Episode 19: Justification by Faith

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.-Romans 5:1

Sermon text
This week’s song: My Soul Thirsts by The Loverlies

I was excited to read this sermon for two reasons.  Firstly, I am going to be teaching on this in two weeks as a part of a group in my church that is going through Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. (By the way, anyone who would be interested in joining us, we meet Saturdays at 9:30 am at the West Oak Coffee Bar on the Square in Denton, TX.)  This subject is near and dear to me, as I believe it should be to all believers: Paul spends so long setting out his case for this truth because it must be understood in light of both the gravity of man’s sinfulness, as well as the great mercy being shown by God and the love with which He gives it.

Knowing this is true, is what broke me of so many years of pride and selfishness, and the Holy Spirit used the teaching of this truth to turn me from loving my sin to hating it.  I pray that I love God more every day for this simple fact among so many: that I, a man who was guilty of so much sin, so many ways I had wronged both God and others around me, could find forgiveness at the cross and life in the resurrection.

I was also excited to read it because it is a central truth in my ongoing response to Dr. Ken Boa’s paper that I’ve been posting on the blog.  I’ve got 3 parts up, but the part I’m currently writing is taking a while to complete and I want to make sure that I treat this with full fairness and with an eye to exegeting the text faithfully in response to what I see to be arguments seriously deficient in their approach to Scripture.  I won’t rehash everything here, but suffice it to say: our responsibility before God in the face of His sovereignty is no mystery, but is a function of our nature as creatures who will stand before our Creator and give account to what we’ve done with His gifts.

Truly, what he says in this sermon is true: I desire, and I think all believers should desire, to know this truth as an innermost part of our beings.  It should drive the way we live, the way we work, the way we love God and love the people around us.  And it should define that very word: love.  We, most unlovable creatures, rebelling against God and pursuing everything that is hateful to Him, spitting in His face even as we breathe His air and eat His food He gave us, absolutely worthy of condemnation.  And yet, even as we lived in sin and loved it, He sent His Son to die and pay the penalty for sin for all His people.

But here’s the important reality: no matter how heartfelt I or Charles Spurgeon can be, nothing can move the heart of the person dead in their sin except the Holy Spirit.  If you have actually made your way to the end of this podcast as an unbeliever and find yourself unmoved, it is you that I pray for most of all, because you are in the greatest danger.  God’s people will stand before Him justified by faith, and there is no one who has engaged in sin so great that the blood of Christ is not enough to cover it.  But to use one of my favorite phrases from an early episode: God justifies the ungodly.  He does not justify the self-righteous.  Those who would stand on their self-righteousness, who would do life apart from the only real source of life, will reap exactly what that sort of living does: death, real and eternal.

So my prayer, then, is that God would be glorified, and that hearts would be broken for Him.  Mine was, by His mercy, so that I could tell you this now, and I pray earnestly that this world full of darkness and hard hearts would be blown open by the power of the Holy Spirit touching one heart at a time.  God is love, and we should run to that love.

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