Thursday, February 28, 2013

Can A Sheep of Christ Ever Perish (Part 5)

Justification
"It is God who justifies" (Romans 8:33). Justification is an act of the judge, a sentence of declared righteousness pronounced by Him in favor of the one He justifies. Justification is not something that happens in the heart of a sinner, but a change in his standing before the Judge. Once guilty and awaiting the sentence of eternal banishment from the face of the Judge, the sinner is now justified (declared not guilty) and received into eternal favor with God. This is what God does for the repentant sinner who puts his trust int he work of Christ on the cross.

God is fact a just Judge who applies the law with justice. God is the Sovereign Judge of all. Although He is full of  mercy and love, yet He also must be just in order to be consistent with Himself. The justice of God demands death for sin: "The wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). 

Justified by Blood
So how can He show mercy in saving a guilty sinner from eternal death an judgment to come? How can we reconcile His justice with His mercy? We get the answer in Romans 5:8-9, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." 

God does not want the death of the sinner; He would like all to be saved (Ezk. 18:23, 2 Pet. 3:9). But it would be incompatible with His character as a just Judge to save sinners simply because of His love for them. He would be violating His own law if He did so. Suppose the Judge, after pronouncing sentence on the guilty, proves His love by sending His own Son to undergo the death sentence that the guilty one deserved. Would not the Judge then be just in setting the guilty one free? That is exactly what God has done; He justified us by the blood of His Son. His well-beloved Son "has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Heb. 9:26). "Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24).

Justified by Grace
Now we come to another side of justification. In Romans 3:24-26 we are seen as "being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation (covering) by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."

God's grace provided the means by which sinners justly doomed to hell can be saved and have eternal life because of what our Redeemer suffered on the cross. God's justice is fully met and satisfied by the Redeemer whom He has provided.

Justified by Faith
How then can the guilty sinner apply this justification that the death of Christ has secured for him? It is by faith, which is another facet of justification. Romans 5:1 and 10:10 tell us: "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ", and " For with the heart one believes unto righteousness."

So then God is just in pardoning the sinner who comes to Him through faith in Christ. We could think of Him as saying, " Your guilt is fully recognized; you certainly deserve judgement, but I love you. You are free because My Son paid for your sins. He paid your debt. In justice to what He has done on the cross for you, I set you free."

In view of this, what does the law have to do with justification? Absolutely nothing. "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law" (Rom. 3:28). Faith is the opposite of  law, "But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them” (Gal. 3:11-12). The sinner needs life but the law can only condemn him to death. Faith recognizes that, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 6:23).

What is the purpose of the law?  "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.  Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Rom. 3:19-20). Its purpose is definitely not justification:  "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified...Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Gal. 2:16, 3:24).

Completely Justified
Justification is complete and eternal. "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin” (Rom. 4:8). “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Heb. 10:17). "Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies" ( Rom. 8:33). "By Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses" (Acts 13:39).

God's justification of us is complete and perfect because Christ paid for all our sins, not just part of them, not the sins committed before we believed. When Jesus Christ gave His life, all our sins were in the future; but God who sees the future as well as the past laid them all on Christ (IS. 53:6, 1 Pet. 2:24). Therefore God will never bring any sins to the charge of those He justifies. God has justified them according to the merits of Christ and will remember their sins no more.

The justified sinner has nothing more to do with judgment: Judgment is past for him. John 5:24 says,  “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." This is his judicial standing before God as Judge of all.

Of course a child of God will experience the discipline of his holy Father, which is proof of relationship. It is "child training" to teach His own to hate and avoid all that is inconsistent with His holiness (Heb. 12:1-11, 1 Pet. 1:14-21). The Lord said, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten" (Rev. 3:19). "For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world" (1 Cor. 11:31-32).

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