Justification by Faith

Posted Nov 25, 2017 by Colin Nicolson in Everlasting Gospel Hits: 67

 

What is faith?

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

What is faith?  "The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  Hebrews 11:1.  It is an assent of the understanding to God's words which binds the heart in willing consecration and service to God, who gave the understanding, who moved on the heart, who first drew the mind to view Christ on the cross of Calvary.  Faith is rendering to God the intellectual powers, abandonment of the mind and will to God, and making Christ the only door to enter into the kingdom of heaven.  {1888 818.1}

So how do we do it?  Let’s look at an example of great faith and we will see it for ourselves.

Matthew 8:5 – 10, 13 (explain great faith example)

So we can see that expecting the word of God to do what it says and depending on the word of God alone to do it is rendering to God the intellectual powers, abandonment of the mind and will to God, and making Christ the only door to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Whose faith is it?

Philippians 3:9

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Where does it come from?

Hebrews 12:2

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith.

“Our” is added.  Leave it out.

Since Jesus is the author of faith, where does faith start?  With Jesus.  He is also the finisher of faith.  Who is it that finishes the work of faith in us?  The author of that faith, Jesus.

Those who receive the truth by faith will bear testimony to the quality of the faith they exercise.  They will continually make improvement, looking unto Jesus, who is the Author and Finisher of our faith.  We cannot create our faith; but we can be co-laborers with Christ in promoting the growth and triumph of faith.  {RH, September 10, 1895 par. 2}

The saints of God have the faith of Jesus.

Revelation 14:12

Here is the patience of the saints: here [are] they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

God is faithful.

1 Corinthians 1:9

God [is] faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Christ is faithful.

2 Timothy 2:13

If we believe not, [yet] he [i.e. Christ v9] abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

So we can see that faith and faithfulness are divine attributes.

God deals to everyone a measure of faith and it is a free gift.

Romans 12:3

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Ephesians 2:8

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:

We need to look a little deeper at this verse because the English translation, I believe, does not bring out the deeper, richer meaning of the original text.

According to my ESV interlinear bible, verse 8 should begin with either of the words “this” or “that”.  It is in the original Greek but does not get translated.  It is Strongs 3588, appearing variously as ho, hay or to and means:

The masculine, feminine (second) and neuter (third) forms, in all their inflections; the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom): the, this, that, one, he, she, it, etc.

So reading Ephesians 2:7&8 together with the missing word inserted we get:

7  That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 

8  [This] For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:

What is the the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus that God wants to show us?  THIS!  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God.

The emphatic word “this” is missing and so much is added by including it.

But it gets better. 

Verse 8 in the KJV reads For by grace are ye saved through faith.  That word “through” is Strongs 1223 and means the channel of an act. 

However, according to the interlinear, that same little word ho, hay or to has again been left out from between “through” and “faith”.  If we insert it with one of its meaning, “that” we read:

[This] For by grace are ye saved through [that] faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God.

This begs the question – what faith is he talking about?  For us to be able to validly include this word, Paul has to have referred to faith previously in this epistle because it has to reference back to something else we cannot include it.  Go back to Ephesians 1:15 &16.

15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 

16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;

Why did Paul give thanks for them?  For your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints.  Note he said your faith in the Lord Jesus.  This is an important point for where we are about to go which is back to verse 8.

[This]  For by grace are ye saved through [that] faith; – which is that faith? – your faith in the Lord Jesus.  And then he clarifies the origin of the faith – and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God.

So this faith that has grown and manifested in these Christian believers is not of them.  God gave it to them.

So we have verse 8 reading [This]  For by grace are ye saved through [that] faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God.

But it gets even better.  This verse is the verse that just seems to keep giving and its last gift is the word “gift”.

YLT translates verse 8 as:

For by grace are ye having been saved, through faith, and this not of you – of God the gift.

According to my interlinear the Greek does not have the word “of”.  It simply reads theos to do-ron.  However, it reads better with it in for our English purposes as you will see.  Now here is the really fascinating bit.

This word “gift” is the Greek word “do–ron”, (Strongs 1435) and it means A present; specifically a sacrifice: – gift, offering.  So it is a sacrificial gift or a sacrificial offering.  According to eSword, the first 9 times the word “gift” is used in the New Testament, 8 in Matthew and 1 in Mark, it is this word, do-ron.  Let us look at an example of the context.  You will see it clearly.

Matthew 5:23, 24 (the other verses are Matthew 8:4, 15:5, 23:18 & 19, Mar 7:11 – a total of 7 verses with 9 occurrences and all have the same context).

23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 

24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

So the word “gift” could very easily been translated “sacrifice” or “sacrificial offering” or “sacrificial gift”.  Let’s substitute as sacrifice and read it again.

23 Therefore if thou bring thy sacrifice to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 

24 Leave there thy sacrifice before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy sacrifice.

That is the word do-ron used correctly in context.

The only other time this word, do-ron, is translated as “gift” in the New Testament is in Ephesians 2:8.

So let’s now read Ephesians 2:7 & 8 with the missing words and alternate translation.

7  That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 

8       [This] For by grace are ye saved through [that] faith; and that not of yourselves: [of] God the sacrificial gift:

Some might prefer it to read as of the sacrificial gift of God.

So this faith is not of ourselves, it is of God the sacrificial gift.  Is there someone who could be described as God the sacrificial gift?

Matthew 1:23      Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Ephesians 5:2    And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

So God with us was a sacrifice to God

So for the ages to come, speaking of Ephesians 2:7, which is right down to our time, God would show the exceeding riches of his grace – that is, His graciousness more correctly.  And His graciousness is manifested in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus, His Son.  And what is this manifested graciousness?  This!  For it is by God’s graciousness that we are saved through that faith, and it is our faith in Jesus but it is not of ourselves this faith even though we have it.  This faith is the channel of the act whereby the Son of God manifested Himself in the likeness of human flesh and living in full expectation of, and dependence on, His Father’s word alone, went to the cross, a perfect and complete sacrifice for you and for me.  That is the faith of Jesus given to us to become in us our faith in Jesus.  So His faith grows in us to be the gift of faith in us. 

Remember, this faith is not of ourselves.  We are not to place merit on faith, particularly thinking it is our faith.

There is danger in regarding justification by faith as placing merit on faith.  When you take the righteousness of Christ as a free gift you are justified freely through the redemption of Christ.  {1888 818.1}

Let’s look more closely at this.  There is danger in regarding justification by faith as placing merit on faith.  So, it is not the faith that justifies us.  Do not place merit on faith we are told.  Why?  When you take the righteousness of Christ as a free gift you are justified freely through the redemption of Christ.  Our justification is through the redemption of Christ.  We are not justified through faith, we are justified through the redemption of Christ.  But we just read in Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through [that] faith.  What then is the purpose of faith?  Remember that the word through is dee-ah, Strongs 1223, and means the channel of an act.  There is the purpose of faith.  Faith is the vehicle by which I receive the righteousness of Christ, by which I receive salvation.  There is no merit on faith itself and certainly not on my faith.  The faith I have is a gift from God and it is finished, or perfected, in me by Jesus.  It is the faith of Jesus in me.  Even then, justification is not of that faith.  I receive it through that faith.  When you take the righteousness of Christ as a free gift you are justified freely through the redemption of Christ.  I receive that redemption, I receive that righteousness through faith, not because of it.  I receive righteousness and redemption and faith because of Jesus.  The focus must always be on Jesus.

What then is the faith of Jesus?

"The faith of Jesus."  It is talked of, but not understood.  What constitutes the faith of Jesus, that belongs, to the third angel's message?  Jesus becoming our sin-bearer that He might become our sin-pardoning Saviour.  He was treated as we deserve to be treated.  He came to our world and took our sins that we might take His righteousness.  Faith in the ability of Christ to save us amply and fully and entirely is the faith of Jesus. {1888 217.4}

Who has the ability to save us amply and fully and entirely?  Christ.  How do we know He has this ability?  By faith.

Now, Christ is the author of faith and, according to the Spirit of Prophecy, the faith of Jesus in us, is Faith in the ability of Christ to save us amply and fully and entirely.  So, when Jesus walked on this earth, what did that faith look like in Him?  His faith was that His Father had the ability to save Him amply and fully and entirely from entering into sin.

The first Adam fell; the second Adam held fast to God, and His Word under the most trying circumstances, and His faith in His Father’s goodness, mercy, and love did not waver for one moment.   {Lt8-1895.19}

Tempted, indeed, He was, in all points like as we are, yet without sin. Thus He has conquered the foe with whom we have to deal. Through faith in His Father’s power, He overcame every trial and was victorious even to the close of His earthly ministry.   {Ms92-1908.16}

And what did Mrs White say was faith?  Faith is rendering to God the intellectual powers, abandonment of the mind and will to God, and making Christ the only door to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

What then is justification by faith?

What is justification by faith?  It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself.  When men see their own nothingness, they are prepared to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ.  When they begin to praise and exalt God all the day long, then by beholding they are becoming changed into the same image.  What is regeneration?  It is revealing to man what is his own real nature, that in himself he is worthless.  {20MR 117.3}

When men learn they cannot earn righteousness by their own merit of works, and they look with firm and entire reliance upon Jesus Christ as their only hope, there will not be so much of self and so little of Jesus.  Souls and bodies are defiled and polluted by sin, the heart is estranged from God, yet many are struggling in their own finite strength to win salvation by good works.  Jesus, they think, will do some of the saving; they must do the rest.  They need to see by faith the righteousness of Christ as their only hope for time and for eternity.  {1888 818.2}

With this understanding in mind, we will now read Romans 3:19-28.

19     Now we know that what things soever the law saith, [voice of God saying] it saith to them who are under the law: [in or within the jurisdiction of – i.e. everyone] that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

20     Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law [is] the knowledge of sin

Firstly, what is the purpose of a law?  To get a conviction.  So for a man to be justified by a law, either he did not break it or it is a bad law that cannot convict.  But God’s law, being the expression of His character, is perfectly righteous (Ps 19:7) and all men are sinners.  So the law that convicts cannot also justify.  The law that convicts you as a sinner, for by the law [is] the knowledge of sin, cannot also declare you to be righteous.  So clearly, it can only be that by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.  Also Romans 8:7 and Galatians 5:17 – impossible for a man to do the righteousness of the law, so he can never be justified by his deeds.

21     But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets

Where is the righteousness of God, apart from the law, manifested?  In Christ – 1 Cor 1:30.  Where was it witnessed by the law and the prophets?  Psalm 40:8, 9; Acts 10:43; 1 Peter 1:12; Eph 2:20.  Moses wrote of Christ – John 5:46.

22     Even the righteousness of God [which is] by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference

This righteousness of God which is by the faith of Jesus is into and upon them that believe.  Man’s righteousness is an outward appearance – Matt 23:27, 28.  God desires His truth to be inward.  Deut 6:6; Jer 31:33.

23     For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God

Because all are within the jurisdiction of the law, none can escape the conviction of guilt and none can come even close to the righteousness of God, which is His character, which is His glory.

24     Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

Justified is being made righteous.  It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself.  It is a free gift.  It cannot be earned.  Rom 4:4,5

25     Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God

Christ is set forth to be a sacrifice for the remission of our sins.  This is not to appease an angry God.  It is us who require the sacrifice, not God.  It is the heathen religions that sacrifice to appease their gods.  Also, the sacrifice is for sins committed in the past.  We cannot think that we have credit and can go and sin at will.

26     To declare, [I say], at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus

So God set forth Christ to declare the righteousness of God so that God could be seen as just and therefore can justify us who believe in His Son, Jesus Christ.

27 Where [is] boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith

Since righteousness is a free gift of God through Jesus Christ, no one then is able to justly boast of any righteousness that he has. 

Eph 2:8,9

8   For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: 

9   Not of works, lest any man should boast.

1 Cor 4:7

For who maketh thee to differ [from another]? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive [it], why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received [it]?

Romans 3:28      Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

There is no other means by which a person can be justified.  Whoever is justified or made righteous must be made righteous by faith alone completely apart from and without the deeds of the law or his own efforts to obey.

So how does this all happen?  Do we have to fully repent before we can receive the righteousness of Christ?

He who will lay hold of Christ’s righteousness need not wait one moment that he himself may blot out his own sins.  He need not wait until he has made a suitable repentance before he may take hold upon Christ’s righteousness.  We do not understand the matter of salvation.  It is just as simple as A.B.C. But we don’t understand it.  {Ms1-1889.8}

Now, how is it that a man will repent?  Is it anything of himself?  No, because the natural heart is at enmity with God.  Then how can the natural heart stir itself up to repentance when it has no power to do so?  What is it that brings man to repentance?  It is Jesus Christ.  How does He bring man to repentance?  There are a thousand ways that He may do this.  {Ms1-1889.9}