Tuesday: The Basis of Our Justification
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“And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Phil. 3:9, NKJV).

Christ Our Intercessor Harry Anderson painting

Harry Anderson painting © Review & Herald Publishing from GoodSalt.com

We should not assume Jewish Christians were suggesting that faith in Christ was not important; after all, they were all believers in Jesus. They all had faith in Him. Their behavior showed, however, that they felt faith was not sufficient by itself; it must be supplemented with obedience, as if our obedience adds something to the act of justification itself. Justification, they would have argued, was by both faith and works. The way that Paul repeatedly contrasts faith in Christ with the works of the law indicates his strong opposition to this kind of “both and” approach. Faith, and faith alone, is the basis of justification.

For Paul, too, faith is not just an abstract concept; it is inseparably connected to Jesus. In fact, the phrase translated twice as “faith in Christ” in Galatians 2:16 is far richer than any translation can really encompass. The phrase in Greek is translated literally as “the faith” or “the faithfulness” of Jesus. This literal translation reveals the powerful contrast Paul is making between the works of the law that we do and the work of Christ accomplished in our behalf, the works that He, through His faithfulness (hence, the “faithfulness of Jesus”), has done for us.

It’s important to remember that faith itself doesn’t add to justification, as if faith were meritorious in and of itself. Faith is, instead, the means by which we take hold of Christ and His works in our behalf. We are not justified on the basis of our faith but on the basis of Christ’s faithfulness for us, which we claim for ourselves through faith.

Christ did what every individual has failed to do, and that is: He alone was faithful to God in everything He did. Our hope is in Christ’s faithfulness, not our own. This is the great and important truth that, among others, ignited the Protestant Reformation, a truth that remains as crucial today as it was when Martin Luther began preaching it centuries ago.

An early Syriac translation of Galatians 2:16 conveys Paul’s meaning well: “Therefore we know that a man is not justified from the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus the Messiah, and we believe in [H]im, in Jesus the Messiah, that from [H]is faith, that of the Messiah, we might be justified, and not from the works of the law.”

Read Romans 3:22; Romans 3:26; Galatians 3:22; Ephesians 3:12; and Philippians 3:9. How do these texts, and what we read above, help us understand the amazing truth that Christ’s faithfulness for us, His perfect obedience to God, is the only basis of our salvation?
Amen!(33)

Comments

Tuesday: The Basis of Our Justification — 11 Comments

  1. The bible present two types of Faith. A living Faith and bad Faith.
    Living Faith
    "The definition of this faith in Jesus Christ may be described in few words: It is the act of the soul by which the whole man is given over to the guardianship and control of Jesus Christ". 1888 495.3.

    The bad Faith.
    In the book of Revelation a letter is written to the church that has bad Faith and Christ promises to spue her out of His mouth because she is neither hot nor cold. Bad Faith is worse than no faith because it confuses both good and no faith. He says of the such "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:" Rev 3:17.

    A living faith is that which embraces Him as a personal Saviour; which appropriates His merits to ourselves. Paul identifies this type of faith as that which comes from Christ "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ . . ." Gal 2:16. It is the Faith of Jesus Christ. The only one who lived a just and perfect life. His type of life is the only one that can justify us. It is a gift of grace. Ellen White explains it this way "A living faith means an increase of vigor, a confiding trust, by which the soul becomes a conquering power . . .".DA 347.1

    Justification is not from just believing." We read that the devils “believe, and tremble,” but their belief does not bring them justification, neither will the belief of those who give a merely intellectual assent to the truths of the Bible bring them the benefits of salvation. This belief fails of reaching the vital point, for the truth does not engage the heart or transform the character". 3SM 191.4

    The Faith that justifies is the faith that depends and trusts fully in Christ for salvation, and that will lead to perfect conformity to the law of God. It leads to true conversion and transformation of life, character, mind and spirit. Our lives, ourselves, all become His; This faith acknowledges His ownership and righteousness. Paul says "Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: . . . To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" Rom 4: 22 & 26. His righteousness is imputed on them.

    Misconceptions about Faith.
    Through faith we receive the grace of God, but faith is not our Savior.It earns nothing. It is the hand by which we lay hold upon Christ and appropriate His merits says Ellen White. Even the Lord himself did say “Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter in the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Profession is not good enough we must live it. Only the Faith that works justifies. James presents a true Christian as having Faith and works evenly balanced.

     The faith that lead man to salvation is not a mere assent to the truth of the gospel. It is total surrender of self. Taking up His cross [victory over the power of sin : conqueror] and live it. Genuine faith; must have a rock solid foundation; founded upon the Word of God[Jesus Christ]. "Faith in a lie will not have a sanctifying influence upon the life or character. No error is truth, or can be made truth by repetition, or by faith in it. Sincerity will never save a soul from the consequences of believing an error". 2SM 56.1

    Amen!(11)
  2. Great is thy faithfulness

    Christ alone is the overcomer
    Christ alone is victorious
    Christ alone is faithful

    The basis of our justification
    Christ alone.

    Our religion is not the do's and don't.
    Our religion is not how well I measure up to the truth of other denominations or other Christians.

    Be ye Holy as I am Holy
    This is the standard. That is the measurement.

    Be found in Him
    Only Christ, He alone meets the standard

    Sanctification is so important to God, He does not trust me to do ANY of it.

    Abide in Him.
    Be still and know that I am God.

    Unless we learn to be still, we will never ever receive the fulness of the sanctification in Christ.

    Amen!(10)
  3. I'm glad to read something I have never thought of, "We are not justified on the basis of our faith but on the basis of Christ’s faithfulness for us"...
    He really had to love us first! He really had to believe that, if not all, at least some could understand His love for humanity! He could simply had thought of destroying the fallen Adam and Eve and of making new and perfect creatures again! But He loved us first!

    Love is really the only thing that can unite us back to purity and eternity!

    Love is the only thing that can really save us!

    Amen!(17)
  4. I have recently had some discussion with a linguist friend of mine on the "Faith in Jesus" vs the "Faith of Jesus" notion. Without going into all the details, the "Faith of Jesus" is the more grammatically correct translation of the original. He went on to say that the "Faith in Jesus" notion leaves us with the impression that we have to work on our faith to improve it. That is essentially a twist on salvation by works.

    Eph 2:8,9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

    Amen!(11)
  5. Thank you for sharing.
    That it was Christ’s love and faithfulness first. His faith in the Father, in the Holy Trinity and the salvation plan for mankind that was to be fulfilled only through Him. His works of salvation on the cross of Calvary manifesting His faithfulness and love to sinful humanity.
    If my mortal best will always fall short of the Righteousness & Glory of God, then I accept that it cannot be my faith alone, but Christ’s everlasting faithfulness in which “my faith has found a resting place” which saves and completes me.

    Hebrews 12:2New King James Version (NKJV)
    2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

    Amen!(3)
  6. I feel that we are still missing the author's point.

    Today's lesson says two important things: 'Faith, and faith alone, is the basis of justification. For Paul, too, faith is not just an abstract concept; it is "inseparably connected" to Jesus.' and 'Christ did what every individual has failed to do, and that is: He alone was faithful to God in everything He did.'

    What the author of our lesson is saying, Jesus did what no other man has, He was faithful to God in everything He did. "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. (Psalms 40:8) Jesus, David, the prophets delight to do God's will, or to spread God's word, because they have/had a Love relationship with God. That word "delight" means that they found joy in obeying God's commands, or that it was very important for them to do God's work, it was not a burden.

    Jesus said "I and my Father are one, John 10:30", "...but I honour my Father...,John 8:49". Throughout Jesus entire life, His will was to do the will of His Father; He was never going to do anything to dishonor His Father. This is the same faithfulness to Jesus we must have; the freewill desire to do Jesus' will. Instead of keeping the commandments because someone told us this is what Christians should do; our desire will be to obey God's commandments because we do not want to dishonor Jesus.

    It's similar to a child that goes to school every day, and his parents tell him to "Be good in school today". He obeys his parents because he doesn't want his parents to be disappointed if his behavior is not good; he doesn't want to dishonor his parents. However, sometimes frustration and/or peer pressure may cause the child to stumble and forget his parents' commands. What will happen then? His parents still love him, and hopefully the child will repent from his behavior, and not do it again.

    Is any of this making sense?

    Bottomline, we obey God's commandments because we Love Him, not because we want to be saved!!

    Amen!(8)
    • Your last line is essentially the key to the whole thing. I hear far too much talk about being saved means we are going to heaven, when really being saved means loving Jesus now. I am not saying heaven does not exist, but we often have a very selfish attitude towards being saved. Salvation is not a retirement plan, it is a living-now plan.

      Amen!(3)

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