Why should we know God's Word?

In our day and age where anti-intellectualism runs rampant in the visible church, it is not surprising to see poll after poll verify what students of scripture have known for many years. The visible church does not know much about the scriptures they profess to believe in. This is sad considering many saints during the Reformation period lost their lives for the sake of being able to read and study God's word. Not to mention the many passages in scripture that speak as such:

Isaiah 66:2 This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
John 8:31-32 Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
Psalm 19:7-8 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
Psalm 119:9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
Psalm 119:11 I have hidden Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
Psalm 119:103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Psalm 119:130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.
Psalm 119:162 I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.

The posts on this blog will address essential Biblical doctrines of the Christian faith. You can find much of the background for the posts here. My prayer for these posts is that the people who read them will be encouraged to open their Bibles and not just read a verse or two, but learn them and indeed, be transformed by them. As Jesus prayed, "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth." (John 17:17). This is my prayer as well.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

From the paper - 'Justification' is a key Christian issue

For a very brief introduction read the first paragraph here.

'Justification' is a key Christian issue
How important is justification? Many in the church would probably acknowledge its importance because it is in the Bible, but we might wonder how important it is. It does not sound nearly as fascinating as the end times or spiritual gifts, or as practical as to-do lists for living the Christian life, so why waste the paper and ink for this article? It might surprise some people that justification was one of the key issues that sparked the Reformation in the 16th century. It is the truth that Martin Luther, the man whom God used to spark the Reformation, believed was so crucial that the church would either stand with its teaching or fall without it. We might ask, is it really so vital that a church would actually fall without it? The answer is a resounding, yes!

To understand this we must realize that apart from Christ, we are dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1) and at enmity with God (Romans 5:9-10). This is not a good position to be in considering we all will have to face him as our judge some day (Hebrews 9:27). What can we do? How do we come to terms with the one who will have more than enough evidence to condemn us? We might try community service so the judge might be lenient on us and let us squeak into heaven. Or we might think God will just overlook all the bad things we did. The problem with this mindset is that God is just (Daniel 9:14, Psalm 9:7-8) and He will judge us all through His Son Jesus Christ with perfect equity (Romans 2:5-6, Acts 17:31).

There is only one solution to this serious problem. It can be seen in Luke 18:9-14 - the parable of the Pharisee and the publican. The Pharisee thought well of himself and showed utter contempt for the publican, but the publican would not even lift up his eyes. He beat his chest and cried out “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” Jesus said the publican was justified and the “good” person was not. What happened to the publican? He was justified before God, meaning he was declared righteous by the judge. Justification in salvation is the judicial act of God whereby He declares sinners not guilty and positively righteous based on Christ’s death on the cross. We receive justification through faith alone. “To the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” (Romans 4:5). The one who stops working and trusts in Christ and nothing else to remove their sins, will be counted righteous by God. This is the foundation of the church, the joy of the believer and the great hope of every lost sinner. In a future column we will look at how God can be righteous and justify the wicked (Us!) through Jesus’ death, but for now let us be in awe and wonder at the unspeakable gift of justification.

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