Putting Jesus Christ on the cross to pay the penalty for sin ought to show you how serious God is about His law. Even if it took the life of His own Son to satisfy the demands of that law for death for sin, He would pay it.
His law is holy, His law is just, His law is righteous, and Christ's death proves it. You've probably heard John MacArthur tell the story of three workers who were helping build a cathedral in London and ask what they were doing. One of them said, I'm cutting stone.
The other one said, I'm earning a wage. But the third one said, I'm helping Sir Christopher Wren build St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Three men, three perspectives. Well, perhaps you've heard several perspectives on the crucifixion over the years, like that of the apostles or the thief on the cross. But have you ever considered God's perspective on the death of His Son? That's John MacArthur's focus today on grace to you as he continues his study, Easter Through the Eyes of God.
And now here's John. You can look at the cross as it were through your own eyes. You can look at it through the eyes of holy angels, fallen angels, through the eyes of Christ Himself and see its glory. Now I want us to look at the cross and its relationship to God, to God Himself, God the Father. What did it mean to God? Four things stand out. It declared God's righteousness, it exalted God's grace, it revealed God's consistency, and it confirmed God's Word.
Let's look at the first one. The cross revealed God's righteousness. His justice was satisfied by the perfect, spotless Lamb who paid the perfect price. We then were not redeemed by corruptible things, but by the precious blood of Christ. We see then in the cross the justice, the righteousness of God. Secondly, the cross exalts God's grace. The cross exalts God's grace. Verse 27, again, somebody is going to pose another question.
If this is all God, then what part do we have in it? And the answer is none, basically. There is no place for boasting. Where then is boasting?
It is excluded. Now, this is the very heart of salvation, saving faith. And because He makes such an issue out of it, verse 24, He says, justified by grace. Verse 25, we receive it through faith. Verse 26, we receive it through faith. Verse 27, it's not law, it's faith.
Verse 28, it's faith, not law. That's a lot of faith emphasis. And because of that, I need to say to you that it is faith that is at the heart of our Christianity. Now, I want to give you a little test to help you examine your faith. I'm convinced that churches are filled with people who have a kind of faith that doesn't save them.
James called it a dead faith. Second Corinthians 13, 5 says, examine yourself whether you be in the faith. You want to be sure your faith is real. Now, as you look at yourself and you're asking, am I really a Christian? Have I really appropriated this gift that God gives? Have I believed genuinely? What do you look at in your life to discern whether your faith is real?
What are the marks? First of all, let me show you some things that neither prove nor disprove saving faith, okay? I'm going to give you a little list of things that don't prove anything. You could be a Christian, you could not be a Christian and still have these things.
They don't prove or disprove saving faith, but you need to know what they are so you're not deceived. Number one, visible morality, visible morality. What do I mean by that? Well, some people, they're just good people. They're honest, they're forthright in their dealings, they're grateful people, they're kind people, and they have an external visible kind of morality. By the way, the Pharisees certainly rested on that for their hope. This is visible morality, but it does not necessarily mean salvation.
People can clean up their act by reformation rather than regeneration. Secondly, another thing that doesn't prove or disprove saving faith is intellectual knowledge, intellectual knowledge. This doesn't prove true faith. Knowledge of the truth is necessary for salvation, and visible morality is the fruit of salvation, but neither one equals salvation. Thirdly, religious involvement. Religious involvement is not necessarily a proof of true faith. There are people who have, according to Paul writing to Timothy, 2 Timothy 3.5, a form of godliness, but powerless, an empty kind of religion. Remember the virgins in Matthew 25 who were waiting and waiting and waiting for the coming of the bridegroom who is Christ?
And they're waiting and waiting, but when He comes, they don't go in. They had everything together except the oil in their lamps. That which was most necessary was missing. The oil probably emblematic of the new life, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They weren't regenerate. They were religious, but not regenerate. You can have external, visible morality, intellectual knowledge, and religious involvement, and it may not indicate genuine faith. Fourth, active ministry. Balaam was a prophet. Saul of Tarsus thought he was serving God by killing Christians. Judas was a public preacher. Judas was an apostle. Remember Matthew 7? Many will say to me, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name and done many wonderful works? Cast out demons in Your name, and He says to them, Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity.
I never knew you. Ministry activity, that's not necessarily a proof of saving faith. Number five, conviction of sin. Conviction of sin. Lots of people feel bad about sin. Listen, this whole world is full of people that are just guilt-ridden to the core. You know, 15 years ago, we used to talk about people going to psychology, going to the psychologist, and we used to say, and it was pretty true from tests, that most of the people who went to the psychologist were suffering from guilt.
People used to write books about that. I remember the Meninger Clinic put out tremendous amount of material on the fact that all these people were suffering from guilt. Well, the psychologists of the world have absolutely no answer for guilt because the only answer is the gospel. Now what has happened in the last 15 years is you don't have any people at all today who feel guilty because we've come up with a new psychology that eliminates the guilt. Now what happens in the church, instead of the preacher standing up to preach freedom from guilt to guilty sinners, they expect him to preach self-esteem to egocentric people.
The whole climate has changed, and we have been skewed in our message because we have allowed the philosophy of the day to create a new kind of sinner who thinks he feels no guilt, and the most important thing you can preach to a bunch of sinners is the sin of their lives and the law of God which they fall short of and the impending judgment they await. Number six, assurance. Assurance. Some people say, well, I must be a Christian. I feel like one.
I think I'm one. Listen, just think it through. If to think you're a Christian makes you a Christian, then nobody could be deceived, right? Because as soon as you thought you were a Christian, you'd be one. So you could never be deceived. The whole point of Satan's deception is to make people think they're Christians who aren't.
That's the whole point. Number seven, the last one, a time of decision. I hear people say, well, I know I'm a Christian because I remember when I signed the card. I remember when I prayed a prayer. I remember when I went forward in the church service. I remember right where I was. I've heard people say, I remember right where I was the moment I did that.
Oh, really? Listen, because you remember a moment doesn't mean that moment meant anything. It doesn't mean that decision was valid. Nobody's salvation is verified by a past moment. People have prayed prayers and gone forward in church services and signed cards and gone into prayer rooms and been baptized and joined churches and never had saving faith. So those are some of the non-proofs. They don't really prove anything. They say, well, then what does prove saving faith?
Well, let me just give you quickly a list. One, love for God. Now you're talking...now you're talking down about the heart because Romans 8, 7 says the carnal mind is enmity against God. The non-Christian resents God, rebels against God down inside. But the regenerate mind is set to love the Lord with all heart, soul, mind and strength. His delight is in the excellency of God who is the first and highest affection of His renewed soul. God becomes His chief happiness. By the way, there's a great difference between such love for God and the selfish attitude that focuses only on my own happiness and sees God as a means to my end rather than as me to the end of glorifying Him.
In fact, Jesus said, if you love father and mother more than me, you're not even my disciple, Matthew 10, 37. Do you love God? Do you love His nature? Do you love His glory?
Do you love His name? Do you love His kingdom? Do you love His holiness? Do you love His will? Supreme love for God is decisive evidence of the true faith.
Is your heart lifted when you sing His praises because you love Him? Secondly, repentance from sin. Proper love for God must involve a hatred of sin.
Well, that's obvious. Who wouldn't understand that? If I love somebody, you assume that my loving them means that I seek their well-being, right?
If I said to you, I love my wife, but I could care less what happened to my wife, you'd question my love because true love seeks the highest good of its object. So if I say I love God, then I will have to hate sin because sin offends God. Sin blasphemes God. Sin curses God. Sin seeks to destroy God and His work and His kingdom. Sin killed His son. And if I say I love God, but I tolerate sin, then you have every reason to question my love.
I cannot love God without hating that which is set to destroy Him. So true repentance involves confession. It involves turning from sin. I should be grieved over my sin. I should ask myself, do I have a settled conviction of the evil of sin? Does sin appear to me as the evil and bitter thing it really is? Does conviction of sin in me increase as I walk with Christ? Do I hate it not merely because it is ruinous to my own soul, but because it is offensive to my God whom I love? Does it more grieve me when I sin than when I have trouble? In other words, what grieves me the most? My misfortune or my sin? Do my sins appear many, frequent, and aggravated?
Do I find myself grieved over my sin more than the sin of others? That's the mark of salvation, true saving faith. It loves God. It hates what God hates, which is sin.
Exactly. It manifests genuine humility. It manifests genuine humility. This obviously comes through in the Beatitudes, the poor in spirit, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, those who in Matthew 18 are like a little child, humble and dependent, those who are in self-denial, willing to take up their cross and follow Him. God receives those who come with a broken and a contrite spirit. James says He gives grace to the humble. We must come as the prodigal son. You remember what he said in Luke 15, I think about verse 21?
He said, Father, I am not worthy to be called your son. There's no pride, there's no ego about religious achievement, spiritual accomplishment, but genuine humility. Fourthly, there's a devotion to God's glory, true saving faith. It manifests genuine salvation, shows devotion to God's glory. Whatever we do, whether we eat or drink, we are literally consumed with the glory of God. We do what we do because we want to glorify Him. Oh sure, we fail in all of these things, but the direction of our life is in loving Him and hating sin and being genuinely humble and self-denying and knowing our unworthiness and being totally devoted to the glory of God. Number five, continual prayer, humble, submissive, believing prayer marks true faith. We cry, Abba, Father, because the Spirit in us prompts that cry. Jonathan Edwards once preached a sermon titled, Hypocrites are Deficient in the Duty of Secret Prayer.
It's true. Hypocrites may pray publicly because that's what hypocrites want to do is impress people, but they are deficient in the duty of secret prayer. A true believer with true saving faith has a personal prayer life, private prayer life, seeks communion with God. Number six, another mark of saving faith is selfless love. John says, if you don't love your neighbor, your brother, or one in need, how are we to believe the love of God dwells in you? Also in 1 John 3, John says, if you love God, you'll love whom God loves. And we love Him and others because that's the response to Him loving us. John 13 says, by this men know we're true disciples, by our love for each other.
Number seven, separation from the world. Paul told the Corinthians that we haven't received the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God. And John put it this way, love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
A true believer is separated from the world. Again, I say, we fail in all these areas, but these are the direction of our lives. We aren't perfect. We haven't arrived, but we love God and want to love Him more.
We hate sin and want to hate it more. We have a genuine humility and want more of it. We are devoted to God's glory. We have a prayer life that is private and personal.
We have a love for others that comes from God, and we find ourselves disassociated from the world as a general rule. And then, just two others, spiritual growth is another mark. If you're a true Christian, you're going to be growing, and that means you're going to be more and more like Christ. Life produces itself. If you're alive, you're going to grow.
There's no other way. You'll improve. You'll increase. You'll grow because whoever has that new work begun, Philippians 1.6, is going to see it perfected. It's going to go on.
It's going to keep moving. The Spirit is going to move you from one level of glory to the next. So you look at your life. You see spiritual growth. You see the decreasing frequency of sin, the increasing pattern of righteousness and devotion to God. And then finally, obedience, obedient living.
Every branch in me bears fruit, bears fruit. It says John 15 in Ephesians 2, 10, Paul says, look, you are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God has before ordained that you walk in them. That's obedience. We are saved under the obedience of faith.
Look at your life. Do you see all those things, including selfless love, separation from the world, spiritual growth and obedience? If so, that's evidence of a saving faith.
Now back to our text. The cross declares God's justice and righteousness. The cross exalts God's grace, which is appropriated by faith. Thirdly, and just ever so briefly, the cross reveals God's consistency. The cross reveals God's consistency. Look at verse 29.
What's the point here? Well the Jews are going to say, look, we are justified by the works of the law. And now you're coming along and preaching to all these Gentiles that they are justified by faith. Does God have two ways? Does God require works from us and grace and faith from them? Is God a merciful saving God toward Gentiles but a legal condemning God toward Jews?
They have two different means of salvation. Of course you realize, don't you, that the Jews believed they were saved by their works, so they were concluding that Paul was preaching a new way of salvation which was not consistent with God's way. Paul says, is God the God of Jews only? No. Is He not the God of Gentiles also?
Yes. And they would have to agree. Yes, God is the God of all men. Isaiah 54 says, the God of the whole earth shall He be called. Jeremiah 16, 19, the nation shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth.
They knew that. Zechariah 2, 11, and many nations shall be joined to the Lord and shall be my people. They knew He was the God of Jew and Gentile.
All right then. Since indeed God is one, that's the Greek order in verse 30. You see, is one at the end of the verse in the NAS, it really should go with the word God. Since indeed God is one, He will justify the circumcised, that's Jews, by faith and the uncircumcised, that's Gentiles, through faith. Now here you see God's consistency. You look at the cross and you see, since indeed God is one, if God is one God and He is the God of all men and He is the God of Jews and Gentiles, then He is one God over all men who will have one way of salvation. He will justify all by faith. God saves all the same way and He always has, always by faith, always apart from works. He is one God with one way for all men.
God never changes, absolutely consistent. The cross didn't introduce a new way of salvation. It simply covered the sins of all the past believers and all the future believers who came by faith. How was Noah saved? Go back, way back to Noah. Genesis says Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. How was Moses saved?
Go all the way back to Exodus. Moses found grace in the eyes of the Lord. How was Abraham saved? Romans 4 is all about that. Verse 3 says, Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. That's clear back in Genesis 15.
Always the same, by grace through faith, by grace through faith. In the Old Testament, they believed all that God revealed. They didn't have Christ yet. They believed all that God revealed. Same in the New, after Christ. No one is, no one has, no one ever will be saved any other way than by faith as God graciously offers forgiveness through the sacrifice of His Son which covers the sins of sinners before Him and after Him.
So the cross, from God's perspective, declares His justice, exalts His grace, and reveals His consistency. Lastly, this is rich, confirms God's law, confirms God's law. Verse 31, some of the Jews are going to say, all right, salvation is by grace through faith, forget the law. There's no law. If there's no works, then the law is useless, pointless.
Just why in the world did God go through all of that? Why did He go through all of that law stuff if we aren't saved by keeping the law? Do we then nullify the law? And He says, may Genitah in the Greek, no, no, no, no, no. May it never be. On the contrary, we establish the law.
What do you mean? Putting Jesus Christ on the cross to pay the penalty for sin ought to show you how serious God is about His law, even if it took the life of His own Son to satisfy the demands of that law for death, for sin, He would pay it. His law is holy, His law is just, His law is righteous, and Christ's death proves it. Nothing is more a reflection of God's law as holy than the death of Christ. It was God's law that put Him there because all the violations of that law had to be satisfied with a penalty. And God couldn't violate His law or penalty, and so He put Christ on the cross. And so God's law then is established as holy, righteous, good, and is affirmed as the standard by which we are to live. Its purpose was to show us sin? It did. Its purpose was to show us God's pattern for holy living?
It does. Its fulfillment in terms of the demand for death was paid by Christ? Its fulfillment in terms of the demand for life is made possible through salvation?
What a great affirmation of the law. Look at the cross. In it you see God's justice, God's grace, God's consistency. You see God's law.
And it's all for His glory. No wonder the Reformers said, sola gratia, sola fide, sola Deo gloria. By grace alone, by faith alone, for God's glory alone. This, beloved, is a precious treasure. Salvation, not as we view it or as angels or demons or even Christ views it, but as God views it, opens up to us the avenue of worship in which we appreciate, adore, express our love and affection to our great God for what He has done for us. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur.
Thanks for being with us. John is a pastor, author and chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. His current study is looking at Easter through the eyes of God. Well, John, today you looked at the proper response to the death of Christ and the atoning work that He did on the cross, truths like repentance and the need for self-denial. And those are truths that we sometimes hear we shouldn't preach, because that would repel people from Christ. But I know that we found the opposite to be the case, and you have two letters in front of you that illustrate what I'm talking about. So read those letters for us. No, I'm happy to do that. And of course, we all know that there's no salvation unless there's repentance and self-denial.
So we've got to speak to those issues. The first letter comes from Carrie, who writes, I was flipping through YouTube one night several months ago and I searched for Bible answers and John MacArthur popped up. Since that very day you have answered every question I've had about the Bible.
I had been listening to a few other teachers and they seemed to be on the right track, but with very shallow teaching. After listening to you for just a brief period of time, I clearly understood biblical truth. You also pointed me in the right direction in finding a church home, one that is focused on the Word of God. Thank you. Well, thank you, Carrie.
That's why we're here. So thrilled to hear that the Lord used us in that way in your life. And then here's a letter from Larissa. Thank you for sending so many excellent books with sound doctrine.
The books are like dear friends. I previously escaped from a mega church. That's a very cruel and abusive environment. I was there for 10 years, fearful to leave. Listening to grace to you enabled me to break free. Coming back to sound doctrine is like getting clean water to bathe in and to drink. I thank God for ministries like this. I have grown weary and wary of the books written by popular Christian authors who don't call me to deny myself, take my cross, and observe everything Christ has commanded. The grace to you books and other writings always stress loving discipleship in the light of God's loving sacrifice. Thank you.
And she signs her name, Larissa. Yeah, when you find the truth, if you're a genuine believer, you know you have found the truth. There's a mechanism in the believer, and it's part of the new nature that understands the truth when the truth is proclaimed. So it's not a threat. Then when you understand the truth, when your heart embraces the truth, self-denial is not a threat.
Repentance is not a threat. It's the path of joy. We share these letters with you to encourage you, first of all, and then to remind you that God's Word never returns void. Lives are changed when they encounter the life-giving truth of Scripture. So when you stand with Grace To You financially and commit to pray for us, your efforts will multiply as people learn, grow, and influence others in the same direction. So thanks for standing with us as we unleash God's truth one verse at a time.
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That's 800-55-GRACE. You can also make a one-time donation or set up a convenient recurring donation online at gty.org. And thanks for helping reach people in your community and communities around the world with the life-changing truth of God's Word. Remember, too, there are other ways you can support this ministry.
Prayer is number one. We covet your prayer for John and the staff and the people we reach. You can also contact your local station and let them know that you appreciate their airing Bible teaching programs like Grace To You. And you can send us your feedback. Let us know how John's teaching is encouraging you. Email us at letters at gty.org or mail your letter to Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412. And our email one more time, letters at gty.org. Now for John MacArthur and the staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for tuning in today and join us tomorrow when John looks at why Christ's resurrection is the key to everything. It's another half hour of unleashing resurrection truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
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