A Note from Michael Gossett
Theology Matters Part 7 – The Doctrine of Justification
I pray you had a wonderful Fourth of July celebration with your family and friends. It was a special time this past Sunday as we prayed over Congressman Nathaniel Moran and then commissioned two of our very own, Mark and Effie Tripura, to full time mission work in Southeast Asia. Please continue to be in prayer for them in the days and years ahead. As we think about our nation’s leaders, our president, and the freedom our country stands on, let us offer thanks to the Lord for the many ways He has provided for His people. When I was contemplating the great cost of freedom, the great country we live in, and the Lord that allows all of it, I was reminded of this doxology:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
These 25 words make up one of the most influential and memorable of Christian hymns. It is a clear reminder that everything exists because of God. The freedom we experience in America is extended by God Himself. It came at a great cost even before the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Attempts of first settling in the new land came at a great cost. The victory of the Revolutionary War came at a great cost. The War of 1812, the Indian Wars, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, and the Global War on Terror that still lingers today all came at a great cost to many Americans and their families. We set aside special days to recognize veterans and active military as well as a day set apart to remember all who have fallen protecting the freedom you and I have experienced in America. However, July 4th is a day designated for celebration, remembrance, and mourning. We celebrate the freedom we have, we remember the sacrifice, and we mourn as Christians the growing lack of morality throughout our nation.
As followers of Jesus, we do the same, not only for our nation, but for the Kingdom of Christ. Our greatest celebration is not found in America but rather in the rule and reign of Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20-21 says, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” Our citizenship of heaven is to be lived out now, in anticipation of Christ’s return.
We also remember the ultimate sacrifice made by Christ Jesus. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We remember the cost of our justification. The doctrine of justification helps us remember the sacrifice of Jesus. Justification is not attributed to us because of our faith nor are we justified because of our obedience. We are justified only because the penalty of our sin has been set upon the only righteous one: Christ Jesus. For us to be justified, we must receive, accept, and trust in the righteousness of Christ. This doctrine teaches us that the faith we must believe in Christ with is not because we chose Him, but because He chose us. It is truly a gift from God alone. Jesus fully satisfied the wrath of a holy and just God by taking the punishment on our behalf. This is how the doctrine of justification is applied to us by the Spirit of God.
Yet, we still mourn for our own fallenness in sin and for the sin of those around us. Jesus said in Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” While we live in America, the land of the free, we mourn for the sake of God’s kingdom. We know the penalty of sin, and we understand the cost of justification; this realization should cause a mourning within us until the return of Christ. It is at Christ’s return that mourning will cease because the Kingdom of God will be established without sin’s taint. Until then, let us continue to repent of our sin with mourning, pray for revival, and pray that America and every nation would come to know Jesus as the one true ruler of all.
I want to personally invite you to join my wife, Katie and myself on the journey of a lifetime as we explore the Holy Land. You will have the opportunity to see the “place of the skull” and the garden tomb as the crucifixion comes to life. We will follow in the footsteps of Jesus and his disciples as we travel through the Holy Land, where our Messiah lived and worked miracles. Watch the Scriptures come to life as you visit places like Bethlehem, Jericho, the Mount of Olives, the Sea of Galilee, and Jerusalem. Float in the Dead Sea, discover Masada, and gaze upon the Valley of Armageddon. This trip will be an incredible spiritual experience that will forever change how you read, study, and understand the Scriptures. Reserve your spot today!
Come this Sunday and worship with us as we continue our summer series, “The Heart of Psalms.” You can join us at the Tyler campus or the Flint campus for worship at 9:30 or 11:00. If you missed last week’s message, you can view it on Facebook, YouTube, or GABC.org. This week, we will look in depth at Psalm 73 as we understand “The Heart of Satisfaction.”
I cannot wait to worship with you this Sunday!
You are loved and prayed for!