Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Justice Demands

"The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep, and pleads that they must therefore go free. The Surety is bound, and justice demands that those for whom He stands a substitute should go their way." ~ Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, Morning March 26

There is an anecdote (which I cannot confirm) that tells the story of a conversation between Spurgeon and one of his congregation. As the story goes, the member came up to Sprugeon, after a particularly good sermon on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ being the only way to obtain eternal life, and asked him, "Pastor Spurgeon, what would you do if you got to the gates of heaven and God did not grant you entrance." Without missing a beat Spurgeon replied, "I would demand to be let in!"

Whether the story is true or not, it brings up an interesting point. Could we ever make demands of God? Could we demand to be let into heaven? If you have placed your faith in the propitiatory sacrifice (satisfying God's wrath) of Christ then you could. I John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." God is not only faithful to forgive our sins if we come to Him on the basis of the righteousness of Christ; He is just in doing so. In fact, it would be unjust for God to refuse if we come on the basis of Christ's righteousness alone. Why? Romans 3:23-26 tells us the answer,
23[F]or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins. 26It was to show His righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
The emphasis in the last verse is my own, which I added to bring attention to the part of the verse that I want to focus on. Because of the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, God can both justify sinners (declare them not guilty and righteous on account of Christ) and be just in doing so. It is just because Christ took the punishment for our sin (became a propitiatory sacrifice for us) and imputed to our account His perfect righteousness. Since Christ took our punishment and we have His righteousness it would be unjust for God to do anything other than declare us not guilty and righteous--to justify us. So Christians can confidently before God because, as Spurgeon says above, "justice demands that those for whom He stands a substitute should go their way."

As Easter approaches consider this: "33Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who is to condemn?" ~ Romans 8:33-34a. If you are His, then you can rejoice because nothing can separate you from His love... nothing (Romans 8:35).

By His Grace,

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