Christ Jesus

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This Day in Presbyterian History:  

The Test of a Standing or Falling church

Q. 33. — What is justification?
A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

Without significant happenings found in the history of Presbyterianism for this day, we return to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, looking at the first benefit of effectual calling, namely, justification.  “Justification,” in question and answer 33, “is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.”

First,  we refer to “an act of God’s free grace.”  God, the one  God in three persons,  is the only source of justification.  We are objectively justified as the elect from eternity, and subjectively justified as individuals, when we appropriate Jesus Christ by faith alone.

It is also an “act of God’s free grace.”  Justification comes from the gracious actions of His Son in particular.  It is free to us, but certainly not to God’s Son.  He met all the demands of the law to purchase it for us, both actively and passively.

Further, its ground is not something inherent in us, or something done by us for it.  If we did were able to do it ourselves, then Christ’s whole life, death, burial, and resurrection would have no meaning.  His statement on the cross that “it is finished,” would be a falsehood.

The sole ground of justification is “the righteousness of Christ imputed to us.”  This included his perfect obedience during His life, and His full satisfaction of the penalty of sin during His death, burial, and resurrection.  All His redemptive life and work was laid to our account, or imputed to us, the elect of God.

The elements of justification are two in number. First, he pardons all of our sins. Our past sins, our present sins, and our future sins are under the blood of Christ, so that we cannot come into condemnation. There are fatherly displeasures and temporal judgments on this earth for our present and future sins, to be sure, but as we  humble ourselves,  repent of those sins and renew our faith, we are pardoned for them.

The second element of justification is that “we are accepted as righteous in his sight.”  We who have no righteousness, being conceived and born in sin, now have in Christ His righteousness as a garment.  God the Father looks at us and sees His Son in our stead.

Last, all this is “received by faith alone.”  As we receive and rest upon Christ alone, we are justified before God.

Words to Live By:  Paul said it best in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (ESV)  and 8: 38, 39,  “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (ESV)  This famous chapter begins with “No condemnation,” and ends with “No separation” for the believer.

Through the Scriptures: Proverbs 8 – 11

Through the Standards:  Proof texts of perseverance of the saints.

Philippians 1:6
“For I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (ESV)

John 10:27 – 29
“My sheep hear my   voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My father, who has given them to me, is great than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (ESV)

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This Day in Presbyterian History:  Only Christ

One can sum up the Reformed faith by listing five “only’s” — only Scripture, only Christ, only grace, only faith, and only to the glory of God.   We look today at the second “only” in “Only Christ.”  The apostle Paul would remind us in 1 Timothy 2:5 that “there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (ESV)

With another date of only localized Presbyterian topics, we return on this last day of  March 31, to the Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Standards.  In question and answer 21, we read the words “The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was, and continues to be God, and man, in two distinct natures, and one person, forever.”

We speak first about “the only Redeemer of God’s elect.”  The Lord Jesus Christ is the only Redeemer to  those whom the Father has given to the Son, as that phrase is continuously found in the high priestly prayer of Jesus in John chapter 17, or “the elect.”    Peter clearly preached in Acts 4:12, when declaring the good news of eternal life in the days following the Ascension of Christ, that “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (ESV)

See the repetitive statements!  Despite what the Bahai religion states, despite what other religions claim, despite what your unbelieving neighbor believes, there is no one else!  There is no other name under heaven!  There is no other name given among men!    It is ONLY CHRIST.

We need to echo the testimony of the apostle Paul when he wrote, “For although there may be so-called gods in heaven and on earth — as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’ — yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”  (1 Corinthians 8:5, 6 ESV)

Last, our Confessional fathers remind us that the Lord Jesus Christ is both God and man, in two distinct natures as eternal deity and  true humanity, yet only one person, forever.   Our finite minds may not be able to fully understand it.  But God’s Word, the Bible declares it, and on that Scriptural teaching we rest, firmly committed to it.

Words to Live By: Only Christ!  That is our watchword.  Only Christ! That is our confession.  Only Christ!  He is our hope.  Only Christ!  He is our sole foundation for faith and life.

Through the Scriptures:  1 Samuel 17 – 20

Through the Standards:  Proof Texts of Christ the Redeemer

John 1:1
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (ESV);

John 1:14
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (ESV);

Galatians 4:6
“But when the fulness of time had  come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (ESV);

1 Corinthians 15;3, 4
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (ESV)

Hebrews 13:8
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (ESV).

Read also Philippians 2:5 – 11.

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