Expounding the More Perfect Way….Jesus Christ and Him Crucified Acts 18:24-28


David said: “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” (Rom. 4:7).

The force of the Hebrew term “to cover” is dual. It implies Atonement and Justification. Atonement does not mean merely “at-one-ment” or “at-one-with,” but rather expiation of guilt by a blood-sacrifice which covers it.

The argument of Verses 9 through 12 in Romans, Chapter 4, is that Abraham was declared by God to be a righteous man while he was yet uncircumcised, i.e., outside of the Covenant within which the Jews afterward stood in their unique relation to God.

Had the promise of heirship of the world been based on the principal of law, i.e., of merit, that would have set Abraham aside, for the inheritance was given him by Promise and, therefore, on the principal of Faith. Faith does not fulfill a promise made to it, but believes it; and that Faith was reckoned to Abraham for Righteousness. This principal consequently opened wide the door of Grace to all men.

The Effect of Law

Paul said: “Because the Law works wrath: for where no Law is, there is no transgression” (Rom. 4:15).

The effect of law is always “condemnation,” and, in fact, it can be no other.

So, this means that all Believers who seek to function by “law,” whether the Law of Moses, or a law devised by themselves or someone else, can only come to one conclusion, and that is “condemnation.” And let the Reader understand the following:

If the Believer doesn’t understand the Cross, then the Believer doesn’t understand Grace, and neither does he properly understand Faith; consequently, such a Believer will then resort to law, because there is no other place for the Believer to be. It’s either “Law” or “Grace.”

This means that virtually the entirety of the modern Church is functioning under law, which means they are under constant condemnation, because most of the modern Church has little or no knowledge of the Cross whatsoever.

And yet, the Church thinks that it does know and understand the Cross. But several questions should be asked:

Are you, the Reader, living a victorious, overcoming Christian life? The question could probably be better asked, “Is there repeated sin of some nature in your life?”

Is the Fruit of the Spirit being developed in your life? Perhaps the question could be asked in this fashion, “Are you becoming more and more Christlike, in your life, personality, and demeanor?”

Please allow me to delicately say that far too many Christians lie to themselves. And it’s just as much a sin to lie to ourselves as it is to someone else, perhaps even worse. In other words, we need to look at the questions just asked and answer them honestly.

The Action of Grace

Whereas the effect of law is condemnation, the action of grace is “justification.”

The doctrine of justification by works generates religious pride—that of Justification by Faith produces contrition and humility. In the matter of Justification, Faith and works are opposite and irreconcilable—as opposed as Grace and Debt. Since God declares ungodly men righteous, works cannot in any sense furnish a ground for Justification, and hence the first step toward Salvation on the part of a sinner is to humble himself and accept the Divine pronouncement that he is “ungodly.”

Then the second and concluding step is to repose Faith in Him Who justifies the ungodly. Nothing gives more Glory to God than simply believing Him. Justification is not a change in character but a declaration by God as to the Believer’s standing before Him. It is objective. Sanctification affects character and is subjective.

As we have stated, the expiatory Sacrifice of Christ is the one and only and eternal ground on which God can act in declaring ungodly men righteous. Galatians 3:21, and many similar Divine declarations, reveal the hopelessness of standing before God in a righteousness which He will accept upon any other principal than that of Faith in a crucified Sin-Bearer.

A Perfect Sacrifice

Christ’s Perfect Obedience to the Law of God formed His Own Righteousness and gave virtue to His Sacrifice—for a Sacrifice for sin must have neither spot nor blemish. But it was not the spotlessness of the Lamb which made the Atonement, but its out-poured Blood, i.e., its surrendered Life, for the blood is the life. The judgment pronounced upon sin being death, that claim could only be vindicated and discharged by the suffering of death. Christ suffered that penalty and, in consequence, saves the Believer from it.

If Christ’s obedience during His Life was man’s obedience, then man stands as He stood and, consequently, there was no reason why He should die. In that case there was no penalty, for if man fulfilled in Him all Righteousness, there was no occasion for judgment.

But the Scripture declares that Christ died for sinners, so that it is His Death that provides a spotless Righteousness for sinners who believe in Him; and it was His Obedience in life which gave efficacy to His suffering in death.

Regrettably, the vast majority of mankind accepts the human doctrine of salvation by merit; a very small minority believes the Divine Doctrine of Salvation by Grace. As the Lord Jesus Himself said, few tread that narrow way. It is abhorrent to human pride.

J. Swaggart Ministry

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