Posts Tagged ‘justification

06
Apr
10

EASTER AND GOD’S COURTROOM

     A Bible verse that contains a great deal of comfort but one that is not that well-known is Romans 4:25.  Talking about Jesus it says, “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised to life again for our justification.”  It consists of two parallel parts which could be formatted like this:

            “Who was delivered for our offences,

              and was raised to life again for our justification.” 

     Most people quickly understand the first half.  Jesus was delivered to death, not because of anything he had done, but because of what we had done.  He was delivered for our offences, our sins.  As John wrote, “He is the propitiation for sins; not only for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”  (1 John 2:2)

     But it has been my experience that people don’t as quickly see the point of the second half of this verse.  Just as Jesus was delivered because of our sins, so also he was raised for, or because, of our justification.  Just as our sins were the cause of his death, so our justification was the cause of his resurrection.  That statement gives us tremendous comfort – that statement sheds a wonderful new light on Easter.

     This is so comforting because justification is nothing other than a verdict of acquittal.  Paul borrowed this term from the courtroom.  It was the term used whenever a judge formally pronounced a “not guilty” verdict.  By pronouncing that verdict, the judge was justifying the defendant.  He was not making him just, he was declaring him just.  Justification refers to God declaring us “not guilty”.

     The exciting thing this verse brings out is how God’s verdict of us is tied to Easter. Note the cause and effect.  It’s not that because Jesus rose from the dead, we are justified.  No, it is the other way around.  Because God justified us acquitted us, Jesus could rise from the dead.  Therefore Easter is God’s wonderful proof that we have already been justified, acquitted, in Christ.  Our justification is a past event, not a future one.

     This shows just how completely Jesus took responsibility for our sins.  He became so identified with our sins that Paul could write, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin.”  (2 Corinthians 5:21)  But this also shows how completely his payment for our sins becomes our payment for our sins.  God looked on it so thoroughly as our payment that, on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice, God justified us, acquitted us way back then – a point he dramatically makes by raising Jesus from the dead.

     Thus Easter reassures us that nothing is left for us to do in order o be justified by God.  Jesus has done it all!  May you always treasure the fact that he “was raised to life again for our justification.”

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20
Oct
08

The Gift of Guilt

       

     A while ago, we received a lengthy email from a Mormon man who had been raised in the LDS church.  He talked about the various positions he has held in the church but mainly wrote to talk about the various struggles he has had with some of the teachings of Mormonism.  One sentence he wrote, however, stood out from the rest.  You could almost feel his anguish as he wrote: “the guilt is a gift that just keeps on giving.”

     Some have characterized guilt as a corrosive acid eating away at us.  That surely seems to have been what was happening with this man.  Guilt is something that almost everybody, to varying degrees, has experienced.  Guilt, especially when we see ourselves guilty before God, can be nothing less than paralyzing.

     But what thrills me, what gives me joy and energy, is how the Bible, from so many different angles, tells me in no uncertain terms that there is no need for me to feel guilty before God, because God has declared me “not guilty” because of Jesus.  One way it does that is with the idea of justification.  Paul wrote: “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).  The concept of biblical justification comes from the courtroom.  It describes the judge’s verdict of “not guilty”.  (This is in contrast to today’s common usage of people trying to justify themselves and their actions.)  God, the Judge, acquits us (declares us not guilty) because of Jesus’ redemption.  In other words, because Jesus has already paid our tremendous debt to God’s justice, we are legally free, not guilty.  “There is therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).  This biblical concept of justification is one that has been treasured by many Christians for centuries. 

     It is a concept, however, that is unknown to many Mormons.  Most Mormons, when I bring it up, tell me that they are unfamiliar with it.  That’s not surprising either.  It is not addressed in the LDS Bible Dictionary.  It is not listed in the indexes of either, Gospel Principles, or True to the Faith, two of the most basic manuals of Mormonism. It is not something Mormonism talks about very much.

    To get a handle on what Mormonism stands for, it is instructive to see not only what it stresses, but also what it doesn’t stress.  Its lack of stress on justification speaks volumes.  It is clear from the Bible that God does not want guilt to be a gift that keeps on giving.  Jesus came to remove the cause of guilt from us.  And that is what he did.  Because of Jesus, no longer do we need to feel guilty.  That’s not a message I hear from Mormonism.

29
Aug
08

Status and State

 

     Many of the comments to previous posts are confusing people’s status with their state.  This is a very important distinction.  Take the current discussion about immigration.  Even though millions of people are presently living in the United States and some for many years, they are constantly on guard.  Why?  Because of their status as illegal aliens.  Even if they are doing a fine job at work, even if they are in a state of having a good job and a good life, they know that none of that will matter – that they could still be quickly deported.  All because of their status.

     Status is also very important in my relationship with God.  Because Jesus has paid for all my sins God has formally and legally acquitted me.  That is what the biblical word, “justify” means.  It was a term from the courtroom to describe a judge’s verdict of “not guilty”.  Right now, because of Jesus’ payment for my sins, I have the status of being acquitted.  “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”  (Romans 3:24)

      I have that status of not being acquitted and not being condemned (“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” Romans 8:1), even though, in my current state, I still sin.  I have the status of being perfect in Christ even though I am still in an imperfect state

     And the great thing about it is that my status is more important than my state!  In God’s eye, by virtue of his own verdict, I am not guilty, I am perfect.  All because of Jesus.  I’m going to spend the rest of my life giving him all the glory.




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