The disciple’s justification (Phil. 2:12-13)

POST OVERVIEW. This post begins a short series of articles on Philippians 2:12-13, exploring how the disciple of Jesus can work out their salvation with fear and trembling. The first post examines the doctrine of justification as background for study of sanctification.

The New Testament introduces us to the incarnate Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and has as its central theme the gospel of salvation. This gospel states that, for anyone who will place their faith in Jesus and confess Jesus Christ as Lord, God will forgive their sins and will save them from His wrath and give them eternal life. After this salvation event, the believer commits to walk with Christ for the rest of their life in obedience to His commands. One of the words the New Testament uses for the event of salvation is justification, and the believer’s subsequent walk of increasing holiness is called sanctification. This short series is mostly on sanctification, but we first need to understand justification in order to fully understand sanctification.

JUSTIFICATION

We have already spoken about the salvation event as justification, but we need to be a little more precise. Justification is the event whereby a sinner is declared fully and forever righteous in the sight of God because of the sinner’s professed faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

Three things should be noted about this definition. First, this justification is an event, not a process. Although the journey to the point of salvation may take years, justification itself occurs at a point in time. It is a one-time, once-for-all event that has eternal results. This is the moment when the sinner passes from death to life (John 5:24). This is the moment of spiritual birth when one is born again (John 3:3, 5). God justifies the sinner when he initially professes his faith in Jesus. So, event, not process.

But second, in justification, the sinner is declared righteous on the basis of their profession of faith in the Lord Jesus. God declares as righteous the one who confesses Jesus as Lord. Thus the believer, having been declared righteous upon their initial faith in Jesus, is forever viewed as righteous. This also means that all true followers of Jesus are equally justified and equally righteous, even though there may be great differences in terms of the disciples’ actual progress in practical holiness. Justification is God’s declaration of righteousness, not a reward for the disciple’s own efforts.

Third, justification is based solely on the repentant sinner’s initial profession of faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. That is, “having heard the message of truth, the gospel of salvation” (Ephesians 1:13) and having understood that Jesus has come from heaven to die on the cross as a “ransom for many” (Mark 10:45), the sinner believes in Jesus and publicly professes Jesus Christ as their own Lord and Savior.

JUSTIFICATION IS ENTIRELY THE WORK OF GOD

Notice that, in justification, God is the only actor. The Bible presents justification as entirely the work of God. God is the One who justifies (Romans 8:33). God is just and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26 in the powerful verses of 3:21-26). God is the One who justifies the circumcised (Jewish people) by faith and the uncircumcised (Gentiles) through faith (Romans 3:29-30). All this attests to the fact that our God is the One who does the work of justification. In justification, God is active and the believer is passive. God declares righteous and the believer receives righteousness. God is the actor and the believer is the object. It is God alone who “delivers us from the domain of darkness and transfers us into the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13).

Having gotten a good handle on justification, in the next post in this series we will turn our attention to the corresponding subject of sanctification.

SDG                 rmb                 10/5/2022                   #579

“They will come to Me” – (John 6:37 – Part 4)

INTRODUCTION: This is the last post in this series studying John 6:37, a verse in which Jesus teaches us about the sovereignty of God in salvation. In this series, we will examine not only what Jesus explicitly teaches in this verse, but also its implications based on other passages of Scripture and plain reasoning.

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” – John 6:37 (NASB)

In our third study in this series, we considered the phrase in the verse, “will come to Me” and sought to answer the question, “What does it mean for the sinner to ‘come to Jesus’?”  (See post #469 on 12/11/2021.) This article gives a clear explanation of what it means to come to Jesus in repentance and in faith.

In this fourth and final article from John 6:37, we will be discovering what Jesus promises to the one who comes to Him in repentance and faith. Our Lord says, “The one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” What does this mean? What is Jesus’ purpose in this teaching?

THE BELIEVER IS NOT CAST OUT

There are many ways that we can understand this expression.

The reason Jesus said this was to give confidence to the person who has believed in Him. Jesus’ purpose was to let the one who trusts in Him for salvation know that the believer is held securely by the Savior. That is, the believer is saved forever. There is no possibility that the one who has trusted in Jesus will ever be lost again. Eternally secure.

We already know that the one who comes to Jesus for salvation has passed from death to life (John 5:24). That is a one-way ticket. There is no return flight. The death of Jesus has been applied to the believing sinner’s sin and believer’s sin is atoned for. All the sins of the believer are covered by the blood of the Lamb and are therefore forever separated from the believer as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).

By faith in Jesus, the sinner is born again (or born from above). The twice born can never suffer the condemnation and punishment of the once born. The one who has believed in Jesus has been “delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of Jesus Christ, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14). Again, this is a one-way trip. There is no path back into the darkness for the true believer.

There is therefore now no condemnation for the one who has trusted in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Not now, not ever.

So, Jesus is here proclaiming that the one who has trusted in Him as Lord and Savior is certainly bound for heaven and will be there eternally. That is the entire purpose of Jesus’ statement. Therefore, believe in Jesus.

SDG                 rmb                 12/20/2021                 #472