Salvation and Justification (Romans 5:16)
Soteriology 15, Romans 5:16
April 27, 2016
Let’s open our Bibles to Romans, chapter 5 and verse 16. We’re continuing to talk about soteriology, which is the doctrine of salvation. And we’re in this section called the results of salvation, which is really a description of the blessings that you have in Christ; the moment you trust in Him your bank account starts to swell spiritually. And Dr. Chafer, Lewis Sperry Chafer said there’s 33 blessings that we have. And we went through those really quick and I was just going to drill down on some of them. But we’ve talked about sonship, eternal life, and last time we were together we talked about regeneration.
So let’s pick it up here with justification. One of the blessings that we have in Christ is we have been justified before God. So what does that mean? The Greek word for justification is dikaioó which is a forensic term; forensic means legal or evidential. So you want to think of justification just like a jury verdict, someone is accused of a crime, they’re tried before a jury of their peers and if they’re found not guilty then the jury foreman, or foreperson says, “Your Honor, we find the defendant not guilty.” So the moment that is verbally announced, this not guilty verdict is the moment the accused is very relieved. Right. So in other words that’s basically what happened to you the moment you trusted in Christ. You were justified before God, there was a forensic legal heavenly declaration of that. And the verdict was announced, “not guilty.
So let me show you where this phrase justification shows up in the Bible. If you have your Bible take a look at Romans 5:16, it says “The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification.” So the last word in that verse is our word “justification.”
And then just going a couple chapters to the right, take a look at Romans 8:33-34, it says, “Who will bring a charge” see the legal terminology there? “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who” what? “justifies.” Now the key thing to understand about justification is it takes place… it’s a declarative act at a point in time as opposed to something that takes place over a process. So justification is a declarative act at a point in time, not the result of a long arduous process.
Now what I just said there may seem like basic and simple; you might be saying duh, tell me something I don’t know. But what I just articulated there was the whole basis of the Protestant Reformation, when the Protestant churches said no to the Roman Catholic Hierarchy and broke away. And the whole issue there, there was a few issues but one of the main issues was: was justification something that took place at a specific point in time or is it a process that goes on over a person’s life, because the Roman Catholic hierarchy at the time, and still today, basically teaches that justification is a process. In fact, if you really get into Roman Catholic soteriology what you’ll discover is it’s a works oriented system where we, as human beings, play a role in the process through good works. God does His part, we do our part. And our view as Protestant Christians, based on the Scripture, is that’s not what we believe at all. We don’t believe justification is a process; we do not believe it’s anything we contribute to other than receiving it as a free gift. It is a declaration of innocence announced from heaven the moment a person puts their personal faith in Jesus Christ.
And the key thing I want to get across is it’s a past event rather than something that occurs over a long period of time, as a person becomes more righteous through their own power. Now let me give you some Scriptures. I’ve got several of them down there, some Scriptures that clearly communicate this. Take a look if you could at John 5:24, it’s a verse I like to use a lot because it communicates so clearly the theology that we’re trying to promote in this church. Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has” that’s present tense in Greek, “has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”
See it doesn’t say you’re passing out of death unto life; the moment you trust in Christ you’ve already passed “out of death unto life.” And “has passed out of” in the Greek is what we call in the perfect tense. The perfect tense is like slapping your fist down on a podium, it’s a onetime act but the noise reverberates. So the perfect tense is a onetime action in the past with ongoing results, in this case ongoing benefits. And that is how “has passed out of” reads in the original Greek. So justification is something that already happened to you at the point of faith. It’s not a process you’re in at the present time.
And then take a look at Ephesians 2:8-9, these are familiar verses, Paul says, “For by grace you” what? “have been saved,” it doesn’t say by grace you are being saved, “For by grace you have been saved; it is not of yourselves it is the gift of God; not as a result of works so that no one can boast.” “For by grace you have been saved” is a present tense verb with a perfect tense participle. And again it’s communicating that same idea, a onetime action in the past with ongoing results.
See, these are verses that we all take for granted in the year 2016 but these are the verses that Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, the Protestant Reformers, stood on in their contest with the Catholic Church who was teaching no, salvation is a process. And they were saying no, it’s not a process, it’s a onetime act in the past.
Take a look at the book of Titus just for a minute, chapter 3 and verse 5, the book of Titus chapter 3, verse 5, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” Notice what it says: “He saved us,” so justification is something that already happened to you, not something that is happening to you. And it happened to you when you put your trust in Christ.
Go over to the right edge of the New Testament and take a look at 1 John 5 and verse 4, 1 John 5:4 says, “or whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” So you’ll notice there that we have already overcome the world. It’s not like I have to go out and be an overcomer, I automatically am an overcomer because I’ve already passed out of death unto life at the point of personal faith in Christ.
Now if you don’t accept this you’ll spend your whole life as a Christian with no assurance of salvation whatsoever. Am I really saved or not? Well, I for a fact know that I am saved because I know that justification is not a process. See, if you think justification is a process that we contribute to how do you know when the process is over? How do you know if you’ve done enough? You see? So you spend the rest of your life with these nagging doubts, maybe I’m saved, maybe I’m not.
1 John 5:12-13 by contrast says, “He who has the Son has life;” does that sound like you’re supposed to go through your Christian life wondering if you’re a Christian? “He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the son of God does not have life.  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may” what? “know that you have eternal life.” So the Bible doesn’t set up this assurance of salvation like the weather report, 75% chance of rain, and I always laugh at those people because they’re wrong a lot of the time and they’re dealing in possibilities, probabilities, that’s not the biblical teaching on justification and the assurance of salvation at all. So justification is something that already happened to you in the past.
Take a look at 1 Corinthians 6:11, notice the past tense here in justify, 1 Corinthians 6:11 says, “Such were some of you; but you were” past tense, “washed, but you were sanctified, but you were” what? “justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ…..” So again justified there is placed in the past.
And take a look at Romans 8:29-30, notice how this is all placed in the past. “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;  and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also” what “justified;” he doesn’t say is justifying, “justified,” so our justification is in the past tense just like our calling is in the past tense, our predestination is in the past tense, and our future glory is so certain that God can actually, if you go to the end there of Romans 8:30 our future glory is so certain that God places that in the past tense as well. [“… and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”’ Romans 4:5, here’s a noun form in the past tense; Romans 4:5 says, “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.” So anyway, you get the idea here. And that’s really a key thing to understand about justification.
Something else to understand about justification is it’s the exact opposite of condemnation. If justification is a verbal announcement of innocence the polar opposite of it would be condemnation. So in the first Adam, which we’re all physically born into, we are already condemned. In the last Adam, which we are spiritually born into, if we trust in the provision of Christ, we move from condemnation to justification.
So you might recall, I think it’s John 3:18 that Jesus told people that look, you’re condemned already if you don’t believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and you haven’t trusted Him for the forgiveness of your sins. [John 3:18, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”] Now why would it say that? Because that is our position in the first Adam; we are automatically condemned. Justification though is for those who have trusted in Christ, the verbal announcement of innocent or acquittal. And so justification and condemnation are exact opposites of each other. And going back to Romans 5:16 you’ll see the two juxtaposed. It says, “The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in” what? “condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in” what? “justification.” So here’s condemnation over here; here’s justification over there, they are two polar opposites of each other.
You see the same terminology, we won’t read it, but over in Romans 8:33-34; you’ll see justification is polarized with condemnation. [Romans 8:33-34, “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;  who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”] So in Adam we are already condemned. In the last Adam, which we enter by faith in Christ, we become justified before God.
So what then is the basis of our justification? How do we gain, in other words, justification? And the Bible is very clear, it is by faith alone, by grace alone and not by works. So notice Romans 3:28, it tells us how our justification is accrued to our account. Romans 3:28, Paul says, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from” what? “works of the Law.” So no human work can justify the lost sinner before God. It’s only by faith that he moves into this glorious aspect of our riches that we have.
Justification is also by grace alone. What is grace? It’s unmerited favor. It’s something that we don’t deserve. And you see this over in Romans 3:24, “being justified as a” what? “gift by His grace” so the Greek word for “grace” there is charis, and grace means you receive something from God you don’t deserve. That’s why it can’t be by works because if you work for it you deserve it. Right. So God won’t give it on the basis of works, He gives it only on the basis of faith because when we receive it God wants us to understand that we have it through no merits of our own.
And then Romans 3:20 very clearly tells us that justification is not by works, and notice Romans 3:20, Paul writes in Romans 3:20, “because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight….” So justification is a wonderful thing and how is it gained? The Bible is very clear: by faith alone! And that word “alone” is such a big deal because the Protestant Reformers could have gotten along hunky-dory with the Roman Catholic Church if they just said faith, because the Roman Catholic Church at that time, and still teaches, that it’s faith some and also works. They wouldn’t settle for just the word faith, they settled for the word “words,” faith alone, and that’s why when they argue these things in Latin the Latin word for alone is sola. So the term they used is sola fide, faith alone; sola gratia, by grace alone; sola Christos, by Christ alone; sola Scriptura, based on the Scripture alone.
And by the way, if all of that’s true who gets the glory? Man or God. God, and so they also insisted on sola Deo Gloria, to the glory of God alone. Want me to give those to you again?
Sola fide, faith alone; I don’t know if I can remember them all, I know there’s five. Sola fide, faith alone; it’s a Latin expression. Sola gratia, grace alone; sola Christos, Christ alone; sola Scriptura, based on the Scripture alone and sola Deo Gloria, to the glory of God alone. Again, we take these truths for granted but these guys, many of them lost their lives by fighting for these basic truths which they didn’t invent; they saw these things in the Scripture based on the verses that we’re going through here.
Now one of the things I was confused on for a long time is the source of my justification. I thought that the source of my innocence is justification and that really is not true. Justification is the what? The announcement of our innocence. So justification is the heavenly jury verdict of innocent but what makes us innocent is not justification; justification just announces innocence. What makes us innocent is a different doctrine called imputation. Imputation means transfer.
So what has happened is the moment I placed my faith in Jesus Christ is the moment the righteousness of God was transferred to me and I received that completely on the basis of faith, completely on the basis of grace, completely not on the basis of any works whatsoever. I trusted in Christ and the righteousness of God is transferred to me and so God now looks at me, He looks at you as if we’re just as righteous as Jesus Himself. And on that basis the announcement is given in heaven, “not guilty.” So justification doesn’t make you righteous, it just announces it.
Really what makes you righteous is imputation which means transfer. And take a look at Philippians 3:9, if I was stuck on a desert island and I only had one verse I could take with me I would pick Philippians 3:9, because Philippians 3:9 explains Christianity better, probably than any other verse in the Bible, in my humble opinion. Philippians 3:9… now remember, earlier in the chapter Paul has talked about what he used to be, how he tried to gain favor with God as a Pharisee through self-righteousness. And then he came to a realization, and what was the realization? He counted these things rubbish, verse 8, which is the Greek word skubla, which means dog dung or animal excrement, animal manure; that’s how he began to see self-righteousness compared to what?
Verse 9, “and may be found in Him,” who’s “Him”? Jesus. Look at this, “not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law,” so the Holy Spirit got hold of Paul through conviction and he finally realized that he was not going to gain righteousness before God through his own efforts. And he had a lot of great efforts when you read earlier in the chapter. But he was going to receive it, not based on himself, “not having a righteousness of my own.” Why is it not his own? Because it comes from God.
“Not having a righteousness of my own” derived through the law, in other words my own works, “but that which” comes on the basis of what? what’s the last word in verse 9, “faith.” And that’s what we have in Christ, it’s imputation. The moment you trust in Christ God… Martin Luther called it the great exchange, there’s no better deal going, where our unrighteousness in a nanosecond is exchanged for the righteousness of Jesus. And God looks at you like He looks at Jesus Himself. Just the way God the Father, one member of the Trinity looks at God the Son, because you are found “in Him” not on the righteousness of your on but on the basis of faith, God the Father rather looks at you just like He looks at God the Son.
You say well, I don’t deserve that! Well, of course you don’t, neither do I; that’s why it’s acquired on the basis of grace, which means unmerited favor; sola gratia. But it’s yours! And we talk a lot about behavior modification today, trying to get people to change their behavior, and usually the way people go about it is they start picking at people and nagging at them, at all their bad qualities. But the Bible has the ultimate formula for behavior modification; it’s seeing yourself the way God sees you, not how you feel about yourself, not what the world says about you, but how does God see you. And isn’t it interesting that when we start seeing ourselves the way God already looks at us we start acting our part more and more. Not that we become sinless but we start sinning less because we understand our position and we understand that when we go back into sin we are living out of harmony with our position.
So a lot of people will misstate the doctrine of justification, they’ll state it this way: just as if I’d never sinned. Have you ever heard people say that? And they look it as God is just taking away the bad things that we’ve done, but that doesn’t really capture the whole idea. He’s adding, not just a subtraction it’s an addition. He doesn’t look at us as if I didn’t commit the sin I’m thinking about committing; He doesn’t just subtract that, He looks at it through an addition, by transferring something to my account called the transferred righteousness of Christ….imputation. So I receive that on faith and then I’m justified before God, there’s this verbal announcement that happens one time in the past and I’ve changed from death unto life in a second; no process involved here at all.
This chart might help you, there’s three transfers in the Bible, three imputations. The first is Adam’s sin has been attributed to us, transferred to us, we’re guilty in the first Adam. Romans 5:12 says that. [Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.”] And everybody complains about that and says that’s not fair but they never complain about the next two which are beyond fair, right?
Then our sin is transferred to who? Jesus, that’s transfer number 2. 2 Corinthians 5:21, “He who knew no sin became sin. [2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”] It’s not saying that He became a sinner, it’s saying He became the sin-bearer and stepped out of eternity into time and basically paid the consequences for our sin.
And then little ole me and little ole you comes along at some point and we trust in the provision of Jesus Christ and then the third transfer happens, this is the one I’m talking about, Philippians 3:9, where Christ righteousness is transferred to us, God looks at us just like God the Father looks at God the Son, through transferred righteousness. [Philippians 3:9, “and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.”]
So the first one, transfer, we cover under hamartiology, the doctrine of sin. I’m trying to explain that. The second one we cover under Christology, the doctrine of Christ, I’m trying to explain that. And the third one is what we’re highlighting here, that we cover under soteriology, the doctrine of salvation. So three great transfers in the Bible: Adam’s sin to us; our sin to Christ; Christ’s righteousness to us. So that’s a pretty astounding truth, isn’t it?
Let me shift to another one, I’ve got a little time left. Another aspect of our riches that we have is the forgiveness of all pre-cross sins. The forgiveness of all pre-cross sins. So what you have to understand is Christ’s death, 2000 years ago on the cross didn’t just deal with sin future, from the time He died, it didn’t just deal with sins yet to be committed, it dealt with sins that had already been committed from the very beginning. Every sin the human race has ever committed, past, or will ever commit, against God has been atoned for because of the atoning death of Christ.
Take a look at Genesis 15:6, and this is the way it reads, I think in the New King James Bible, it says, “Abraham believed God and it was” what? “credited to him as unto righteousness.” Now this is 2000 B.C., Christ would not die for another 2,000 years, Abraham believed in the provision of God and he received the righteousness of God on credit. You say well, what is credit. Well, we all know what credit is because we like those credit cards. We love credit because credit gives us goodies now and payment when? Later.
So what exactly did Abraham receive? He received a benefit that wouldn’t be paid for, for another 2,000 years. See? So that is speaking of, that’s talking about the death of Christ took care of all pre-cross sins. A couple of verses on this, take a look at Acts 17:30, Paul, on his Mars Hill speech makes an issue out of this, Acts 17:30, Paul says, “”Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent.” How in the world could God overlook all the past times of ignorance, all of the past sins against Him? Because Christ’s death didn’t just pay for sins eternally future but sins going all the way back into the past. That’s how Abraham could receive the whole package on credit.
Take a look at Romans 3:25, you’ll see the same truth, Romans chapter 3 verse 25 says, “whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation” now you might remember what propitiation means, it means satisfaction of His wrath, His wrath is satisfied in what Jesus did. “whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness,” watch this, “because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed.”
So how can God pass over “the sins previously committed”? Because the death of Jesus Christ doesn’t just cover sins future from the time of His death; it covers sins past. So that is how Abraham, who believed God, was able to receive the righteousness of God on credit. In other words, payday someday; just like using your credit card, you get a benefit now, payment later. Payment would not be rendered 2,000 years future from the time of Abraham to the atoning death of Jesus Christ.
So that’s an astounding thing that’s happened with the death of Christ. Now this raises a very interesting question that people like to ask and I don’t know if I have the answer to it but I’ll at least introduce it to you. What did people have to believe in the Old Testament to be saved? And how were people saved exactly in the Old Testament? Well, the basis of their salvation, just like the basis of our salvation, is the cross of Christ, the payment that Christ rendered 2,000 years ago. The means of the folks in the Old Testament, Noah, Daniel, Job, Abraham, the means is by faith. “Abraham believed God and it was” what? “credited unto him as righteousness.” [Genesis 15:6] The object of the faith is God. “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.” So the basis of everyone’s salvation in every age is the cross; the means is always faith, the object is God. What is debated is what did Abraham have to know? What did he have to understand? What was the content of what he believed?
And when you get into this topic what you’ll discover is there’s two views on this. The traditional view, and if you read through the Dallas Seminary doctrinal statement which was founded in the 1920’s, the school that I graduated from, twice actually, I was happier to get out than to get in, they let me out twice so thank you Dallas Seminary, but the way the doctrinal statement reads is you are saved in the Old Testament based on a generic revelation of God. In other words, what you had to believe wasn’t necessarily Christocentric or Messianic; you simply had to believe in whatever God had disclosed. So this is what Charles Ryrie, this is his view, my professor, J. Dwight Pentecost, this is the way he taught it to us. They get a lot of this from Hebrews 11, you might want to take a look here at Hebrews 11:30.
Anything God revealed, whether it was about the coming Messiah or not you just had to express faith in that and that’s what saves. So they like to quote, for example, Hebrews 11:30 which puts it this way, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.” So people say do you see Jesus there in verse 30? No, it’s just faith in God’s promise that the walls of Jericho would fall.
Now the problem with that view is that the book of Hebrews is not a justification book. What kind of book is it? Sanctification book. The book of Hebrews is not there to tell folks how to get saved; it’s written to a saved audience telling them how to continue on in faith. So I was always a little uncomfortable with how my teachers were using Hebrews 11 because Hebrews 11, they were using it in a justification sense, trying to explain how folks in the Old Testament were justified before God. And the book of Hebrews, that’s really not its point.
So that leads to a second view as to how people in the Old Testament were saved, and the second view is more the direction that I lean. I really didn’t know about this view until it was taught to me by one of my teachers, Dr. Elliot Johnson, one of our supported missionaries at this church is Jim Meyer, who has a ministry in the Ukraine, and if you talk to Jim he makes a good case in this second view. So people, according to the second view, in the Old Testament were not saved just based on some kind of generic disclosure by God. They were saved based on belief in a content which was Christological; although those in the Old Testament didn’t know the name Christ but they knew that there was a coming Messiah.
So the basis of the second view is the book of Galatians, chapter 3, verse 16, take a look at that. It’s interesting how all these key salvation passages are always 3;16, John 3:16, notice Galatians 3:16. It’s talking there about the… it’s commenting on Genesis 15:6, “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him for righteousness.” Remember the promise that Abraham believed? He said through your body is going to come innumerable seed. That’s what the Old Testament says.
Now that was quite a stretch because they were, Abraham and Sarah, they were a bit on in years, were they not? They weren’t exactly in childbearing years. So that required faith for them to believe that. So the traditional view says Abraham just believed in this generic promise that from his body, Sarah’s womb would be given life and there would come seed or descendants and Abraham, it seemed like an impossible promise but Abraham believed it anyway and the moment he believed it the righteousness of God was credited to him.
So the first view basically says that’s all Abraham believed, a generic disclosure from God. But the problem is look at Galatians 3:16, it’s very interesting, it says, “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as referring to many, but rather to one” seed. Now the noun “seed” is what you call a collective singular which simply means a noun that can be used in the singular or the plural. So “seed” can be a bag of seed or it can be an individual sunflower seed. So it’s what you call a collective singular, it can be used either way, singular or plural.
It’s like using the word “hair.” When someone says did you get your hair cut you can say well, which hair are you talking about? No, your hair, meaning collectively everything on your head because hair can be an individual strand or it can be everything on your head. It’s like saying sheep, are we talking about one little cute cuddly fuzzy animal over here or are we talking about a flock of sheep. So seed is used in that way.
And Paul, who wrote the book of Galatians makes a word play on this; he says yeah, it’s true, Abraham believed in the promise of seed, plural, but Abraham also believed in the promise of a seed, a singular seed. Now who would that singular seed be? Jesus, who would be born from the lineage of Abraham. So this second view says wait a minute here, Abraham didn’t just believe generically in the promise of seed (plural), what he actually believed when him and his wife were childless is a promise from God that from him and his wife would come innumerable seed (plural) but from that innumerable seed would come one seed and that one seed would be the Messiah and that one seed would pay the sin debt of the world. And Abraham didn’t just believe generically in seed but he believed in a seed. That’s what made him righteous. Do you see?
Now how would Abraham ever get the idea that there was a coming seed, singular? If you go back to Genesis 3:15 you have the first Messianic prophecy in the whole Bible; it’s a prophecy that God gave to Satan right after the fall and He said there is coming one from the seed of the woman, who’s the woman, Eve, and that seed, singular, is going to crush your head. So this is what we call the protoevangelium, proto means first, evangelium means gospel, it’s the first formal proclamation of the gospel in the whole Bible. And this is what Genesis 3:15 says, “I will put enmity” as God is speaking to the serpent, “between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed; He” that’s an individual, right? “he shall bruise you on the head and you shall bruise him on the heel.”
In other words, Satan, you’re going to be able to inflict some momentary damage on him. That’s what’s meant by the heel being bruised. But He’s going to do what to your head? He’s going to crush it. Now if you had a choice would you rather have your heel bruised or your head bruised. Would you rather have your heel bruised or your head crushed. I would take the heel because I can get over the heel injury but if my head is crushed I’m finished. So what it’s saying is there’s coming somebody, the name Jesus isn’t given, but there’s coming somebody who is going to deal a fatal blow to the devil.
Now Eve, Adam, were standing right there when this prophecy was given so right then and there they are put on notice of a coming Messiah. Now go one chapter to the right, and take a look at Genesis chapter 4, verse 1, it says, “Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain,” that was their firstborn, and she said, ‘I have gotten a manchild” I am reading out of the New American Standard, “with the help of the LORD.’”
Now you see how I’ve got “with the help of” italicized? When you see that in your study Bible, words italicized, what does that mean? It means they’re added by the translator. Those words are not in the original Hebrew; they’re added by the translator. And 99% of the time the translators are just trying to smooth over the translation to make it understandable for us. And 99% of the time they do a great job. Every once in a while they obscure the meaning and this is a passage that I think the meaning has been obscured by well-intentioned translators because since they’re not in the original what you can do is just take “with the help of” out of the sentence and if that’s the case what does it say? “I have begotten a manchild, the LORD.” That’s what she’s actually saying.
When Cain was born she thought she had given birth to the Messiah. Now talk about parental disappointment… I mean, not only was he not the Messiah but he was the world’s first murderer. But in her mind she thought he was the Messiah. Now who gave her this idea that there was a coming Messiah. How did she even expect this? She expected it because she was standing right there when God uttered to the serpent the protoevangelium. So the whole human race, including the devil himself, is put on notice of this coming Messiah.
And everything we know about Jewish oral tradition this knowledge was passed down from the generate, between the generations very quickly. Take a look at Genesis 5:28-29, this is Lamech, Lamech is happy that his son, Noah, has been born, Noah, from the Noah of the ark account, but this is what Lamech said when Noah was born. “Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years, and became the father of a son.  Now he called his name Noah, saying, ‘This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the LORD has cursed.’” Now that word “cursed” you can track it backwards in Hebrew Bible, the only other place it’s mentioned prior to this is Genesis 3:17 which is right after Genesis 3:15. And what Lamech is saying here when Noah is born is this guy, this one, this son, is going to remedy the curse.
So how did Noah get this idea that there was going to come one who was going to reverse the curse? Well, he got it because Adam and Eve were there when Genesis 3:15 was given and this Messianic knowledge was transferred to the generations through oral tradition.
So what I’m trying to say is as you go through the Old Testament what you have, and the reason this is debated is it’s not as clearly spelled out as we would like it to be spelled out, but when you put some of these facts together, like I’ve been trying to do, what you discover is there was knowledge of a coming Messiah at some time. They didn’t know his name, they didn’t know the name Jesus, they don’t know all the particulars that we know but they knew there was coming one who was going to deal fatal damage to Satan, who was going to rectify the curse, and when Abraham believed in the promise of seed he didn’t just believe generically multiple seed were
going to come from his body called the nation of Israel but he believed that this was part of God’s Messianic program; through him would come an individual seed who would deal with the sin problem in fulfillment of Genesis 3;15. That’s what Abraham exercised faith in and that’s what saved him. See? And you get this from Galatians 3:16 where Paul is dealing with the nuance of the collective singular seed. It wasn’t just seed generically, it was the seed of an individual.
And by the way, you go into Daniel 11, I don’t have the exact verse, it’s in Daniel 11 though, you’ll find it there and it talks about the antichrist and it talks about he will oppose the desire of women. [Daniel 11:37, “He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the desire of women…”] And oh my goodness, the TV preaches go crazy with this, the antichrist is going to be a homosexual and all these sort of interpretations. But what was the desire of women? What was the desire of every Jewish woman? What was the desire of every Hebrew woman? Well it was the exact same desire Eve had, to be the mother of this Messiah. So when it says the antichrist will oppose the desire of women it’s not making a statement about the antichrist’s sexuality, homosexuality, transgender fluidity, it’s not talking about that at all. It’s talking about how the antichrist will oppose Christ and the euphemism given for Christ there is the one desired by women.
Where does this desire come from amongst these women? Well, they had this heightened awareness that there was coming some kind of Messiah and that’s what Abraham believed and that’s why he got saved. And that’s what everybody in the Old Testament had to believe in order to be saved, they had to believe in a coming Messiah.
So there’s a legitimate view out there which says they just believed in the generic promises of God; that’s a very legitimate view. But there’s another view, and I lean more towards the second view, that there was something far more Christological in nature that these folks had to believe. So the basis of salvation is the cross; the means is faith. The object is God but the content of what is actually believed is very debated. I’ve given you the two major views on that.
So these folks in the Old Testament were looking forward to a Messiah that would come. They didn’t know His name. We are saved the exact same way except we’re looking not forward but what? Backward, and we do know His name. So the content of what we believe has to be higher; I mean, we have to believe in the cross, we have to believe in the resurrection, and things of that nature. Did those people in the Old Testament believe all of that? I’m not sure they did, I don’t know if they did or not because I’m not sure how well they understood those concepts. But the more light you have the more what increases? Accountability. And we have all the light in the world because we have a historical record and we can look backward.
So we have to believe in the cross of Christ, in His resurrection, in His deity, we have to believe that He had the power to do what He claims He will do for us if we trust in Him. But the basis of personal salvation in every age is always faith. Those folks were looking forward to a Messiah that would come; we’re looking backward to a Messiah that came but we’re both equally saved on the basis of faith. Abraham received his riches on credit; it was yet to be paid for. We do not receive it on credit because it’s already been paid for, because Jesus said what? “It is finished!”
Now if I haven’t confused you already there’s a false view floating around out there called the cross-less gospel where people today are saying well, you really don’t have to believe in the cross, you really don’t have to believe in the resurrection because Abraham didn’t believe that. And I believe that’s basically a false view; I think we do need to believe in the cross, we do have to believe in the resurrection because our threshold of knowledge is much greater than theirs. So we have to believe in the right Christ; we are looking backward to a Messiah whose name we know; we don’t receive it on credit but we receive it on faith. They, by contrast, were looking forward to a Messiah that would come. They did not know His name, they didn’t have all the particulars that we have and they received theirs, not on the basis of a paid package but on the basis of credit.
Another camp says they didn’t have to believe a Christological focus at all, just the generic promises of God. That’s a great view, I’m not really in that camp, I’m more in the Christological camp. So all of that to say that the death of Christ, not only does it justify us before God (and we’ve talked a little bit about what that means) but the death of Christ paid for all future sins and all past sins as well. So I guess we’ll quit talking there, it’s 8:00 o’clock.