A B C Ds of Justification - Acts 13:16-48 NIV
Justification -to declare righteous; to acquit; opposite of condemnation
The Greek for justification is dikaiosis
The Greek for righteousness is dikaiosune
A - Justification is an __________ of God.
Paul lays out the history of the Old Testament. Not just stories of Israelites. Stories of God's acts!
"God... chose our ancestors, led them out, overthrew seven nations, gave them judges, made David their king, brought the Savior Jesus, raised him from the dead, has fulfilled in us." Acts 13:17-34 NIV
At every point along the way we see the story of God chosing, overthrowing, giving, making, bringing, raising, fulfilling. Justification is no different. It is totally the gift of God! Comparing Adam and Jesus...
"Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification." Romans 5:16 NIV
Are you living out your Christian life as if it's to be it's up to thee? That's a tough way to go - with the responsibility of everything (including our righteousness) riding on our shoulders. Living out the gift of God's justification upon you is so much better. Such a wonderful gift!
B - Our justification is solely on the _____________ of the obedience and death of God's Son.
Some people struggle with this idea of God simply giving the gift of justification, the gift of making us right. What about justice? How is that fair? Can God simply declare it? Can God simply call wrongs right? NO! The gift isn't free. There was a terrible price.
"Through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you." Acts 13:38
God the Father proclaims forgiveness to us through Jesus. When God looks to us for righteousness He doesn't just see us. He sees us through Jesus. It is Jesus' righteousness placed upon us. Paul later explained it this way:
"For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." Romans 5:19 NIV
Both of these terms, "sinners" and "righteous" are legal terms explaining our positions. Solomon Mark - my newest grandchild, as pure and seemingly as perfect as can be, is born a sinner. Just like every other human. Why? Because of Adam's sin - infected all of us. In the same way Jesus' righteousness is made available to us through his obedience.
C - We are justified by faith alone when we _____________ our trust in Christ.
Confession means agreement. When I confess to God, I am agreeing with God. We usually consider confession in terms of confessing our sins. But there is also another confession in the life of every Christian - confessing our total trust in Christ for justification.
"Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses." Acts 13:39 NIV
Often Christians are referred to as "believers." We believe in Christ. That belief is not just that He exists, or that He is the Son of God. Our confession is our belief in Jesus and Jesus alone that we are justified before God - that we are righteous before God. And this not because of anything we have done or could ever do. "Not under the law of Moses" means we don't become righteous by following all the rules. Our righteousness is Christ's righteousness - and that is a total gift!
"Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness." Romans 4:4-5 NIV
We've talked about justification as a legal term, a declaration by God in His court. But we could also talk about it in accounting terms - debits and credits. We don't receive (credit) righteousness because of our doing (wages, debit). God doesn't OWE US. But out of a gracious heart, He translates our faith (belief) in Jesus into the credit of righteousness.
So then, what is our motivation for living a righteous life?
D - Saving faith must ______________ itself genuine by life change and good works.
A true, real Christ-follower would never intentionally drag Christ and his sacrifice for us through the mud of repeated, sinful, unrighteous living. There will always be a change in us.
"When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed." Acts 13:48
Jesus told us that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. We will follow and obey his instructions. We will live to do His will and not our own. This is the heart's desire of every Christian. It is the confirmation of our appointment for eternal life. We struggle with this - are we righteous because we believe? Or are we believers because we were appointed by God to believe? The answer to both questions is "yes." We could never choose God unless He first chose us. It's all Christ! And yet at the same time we have chosen to trust Christ. How could we "choose" if we never had a choice? We couldn't. God chose us. We chose Him. We live out that dynamic of God's work in our life by always working for His will!
"What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?" James 2:14 NIV
"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." Galatians 5:6 NIV
Our living out the Christian values that Christ laid out for us comes as the natural desire of all who genuinely love Christ and believe in Him and want to follow Him. Our genuine faith always expresses itself in genuine love. Love is expressed through righteous acts. Righteous acts come out of a wellspring of righteousness (justification) given us by God alone!