How Are Men Justified – Works Or Atonement – Spiritual Reading

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How Are Men Justified – Works Or Atonement – Spiritual Reading.



In general there are two opposing views of justification: one that men are justified by their own works, i.e., on the ground of something which they do themselves. This view may be variously expressed.


The good works that men speak of as a ground of their justification may be their good moral conduct, or their keeping the Golden Rule, or something of that sort. Or they may be works of religion, such as doing penance, saying prayers, joining the church, going to church, being baptised, or partaking of the Lord’s Supper, or the performance of some other religious duties.


But these all amount to the same thing: it is something that we ourselves do that brings justification, some works of our own, some works that we do, are taken as the ground of our justification.


The other view of justification is that we are justified, not by our own works in any sense, but entirely by the work of another, i.e., by the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary, that our own works have nothing to do with our justification, but that we are justified entirely by Christ’s finished and complete work of atonement, by His death for us on the Cross, and that all that we have to do with our justification is merely to appropriate it to ourselves by simply trusting in Him who made the atonement. Which is the correct view? We shall go directly to the Bible for the answer to this all-important question.


1. The first part of the answer we will find in:


Rom. 3:20, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for through the law cometh the knowledge of sin.” It is here very plainly stated that we are not justified by keeping the law of God, either the Mosaic law or any other law, and that the law is given, not to bring us justification, but to bring us a knowledge of sin, i.e., to bring us to the realisation of [our need of justification by grace. It is plainly stated here that no man is justified by works of the law.


The same great truth is found in Gal. 2:16: “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, save through faith in Jesus Christ, even we believed on Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” 


Justification by any works of our own is an impossibility. It is an impossibility because to be justified by works of the law, or by anything we can do, we must perfectly keep the law of God. The law demands perfect obedience as a ground of justification. It says, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them.” (Gal. 3:10.).


But not one of us has perfectly kept the law of God, and the moment we break the law of God at any point, justification by works becomes an absolute impossibility. So as far as the law of God is concerned, every one of us is “under the curse,” and if we are justified at all we must find some other way of justification than by keeping the law of God.


God did not give man the law with the expectation or intention that he would keep it and be justified thereby. He gave them the law to produce conviction of sin, to stop men’s mouths, and to lead them to Christ.


Or, as Paul puts it in Rom. 3:19, 20, “Now ye know that what things soever the law saith, it speaketh to them that are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may be brought under the judgment of God: because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for through the law cometh the knowledge of sin.” 


As plain as these words of God are, strangely enough there are many to-day who are preaching the law as a way of salvation. But when they so preach they are preaching another way of salvation than that laid down in God’s own word.


2. The second part of the answer to the question as to how we are justified we find in:


 Rom. 3:24. “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” The word translated “freely” in this passage means, as a free gift, and the verse tells us that men are justified as a free gift by God’s grace (i.e., God’s unmerited favour) through (i.e., on the ground of) the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.


In other words, justification is not on the ground of any desert there is in us, not on the ground of anything that we have done, we are not justified by our own doing nor by our own character. Justification is a free gift that God bestows absolutely without pay. The channel through which this free gift is bestowed is the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. We shall see later that this means through the purchase price that Christ paid for our redemption, i.e., the shedding of His blood on the cross of Calvary.


3. This leads us to the third part of the answer to the question, how men are justified. We find this third part of the answer in:


Rom. 5:9, “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” 


Here we are told in so many words that we are justified, or counted righteous “by,” or more literally, “in,” Christ’s blood, i.e., on the ground of Christ’s propitiatory death. We were all under the curse of the broken law of God, for we had all broken it, but by dying in our stead on the cross of Calvary our Lord Jesus “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; for it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” (Gal. 3:13.)


Or, as Peter puts it in 1 Pet. 2:24, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body upon the tree.” Or as Paul puts it again in 2 Cor. 5:21, “Him who knew no sin he (God) made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 


We shall have occasion to come back to this passage later. All that I wish you to notice in it at this time is that it is on the ground of Jesus Christ becoming a substitute for us, on the ground of His taking the place we deserved; on the cross, that we are reckoned righteous. The one and only ground of justification is the shed blood of Jesus Christ. 


Of course, this doctrine is entirely different from the teaching of Christian Science, and entirely different from the teaching of much that is called New Theology, and entirely different from the teaching of New Thought and Theosophy, and entirely different from the teaching of Unitarianism, but it is the teaching of the Word of God.


We find this same teaching clearly given by the prophet Isaiah seven hundred years before our Lord was born, in Isaiah 53:6, where he says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid(literally, made to strike) on him (i.e., on the Lord Jesus) the iniquity of us all.” 


Get this point clearly settled in your mind, that the sole but all-sufficient ground upon which men are justified before God is the shed blood of Jesus Christ, offered by Jesus Christ as an atonement for our sins and accepted by God the Father as an all-sufficient atonement.


4. The fourth part of the answer to the question how men are justified we find in:


Rom. 3:26, “For the showing, I say, of his (i.e., God’s) righteousness at this present season: that he (i.e., God) might himself be just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus.” Here we are taught that men are justified on the condition of faith in Jesus.


If possible, Rom. 4:5 makes this even more plain, “But to him that worketh not but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness.” Here the Holy Spirit, speaking through the Apostle Paul, tells us that to those who believe in Jesus their faith is counted for righteousness. In other words, faith makes ours the shed blood which is the ground of justification, and we are justified when we believe.


All men are potentially justified by the death of Christ on the cross, but believers are actually justified by appropriating to themselves what there is of justifying value in the shed blood of Christ by simple faith in Him. In other words, the shed blood of Christ is the sole and all-sufficient ground of justification: simple faith in Jesus Christ who shed the blood is the sole condition of justification. 


God asks nothing else of the sinner than that he should believe on His Son, Jesus Christ, and when he does thus believe he is justified. When we believe we are justified, whether we have any works to offer or not; or, as Paul puts it in Rom. 3:28, “We reckon therefore that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” 


Or, as it is put in the verse already quoted, Rom. 4:5, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness.” A man is justified entirely apart from works of the law, i.e., he is justified on condition that he believes on Jesus Christ, even though he has no works to offer as the ground upon which to claim justification.


When we cease to work for justification and simply “believe on Him who justifieth the ungodly,” that faith is reckoned to us for righteousness, and therefore we are counted righteous. The question then is not, have you any works to offer, but do you believe on Him who justifies the ungodly.


Works have nothing to do with justification except to hinder it when we trust in them. The blood of Jesus Christ secures it, faith in Jesus Christ appropriates it. We are justified not by our works, but by His work. We are justified upon the simple and single ground of His shed blood and upon the simple and single condition of our faith in Him Who shed the blood.


So great is the pride of the natural heart that it is exceedingly difficult to hold men to this doctrine of justification by faith alone apart from works of law. We are constantly seeking to bring in our works somewhere.


5. But we have not as yet completely answered the question of how men are justified:


There is another side to the truth and if our doctrine of justification is to be complete and well-balanced, we must look at that other side. You will find part of this other side in Rom. 10:8, 10, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved; for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” 


God here tells us that the faith that appropriates justification is a faith with the heart, i.e., a faith that is not a mere notion, or opinion, but a faith that leads to action along the line of that faith, and it is therefore a faith that leads to open confession with the mouth, of Jesus as our Lord.


If some one has some kind of faith, or what he calls faith, that does not lead him to an open confession of Christ, he has a faith that does not justify; for it is not a faith with the heart. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself tells us that heart faith leads to open confession; for He says in Matt.12:34, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” 


Faith in Jesus Christ in the heart leads inevitably to a confession of Jesus as Lord with the mouth, and if you are not confessing Jesus as your Lord with your mouth you have not justifying faith and you are not justified.


6. The rest of the other side of the truth about being justified by faith, you will find in:


Jas. 2:14, 18-24, R. V. “What doth it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith but have not works? Can that faith save him?” 


We see here that a faith that a man merely says he has, but that does not lead to works along the line of that which he claims to believe, cannot justify, but to go on, verses 18-24, “Yea, a man will say, thou hast faith, and I have works, show me thy faith apart from thy works, and I by my works will show thee my faith. Thou believest that God is one; thou doest well: the devils also believe and shudder. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son, upon the altar? Thou seest that faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect (i.e., in the works to which Abraham’s faith led, faith had its perfect manifestation); and the scripture was fulfilled which saith, and Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God. Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith.” 


Some see in these words a contradiction between the teaching of James and the teaching of Paul, but there is no contradiction whatever. But James here teaches us an important truth, namely, that the faith that one says he has, but which does not manifest itself in action along the line of the faith professed, will not justify.


The faith that justifies is real faith that leads to action accordant with the truth we profess to believe. It is true that we are justified simply upon faith apart from the works of the law, but it must be a real faith, otherwise it does not justify. As some one has put it, “We are justified by faith without works, but we are not justified by a faith that is without works.”


The faith which God sees and upon which He justifies, leads inevitably to works which men can see. God saw the faith of Abraham the moment Abraham believed, and before there was any opportunity to work, and counted that faith to Abraham for righteousness. But the faith that God saw was a real faith and led Abraham to works that all could see, and these works proved the reality of his faith. The proof to us of the faith is the works, and we know that he that does not work has not justifying faith.


We must not lose sight on the one side of the truth which Paul emphasises against legalism, namely, that we are justified on the single and simple condition of a real faith in Christ; but on the other side we must not lose sight of the truth which James emphasises against antinomianism, namely, that it is only a real faith that proves its genuineness by works, that justifies.


To the legalist who is seeking to do something to merit justification we must say, “Stop working and believe on Him that justifieth the ungodly” (Rom. 4:5). To the antinomian, i.e., to the one who thinks he can live a lawless, careless, unseparated, sinful life and still be justified, the one who boasts that he has faith and is justified by it, but who does not show his faith by his works, we must say, “What doth it profit, if a man say he have faith, but have not works? Can that faith save him?” (Jas. 2:14, R. V.) We are justified by faith alone, but we are not justified by a faith that is alone, but a faith that is accompanied by works.


Excerpt From – The Fundamental Doctrines Of The Christian Faith By Reuben Archer Torrey.



Tikva



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The first thing for us to understand clearly is what justification is. It is at this point that many go astray in their study of this great truth. There are two fundamentally different definitions of the meaning of the words “justify” and “justification.” The one definition of Justify is, to make righteous, and of Justification, the being made righteous.


The other definition of “justify” is, to reckon, declare, or show to be righteous, and of “justification,” the being declared or reckoned righteous. On these two different definitions two different schools of thought depart from one another.


Which is the true definition? The way to settle the meaning of any word in the Bible is by an examination of all the passages in which that word and its derivatives is found. If any one will go through the Bible, the Old Testament and the New, and carefully study all the passages in which the word “justify” and its derivatives is found, he will discover that beyond a question, in Biblical usage, to “justify” means, not to make righteous, but to reckon righteousness, declare righteous, or show to be righteous.


A man is justified before God when God reckons him righteous. This appears, for example, in the fourth chapter of Romans, 2nd to 8th verses, R. V. “For if Abraham was justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not toward God. For what saith the scripture? And Abraham believed God and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned as of grace, but as of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness even as David also pronounced blessing upon the man unto whom God reckoneth righteousness apart from works, saying, blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered, blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not reckon sin.” 


It is plain from this passage, as from many other passages, that a man is justified when God reckons him righteous, no matter what his principles of character and of conduct may have been. We shall see later that justification means more than mere forgiveness.


Excerpt From – The Fundamental Doctrines Of The Christian Faith By Reuben Archer Torrey.



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To what extent is a man who believes in the Lord Jesus justified? This question is very plainly answered and wonderfully answered, and gloriously answered in Acts 13:38, 39, “Be it known unto you therefore, brethren, that through this man is proclaimed unto you remission of sins: and by him every one that believeth is justified from all things, from which he could not be justified by the law of Moses.” 


These words very plainly declare to us that every believer in Jesus Christ is justified “from all things.” In other words, the old account against the believer is all wiped out. No matter how bad and how black the account is, the moment a man believes in Jesus Christ, the account is wiped out. God has absolutely nothing which He reckons against the one who believes in Jesus Christ. Even though he is still a very imperfect believer, a very young man and immature Christian, he is perfectly justified.


As Paul puts it in Rom. 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” Or, as he puts it further down in the chapter, verses 33, 34, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that shall condemn? It is Christ Jesus that died, yea rather, that was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” 


If the vilest murderer or sinner of any kind on earth should come in here this morning and right here now, hearing the gospel of God’s grace, should believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, put confidence in Him as his Saviour, and accept Him as such, surrendering to Him and confessing Him as His Lord, the moment he did it every sin he ever committed would be blotted out and his record would be as white in God’s sight as that of the purest angel in heaven.


God has absolutely nothing that He reckons against the believer in Jesus Christ. But even that is not all. Paul goes even beyond this in 2 Cor. 5:21, “He who knew no sin he (God) made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” Here we are explicitly told that the believer in Jesus Christ is made the righteousness of God in Christ.


In Phil. 3:9, R. V. we are told that when one is in Christ he has a righteousness not of his own, but a “righteousness which is of God upon faith.” In other words, there is an absolute interchange of positions between Christ and the justified believer. Christ took our place, the place of the curse on the cross (Gal. 3:13).


He was “made to be sin on our behalf” (2 Cor. 5:21). God reckoned Him a sinner and dealt with Him as a sinner, so that in the sinner’s place, as He died, He cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And when we are justified we step into His place, the place of perfect acceptance before God, or to use the exact words of Scripture, we “Become the righteousness of God in him.” 


To be justified is more than to be forgiven! Forgiveness is negative, the putting away of sin; Justification is positive, the reckoning of positive and perfect righteousness to the one justified. Jesus Christ is so united to the believer in Him that God reckons our sins to Him. The believer, on the other hand, is so united to Christ that God reckons His righteousness to us.


God sees us, not as we are in ourselves, but as we are in Him and reckons us as righteous as He is. When Christ’s work in us is completed we shall be in actual fact what we are already in God’s [reckoning, but the moment one believes, as far as God’s reckoning is concerned, he is as absolutely perfect as he ever shall be.


Our present standing before God is absolutely perfect, though our present state may be very imperfect. To use again the familiar couplet:”Near, so very near to God,Nearer I cannot be;For in the person of His Son,I am just as near as He.Dear, so very dear to God,Dearer I cannot be;For in the person of His Son,I am just as dear as He.”


Excerpt From – The Fundamental Doctrines Of The Christian Faith By Reuben Archer Torrey.



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The Time Of Justification:


When is a believer justified? This question is answered plainly in one of our texts, Acts 13:39, “And by him every one that believeth is justified from all things, from which he could not be justified by the law of Moses.” What I wish you to notice particularly now in this verse is the word Is, “Everyone that believeth is justified from all things.” This answers plainly the question as to when a believer is justified.


In Christ Jesus every [believer in Him is justified from all things the moment he believes. The moment a man believes in Jesus Christ that moment he becomes united to Christ, and that moment God reckons the righteousness of God to him.


I repeat again, if the vilest murderer or sinner of any kind in the world should come into this room this morning while I am preaching and should here and now believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the moment that he did it, not only would every sin he ever committed be blotted out, but all the perfect righteousness of God in Christ would be put to his account, and his standing before God would be as perfect as it will be when he has been in heaven ten million years.


Let me repeat to you again the incident I told you one Sunday night some weeks ago. I was preaching one Sunday morning in the Moody church in Chicago on Rom. 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus,” and in the course of my preaching I said, “If the vilest woman there is in Chicago should come into the Chicago Avenue church this morning, and should here and now accept Jesus Christ as her Saviour, the moment she did it every sin she ever committed would be blotted out and her record would be as white in God’s sight as that of the purest woman in the room.”


Unknown to me, one of the members of my congregation that very morning had gone down into a low den of iniquity near the river and had invited a woman who was an outcast to come and hear me preach. The woman replied, “I never go to church. Church is not for the likes of me. I would not be welcome at the church if I did go.”


The woman who was a saint replied, “You would be welcome at our church,” which, thank God, was true. But, “No,” the woman urged, “it would not do for me to go to church, church is not for the likes of me.” But the woman who was a saint urged the woman who was a sinner to go. She offered to accompany her to the church, but the other said, “No, that would never do.


The policemen know me and the boys on the street know me and sometimes throw stones at me, and if they saw you going up the street with me they would think you such as I am.” But the woman who was a saint had the Spirit of the Master and said, “I don’t care what they think of me. If you will accompany me to hear Mr. Torrey preach I will go along with you.”


The other woman refused. But the saved woman was so insistent that the woman who was an outcast finally said, “If you will go up the street a few steps ahead I will follow you up the street.” So up La Salle Avenue they came, the woman who was a saint a few steps ahead and the woman who was a sinner a few steps behind. Block after block they came until they reached the corner of La Salle and Chicago Avenues.


The woman who was a saint entered the tower door at the corner, went up the steps, entered the church, and the woman who was a sinner followed her. On reaching the door the woman who was a sinner looked in, saw a vacant seat under the gallery in the very last row at the back, and slipped into it, and scarcely had she taken the seat when I made the remark that I just quoted, “If the vilest woman there is in Chicago should come into the Chicago Avenue church this morning and should here and now accept Jesus Christ as her personal Saviour, the moment she did it every sin she ever committed would be blotted out and her record would be as white in God’s sight as that of the purest woman in the room.”


My words went floating down over the audience and dropped into the heart of the woman who was a sinner. She believed it, she believed that Jesus died for her, she believed that by the shedding of His blood she could be saved, she believed, and found pardon and peace and justification then and there.


And when the meeting was over she came up the aisle to the front as I stepped down from the pulpit, tears streaming down her face, and thanked me for the blessing that she had received.


And I repeat it here this morning, not knowing who may be here, not knowing what may be the secret life of any one of you who is here, not knowing what may be the sins that may be hidden in your heart, if the vilest man or woman on earth should come into the Church of the Open Door this morning and should here and now put their trust in Jesus Christ, the moment you did it every sin you ever committed would be blotted out and in an instant your record would be as white in God’s sight, not only as that of the purest woman in the room, but as that of the purest angel in heaven, and not only that, but all the perfect righteousness of God that clothed our Lord Jesus Christ would be put to your account and you would be just as near and just as dear to God as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is. That is the doctrine of justification by faith. Wondrous doctrine! Glorious doctrine!


Excerpt From – The Fundamental Doctrines Of The Christian Faith By Reuben Archer Torrey.



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You will find the text in the Epistle to the Romans, in the fourth chapter and the fifth verse:
To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. I call your attention to those words, “Him that justifieth the ungodly.” They seem to me to be very wonderful words.


Are you not surprised that there should be such an expression as that in the Bible, “That justifieth the ungodly?” I have heard that men that hate the doctrines of the cross bring it as a charge against God, that He saves wicked men and receives to Himself the vilest of the vile. See how this Scripture accepts the charge, and plainly states it! By the mouth of His servant Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, He takes to Himself the title of “Him that justifieth the ungodly.”


He makes those just who are unjust, forgives those who deserve to be punished, and favors those who deserve no favor. You thought, did you not, that salvation was for the good? that God’s grace was for the pure and holy, who are free from sin? It has fallen into your mind that, if you were excellent, then God would reward you; and you have thought that because you are not worthy, therefore there could be no way of your enjoying His favor.


You must be somewhat surprised to read a text like this: “Him that justifieth the ungodly. ” I do not wonder that you are surprised; for with all my familiarity with the great grace of God, I never cease to wonder at it. It does sound surprising, does it not, that it should be possible for a holy God to justify an unholy man? We, according to the natural legality of our hearts, are always talking about our own goodness and our own worthiness, and we stubbornly hold to it that there must be somewhat in us in order to win the notice of God.


Now, God, who sees through all deceptions, knows that there is no goodness whatever in us. He says that “there is none righteous, no not one.” He knows that “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags,” and, therefore the Lord Jesus did not come into the world to look after goodness and righteousness with him, and to bestow them upon persons who have none of them. He comes, not because we are just, but to make us so: he justifieth the ungodly.



When a counsellor comes into court, if he is an honest man, he desires to plead the case of an innocent person and justify him before the court from the things which are falsely laid to his charge. It should be the lawyer’s object to justify the innocent person, and he should not attempt to screen the guilty party. It lies not in man’s right nor in man’s power truly to justify the guilty. This is a miracle reserved for the Lord alone.


God, the infinitely just Sovereign, knows that there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth not, and therefore, in the infinite sovereignty of His divine nature and in the splendor of His ineffable love, He undertakes the task, not so much of justifying the just as of justifying the ungodly. God has devised ways and means of making the ungodly man to stand justly accepted before Him: He has set up a system by which with perfect justice He can treat the guilty as if he had been all his life free from offence, yea, can treat him as if he were wholly free from sin. He justifieth the ungodly.



Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. It is a very surprising thing–a thing to be marveled at most of all by those who enjoy it. I know that it is to me even to this day the greatest wonder that I ever heard of, that God should ever justify me. I feel myself to be a lump of unworthiness, a mass of corruption, and a heap of sin, apart from His almighty love.


I know by a full assurance that I am justified by faith which is in Christ Jesus, and treated as if I had been perfectly just, and made an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ; and yet by nature I must take my place among the most sinful. I, who am altogether undeserving, am treated as if I had been deserving. I am loved with as much love as if I had always been godly, whereas aforetime I was ungodly. Who can help being astonished at this? Gratitude for such favor stands dressed in robes of wonder.



Now, while this is very surprising, I want you to notice how available it makes the gospel to you and to me. If God justifieth the ungodly, then, dear friend, He can justify you. Is not that the very kind of person that you are? If you are unconverted at this moment, it is a very proper description of you; you have lived without God, you have been the reverse of godly; in one word, you have been and are ungodly.


Perhaps you have not even attended a place of worship on Sunday, but have lived in disregard of God’s day, and house, and Word-this proves you to have been ungodly. Sadder still, it may be you have even tried to doubt God’s existence, and have gone the length of saying that you did so. You have lived on this fair earth, which is full of the tokens of God’s presence, and all the while you have shut your eyes to the clear evidences of His power and Godhead. You have lived as if there were no God.



Indeed, you would have been very pleased if you could have demonstrated to yourself to a certainty that there was no God whatever. Possibly you have lived a great many years in this way, so that you are now pretty well settled in your ways, and yet God is not in any of them. If you were labeled UNGODLY it would as well describe you as if the sea were to be labeled salt water. Would it not?



Possibly you are a person of another sort; you have regularly attended to all the outward forms of religion, and yet you have had no heart in them at all, but have been really ungodly. Though meeting with the people of God, you have never met with God for yourself; you have been in the choir, and yet have not praised the Lord with your heart. You have lived without any love to God in your heart, or regard to his commands in your life.


Well, you are just the kind of man to whom this gospel is sent-this gospel which says that God justifieth the ungodly. It is very wonderful, but it is happily available for you. It just suits you. Does it not? How I wish that you would accept it! If you are a sensible man, you will see the remarkable grace of God in providing for such as you are, and you will say to yourself, “Justify the ungodly! Why, then, should not I be justified, and justified at once?”



Now, observe further, that it must be so–that the salvation of God is for those who do not deserve it, and have no preparation for it. It is reasonable that the statement should be put in the Bible; for, dear friend, no others need justifying but those who have no justification of their own. If any of my readers are perfectly righteous, they want no justifying. You feel that you are doing your duty well, and almost putting heaven under an obligation to you.


What do you want with a Saviour, or with mercy? What do you want with justification? You will be tired of my book by this time, for it will have no interest to you. If any of you are giving yourselves such proud airs, listen to me for a little while. You will be lost, as sure as you are alive. You righteous men, whose righteousness is all of your own working, are either deceivers or deceived; for the Scripture cannot lie, and it saith plainly, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” In any case I have no gospel to preach to the self-righteous, no, not a word of it.


Jesus Christ himself came not to call the righteous, and I am not going to do what He did not do. If I called you, you would not come, and, therefore, I will not call you, under that character. No, I bid you rather look at that righteousness of yours till you see what a delusion it is. It is not half so substantial as a cobweb. Have done with it! Flee from it! Oh believe that the only persons that can need justification are those who are not in themselves just!


They need that something should be done for them to make them just before the judgment seat of God. Depend upon it, the Lord only does that which is needful. Infinite wisdom never attempts that which is unnecessary. Jesus never undertakes that which is superfluous. To make him just who is just is no work for God–that were a labor for a fool; but to make him just who is unjust–that is work for infinite love and mercy.


To justify the ungodly–this is a miracle worthy of a God. And for certain it is so. Now, look. If there be anywhere in the world a physician who has discovered sure and precious remedies, to whom is that physician sent? To those who are perfectly healthy? I think not. Put him down in a district where there are no sick persons, and he feels that he is not in his place.


There is nothing for him to do. “The whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick.” Is it not equally clear that the great remedies of grace and redemption are for the sick in soul? They cannot be for the whole, for they cannot be of use to such. If you, dear friend, feel that you are spiritually sick, the Physician has come into the world for you. If you are altogether undone by reason of your sin, you are the very person aimed at in the plan of salvation.


I say that the Lord of love had just such as you are in His eye when He arranged the system of grace. Suppose a man of generous spirit were to resolve to forgive all those who were indebted to him; it is clear that this can only apply to those really in his debt. One person owes him a thousand pounds; another owes him fifty pounds; each one has but to have his bill receipted, and the liability is wiped out. But the most generous person cannot forgive the debts of those who do not owe him anything.


It is out of the power of Omnipotence to forgive where there is no sin. Pardon, therefore, cannot be for you who have no sin. Pardon must be for the guilty. Forgiveness must be for the sinful. It were absurd to talk of forgiving those who do not need forgiveness–pardoning those who have never offended. Do you think that you must be lost because you are a sinner? This is the reason why you can be saved.


Because you own yourself to be a sinner I would encourage you to believe that grace is ordained for such as you are. One of our hymn-writers even dared to say:
A sinner is a sacred thing;
The Holy Ghost hath made him so.
It is truly so, that Jesus seeks and saves that which is lost. He died and made a real atonement for real sinners.


When men are not playing with words, or calling themselves “miserable sinners,” out of mere compliment, I feel overjoyed to meet with them. I would be glad to talk all night to bona fide sinners. The inn of mercy never closes its doors upon such, neither weekdays nor Sunday. Our Lord Jesus did not die for imaginary sins, but His heart’s blood was spilt to wash out deep crimson stains, which nothing else can remove.



He that is a black sinner–he is the kind of man that Jesus Christ came to make white. A gospel preacher on one occasion preached a sermon from, ” Now also the axe is laid to the root of the trees,” and he delivered such a sermon that one of his hearers said to him, “One would have thought that you had been preaching to criminals.


Your sermon ought to have been delivered in the county jail.” “Oh, no,” said the good man, “if I were preaching in the county jail, I should not preach from that text, there I should preach ‘This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.’ ” Just so. The law is for the self-righteous, to humble their pride: the gospel is for the lost, to remove their despair.



If you are not lost, what do you want with a Saviour? Should the shepherd go after those who never went astray? Why should the woman sweep her house for the bits of money that were never out of her purse? No, the medicine is for the diseased; the quickening is for the dead; the pardon is for the guilty; liberation is for those who are bound: the opening of eyes is for those who are blind.


How can the Saviour, and His death upon the cross, and the gospel of pardon, be accounted for, unless it be upon the supposition that men are guilty and worthy of condemnation? The sinner is the gospel’s reason for existence. You, my friend, to whom this word now comes, if you are undeserving, ill-deserving, hell-deserving, you are the sort of man for whom the gospel is ordained, and arranged, and proclaimed. God justifieth the ungodly.



I would like to make this very plain. I hope that I have done so already; but still, plain as it is, it is only the Lord that can make a man see it. It does at first seem most amazing to an awakened man that salvation should really be for him as a lost and guilty one. He thinks that it must be for him as a penitent man, forgetting that his penitence is a part of his salvation. “Oh,” says he, “but I must be this and that,”–all of which is true, for he shall be this and that as the result of salvation; but salvation comes to him before he has any of the results of salvation.


It comes to him, in fact, while he deserves only this bare, beggarly, base, abominable description, “ungodly.” That is all he is when God’s gospel comes to justify him. May I, therefore, urge upon any who have no good thing about them-who fear that they have not even a good feeling, or anything whatever that can recommend them to God-that they will firmly believe that our gracious God is able and willing to take them without anything to recommend them, and to forgive them spontaneously, not because they are good, but because He is good.


Does He not make His sun to shine on the evil as well as on the good? Does He not give fruitful seasons, and send the rain and the sunshine in their time upon the most ungodly nations? Ay, even Sodom had its sun, and Gomorrah had its dew. Oh friend, the great grace of God surpasses my conception and your conception, and I would have you think worthily of it ! As high as the heavens are above the earth; so high are God’s thoughts above our thoughts.


He can abundantly pardon. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners: forgiveness is for the guilty. Do not attempt to touch yourself up and make yourself something other than you really are; but come as you are to Him who justifies the ungodly. A great artist some short time ago had painted a part of the corporation of the city in which he lived, and he wanted, for historic purposes, to include in his picture certain characters well known in the town.


A crossing–sweeper, unkempt, ragged, filthy, was known to everybody, and there was a suitable place for him in the picture. The artist said to this ragged and rugged individual, “I will pay you well if you will come down to my studio and let me take your likeness.” He came round in the morning, but he was soon sent about his business; for he had washed his face, and combed his hair, and donned a respectable suit of clothes.


He was needed as a beggar, and was not invited in any other capacity. Even so, the gospel will receive you into its halls if you come as a sinner, not otherwise. Wait not for reformation, but come at once for salvation. God justifieth the ungodly, and that takes you up where you now are: it meets you in your worst estate. Come in your dishabille [disorder]. I mean, come to your heavenly Father in all your sin and sinfulness.


Come to Jesus just as you are, leprous, filthy, naked, neither fit to live nor fit to die. Come, you that are the very sweepings of creation; come, though you hardly dare to hope for anything but death. Come, though despair is brooding over you, pressing upon your bosom like a horrible nightmare. Come and ask the Lord to justify another ungodly one. Why should He not? Come for this great mercy of God is meant for such as you are.


I put it in the language of the text, and I cannot put it more strongly: the Lord God Himself takes to Himself this gracious title, ” Him that justifieth the ungodly.” He makes just, and causes to be treated as just, those who by nature are ungodly. Is not that a wonderful word for you? Reader, do not delay till you have well considered this matter.


Excerpt From – All of Grace By Charles Haddon Spurgeon.



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Can The Righteous Be Justified By Faith – Spiritual Reading.



We have seen the ungodly justified, and have considered the great truth, that only God can justify any man; we now come a step further and make the inquiry-How can a just God justify guilty men? Here we are met with a full answer in the words of Paul, in Romans 3:21-26. We will read six verses from the chapter so as to get the run of the passage:



“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference; for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 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.”



Here suffer me to give you a bit of personal experience. When I was under the hand of the Holy Spirit, under conviction of sin, I had a clear and sharp sense of the justice of God. Sin, whatever it might be to other people, became to me an intolerable burden. It was not so much that I feared hell, but that I feared sin. I knew myself to be so horribly guilty that I remember feeling that if God did not punish me for sin He ought to do so.


I felt that the Judge of all the earth ought to condemn such sin as mine. I sat on the judgment seat, and I condemned myself to perish; for I confessed that had I been God I could have done no other than send such a guilty creature as I was down to the lowest hell. All the while, I had upon my mind a deep concern for the honor of God’s name, and the integrity of His moral government. I felt that it would not satisfy my conscience if I could be forgiven unjustly.


The sin I had committed must be punished. But then there was the question how God could be just, and yet justify me who had been so guilty. I asked my heart: “How can He be just and yet the justifier? ” I was worried and wearied with this question; neither could I see any answer to it. Certainly, I could never have invented an answer which would have satisfied my conscience.


The doctrine of the atonement is to my mind one of the surest proofs of the divine inspiration of Holy Scripture. Who would or could have thought of the just Ruler dying for the unjust rebel? This is no teaching of human mythology, or dream of poetical imagination. This method of expiation is only known among men because it is a fact; fiction could not have devised it. God Himself ordained it; it is not a matter which could have been imagined.



I had heard the plan of salvation by the sacrifice of Jesus from my youth up; but I did not know any more about it in my innermost soul than if I had been born and bred a Hottentot. The light was there, but I was blind; it was of necessity that the Lord himself should make the matter plain to me. It came to me as a new revelation, as fresh as if I had never read in Scripture that Jesus was declared to be the propitiation for sins that God might be just.


I believe it will have to come as a revelation to every newborn child of God whenever he sees it; I mean that glorious doctrine of the substitution of the Lord Jesus. I came to understand that salvation was possible through vicarious sacrifice; and that provision had been made in the first constitution and arrangement of things for such a substitution.


I was made to see that He who is the Son of God, co-equal, and co-eternal with the Father, had of old been made the covenant Head of a chosen people that He might in that capacity suffer for them and save them. Inasmuch as our fall was not at the first a personal one, for we fell in our federal representative, the first Adam, it became possible for us to be recovered by a second representative, even by Him who has undertaken to be the covenant head of His people, so as to be their second Adam.


I saw that ere I actually sinned I had fallen by my first father’s sin; and I rejoiced that therefore it became possible in point of law for me to rise by a second head and representative. The fall by Adam left a loophole of escape; another Adam can undo the ruin made by the first. When I was anxious about the possibility of a just God pardoning me, I understood and saw by faith that He who is the Son of God became man, and in His own blessed person bore my sin in His own body on the tree.


I saw the chastisement of my peace was laid on Him, and that with His stripes I was healed. Dear friend, have you ever seen that? Have you ever understood how God can be just to the full, not remitting penalty nor blunting the edge of the sword, and yet can be infinitely merciful, and can justify the ungodly who turn to Him?


It was because the Son of God, supremely glorious in His matchless person, undertook to vindicate the law by bearing the sentence due to me, that therefore God is able to pass by my sin. The law of God was more vindicated by the death of Christ than it would have been had all transgressors been sent to Hell. For the Son of God to suffer for sin was a more glorious establishment of the government of God, than for the whole race to suffer.



Jesus has borne the death penalty on our behalf. Behold the wonder! There He hangs upon the cross! This is the greatest sight you will ever see. Son of God and Son of Man, there He hangs, bearing pains unutterable, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God. Oh, the glory of that sight! The innocent punished! The Holy One condemned! The Ever-blessed made a curse! The infinitely glorious put to a shameful death! The more I look at the sufferings of the Son of God, the more sure I am that they must meet my case.


Why did He suffer, if not to turn aside the penalty from us? If, then, He turned it aside by His death, it is turned aside, and those who believe in Him need not fear it. It must be so, that since expiation is made, God is able to forgive without shaking the basis of His throne, or in the least degree blotting the statute book. Conscience gets a full answer to her tremendous question. The wrath of God against iniquity, whatever that may be, must be beyond all conception terrible.


Well did Moses say, “Who knoweth the power of thine anger?” Yet when we hear the Lord of glory cry, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” and see Him yielding up the ghost, we feel that the justice of God has received abundant vindication by obedience so perfect and death so terrible, rendered by so divine a person. If God himself bows before His own law, what more can be done? There is more in the atonement by way of merit, than there is in all human sin by way of demerit.



The great gulf of Jesus’ loving self–sacrifice can swallow up the mountains of our sins, all of them. For the sake of the infinite good of this one representative man, the Lord may well look with favor upon other men, however unworthy they may be in and of themselves. It was a miracle of miracles that the Lord Jesus Christ should stand in our stead and
Bear that we might never bear
His Father’s righteous ire.


But he has done so. “It is finished.” God will spare the sinner because He did not spare His Son. God can pass by your transgressions because He laid those transgressions upon His only begotten Son nearly two thousand years ago. If you believe in Jesus (that is the point), then your sins were carried away by Him who was the scapegoat for His people. What is it to believe in Him? It is not merely to say, “He is God and the Saviour,” but to trust Him wholly and entirely, and take Him for all your salvation from this time forth and forever–your Lord, your Master, your all.


If you will have Jesus, He has you already. If you believe on Him, I tell you you cannot go to hell; for that were to make the sacrifice of Christ of none effect. It cannot be that a sacrifice should be accepted, and yet the soul should die for whom that sacrifice has been received. If the believing soul could be condemned, then why a sacrifice? If Jesus died in my stead, why should I die also?


Every believer can claim that the sacrifice was actually made for him: by faith he has laid his hands on it, and made it his own, and therefore he may rest assured that he can never perish. The Lord would not receive this offering on our behalf, and then condemn us to die. The Lord cannot read our pardon written in the blood of His own Son, and then smite us. That were impossible.


Oh that you may have grace given you at once to look away to Jesus and to begin at the beginning, even at Jesus, who is the Fountain–head of mercy to guilty man! “He justifieth the ungodly.” “It is God that justifieth, ” therefore, and for that reason only it can be done, and He does it through the atoning sacrifice of His divine Son. Therefore it can be justly done-so justly done that none will ever question it-so thoroughly done that in the last tremendous day, when heaven and earth shall pass away, there shall be none that shall deny the validity of the justification.


“Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died. Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” Now, poor soul! will you come into this lifeboat, just as you are? Here is safety from the wreck! Accept the sure deliverance. “I have nothing with me,” say you. You are not asked to bring anything with you. Men who escape for their lives will leave even their clothes behind. Leap for it, just as you are.


I will tell you this thing about myself to encourage you. My sole hope for heaven lies in the full atonement made upon Calvary’s cross for the ungodly. On that I firmly rely. I have not the shadow of a hope anywhere else. You are in the same condition as I am; for we neither of us have anything of our own worth as a ground of trust.


Let us join hands and stand together at the foot of the cross, and trust our souls once for all to Him who shed His blood for the guilty. We will be saved by one and the same Saviour. If you perish trusting Him, I must perish too. What can I do more to prove my own confidence in the gospel which I set before you?


Excerpt From – All of Grace By Charles Haddon Spurgeon.



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