“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” —Romans 5:1-11
Justification by faith is FOCUSED ON THE CROSS of Jesus Christ. All that we are as Christians comes by the focus and clarity of the truth of the atoning death of Jesus Christ. When we are first saved by God’s grace, not all things concerning the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ are clear and focused; that is most definitely certain. Yet, who I am, right here and now, who you are, as individuals in Christ, is determined upon justification by faith in the revelation of the person and work of Jesus Christ, especially as it pertains to His sacrificial death on Calvary’s tree. We have several things that suggest this, especially in the passage of scripture we have been looking at for the past week, Romans 5:
(v1) through our Lord Jesus Christ; (v6) in due time Christ died; (v8) Christ died for us; (v9) justified by His blood; (v9) saved from wrath through Him; (v10) reconciled to God by the death of His Son; (v10) saved by His life; (v11) through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The person and work of Christ are never separate things; what Christ has done by the Cross, and in the Cross, and on the Cross cannot be divorced from who He is, was and ever more shall be. His Person and Work are divine truths declared in eternity before ever an angel winged in the ether; before God spoke the universe into existence and commanded, “Light be!” Peter writes,
“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,” 1 Peter 1:18-20
At times we tend to be subjective about God’s justification by focusing upon what He has done “for me;” however, that’s not what we’re talking about here. Why not? I’m glad you asked. The great truth of the Cross of Christ is NOT found in the old saying, “If I were the only sinner on earth, Christ would have died for me.” No. The great truth of the Cross is that by God’s sovereign grace, the supremacy and excellence of the Cross is so infinitely glorious, so eternally majestic and so wonderfully good that Christ would have died upon the Cross if no sinner were saved. It’s not about you, or me. It’s about the most glorious display of God’s holiness the universe has ever seen. If you believe that is a strange statement, Charles Spurgeon wrote words to the same effect: “The law of God was more vindicated by the death of Christ than it would have been had all transgressors been sent to Hell. For the Son of God to suffer for sin was a more glorious establishment of the government of God, than for the whole race to suffer.”[i]
When we see the Son of God crucified with a regenerated heart of faith, through spiritual understanding taught of the Spirit of God Himself, we see the justice of God through His wrath against sin; we see the holiness of God in the Person of His perfect Son; we see the love of God displayed for all eternity; we see the preciousness of the blood, the reconciliation through Christ’s wounds, the loathsome filth of sin, and the awesome heights of victory; we see the privilege of forgiveness, the power of mercy, the pinnacle of truth… and the EXCELLENCE OF GRACE.
Therefore, to “love God” without the truth of the Cross is deceptive ignorance; to “know” God without desiring God or His will is the faith of devils; and to profess Christ without drawing nearer the Cross of Christ is the sin of blasphemy, causing the professor to utter the name of the Lord in vain.
Justification by faith is focused upon the Cross of Christ and that defines who we are as Christians. If who Christ is and what He has done does not define you, you’re not a Christian.
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Read the previous article in this series, “Justification Flows from the Atonement” (Romans 5:1-11).
[i] Charles Spurgeon, All of Grace, “Just and the Justifier” chap.5 para.v