Yesterday was Good Friday, a day that is set aside to celebrate the death of Jesus Christ. It is called “good” because of His death.
A lot of people ask why is a dude’s death something to celebrate and the answer is quite simple.
Christ died so we could live! His death was the atoning sacrifice for our sins. By his death He has also brought about our Justification and Sanctification!
We looked at the Atonement yesterday and today we will look at Justification. Christ, by His death atoned for our sins but he also Justified us before the Father!
As in atonement, to understand what it is we must ask certain questions and seek the answers.
The First question is: “What does Justification mean?”
Justification is simply being made into right standing with God, being made righteous and law-abiding. Some would say another simple definition is: “just as if I never sinned”. 1 John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”. The law showed us just how sinful we are and how we could never meet a standard of being justified on our own the law was placed into motion to point us to Christ (Galatians 3:21-25), because we are all sinners and have fallen short of the Glory of God (Romans 3:23). Thus, God sent Christ into the world to die, so that we may be justified by Faith in him, his death and resurrection! (Galatians 3:1-14)
What is the basis on which God justifies the sinner?
John 3:16 tells us that because of God’s love, he sent his son. It is upon us to accept that He died and rose for us, in order for us to be justified (Romans 10:9-10) and then it is by that faith (Galatians 3:22-25) that we receive the once, for all death of Christ which imputes His righteousness into us and makes us Justified before the sight of God.
Again in Galatians 2:16, we see the clear-cut basis in which God justifies the sinner: “know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.”
Where in Scripture is Justification talked about?
Galatians 2:16 “know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.”
Romans 10:9-10 “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”
Galatians 3:23-25 “Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ[a] that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.”
Romans 4:5 “However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.”
These passages are some of the primary passages dealing with justification. Christ’s death was a once for all event, in which if a person puts their faith in his death and resurrection, they will receive justification and new life (regeneration). God’s wrath demands blood for sins, Christ offered his own and was our sacrifice so that we could be justified and live to righteousness (1 Peter 2:24). He will justify wicked people (as we all are before coming to Christ—Romans 3) and bring them into right relationship with Himself through the blood of Christ, for this atones for our sin and imputes the righteousness of Christ into us. (Romans 3:21-24) . This imputation is an imputation of Christ’s Spirit, which when we believe through faith that He is Lord and He raised from the dead, we will receive. Romans 8:8-11 says: “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”
What is the nature of the change brought about by justification?
When a person is justified, they become a new person. The old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is also known as regeneration. The person who is now justified will be now living in and by the Spirit (Romans 8, Galatians 2&3). The Spirit will guide and direct them. The faith they have will bring them justification and this justified person will begin to do works of faith through the power of the Spirit. James says: “…Faith without works is dead”. This doesn’t mean that we receive justification through works, so we can boast about our greatness (Ephesians 2:8-9), but it means that we will be so transformed we won’t be able to help ourselves from lovingly following Christ’s commands. They now stand righteous before Christ, they now can die to sin and live for righteousness (1 Peter 2:24).
Justification will then lead to a discussion about Regeneration…
When a person is justified, they become a new person. The old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is also known as regeneration. Both of these events: justification and regeneration happen instantly and simultaneously. They are not separate, but part of the same event of salvation. 1 Peter 3:18 says that Christ died for sin, once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous. Regeneration happens, when we believe by faith that Christ died and rose again, because it is at this time the Spirit indwells us (Romans 8, Galatians 2&3). We know that this is the moment of regeneration as well as justification, for Jesus Himself says in John 3:3-6 that to be Born of the Spirit is to be born again.
Regeneration is best defined by Scripture. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” The old us, the sinful us was crucified with Christ, and we have been re-born! 1 Peter 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”
Where does Scripture talk about Regeneration?
John 1:12-13 “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
1 Peter 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”
1 John 2:29 “If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.”
Who performs the work of regeneration?
The Spirit performs regeneration. John 3 is very specific on this point, Spirit gives birth to Spirit. We can only be Born or God through the Spirit of Christ (John 1:12-13).
What attitudes must be present in the individual before regeneration can take place?
There must be an attitude of remorse for your sins, a realization that you are sinful and that you deserve death. The your attitude should shift to realizing that only through Christ can one be saved. It is the gift of God, you must realize that you yourself can not achieve it, or attain it outside of Christ.
What is the nature of the change brought about by regeneration?
Romans 8:5-10 says: “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man[e] is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind[f] is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.” So, we are now controlled by the Spirit of God, rather than our sinfulness. 1 John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Meaning that this change purifies us from all unrighteousness. 1 Peter 2:24 says: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” Meaning that we no longer have to live for our sinful nature but can now live for righteousness! Being made new allows us to live new lives, empowered by the Spirit of God, our Helper (John 12).