Category Archives: Justification

Continually Beat the Gospel into your Head! #Counseling

“Justification: Here I must take counsel of the gospel. I must listen to the gospel, which teaches me, not what I ought to do, (for that is the proper office of the law,) but what Jesus Christ the Son of God has done for me : that is, that He suffered and died to deliver me from sin and death. The gospel wills me to receive this, and to believe it. And this is the truth of the gospel. It is also the principal article of all Christian doctrine, wherein the knowledge of all godliness consists.

Most necessary it is, therefore, that we should know this article well, teach it unto others, and beat it into their heads continually.”

–Martin Luther, St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians (Philadelphia: Smith, English & Co., 1860), 206.

Acceptance (Part Two)

The Gospel is our best ammunition against Satan’s lies and condemning accusations, but religion still seems to remain many Christians weapon of choice. This is because our default mode, like a computer printer, will execute religion unless we disobey the impulsive urge of religion and select the Gospel mode of operational living. Frankly, I do not see this happening without memorizing a short definition of justification – justification by grace through faith in Christ alone.

If the pastor asked a large congregation of Christians on any given Sunday what does justification mean, very few (if any) hands would be raised to answer the question. Why was Abraham credited righteous when he was a sinner? Why was Joshua the high priest in filthy rags and accused by Satan as such covered with white garments? Why did Jesus come to seek not the righteous, but the unrighteous? Why did the apostle Paul take so much time arguing for justification by faith in Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians?

What is this vital doctrine? Martin Luther said it is “the article upon which the church stands or falls” (articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae).[1] John Calvin asserted that justification is “the principal hinge” upon which Christianity is supported, “For unless you understand first of all what your position is before God, and what the judgment [is] which He passes upon you, you have no foundation on which your salvation can be laid, or on which your godly approach can be reared.”[2]

The teaching of scripture tells us who we are in Christ. When we trust Christ for our justification, we trust that (1) we are pardoned of all our sins; (2) accepted as righteous in God’s sight; (3) but only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

When Jesus Christ lived thirty-three years of perfect righteousness that active righteousness was what was imputed or credited to the Christian. The Christian’s imperfect self-righteousness, which is as filthy rags, and unrighteousness were taken upon Jesus on the cross. So that He suffered the penalty our self-righteousness and unrighteousness deserves, and we receive and become the righteousness of God in Christ. (I always want to write this in all capitals and add exclamation marks.)

Scriptural Support abounds with this Gospel truth. Abraham was credited as righteous when he believed God’s promise (Genesis 15:6). Paul taught that all have fallen short of God’s righteousness, but Christ’s righteousness alone is our basis for acceptance with God as righteous (Romans 3:22-28; 4:5; 5:1; Acts 13:38-39; Galatians 2:14-16; Philippians 3:8-9). “For our sake God made him to be sin who knew no sin,” Paul explains, “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).” God declares the ungodly, who believe the Gospel, as righteous in His sight, but only for the righteous life of Jesus and his sacrificial death, He became for us when He was crucified. There is no more need to establish a righteousness of our own. There is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). There is no more need for justifying ourselves before God and others.

Memorize This Prayer as Your Daily Bread:


I am pardoned of all my sins and accepted as righteous in His sight,

but only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to me and received

by faith alone. Amen.”[3]


[1] Martin Luther, What Luther Says: An Anthology, ed. Ewald M. Plass, 3 vols. (St Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing, 1959), Vol. 2, p. 704 n5.

[2] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 vols., trans. Henry Beverage (1845; reprint, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964), Vol. 2, p. 37 (3.11.1).

[3] This is based on The Westminster Confession of Faith, Shorter Catechism Question/Answer #33, (Philadelphia, PA: Great Commission Publications, 1989), p. 74.



Christians never stop needing to hear the Gospel, and central to the Gospel is personally embracing the good news that the announcement we preach to ourselves; namely, “I am justified.”

There is nothing more foolish, yet common, than for a Christian to seek to establish a righteousness of his own (Romans 10:3). Since Jesus established a perfect righteousness for the Christian, there is no need for this. A Christian must ask God to deliver us from our sinful nature’s desire for acceptance with God. Saint Augustine prayed: “Oh Lord, deliver me from the lust of always having to vindicate myself!”

I have sought to establish my righteousness before others. For example, I attempted to gain house, lawn, and car maintenance righteousness before my father in law came to visit us. Anything we work at can become a way we seek to establish our righteousness before God and others –health, environment, etc. It gives a false righteousness, a self-righteousness, to attempt to stand on to make God pleased with us, to divide the world between the good and the bad, and to put ourselves above others.

The Protestant Reformation was a revival of the Gospel after centuries of the darkness and oppression of religion. Religion, posing as true as true Christianity, functions in three ways: (1) to put our good works before God in order to make Him owe us something; (2) to divide the world in half between the good people and the bad people; and (3) to look down on the bad people as a good person (Luke 18:9-14).

Father in Heaven,

I am pardoned of all my sins and accepted as righteous in His sight,

but only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to me and received

by faith alone. Amen.

Identity in Christ Course at Grace College of New Zealand

These four sessions were given in 2015 during a preaching trip to the South Island’s Family Conference in association with Grace Presbyterian Churches near Christ Church and in the North in Auckland in two churches and a pastor’s gathering.


May these simple lectures bless you for embracing who you are in Christ, Bob

Session One

Session Two

Session Three

Session Four


Passive in the Beginnings of Identity

We are passive in receiving our identity, which is is to say what is so un-post-everything and unpopluar in our Time!

We receive our soul and life’s beginning from God. We are endowed with God’s image, and our gender. Gender is given; we are either male or female. Doctors and nurses name what is true of our health and blood type, etc. Finally, we are given a name.

478337_10151030395801320_882750470_oThis little boy is with his loving father. He was named Gideon, after the Old Testament character in the book of Judges. Names draw forth calling, and today this little boy turned four years old. He received a sword – “a sword for the Lord and for Gideon. (Judges 7:20).”

If we come to Jesus, then we receive a new identity. We are passive in receiving our new identity in the very beginning of Christian experience. We are born again by the sovereign Holy Spirit, declared righteous and forgiven in Christ, and anointed as a saint – yes, even as a warrior. Our Father in Heaven has written our new names in Heaven.

When Will My Performance Tell Me that I Am I Good Enough?

Jim Carey at Global Awards 2016

I just spend a sweet time with a dear woman, suffering from this one question: Do I have worth? Her story began with an abusive mother who held out the hope of worth based upon her condition. Once she ate the last piece of bread in the home and her mother threw a sharp knife at her, missing her by a hair. Once her mother strangled her, threatening her with death.

The message she heard in church was: “If you obey, God will accept you.” Sounds strange, but she cherished Satan’s lie that she was worthless, because her foolish strategies to prove her worth in the eyes of others worked for a season in Christian performance. Until, of course, she surrendered to the lie that she is worthless frequently until burnout and depression set in.

She recently came to faith in the Gospel’s authority over her life, renounced the lie and her foolish strategies. Jesus was enough for her. God made her in His image (she has worth), and Jesus redeemed her (the cross shows how much she is worth). Now her Christian practice can be for others, not to prove her worth.

Sensing Jesus by Zack Eswine

Pondering Gospel Quotes

Personal-library-of-Richard-A-Macksey“We may dare assure ourselves that eternal life, of which He is the heir, is ours; and that the Kingdom of Heaven, into which He has already entered, can no more be cut off from us than from Him; again, that we cannot be condemned for our sins, from whose guilt He has absolved us, since He willed to take them upon Himself as if they were His own. This is the wonderful exchange which, out of His measureless benevolence, He has made with us, that, by His descent to earth, He has prepared an ascent to heaven for us; that, by taking on our mortality, He has conferred His immortality upon us; that, accepting our weakness, He has strengthened us by His power; that, receiving our poverty unto Himself, He has transferred His wealth to us; that, taking the weight of our iniquity upon Himself (which oppressed us), He has clothed us with His righteousness.”

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, John T. McNeill, ed, Ford Lewis Battles, trans, Library of Christian Classics (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960 [1559]), 4.17.2. p. 1362.


Are you Still Resting Upon Your Performance or Christ’s?

Thomas BostonThis Antinomian principle that it is needless for a man perfectly justified by faith to endeavor to keep the law and do good works, is a glaring evidence that legality is so engrained in man’s corrupt nature that until a man truly comes to Christ by faith, the legal disposition will still be reigning in him. Let him calm himself into what shape or be of what principles he will in religion [the Gospel], though he run into Antinomianism, he will carry along with him his legal spirit which will always be a slavish and unholy spirit.