Justification by Faith Alone

Justification by Faith Alone

Date: 07/22/2017  Lesson: 4
"We are not justified on the basis of our faith but on the basis of Christ’s faithfulness for us, which we claim for ourselves through faith."

The Blueprint: God's GPS Lesson Set by Ivor Myers

The Blueprint: God's GPS Lesson Set by Ivor Myers
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Good morning, friends, and welcome to Sabbath school study hour coming to you here from the Granite Bay seventh-day adventist church. I'd like to welcome our online members and, also, those of you watching around the world. Welcome to our lesson study today. Also to the members and the visitors right here at the Granite Bay church, always good to see you Sabbath after Sabbath here, ready to study God's Word. We've been studying through the lesson on Galatians - the book of Galatians is what the theme of our study is.

Today we're on lesson #4, which is entitled justification by faith alone - a great reformation theme - justification by faith alone - that's lesson #4. For our friends who are watching, if you don't have a copy of the lesson and you want to study along with us, just go to the Amazing Facts website - amazingfacts.org - and you can download lesson #4 and study with us. We have a free offer that goes along with our theme for today, a book written by pastor doug entitled assurance: justification made simple. This is our free offer today, if you would like to receive it, just give us a call on our resource phone number - that's 866-788-3966 - and you can ask for offer #727. Those of you outside of north America, you can also read our free offer by just going to the Amazing Facts website - amazingfacts.

org. Well, before we get to our time of study, we always like to begin by lifting our voices in song. I'd like to invite our song leaders to come join me. Good morning, Sabbath school study hour family. It's such a privilege to have an opportunity to sing with you this morning, and we're going to begin our singing with the Seventh-day Adventist church hymnal #567.

We'll sing all four verses of have thine own way, Lord. And, for our next song, #301 - nearer, still nearer - and we'll sing all verses of nearer, still nearer also. (A capella) Dear Father in Heaven, what a privilege to be able to open up Your Word and, indeed, draw near to you through the Scriptures. Today, as we study a very important theme - a theme that has just sparked great reformation in the church - the theme of justification - we pray for the Holy Spirit to come and guide our hearts, our minds, Lord, impress upon us this wonderful good news and may we apply it to our lives, for we ask this in Jesus' Name, amen. Our lesson this morning is going to be brought to us by Pastor Doug.

Thank you, Pastor Ross. I want to welcome everybody that is joining us. We not only have, now, our people watching live on the internet, in the last couple of weeks we started to use Facebook live for both our Sabbath school service and church, so I want to welcome those who tune in. We are continuing in our study on Galatians and today our lesson is #4 - it is justification by faith alone. As Pastor Ross was saying, a very important subject.

And we have a memory verse - the memory verse is Galatians 2:20. Now, we do memory verses every week and, I think, if we'd all be honest, we'd admit we didn't remember the memory verse. But this is one you ought to remember. Some of you probably already have remembered this, but why don't you say it out loud with me? In your lesson - it's from the english standard version, which is - it's very similar to the authorized versions. Are you ready? Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is not longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in The Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

" That's a wonderful verse. It's telling us, now, that we live a new life through Christ. So, our mission today, if you should choose to accept it, is we are going to be covering Galatians chapter 2, verses 15 through the end of that chapter - Galatians 2, verses 15-21. And so, what I'd like to do, just to make sure we at least get our assignment done, I'm just going to read these verses. It's not that many verses - it's always good to get something in context, right? So Galatians 2:15-21, "we who are jews by nature, and not sinners of the gentiles," - I'll explain what that means in a minute - "knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

"But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain." Okay, so now, no matter how far along in the lesson we get, we at least read the assignment. So let's begin studying this - and I want to back up again to verse 15, which says something that people think might sound a little bit strong, "we who are jews by nature, and not sinners of the gentiles," - they're calling all of the gentiles sinners - what does he mean by that? The Greek word there, for the 'sinners', is hamartolos - hamartolos - and it simply means 'a heathen' - merely one who has no knowledge of the true God.

So, if somebody called you a sinner, you wouldn't take that very nicely, but what he's really saying here is the people who do not know God. The jews, they believe, were called and chosen by God, had a relationship with God, had been given the oracles of God, and so, what Paul is saying is, when we who are jews by nature - we're born and raised with the religion and the culture of the jews and not of the heathen - the gentiles. Now, first thing you need to ask about this verse: who is Paul speaking to in Galatians 2:15? Read back in Galatians 2:14 - most people don't catch this - Galatians 2:14, "but when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the Gospel, I said to Peter before them all," - so who is he talking to in chapter 14? - "I said to Peter" - so he's telling the Galatians about a conversation he had in the presence of others with who? With Peter, because he thought Peter was acting the hypocrite. Verse 15 is a continuation of that statement. There's no pause in the thought.

So what you're reading here in verse 15, chapter 2 of Galatians, is Paul continuing to say a question that he asked Peter. He says, "we who are jews by nature, and not sinners of the gentiles," - and he goes on to say, "knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified." So, at least through the end of verse 16, he's explaining a conversation he had - a challenge he gave to Peter - about 'why are you pretending that you're justified by faith and not by the works of the law until the visitors came from Jerusalem and from James, all of a sudden you start to act like a jew again and act like we're justified by the law. And so, he's confronting Peter publicly with the statement. So what you're reading here in these verses - at least verses through 16, is what Paul said to Peter, okay? Paul uses the word 'justified' in chapter 2, verses 16 and 17 four times. Now here's one of the most important questions we can ask in this study: what does the word 'justify' or 'justification' mean? I think the word 'justify' or 'justification' is found about times in the Bible; what does it mean? I mean the whole reformation pivoted on an understanding of that word - 'the just shall live by faith' - justification.

I heard one evangelist put it this way: when you say 'justification' it means that when you come to Christ, and by faith in Christ, you accept the forgiveness that he offers because he died and suffered in your place. He looks upon you just as if you had never sinned. And so, it's 'just-as-if - ication'. Get it? If you think of it that way and it kind of makes it easier to remember what it means. It's - the Lord looks at you, when you have accepted Christ, just as if you had never sinned and so it's called 'just-as-if - ication'.

But, of course, that's really not what the words mean. It means 'to justify' - and a definition of justify would mean 'the action of showing something to be right or reasonable' - you ever try to justify yourself? You're defending your actions. But that's not what - the definition we're talking about. It's more the second definition: 'the action of declaring or making righteous in the sight of God'. When someone is declared or made righteous in the sight of God, they are justified by God.

That is justification. Now, what are some examples of justification? It uses one from Abraham we'll get to in just a minute, but - the thief on the cross. We all know that Jesus was crucified between two thieves - one on the right, one on the left, Jesus in the middle. It's interesting - those two thieves represent all of humanity - one saved, one lost. They both wanted to be saved.

One called out for help and he called Jesus Lord and he repented of his sins. He says, 'we are getting what we deserve', he confessed Jesus, he asked, and he believed. He will be saved. The other one wanted to be saved, but he said, 'if you are The Son of God'. Does 'if' denote faith or does 'if' denote doubt? He will not be saved.

Those two men, who were hopeless to save themselves, represent all of humanity. We are all helpless to save ourselves. Those two men who were guilty and dying, represent all of humanity. We are all guilty and under a death sentence. One was saved - was he saved because of works he did with his hands? What was the condition of his hands when he called for help? They were nailed.

He could not save himself. And so he called out to Jesus saying, 'Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.' That means he called Lord - Jesus his Lord and he called him his king. Jesus turned to him and everyone, of course, mixes this up in the sequence of things. They say that Jesus said to him, 'verily I say to you, today you'll be with me in paradise.' He didn't say that. He said, 'verily I say to you today,' - comma - 'you'll be with me in paradise.

' He is simply emphasizing, 'I'm making a statement today, when I don't look like a king and a Lord, that I am promising you paradise' and people have put the comma in the wrong place, but the Scriptures had it right. Was he saved? Will that man - that thief - be resurrected? Yes. Which resurrection? First. First resurrection. So he's going to be saved because of all the good works he did.

No. Will he be declared just by God? Did Jesus declare him just? He said, 'you'll be with me in my kingdom' - and only those who are justified will be saved. So how does he get justified? He looked to Christ in faith and asked for mercy. That man, he did not do any works of the law. Now, when someone said, 'how can we do the works of God, how did Jesus respond? 'This is the work of God, that you believe on the one whom he has sent.

' So is there a work for everybody to do to be saved? Yes. At least the work of believing, right? But now, hypothetically, that thief will be saved. He was justified by faith. He was not justified by anything good he had done. If by some quirk of providence, after that man accepted Jesus and he felt peace sweep over his soul - even though he's suffering physically and he's dying - if all of a sudden a letter had come from pilate that said, 'you know, you've been reprieved.

You're being forgiven. You're being pardoned. We know that you're crucified, but we're going to get a crowbar, we're going to take the nails out, we're going to bring you down, wrap up your hands, and set you free.' So, supposing he could survive and recover from his wounds, he's now been justified by faith. Would he live a different kind of life? Hopefully. We hope so.

You would hope that he would be so grateful that he has been saved, both by Christ and pilate pardoning him, that he would not go back and continue stealing. So now, if he walks in a new way of life, that is called sanctification. Sanctification that is the approved kind of sanctification, comes after real justification. When you have been declared just, you love the Lord so much for forgiving you, you want to live a different kind of life. We love him because he first loved us, right? And so, because we've been justified by faith, we now want to live holy lives.

That's sanctification. And then, when the Lord comes, because we have justification by faith and we live the holy life, we then experience glorification and get the new bodies. The children of Israel, when they were saved from Egypt, were they saved because of their good works or were they saved because they followed the Lord - because of his mercy - because of the lamb? Right? But then, after they were saved from their slavery, did they make it to the promised land if they refused to obey? No. So even though we are saved or justified by faith, if we continue to willfully live in sin, do we experience salvation? That's why - you keep reading in Galatians - Paul said, "but if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin?" - God forbid! - "Certainly not!" - Don't think that! Now I'm getting ahead of myself. Alright, next section: works of the law.

Paul says, three times, in Galatians 2:16 that a person is not justified by the works of the law. What does he mean by the expression 'works of the law'? Are we justified by obedience or do we obey because we're justified? Do we do good works to be saved or do we do the good works because we are saved? Does a tree produce good fruit because you put a label on the tree that says this is a good fruit tree, or does it produce good fruit because it is a good fruit tree? And this is what Jesus says, 'you'll know them by their fruits'. The essence of the tree creates a different fruit. When you are born again, you will have born-again fruit. Does that make sense? And so, the works of the law - why is the law there? Is the law there to change the nature of who we are? Or is the law simply there as a mirror and a standard to show us what is right and wrong? So three times he says, 'by the works of the law no one is justified.

Now, when I read that - and let me - by the way, I'll read verse to you again - and this is Galatians 2:16, "knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified." What law is he talking about? Really all of it. Is anyone justified by the ceremonial works of the law? Is anyone justified by civil works of the law - there's civil law - is anyone justified by the health laws? There was health law. Those things all may be good, but that's not where justification - we're not justified because we don't lie and we don't steal. We're not justified by Sabbath keeping. The people who crucified Jesus ran home to keep the Sabbath.

That didn't justify them. So we're justified by faith. And then, if we have genuine faith, you'll see a change. Now, when I read this - well, wait, I'm getting ahead of myself - someone's going to read, for me, Romans 2, verse - I'm sorry, Romans 3:28. Hafdis, you'll have that? Alright, you're up to bat right after me.

I'm going to read Romans 2:15, "(...who show the work of the law written in their hearts. Their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)" - and he's talking about the pagans who can even show the works of the law are written in their heart or their conscience. Alright, go ahead, read, for us, Romans 3:28. "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law." Notice how he words it here: he's justified by faith apart from or separated from the works of the law - it's two separate things - a person who is a law-keeping person - who - what kind of neighbor do you want? A law keeping. I mean, don't - isn't that a good thing to have a law-keeping person? So that's a good thing.

That's not where we get our justification before God because according - if you're going to go by the law, all you've got to do is break it once and the penalty for sin is what? Death. So we've got to look for something beyond the law. Even if you sin one time and you become a good law-keeping person - you know, I can't remember the particulars, but I remember just reading that they arrested a man who was guilty of a prison escape and, after escaping from prison, he lived thirty years as a good law-abiding citizen. But, you know what they did? They put him back in prison. Now they reduced his sentence because they said those thirty years he was free, he was a model citizen, but he did escape from prison, and you can't encourage prisoners to say, 'look, if you can get out and stay good for thirty years, we'll let you go.

You see, what kind of message does that send to the prisoner? If I can just get out and kind of hide in society then, you know, statutes of limitations is up. Some of you remember there was a - another gal who, up in Washington, she was in the 60s protest and connected with a bomb threat or something and she escaped and lived like 35, 40 years and was a realtor and very well known and loved in her community and all of her friends loved her and they found out that she had a different name and she had a criminal record and she had been part of some kind of hippie terrorist group and - and they couldn't believe it. They gave her, like, six months and then they let her out because they realized she was no threat - but she had to pay something, you know, because you can't encourage people to just break out. So all you have to do is break the law one time and you're guilty. So it's only going to be by grace that anybody is saved.

So, now we go into the section the basis - the true basis for our justification - trusting - is it trusting in our good works? Can you think of any stories in the Bible of Bible heroes or characters that somehow thought their good works were going to give them credit? A couple came to mind - I thought you might think of some I hadn't thought of. I thought of a couple but I think there's others. How many of you remember when Isaiah the prophet came to hezekiah and he said, 'you better get your will in order - set your house in order - because this sickness you've got, you're not going to recover but you're going to die'? And it tells us then - this is Kings 20, verse 2, "then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, 'remember now, o Lord, I pray, how I have walked before you in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in your sight.' And hezekiah wept bitterly." What is hezekiah pleading for that God might answer his prayer? Is he pleading for the mercy of God or is he pleading his good works? His good works. He's saying - yeah - he's saying, 'Lord, I've been a good king. I've led the people to serve you.

I've had - there's so many Kings that didn't do that, but I've been doing it and here you're taking me out early.' And, by the way, we're all terminal, but he gave him another fifteen years after this. He prayed and God said, 'okay.' God heard his prayer. But it was interesting, God answered his prayer, but he's saying, 'I've been good.' Nehemiah did it two or three times. Nehemiah 13:14, "remember me, o my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God," - look Lord, I've done these good things for you - "and for its services!" Then you go to chapter 13, verse , "...remember me, o my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of your mercy!" Well, there, he's asking for mercy. The former one he's pleading his good deeds.

So, I guess, one cancels out the other. Can you think of any stories in the Bible where sometimes they sort of were looking to their good works? There's a few different cases where - I know, my mind has just jumped out at me a few times when I could see that they were pleading. When the Bible talks about Zechariah and elizabeth - it introduces the parents of John the baptist. How does it identify them? 'They were righteous, walking in all the commandments of the Lord.' The question is were they declared righteous because they walked in all the commandments or were they declared righteous - or were they righteous - wait, it's not - I'm saying this wrong - or were they walking in all the commandments because they were righteous? That's what I wanted to say. And - but, you know, they were obedient.

That doesn't mean they were sinless. Job was a perfect and upright man - well, that doesn't mean he was sinless, but here was someone who obeyed God. You notice that job pleads his good works, doesn't he? A couple of times. He says, 'yeah, I fed the poor. I cared for the widow' - he said, 'there was no one hungry around me' - and so, he kind of says, 'Lord, why is this happening? I did all these right things.

The message of job is bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. Alright, so we don't trust in our works. Philippians 3:9, "and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;" - so in the judgment day, suppose that you were a good, model citizen. I've actually met people before and I talk to them about their salvation and I said, you know, 'have you confessed and repented of your sins?' And they kind of looked at me surprised and said, 'I've gone to church all my life. I don't really have anything to repent of.

' I'm thinking, 'are you serious?' Really, I've had a couple of conversations like that where somebody couldn't think of anything they ever sinned. They said - and I thought, 'they must not understand what sin is because, you know, sin is - it's pride also - it's selfishness. It's all kinds of things that cover - most of us fall in those categories. But, you know, we can't be pleading our righteousness. Would you want to go and stand before the Lord in the judgment and say, 'look, I have been .

9% - my righteousness is good.' Or would you rather have Jesus' righteousness? So that's what he's saying here. Someone's going to read, for me, Romans 3:27 in just a moment, okay? Let me read that verse again - Philippians 3:9, "and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;" - which is the superior righteousness? Which is a higher quality righteousness? Obviously the righteousness of Christ. Go ahead, read that verse for us. Romans 3:27, "where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith.

" When we humbly accept the righteousness of Christ - that he's given - that he's provided by offering his life and his sufferings and his blood, then how can we boast about being righteous? So if anybody is righteous - if they're truly righteous, where does it come from? From Christ. So, if anyone is righteous, does anyone have a right to boast about that? If you're boasting about your own righteousness, you're probably not saved. Is that safe to say? First of all, because you're boasting, second of all you're boasting about a flawed righteousness. And so, if any of us really are righteous, we have nothing to boast about because it was given to us as a gift - you can't really brag about that. Romans 1:17, "for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'the just shall live by faith.

'" By the way, that's the wonderful statement made in connection with Abraham. Have you noticed that, as we're trying to decipher Galatians - Galatians is a deep book. Galatians is a book that is often misunderstood, next to Romans and Romans is a good way to decipher Galatians. So you notice we're going back and forth and finding the keys to unlock Galatians in Romans. Here's a statement I want to read to you from Ellen white.

It's from the book faith and works - p. 18 And 19, "there is not a point that needs to be dwelt upon more earnestly, repeatedly, more frequently, or established more firmly in the minds of all than" - okay, I'm going to just do the drum roll - I'm going to tell you, again, what I'm about to say. Look at the emphasis she places - "there is not a point that needs to be dwelt upon more earnestly, repeated more frequently, nor established more firmly in the minds of all" - everybody - "than" - here it comes - "the impossibility of fallen man meriting anything by his own best good works. Salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone. That's really important because I've heard people use her writings to try to say the opposite - and she didn't believe that.

She believed we are justified by faith alone, which is, of course, the title of our lesson. Romans 5 - I'm sorry - Romans :5-8 - this also bears out our point here in this section. "But to him who does not work but believes on him who justifies the unGodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: 'blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.'" Who knows, where is Paul quoting from? What psalm of David was he quoting? Psalm 32 - yeah - it's not psalm 51. Psalm 51 is another one that deals with forgiveness. But he's talking about blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven - to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity.

Why is he not declared sinful? Because God has forgiven him. What did nathan the prophet say to David after David said, 'I have sinned'? We just got done with a 45-week session on David - it wasn't that long, but it was long. What did nathan say? 'Your sin is put away.' Why? What did David do to deserve having the sin of murder and adultery put away? He didn't deserve it, he deserved death. He repented and he confessed. And when he cried, repented and confessed, God said, 'I put away your sin.

Do you remember the story in Isaiah chapter 6, where Isaiah sees the Lord in his glory and then he realizes his sinfulness and he says, 'woe is me, I am undone. I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips. For mine eyes have seen the king, the Lord of hosts.' Soon as he repents and confesses, what happens? God sends an angel with a coal from the altar, touches his lips, and says, 'your iniquity is taken away and your sin is purged.' When your sin is taken away and your iniquity is purged, you are justified. What led to his justification, good works? He hadn't done anything different. The only thing he did was repent and confess.

But, evidently, he believed what the Lord said, because when the Lord said, 'who shall I send?' And 'who will go for us?' Isaiah said, 'send me.' He just said he was a man of unclean lips, why would you send him to tell anyone anything? Because he'd been justified. How long did it take between the time he repented and confessed and justification? It was immediate. That's a wonderful truth. You know what that means? That if you repent and confess your sins nobody needs to leave here today - or wherever you happen to be watching - unjustified. That it's always a prayer away that God declares us justified.

'But, Pastor Doug' - don't say 'but' - that means you don't believe. If you accept it by faith, that God said it, if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. That's justification, right? How do we get it? Because he said it and I believe it and that settles it. That's justification by faith. It's not that hard to understand, right? And Paul, through Galatians, he's almost spending more time trying to expose the wrong idea of justification than the right concept of justification.

So it's a gift that comes by faith. Now, let me see, where did I leave off? Oh yeah, okay. Someone's going to read, for me, Romans 14:12, in just a moment. Is that going to be you, carol? Who has that one? Does someone have Revelation - sorry - Revelation 14:12. Revelation 14:12, "here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

" You notice, in Galatians 2:16, he says, 'the faith of the Messiah that we might be justified'. It is not the faith in Jesus, it is the faith of Jesus. Just like what you just heard in - I kept saying Romans - Revelation 14:12, 'keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. So the faith that Jesus had in The Father, he came and demonstrated faith for us in his life. He gives us his faith and we are justified by having the faith of Jesus.

And it's faith in His Word as well. So the Greek phrase there is literally translated as 'the faith' or 'the faithfulness of Jesus'. We're not justified on the basis of our faith, but on the basis of Christ's faithfulness for us, which we claim for ourselves through our faith. So, hopefully, that didn't get too complicated. But now we're going to delve into that next section - it talks about - obedience of faith.

Now when you are made righteous by faith, what does that produce? An obedience. It acts itself out. This is the point where many Christians fail. A lot of evangelical churches mess up on this point and it's very dangerous not to get this straight. To understand this justification by faith, you almost have to go back to the beginning where it's first used in relation to Abraham, The Father of the faithful.

Genesis 15:5 and 6 - God brought Abraham outside, it was at night, he said 'look up towards the heaven, count the stars.' He looked up at that clear night - there was no light pollution back then - 'if you're able to number them.' He said, 'so shall your descendents be.' - He's got no children yet and God said, 'your descendents will be like the stars of heaven. He changed his name to Abraham, which means 'father of a multitude', but he has no children. And it says, 'Abraham believed the Lord' - even though he's an old man now - 'he believed the Lord and, because he believed the Lord, he accounted it to him for righteousness.' What if Abraham didn't believe the Lord? Would it have happened? I wonder how many miracles we have missed in our life because we did not believe the promises of God. When God told the children of Israel, 'I'm going to take you out of Egypt and lead you into the promised land, those who did not believe died in the wilderness. The ten spies who said, 'we cannot make it', they didn't make it.

The two spies who said, 'we can. We are able.' They made it. Jesus said, 'be it unto you according to your faith.' Isn't that what he said? And so, Abraham believed God. Now I think that God, providentially, would have brought him around. Zechariah didn't believe God when God said, 'you're going to have a child in your old age' and he was stricken dumb until the baby was born.

But he still had the baby, right? So Isaac may have still come - God might have had to teach him a few more lessons, but Abraham believed God and he was counted righteous because of his faith. We are declared righteous because of our faith. Another story Jesus points to, to illustrate righteousness by faith: he talks about, and this is before that great verse - John 3:16 - everybody knows, but not everybody knows John 3:14 and 15 where it says, "as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must The Son of man be lifted up that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life." You remember the story? That people were complaining about the manna - they'd been eating manna for years. They were going, 'manna, manna, manna - we're tired of manna in the morning, manna for lunch' - 'what's for dinner?' 'Manna'. And they said, 'oh, if we could go back to Egypt.

Back in Egypt we had the onions and the garlic and the fish.' And they thought - they could only remember - isn't it interesting, nostalgia - you always think the good old days were so good. Sometimes they weren't so good. The memories - you think they were good. And they start to complain about the manna. So it says, 'God withdrew his protection and there was a plague of serpents and the people were being bitten by these deadly serpents and they found snakes were in their tents and their rugs and their boots and they'd get bit and then they'd go through the sickness and eventually die.

So God told Moses - the people cried and they prayed and said, 'we've sinned. Forgive us.' And they repented and confessed. God said, 'okay, Moses is going to put a bronze serpent on a pole. He'll lift it up high where everyone can see. It'll be on like a shepherd's staff.

' And they all understood the significance of that. Shepherds were frequently killing snakes that would threaten the sheep. If a sheep is bit by a venomous serpent, it will die. So they would kill it. And you don't pick up a venomous snake when you've clobbered it with a stick, you have a snake stick - you pick it up.

When I lived in the cave we killed rattlesnakes. I picked it up with a stick I had, because you think they're dead, you go grab 'em and they snap around - they're very tenacious - so you pick it up, you carry it off, you bury it. A snake on a pole, to that nation, represented a defeated serpent. It was not an uncommon sign for them to see a shepherd carrying off a snake on the end of a stick. He didn't grab it.

And then they're told, 'look at that defeated serpent on the pole and you will be healed of the venom of the serpent.' Now, what doctor would ever prescribe that, if you got bit by a snake. A crazy one. So, obviously, this required faith. And so those who looked in faith were healed. They were healed based on a look of faith.

That's why Jesus said, 'if I am lifted up I will draw all men.' We look in faith to Christ and we are healed. We are justified by that look of faith. We look at Christ on the cross and that was the - the lesson he's trying to bring out for us there. Romans chapter 4, verse 3, "for what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.'" Same thing that you're finding in Galatians. James 2:23, "and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'abrahm believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

' Ad he was called the friend of God." So faith is our response to believing in God's promises. So, when the Bible tells us that, we have faith. It used to always irritate me before I was a Christian, I'd hear some pastor up front at a Christian mission or you hear him on tv, they'd say, 'just believe'. I'd say, 'you've got to be crazy, 'just believe' - what do you mean 'just believe'?' It's like you give a kid a cape and say, 'you're superman, jump off a roof. Just believe.

' That's not very smart. And so, if you're going to jump like that, you need evidence. Does God supply evidence for our faith? He does. Even David, when he went against Goliath - and you've heard me say this before - he sites evidence first, for his faith. He said, 'God saved me from the bear, he saved me from the lion - I believe, based on the way he delivered me then, he can deliver me now.

' So when we see that God is faithful in keeping his promises, we have faith in the other areas of - when we see that he's faithful in the prophecies, that they come true, we believe His Word and we have faith in His Word. So he's given us evidence on which to base our faith. That's very important. We should have absolute faith in the promises of God based on the abundance of evidence. Luke 6:46, Jesus said, "but why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say?" So, when you've got that saving faith, is there a difference in the life? What's the response of being saved by faith? We trust God and we obey him.

'Whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.' What does it mean to believe in him? It means to be-live in him. You've heard me say that before. Go with me, in the book of Daniel - go to Daniel chapter 6, I want to show you something. You know the story of Daniel in the lion's den? Daniel chapter 6 - after Daniel spends the night with the lions and the King comes and takes away the stone, and they call to Daniel and Daniel says, 'God has sent his angel and shut the lion's mouth, it says, "so Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him," - just like there was no singed smoke on shadrach, meshach, and abednego when they came up out of the furnace - "no injury whatever was found on him," - why? - "Because he believed in his God." How did Daniel believe in God? When the King said, 'close your windows. Don't pray publicly, pray to no one but me' - Daniel believed, 'no, I'm going to pray to God.

I believe God is going to take care of me.' And God took care of him because he believed. Daniel's belief was seen in action. Real Christian belief will be seen in action. When we are justified by faith, then we will live a sanctified life. Or at least we'll be striving for that.

Does that make sense? Alright, someone read for me Galatians 2:17 - alright, John, just before you do I'm going to read a couple other verses. Does faith promote sin? If we have faith, does that promote sin? Or is it the opposite? Romans 3:31, "do we then make void the law through faith?" - God forbid! - "Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law." Alright, you go ahead and read your verse. Galatians 2:17, "but if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not!" Alright, Galatians is frequently used as the chapter in the Bible when some professed Christians want to get rid of the law. They somehow think they can use the book of Galatians to say that we can live lawless lives because we are justified by faith. Paul is saying, right in the middle of the book, 'don't think that.

I'm not saying that.' What is sin? Transgression of the law. Sin is breaking the law of God - it's transgression of the law. And so, the idea that we are to continue to sin because we're not under the law but under grace - Romans 6:15, "what then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?" - Shall we break the law because we're not undder the law? - "God forbid!" What does it mean to not be under the law or not justified by the works of law? Well, for one thing, not being under the law means you're not under the penalty of the law. You're not dependent on the law for righteousness. But do we obey the law? Romans 6:1 and 2, ".

..shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" Is that clear? Yes. And in Galatians 5:13, "for you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh," - he knew that some would say, 'oh we've been saved. We were under bondage because of our disobedience under the curse of the law, but through grace we've been justified. We're saved.

We're free.' And Paul says, 'that's not free to sin. Don't understand it that way.' And he's guarding against that. You've been called to liberty. Don't use liberty as an opportunity. Peter talks about the same thing - 1 Peter 2:16 - we are to live "as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.

" Have you seen people before that, you know, when you talk to them about, maybe, some disobedience in their lives they'll say, 'oh man, don't put me under the bondage of the law. I'm free in Christ.' That's diabolical. They're saying, 'they're free to sin.' That's not why Jesus died. Sin is what put him on the cross. If you really love him you will turn from sin.

You'll hate sin.' Say amen. Amen. Jude 4 - just one chapter - verse 4 - "for certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were Marked out for this condemnation, unGodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ." They're unGodly people that creep into the church that start to use grace as an excuse for unGodliness and lewdness. And there's a lot of verses in the Bible that make it pretty clear. And then, of course, the great one that we started with, we'll end with, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith in The Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

" So there's new life that he's living. See, when you're dead to sin, you live a new life. Romans 6:3 - you can read all the way through verse 14 - "or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized in to Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we were buried with him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of The Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." - So when it says you're crucified with Christ, you walk in a newness of life. Old things are passed away. New creature - "for if we have been united together in the likeness of his death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of his resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.

" - So being crucified with Christ, is it clear? That's saying we don't live those lives of sin anymore - "for he who has died has been freed from sin." Dead people are usually pretty well behaved. Alright, we're out of time. I think we covered the lesson but, in closing, I want to remind our viewers we do have a free offer. Sometimes people tune in after we've already begun the program and they miss the announcement. We'll send you a free copy.

This is a good book for this subject today. It's called assurance: justification made simple - ask for offer #727 and call the number - 866-788-3966. After you read it please share it with a friend. God bless you, friend. God willing, we'll study his word together again next week.

Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? Actually, I know they can't hear me because there's no cell phone reception here. We're, right now, standing in what is known as 'a quiet zone' and there's a very good reason for that. Hidden, nestled among the jungle mountains of puerto rico, is a giant sentinel, an aluminum ear 1,000 feet across. Located ten miles south of the coastal city of arecibo, this enormous space-age parabolic dish is aimed at the sky, listening. Built in 1963 by cornell university, the arecibo observatory dish is one of the largest curved focusing antennae on earth.

The dish surface is made of nearly 40,000 perforated aluminum panels, each measuring about 3-feet by 6-feet and supported by a mesh of steel cables. The vast antennae surface covers acres, or about the same size as 26 football fields. When the huge telescope switches to radar mode, it beams out a powerful signal of 1 million watts, towards the planets, moons, asteroids, and comets. The faint echo of the signal bouncing off its astronomical targets is collected by the huge disc and then amplified, allowing scientists to create scanner-like images and maps of the object. But another primary purpose for the arecibo observatory is seti.

Seti's an acronym for search for extra terrestrial intelligence - they're listening for messages from above. For over 50 years, radio astronomers have used the world's largest radio telescope to study the radio signals emanating from the cosmos. While listening to the strange songs buried in the heart of the distant stars and quasars, they're also listening and analyzing every signal for signs of intelligent life. It's really astonishing, when you think about it, for more than 50 years now the arecibo observatory has been scanning the heavens, spending millions of dollars, wondering if there's intelligent life out there. Yet, in more than half a century of listening, seti has not identified a signal radio signal that seems to come from extra terrestrial intelligence.

Perhaps they're missing the forest because the trees are in the way. Some messages have actually already come from space. You know, the Bible tells us, in the book of Romans, 'faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the Word of God.' It seems, often when God wants to talk to us, he has to take us where we can actually hear his voice. When God wanted to speak to Elijah, he ended up down in the deserts of Mount Sinai. There was a fire, and earthquake, and a wind, but God was not in the earthquake or the fire or the wind, but God spoke through a still small voice.

Jesus wants to talk to you. He has a plan for your life, but you need to have a quiet place where you can hear him. (Phone ringing) oh, it's for you. For life-changing Christian resources visit afbookstore.com or call 1-800-538-7275.

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