Tag Archives: good

Why Justification Must be By Faith Alone

Far from something we can acquire by meritorious works, justification is the legal act whereby God declares sinners as righteous solely because of the finished work of Christ. In the once-for-all work of justification, the Judge of all the earth (Gen. 18:25) pronounces guilty sinners as “not guilty” because of the double imputation which occurred on the cross, where God imputed the believer’s sin to Christ and imputed His perfect righteousness to them. Thus, justification has “two sides,” namely, the removal of sin’s punishment (since it was paid by Christ), and the “crediting” of righteousness to the believer’s account (since Christ lived a perfectly righteous life). Therefore, it can rightly be said that Jesus did not merely die for sinners; He lived for them. The great exchange of justification, then, is the transferal of the sinner’s guilt to Christ (although He was sinless) and the transferal of Christ’s righteousness to the sinner (although he is sinful). As Paul aptly stated in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Moreover, justification via the finished work of Christ is the only legitimate and just way for sinners to become righteous in God’s sight without jeopardizing God’s own moral demands or holiness (cf. Romans 3:21-26). The Scripture is clear that God is too just to ignore, forget, or even forgive sin without full payment of its penalty. The “wages of sin” and “the record of debt” must be paid in order to satisfy God’s righteous indignation toward sin and sinners (Rom. 6:23; Col. 2:14). Additionally, God is too holy to allow anything less than absolute righteousness and perfection to dwell in His eternal presence (Psalm 15:1-5; Matt. 5:48). And in Christ’s work of justification, He meets both demands: God’s just wrath is propitiated by His atoning sacrifice, and God’s demand for righteousness is met by the crediting of Christ’s righteousness to those who lay hold of justification by faith.

Furthermore, justification is evidently a single decisive event, rather than a continuous process to which we contribute through good works. Because justification is a legal act of acquittal, it fundamentally cannot be a “process of reform.” A judge’s sentence cannot be reversed, revoked, or revised; once the gavel is swung, the case is closed. Likewise, the Lord as Judge has “closed the case” for those who are justified by faith, and His word that is “firmly fixed in the heavens” (Psalm 119:89) is this: “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies” (Rom. 8:33). Additionally, the Scripture attests to the finality of justification in saying that Jesus’ death was, “once for all” (Rom. 6:10; Heb. 9:26), as even Jesus proclaimed from the cross: “It is finished” (John 19:30).

Ultimately, believers are “justified by his grace as a gift” (Romans 3:24a; cf. Eph. 2:8-9). This is because, by definition, justification cannot be achieved through good works (as stated above). As Paul taught in Galatians, “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16). Paul also taught just as Abraham believed and it was “counted to him as righteousness,” so God also counts Christ’s righteousness to the believer when they believe in Him and receive justification as a gift of His grace (Romans 4:1-12; cf. also Romans 5:1). Moreover, Paul stated that Christ died for no reason if justification is by any other work than His meritorious work: “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose” (Gal. 2:21).

God would simply be an unjust judge if justification could be received by good works. A corrupt judge is one who reduces a criminal’s sentence or fully pardons him based on the “good” he has done in his life. The criminal cannot tip the scales in his favor, as though his good deeds could outweigh his guilt. Justice demands that he be punished for his misdeeds, and a good judge will make certain that he is. And in the work of justification, God not only justly punished sin in punishing Christ, He also bestows Christ’s “alien righteousness” (Phil. 3:8-9) upon sinners who claim it by faith alone. Therefore, the only good work one needs in order to obtain justification is the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English shepherd), and Dot (beagle).

Guilty Stains | Bible Gleanings – May 29-30, 2021

Guilty Stains

Once you are in the chair, they bring out the laser, pull the trigger, and a barrage of sizzling beams penetrate your skin. Remain calm—this is not what happens when aliens abduct you—they have to fight Tom Cruise first. This is the experience of thousands of people who have undergone the procedure of laser tattoo removal in order to eliminate unwanted tattoos. Since the commercialization of “Q-switched lasers” in the 1990s, dermatologists have made a fortune from people willing to foot the bill to have tattoos removed that they regret.

According to one study, 78% of tattooed individuals regret at least one of their tattoos. 31% regret getting inked because the tattoo is no longer relevant. An ex-girlfriend’s name was dotted on their chest, or a blue horseshoe was stamped on their arm when they were superfans of the Indianapolis Colts. About 5% are annoyed with their tattoos because they have a negative effect on their professional life. And 40% shake their heads because their tattoos were poorly done. Ironically, one fellow got a tattoo that read, “No Regerts.”

This is why many have turned to the laser to get them removed. After the scorching laser drills into the skin, the tattoo ink absorbs the heat and shatters into tiny fragments that eventually flush away with time. However, every dermatologist will admit that some tattoos will never fully disappear, even with multiple laser treatments. In many cases, the laser is only powerful enough to fade or lighten tattoos. Some marks will never go away no matter how hard you try.

Whether or not you have tattoos, you are marked from head to toe by something that nothing on earth can remove: the guilty stain of sin. Because of the Fall, your heart and hands are blotched by the black ink of evil. And no amount of human effort can expunge the guilty imprint of sin upon you. A million-dollar offering to your church won’t burn it off. A fifty-year membership at the biggest church in town won’t eliminate it. A thousand gallons of baptism waters won’t wash it away. A hundred hours a year at the food pantry won’t erase the stain of sin on your soul either. As God Himself says, “Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the LORD GOD” (Jeremiah 2:22).

The blood of Jesus is the only efficient stain remover for sin. The word of God declares, “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7b, KJV). As William Cowper wrote in 1771, “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins; and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.” Plunge in by faith (Eph. 2:8-9), and receive total purification for your sins—you won’t regret it.

Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. 

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

Day 8: Good News of Great Joy

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” —Luke 2:10-11

It is always pleasant to receive good news. More often than not, the news we hear is not good. This is because we don’t live in a good-news-world. I remember asking a cashier at Walmart if she’d heard any good news recently and she said, “I work at Walmart, what do you think?” Bad news prevails today—nearly every week you hear of something tragic such as gun violence or a natural disaster. It would encourage us all to hear more good news than bad.

The good news, however, is that there is good news. And this good news is pervasive and perennial—relevant for all generations ever since it was first announced 2,000 years ago. This good news (the greatest news) is that the Savior had come—He had been born in Bethlehem. And this news is greater than the news that Santa has visited your home with gifts. The long-awaited Messiah, the Savior of God’s people, He had finally come to earth to bring salvation.

The angel said to the shepherds that he came bearing good news of great joy. And there are four features to this good news. First, this good news calms fears: “Fear not.” The shepherds do not need to fear. The good news of Christ’s coming to the world eliminates fear of judgment or death. Second, this good news produces joy. It is the good news of “great joy.” The good news of Christ’s coming produces great joy, bliss, and gladness. Third, this good news is for everyone—it is for “all the people.” The good news of Jesus is for you, no matter where you come from, who you are, or what you’ve done. Fourth and finally, the good news is about Jesus. One who is Savior, Christ, and Lord has come.

Good news like this deserves to be believed and published. So, do you believe it? Do you believe that Christ came into the world to bring salvation for you? And if you do believe it, who do you know that doesn’t? Will you publish this good news of great joy to them?

profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie, Aries, and Dot.

Day 3: A Savior Better Than Santa

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them.” —Luke 2:8-9a

Santa is not very inclusive—he only brings gifts for good boys and girls. He even puts you on the naughty list if you’ve been behaving badly. Those who receive presents from Santa are children most qualified to receive them. The Lord Jesus, by contrast, gives the greatest gift to those who are the least qualified to receive it. He came to earth to grant eternal life to undeserving sinners.

The mission of Christ to save the least likely people is seen in the fact that shepherds were the first to hear the good news of His coming. The advent of Jesus was not announced to kings or emperors, but to some of the most insignificant persons in Judean society. Although shepherds were important, the culture viewed them as minuscule. In fact, they couldn’t even testify in court. Yet, an angel of the Lord appeared to them and they became the first recipients of the news that the Savior had been born.

The Gospels reinforce the idea that He cares for the low-ranking people of the world. The first disciples were fishermen. The kind of people He healed were lepers, paralytics, and those possessed by demons. He ate with tax collectors and sinners. He cared for widows and the sexually immoral. Jesus came for the least qualified—as He Himself said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32).

The good news of Jesus is for you, too. You don’t have to be outstandingly qualified to receive His gift of eternal life. The Lord Jesus will grant salvation to you, no matter who you are or what you have done. By repentance and faith (Acts 17:30; Eph. 2:8-9), eternal life can be yours even if you are sexually immoral, idolatrous, adulterous, greedy, or addicted (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Jesus is a significant Savior who came for insignificant people—that’s another reason why Jesus is better than Santa.

profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie, Aries, and Dot.