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Bible verses about Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Romans 3:20-21  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Where does righteousness apart from the law appear in the Bible? In the law, back in the Old Testament! It is not new with the New Covenant.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 9)


 

Romans 3:20-31  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

We are justified through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He is the payment for our sins, thus freeing us from sin's penalty, and at the same time, God accounts—or imputes—Christ's righteousness to us. The righteousness that enabled Him to be the perfect sacrifice is accounted as if it is ours! This then makes it possible for us to have access into the presence of the holy God.

But this does not do away with law. It establishes it! It places the law in its rightful position in our understanding of what God is working out in our lives.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 29)


 

1 Corinthians 1:19-21  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God has purposely chosen this means to put proud and stiff-necked man totally in debt to Him for the most important achievement in all of life. Men have accomplished much and will continue to do many great things. However, verses 19-21 expose why the wise of this world will not submit to God. The reason becomes clear in the phrase, "the foolishness of preaching" (verse 21, King James Version [KJV]). This translation is somewhat misleading in the King James; it should read "the foolishness of the message preached," as in the New King James Version (NKJV). Paul is not saying that the wise of this world reject the act of preaching but that they consider the content of the message preached to be foolish. In other words, the wise will not believe the gospel, most specifically that God in the flesh has died for the sins of the world.

It cannot be overestimated how important humility expressed by faith before God is to the overall spiritual purpose of God for each individual! Each person must know as fully as possible that Christ died for him, that his own works do not provide forgiveness, and that he has not created himself in Christ Jesus. Nobody evolves into a godly person on the strength of his own will. It is God who works in us both to will and to do (Philippians 2:13). No new creation creates itself. So, by and large, God calls the undignified, base, weak, and foolish of this world, people whom the unbelieving wise consider to be insignificant and of no account. He does this so that no human will glory in His presence. On this, a German commentator, Johann Albrecht Bengel, clarifies, "We have permission to glory, not before God, but in God."

The term "in Christ Jesus" (I Corinthians 1:30) indicates that we are in an intimate relationship with Him. Paul then details—through the terms "wisdom," "righteousness," "sanctification," and "redemption"—that God, using our believing, humble, submissive cooperation, will be responsible for all things accomplished in and through us. Some modern commentators believe that, because "wise" and "wisdom" appear so many times earlier in this chapter, the terms "righteousness," "sanctification," and "redemption" should be in parentheses because Paul intends them to define what he means by true wisdom in this context.

God, then, is pleased to save those who believe and to do a mighty work in them. This set Abel apart from, as far as we know, every other person living on earth at that time. What he did by faith pictures what everyone who receives salvation must also do to begin his walk toward the Kingdom of God. Everyone must be called of God; believe enough of His Word to know that he is a sinner who needs the blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of his sins; repent, that is, undergo a change of mind toward God; and be justified, made legally righteous by having Jesus Christ's righteousness imputed to him. This enables a relationship with God to begin, and sanctification unto glorification can proceed.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Four)


 

Galatians 2:17-21  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Justification is clearly an act of God's grace, because what we deserve from what we have earned—from what we have done, the conduct of our lives—is death. There is none righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10; Psalm 14:1). Since justification, then, cannot be claimed as a right because we have sinned, it must be received as a gift. That fact that it is given makes it an act of grace.

It is not our hanging on to Christ (that is, the keeping of the law) that saves us, but rather Christ hanging on to us. That is, it is not what we do, but it is what He does continuously as acts of grace that saves us, because we deserve death. If we can earn salvation through law-keeping, Paul is saying in verse 21, "then Christ died in vain." If we can earn salvation through law-keeping, then Christ's sinless life and agonizing death were not necessary, because we can do it ourselves.

Justification is not vindication or exoneration. Both of those words connote that a person was right all along, but the true facts were hidden from those who were doing the judging. In some cases with men, vindication is possible because people are judged unrighteously. Their judges are not using righteous judgment.

But God never judges unrighteously! He knows all the facts. He knows our heart. He knows everything about us in every situation that we have ever been in, so He cannot vindicate us because we are not clear of guilt. He cannot exonerate us because we are not innocent. Justification is more than that. It is setting us right or calling us righteous though righteousness does not exist in us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Grace Upon Grace


 

Galatians 3:23  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The verse continues the imagery of verse 22: The law was/is a jailor or a guard. There is but one way of escape—faith, and by extension the entire system that Christ brought—and all other avenues are cut off. By defining what is right and wrong, moral and immoral, the codified law shows man that there is but one solution: Not to do away with the law but to follow the path that Christ revealed and made possible.

It is sin that keeps us confined in a state of misery; sin represents the shackles of bondage and captivity. The law is merely the warden that shows why we are in bondage—the law itself is not bondage. It reveals to us why we are separated from God, and how we fail to live up to His standard. If this system were confined to just the elements of sin, man's sinful nature, and the codified law, mankind would be forever imprisoned because he would continually sin, and the law would continually condemn him—and keep him from his full potential.

With the introduction of faith in Jesus Christ, a way of escape from this perpetual cycle opens up: Through a relationship with God, our sins are forgiven, and we receive a portion of the same Spirit as the Lawmaker. The law is not done away with, but we are given the tools and the means to begin living as God does through the justification and sanctification processes. The law is also not the end or the goal. As we get closer to the goal (glorification—eternal life with God), we will exhibit more and more of the fruits that demonstrate the way God lives, behaves, interacts, etc., which are the intent behind the codified law.

David C. Grabbe


 

Ephesians 2:8-10  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Notice first how this chapter begins: He has made us alive (Ephesians 2:1). Paul makes sure that we understand that it is God who gives what we spiritually possess. As for verse 8, it does not matter whether we believe that the pronoun "it" refers to grace or faith; both are gifts of God.

Grace is God's kindness to us, shown or demonstrated by His revealing Himself to us. It might help to think of this in reference to God revealing Himself to Moses in the burning bush before He sent him to Egypt. If God did not freely purpose on the strength of His own sovereign will to reveal Himself, neither Moses nor we would ever find Him. If a person cannot find God on his own, how could he possibly have faith in Him? Satan has deceived us so well that men have only the foggiest idea of what to look for.

Faith—with God as its object—begins and continues as part of His gift of kindness. The gift includes His calling, the granting of repentance, the sacrifice of Christ for our forgiveness, and His giving of His Spirit. It is a complete package of many individual gifts. The gospel is the medium that provides knowledge of the objects of the faith He gives, that is, what we believe and trust in. Paul, perceiving these gifts as a package, uses "grace" as its label. In verses 9-10, he advances to the logical "next step" in God's purpose.

Our works in no way jump-start the process of justification, sanctification, and glorification. All our works, beginning with repentance and continuing through our period of sanctification, depend directly on the freely given kindness and faith God provides. Our God-ordained good works are the result of our response to the gift of faith that God gives. Works, then, are the external evidence of the unseen, internal faith that motivates them. A person could not do them unless God had given the gift of faith beforehand. Good works follow, they do not precede.

II Corinthians 5:17-18 confirms this: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation." This corroborates that it is God working in the person. His work is termed a "new creation." Since nothing new creates itself, we are the workmanship of another. We are God's workmanship. In sum, because of what God does, we cooperate and produce works that He ordains.

The apostle Paul adds to our understanding in Philippians 2:12-13: "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." He is not saying that we should work in order to obtain salvation. These verses indicate the continuing use of something one already possesses. They suggest carrying something to its logical conclusion, which is for us to live lives worthy of the gospel, doing the works God ordained, as in Ephesians 2:10.

In Romans 9:9-19, Paul, using Jacob and Esau's pre-birth circumstances as a foundation, provides a clear illustration to show that from beginning to end, the whole salvation process depends upon God's involvement. Jacob, representing those called into the church, received God's love in the form of gifts designed to prepare him for the Kingdom of God. To Esau, representing the uncalled, God has simply withheld His love for the time being.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Four)


 

Colossians 1:22-23  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Notice, "if indeed you continue in the faith. . ." (verse 23). There is a stipulation, a string attached—indeed, a rope! There is a condition to being presented "holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in His sight." The subject is our ultimate glorification. Remember that the Colossians were being weaned away from a threatening but very persuasive philosophy.

Paul is establishing, "Here is the truth, and it is in the gospel. Here is our authority—Christ—who has both the status and the chronological preeminence. Christ promises to present you before the Father in glory, IF you continue in the faith."

In this context, faith indicates the church's body of teachings, the doctrine, the truth. This acts as a warning that a condition is attached to fulfilling God's purpose: A Christian must remain faithful.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace and Law (Part 20)


 

1 Thessalonians 5:23  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

God does not need to be persuaded to help us become sanctified. Yet, is not Paul saying that we are not completely sanctified? "May the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely"!

We can never be "more pardoned" and "more justified" than when we first believed and were forgiven. We do not grow in justification; one cannot become more justified than before. It is impossible to be more justified than when one is justified and declared righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ.

However, a person may become "more sanctified," even as a one may become stronger or weaker depending on the circumstances of his life. When we obey and follow God's way, every time we overcome something—every time some of God's attitudes, His mind, His character becomes a part of us—we are strengthened and enlarged in sanctification. But not in justification, as that would be an insult to the spirit of grace—to think that we could ever be more justified than when declared righteous on the basis of Christ's righteousness. Then we would be giving ourselves credit for our great works, showing we are deceived to the nth degree.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 9)


 

Hebrews 2:11  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

"He who sanctifies" is Jesus Christ, and "those who are being sanctified" is us. He calls us "all of one" because we are all of one Father, and therefore of one family.

The word "brethren" indicates why the word "one" implies family. We are all brothers and sisters. If these words teach us anything, it is that Christ not only undertakes our justification but also our sanctification. Both of them are provided under the New Covenant, which He mediates.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 8)


 

Hebrews 4:14-16  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

If justification saved us, why would there be any need to hold fast? to come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy after that? Justification does not mean salvation. It is, indeed, a step in that direction, but it is not a property of justification to bestow salvation.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 4)


 

Hebrews 11:5  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The fact that Paul states Enoch walked with God suggests a relationship had been established between them. Enoch had thus already experienced what Abel's example teaches. Enoch's example takes us to the next logical step in a faithful person's movement toward glorification. In his arrangement of examples of faith, Paul is emphasizing, not chronological, but experiential order, that is, faith as experienced in practical life. In a true life of faith, walking with God follows justification.

"Walk" and "walking" are the Bible's most frequently used metaphors for two related concepts. Depending upon the translation, they are used almost three hundred times to indicate interaction with another and making progress toward a destination. Somewhat related but used to a lesser extent, "walk" or "walking" indicates the passage of time as a person continues in a chosen direction of life and lifestyle. For example:

» Psalm 1:1: "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly."

» Proverbs 4:14: "Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil."

» Daniel 4:37: "And those who walk in pride He is able to abase."

» Micah 6:8: "And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?"

» Psalm 119:45: "And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts."

Scores of similar descriptions are scattered throughout the Bible. They provide a composite picture of the wide variety of the facets of the godly person's and the evil person's manners of life. Since Amos 3:3 shows that two cannot walk together unless they agree, a person walking with God illustrates that the two are in agreement. This does not mean the person is perfect, but it does imply God's acceptance of him at that stage of his life.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Four)


 

Hebrews 11:6  (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Notice that Hebrews 11:6 reads, "he who comes to God," and I Peter 2:3-4 uses a similar phrase. "Coming to God" means that one approaches nearer to God, seeks Him, or he walks with Him. It signifies fellowship with Him.

The Bible shows three stages of coming to God. The first is at God's calling when one begins to draw near. It results in justification and the imputing of Christ's righteousness. The second is more continuous, occurring during sanctification, as a person seeks to be like God, conform to His image, and have His laws written, engraved, into his character. The third stage occurs at the resurrection when the individual is glorified.

John 6:44 clarifies our first coming to God: "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day." Nobody comes to God, no one seeks the God of the Bible, until he becomes aware of his need of Him. Nobody comes to God until he realizes he is far from Him and out of His favor—in fact, he is under God's condemnation and separated from the quality of life called in the Bible "eternal life." God reveals a measure of these things through His calling.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son illustrates this (Luke 15:14-19). The son did not return or draw near to his father until he was aware of his need. This sense of need motivates us to seek God and draw near to Him. This sense of need is a gift of God's grace working on a person's mind and is initially given when God summons the individual to approach Him.

Ephesians 4:17-24 covers the second "coming to God":

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness on their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ. If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Verse 30 adds an instructive, albeit sobering, thought: "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." The Holy Spirit mentioned here is God Himself, who is hurt, sorrowed, by our sinful neglect of His gift. Once He bestows this sense of need, it is a continuous impulse unless we stifle it by neglecting to follow through, as those in the book of Hebrews were doing.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Five)


 

 




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