.   1 Corinthians 10:13.

But what happens when we ignore or neglect His “way to escape” and choose to commit a wrongdoing?  (We can’t use the excuse, “I couldn’t help it”, for He offers us a way out every time!  To sin as Christians we must reject Him and endeavour to overcome in our own strength.)

Fortunately for us, we are also “justified” (made just as if we had not sinned) when we as “servants/sons” come to Him in repentance and ask for forgiveness and cleansing from ONE (or more) actions of sin committed AFTER entering His service, our PRESENT life.

We are told, “If we [as Christians] confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.  1 John 1:9.  And this forgiveness and cleansing applies at both times, giving us the substance of the first “cleansing” from the old life, and the subsequent “cleansings” during the new life.  Thus the Father/son relationship is restored and maintained.

Conclusion:

In the Bible, the word “justified”, which means “just as if we had not sinned”, is used at two different times for an individual.  In the second text of the query, we come to the words, Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” for we can do nothing about what we have been, and done, since physical birth.  We need a whole new life and this is given freely by our Saviour.

But we also need to keep that new life clean!  Thus it is written:

Psalm 106:3

Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that does righteousness at all times.   

1 John 2:29

If you know that He is righteous, you know that every one that does righteousness is born of Him.   

1 John 3:10

In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever does not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loves not his brother.   

So when we are “born again”, we need to be “doers” and not just “hearers” of our LORD’s desires, and therefore come under the statement which is in the first text, “not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified”.  A simple matter of reading the statements in the right order gives us the truth, and the power. 

 


Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated, but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.

Next query. To be discussed from September 1st, 2009.

Revelation 7:

1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind [of strife] should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.

2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3 saying, “Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads”.

4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed a hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.   

Who are these people and why should they be sealed before the winds of strife are let loose?

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