From Your Pastor: All the Righteousness We Will Ever Need!


This week marks the 499th Anniversary of the Reformation of the 16th century.  It was on October 31st 1517 that God, through a man named Martin Luther, graciously helped His church to rediscover the truth that the Holy Scriptures must be the Christian’s only infallible rule of faith and life.  From those Holy Scriptures, Luther came to rediscover the glorious heart of the Gospel: Sinners are declared righteous, or justified before God by faith alone in Christ alone, because of grace alone, all for the glory of God alone. Sinful man does not (can not!) cooperate with God’s grace to bring justification. Rather, man receives the perfect righteousness of Christ alone through the instrumentation of faith that is a gift of God (Rom. 3:21-22, 28; cf. Eph. 2:8-10). Luther learned that all the righteousness he would ever need would be given to Him in Christ; for every need, for every perfect requirement of God, Christ was the help, the hope, and the perfect provision of the righteousness of God the Father to believing sinners.

The false teaching of thinking one could cooperate with God’s grace to bring about the righteousness God required was nothing new to the Medieval church and time of the Reformation. You may recall that in the time of Jesus’ ministry, many of the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law opposed Jesus vehemently because he disagreed with their teaching of salvation by cooperation with God’s grace.  Essentially, the Pharisees taught that man could cooperate with God within the covenant, and eventually do enough good works to merit their salvation and hope before God (Rom. 10:1-3; cf. Phil. 3:7-14). Contrastly, Jesus taught that God required personal perfection to the Law (Matthew 5:48; cf. Gal. 3:10-13; Rom. 10:5) so that those who had ears to hear would come to the end of their self-righteousness and repent and find their only hope of righteousness in His merit—in his personal and perfect law-keeping for them, received by faith alone (Rom. 10:4; Gal. 3:19, 25-29).

During the Medieval period, again the Pharisaical teaching of attempting to cooperate within the visible Church to attain enough merits to achieve a righteousness before God was taught and believed by many. This error sadly eclipsed the true, saving and wonderful Gospel of Jesus. This robbed God of the glory due to Him alone! When God called Martin Luther, he was a spiritually struggling monk who was attempting to achieve this perfect righteousness that God required of him. Luther was trying to cooperate by faith with God’s grace to be saved.  However, he realized because of the depth of his sins and the perfect righteousness of God there was no hope or spiritual comfort in this teaching. This was no good news at all!  Luther struggled with his works before God, realizing they were not always done with the right motives and pure faith, and if God was to judge His works according to His perfect standard of righteousness, then only damnation and judgment awaited Him.

By God’s good grace, Luther had a friend and Father-Confessor within the Augustinian cloister by the name of Johann von Staupitz that shared the Gospel with Martin Luther. This is what Staupitz told Luther to seek to comfort him with Gospel tidings:

“Why do you torment yourself with all these speculations and these high thoughts of your works before God?  Look at the wounds of Jesus Christ, to the blood that he has shed for you: it is there that the grace of God will appear to you. Instead of torturing yourself on account of your sins, throw yourself in your Redeemer’s arms. Trust in him- – in the righteousness and merits of his life- -in the atonement of his death.  Do not shrink back; God is not angry with you, it is you who are angry with God. Listen to the Son of God not your own thoughts; meditate on His Word to you.  Jesus became man to give you the assurance of divine favor. He says to you: You are my sheep; you hear my voice; no man shall pluck you out of my strong hand.” –John Staupitz to Martin Luther, ca. 1509.

This is a summary of the gospel of grace that was rediscovered during the Reformation. We must be reminded that as sinners saved by grace, there will always be a temptation to earn our salvation before God- -to merely try harder- -and work harder, seeking to appease God, and hoping that He will forgive us and give us a right standing before him because of what we have done. But it is not what we have done, or could ever do that counts. It is what God has done for us in Christ through His perfect life and His atoning, substitutionary death. God punishes sin justly and also justifies those who believe (Rom. 3:24-26).

The Gospel of Grace humbles sinners. Sinners cannot keep God’s law, and even our best works and efforts before God are tainted with sin (Rom. 3:9-10, 23). The Good news declares to sinners that the righteousness that God requires- -God mercifully supplies – -not from within us, or from our works, or our best cooperation with God, but our righteousness is found in the righteousness and merits of Christ alone! In Christ, all who believe find a strong Savior and the comforting assurance of God’s love.  In Christ, all believers stand declared righteous based not on our own works for God, but upon Christ’s perfect works for God. God imputes our sins to Christ, and imputes Christ’s perfect record or righteousness to us through faith alone! Christ’s perfection is given to us, and our sins are placed on him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Beloved of God, and to all sinners who feel the heavy weight of your sins, and the hopelessness of your condition before a holy God: All are justified or declared righteous before God because of Christ’s merits given to us as a free gift (Rom. 3:23-28)! Let us live as loved and forgiven people this day, confident in God’s grace, not in our works. Let God’s grace and love toward wicked and undeserving sinners such as ourselves humble us, and let us live gratefully and obediently unto Him! (Rom. 3:27, 31). Let us remember as God’s people that all the righteousness we will ever need is given to us in Christ. For every need we have, for every perfect requirement of God, Christ is our help, our hope, and the perfect provision of righteousness from God the Father to believing sinners. Let us humbly rejoice!


In Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs

Happy 499th Reformation Day!

From Your Pastor: The Glorious Benefits of Justification, Adoption and Sanctification

Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 36: What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?


Answer: The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, (1) joy in the Holy Ghost, (2) increase of grace, (3) and perseverance therein to the end. (4) (1)Rom. 5:1,2,5 (2)Rom. 14:17 (3)Prov. 4:18 (4)1 John 5:13; 1 Pet. 1:5


Scripture Memory: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13)


An Explanation: What a glorious joy it is to be one of God’s beloved children! What lavish grace God has been kind enough to bestow upon repent sinners who receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord! To be in Christ by His grace is to be the treasured possession of the Triune God, possessing an imputed righteousness given by faith alone in Christ alone because of grace alone, knowing confidently that one is loved by a good and faithful Heavenly Father, and enjoying some measure of growth in Christ-likeness, and in conformity to the holiness of the Son of God (Rom. 3:24-26; 5:21; 1 Jo. 3:1-3; Eph. 1:3-6, 4:19ff; Rom. 8:29-30; Tit. 2:11-14).

And there are glorious benefits of this salvation that we should be enjoying in this life on our way to heaven!! Though we suffer, and are often weary from battling flesh, the allurements of the world, and the temptations of satan, we can possess assurance that we are loved by God (1 Jo. 5:13), and we enjoy the joy of the LORD that is our strength (Neh. 8:10). Though the unbelieving world is often given moments of happiness (Matt. 5:45; Acts 14:17), it does not possess the joy of the LORD which is a (as I paraphrase from Dr. David Murray) “God-given…God- centered understanding of God’s love for you in Christ”. Only believers possess true and lasting happiness which is true joy, and found in the love of God in Christ. The Holy Spirit has been given to believers so that we are sealed as God’s children until the Day of Redemption, and enjoy God’s love that has been poured out abundantly into our hearts (Eph. 1:14; Rom. 5:5).

And another benefit is that believers, the children of God, possess consciences that have been reconciled to God its Creator, and have peace that passes all understanding, though shaken at many times by different temptations and trials! (Rom. 5:1-11). Our consciences tell us about God and His righteous requirements for all mankind, but they will only haunt us if we do not possess as God’s children the reconciling mercies of God our Creator found in Christ! The Bible teaches that in fact there is “no peace for the wicked” (Isa. 57:21), and their consciences bear witness to the fact that they offended the true and only living, Triune God (Rom. 2:15; cf. 1:32). Only justification, adoption, and sanctification can bring peace to a sinful, troubled soul!

And as God is committed to making His children holy as Christ is holy, we can expect fruitfulness in Christ as we abide in His love, keeping His commandments, and loving God and one another by His grace (John 15:1-11). We ought to be thankful that this very day, we can expect an increase of grace as we turn from our sins to more grace in the Living God because of Christ. Christ is enthroned as Mediator at God’s right hand full of grace for all we need, full of mercy for all of our sinful struggles, and whatever grace we need, we can find it. We are promised this as God’s Beloved children! “God gives more grace…” (2 Pet. 1:3-11; Heb. 4:14-16; John 1:14-18; James 4:6).

And if this is not enough, because heaven has begun in us now through union with Christ by His Spirit, we shall also confidently, yet humbly persevere until the end because Christ is praying for us that our faith will not fail us in His Heavenly Intercessory ministry (Heb. 7:24; Rom. 8:34; cf. Luke 22:32). Yet we do not grow lazy because of this, but work all the harder, knowing that as we have been possessed by Christ and we have a zeal to possess more of Him! (Phil. 3:8-16; Tit. 2:14; cf. Phil. 2:12-13). In fact, as beloved children of God, we keep our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, growing in holiness and in the fear of the LORD, and attain to our full heavenly inheritance knowing that nothing can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ, and no one, or nothing—absolutely nothing!!—can snatch us out of the tight and loving grip of Christ’s beautiful, strong, and saving hand (Heb. 12:1-2, 10, 14; Rom. 8:31-39; John 10:27-30; 1 Pet. 1:5). Let us rejoice in the benefits that do accompany and flow from our salvation in Jesus!


A Prayer: Father, I am your treasured possession. Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be. Your heart is with beloved children. Grant me to grow in the benefits of my salvation, in possessing more joy in Christ, in growing in holiness, humility and honesty, in enjoying more peace, and persevering grace unto the end all for your glory! Amen. Let my life adorn your precious gospel this day! Amen and amen.


In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Biggs


From Your Pastor: Justification by Faith Alone (A Study of the Westminster Shorter Catechism)

Question 33: What is justification?

Answer: Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, (1) and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, (2) only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, (3) and received by faith alone. (4) (1)Rom. 3:24,25; Rom. 4:6-8 (2)2 Cor. 5:19,21 (3)Rom. 5:17-19 (4)Gal. 2:16; Phil. 3:9


Scripture Memory: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (ESV 2 Corinthians 5:21).


An Explanation: God is holy. Man is sinful. God’s perfect righteousness demands of mankind perpetual, personal, and perfect righteousness in order to be saved and dwell in His most glorious presence. How can there be any hope then? All sinners know how to say: “Nobody’s perfect!” How then can a sinful man or woman, who has continually offended God in word, thought and deed (Rom. 3:9-22), ever hope to dwell in God’s presence with joy?! (cf. Psa. 16:9-11). How can a sinful man or woman be made right before a holy and perfectly righteous God?!

The wonderful news of God’s justifying the sinner is that the holy and just God that requires and demands perpetual, personal, and perfect righteousness in order to be saved and to dwell in His presence is also the one who provides this perpetual, personal, and perfect righteousness for all who believe in the active and passive obedience of Christ Jesus. Christ has graciously obeyed perpetually, personally, and perfectly on our behalf (His active obedience that is imputed to us as our own righteousness, Matt. 5:17; Rom. 8:2-4; John 17:4) and Christ has laid down His life as a propitiation for our sins becoming a curse for us under the wrath of God (His passive obedience that satisfies the justice of God for our sins, Rom. 3:25-26; Gal. 3:13). God is perfectly just in upholding His perfect righteousness revealed in the holy and good requirements of His Law, but He is also the justifier of all who believe in Christ Jesus (Rom. 3:24-25).

It should be understood that justification is the opposite of condemnation (cf. Rom. 8:1, 33-34). It is God “for us” in the most glorious way! (Rom. 8:31). To be justified by God through the perfect righteousness found in Christ is to no longer be condemned, but freed from the guilt of breaking God’s Law as sinners (Acts 13:38-39; cf. Gal. 2:4; 5:1, 13; 2 Cor. 3:17). In the act of justification, God legally declares believers as righteous in Christ, imputing our sins to Christ, and imputing Christ’s righteousness to believers by faith alone apart from works (Rom. 4:5, 8, 11-12, 16). Our faith that receives this gift of grace is also a gift from God (Eph. 2:6-9). Faith is never a work, only an instrument given by God that receives all the righteousness and perfection one needs in Christ.

Now there is no condemnation for us in Christ Jesus! (Rom. 8:1). We are declared righteous by Christ’s blood (Rom. 3:24-26). Our consciences no longer condemn us (1 Jo. 3:20). We are reconciled to God, and we have peace in our union with Jesus (Rom. 5:1). We have confidence for the day of judgement because of God’s love for us in Christ (1 Jo. 4:17-18).

What a benefit to know that God has legally declared you righteous in Christ—there is no condemnation, no judgment awaiting you! We will face the Judgment Seat of Christ clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ, and though our every word, thought and action has been tainted with sin, the Lamb without blemish has loved us and given Himself for us! (Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 5:14-15). We are spotless in Him! We can rejoice with the Psalmist: “…Blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin” (Psalm 32:2).

Further, our justification by faith alone in Christ alone because of grace alone also begins God’s work of sanctification in believers whereby He renews us in His image (Eph. 4:19-24; Col. 3:10; also see Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q&A 35). Though our sanctification can never precede our once-and-for-all justification, our sanctification must follow if we are truly justified. Justification and sanctification, though they must be distinguished from one another (one is an act of God, one is a work of God, cf. WSC, Q&A 33, 35; WCF, chaps. 11, 13), they must never be separated from one another (see Romans 8:29-30). In Christ, we have all of our righteousness, sanctification and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30).


A Prayer: Holy and Just and Gracious Father full of steadfast love and mercy for sinners in Christ, thank you for declaring me righteous because of the beautiful and glorious righteousness of Jesus Christ! Thank you that in Him I find all the righteousness that I need to live before you, to dwell in your presence, and to thrive in joy in this life and in the life to come. How eager I am to dwell with you in glory because of the grace that I have received in Christ here and now in my union with Christ! Amen and amen.


In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Biggs


From Your Pastor: The Benefits of Effectual Calling (WSC Question 32)

Question 32: What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?

Answer: They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification,(1) adoption,(2) and sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them.(3) (1)Rom. 8:30 (2)Eph. 1:5 (3)1 Cor. 1:26,30


Scripture Memory: “He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30).


An Explanation: Glorious benefits are found in Christ Jesus! Jesus Christ is full of grace and truth: “And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16-17). Jesus is a Storehouse of benefits and blessings for the believer! Jesus is the True Treasury of God’s riches. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness…” (2 Pet. 1:3a). “…To reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:2b-3).

Although we are impoverished by nature, Jesus is rich! Although we are weak, Jesus gives strength! Although we are sinful, Jesus grants grace, abundant, wonderful grace for every need! “For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.…Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…” (Eph. 1:15-23; 2 Cor. 8:9; Rom. 5:6-8, 5:15, 20).

When the Spirit unites us to Jesus Christ in our effectual calling, we are recipients of great and glorious blessings and benefits! What are the blessings and benefits of union with Christ which in this life either accompany or flow from them? Specifically, justification, adoption, and sanctification! Hallelujah, to the Lamb!

Justification: God legally declares us as righteous in Christ, imputing our sins to Christ, and imputing Christ’s righteousness to believers by faith alone apart from works (Rom. 4:5, 8, 11-12, 16). There is no condemnation for us in Christ Jesus! (Rom. 8:1). We are declared righteous by Christ’s blood (Rom. 3:24-26). Our consciences no longer condemn us (1 Jo. 3:20). We are reconciled to God, and we have peace in our union with Jesus (Rom. 5:1). We have confidence for the day of judgement because of God’s love for us in Christ (1 Jo. 4:17-18).

What a benefit to know that God has legally declared you righteous in Christ—there is no condemnation, no judgment awaiting you! We will face the Judgment Seat of Christ clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ, and though our every word, thought and action has been tainted with sin, the Lamb without blemish has loved us and given Himself for us! (Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 5:14-15). We are spotless in Him! We can rejoice with the Psalmist: “…Blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Adoption: God legally declares us righteous before Him, but also (very importantly!) legally adopts us into His family, giving us His name, granting us privileges of children, and granting us a rich and eternal inheritance in Him, and with Him (The Westminster Confession was the first confession of faith to formally make the proper biblical distinction between justification and adoption). Our adoption is because of the Father’s love from before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4-6), it is because of the Son’s redemptive work in willingly coming as our big brother to redeem us and to obtain for us the Spirit of Sonship (Gal. 4:4-7), and it is the Spirit’s work to seal and further reveal this reality to our hearts (Rom. 8:15-16, 26; cf. Eph. 3:16-19).

We are called heirs of God, and His dearly and beloved children. “What manner of love has God the Father bestowed upon us that we are called the children of God, and that is what we are!” (1 Jo. 3:1-2). We can call on God as our Father: “Abba, Father!” because we have received the Spirit of Sonship (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). We are heirs of all that is His! We have a big brother who gave Himself for our redemption so that we could take on a family resemblance (Heb. 2:11-18). What joy should characterize us as God’s children, because one day we will be like Him fully (1 Jo. 3:2-3; Rom. 8:23).

Sanctification: We are resurrected by the Spirit and set free from slavery to sin and self to live the life that God has created us to live: “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his… So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus…For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Rom. 6:5, 11, 14). We are free from our sins so that we can live for Him: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).

We are given a faith in our effectual calling that is a working faith that seeks to work through love (Gal. 5:6). In fact, we are created in Christ for good works: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10; 2 Thess. 2:13).


A Prayer: What manner of love is this that I should be called a child of God, dear Abba, Heavenly Father!! Thank you, kind king for your amazing love and benefits for sinners in Christ! Thank you for the Spirit of Sonship that makes my life joyous in Christ, and helps me to live for you, and to be like my elder brother, the Lord Jesus! You love me, let me be controlled by that love, kind king! (2 Cor. 5:14-15).


In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Biggs


From Your Pastor: Justification and Sanctification

Justification and Sanctification[1]

Below is a helpful chart to help you to distinguish between justification and sanctification.

A very important truth to keep in mind when thinking about justification and sanctification is that you should always make a distinction between the two, but never separate them (Calvin used the helpful Latin phrase: “distinctio non sed separatio” or “distinct but never separate”). Our confession states the distinction this way in the Westminster Larger Catechism, Questions 70 and 75:

WLC 70 – What is justification? A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace unto sinners,(1) in which he pardoneth all their sins, accepteth and accounteth their persons righteous in his sight;(2) not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them,(3) but only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them,(4) and received by faith alone.(5) (1)Rom. 3:22,24,25; Rom. 4:5 (2)2 Cor. 5:19,21; Rom. 3:22,24,25,27,28 3)Tit. 3:5,7; Eph. 1:7 (4)Rom. 5:17-19; Rom. 4:6-8 (5)Acts 10:43; Gal. 2:16; Phil. 3:9

WLC 75 – What is sanctification? A. Sanctification is a work of God’s grace, whereby they whom God hath, before the foundation of the world, chosen to be holy, are in time, through the powerful operation of his Spirit(1) applying the death and resurrection of Christ unto them,(2) renewed in their whole man after the image of God;(3) having the seeds of repentance unto life, and all other saving graces, put into their hearts,(4) and those graces so stirred up, increased and strengthened,(5) as that they more and more die unto sin, and rise unto newness of life.(6) (1)Eph. 1:4; 1 Cor. 6:11; 2 Thess. 2:13 (2)Rom. 6:4-6 (3)Eph. 4:23,24 (4)Acts 11:18; 1 ohn 3:9 (5)Jude 20; Heb. 6:11,12; Eph. 3:16-19; Col. 1:10,11 (6)Rom. 6:4,6,14; Gal. 5:24

These two important aspects of salvation in Christ can be, and often are confused, and so it is important to keep these distinctions in mind without separating them (see Romans 8:29-31 as the Apostle Paul teaches that the grace that has begun in justification will always result and be fully realized in glorification through the sanctifying work of the Spirit).[2] To put it as pointedly as possible, you cannot have one without the other. The saving grace of Christ includes both justification and sanctification.

To be united to Christ by His Spirit means being a participant in the Spirit’s justifying work, as well as His sanctifying work. To make the proper distinctions will keep us from the terrible dangers of both legalism and antinomianism. It could also lead us to joy through the growing in our assurance of our faith.




Change in relation to God and His law: No longer condemned under the Law of God


Change in nature: I now love the Law of God and desire to keep it sincerely.


Judicial act of God acquitting believers Continual building up



Complete and not of various degrees Growing work of many degrees
Perfect at the first moment Not perfect until death
Equal in all Not the same in all believers


Cannot be lost Degrees may be lost


Instantaneous Progressive


Removes guilt and liability to penalty Kills the being and power of sin


Man accepted and righteousness imputed Grace infused and the Spirit given
Gives right to life Gives fitness to share inheritance
By faith alone Requires exercise of all graces



Heidelberg Catechism, Q. 60. Q. How are you righteous before God? Only by true faith in Jesus Christ. Although my conscience accuses me that I have grievously sinned against all God’s commandments, have never kept any of them, and am still inclined to all evil, yet God, without any merit of my own, out of mere grace, imputes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ. He grants these to me as if I had never had nor committed any sin, and as if I myself had accomplished all the obedience which Christ has rendered for me, if only I accept this gift with a believing heart.

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs



[1] John Brown of Wamphray on Justification and Sanctification.  Source: John Brown, The Life of Justification Opened (N.p.: 1695), 268. See Joel R. Beeke, “John Calvin and John Brown of Wamphray on Justification,” in Reformed Orthodoxy in Scotland: Essays on Scottish Theology, 1560–1775, ed. Aaron Clay Denlinger (London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2015), 191–211.

[2] We should also remember to always understand justification as the foundation of our sanctification. Roman Catholicism formally confuses the two and places the sanctifying work of the Spirit through the Church before justification. Rome teaches that a person works in cooperation with the Spirit through the Roman Catholic Church (what they call “sanctification” through the seven sacraments), and this leads to a final justification (after death, and many times through purgatory). This is a terrible heresy. And this teaching is for another day, but it is to emphasize now the importance of getting justification and sanctification correct, and in proper, biblical order (for formal teaching of Romanist doctrine see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1996, Second edition, III:sec.1, chap. 3, article 2, 1987-95).