Sermon - Sola Fide

Practical Justification by Faith Alone #101

/profiles/RandyP-128x128.jpg A sermon on justification by RandyP

Preliminary Prep Audio:
randyp/



Introduction



Practical personally - common thread of transformation
Practical corporately - reforms held responsible for framework/reproducible/foundational/transformitive

"Justification (being made right) with God by faith in the completed work of Christ alone".

Please turn with me: kjv@Galatians:2:11-21


    For us to become "right" with God (on God's terms) required a two fold action on HIS part:
  1. Take away the sin - placing it over Christ. (popular to leave it at that)
  2. Take the righteousness of Christ - place it over man. (extremely unpopular because man wants to avoid it altogether)



Let's go ahead now and read today's text: kjv@Galatians:2:11-21


kjv@Galatians:2:11 @ But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.

kjv@Galatians:2:12 @ 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.

kjv@Galatians:2:13 @ And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

kjv@Galatians:2:14 @ 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?

kjv@Galatians:2:15 @ We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,

kjv@Galatians:2:16 @ 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 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.

kjv@Galatians:2:17 @ 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.

kjv@Galatians:2:18 @ For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.

kjv@Galatians:2:19 @ For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

kjv@Galatians:2:20 @ 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.

kjv@Galatians:2:21 @ I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

    Points to highlight:
  1. Living/Practical matter:

  2. Not always clearly obvious when and where this straying from truth happens (probability of it happening):

  3. but practically their intents and actions can be found as sin/transgression:

  4. important questions asked:

  5. Important enough issue at stake even to withstand Peter face to face in front of others over.

At the heart of the doctrine of justification by faith is a very controversial notion many intelligent thinkers have fought over for centuries. It is that difficulty that you and I have to come to a thorough understanding about right from the start:

nkjv@Galatians:2:19-21 @ For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God....

You see the idea of Christians being dead to the law is offensive to most people. In a rebuke over similar legal matters nkjv@Galatians:5:11 Paul calls it the "offense of the cross". The dispute isn't so much over the position of unbelieving sinners in regards to the law (guilty/bound to), it is more about the position of the law in the lives of believers towards justification. The offense that can be taken is considerable, but it is not only the offense that we are being asked to consider, it is the resulting actions that might be taken by Christians (even by leadership) of placating the offended thereby compromising the very gospel of Christ (not being "straightforward" with the gospel of truth).

On the first point (law) let me state that this passage isn't the only passage where Paul addressed this concept however.

nkjv@Romans:7:4-6 @ Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another - to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
(for instance and other passages)

Remember now that the Apostles we're all in agreement with Paul's presentation of this gospel nkjv@Acts:15:1-35 adding only the care of the elderly and widows to it. That Peter acknowledged Paul's many writings only adding that they were tougher to understand for those who wrest "untaught/unstable" with scriptures as a whole kjv@2Peter:3:15-16. And that James was in agreement with this "the perfect law of liberty" kjv@James:1:25 going as far as saying that we should "speak and do as if judged by the law of liberty" kjv@James:2:12 .

On the second point (placating) we see it in Paul's anticipation of the Jews next question "is Christ therefore a minister of sin?". That is the argument against justification by faith in a nutshell - that believers in salvation by Christ still sin and that if you remove the just demands of the law you are essentially giving them license to sin all the more. "Is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not!".

Here's the funny thing however, Paul can just as well ask that of their gospel as they could of his. Could it not be said that their insistence upon the law continuing in the life of the believer is actually giving license not to rest in the all sufficient completed work of Christ upon the cross and His grace?

In our passage today we have a case study of the thin doctrinal line that can easily be transgressed by any one of us. The gentile believers in Antioch are not sinning by seeking fellowship and dinner with their guest Jewish converts from Jerusalem. It is rather the Jewish converts that are making a scene in front of their gentile hosts by withdrawing from them over the issue of a simple meal (the breaking of bread in fellowship). In the attempt to keep themselves "right" with God (as they interpret it by the law) they are sending a message and setting an example of superiority to and intolerance of the remaining body of believers. You'll recall all the times Jesus called to our attention all the various efforts of the religious elite to obey the letter law that in fact broke the intent of the very same law in every way!

Worse yet, Peter and Barnabas not only are allowing these converts to do just that, they are siding with them at least by appearances adding to them (perhaps unintentionally) their support by confederacy. Certainly everyone in this case study is doing what they see as right in order to remain "right" with God, but just as certainly the "rightness" that each one seeks is not even close to occurring. The question then that really must be asked is how one is truly made "right" with God (on God's terms, by God's declaration) without as a consequence themselves sinning by the very act?

Then there is the issue each of these men needs to ask himself: "Am I somehow setting aside the grace of God"?

What is being addressed by Paul in this passage is a very common problem among us all: seeking to be justified by Christ, but lacking the discernment of what that justification means; lacking the fortitude to stand for it once we have finally discerned what it actually is.


Getting Personal/Practical



Here's part of the problem as I now see it - the younger me always shied away from the very idea of "doctrine" (so I would have thought - it's more like in striving to keep emphasis on relationship, I was instead driven to/fro by every wind of faulty doctrine). Therefore I was quite oblivious to the straightforward truth of justification in Christ as a result I to became withdrawn/separated/compromising to the judgments of my own/others.


That younger undisciplined version of me got me into a whole lot of trouble and heart break.

    The first thing I would tell younger myself today is:
  1. There is no way of making up for the time you spend drowning in your spiritual set backs.
  2. You don't intend for these things to happen, but they do.
  3. I know that there is a very natural aversion to doctrine as a whole, but this one doctrine of justification by faith (by faith alone) in particular is going to become the one thing most beneficial to you in and as a result of these times of setback.
  4. As much as you want to try avoiding doctrine, as much as you think that you are able through certain types of preachers and churches and "non-denominations", you in fact are dealing with nothing but doctrinal matters.
  5. There is no separating yourself from doctrine - it might as well be sound doctrine that you are following after.
  6. This doctrine of justification by faith is an absolute essential to the daily faith and as much as we think that we understand it and intellectually consent to it, until we are able to live it forward in our every action as Christ would mean for us to live it, it is nothing but a quaint notion till then.

I am not sure how he would have received that advice - he probably would have argued and called me an nosy old man!

How would I talk to him about that? Sola Fide... The doctrine of justification by faith and by faith alone? (I'd say listen here you young whipper-snapper)(Mr. Know it all smarty pants!)

Let's try to apply it to the spiritual "set backs" and stunted growth that I have experienced the majority of these blessed 38 years of my rebirth.


  1. That first initial taste of sweet agape fellowship (Scott and Gnara), the newness, the passion, the hunger, the exploration and love and vibrant intensity etc.. You have all that going and you don't want anything getting in the way of that, like a honeymoon romance you expect for things to always be just that way.

  2. Juxtapose that agape experience and some of the consequences now against the picture a old old Baptist church that probably was dried up and fallen off the vine long before it's young Pastor Lowell Friesen arrived. Underneath all the smiles and well wishes, there is a tension between it's old guard and their newly hired young pastor, the old guard and the new young Christians that he is bringing into the pews, and then the young believers and the more substantial founding doctrines that the Pastor was intending to mature these young babes in. Observe that there is not a single person intending for this church to break up, note that everyone is of the opinion that they are being "right" in such with God, note that this church eventually did break up despite everyone good intent and supposed rightness. Every side of this of course had valid concerns but, there can be no doubt had any of us known what we individually were doing to right the situation would lead to a complete breakup, we would gladly have altered our many individual approaches.

  3. The troubles that caused this church to break up were not only with the old guard/young congregation/young pastor however. I myself, fresh off this earlier initial agape experience:

  4. After a church breaks up like that, that's the most urgent time sound justification doctrine.

  5. So what were those next several years like? For me?

  6. Mandy conviction/Chris Divorce

  7. I stand here today having been brought through these experiences having a clearer discernment of the doctrine of justification in Christ by faith alone. I have since learned of many others of similar even more drastic experiences, Reformers and Puritans mostly. It seems that the common thread behind most all of these inspiring transformations is the understanding of justification. I 'm surprised that more people of our generation haven't caught on to these striking similarities.

Half the Issue

But surely you see from our passage today, discerning the proper means of justification and it's wonderful practical implications is only half of Paul's stated concern. It is equally a concern that any one thus having this better discernment (being brought by the testimonies of their own lives into this discernment) would cower to the more aggressive antagonistic lacking such discernment for fear of offending them more than they are already offended.

Of course there is that natural tendency in most of us not to want to offend anybody and not wanting anybody in the group to be offended at anyone else. Too often though our compassion sides with the first to be offended. There is that, but there is also the frequent lack of preparation to give a proper account of the faith (understanding what it is, but not how to defend it). On our part that equates to plain old sloth and sleepiness.

The problem becomes twice as difficult going up against a believer that doesn't hold scripture to the same value as you, that puts church tradition or private interpretation or cultish sentimentalism over and above what scripture states. Let me add an additional complexity to the matter that I have observed, where the leader amply stands firm defending the doctrine for the sake of the congregation, but is cut off at the knees by the compromising/placating spirit of the rest of congregation. I get the sense of just how difficult the coming about of a reformation really is.

What might well be the most sobering thought of all (especially if you are of the belief that one is justified by faith and works): We can easily agree that in the 1500's there were a lot of things going on in the Roman Catholic Church that would be cause for grave concern especially regarding it's teaching on true justification. Right? But, were the Reformers justified in breaking apart from that Church body? In other words was what the Reformers ended up reluctantly doing considered by God a "good work", a work that would set them right with God on His terms? Would it have been a better "good work" to remain in the body and worked our reformed beliefs into it?

You see that is the problem with what we think of as "good works": they are only good as far as we ourselves see them. Recall that Israel once broke apart from Judah leaving us a north and a south kingdoms. Israel (Ephraim) (10/12 tribes) could at that time be said to have been in the right considering the oppression that the wicked king of Judah had placed them under. Never once after that bold move was Israel ever to be remembered being in the right or doing the good works.

The point of this isn't to have us go down now and join the Roman Catholic church; what's done is done (and perhaps it was all that was left for the reformed movement then to do). The point is that for over 450 years now there has been no reason for them to listen to our challenges, no reason for them to properly respond to our challenges, there has been little or no influence within their ranks to reform, there is no political will for them to do anything other than what they've done since roughly the 10th century when the Eastern Orthodox church broke away from them too.

I don't have the answer unfortunately, all I have is the sobering question was any of this on the part of any one party a "good" work earning for them justification with God?


Let's review today's passage:


kjv@Galatians:2:11 @ But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.

kjv@Galatians:2:12 @ 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.

kjv@Galatians:2:13 @ And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

kjv@Galatians:2:14 @ 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?

kjv@Galatians:2:15 @ We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,

kjv@Galatians:2:16 @ 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 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.

kjv@Galatians:2:17 @ 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.

kjv@Galatians:2:18 @ For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.

kjv@Galatians:2:19 @ For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

kjv@Galatians:2:20 @ 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.

kjv@Galatians:2:21 @ I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

EDITOR: TIME?


Conclusion

Open for questions if time

Prayer of thanks for the mercy and righteousness leading to justification purchased in Jesus Christ

Alter Call - if prompted

This message today will likely be controversial to some that will hear it live or in the online archive. There are those that will just close off any further consideration. There are those that ask their spiritual counsel if any thing that has been said is true and their counselor will close off any further consideration of this for them. But for the few of you out there that this message has unsettled and have questions or viable critiques, I hope that you would allow me to explain the doctrine more thoroughly than I could have in this short sermon.

If any of this has interested any of you enough to look further into this great foundational pillar of reformed doctrine please see me or my website likepreciousfaith.us for additional resources.


Comment Board:SermonSolaFide2

Further Resources:
media: epub/Doctrine_of_Justification_-_Arthur_W._Pink.epub

Child Threads:
SolaFide1 - Sermon prep and notes to more scriptural links
SolaFideVerses - Verses pro and con (please examine each in full context)
PaulNazariteVow - Paul twice submitted himself to a Nazarite vow of consecration. What does this mean for the doctrine of justification by faith?


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