Romans 3:4 | God is Justified

Is God of the Bible true? Is God trustworthy? These are big questions that if they are to be answered then God himself would need to provide the answer. He can’t remain silent on this topic. The good news is that God has revealed himself and his nature to us that we may know for sure that he is true and that he is trustworthy.

4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” Romans 3:4 ESV

God is the standard and truth can be measured against him. God since the creation of the world has made himself known to human kind. If an individual denies that God exists or denies what God has done to reconcile humanity through Jesus Christ then that person is calling God a liar.

There are two ways God has provided truth and answered his critics. By denying these two truths we set ourselves against God and against our own existence.

19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Romans 1:19-20 ESV

First God has made himself known by the very complication and creativity of nature. Where there is a Creation there is a Creator. Where there are laws there is a Law Giver. We can deny that God created and we can invent all kinds of mechanisms for how life came about but none of them are truly satisfying because apart from God who operates separate from the Creation there is only fan fiction trying to figure out how creation created itself.

10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:10-12 ESV

Second God has made himself known through the person of Jesus Christ. God being true and wanting to reconcile with rebellious man came down in the form of a man, Jesus, and then paid the penalty of sin on our behalf. Rejecting this truth leaves the individual apart from God. Jesus came as nothing and left with nothing. Yet here we are thousands of years later still talking about his words recorded at that time. God’s truth and God’s outreach to humanity remain for us even today.

One may reject or accept Christ. There is no middle ground. God has not given us any other options. The good news is that God has provided a way to be reconciled to him. The even better news is that he has given us life in this Creation and the good news of Jesus to recognize his faithfulness. Now is the time of grace to accept his outstretched hand.

1 Thessalonians 1:5 | Full Assurance

Jesus saves. It is not just a slogan. It is a truth. I want to look at Jesus saving and what is involved. Paul in his letter to the Thessalonian church tells them he knows they are saved by Jesus.

because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. 1 Thessalonians 1:5a ESV

There are four components of this salvation and truly all four need to be in place for a Jesus saves moment to be real and meaningful.

First the gospel came to them in “word”. λόγος (logos) is the Greek word that is loaded with meaning (I have written more here). Essentially the good news of Jesus is communicated by word. The reason that people share their faith, the reason we have preachers, the reason the Bible is the best-selling book of all time is that the gospel, the good news that Jesus saves, must be communicated. Paul had previously traveled to this city and had preached the good news to them. They heard the word of Jesus as spoken through other Christians. If you are saved and you never tell anyone about Jesus then the primary role as a Christian you have in saving others will not be accomplished.

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV

Second is the word of the gospel also comes with “power”. δύναμις (dynamis) is the Greek word that is defined by Strong’s dictionary as “force (literally or figuratively); specially, miraculous power (usually by implication, a miracle itself)”. Paul knows the Thessalonian church contains people saved by Jesus because God himself has intervened in a miraculous way. We know in the early church there were miraculous events described as healing, raising from the dead, jails opened up, and more. Are all salvation events where Jesus saves as evident as these? No, however when God intervenes there is something miraculous happening. When the word comes with God’s intervention it comes with power. My own salvation was a miraculous event. Some may have spectacular stories in their testimony where God altered their lives in profound ways. My salvation happened at young age but it came with power. God stepped in and called me to accept that Jesus died to save me. Every salvation event is by definition miraculous and we should be able to recognize the very hand of God in our lives.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV

Third, the word of God comes with power by way of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his disciples that he had to go away so that a helper could come. Jesus may be God in the form of a man but God in the form of a man is limited in time and space. The Holy Spirit is God in the Spirit and the Holy Spirit is able to transcend time and space. This means the Holy Spirit can be with all those saved by Christ at the same time anywhere in the created universe. The Holy Spirit is God’s way of residing with our spirit. The Holy Spirit is our guide and the Holy Spirit is the messenger with a direct connection to God the father.  Even more than all that the Holy Spirit is the down payment on being saved by Jesus proving that we will be able to enter the presence of God in heaven.

13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV

Fourth and final in knowing where we stand in salvation is conviction or assurance.  πληροφορία (plērophoria) the Greek word means assurance or confidence. Paul knows the members of this church are saved because they heard the word of God preached, he witnessed the miraculous intervention of God in their lives, Paul has seen his spirit testify with the same spirit living in them and he has seen them stand with conviction and assurance in their faith through pain and suffering. Being saved by Christ does not mean happiness or being “blessed” (although some people do seem to be happy and blessed in Christ) being saved means that come heaven or hell one will not waiver but have conviction to trust God no matter what (that is called faith).

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you … 2 that [your] hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ. Colossians 1:1-2 ESV

Those saved by Jesus are new creations. Saved from the death of their souls rotting away in selfish ambitions and godlessness. Jesus has accomplished what he set out to do. He died on the Cross for your sins and my sins. He died so that I might be a new creation marked and sealed with the Holy Spirit. It is a real transformation. I am not who I was before or who I might have become apart from God. Dear reader you are at this moment reading the word of God. The gospel of good news. Lift your eyes toward heaven and tell God that through Christ you want to be saved.