Monday, December 04, 2006

Romans 3:24

...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

We are justified freely by grace through the redemption of Christ. Justification is absolutely free. Justification means the pronouncing or declaring of a person to be righteous. It’s a judicial term. And we contribute nothing to this declaration of God that we are justified. Now justification is an act, not an ongoing process. It’s a judicial act, and it’s not our act. God justifies. We don’t justify ourselves. In justification, God declares us righteous, and once done, it's done! He forgives us of our sin and spares us the penalty of that sin.

Remember the analogy of the pardon that we discussed awhile back. The pardon is freely offered and must be accepted by the guilty party. That’s true. But regarding the righteousness of the state, in this case, God, the punishment for the sin was already carried out in the Person of Jesus Christ; thus God will not and cannot righteously demand that punishment from the guilty party. Do you understand the critical implications of this, especially considering the substitionary atonement of Christ? If Christ paid the punishment price of someone’s sins, then God would be unrighteous, unjust, to also punish the sinner for those sins that were punished in Christ. Do you see? Justification is about what God does, not you.

Finally notice that justification, though free, is in fact, very costly. Justification is free for us, but it’s costly to God. Paul says that it is a gift by grace, but it is purchased for us through the redemption in Jesus. Christ has paid a purchase price for us. He bought us from God for God—from God’s wrath for God’s mercy. He paid by His life with His blood, bearing the penalty of sin, a purchase price. Will this price not buy what it was intended to purchase? As Paul would say, “God forbid!” Jesus has effectively accomplished exactly what He intended. So what was His purpose? Was it to merely offer salvation to all of mankind, and thereby require mankind to be the ultimate determiner of salvation? Was it actually save the elect? I, and Scripture I believe, suggest that Christ has fulfilled His purpose, to redeem those the Father gave Him. And it wasn’t everybody. How does what I’ve said make you feel? Did Christ fail in His efforts to purchase all of mankind? Or did He succeed in redeeming all those the Father gave Him? Do you see where this understanding, in order for us to be consistent in our doctrinal theology, is so critical? This is why the Calvinism / Arminianism debate is so important. It doesn’t determine whether or not you’re saved. Rather, it forces us to examine our theological consistency. We'll continue with this train of thought tomorrow.

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