Justified by Faith
July 15th, 1956 @ 7:30 PM
JUSTIFIED BY FAITH
Dr. W. A. Criswell
7-15-56 7:30 p.m.
Now this morning we finished preaching through the first chapter of Galatians, and tonight we come to the second chapter. So you turn to the second chapter of the Book of Galatians; the second chapter, and we shall read it together, the second chapter of the Book of Galatians. Paul had just said in the first chapter that when he was converted, he did not go up to Jerusalem, but he went to Arabia. He did not confer with flesh and blood, but the gospel that he preached, not taught him by man, he received by direct revelation from Jesus Christ [Galatians 1:11-12]. Then after three years, he went up to Jerusalem and saw Simon Peter; other of the apostles saw he none, save James the Lord’s brother.
Now he begins in the second chapter. Fourteen years later he goes up to Jerusalem again, and the fourteen years corresponds with the Jerusalem Conference recorded in the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Acts, when the great altercation ensued over some who came from James down to Antioch and said to the Christians in Antioch, "You cannot be saved just by trusting Jesus: you must keep these rites and rituals and ceremonies in order to be saved." And a great altercation ensued. So they went up to Jerusalem, and here is where Paul speaks of that personal private report of that conference, by which he and Barnabas and Titus and others sat down and came to a final conclusion about that problem in Jerusalem.
All right, we are going to read together now the second chapter of the Book of Galatians, this fourteen years after. All right, now let’s read it together, Galatians 2, Galatians, the second chapter, now together: "Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also." By the way, Titus was a full-blooded Greek; he was a heathen Greek. He was an idolatrous Greek. He had never been in anywise connected with the religion of God, but he was converted out of idolatry into the glorious faith of Jesus. So when he took Titus with him, he was taking an uncircumcised converted Greek. All right:
And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.
But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:
And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person 🙂 for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:
But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;
(For He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles 🙂
And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
And when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
And the other Jews dissimulated likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
But when [I] saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.
I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
There was one thing in Paul’s life to which he gave all of his energies, and that was this: he was determined that the gospel, which he says is not a gospel, this gospel that he calls "another gospel," that the gospel that a man could be saved by self-righteousness, by self- merit, by the keeping of laws and rituals and ceremonies and ordinances, he was determined that it should have no quarter. He gave himself to this proposition: that not even the thin edge of the wedge of that doctrine might find any entrance into the church of Jesus Christ. And to that commitment did he earnestly and faithfully give the energies of his life.
In this passage that you have just read, there at the Jerusalem Conference he speaks of false brethren, who came to spy out the liberty that Paul and his compeers were preaching, that we were free from the duties and obligations and ceremonies of the old law; that in the liberty of Christ, we were saved by personal faith in Him. Then he says here in the fifth verse, "To them, to these false brethren we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour, not for a moment." Then he speaks of those in the church who seem to be somewhat. Who they were, he says, it makes no difference to him, because God is not a respecter of persons:
For they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me. The gospel that I preach is by direct revelation from heaven, and it did not come from men. And those so-called great leaders there in Jerusalem, they added nothing to me. But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel to the Gentiles was committed unto me, as the gospel to the Jew was committed to Simon Peter; (For He that wrought effectually in Peter preaching to the Jew, wrought effectually in me preaching to the Gentiles:) And when James,
– that’s the Lord’s brother and the pastor of the church there in Jerusalem –
When James, and Cephas – Simon Peter – and John,
– who wrote the Gospel and the Revelation, and the three epistles –
they seemed to be pillars, but when they saw the grace of God that was given unto me, they shook hands with Barnabas, and they shook hands with me; and bid us Godspeed in our preaching of the gospel to the heathen, while they would minister unto the Jewish nation. Now, not only was I independent in the revelation and in the gospel message that God delivered unto me, not only was I independent of those pillars, those great leaders there in the church at Jerusalem, but when Simon Peter came to Antioch, I withstood him to the face. And when I saw that they walked not uprightly in the truth of the gospel, but that Simon Peter dissimulated,
– that’s a beautiful word for "playing the hypocrite" –
But when I saw that Simon Peter dissimulated, and the other Jews, and even Barnabas dissimulated with him, when I saw that they walked not uprightly in the truth of the gospel, I said unto Simon Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest among the Gentiles like a Gentile, then why are you trying to compel the Gentiles to live like a Jew? We who are not sinners by nature, of the Gentiles, but have been brought up in the household of faith, and are of the seed of Abraham, why is it that you are trying to foist a burden and a yoke upon the neck of these Gentiles, that even we Jews were not able to bear? For a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ. For by the works of the law shall no man be justified, Jew or Gentile. I have been crucified with Christ, but I live. No, it is not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life I live by the faith of the Son of God, I live in Him who loved me, and gave Himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
Tell you it took somebody brave and courageous to do that, to do that.
You know, people are strange; strange people. Practically all people squirm and are squeamish in the presence of great pressure, practically everybody. They sneak out that little crevice, and they crawl under that little chip, and they hide in that dark little shadow. "Oh, don’t bring that up, that’s controversial. Oh, don’t mention that, don’t you quote me. Oh, don’t you say anything about that. Oh, you keep your mouth shut, you get in trouble. Ooh, don’t you know that the powers that will be will squelch you?" And so while the great thing is going on, and while this subject is being discussed, why, they go out to sip their tea, or to get a drink of water, or to babble their little gossip in dark places all around. I could easily see how the apostle Paul could have done that.
Here was a great principle and a great truth and a great revelation, and somebody had to stand up to Simon Peter himself. Think of that! Talking to the pope himself, think of that! Think of that! Isn’t that something? Isn’t that something? That’s Simon Peter that Paul is talking to: "And when Simon Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face. And when I saw that he walked not uprightly, I said to Simon Peter before them all, in the whole ecclesiastical court, thus did I say," [Galatians 2:11]. You know you can’t help but thrill at a thing like that.
A man with great, tremendous, illimitable courage, reminds me of Amos when he was preaching there in the court of Jeroboam II, up there at Bethel where the king had his chapel. Amos was preaching there, and Amaziah, the court ecclesiastic, the prelate of the court, Amaziah went to Jeroboam II and said, "Such and so says Amos; and the land cannot bear his words [Amos 7:10]. You stop his mouth." And Jeroboam II looked at Amaziah, his court prelate, and said, "You go down there and stop him." And so Amaziah came down to Amos, and he looked at Amos, and he said, "You, you, you smell of the farm, and you smell of the wilderness, and you smell of the country. You go back to the farm and the country where you came from. But don’t preach here. This is the king’s court, and this is the king’s house, and this is the king’s chapel. You go back to the wilderness and preach out there."
And Amos looked at Amaziah the prelate, the ecclesiastic, the appointed preacher, Amos looked at him and said, "That is the truth: I am no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son. I’m not a graduate of the seminary, and I wasn’t reared in the school of the prophets, that’s right. I was a herdsman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit: But the Lord God took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord God said unto me; Go prophesy unto My people Israel [Amos 7:14-15], The lion hath roared, who can but fear? The Lord God has spoken, who can but prophesy?" [Amos 7:3-8]. You don’t stop a man like that: called of God, and the thing’s afire in his bones.
Oh, the scenes all through God’s story where those things have happened; Savonarola in the presence of the prelate from Rome, or Martin Luther in the presence of the Diet of Worms, or John Knox in the presence of Mary Queen of Scots, or Obadiah Holmes in the presence of Governor Winthrop, or Martin E. Mueller in the presence of his Nazi judges; where the court, where the arm of the state, where the ruler tries to hush the voice of the man of God. That’s Paul. My, what a succession in which does he stand, and how he speaks!
Now let’s look at this thing that Paul is defending. Let’s talk about this thing of the righteousness of the law, the righteousness that comes by keeping ordinances and rituals and ceremonies, whether they be moral or ritualistic. Self-righteousness, self merit, that a man can be saved by doing something. Oh, he can be doing anything. The Jew, he will keep the law. Somebody else, he will be baptized. Somebody else, they’ll take the mass. Somebody else, they do penance, or they would do righteous acts, or they would do merciful deeds. Oh, it’s everywhere and in every religion, this thing of being saved by being meritorious, by doing good works, working your way to heaven, doing something in order to get to heaven.
Now, I say that’s a very interesting thing, and it has an unusual fascination and attraction for all humanity. It insinuates itself into the human heart of all of our fallen humanity. However you refute that doctrine, and however you inveigh against it, it will appear, and it will come back again and again and again; and there’s no end to it. There is a personal glory in it that seemingly appeals to our fallen nature.
Jack, I read this in your newspaper – this came out Thursday – listen to this that I read in the newspaper Thursday, "Mother of seven commits suicide by stake burning." Well that attracted my attention, so I read it. It’s a United Press report from Milan, Italy; and this is the report:
A mother of seven children burned herself at the stake in the hope of becoming a saint, police reported Wednesday. Officers said that Angelido Boren, sixty-eight, piled up straw and soaked it and herself with gasoline. Then she tied and gagged herself and set fire to the straw. "I shall die," she said in a note, "like Joan of Arc; and my soul will be received in the kingdom of heaven."
You never get away from it. The ancient day and the modern day, across the sea and here at home, the idea that I can be acceptable to God because of a meritorious work or act or deed that I shall do. I shall do this, or I shall do that, or I shall be that, or I shall resolve to do any other, and then by what I do I will be acceptable unto God. I say that doctrine has a strange fascination for the human heart.
There’s another thing about it: it is very plausible. It sounds good. It sounds reasonable. Why, a man ought to get up and he ought to preach, "Why sir, you ought to do good. And you ought to do this, and you ought to do that." And you would think by the preaching of that kind of a gospel, where a man is saved by being this, and doing that, and doing the other, why, you’d think that’d make fine people of them. When a man sees and knows that he ought to do these things, why, it’ll make him a better man; it sounds like a plausible doctrine. You ought to preach that in order for people to be better in God. I don’t know why, but the history of it works just exactly the opposite: the more you give your gospel to one of ethics and morality and deeds of righteousness, the worse people are. But when you give your gospel message to an appeal that people trust in Jesus as their personal Savior and look to Him, I don’t know why except God’s in it, a man will get holier and holier and holier as he gets closer and closer and closer to Jesus, until finally you’d never find in this world an honest, holy man boasting of his own righteousness or his own good deeds.
That’s a strange thing, how it works. The better a man gets, and the closer to God he gets, and the more he trusts in Jesus, the more will he look upon himself as a vile and an undone sinner, and the more will he say that, "I can’t be saved by my own righteousness, and my own goodnesses, and my own works, but I have to trust in the love and grace and mercy of Jesus Christ." Sounds plausible, but it works just the opposite.
Another thing about that doctrine, of being justified by works, by keeping a law, by doing good, another thing: there is one thing that all false religions have in common, all of them: every false religion in the days of the Assyrian, of the Babylonian, of the Egyptian, of the Oriental, of the ancient, of the modern, of the Greek and the Roman, every false religion that’s ever been in this world or still is, there is one thing that every false religion has in common, and it is this: that they all offer salvation by meritorious good works; every one of them, every one of them. When the man bows down before his false idols, he’ll seek to be saved because of a long pilgrimage that he makes, or a terrible endurance that he’s gone through, or acts of penance that he’s done, or some other terrible toil by which he sacrificed himself. The religion of Rome dangled before the eyes of her votaries the constant price of, "You’ll receive this, and you’ll be given that, if you’ll go through these beads so many times, or if you’ll climb up the Scala Santa on your knees, or if you’ll go through the four holy doors, or if you will do this, or do that, or do the other." Every one of those religions is exactly alike: you are saved, you are forgiven, you are justified by the good deeds and the good works that you do.
All right, what about that religion? What about that way? Why is it that Paul so inveighs against it? Knowing that a man is not justified, he’s not made righteous by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus: "For by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified" [Galatians 2:16]. What does he say, why? All right, this is his reason: for by trying to be justified by the works of the law, by being righteous, by doing righteous things, by keeping ordinances and ceremonies, whatever they are, he says, "By doing that, we frustrate the grace of God." Isn’t that a strange thing? That word "frustrate," "We frustrate the grace of God, atheto the charin tou theou, atheto, we atheto the grace of God" [Galatians 2:21]. Well, what does the Greek word atheto mean? Well, theto is a basic root verb meaning "to place, place," and a is an alpha privitive; like theos is God, atheos is against God, taking God away, an "atheist." Thetos a place is the grace of God; atheto, it’s taken away. You nullify it; you say it’s needless, take it away, take it away. We atheto the grace of God. The grace and mercy of God, if a man can be saved by his own meritorious works, the grace and mercy of God is atheto, it’s taken away, it’s nullified, it’s not needed, pushed aside.
Well, now just how? How is that? Why, it becomes evident when you think about it. Suppose a man is at the court, and he’s at the bar, and the judge is there. And the judge says, "I will be gracious to you, and I will be merciful to you. You plead the grace and the mercy of the court, and I will spare you." And the man stands up on his two feet, and he looks the judge square in the eye, and he says, "Mercy? Grace? I don’t want mercy! I don’t want grace! I’m here in this court to stand on my own right. I am an innocent man. I am a good man. I am a true man. And these accusations they are false. I have a clean, clear-cut case. I don’t want mercy in this court. I don’t want grace in this court. What I want is my right. I want justice!" You men who are lawyers, did you ever in your life hear an innocent man commended to the mercy of the court? Why, certainly not. If the man is righteous and good, let him plead for his rights and his justice. You’d never ask mercy for an innocent man. The only man that you’d ask mercy for is the man who has violated the law, and he’s condemned by the law, and you plead the court be merciful to the sinful man!
Same way about us before God: if you are a righteous man, and a holy man, and a meritorious man, and if you are blameless, you don’t plead the mercy of God, you don’t need the grace of God; stand on your feet and look God in the face and say, "Lord, look at my life: holy, blameless, righteous, without sin, I don’t need grace. I don’t need mercy. I stand on my own record holy, pure, and blameless, Lord. I want to walk into the golden city and walk on those beautiful streets." You don’t need grace, you don’t need mercy, you take it out of the way.
Well, I can just imagine that. Here is a self-righteous man who’s going to heaven on his own goodness, by keeping laws, or keeping resolves, or keeping ordinances, or however they choose, here’s a man going to heaven; and he stands up there before the judgment bar of God. And how does he plan to get in? Why, I can just see him, pride. I can just see him boastful in his own self righteousness. I can see that Pharisee as he rubs his hands and he says, "Oh, look at the good works of my life, how they must commend me to the great Judge and my Maker." I can see that boastful Pharisee as he goes home, and before he goes to sleep at night, he recounts the good deeds that he did that day, and he thinks, "Isn’t it marvelous. What a wonderful man I am, separated from the common and the vulgar herd."
I can see him get up the next morning, and he walks down the street, and he does it in great pride and self congratulation; and even looks upon himself as being very humble, and he marvels at his own condescension. I can just see him. He’s a good man, he’s a righteous man, he’s a fine man, he’s a true man, he’s justified in his own sight, and he’s going to be saved by his own good deeds. What does he need the grace of God for? What does he need the mercy of God for? Why, he frustrates, he takes away the grace of God; there’s no need for the grace or the love or the mercy or the atoning blood of Jesus for him. He’s righteous himself. He’s going to do it himself. He’s going to do it by keeping this, and doing that, and observing that; and he’s going right into heaven, justified by the works of the law. Isn’t that an amazing thing? Isn’t that an unusual thing?
You know the man who thinks those things in his heart, he trifles, he trifles with the very nature and character of God. He’s never come to any serious consideration of the great high and exalted Lord God Almighty, before whom the very heavens are not pure, and even the angels are charged with folly. He’s never got a view of the great, high, holy, wonderful, celestial God of all gods and Lord of all the heavens and earth. He’s never seen Him.
Strange thing how devout, good men many times are like that; Job, pride, boasting in his own righteousness, Job finally said in the last chapter of his book, "I had heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eyes seeth Thee: Therefore I abhor myself, and I repent in dust and in ashes" [Job 42:5-6]. Isn’t that strange? Job, the best man in all this world, but he knew he was the best man in all the world, and he was prideful and proud in his self-righteousness. But when he got a glimpse of the true God, he said, "I abhor myself, and I repent in dust and in ashes." Isaiah was like that. He said, "Woe is me! for I am undone: mine eyes have seen the glory of the Lord of hosts" [Isaiah 6:5].
Even the pure Virgin Mary, when the angel Gabriel saluted her, "Blessed art thou among women," the Bible says she was troubled in the presence of even the visitor, the celestial angel from heaven [Luke 1:28-29].
You? You? You? By your goodness? By your virtue? By your self righteousness? By your merit? By your good deeds? By something you’re going to do? You’re going to stand in the presence of the great God of all the earth and say, "Here am I, justified by my own works, justified by doing this, justified by doing that, justified by keeping this," you? It’s a trifle I say. You do frustrate the grace of God [Galatians 2:21].
Another thing, you do frustrate the grace of God, you take it away – of what use is the atoning sacrifice of Jesus if a man can be justified by the works of the law? If you can stand before God, and see the face of God, and go to heaven when you die, and live in glory, if you can do that by keeping the law, why the death of Christ? Why the new covenant? Why not just the old covenant? Why not you do this, and do this and you do this and you live? Why not be baptized, or take the mass, or keep the law, or have your children circumcised, or observe clean and unclean among meats, or keep a Sabbath day holy, or any other of a thousand things that you could name? Why don’t you do those things and be saved? Why not? Why the new covenant in the blood of Jesus? Why did He have to come? Why did He die on the cross? Why did God spill out His blood unto death if a man can be saved by keeping the law, why?
You do frustrate the grace of God, atheto, you silence the very hallelujahs in heaven if a man can save himself. For what are they singing up there in heaven? Listen to the song, listen to the song: "And they sang a new song in heaven, and this is what they sang: Unto Him, unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, to Him be glory, and honor for ever and ever and ever. Amen and amen" [Revelation 1:5-6]. That’s the song that they sang in heaven. But this is the way you’re going to sing it: "Unto us, unto us, who kept our robes white and spotless; unto us who needed not the atoning blood of Jesus Christ; unto us who by our good deeds saved ourselves; unto us be glory, and honor, and power for ever and for ever. Amen and amen." There’s no note like that sounded in glory, none. Just like oil will not mix with water, so in a man’s salvation will his meritorious self-righteousness ever mix with the atoning grace of Jesus Christ our Lord. Listen to Paul as he speaks of that in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Romans, listen to Paul as he says, "If we are saved by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work" [Romans 11:6].
A man can’t be saved by grace and by works at the same time. That is, he can’t be saved by a gracious gift of God and at the same time work for it; he can’t do it. Otherwise work is no more work, and grace is no more grace. If a man is saved by the gift of God and the mercy and grace of God, then he can’t work for it; because if he does, then it’s not a gift any longer. If a man offers me a gift, and I pay him for it, I don’t care what I pay him for it, it may be little, it may be much, it may be nothing practically, but if I pay him for it, he hasn’t given it to me; I’ve bought it. But if he gives it to me, if it’s of grace, then it can’t be of price, it can’t be bought, it can’t be by works. You can’t mix the two. Either I’m given it or I earn it; either it’s bestowed upon me by the grace of God, or I work for it; it’s one or the other.
And that’s what Paul says about our salvation: I’m either saved by grace, by the free gift and bestowal in Christ Jesus, or I am saved by working for it; one or the other, one or the other. If I am saved by the law, then I am saved by myself; I’m a self-savior, I work for it. And at the end of the day and at the end of the way, I come up to the Lord God, and I say, "God, I demand salvation. I demand entrance into the beautiful city and into the kingdom of God because, look, I have done this, and this, and this, and that’s the price of my salvation. And here’s the price, I have bought it. Open the door and let me in." That’s the way if a man works for it. But if it’s of grace, if it’s a gift, then the man comes and says, "’In my hands no price I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.’ I plead the mercy and love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Lord, help me, be merciful to me, remember me. Lord, Lord." It’s one or the other, not both.
I have to quit. We could just stay here all night long.
How is a man saved? How is a man saved? How is it that Paul says that a man is saved? That’s what he’s pleading for. A man is not justified by the works of the law: "I don’t care what you say. I’m going to be honest, and I’m going to be good, and I’m going to be righteous, and I’m going to be on and on and on." But a man is not justified, he’s not declared righteous in the sight of God by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ. "For by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified" [Galatians 2:16]. Well, how can a man be saved? This is the way you’re saved: you are crucified with Christ [Galatians 2:20].
See Him on the cross? That’s you; that’s me. See His suffering and His agony? That’s for you; that’s for me. See the terrible penalty for sin He is paying? That’s for you; that’s for me. See those drops of grief? They’re for me. See the tears from His eyes? That’s for me. See the wounds in His hands and His feet? That’s for me. See the great opening in His side and the blood of His life pouring out? That’s for me. Crucified for you, for me; dying for you, for me; dead up there with Jesus, the penalty for our sins paid. But I’m alive; I’m still speaking, and walking, and breathing, and thinking. But it’s not I any longer: I died up there on the tree. "It is Christ now that liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me" [Galatians 2:20].
In the love, and in the mercy, and in the open-hearted arms of Jesus is our hope, and our faith, our life now and in the world to come. My righteousnesses, they are as filthy rags in His sight [Isaiah 64:6]. Before the great, pure, holy God, anything I could do would never suffice to atone for my sins. I could never pay enough, I could never pilgrimage enough, I could never pray enough, I could never do penance enough, I could never work enough, I could never, never, never. After I’ve done it to the end of my life, still would I fall short of the glory of God [Romans 3:23], of the expectation of heaven; still a lost sinner, still undone, still damned, still outside, still unworthy.
How am I ever going to get in? How am I going to be saved? How shall I ever see the face of God? How shall I go to heaven when I die? Why, this is it: I shall plead in the court the grace and mercy of God, "Lord, I know I’m not righteous, and I know I’m not good, and I know I’m not perfect, and there are blemishes and faults in my life from beginning to end. But Lord, You said if a man is a sinner, if a man is a confessed sinner, if a man is a sinner, let him come unto Me, and My blood washes all sin away [1 John 1:7]. This is My blood which is shed for that purpose, for the remission of sins [Matthew 26:28]. And Lord, I’m a sinner. I’m a sinner. I’m a lost man. I’m an undone man, and I can’t save myself. I’m unable, I’m inadequate, I’m insufficient. Lord, I fall short. Remember me, Lord. Have mercy upon me. I plead Thy love and Thy grace and Thy goodness." And the promise is, "And he that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out" [John 6:37].
A man is saved by faith in Jesus, by looking to Jesus. "God be merciful to me, a sinner." And when the man prayed that prayer, he went to his home, what did Jesus say? "And he went down to his house justified, declared righteous in the presence of God" [Luke 18:13-14]; it is the righteousness by faith in Christ.
What about those good works, Ah? When you trust Jesus something happens to you, something happens to you. Something happens way down deep on the inside of you. The things before you didn’t love, now you do. The things before you passed by, now you see and embrace [James 2:18]. "The songs of Zion, sing them again. I love to hear one of God’s songs. The assembly of God’s people, I love the company and fellowship of the Lord’s people. I’ve got a new heart now on the inside.
And the Book, I love to hear a man open the Book and preach from the Book. Something’s happened to me down on the inside. And all of the expectations of God fall short, I know. Not what I ought to be, but by the grace of God, each day growing in strength and in power as I walk in the pilgrim’s journey from this world to the world to come." And the nearer you get to the Lord, and the nearer you get to the Holy City, and the nearer you get to the loving hands of Jesus, the more unworthy you’ll feel. "Lord, be merciful to me, help me, save me, O God, remember me" [Luke 23:42-43].
That’s justified by faith, by looking to Jesus; not proud and self-righteous, but His righteousness, His mercy, His grace lift us up, set our feet on the Rock, put us in the pilgrim way, walking by our sides to the glorious world that is yet to come. Ah, bless His name, and bless the gospel we tried to preach tonight. And bless this appeal to your hearts.
While we sing this song, while we sing this song, somebody you, a family you, a youth you, one somebody you, as God shall open the door and lead the way, and make the call, would you come and stand by me? "Here I am, pastor, and here I come; give you my hand, I’ve given my heart to God. I’m not looking to myself; I’m trusting Jesus. I’m trusting Jesus." Would you tonight? Would you tonight? Giving your heart in faith to Him, or putting your life with us in the church, while we sing this song and make the appeal, would you make it now? Come, while we stand and while we sing.
JUSTIFIED BY FAITH
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. The question – salvation by works or by faith in Jesus
A. The whole energies of Paul’s life given to salvation by grace through faith and not by works of the law (Ephesians 2:8-9)
B. Paul speaks of those at the Jerusalem Conference
1. The unnamed false brethren (Galatians 2:4-5)
2. The three "pillars" (Galatians 2:6-9)
3. He confronted Simon Peter, when he sided with ceremonial party (Galatians 2:11-14)
II. The courage of this brave apostle
A. Practically all people squirm in the presence of great pressure
B. Paul stood up to Simon Peter himself(Galatians 2:11)
C. A man with great, tremendous courage
1. Amos(Amos 3:8, 7:14-15)
III. Why is the idea of justification by works so persistent through the ages?
A. Exceedingly attractive, appealing – ministers to our pride
1. Mother of seven burned herself at the stake
B. It is plausible
C. A common denominator in all false religions
IV. Why the doctrine of self-justification is not of God(Galatians 2:16)
A. If we can be saved by our merit, there is no need for God(Galatians 2:21, Job 42:5-6, Isaiah 6:5, Luke 1:28-29)
B. If we can save ourselves, it makes the sacrifice of Jesus superfluous(Galatians 3:21)
C. Doctrine of salvation by works silences the hallelujahs of heaven(Revelation 1:5-6, 5:9-10, Romans 11:6)
V. How a man is saved
A. Not by works, but crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:16, 2:20)
B. We all fall short (Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:23)
C. His blood washes our sin away (1 John 1:7, Matthew 26:28, John 6:37)