Monday, May 11, 2009

John Piper on Justification

"When you preach through the book of Romans you bump into the doctrine of Justification."  

Justification is increasingly embattled in our day.  It's confused, reduced and contradicted.  In so doing the lines between Protestantism and Catholicism are being blurred.  And those are significant lines.  They have been and should have been and should be defended.  

Unfortunately the new perspective on Paul and justification is redrawing the map of the New Testament.  It's muddied the waters for men in seminary.  Now the historic "By faith alone . . ." has changed.  Faithfulness in life has replaced faith alone.  

"I love this doctrine.  I live on this doctrine.  This doctrine feels to me not only principially saving, but daily saving."

So what does the Bible say about this truth?

John 7:17
17 If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. 

A will that is seeking God can see things that those who are opposed to the truth may be totally blind too.  

Why is this an issue?
- Preaching through Romans
- Friends and men who are asking hard questions about Justification
- Writing and speaking presenting new arguments about the issue
- The personal need for the doctrine of Justification

Philippians 1:20
20 As it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 

The word "honor" means to magnify.  Not magnify like a microscope, but like a telescope.  We need to display the beautiful galaxy that is Jesus Christ.  

"I tried to teach and preach and father and husband to make [Christ] look great."  

The glory of Christ is being diminished by the new definitions and understandings of Biblical Justification.

Three ways in which the glory of Christ is diminished with the new definitions
- One of Christ's greatest achievements is being denied.  
- Love is the great outcome of the Christian doctrine.  What happens you make love the foundation rather than the outcome?

- The fulness of the glory of the Gospel is diminished. 

Philippians 2:6-8
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant,being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

The disobedient Adam causes us to be counted as sinners.  The obedient Christ causes us to be counted righteous.   All of this is the obedience of Christ demonstrated.  

The righteousness of Christ Paul talks about in Philippians 3 is what type of righteousness?  

Philippians 3:5-9
5 Circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 

Paul is saying that his verdict of righteousness found in verse 6 is not good enough before God.  Paul needs the righteousness of Christ in verse 9.  It's from God in Christ, not in any way Paul's own.  

II Corinthians 5:21  "In him we might become the righteousness of God."  
Romans 4:6 "He imputes righteousness to us apart from works of the law."
Romans 5: 18-19

What do you say to a person who comes to you and says, "The forgiveness of God is all that I need.  Everything else is superfluous.  I don't need anything else since I have that"?

When the cross is diminished of one of its achievements pastorally the church begins to hurt.  You take away one of the weapons of the arsenal.  

Since the goal of all our ministry is love we flip the goals the wrong way when we make it the foundation.  Love is not the foundation, it's the fruit.  Look what has happened to the mainline denominations.  They've compromised the gospel.  They've given up the truth of the gospel.  Sure, they have love, but that's it!  And that isn't really, truly, eternally changing anything!

We want churches ready to lay down their lives for the world.  Churches full of love toward others.  The love must be driven by imputed justification, that will produce a radical life of love.  

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