Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Justification; A Continuing Search for Beauty Part II

Justification is often taught as 'just-as-if-I'd-never-sinned'. It is a standard of Christian teaching because it is concise and full of meaning. However is it accurate?

In Scotland an official notice of the execution was posted on the prison gate, it would say as an example,
On Saturday 18th January, at Dumbarton Prison, Patrick Lunnay was justified. It meant that Patrick Lunnay had been hanged by the neck until dead. The punishment imposed on Patrick as sentence for his conviction of a crime had been justly administered.

Is the first explanation of justification accurate? Yes, because at the heart of the Christian doctrine is the fact of a propitiary sacrifice in the person of Jesus Christ in my place to satisfy God's just requirements. In the simplest of forms it is as if I had never sinned as my death is no longer required. However, there is a recognized failure in this explanatiion providing for the full import of what Christ's death means and accomplishes.

There are many who follow after the first defintion of justification, never perhaps realizing that its purpose is to point to a more substantial demarcation of this doctrine. The first meaning is an appeal to the mercy of God, His benevolence, in that the love of God will cause Him to look upon me with compassion, taking in the frailty of my frame of mind and acquitting me because of Jesus' love for all of mankind. It was never meant to be a substituition for the right doctrinal explanation.

It may be the reason for weak faith which excuses sinful nature. It may provide the excuse to allow sin to retain a foothold in life without requiring any change, any examination, any biopsy, any sacrifice. There is perhaps falsely, room for belief that in this Christian life sin is only enervated, and that in physical death only are we finally justified and delivered; freed from sin. This may cause some to forsake living, or even attempting to live, a sanctified life, because death holds the present captive. Today is lost to sin. What a travesty of God's love, that God, Who is love,would impose such joyless life upon His children.

This devolves the Christian walk to one of fearful existence, a constant looking-over-the- shoulder, waiting for the other-shoe-to-fall life, beacuse we all realize after a time that mercy is tenuous; given to discrimination and partiality. Mercy only provides possibilty. Mercy promotes weak hope that in the inevitable physical death from this life there will be the final redemption from sin. However, this line of thought will await whether that redemption will be to heaven or hell. Death holds the trump card.

Justification as a developed doctrine has its value in faith in the justice of God as compared to the mercy of God. Justice will be served; judged, sentenced and executed. A firm foundation of faith lies in acknowledging the justice of God; justice that is ridgid; concrete; and is irrefutable without punishment.

Justice stands squarely as the firm footing for our faith. Our justification is faith that the justice of God was satisfied by Jesus' death on the cross and the penalty of my death was paid in full, satifying God's justness. It really isn't as-if-I-had-never-sinned, because no one would have need to die if-I-had-never-sinned.

Justification is the redemption of the convicted sinner not from the consequence, but by the death of the convict. Sin can only be justified by capital punishment. God's sentence upon man was death for sin, and only death can satisfy God. Justification is not an 'acquittal', it is conformity to God's standard of justice.

Justification is freedom; deliverance and once again that word, redemption. Just as this world will be replaced with a new redeemed world, so the old man has been given life by death. Therein lies the mystical.

We have been slain, crucified with Christ, we are no longer alive in God's eyes, but have been duly punished by death for our sins. Baptism provides the physical expression of a mystical transference of my death to Christ's death. Romans 6:4 & Colossians 2:12, "... we are buried with Him in basptism ..."
Romans 6:3 "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?"
The strength of the forgiveness and grace of God lies in the absolution of our sin by the substitutionary and propiatory death of Jesus. It is my death that is required to justify the punishment for my sin.
Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
There is beauty in grace, and grace is not grace unless it is freely given. Our justification is an act of grace and love.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a nice answer to some of the questions I had while working on this blog.