The Gospel of John: Salvation Exists, Part Two!

The Gospel of Jesus Christ contains four basic or fundamental truths. Remove any one of them and you possess a less than complete biblical gospel. This results in a fundamentally flawed message which is incapable of providing salvation for anyone from the penalty, power and eventual presence of sin.

What are those four fundamental truths? They are (1) God exists; (2) Sin exists; (3) Salvation exits; and (4) One Savior exists to provide salvation: Jesus Christ. To remove any of these four truth statements is to seriously compromise the Gospel.

These four fundamental truths of the Gospel are located throughout the Scriptures. However, the text which I draw to your attention is John 1:1-18. Identified as John’s prologue to his gospel, these 18 verses contain some of the most crucial statements found in Scripture regarding the Gospel and the personal identity of Jesus Christ. The first portion of the prologue is John 1:1-4: God Exists! The second portion is John 1:5-8: Sin Exists. The third portion is John 1:9-13; Salvation Exists!

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:9-13).

The Apostle John identifies Jesus Christ, the Word, as also the Light. The word light (φῶς; phos) is defined as a luminary or a source of brilliance. Often this refers to natural daylight or to a planetary luminary such as the Sun or the Moon. Regarding Jesus Christ, the word light illustrates that Jesus is the source of truth and knowledge which is delicate, subtle, pure and brilliant. It exposes everything openly and publically.

John calls Jesus the true light. There are many so-called philosophers, politicians and other leaders who seek to identify themselves as a source of truth and knowledge. However, Jesus Christ is the genuine, sincere and real source of truth and knowledge for He is the creator of the same.

This true light, who gives truth and knowledge of Himself to all mankind so that no one is without excuse, was coming into the world. The word “world” refers more than just this planet or its population. Rather, it also means the fallen, sinful, godless and rebellious system of life which seeks to exist and live without God. This is the world system mankind lives in presently. It is the same type of world view of which Jesus encountered.

The irony of John’s next statement cannot be overlooked. Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God, came into the world He Himself created. He entered into time and space, was born, grew, matured, lived among many people and displayed His identify to many people. However, John says that the world did not acknowledge Him as God or understand who He was. The same can be said for today’s fallen and sinful world.

John continues to say that Jesus not only entered into this fallen world in general, but came to the Jewish people in particular. Even they, who God had given the Old Testament as a revelation of His coming Son, did not receive Him. “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” To receive means to welcome and to accept.

On the contrary, the Prophet Isaiah prophesied what the Jewish people would do when their Messiah, The Servant of Yahweh, would come to them. Isaiah 53:1-3 says, Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

Today, there are many different types of people who have a variety of opinions on who Jesus Christ is. However, the Bible is explicit as to who Jesus Christ is and what He accomplished while on this earth.

Who exactly is Jesus Christ? I refer you to recently published document The Word Made Flesh: The Ligonier Statement on Christology.

We confess the mystery and wonder                                                                                                 of God made flesh                                                                                                                             and rejoice in our great salvation                                                                                         through Jesus Christ our Lord.

With the Father and the Holy Spirit,                                                                                              the Son created all things,                                                                                                       sustains all things,                                                                                                                           and makes all things new.                                                                                                           Truly God,                                                                                                                                           He became truly man,                                                                                                                     two natures in one person.

He was born of the Virgin Mary                                                                                                     and lived among us.                                                                                                              Crucified, dead, and buried,                                                                                                              He rose on the third day,                                                                                                        ascended to heaven,                                                                                                                          and will come again                                                                                                                             in glory and judgment.

For us,                                                                                                                                                   He kept the Law,                                                                                                                         atoned for sin,                                                                                                                                   and satisfied God’s wrath.                                                                                                                He took our filthy rags                                                                                                                     and gave us                                                                                                                                        His righteous robe.

He is our Prophet, Priest, and King,                                                                                        building His church,                                                                                                            interceding for us,                                                                                                                             and reigning over all things.

Jesus Christ is Lord;                                                                                                                           we praise His holy Name forever.


These biblical truths must be believed, understood and received by an individual in order for that person to become a child of God. If you have not repented of your sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I encourage you by the power of the Holy Spirit to do so today.

Soli deo Gloria!





Knowing God: Final Thoughts?

This is the fiftieth article I have written about the subject of Knowing God. You would think that after this many blogs and posts, I would have exhausted the subject of what it means to know God. Hardly!

However, I have a profound sense of inadequacy regarding this particular subject. I know there is so much more to say and has been said better by pastors and authors much more gifted than myself. As another author writes, “Man cannot know himself without knowing God. And God cannot be known unless God freely reveals Himself to man. God has done this in the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

I hope by now that you understand that knowing God is much more than just reciting facts about His character and His work through the Incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ.  Knowing God is not about knowing about God.

Knowing God is understanding who He is, what He likes and dislikes in this interpersonal relationship He has created with sinners by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. Let me explain by using a personal example.

My wife Diana and I just recently celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary. Where has the time flown? When I first met Di when we worked together at a grocery store, I became aware of certain facts about her. The longer I spent time with her in conversation, the more facts I learned. However, when our friendship turned to love for each other, I became strangely aware that knowing her was so much more than just knowing facts.

I can tell you when she is happy, sad, frustrated, troubled, joyful, contented and a whole range of other emotions. I know what she likes, and dislikes. I know that the few times in our marriage that she has called me on the phone crying, it is a big deal. Di doesn’t cry easily, but when she does, it is huge. I need to immediately drop what I am doing and attend to the matter at hand.

Here’s the question: do I, we, have that same inert sense of God? Do we immediately sense what pleases Him and what does not? Does the Word of God immediately come to our minds when we face the circumstances of life? Do we understand and comprehend about how God thinks about such circumstances? We should!

Begin this discipline: when faced with a decision, ask yourself what God, in His Word, says about the subject. If you do not immediately know the answer, then find the answer. Ask your pastor, mentor, or spouse about the issue at hand. Seek godly and biblical counsel. After a while, you won’t have to guess what God thinks, you’ll know because you are coming to a greater knowledge of God.

Dr. Michael Horton writes, “As with ourselves, God is best known by his involvement in personal relationships to which he attaches his authority. In other words, God is known as he reveals himself in Scripture, not as we “find” him ourselves. The question is not, “What should God be like, given our experiences or philosophical premises?” but “What has God actually shown himself to be like?”

May the Lord bless you as you continue to seek to know Him more and more.

Soli deo Gloria!

Knowing God: What is Eternal Life?

“When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:1-3)

What is eternal life? Jesus answered this question at the beginning of what is referred to as His High Priestly Prayer in John 17. Jesus had just concluded a lengthy Upper Room Discourse (John 13-16) with His disciples immediately prior to His arrest, trial, sentencing, scourging and subsequent death, burial and resurrection (John 18-20). Perhaps just before going to the Garden of Gethsemane, or while journeying there, He speaks this prayer to God the Father.

Jesus began His prayer by acknowledging that the hour of His substitutionary death for sinners had indeed arrived. He knew that in a few short hours the wrath of God against sin would be upon Him. It would be a cup of which Jesus would willingly submit (Luke 22:29-46).

Jesus then prayed that the Father would glorify and honor Him by His death, burial and resurrection in order that the He (Jesus) would glorify the Father in bringing many sinners to salvation. This eternal life, found only in Jesus, would be to all who the Father chose to give Him (John 6:35-66; Ephesians 1:3-5).

Jesus then acknowledged exactly what is meant by the phrase “eternal life.” Eternal life is knowing God. The word “know” is from the Greek verb γινώσκω (ginosko). More than just acknowledging the existence of God, though this is a good beginning, to know God means to understand and comprehend who He is and what He does. It is to know God through a direct, personal and intimate experience of conversion by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. To know God is not about just knowing about Him but rather possessing an inter-personal relationship with Him. This relationship is to be a present, ongoing and active pursuit of knowing God.

Lest there be any confusion that this pursuit of knowing God may be applied to other so-called gods, Jesus makes it clear that God the Father, and by implication God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, is the Only, True God. There is no room for Allah or any other pseudo god conjured up by sinful mankind.

Dr. J.I. Packer writes, “What were we made for? To know God. What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God. What is the “eternal life” that Jesus gives? Knowledge of God (John 17:3). What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight and contentment than anything else? Knowledge of God. Once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life’s problems fall into place of their own accord.”

This ongoing pursuit of knowing God involves spending time with Him. This is accomplished in a daily, disciplined diet of reading, meditating and memorizing God’s Word. Knowing God is accomplished by a daily, if not a constant, attitude and discipline of prayer. Knowing God is accomplished by a personal and corporate, daily and weekly time of worship and praise: alone and with fellow believers in Christ. Knowing God involves an observance of the ordinances of believer’s baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

How are you on your journey of knowing God more intimately that ever before? Renew your quest for knowing God and continue to your quest until the Lord calls you home to heaven.

Soli deo Gloria!   





Knowing God: The Grace and Mercy of God, Part 4.

“It is commonplace in all the churches to call Christianity a religion of grace. It is a truism of Christian scholarship that grace, far being an impersonal force, a sort of celestial electricity received like a battery charge by “plugging in” to the sacraments, is a personal activity—God operating in love toward people.”                                                        J.I. Packer

Dr. Packer in his magnum opus book Knowing God  sets forth four key truths regarding the grace and mercy of God. They are:

  1. The moral-ill-desert of man. Sinful man is fallen from God’s image, rebels against God’s rule, guilty and unclean in God’s sight, fit for only God’s condemnation. However, fallen man never grasps this truth. For the most part, he/she believes themselves to be pretty good.
  2. The retributive justice of God. Modern man additionally never grasps the idea that God is in anyway upset about sin: big or small. We sin, God forgives. It is what we do and what He does. If sin, someone else’s but especially mine, can be ignored as long as possible then that is okay. Punishment should be seen as the last resort. However, the Bible says that God is just and will punish sin and the sinner. God will do what is right.
  3. The spiritual impotence of man. Fallen man believes he can repair his relationship with God. A little penance if you please. Promises are made, but broken. Resolutions are aspired, but soon forgotten. However, the Bible says that “no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law” (Romans 3:20). Becoming right before God is beyond our ability to accomplish. It is a task we cannot master, no matter how hard we try.
  4. The sovereign freedom of God. God is in no way obliged to save anyone. Some sinners receive justice, some sinners receive non-justice (grace), but no sinner receives injustice from God. Even though we do not deserve it, fallen sinners believe God should help us. Isn’t that the fair thing to do? Remember, grace is not about being fair. It is about unmerited favor by God towards sinners.

Dr. Packer explains that, “the grace of God is love freely shown toward guilty sinners, contrary to their merit and indeed in defiance of their demerit. It is God showing goodness to persons who deserve only severity and had no reason to expect anything but severity. It is surely clear that, once a person is convinced that his state and need are as described, the New Testament gospel of grace cannot but sweep him off his feet with wonder and joy. For it tells how our judge has become our Savior.”

Hymn write Isaac Watts (1674-1748) wrote the following lyrics. I trust you can identify yourself with these words as I can.

But there’s a voice of princely grace,                                                                                        Sounds from God’s holy Word;                                                                                                       Ho! Ye poor captive sinners, come,                                                                                               And trust upon the Lord.

My soul obeys the sovereign call,                                                                                                  And runs to this relief;                                                                                                                           I would believe thy promise,                                                                                                         Lord, Oh, help my unbelief.

To the blest fountain of thy blood,                                                                                        Incarnate God, I fly,                                                                                                                             To wash my soul from scarlet stains,                                                                                           And sins of deepest dye.

A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,                                                                                                Into thy hands I fall;                                                                                                                       Thou art the Lord, my righteousness,                                                                                           My Savior, and my all.   

Soli deo Gloria!









Knowing God: The Grace and Mercy of God, Part 3.

“I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever!” Psalm 52:8

 In the immediate aftermath of Resurrection Sunday 2018 (Easter), there is bound to be a letdown following the activities of the preceding week and the fullness of yesterday. However, I discovered this devotional by Pastor Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892). I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Meditate today on the grace and mercy of God. Pastor Spurgeon writes,

 The Mercy of God.

 It is tender mercy. With gentle, loving touch, He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds. He is as gracious in the manner of His mercy — as in the matter of it.

 It is great mercy. There is nothing little in God; His mercy is like Himself — infinite. You cannot measure it. His mercy is so great — that it forgives great sins of great sinners, after great lengths of time; and then gives great favors and great privileges, and raises us up to great enjoyments in the great Heaven of the great God!

 It is undeserved mercy, as indeed all true mercy must be, for deserved mercy is only a misnomer for justice. There was no right on the sinner’s part, to the saving mercy of the Most High God. Had the rebel been doomed at once to eternal fire — he would have justly merited the doom; and if delivered from wrath, sovereign love alone has found a cause, for there was none in the sinner himself.

 It is rich mercy. Some things are large — but have little efficacy in them — but this mercy is:
a cordial to your drooping spirits;
a golden ointment to your bleeding wounds;
a heavenly bandage to your broken bones;
a royal chariot for your weary feet;
a bosom of love for your trembling heart!

 It is manifold mercy. As John Bunyan says, “All the flowers in God’s garden are double.” There is no single mercy. You may think you have but one mercy — but you shall find it to be a whole cluster of mercies.

 It is abounding mercy. Millions have received it — yet far from its being exhausted, it is as fresh, as full, and as free as ever!

 It is unfailing mercy. It will never leave you. If saved by sovereign mercy — mercy will be . . .
with you in temptation — to keep you from yielding;
with you in trouble — to prevent you from sinking;
with you in living — to be the light and life of your countenance; and
with you in dying — to be the joy of your soul when earthly comfort is ebbing fast!

 “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever!” Psalm 89:1.

Meditate upon the grace and mercy of God today.

Soli deo Gloria!


Knowing God: The Grace and Mercy of God, Part 2.

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:1-10).

Let us examine the grace and mercy of God by breaking this magnificent portion of Scripture into a biblical outline highlighting the Apostle Paul’s major points. Please know that this examination is just a brief overview and in no means does this section the justice it deserves.

First, what were we without God’s grace? Ephesians 2:1-3 says that we were spiritually dead because of our trespasses and sins. Living rebelliously against God was our normal way of life. We followed the course and pattern for life dictated to us by a fallen and godless world system of thought and philosophies. Additionally, whether we realized it or not, we were slaves and servants of the devil (Romans 6:15-19). Like many before and after us, we lived for the fulfillment of bodily passions and lusts and carried out what we thought about in our minds. Consequently, we were objects of God’s wrath.

Second, what did we become because of God’s grace? Ephesians 2:4-9 says that God, being rich in mercy because of His great love for sinners like us, made us spiritually alive. This was God’s work of grace and mercy. We contributed nothing, in and of ourselves, to our spiritual rebirth (John 3:1-8). It was solely a work by the Holy Spirit, based upon the sovereign grace of God through the substitutionary atonement found only in Jesus Christ.

God also made us citizens of heaven. This spiritual realm is where our spiritual blessings are (Ephesians 1:3), where our inheritance is (I Peter 1:1-4), and where our affections should be (Colossians 3:1-3). We are objects of God’s immeasurable grace and kindness and merciful displays of the same.

All of this is because of God’s grace, which is personally accessed to each believer by God given faith. Faith is trust in, dependence upon, commitment to and worship of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. It requires repenting of your sin and trusting in Jesus Christ and receiving His righteousness as your own. However, the ability to repent and believe, both aspects of what is called conversion, is only possible by the God given faith from God.

Grace is grounded in God alone. Grace is grounded in God’s rich mercy. Grace is grounded in God’s great love, with which He (God) loved us (sinners). Grace is grounded towards sinners dead in their trespasses. Grace is grounded in God making dead sinners alive in Christ. Grace is grounded in God seating saved sinners in Christ Jesus in heavenly places. Grace is grounded in God’s immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward sinners in Christ Jesus.

We can boast of nothing and, independently of God, we contribute nothing to our salvation. Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Although men are required to believe for salvation, even that faith is part of the gift of God, which saves and cannot be exercised by one’s own power. God’s grace is preeminent in every aspect of salvation (cf. Romans 3:20Galatians 2:16).”

Finally, what are believers to now do by God’s grace? We are to now serve the Lord. God calls us to be His workmanship created for good works. Our good works do not produce our salvation but rather give evidence of our salvation (John 15:8; Philippians 2:12-13; 2 Timothy 3:17; Titus 2; 14; James 2:16-26). Like our salvation, our good works were ordained to be a reality before the creation of the world.

In which category do you presently belong? Are you without God’s grace? Have you received God’s grace? Are you living a life in honor and glory of God’s grace? Your answers to one or all of these questions are a matter of life and death and indicate whether you are truly living a life as God intended for you to live.

Consider these questions very carefully. Happy Resurrection Sunday! Jesus Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

Soli deo Gloria!


Knowing God: The Grace and Mercy of God.

“For the LORD your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.” – Deuteronomy 4:31

I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.” – Romans 9:15, 16

“It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” – Lamentations 3:22

“Do you know it was His mercy that woke you up this morning? Because His judgment should’ve killed you last night.” – Voddie Baucham

No one is redeemed except through unmerited mercy, and no one is condemned except through merited judgement.” – Augustine

Let’s assume that all men are guilty of sin in the sight of God. From the mass of humanity, God sovereignly decides to give mercy to some of them. What do the rest get? They get justice. The saved get mercy and the unsaved get justice. Nobody gets injustice” – R. C. Sproul

“Is God unfair in not choosing to save everyone? ‘Fair’ would send everyone to hell. You don’t want fair, you want mercy.” ~John MacArthur

“Justice is when God gives us what we deserve; Mercy is when He withholds from us what we deserve; Grace when He gives us what we don’t deserve.” – Harry L. Reeder III

Thus far in our study of Knowing God, we have stipulated that to know God is to know His attributes, which are His personal characteristics. These are those qualities which make God, God. Some of God’s attributes He has chosen to share with His creation. Some of His attributes, He alone possesses.

We have seen that God is self-existent, He makes decisions and is glorious, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign, holy, wrathful, loving, just and righteous. The Bible also says that God is gracious and merciful.

The grace and mercy originating from and sourced in God alone is the motivation behind God’s dealings with the elect. Believers in Jesus Christ should have no confidence in their ability to come to Christ. Anyone who is a believer is so because of the sovereign grace and mercy of God.

Grace and mercy are two sides of the same coin, so to speak. God’s benevolence upon the condemned has two perspectives. Mercy is God “not giving” the believer in Christ what he/she deserves: judgment. Grace is God “giving” the believer in Christ what he/she does not deserve: salvation.

Puritan Thomas Watson writes, “Every link in the golden chain of salvation, is wrought and interwoven with free grace! God’s saving MERCY is free and spontaneous. To set up merit—is to destroy mercy. We do not deserve mercy, because of our enmity. We may force God to punish us—but not to love us! If God would show mercy only to such as deserve it—He would show mercy to none! Mercy is an innate propensity in God to do good to distressed sinners. Mercy proceeds primarily, and originally from God. He is called the “Father of mercies.” (2 Corinthians 1:3).”

Watson continues by stating, “God’s saving mercy is powerful. How powerful is that mercy—which softens a heart of stone! Mercy changed Mary Magdalene’s heart, out of whom seven devils were cast. She who was an inflexible adamant—was made a weeping penitent!”

“God’s mercy works sweetly—yet irresistibly. It allures —yet conquers! The law may terrify—but mercy mollifies. Of what sovereign power and efficacy is that mercy, which subdues the pride and enmity of the heart, and beats off those chains of sin, in which the soul is held!”

“God’s mercy is superabundant. The Lord has treasures of mercy in store, and therefore is said to be “plenteous in mercy” (Psalm 86:5), and “rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4). The vial of God’s wrath, only drops—but the fountain of His mercy, runs. The sun is not so full of light—as God is of mercy. His mercy is over-flowing and ever-flowing. His mercy is infinite—without bounds, and without end. “His mercy endures forever.” Psalm 136. Every time we draw our breath—we suck in mercy!”

When we meet tomorrow, which is Resurrection Sunday 2018, we will examine one of the most definitive biblical texts regarding the grace and mercy of God: Ephesians 2:1-10. I hope you will join me.

Soli deo Gloria!


Knowing God: The Righteousness and Justice of God, Part 4.

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:21-26).

Thus far in our study of Knowing God, we have stipulated that to know God is to know His attributes, which are His personal characteristics. These are those qualities which make God, God. Some of God’s attributes He has chosen to share with His creation. Some of His attributes, He alone possesses.

We have seen that God is self-existent, He makes decisions and is glorious, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign, holy, wrathful and loving. The Bible also says that God is just and righteous. How then can fallen and condemned sinners (Romans 3:9-20) stand accepted before the just and righteous God of heaven and earth?

The answer can be found in Romans 1:16-17. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

The Apostle Paul explains in detail what the gospel contains and proclaims in Romans 3:21-26. Four times in this section Paul refers to the righteousness of God. It is a righteousness which He alone possesses and originated. Righteousness is inherent within God’s being but is foreign in the being, nature, heart and soul of fallen mankind.

Therefore, how may God declare a sinner righteous in His sight when the sinner stands condemned before Him? The Apostle Paul sets forth the truth that Jesus Christ alone has bridged the huge gulf which exists between the righteous God and the unrighteous sinner.

Jesus Christ has alone provided justification (Romans 3:24). God can declare the sinner righteous in His sight solely based upon the merits of Christ’s righteousness. As one pastor explains, “God imputed a believer’s sin to Christ on account in His sacrificial death (Isaiah 53:1-5; I Peter 2:24), and He imputes Christ’s perfect righteousness to God’s law to Christians (Romans 5:19; I Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9). The sinner receives this gift of God’s grace by faith alone (Romans 3:22, 25).”

Jesus Christ not only justifies, He also redeems (Romans 3:24). The image behind the Greek word ἀπολύτρωσις; apoloytrosis comes from the ancient slave market. It meant paying the necessary ransom to obtain a prisoner’s or a slave’s release. While gold of silver could redeem an ancient slave, the only adequate payment to redeem sinners from sin’s slavery and its deserved punishment is “in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:1-61 Peter 1:18–19), and was paid to God to satisfy his justice.

Jesus Christ not only justifies and redeems, Paul also explains that Jesus Christ alone has satisfied all of God’s just and righteous demands for the sufficient payment of sin’s penalty. The word which describes this is propitiation.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Crucial to the significance of Christ’s sacrifice, this word carries the idea of appeasement or satisfaction—in this case Christ’s violent death satisfied the offended holiness and wrath of God against those for whom Christ died (Isaiah 53:11Colossians 2:11–14). The Hebrew equivalent of this word was used to describe the mercy seat—the cover to the ark of the covenant—where the high priest sprinkled the blood of the slaughtered animal on the Day of Atonement to make atonement for the sins of the people. In pagan religions, it is the worshiper not the god who is responsible to appease the wrath of the offended deity. But in reality, man is incapable of satisfying God’s justice apart from Christ, except by spending eternity in hell (1 John 2:1-2).“

It is because of the person and work of Jesus Christ that we can refer to this day as Good Friday. Dr. R.C. Sproul comments:

“If I’m happy with my life, why do I need Jesus? I hear that from a lot of folks. They say to me, “I just don’t feel the need for Christ.” As if Christianity were something that were packaged and sold through Madison Avenue! That what we’re trying to communicate to people is “Here’s something that’s going to make you feel good, and everybody needs a little of this in their closet or in their refrigerator,” as if it were some commodity that’s going to add a dash of happiness to our lives.”

“If the only reason a human being ever needed Jesus was to be happy and a person is already happy without Jesus, then they certainly don’t need Jesus. The New Testament indicates, however, that there’s another reason you or somebody else needs Jesus. There is a God who is altogether holy, who is perfectly just, and who declares that he is going to judge the world and hold every human being accountable for their life. As a perfectly holy and just God, he requires from each one of us a life of perfect obedience and of perfect justness. If there is such a God and if you have lived a life of perfect justness and obedience—that is, if you’re perfect — then you certainly don’t need Jesus. You don’t need a Savior because only unjust people have a problem.”

Dr. Sproul continues by writing, “The problem is simply this: If God is just and requires perfection from me and I come short of that perfection and he is going to deal with me according to justice, then I am looking at a future punishment at the hands of a holy God. If the only way I can escape punishment is through a Savior and if I want to escape that, then I need a Savior. Some people will say that we’re just trying to preach Jesus as a ticket out of hell, as a way to escape eternal punishment. That’s not the only reason I would commend Jesus to people, but that is one of the reasons.”

Dr. Sproul concludes, “I think that many people in today’s culture don’t really believe that God is going to hold them accountable for their lives—that God really does not require righteousness. When we take that view, we don’t feel the weight of the threat of judgment. If you’re not afraid to deal with God’s punishment, then be happy as a clam if you want. I would be living in terrible fear and trembling at the prospect of falling into the hands of a holy God.”

What about you? Are you attempting to live your life as if you do not have to face the justice and righteousness of Almighty God? The only hope is to repent of your sins and trust Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord and receive His righteousness. Only then can this day truly be a Good Friday for you.

Soli deo Gloria!


Knowing God: The Righteousness and Justice of God, Part 3.

Thus far in our study of Knowing God, we have stipulated that to know God is to know His attributes, which are His personal characteristics. These are those qualities which make God, God. Some of God’s attributes He has chosen to share with His creation. Some of His attributes, He alone possesses.

We have seen that God is self-existent, He makes decisions and is glorious, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign, holy, wrathful and loving. The Bible also says that God is just and righteous. How then can fallen and condemned sinners (Romans 3:9-20) stand accepted before the just and righteous God of heaven and earth?

The answer can be found in Romans 1:16-17. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

The Apostle Paul stated that he was not ashamed of the gospel. To be ashamed (ἐπαισχύνομαι; epaischynomai) means to personally and presently feel embarrassment or disgrace because of something. It may also mean awkwardness, humiliation and discomfort. Paul said he was not ashamed of the gospel (εὐαγγέλιον; euangelion) or the good news of salvation through the person and work of Jesus Christ. Why was this the case?

Paul understood that the gospel, and the gospel alone, was the power of God for salvation. The word power (δύναμις; dynamis), from which we derive our English word dynamite, means supernatural ability. This ability contained in the gospel belongs to and originates from God alone. It is not a manmade power or strength.

This power from God alone contained in the gospel results in salvation. The gospel is the good news that (1) God exists; (2) sin exists; (3) One Savior exists: Jesus Christ; and (4) salvation or deliverance exists from sin’s penalty, power and eventual presence. God’s justice and righteousness is satisfied by the person and work of Jesus Christ. This is good news.

This good news is for everyone who believes, or comes to God by faith. Believing (πιστεύω; pisteuo) is the God-given ability to trust in, commit to, depend upon and worship Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. This salvation is available for both the Jew and the Gentile. But this salvation is only available by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. Why is the good news, or the gospel, of Jesus Christ the only way a sinner can be reconciled to the just and righteous God? The answer is given in Romans 1:17.

The phrase “for in it” refers us back to the subject at hand: the gospel. The Apostle Paul says that it is in the gospel alone that the righteousness of God is revealed. Righteousness (δικαιοσύνη; dikaiosyne) means to put right with, to cause to be in a right relationship and to be declared righteous. This righteousness belongs to and originates from God alone. It is not earned by man, but graciously given by God through God-given faith (Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 1:29; Acts 13:48; 2 Peter 1:1-2). By this imputed, or credited, righteousness God can and does declare the condemned sinner just or justified.

As one pastor explains, “God is inherently righteous (Deut. 32:4; Psalm 11:7; 116:5; John 17:25; I John 2:1; Revelation 16:5) and man falls woefully short of the divine standard of moral perfection (Romans 3:10-20; Job 9:2; Matthew 5:48). But the gospel reveals that through the instrument of faith – and faith alone – God will impute or credit His righteousness to ungodly sinners (Romans 3:21-24; 4:1-5; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:8-9).”

When the Apostle Paul quotes from Habakkuk 2:4 that the just, or those God declares righteous, will live by faith he intends to prove that justification by faith alone has always been God’s way of saving sinners. Abraham is a pattern of justification by faith alone (Romans 4:22-25; Galatians 3:1-7). Additionally, true saving faith will be demonstrated by the believer’s actions (Philippians 2:12-13; James 2:14-26). This good news is always through faith and faith alone.

The righteousness Paul speaks is not the inherent righteousness God’s possesses, even though the Bible teaches that God is just and righteous. Rather, the righteousness of God, spoken of in Romans 1:17, is the imputed righteousness God credits to the condemned sinner by faith in Jesus Christ.

Why Christ? Because Jesus received upon the cross the just and righteous wrath as our substitute. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Pastor John Piper writes, “Historically, Protestants have believed that the Bible teaches that our salvation depends on what Christ has accomplished for our pardon and our perfection. We accept by faith his substitution for us in two senses: in his final suffering and death, he was condemned and cursed so that we may be pardoned (Galatians 3:13; Romans 8:1-3) and in his whole life of righteousness culminating in his death, he learned obedience so that we may be saved (Hebrews 5:1-9). His death crowns his atoning sufferings that propitiate God’s wrath against us (Romans 3:24=25; 5:1-9), but it also crowns his life of perfect righteousness—God’s righteousness —that is then imputed to us who believe (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 3:21-22; 4:1-11; 5:18-19). God provided in Christ what God demanded from us in the law. 

Hymn writer Edward Mote wrote these wonderful words. The hymn is entitled The Solid Rock.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.


On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.


His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.


When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.


May you rest today that the just and righteous God of heaven and earth has declared you justified and righteous by faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone.

Soli deo Gloria!



Knowing God: The Righteousness and Justice of God, Part 2.

“The saved get mercy and the unsaved get justice. Nobody gets injustice.” – R. C. Sproul

Thus far in our study of Knowing God, we have stipulated that to know God is to know His attributes, which are His personal characteristics. These are those qualities which make God, God. Some of God’s attributes He has chosen to share with His creation. Some of His attributes, He alone possesses.

We have seen that God is self-existent, He makes decisions and is glorious, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign, holy, wrathful and loving. The Bible also says that God is just and righteous.

The word righteous, from the Hebrew word sedeq, means accuracy, or that which is correct and right. It is doing what is right according to a standard. Righteousness in synonymous with honesty. Justice, from the Hebrew word mispat, literally means to make a decision in a court case. We may conclude that God renders decisions regarding the punishment of sinners in an accurate, correct and righteous way.

What then is the condition of sinners before a just and righteousness God? The Apostle Paul gives a clear indication in Romans 1:18-3:8. In this lengthy discourse, the apostle argues that all sinners are under the condemnation of God. This includes those who some would identify as pagan, self-righteous and even religious.

The apostle then provides a climatic conclusion to this argument in Romans 3:9-20. By quoting from the Old Testament Scriptures in this section, Paul is demonstrating that God is perfectly just and righteous in punishing sinners and that this conclusion is not just a New Testament teaching. Romans 3:9-20 says,

“What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”

Theologian and pastor Jonathan Edwards comments, about this argument from the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Romans, that, “The main subject of the doctrinal part of this epistle, is the free grace of God in the salvation of men by Christ Jesus; especially as it appears in the doctrine of justification by faith alone. And the more clearly to evidence this doctrine, and show the reason of it, the apostle, in the first place, establishes that point, that no flesh living can be justified by the deeds of the law. And to prove it, he is very large and particular in showing, that all mankind, not only the Gentiles, but Jews, are under sin, and so under the condemnation of the law; which is what he insists upon from the beginning of the epistle to this place. He first begins with the Gentiles; and in the first chapter shows that they are under sin, by setting forth the exceeding corruptions and horrid wickedness that overspread the Gentile world: and then through the second chapter, and the former part of this third chapter, to the text and following verse, he shows the same of the Jews, that they also are in the same circumstances with the Gentiles in this regard.”

 18th Century evangelist George Whitfield also explains, “Whoever is acquainted with the nature of mankind in general, or the propensity of his own heart in particular, must acknowledge, that self- righteousness is the last idol that is rooted out of the heart: being once born under a covenant of works, it is natural for us all to have recourse to a covenant of works, for our everlasting salvation. And we have contracted such devilish pride, by our fall from God, that we would, if not wholly, yet in part at least, glory in being the cause of our own salvation. We cry out against popery, and that very justly; but we are all Papists, at least, I am sure, we are all Arminians by nature; and therefore no wonder so many natural men embrace that scheme. It is true, we disclaim the doctrine of merit, are ashamed directly to say we deserve any good at the hands of God; therefore, as the Apostle excellently well observes, “we go about,” we fetch a circuit, “to establish a righteousness of our own, and,” like the Pharisees of old, “will not wholly submit to that righteousness which is of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

 What is the answer to the truth that God is just and righteous in condemning sinners? We will continue to look at the Epistle of Romans to find our answer. Please know that God’s justice and righteousness are never compromised in order for sinners to become acceptable to God. Rather, God’s righteous justice is satisfied. How? I encourage you to read Romans 3:21-26 as one biblical text containing the answer to this question.

Until next time, Soli deo Gloria!