|RIGHTEOUSNESS: The Great Motive In Justification
HIS GLORY REIGNS
Feb 20 2009 0800AM
The second point to be opened in the doctrine, how the righteousness of Christ becomes a sinner's righteousness.
There are two things to be explained: The grand impulsive cause why this is so, and the way how this is done.
The great motive to this way of justifying a sinner, and making him righteous by the righteousness of the
Lord Jesus Christ, is the free grace and favor of God; it is an act of grace, and a famous one. The truth is,
the Scripture not only holds forth that there is such a thing, but also acquaints us with the rise and reason of it, and
leads us to the fountain and spring of this pleasant stream.
Surely, there is nothing that more endears us to God than the motive of our love and obedience, that is, when we love
Him for Himself, and for what He is as well as for what He is to us; when we obey Him upon choice, as David did, "I have
chosen the way of truth"; and when God Himself is our motive in our obedience to Him. So nothing more endears God
to us than when we think of His motives in justifying us and saving us in such wonderful ways as He does; for these
motives are His mere love, free grace, and good pleasure. It is said in Isaiah 63:9: "In His love, and in His pity He
redeemed them." Deuteronomy 7:7-8: "The Lord loved you because he loved you," said Moses to Israel. And First John
3:1: 'Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God."
We shall seldom read of God's choosing and justifying His people in holy scripture without the rise and spring of those
actions also being spoken of: His free grace and the good pleasure of His will. "Being justified freely by His grace"
(Romans 3:24). "Having predestinated us according to the good pleasure of His will" (Ephesians 1:5). "...but after the
kindness and love of God our Savior appeared towards man" (Titus 3:4). Hence we see not only the hand of God open
to bestow such rich privileges on us, but His bosom also opened, to show us that they come from that place, and there
they have their reason. Doubtless this much endears God to an ingenuous heart, when he sees he has leave to drink
not only at the stream, but at the fountain also; how that, as He is justified by the righteousness of Christ, so freely by
grace, as the motive of this way of justification.
God is not moved by anything outside of Himself in our justification. As Moses said to the children of Israel, "The Lord
set His love upon you because He loved you." And as our blessed Savior said to His Father, "I thank Thee, O Father,
Lord of Heaven and Earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto
babes; even so Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight." (Matthew 11:25-26). Why does God justify a sinner by the
righteousness of another (yet made ours)? Because it is His good pleasure so to do. For we are justified when ungodly
(Romans 4:5), reconciled when we were sinners (Romans 5:10), loved when we were in our blood (Ezekiel 16:6), and
Christ died for us when we were without strength (Romans 5:8).
Grace in the stream flows from grace in the fountain; our justification, adoption, calling, and glory all flow from the good
will and pleasure of God. "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a king of firstfruits of his
creatures." (James 1:18). We are "predestinated according to the purpose of Him, who worketh all things after the
counsel of his own will" (Ephesians 1:11). Paul says that our justification is reckoned of favor, and not of debt (Romans
4:4-5). He calls it a free gift: "The free gift is of many offenses unto justification." And also, "They which receive
abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness" (Romans 5:17).
Yet for a right understanding of this point, we must know that this motive of our justification, the free grace of God, does
not exclude the ransom of Christ, but takes it in. "Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in
Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:24). And though it is never said that by our own obedience we are made righteous, yet it is
said that by Christ's obedience we are: "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ
Jesus:" (Romans 5:19).
There is a sweet accord between God's free grace and Christ's ransom in the justification of a sinner. The Socinians
yield the one, free grace, but ungraciously exclude the other, Christ's ransom, they making Jesus Christ, in his life and
death, only an exemplary good man and martyr, but not a propitiator or meritor for us. But if this is so, how much of the
Scripture must we blot out? Nay, it subverts the whole fabric and design of God in man's recovery from his lost estate.
As the apostle said in the case of the resurrection, we may say in this, "Then is our preaching in vain, and your faith in
If any think that God's free grace is eclipsed by receiving a price for us in our justification, I (Obadiah Grew) answer no,
in no way; but rather the free grace of God more abundantly shines forth in Christ's ransom. As the apostle said, "Do
we then make void the law through faith? God forbid, yea, we establish the law" (Romans 3:31). So we say, do we
make void the free grace of God through Christ's ransom? No, but we rather establish it.
First, in His setting Christ apart for us as the Paschal Lamb, to be a sacrifice for our sins, to make Him capable to being
the Lord our Righteousness, this was of God's free grace. Nothing more sets out God's love to us to be wonderful than
our justification and salvation by Christ. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16). Our ransom by Christ was of God's
contriving: "A body hast thou prepared Me" (Hebrews 10:5). So upon the matter, God satisfies God for the sinner, and
in our justification pays Himself, as it were with His own money.
Second, what Christ did for our justification comes to us through free grace; for how else would we have anything to do
with it? There is the free grace of God in giving Jesus Christ to us as well as in giving Christ to die. The necessity of
both is in us, but the motive of neither is. Our being in Christ is only of God's grace: "But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus"
(I Corinthians 1:30). And whatever Christ is to us, He is that of God, or through His grace: "Who of God is made unto us
wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." And, indeed, there is as much free grace discovered
in our justification by Christ as if God had justified us with Him; yea, the discovery of free grace is greater the former way
than the latter.
It is true, there is a paying of a price transacted between God and Christ, but betwixt God and us and Christ and us, all
is free; it is a free gift. All that we do in our justification is to receive what He gives: "To as many as received Him, to
them gave He power to become the sons of God" (John 1:12). Our pardon is bought by Christ, but comes freely to us.
There is a sweet consort between justice and free grace in this way of a sinner's justification. The justice of God is fully
satisfied, and yet we are freely justified. And that Christ shed blood for our pardon advances free grace in that our
pardon is sealed with such precious blood. Herein God commended His love to us, in that "while we were yet sinners
Christ died for us." God's oath did not more confirm His promise to us than the blood of Christ advanced His free grace
in our pardon. As this advances the grace of God, so it advances His justice, which had and must have satisfaction by
such blood as Christ's. The active obedience of Christ was not enough to expiate our sins without His passive
obedience also. His death as well as His life must be offered for our price.
So when the whole sum is cast up, does the sinner contribute to his justification? Nothing but receiving it, which is
called "faith" (and is not his own either, but a gift too). Our faith has nothing more to do but to receive what is given.
And our works, even our best works, have nothing to do with it. "Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling,
not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus" (II Timothy
1:9). And Titus 3:5: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us."
Though Christ's works and God's free grace will well consist together, yet our works and God's free grace will not. "If it
be of grace, when it is not of works," said Paul, "otherwise grace is no more grace" (Romans 11:6). They can no more
mingle together than the iron and clay in that great image spoken of in Daniel 2.
It is true, we must have works, holy works, and yet we must be justified without them. Romans 3:28. "We conclude
therefore that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law." Though justifying faith is not without works, yet
it justifies without them. Works before faith cannot justify, for "without faith it is impossible to please God"; and works
after faith do not justify, but proceed from a man already justified.
So that, turn every stone you can, you will find that the justification of a sinner is of free grace, and must be so, if we
The LORD Our Righteousness, by Obadiah Grew, Copyright 2005, Soli Deo Gloria Publications.
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