There is much confusion in the minds of many people concerning the way of salvation. There are man who think they will gain favor with God by continually having a feeling of sorrow within. These people are looking at their own hearts and at every shortcoming and never come to an understanding of their position in grace. There are others who are desperately clinging to some of the promises of God. They have not come to the place where they can rejoice in what has been done for them; they believe they are save as long as they can hold on to a promise and claim it for themselves. Then there are others who endeavor to appease the wrath of God and bring peace to their troubled hearts by the use of church ritual. They think the communion cup or the rite of baptism, in one form or another, will bring them to a place where they will enjoy peace with God.
I have come to these conclusion again after going through a file of letters received from people who are troubled in soul. Many of these have written to tell me their pastors have been of no help to them. This confusion is due to two things: A failure to understand the meaning of the word “justify” and a failure to understand how God justifies a believer.
The word “justify” has in it the thought of declaring one to be righteous. There are no degrees of righteousness and if one is declared righteous, then that one stands clear before God with all guilt removed. It means further that when God justifies the believing sinner, He clothes him with His own righteousness and, thus, we read: “Him Who knew no sin, in our behalf He was made to be sin; so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). God says then, that He has found a way whereby He can look with favor upon those who were condemned and guilty.
The second reason for this confusion in the matter of salvation is due to a failure to understand God’s method of justification. In Romans 3:4 we read, “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus..” The little phrase “freely by His grace” is the translation of the Greek word “dorean.” This word is translated “freely” six times; for “naught” once, and “without a cause” once.
In the following references we have used the phrase: “without a cause” instead of the word “freely,” which is found in the Authorized version. Study these passages closely and you will be richly rewarded. Notice the following verses:
- Matthew 10:8: “without a cause ye have received; without a cause give.”
- Romans 3:24: “Being justified, ‘without a cause,’ through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
- Romans 8:32: “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall be not with Him also, ‘without a cause,’ give us all things.”
- 1 Corinthians 2:12: “That we might know the things that are ‘without a cause’ given to us of God.”
- 2 Corinthians 11:7: “Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the Gospel of God ‘without a cause’?”
- Revelation 21:6: “I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life ‘without a cause.’”
- Revelation 22:17: “And whosoever will, let him take the water of life ‘without a cause.’”
It is also the same word used by the Lord Himself in John 15:25 where He tells us, “They hated Me without a cause.” In other words, then, God tells us that He justifies believers without a cause; therefore, we are not justified because we are clinging, nor because of an application of water, nor by the observance of some ritual, nor through the attainment of a certain degree of goodness, BUT, without a cause!!! There is no reason why God should save humanity. Mankind did not merit salvation, in fact, did not even want it.
The word “without a cause” might be illustrated as follows: Whenever I go out of the city for a period of time, I always try to bring back some little gift for my wife. The gift is always appreciated and the donor is always reward with a “thank you.” It is true that I do not have to bring back the little token; I am not obligated to so so. But there is also a sense in which I cannot call that token a free gift. That is, I cannot say that the gift was given without a cause. The one to whom I gave the gift had earned it. She had cared for my things while I was gone and had taken are of many details incidental to my departure and return. So, while the token is a gift, it is not a “free gift.”
But I suppose I should be walking down the street some day and should see lying in the gutter a man who had always tried to harm me and who hate me. The man is in need of help. He is wounded. I stop and wash the man’s wounds, bathe his fevered brow, and take him to a place whee help can be given him and then I pay for that help with my own money. I would be doing this without a cause. I would be giving that man the opposite of what he deserved.
This is but a faint illustration of God’s way of justifying believers. Before we were saved, we had never done anything to merit His favor. In fact, we were at enmity with God; but in grace God stooped down and provided for us a means of redemption, and despite of our sin. He justified without a cause.
We do not mean that all men are justified. Romans 3 makes it very clear and evident that such is not the case. In the 22nd verse, Paul says, “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.” The righteousness that God offers is unto all, but I is only upon those that believe. And here let me say, that to believe is just another way of saying, “to trust.” One can give a mental assent to the truth of God’s Word without trusting that Word. If I am clinging to a ceremony or a ritual or hoping to pile up merit because of my endeavor to be good, then I am not trusting. Don’t you see now that God is waiting to save you by His grace without a cause?
Salvation, being by grace, cannot be obtained by works or effort of any kind. As soon as effort of any kind is brought in, the grace of God is frustrated. God saves without a cause in us. I can hear someone say, “How, then, can one know that he is saved?” The only way one can know he is saved is by the Word of God. The nobleman, who came to our Lord and asked Him to heal his son, “…believed the Word that Jesus had spoken to him, and he went his way.” This is faith—taking Christ as His Word. The man waited for no evidence or assurance—hearing the Word, “Thy son liveth,” he went home. Do we need anything more today than the Word of our blessed Lord? When He tells us we are saved thorugh believing, is it not enough?
Will there be any kind of experience? Yes, there will be experiences, many of them, but they will be the results of faith. What wonderful experiences of overflowing joy are ours as we read the Word and believe the promises. We rejoice as we see and believe.
Finally, hear God’s Word in John 1:12 and 1 John 5:11-12. John 1:12 opens the door, and 1 John 5:12 shows what takes place when the door is opened. If you receive the Son by faith (believing He died on the Cross, was buried, and arose for your sin), you are justified without a cause and the Son takes up His dwelling in you.
You frustrate God’s grace as you try to do something to merit salvation. Friend, I say it on the authority of millions of believers today, the grandest moment of your life will be that in which you turn to Christ Jesus Himself, believe He died on the Cross to redeem you from your sin, and receive Him as your Savior. Then you will know true forgiveness, peace, comfort and joy.