The Declaration of Righteousness


The Declaration of Righteousness

August 8th, 1982 @ 8:15 AM

Galatians 2:16-21

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.
Print Sermon
Play Audio

Show References:

Soteriology: The Declaration of Righteousness

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Galatians 2:16-21

8-08-82     8:15 a.m.

It is a gladness for us to welcome the multitudes of you who are sharing this hour with us on radio, and no less a gladness to welcome back our Chapel Choir from their annual summer tour; this time to the West Coast, particularly to California.  And I have some of the most encouraging letters I have received about the Chapel Choir and their witnessing work.  They must have done a beautiful thing for the Lord.  Some of these letters I have published, am publishing, in the “Pastor’s Pen,” in our Reminder.

This one is from a Chapel Choir sponsor Jerry and Beverley Young.  “Dear pastor,” writing from California:

Just a note to let you know how much we appreciate being a part of the Chapel Choir.  The tour went so well and we’re so thankful to the Lord for a safe and Spirit-filled tour.  The leadership of Steve Philips has been such a blessing to our lives, and he is so well accepted by the ministers of the churches we were in, with his warm smile and personality . . .

that is why you married the wonderful girl you did: that smile and personality –

Yesterday we were able to visit and sing in Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church with Dr. E. V. Hill,” that’s in Watts,

Which was quite an experience, but an experience rarely given to our young people, and we shall always remember it.  This was our fifth Chapel Choir tour, and we feel the best as far as our spiritual attitudes, leadership, and opportunities to witness to the lost.  Thank you for allowing us to go and represent our great church.  We are looking forward to seeing you on Sunday.

In Christian love,

Jerry and Beverly Young.

Isn’t that sweet?  Are they here this morning, I wonder?  Is that couple here?  They will sure be here tonight.  Oh, they sing in the Sanctuary Choir; that is good.

The Chapel Choir will have our service tonight.  And because of the great throngs that want to listen to them, and rejoice in the favor of God upon them, they will also have a like service tomorrow night, Monday night. Is it the same time?  Is it at 7:00 o’clock, both evenings?  Always on Sunday evening at 7:00 and Monday at seven 7:00, and we are all invited to come, and we look forward to their beautiful testimony in song and in word.

This is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas delivering the message entitled The Declaration of Righteousness.  It is one of the doctrinal sermons on soteriology; on our salvation, the doctrine of justification.  Our text is going to be in the second chapter of Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia, Galatians, chapter 2, beginning at verse 16.  Galatians chapter 2 beginning at verse 16:

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, 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 are still sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.  I cannot build again the things which I destroyed, if I do, I make myself a transgressor.  For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto Christ –

And then that one most famous passage –

For 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.

[Galatians 2:16-21].

First of all: a definition of justification.  Whether you read about it in Hebrew or in Greek, in both the languages the same root words are the same, both for the word “righteousness” and for the word “justification.”  In Hebrew, it is tsedeq, tsedeq, which means “to be righteous, to be declared righteous, to be justified.”  In Genesis 15:6, quoted in Galatians 3:6, “Abraham believed God: and his faith was accounted for tsedaqah,” the substantive form of tsedeq, translated “and his faith was accounted for righteousness, for justification.”

In Greek, it is dikaios, which means “just” or “righteous.”

·         In Matthew 1:19: “Joseph, being a dikaios  man,” a just man, a righteous man.

·         In Matthew 5:45, “God sendeth His rain on the dikaios and on the adikaios, on the just and the unjust.”

·         In Matthew 9:13, “I came not to call, says the Lord Jesus, the dikaios, the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

·         In Acts 10:22, “Cornelius the centurion, a dikaios man,” a just man, a righteous man.

·         In Romans 1:17, “The just,” the dikaios, “shall live by faith.”

·         In Romans 3:10, “There is none dikaios, righteous, just, no, not one.”

The verbal form of the word in Greek is dikaioō, “to pronounce, or trust” or to treat as righteous, to hold guiltless, to justify.

·         In Luke 18:14 that publican went down to his house justified, dikaioō.

·         Romans 8:30, “Whom He called, He justified.  And whom He justified, He glorified.”

There is another substantive form of that verbal form dikaioo: dikaiosis, which means “acquitted, justification,” acquittal or justification.

·         Romans 4:25: “Jesus was delivered for our offenses, and He was raised for our justification,” to keep us safe.

·         Romans 5:18: “As by the offense of one judgment came upon all men . . . so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”

It’s the same word, “As the offense by one judgment came upon men . . . so by the righteousness,” dikaiosis, “of one the free gift came upon men unto dikaiosis.”  Justification, righteousness, justification, it’s the same word.

So when we speak of the doctrine of justification, we’re talking about how God makes us righteous.  How can a man who is a sinner, and all of us are sinners [Romans 3:23], how can someone who is a sinner ever stand in the presence of a Holy God to whom even the heavens are not pure [Job 15:15, 25:5], and the angels are accounted as full of folly? [Job 4:18].  How is that?  How can a sinner stand before God?  How does God justify us?  Save us?  Accept us as being righteous?  [Ephesians 1:6].

Now, the doctrine of justification is that judicial act by which God, on the basis of the atoning death of Christ to whom the sinner is joined by faith, declares that we have paid the penalty of our sin by death, the death of Christ for us [Romans 4:25, 6:23]; and that we are no longer exposed to the penalty of death – the courts would call that double jeopardy – and that we are now accounted as favored in the presence of God. That is justification [Romans 3:22, 4:5].

God once condemned; now He acquits.  God once repelled us sinners from His presence; now He accepts us in gracious favor.  Not that we are not still sinners, but God ideally looks upon us as sinless, righteous.  Not that we are pure and innocent, but that God receives us as such.  In His eyes, we are ideally pure and sinless and righteous.  Not actually, but received as such: on the basis of the death of Christ, the Lord accepts us in His gracious favor [Ephesians 1:6].

It’s like this: an agriculturalist, an agronomist, a botanist, walking along, and someone points out to him a little thing, a little shoot, a little green leaf about an inch long, and asks the agriculturalist, “What is that?”  And he says, “That’s an oak.  That’s an oak.”  Well an oak is a great spreading tree, a magnificent creation of God, and you say that is an oak?  That little old thing is not more than an inch long.  It’s not an oak in fact, it is an oak only in ideal truth of what it could be, what it may be, what it someday will be.  It is imputed to it that it’s an oak.  The agriculturalist imputes to it all of those magnificent characteristics of a great oak tree.  So God does that with us.  In His grace and mercy, He imputes to us righteousness and holiness [Romans 3:22, 4:5].

We read in Numbers 23:21, when Balak the king of Moab hired Balaam to curse Israel [Numbers 22:2-6], instead of cursing, he blessed Israel [Numbers 23:20].  And he quotes the Lord as saying, “The Lord hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob,   neither hath He seen perverseness in Israel: the Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a King is among them” [Numbers 23:21].  But can you believe that?  “God hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob.”  Have you read the Bible?  Have you even read about Jacob, much less all of his children?  “Neither hath He seen perverseness in Israel.”  Never was anyone more perverse than the history of Israel.  But God sees them in the ideal, in His love, and in His grace, and in His mercy.  And the whole Bible in dealing with God’s people [is] like that.

In the third chapter of the Book of Zechariah, Zechariah the prophet sees Joshua the high priest standing, ministering before the Lord, clothed in filthy garments, and Satan at his right hand to accuse him.  And Satan stands at the right hand of Joshua the high priest and points out the filthy robes in which he is covered, in which he is dressed.  And the Lord God says, “Not so.”  And God clothes him with beautiful rainment and puts the miter on his head [Zechariah 3:1-5].  God stands between every accusing tongue and His people.  God does that.  Isn’t that remarkable?

As Romans 8:33 avows, “Who can lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?  It is God that justifieth.”  It’s something God does.  Anselm was the archbishop of Canterbury in about 1100 A.D.  And Anselm, who was a great theologian – you read theology, you’ll read about Anselm – Anselm wrote a tract for the consolation of the dying who were alarmed on account of sin, and all of us are.  And the following I have taken out a part of that tract that Anselm wrote to comfort those who were dying.  Now you listen to it.  “Question: Dost thou believe,” now this is a minister speaking to someone, one of his parishioners, one of his church members who’s dying.  The minister asked,

Dost thou believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died for thee?

And the answer: I believe it.

Question: Dost thou thank Him for His suffering and death?

I do thank Him.

Dost thou believe that thou canst not be saved except by His death?

I believe it.

Then the minister addresses the dying man, Anselm writes, and the minister says:

Come then, while life remaineth in thee, in Christ alone place thy whole trust.  In naught else place thy trust.  To His death commit thyself wholly.  With this alone, cover thyself.  And if the Lord thy God will to judge thee, [say] ‘Lord, between Thy judgment and me, I present the death of our Lord Jesus, no otherwise can I contend with Thee.’  And if God shall say that thou art a sinner, say thou, ‘Lord, I interpose the death of Jesus Christ between my sins and Thee.’  If God say that thou hast deserved condemnation and death, say, ‘Lord I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between my evil deserts and Thee.  And His merits I offer, those which I ought to have and do not have.’  And if God say that He is wroth with thee, say ‘Lord, I oppose the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between Thy wrath and me.’  And when thou hast completed this, say again, ‘Lord, I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between Thee and me.’

Now, that is justification.  That’s how a sinner can be saved.  That’s how he can stand in the presence of God: by virtue of the death of our Lord [2 Corinthians 5:21].

Now we go to the second discussion, the second part.  Justification pertains to the person of the man himself, and not to the works of the man.  That is the opposite of the world.  The world in its wisdom says that the man is justified because of his works, and God has respect unto the works of a man, the good deeds of the man, and then therefore He accepts the man; He has respect unto the man.  The Bible says the opposite of that.  God has respect unto the man himself, to the person of the man himself, and then He has respect unto his works.

Now I’m going to read to you the beginning of this whole thing of salvation.  In the fourth chapter of the Book of Genesis, “And Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock,” in the fourth verse, “and the Lord had respect unto Abel first and then to his offering [Genesis 4:4].  But unto Cain, to him first and then to his offering, God had not respect” [Genesis 4:5].  God has respect to the man himself and then to the offerings of the works, or the good deeds that he does.  Not the other way around, that God respects the good works, and on the basis of his good works, then God receives the man.  The other way around, always!

In the twenty-third Psalm:

The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leads me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

[Psalm 23:1-3]

Always that order, “He restoreth my soul” [Psalm 23:3].  First, it’s the man himself and then his works.

In the worship of God in the tabernacle and in the temple, first there is the altar, there is the sacrifice for the sins, the atoning grace of God for the man, and then there is the door into the sanctuary beyond [Exodus 40:6].  First there is sacrifice for the sinner, and then there is the approach to God [Hebrews 10:19-22].  God has respect unto the man himself first, and then He has respect unto his works [Genesis 4:4].

Now, I want to show you that where you can see it plainly.  When I was a youth, Al Capone was the head of the biggest and most famous ring of the underworld, darkness, blackness, sin, iniquity, everything that you could imagine.  Organized crime in America was headed by Al Capone.  They were never able to touch him.  Finally, they sent him to prison on account of an income tax violation.  But for the years of Al Capone’s reign, as the head of the vice and iniquity of organized crime in the underworld, they were never able to touch him.  Why?

Well, I was in Chicago as a young man, and I was in Cicero, where – that’s a branch, suburb of Chicago – where Al Capone lived.  And I asked those people up there in Cicero, “How is it that Al Capone reigns king in Cicero, in Chicago and in the organized crime of America?”  Did it for a generation.  Well, I found in Cicero, if there was a poor widow who needed coal, Al Capone saw that she got coal.  If there was a poor family whose electricity was about to be cut off, Al Capone paid the electric bill.  If there were orphans to be taken care of, Al Capone took care of the orphans.  If there was a charity to support, Al Capone took care of the charity.  He was the epitome of a father image who took care – I mean wonderful care – of all of his people.  And when they went to the polls to vote, for whom did they vote?  They voted for the ticket of Al Capone!  Yet the man was as low down and as crooked as any man who ever lived in America!

That’s what I’m talking to you about.  God looks on the man, not upon his works, and God has respect unto the man, not his works.  And a man is justified on the inside of him in his relationship to God, not by his so-called good works.

You have that all through the Bible.  When Samuel was sent to anoint a new king to take the place of Saul, God sent him to the house of Jesse in Bethlehem, and Jesse called him to the sacrifice, to a sanctification [1 Samuel 16:1-5].  And he said to Jesse, “Have your sons pass before me.”  And the firstborn son, Eliab, stood before Samuel, tall and strong and good looking.  And Samuel said in his heart, “This is he.  This is he.”  But God said to Samuel, “I have rejected him” [1 Samuel 16:6-7].

So Samuel said, “Do you have another son?”  And his second son, Abinadab passed before him, and he was as fine.  And Samuel said, “This is he.  This is he!”  God said, “I have rejected him” [1 Samuel 16:8].  And he said to Jesse, “Do you have another son?” And the third boy passed by, Shammah, and when Samuel saw him, he said, “Surely this is he!”  And God said to Samuel, “I have rejected him” [1 Samuel 16:9].

And all seven sons of Jesse passed by before Samuel.  And each time God said, “I have rejected him” [1 Samuel 16:10].  And in desperation, Samuel the prophet turned to Jesse and said, “Are these all of your boys?”  And Jesse said, “No.  I have got a little fellow keeping the sheep, but he is not even grown.  He does not have a beard.  He is just a boy.”  Samuel said, “We will not be seated ’til you get him here!”  And they fetched David, and when David came, God said to Samuel, “This is he!” [1 Samuel 16:11-12].  And Samuel said to the Lord God, “I do not understand.”  And God said to Samuel, “Man looks on the outside, but God looks on the heart!” [1 Samuel 16:7].  Now that’s the difference.

We are impressed by these outward things: good works and fine intentions, and sometimes the demonstration of them as we see in men of the world.  But God looks on the man in his soul, in his heart – God has respect unto the man, unto Abel, and then He has respect unto his works [Genesis 4:4].  That is justification, a God’s kind of righteousness.

Now, self-justification: self-righteousness has an exceedingly attractive and persistent appeal.  It just does.  It’s plain why it would.  It glorifies the man.  It’s hydra-headed.  No matter how many times you refute it, it rises again in human nature.  It is a characteristic of fallen humanity to glorify itself, to justify itself: “I did it.  I did it.”

I came across a U.P., a United Press little newspaper item.  And I cut it out and pasted it to this piece of paper.  “A mother of seven children burned herself at the stake in the hope of becoming a saint,” police reported.  “Officers said that Angelide Borsan, 48 years old, mother of seven children, 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.'”  That is humanity.  “I will glorify myself.  I will justify myself.  I will do it.”  It appeals.  “I did it.”

Another thing about it, about self-justification: it sounds plausible.  It’s one of those so-called self-evident truths.  Preach righteousness, and you will encourage your people to virtue.  Well, you’d think that would be true.  In experience, it is just the opposite.  The man who prides himself on his goodness and self-righteousness will almost always, will always be a man of the world.  He’ll be unregenerate.  He’s out there speaking of himself and presenting himself as a good, righteous, and upright kind of a man.  And he’ll stand on his own feet when he faces the judgment of Almighty God.  Now that’s a worldly, unconverted man.

But a saintly man, without exception, a saintly man will always bow in the presence of the great Lord Jesus and say, “I am the chief of the sinners” [1 Timothy 1:15] or “I am the least of the saints” [Ephesians 3:8].  Or, “I cast myself upon the mercies of God” [Luke 18:13].  A saintly man will be the last man in the world to boast of his goodness and of his righteousness.  It’s just the opposite of what you would think.

Another characteristic, another thing about self-justification, self-righteousness: it is the common denominator – it is the common doctrine of all false religions, all of them.  The one thing all false religions have in common is this: the doctrine that we’re going to be saved by our good works, by our self-righteousness, by our self-justification.  It’s a fatal error in human nature.  “I am going to justify myself before God by” and then you just name it.  “I’m going to justify myself before God by doing penance,” or “I’m going to fast,” or “I’m going to endure personal suffering,” or “I’m going to make a long pilgrimage, such as to Mecca,” or “I’m going to” and then ten thousand things that people do and endure in order to make themselves righteous, to justify themselves before God.  All false religions have that doctrine.

Now, what is the doctrine of the revelation of God?  It is this: Paul here uses a strong word, “frustrate” it is translated in Galatians 2:21.  “Frustrating the grace of God and the death of Christ.”  That word “frustrate” translated here, athetō, is a contraction of atheteō;  “a”  in Greek is a privative of denial, and the verbal form is tithēmi, which means to set or to place.  So, atithēmi, atheteo, athetō, the contraction, means “to set aside.”  Tithēmi means “to place, to set”; so “to set aside, to abrogate, to nullify, to reject.”  Now, he uses that strong word when he says [that] when we seek to present ourselves before God in our own righteousness, in self-justification, we “athetō”:  we abrogate, we nullify, we reject.

Now, we do three things.  Number one: when I seek to stand before God in self-justification, I nullify the atonement of Christ.  Sin becomes a venial error, a peccadillo, a petty mistake, and does not require the atoning death of our Lord, and the death of our Lord becomes, oh, a moral example or a hero’s devotion.  But it isn’t vital!  I’m justifying myself!  I don’t need the death of Christ to wash my sins away.  That’s the first thing it does.

The second thing it does is it abrogates the grace and mercy of God.  Look at this.  If a man stands before a judge in a court and he’s innocent, does he stand there before the judge, and does he say, “I plead mercy on the part of the court”?  Why, certainly not!  He stands before the court and he says, “I demand justice.  I stand on my rights.  I am innocent.”  Not in the history of the world was there ever heard that a man who was innocent stood before a court and pleaded for the mercy of the court.  You plead for the mercy of the court only when you are condemned.  Same way when we stand before God.  If a man is self-righteous, what he demands is justice.  “I stand on my own record,” or “I stand on my own righteous goodness.”  But if a man is a sinner and he stands before God, he casts himself upon the mercies of the Lord.  The grace of God reaches down to us if we’re sinners.

A third thing in self-justification: our self-righteousness.  We shut up all of the hallelujahs of heaven, all of them, all of them, all of them.  You read through the Revelation, and you find there one glorious song after another.  In the first chapter, do you remember how it starts off?  “Unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood . . . to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever” [Revelation 1:5-6]. And turn to the fifth chapter:

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive glory and honor, and riches and dominion, and power.

For He hath redeemed us by His blood out of every nation and tribe and family under the sun…

And they fell down and worshiped Him who liveth forever and ever.

[Revelation 5:12, 9, 14]

The whole laudatory singing of heaven is just like that.  Worthy is the Lamb.  In all the Revelation, there is not one self-laudatory note or word, not one.  No time does the sinner stand in the presence of God and say, “All glory to me for my self-righteousness.  I saved myself.”  Always, it’s “glory to Jesus whose blood washed me clean and white.”

I’m either saved by my self-desserts or I’m saved in the grace of God bestowed upon me as a gift.  I’m not saved because I’m a worthy sinner, or a sensible sinner, or a pure sinner, or a good sinner.  I’m saved because Jesus died for my sins according to the Scriptures [1 Corinthians 15:3].  It was our blessed Lord who shut up the doors of hell and opened for us the doors of glory.  And that’s why the singing is all praise to Jesus our Lord.  That’s why that famous verse in Galatians 2:20:

I am crucified with Christ –

identified with Him –

Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:

and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God,  who loved me, and gave Himself for me.

That is the gospel.  That’s it.  When a man preaches the gospel, that’s what he preaches.  Jesus died for me, a sinner, that I might stand in the presence of God justified, forgiven, received as righteous [Romans 4:25; 2 Corinthians 5:21].

Now, may I close?

In the fourth chapter of the Book of Galatians, out of which we’re preaching this message, in the fourth chapter of the Book of Galatians, Paul likens the difference between justification by faith and justification by works as the difference between slaves and sons.  A man who seeks to be justified by his own goodness – self-justification – Paul says, is like a slave.  He works in another man’s house, and he works and he works at his works, and he’s paid; he’s a hireling.  And after he works forever, he’s still a slave, he’s still a servant.

But a son, a son inherits all things.  Paul says by faith, united to Christ, we are fellow-heirs, we are sons, we are children of God.  We are no longer slaves for hire working for pay [Galatians 4:1-7].  Jesus illustrated it like this.  He said: a prodigal boy in a hog pen came to himself and said to himself, “In my father’s house, there are servants, hired hands, and I am here, hungry and dirty and filthy and starved.  I am going back to my father and home.  And I am going to say to him, ‘Make me as one of your hired hands.  Put me on the payroll, but I want to come home.'”  And Jesus said, “When the father saw him, he kissed him and loved him and received him back, and when the boy started to say, ‘Make me as a hired hand,’ the father said, ‘This is my son!  He was dead and is alive again!  He was lost and is found!  Clothe him with the finest garments, put a ring on his finger, and kill the fatted calf, and let us rejoice'” [Luke 15:17-24].   That’s the son, not a slave.

Oh, how wonderful it is: the power of God to change, to justify, to make righteous, to save; it’s heaven itself!  Yesterday morning, Saturday morning, yesterday morning, some of these godly men that are here had a breakfast out at the Lakewood Country Club, in which they invited men and women who were going to make appeal for scholarships for our First Baptist Academy.  Poor children who want to attend the school, and they don’t have any way to pay the tuition, and they are there to appeal to us to give to the academy for scholarships  so these boys and girls can go to school.

Well, it ended, the breakfast ended with a testimony by Charles Rhodes, who is principal of the secondary school, the high school.  And he said there was a prodigal, wayward boy in the academy, and he would run away.  He said, “I spent I don’t know how many days and hours walking up and down the streets of Dallas trying to find that boy.  Finally,” he said, the teacher brought the boy into his office and set him down and said to the principal, to Mr. Rhodes, “I am through.  I’m done.  I don’t want to see this boy again, and he’s certainly not to be in my class.”  And she stomped out of the office and left that boy there.

“Well,” Mr. Rhodes said, “I’d had a hard day, and I didn’t feel like talking to a prodigal.”  So he said, “I said to the boy, ‘Son, you just get up and go out of my office too.  I don’t want to talk to you.’  And he said, in weariness he bowed his head and put his head in his arm on the desk.  When he raised his head, that boy hadn’t stood up, and he hadn’t gone.  He was still seated there.  And the principal said, “Son, didn’t I tell you to stand up and walk out of my office?  Get out of this office!  I don’t want to talk to you.”  And the boy said, “But, mister, I want to change.  I want to be saved!  I want to be a Christian!  And I want you to show me how.”  And the principal led the boy to Christ, to a God-kind of righteousness, to a changed heart and life.  And the boy led his father and his mother to the Lord, and all three of them are now worshiping God in the church.

That is grace.  That’s the gospel.  That’s how God does with us sinners, and that door is wide open for each one of us.  In the balcony, down one of these stairways: “Pastor, today God has touched my heart, and I’m coming.  I’m answering with my life.”  On this lower floor, into that aisle and down to the front, a family you, a couple you, just one somebody you: “This is God’s day and God’s time for me, and I’m coming.”

Our ministers are here to pray with us and to encourage us, and God is here to save us.  Come, and a thousand times welcome, while we stand and while we sing: “Here I am, pastor, I’m on the way.”


Dr. W.
A. Criswell



I.          Definition

A.  Root words for
“justification” and “righteousness” the same

      1.  Hebrew
“tsedeq” (Genesis 15:6, Galatians 3:6)

Greek “dikaios” (Matthew 1:19, 5:45, Acts 10:22,
Romans 1:17, Luke 18:14, Romans 4:25, 5:18, 8:30)

B.  Justification
– God declares us, on the basis of atoning death of Christ, to whom we are
joined by faith, to have paid the penalty of our sin

1.  We are no longer
subject to penalty of death

2.  We are now
acceptable in God’s sight and presence

Not that we are innocent, but God for Christ’s sake sees us as so

Botanist sees tiny sprout as an oak tree

Presented in the Bible all the way through (Numbers
23:21, Zechariah 3:1-3, Romans 8:33)

Anselm’s tract

II.         Justification pertains to the man
himself, not his works(Galatians 2:16, 3:11)

A.  The
world says we are accepted because of our works

Bible teaches the opposite (Genesis 4, 5, Psalm

First the altar, then the door to the sanctuary

Illustrated in our lives

Al Capone

Samuel sent to anoint David (1 Samuel 16:7)

III.        The
idea of self-justification

A.  Exceedingly
attractive and persistent

      1.  Woman of seven
burns herself at the stake

B.  It is plausible

C.  Common in all false

IV.       Why doctrine of self-justification is
not acceptable to God

A.  Nullifies death of

B.  It makes superfluous
the grace of God

C.  Silences all the
hallelujahs of heaven (Revelation 1:5-6, 5:9-10,

D.  We are either saved
by our own merit, or it is a free gift of God

We are saved because Jesus loves us and gave Himself for us (Galatians 2:20)

V.        Appeal

A.  To be a son or a
slave (Galatians 4:1-7)

B.  Prodigal son (Luke 15:11-24)

      1.  Charles Rhodes, FBA