We Are Justified by Faith

“Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from the works of the law,” (Romans 3: 27, 28)

As I began my morning devotions today, this passage in the book of Romans jumped out at me. Have you ever really stopped to consider it’s meaning? We are justified, not by our works, but by faith. Faith in what? In the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. It is this very principle that is the heart and soul of the Christian faith. Where every other man-made religious system determines your justification on what you can do, Christianity bases it solely on what has been done by God. This is where out assurance lies, it is where our guarantee of salvation lies. The shed blood of Christ on the cross, His work on our behalf. Christ gave everything, we can contribute nothing. And it is the faith that Christ has completed that work on our behalf through which God justifies us. Our complete and total trust that Christ’s work is sufficient to satisfy the righteous wrath of God. Our surrender to His transforming our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. That alone makes us right before God and nothing else.

I believe that one of the most challenging walks of the Christians life is struggling with the assurance that we are saved. We so often look at our lives, the constant struggle that we have with our sinful flesh, and we are tempted to believe that we cannot possibly be saved because of those sins. We see that we are supposed to be new creations, yet we continually fall into sin. As a result, we cannot believe we really are new creations because we are not doing what we are supposed to be doing. In the end, we actually evaluate our new birth in the same way that the false religions of this world do, through our works.

Yet, as we read the passage penned by Paul to the Romans, what is he challenging them with? He asks “what becomes of our boasting?” Think about that for a moment. When we actually accomplish something in our lives, what is inevitable result? We are proud of what we have accomplished. Pride swells up in our hearts and we can’t wait to tell someone all about it. But through the law of faith, such prideful boasting is “excluded.” Why? Because our faith is in the accomplished work of someone else! We cannot tell people how we did something great because the things we have done sent Christ to the cross! Jesus alone accomplished salvation through His death and resurrection. Jesus alone was completely obedient to His Father and fulfilled all the righteous requirements of the law. The only boasting we can do is to say we were so wicked and vile that He had to save us through His work. We can rejoice because we don’t have to boast! We don’t have to rely on our sinful works to accomplish righteousness! We can rest because all the work of justification was accomplished at the cross!

If you struggle with your assurance in your faith, look to this passage and remember that it is God who alone is the just and the justifier. It is He who has made you a new creation and it is His work that is progessively sanctifying you. If you are one who has truly repented and placed their faith in Christ, then God’s work in your life will reveal itself in your hatred for your sin, your desire to walk and grow in faith, in your love for God’s Word, and in your desire to be more like your Savior. But these are the result of your justification, not the cause of it. You are justified by the One who said “It is finished.” Look to His finished work and rest.

The Watchtower’s Struggle with Being Born Again

April 1, 2009 Watchtower

April 1, 2009 Watchtower

I’ve read some past Watchtower magazine articles in an attempt to verify the Jehovah’s Witness teaching about what it means to be born again. I’ve found their teaching on this is truly inadequate. In discussions with Jehovah’s Witnesses, I’ve tried to explain the biblical meaning of born again in many ways. During our conversations, none of my questions regarding the shortcomings of their teaching have been answered.

I was excited when I discovered the April 1 Watchtower cover story was about being born again. I hoped that maybe the writers would attempt to fill in some of the gaps in the teaching. Unfortunately, this article is nothing more than a rehash of articles I’ve already read.

These are some of the questions that remain unanswered concerning the teaching:

  1. The non-144,000 JWs are not born again. 1 John 5:1 says that everyone who believes Jesus is the Messiah is born again. How can JWs not be born again, yet profess to believe that Jesus is the Messiah?
  2. The non-144,000 JWs are not considered children of God. I agree that unless you are born again, you are not a child of God. I don’t think the average JW knows that the Watchtower teaches that he or she isn’t a child of God. If they’re not children of God, whose children are they? I believe they remain children of the devil.
  3. If being born again means having been raised from spiritual death to spiritual life (Ephesians 2:1), and most JWs aren’t spiritually alive, they must still be spiritually dead. Does that not concern them?
  4. Jesus said that one will not see the kingdom of God unless he or she is born again (John 3:3). Wouldn’t the paradise earth that most JWs aspire to be considered part of the kingdom of God? They won’t even see paradise earth without being born again.

Every time I’ve tried to discuss this with a Jehovah’s Witness, he or she attempts to change the subject to why he or she is satisfied with paradise earth, and why only the 144,000 are born again. Those are interesting topics to discuss, but I’ve tried to keep the conversation on the topic at hand: If you’re not born again, what are you?

In the Bible, some Jews claimed to be children of God, because they were children of Abraham (John 8:41). Jesus corrected their thinking, telling them that they were in fact children of the devil (John 8:44).

The reality is that for Jehovah’s Witnesses (and everyone else who is not born again), there are only two choices: Either you are reborn as a child of God, or you remain a child of the devil.