Last week we saw the Greatness of God’s Salvation seen in the Holy Spirit. We are washed when we are re-birthed and renewed. And, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Let’s look at the final aspects today that Paul says.
3: God’s Salvation is Great because we are Righteous (7a)
God’s salvation is great because it means we are now righteous. Notice verse 7, “so that, having been justified by His [the Father’s] grace…” The word justified means righteous and righteous means justified. Both words are used to translate the original Greek word in the NT. Ours is a Great salvation because God has given us righteousness. He has justified us. It’s a gift – it cannot be earned. As the song we have today, “Knowing You”, says: “To possess by faith what I could not earn, All surpassing gift of righteousness”. This song picks up Paul’s words in Philippians 3:9, “I want to be found in Him [Christ] not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is trhough faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” Romans 3:22 says, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” Righteousness is a gift He gives to someone as soon as they put their faith in His Son Jesus Christ.
Righteousness was given to us in the past, meaning that 1st moment when we became a Christian. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore since we have been justified through faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” At that moment we were forgiven all of our sins – on the basis of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. This means that all our guilt for all our sins was taken away from us. When God saved us at that moment in the past it was a salvation from the penalty of sin.
This moment is when something happens to us called “justification”. When we first put our trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior something happened to us in that moment that will never be changed: we were justified. This is a legal word that refers to the fact that God legally declares us righteous. In other words we get cleared of all the charges against us for our sin and we get officially declared as “righteous” by God. To put it another way, our record in God’s court is wiped clean; we are acquitted of our crimes and God pronounces us to be right in the eyes of the court.
How can that happen? It’s not because of all our good deeds. Verse 5 makes that real clear. Verse 7 here tells us it’s possible because of something else: God’s grace. Ephesians 2 says we are saved by grace, not by works! Our righteousness is based on someone who is perfect who paid our penalty for us!
Illustration: I remember in high school certain students had racked up so many detentions that by the time they were seniors they were in a bind. They had more detentions to serve than there were days left in the school year. So the detention lady was gracious and handed out 10 for 1 deals, serve one detention and it counts for 10! What a deal! Either that was compassion or that was ensuring these kids got out of the school’s hair. But either way they were paying for their own detentions. But imagine this, imagine someone came in, the valedictorian of the school, who was also the star quarterback and the homecoming king. Imagine he was a really good guy, the kind worth liking. And he didn’t have any detentions. But imagine he came in and looked at the detention ladies records and saw all those guilty sinners’ detentions, that they couldn’t do anything about it, and imagine he went in after school everyday and served those detentions for those kids. He didn’t’ deserve the detentions, the other kids did. He didn’t earn them, they did. But, he paid the penalty for them. Now the school no longer charges those kids for their detentions and instead considers their debt paid in full.
Now hear this clearly: what God declares of us in court is not what is true for us in our conduct. Let me explain. When God justifies us He now sees us as perfectly righteous even though we don’t act perfectly righteous. This will help you better deal with the fact that as a Christian you still struggle with sin. In justifying us He is dealing with our guilt for our sinful behavior; justification does not change our actual behavior. At the moment we are justified, by putting our faith in His Son, He removes all the guilt of our sin. He does not actually remove sin from us. He removes the penalty of sin (death and judgment) but He does not remove our practice of sin. He now sees us as righteous, He doesn’t actually make us righteous in the way we act.
You are going to sin. You are going to want to sin. This does not mean you are not justified. Justification brings nothing to bear on how you actually live. It is your brand new standing before God where you are legally pronounced “without sin”, and “righteous” in the eyes of God’s court.
How can this be? My dad is always giving me his clothes. I remember I was preparing for one of my first job interviews and my dad gave me a blazer to wear. He said you need to look good, and he gave me a really nice blazer – he has really good taste. So, I went to the interview looking good in my dad’s blazer. I looked good because I was wearing my dad’s clothes.
That’s what Jesus Christ does. He dresses you in his righteousness. You only look good to God when you are wearing Christ’s righteousness. God the Father gives you His righteousness when you place your faith in Jesus Christ. Second Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus took our sin, so that we could have his righteousness.
You will remember not too long ago we spoke of imputation. To impute something means to charge to someone’s account. All our sin was charged to Jesus Christ’s account and He paid the penalty for it on the cross. He didn’t actually commit sin, but, He was treated as though He had. When we put our trust in Christ the righteousness of God is imputed to us – that is it gets credited to our account. This doesn’t mean we actually are as righteous as God, but, all His righteousness gets credited to us. Just like Jesus wasn’t a sinner but was treated like one, we are treated as righteous by God even though we are not actually so.
To God be the glory great things He has done…. the vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives. Solid Rock: dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.”
4: God’s Salvation is Great because we Receive an Inheritance (7b)
We have an inheritance. We are heirs of eternal life! Notice verse 7 again, “So that having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life”. First Peter 1:4 says our inheritance will never perish, spoil or fade. Speaking of the Holy Spirit, the fact that He lives in us is proof that we are heirs. Ephesians 1:14 says, “[He] is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of His glory.”
Because we have an inheritance two very important points arise for all of us to focus on: Our Future and our Father.
First, we need to see our Future. Specifically our future inheritance. We have an inheritance waiting for us. We have been blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3). This is because we are God’s children, Galatians 4:7 says, “So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.”
Jesus is inheriting everything, Hebrews 1:2 says, “But in these last days God has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things…” God has given Him all power, authority, glory, honor, and to Him belongs everything that exists in heaven, on earth and under the earth. And the Bible says we are co-heirs with Him. Romans 8:17 says, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.” We will inherit glory with Jesus Christ. Not only that, but we will inherit the whole world. First Corinthians 6:3 says, “Don’t you know that the saints will judge the world?” We will inherit new glorified bodies (Rom. 8:23-24; Php. 3:21). We will inherit salvation . We will inherit the kingdom of God . We will inherit eternal life (Titus 3:7b).
Application: As Christians, knowing we have an inheritance is why we look forward to what is coming. Hope is not sidetracked by the present, but looking forward with certainty to the future God has promised for us.
Waiting, counting days gone by,
Upward, eyes watching cloudy gates;
Looking, longing, each word nigh,
‘Til faith to sight His glory makes!
Application: This verse implicates God the Father’s special fatherhood over us as believers. It is not outsiders who inherit, but, children. Proverbs We are children – children of God. This is very important for us to understand. People use the phrase “All God’s children” referring to all of humanity. And in one sense that’s right because as the Creator He is Father to everything. That’s what a father is: someone whom we get our life from. But He is not a personal Father to everyone. There is a difference between Him being the Father and my Father. What’s the difference? Everyone has life because of Him, which makes Him everyone’s Father. But not everyone has eternal life. Not everyone who is physically alive is spiritually alive. Many are living and breathing today but are spiritually dead. That is because they have not received the spiritual life that comes through from God through His Son. God the Father has not made them alive spiritually, so, they are not His spiritual children. God the Father is now our Heavenly Father. This brings up point number two: our Future.