BEING JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE THROUGH THE REDEMPTION THAT
IS IN CHRIST JESUS. (Romans 3:24 KJV)
In 1959, the great expository preacher, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, preached a series of sermons in London in celebration of the Welsh revival of 1859, and the revival in America of 1857. The fundamental thesis and the verse on which he based the sermons was found in Acts Chapter 6, verse 2, where we find that after a dispute had arisen among the disciples and there were complaints being made by the Greeks because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution in favor of the Hebrew widows, and at that juncture the apostles declared to all, “It is not reason that we should leave the Word of God, and serve tables." (Acts 6:2 KJV). They saw, and so stated, that the only, first, and primary duty of the Christian minister is to preach the Word of God. Indeed, as Peter, James, and John were on the Mount of Transfiguration, along with Elijah, and Moses, talking with the Lord Jesus Christ “.... a bright cloud overshadowed them: and they heard a voice out of the cloud, which said, `This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him’." (Matthew 17:5) Thus, the Word of God tells us that it is the duty of every Christian minister to preach the Word of God, to preach Christ crucified that the people may “hear Him!"
The 1859 Welsh revival and revival in America of 1857, as all revivals, involved first a wholehearted commitment of the people and giving of themselves to prayer and seeking the
face of the Lord our God. The United States of America is in desperate need of a revival today!
Governing bodies across America deny that which is found in Romans 3:10-18:
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10 - 18 KJV)
What an indictment! “There is none righteous, no, not one...”. (Romans 3:10b) And then there is this, “There is no fear of God before their eyes”. (Romans 3:18) These are dreadful,wicked, sins. There are other dreadful, wicked, sins that are rampant in America today which we see in Romans 1:18 -32. This description of the fact that the wrath of God is already revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness ought to put the fear of God in every heart! However, what we see just stated is that in Romans 3 ,verse 18 ,the Word of God states, “There is no fear of God before their eyes". What is it that ought to put the fear of God in their eyes and before their eyes?
Well, here it is:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto 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, they glorified him not as God, 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, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Romans 1:18-32)
Can anyone dispute that there is a desperate need of revival in America today? Do you know that there have been more people estimated to have been killed in America since 1973, than those that have been killed in all of the wars in which America has ever fought? Indeed, there have been more people killed in America alone since 1973, than the 52 million people killed from all nations in World War II! The only difference is these people were not killed in war. These people were babies, in their mother's womb, killed because their mothers did not want them! Can it be disputed that there is “no fear of God in their eyes?” The great Apostle Paul was a zealous prosecutor of the church in the first century. Indeed, he describes himself in the 3rd chapter of Philippians in the following manner:
“Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” (Philippians 3:4 - 6 KJV)
The great Apostle goes on to state in the 3rd chapter of Philippians, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ", ( verse 7). In his first letter to Timothy, he describes himself as being chief of sinners! (1 Timothy 1:15 -16 KJV) Indeed, in first Timothy, Paul states that he has “obtained mercy that in him first the Lord Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering as a pattern unto those who would later come after him”. The significance of this is that there is, therefore, real hope for anyone who repents from their sin and puts their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone as their only hope of salvation. This is the only hope for every sinner and the only hope for America, and the basis for any potential revival! A brief look at the desperate need of revival in America and Paul's description of what occurred to him as a result of having met the Lord Jesus Christ, I hope, will sincerely help us all to pray for revival in America; to pray for all of our family who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ; to pray for ourselves that we too would be revived.
I. GAIN AND LOSS
In the 3rd chapter of Philippians, Paul wastes no time in setting forth that he had been wrong. He states:
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. ( Philippians 3:8 – 14 KJV).
The Apostle Paul states that “ Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13 B and 14). The great apostle is telling those in Philippi that he has not just “kind of straightened up,'' he has not just added something to his philosophy or subtracted something from his philosophy, he tells them the same thing that he told the church at Corinth that “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV)
Paul had thought his record was exemplary! Indeed, he said he was blameless! He had, however, a profound change. It is this, - a profound change- that is needed in America today. The Apostle Paul came face-to-face with the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself said that He came to seek and to save that which was lost. He gave His life a ransom for many. Therefore, the Apostle Paul could say, “what things were gain for me I counted loss for Christ”. It is this single-minded determination to seek the Lord Jesus Christ that is needed in America today. It will not come about unless the words that were uttered by the Father to Peter, James, and John when they were on the Mount of Transfiguration are obeyed, " This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Hear ye him!” And there must be true repentance in the church and in the ministers of the church to preach and teach God's Holy Word and the Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.
II. GAIN CHRIST
The Apostle Paul's whole heart and desire is to gain Christ. He is so determined to gain Christ in order that he can (a) know him and the power of His resurrection; (b) know the fellowship of His sufferings, and, (c) if by any means he may attain unto the resurrection from the dead. It is Paul's stated position that he determined to count, not himself, as if he had already apprehended, but he determined that he would “...this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus". (Phillippians 3:13-14)
What about you? What about me? Are we “this one thing" people? Are we seeking to forget those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before, to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus? If we want to see revival, we must pray in this manner; we must seek the Lord's face in this manner; we must pray for the ministers in churches across America that they would preach in this manner. Pray that they would not leave the preaching of the Word of God to serve tables! Pray that they would seek with their whole heart to forget those things that have gone before and stretch forth with all their heart unto those things which lie ahead; to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, that those who hear their preaching and teaching may do likewise, and that the Lord God would be pleased to bring about a great awakening and a great revival throughout this nation. We need to be immersed in the Word of God. “Here ye Him". Men and women all across America need to stop seeking pleasure or seeking how to spend their time; not killing time but redeeming the time for the days are evil. Single mindedly seek the Lord Jesus Christ.
III. JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE THROUGH THE REDEMPTION THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS
The good news is that God’s justification is free and He brings it ABout! In Romans Chapter 3, the great Apostle Paul, after first declaring (as is set forth above in verse 10 - 18), that among other things, there is none righteous, no, not one, and that none seek after God, for there is no fear of God before their eyes, and after having stated in verse 19 of Romans Chapter 3, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 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." (Romans 3:19- 20) The Apostle Paul, then, gives the great hope for everyone who will surrender their will to the Lord's will and place their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone when he states, “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:21-23) Then, beginning in verse 24, the Apostle states, “ Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:”. (Romans 3:24) Thus, we see that justification, which is salvation, is given by God alone “freely and by His grace”. This is the great doctrine of justification by faith alone. Clearly, if it's given freely, it cannot be earned or worked for. If it is given freely by God's grace, it is clearly without our deserving it in any respect whatsoever. In short, it has nothing to do with our works. Indeed, it is solely and all a free gift of the Lord God as a result of His Holy grace!
Because it is all of God and it is the expression of the great love of God, the great love in His heart for His creation, and because justification arises solely from the love of God, there is not anything whatsoever in us to produce it. Indeed, it is entirely in spite of us. For in our natural state -merely as a result of having been born into the world -we are descendents of Adam, and when Adam sinned, we sinned. (Romans 5:11- 21) But here we see that God could not just overlook sin, it took an act of redemption by the Lord Jesus Christ. The second person of the Holy Trinity “who knew no sin became sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him”. ( 2 Corinthians 5:21) To put it another way, as someone has said, “the sinless Son of God became sin for us that the sinful sons of man might become the sons of God.”
When we look back at the 24th verse of Romans Chapter 3, as to what it is that makes all this possible, we are told that it is “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus". God's eternal justice and righteousness required that the Lord Jesus Christ, the second person of the Holy Trinity, become flesh and dwell among us and bear our sins in His own body on the tree. There was no other way. This is the only way. The Lord Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. The redemption which is through the Lord Jesus Christ actually means the payment of a ransom price. That is exactly what the Lord Jesus Christ said that He came to do, that is, to give His life a ransom for many so that we may be justified for nothing except by the grace of God through the ransom provided in the Lord Jesus Christ. We see in Romans 3:24-26, “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, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”
In a sermon preached on October 9, 1870, the great Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, addressed these three verses in Romans 3:24, 25, and 26, and stated that “this is the doctrine of justification by faith through the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ....." Spurgeon also stated that “We are justified through the righteousness of our redeemer, and not by any righteousness of our own.'' In stating that it is not possible that anyone can be acquitted on the ground of that person not having broken the law, because we must all confess that we have all broken the law of God 10,000 times, he quotes from Romans 3 that “By the works of the law no flesh can be justified”. However, wonder of wonders, mercy of mercys, God has promulgated “a way by which He can be just, and yet declare the guilty to be just: a way by which, to use the words of our text, He can be just and yet the justifier of him that believes." A way by which He can be just that is the way of “substitution and imputation". Propitiation is a word that essentially means appeasement of God. It is a reference to the mercy seat, the covering, that is a “something by which God is propitiated." Spurgeon proclaimed that propitiation is in the person of his dear Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is by God. He has provided this propitiation in the person of His dear Son through the blood of Christ. “Christ Jesus, whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood." God is pleased to pardon us because Jesus suffered, and the main point of the comfort is the cross – the Cross of the crucified, the dying savior "for he has made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him". Thus, the great object, as we see in these verses, of the redemption and of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to show that God is just and yet the justifier of those who place their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and surrender their will to Him. We rely on the Savior’s finished work. We are accepted in the Beloved!
Spurgeon began to conclude his sermon in October, 1870, by saying, “I have not, beloved, been beating about the bush, nor preaching to you a doctrine that may or may not be true.…[I have been preaching] not with words of man's wisdom, but in simplicity have I tried to tell you God's way of pardoning and justifying men". Spurgeon goes on to briefly state his own salvation “Oh! If you but knew the joy it would bring you, you would accept it now. I bear my witness personally. Burdened with sin, lost utterly, as much as you, I heard this gladsome news; I heard the message which said, ‘look unto me and be you saved, all you ends of the earth’. I did look: I was as unfit as you - as undeserving as you - but the moment my eye caught sight of the great surety on the ground of Gethsemane, bleeding for me, and on the cross dying for me, I saw that if God had punished Him for me, he could be just, and yet never punish me. Nay, that if Christ was placed in my stead, to punish me after Christ had died for me would be injustice altogether; and I hide myself tonight beneath the wings of Jesus, the great surety, and my only shelter in the storm."
Spurgeon concluded by saying, “It is peace now: it is joy now: it is salvation now with me. Why should not it be so with you? You did not come here to find him. No! But God brought you hither to find you. Is it not written, ‘I will call them a people that were not a people, and her beloved that was not beloved." “I am found," saith He, “of them that sought Me not." Oh! May he be found by you tonight." (Charles H. Spurgeon, October 9, 1870)
It is my earnest hope and expectation that these comments from Dr. Martyn Llyod- Jones and Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, will assist you in understanding the great and powerful Word of God that is able to make you wise unto salvation. And that you would pass it on to others and that God would bring about a great revival in America even now. Even now!
Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.
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