Sample – Chapter Four of
study guide “Terms of the Cross”
#4 – JUSTIFICATION
Next we will learn two vital
terms/ JUSTIFICATION which is a legal act, and REGENERATION which is a
spiritual act. JUSTIFICATION gives us a name change, REGENERATION gives us a
Justification defined – “To
prove or show to be just, to vindicate. To pronounce free from guilt or blame. To
absolve. To adjust, or arrange exactly” (WEBSTER)
This is a legal term. Notice
the associated “JU…” words, as in judge, jury, just, justice, etc. The sinner
is now in the courtroom. Conscience declares his guilt. The Law declares his
guilt. If witnesses were called all Heaven would declare his guilt. The gavel
strikes the Judge’s desk. “Guilty!” is the verdict and as we’ve already noted
“Death!” is the sentence.
Some people accept the
verdict and beg mercy – “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13). Others dispute the verdict and seek to justify themselves.
“He willing to justify
himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29)
“…backsliding Israel hath
justified herself…” (Jer 3:11)
“And he said unto them, Ye
are they who justify yourselves among men: but God knoweth your heart…” (Luke
There is nothing we can do
to justify ourselves. Keeping the Ten Commandments is not enough. Doing good
deeds is not enough. “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the
Law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ…” (Gal 2:16) “And by him all that believe
are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law
of Moses” (Acts 13:39).
So it is “BY GRACE…THROUGH
FAITH”. Moral goodness has nothing to do with it. God justified the heathen.
When Paul spoke of “fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, homosexual
perverts, thieves, covetous, drunkards”, etc. sitting on the pews at the
Corinthian church he said,
“And such were some of you:
but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of
the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 6:11)
That is the Good News of the
Gospel. Any and all can come because Jesus “was delivered for our offenses, and
was raised again for our justification” (Rom 4:25). “Therefore being justified
by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1).
FAITH ALONE! Martin
Luther understood that “the just shall live by faith” (Rom 1:17). “Not by works of righteousness that we have done…that being justified by his grace, we should
be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Tit 3:5-7).
Luther and his followers
were scoffed at as being “Solifidians”, that is the “solo-faith” crowd. If
Paul’s epistle to Thessalonica was called “Thessalonians”, his epistle to Rome
could have been called “Faith Alone-ians”!
OUR ADVOCATE –
If the Law says we are guilty and if we know ourselves that we are guilty then
how can our plight be made right? In Civics lessons we were taught about a
“double jeopardy” clause. No man can be punished twice for the same crime.
Here’s where our great Lawyer
steps into the courtroom – “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the
Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). Imagine Him addressing the
“Your Honor, remember the
double jeopardy clause. As representing My client I must let the Court know
that I have already fulfilled his sentence and penalty. He has placed faith in My
work on the Cross, therefore I must ask executive pardon and acquittal of the
Let us all restate our plea
– “JUST AS I AM, WITHOUT ONE PLEA, BUT THAT THY BLOOD WAS SHED FOR ME…” The
case is thrown out every time!
“Justification is a divine
act whereby an infinitely holy God judicially declares a believing sinner to be
righteous and acceptable before Him because Christ has become the sinner’s sin
on the Cross and “has been made unto him righteousness” (M.F. Unger)
Thank God for Christ’s
initial, official, judicial, sacrificial, beneficial death on the Cross for
ALL! This justifying act involves four more “TERMS OF THE CROSS”. They are:
“For Christ also hath once
suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God…” (1
Pet 3:18) Substitution is all contained in that word “FOR” – “the just FOR the
unjust”. “Who gave himself FOR our sins, that he might deliver us from this
present evil world…” (Gal 1:4)
There were three crosses on Calvary
that day. One man died IN sin. Another man died TO sin. The Man in the middle
died FOR sin.
By a “substitute” we imply
an exchange or a replacement. For instance/ substitute teachers, a salt
substitute, a substitute (pinch) hitter, etc. That which is placed “in the
stead of” something else.
PREVIEWS OF THE
In the Garden of Eden a
substitute had to be offered for Adam and Eve. “Unto Adam also and to his wife
did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Gen 3:21) SKINS for SINS!
On Mt. Moriah, several
hundred years before Jesus came to earth, Abraham was about to sacrifice his
son Isaac in obedience to God, when the Lord stopped Abraham and showed him a ram
caught in a thicket. The ram was then offered “IN THE STEAD” of Isaac (Gen 22:13).
This prefigures Christ,
caught in the thicket of our faith, sacrificed as our Substitute. Abraham made
a powerful, prophetic statement prior to that – “my son, God will provide
himself a lamb for a burnt offering” (Gen 22:8).
Abraham CLAIMS THE LAMB!
John the Baptist PROCLAIMS
THE LAMB! (John 1:29)
All Heaven ACCLAIMS THE
LAMB! (Rev 5:12)
At the first Jewish Passover
around 200,000 paschal lambs were slain. Blood was applied to the doors of the
Hebrew homes, protecting them from judgment. “When I see the blood, I will pass
over you…” Notice it’s not the Name on the door that saves, it’s the Blood on
Yet with all the thousands
of lambs slain, Moses commands that “the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel
shall kill it in the evening” (Exo 12:6). He didn’t say “kill them”, but “kill IT”.
There is only one Lamb acceptable with God. This foreshadows “Christ our passover”
who was slain for us (1 Cor 5:7).
There are other Old
Testament examples that typify Christ our Substitute, the living bird killed
for the leper’s cleansing, the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement, the Levitical
trespass offerings, etc. One fact comes through loud and clear, “…without
shedding of blood there is no remission of sins” (1 Cor 9:22).
PRODUCTS OF THE
Caiaphas, High Priest at the
time of Christ’s death declared – “consider that it is expedient for us, that
one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not” (John 11:50). He didn’t realize that his statement would prove prophetic.
Christ died FOR US!
In the Garden it was a Lamb
for an individual.
At the Passover it was a
Lamb for a house.
On the Day of Atonement it
was a Lamb for a whole nation.
John saw Him and cried that
it was a Lamb for a whole world.
One day we will shout that
Jesus is the Lamb for the whole universe!
Christ died – Barabbas went
free. Christ died – we all went free!
“Price for healing was paid
when those cruel stripes were laid, in Pilate’s Judgment Hall…”
“Jesus paid it all, all to
Him I owe, sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow…”
Defined – “That which
renders favorable, appeases. Atoning sacrifice, specifically the self-sacrifice
and death of Jesus viewed as appeasing divine justice and effecting
reconciliation between God and man”
“And he is the propitiation
for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world”
(1 John 2:2, also 4:10)
God set forth Jesus “to be a
propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness, for the
remission of sins that are past…” (Rom 3:25)
Christ was the “ATONING
VICTIM”. By death He was the VICTIM, by resurrection He is the VICTOR.
Through the death of Christ
all the wrath of God was poured out upon His own Son. The penalty for all the
sins of the world committed from Adam to the last of his fallen race was
carried in the body of Jesus Christ. There is an interesting analogy between
Christ’s death and the rolling back of the Jordan River waters in Joshua’s
time. When the priests stepped out on the river the waters parted from a city
called “Adam”, all the way to the “salt sea” (Josh 3:16). Don’t you love those 3:16 verses? Think of it – Joshua of the Old Testament parted the waters all the way back
to “Adam”, and Yeshua (Jesus) of the New Testament parted the river of human
sin all the way back to Adam!
ISAIAH 53 – there is
no chapter in the Bible that gives as clear and graphic a portrait of the
propitious work of Christ as Isaiah 53. It says that Jesus:
“hath borne our griefs, and
carried our sorrows…”
“was wounded for our
transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities…”
“hath laid on him the
iniquity of us all…”
“he was cut off out of the
land of the living…”
“he shall bear their
“he hath poured out his soul
unto death, and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of
many, and made intercession for the transgressors”
Blood poured forth from Christ:
His sweat glands for our stress, His face for our joyful countenance, His back
for our healing, His head for our mental health, His hands for our works and
His feet for our walk. He was bruised, hemorrhaged within for our inner pain,
and He bled from His side to purchase our new creation.
As Adam’s side was opened to
create his bride, Eve, so Christ’s side was opened to create His bride, the
Church. Water and blood gushed forth to prepare a Bride, sanctified by “the
water of the Word” and redeemed by the “blood of His cross”.
On Calvary’s Cross Jesus
literally “became sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the
righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor 5:21).
A TRANSFER was made on the
Cross. His righteousness for our sin! Christ who was “holy, harmless,
undefiled, separate from sinners” (Heb 7:26), “who did no sin, neither was
guile found in his mouth” (1 Pet 2:22), who “was in all points tempted like as
we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15), took away our sins and gave us His
“Who hath delivered us from
the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son”
This is all done on the
merits of simple “faith” – “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him
for righteousness…even as David describeth the blessedness of the man whom God imputeth
righteousness without works” (Rom 4:3,6).
Anyone acquainted with
Electronic Funds Transfer knows that credit is given without an actual exchange
of cash. Christ’s merit is accredited to our account with God by simple faith.
But there is also an
imputation on Christ’s behalf. He “bore” our sins. “The Lord hath laid on him
the iniquity of us all…” (Isa 53:6) The degradation, sin, shame, vileness,
guilt and hell of the world’s sin was imputed into the body of Christ. As the
ancient High Priest laid his hand on the sacrifice’s head and confessed the
sins of Israel, so God heaped upon Christ the guilt of the world. He became the
The levitical “scape goat”
carried the Hebrews’ sin to a “place uninhabitable” and was devoured by the
wilderness beasts. Imagine the horror that struck Christ as His Father turned
His head from the gory Calvary scene and would not look upon sin. “My God, my
God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Jesus cried as He experienced the Hell of
being separated from the Father for the first time in eternity. At that point,
the terror of judgment upon sin gripped the heart of the Substitute, and He “by
the grace of God [tasted] death for every man” (Heb 2:9).
That sacrificial act
effected “reconciliation” between God and man. Notice, it is always worded
“between God and man”, never “between man and God”. God was the offended party.
He alone holds right to any action adjudicated against us. Religion is man’s feeble
attempt to bring God down to our level – “man and God”, but reconciliation is
God’s activity in bringing man back to Himself.
To “reconcile” means to
“make friendly again, to bring back into harmony, to adjust, settle or make
right”. To “reconcile” your wristwatch means that you have adjusted it to a
true standard. To “reconcile” your checkbook, you make it balance with the bank
statement. A reconciled marriage is one where both parties have come back into
harmony and agreement once again with a shared standard. God’s righteousness is
our perfect standard.
“To wit, that God was in
Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them…”
(2 Cor 5:19)
“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” (Rom 5:10)
Because of sin man became
the ENEMY of God. But Christ became our MEDIATOR, our Go-between.
Because He is “on talking terms” with the Father, He is able to “make
reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Heb 2:17). Christ restores the
broken fellowship between sinful man and an offended God.
ONLY HE CAN DO IT!
“For there is one God, and
one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ; who gave himself a
ransom for all…” (1 Tim 2:5,6)
Christ, being the Son of God
is able to take the hand of the Father, and Christ, being the Son of man is
able to take the hand of the sinner and join them together in reconciliation,
“having made peace through the blood of his cross” (Col 1:20). The Son of God
became the Son of man so that we sons of men can become sons of God. What a
RECONCILIATION ACCOMPLISH IN US?
A CLEAR CONSCIENCE – “A
justified believer emerges from God’s great courtroom with a consciousness of Another,
his Substitute, has borne his guilt, and that he stands without accusation
before the bar of God” – M.F. Unger
“There is now therefore no
condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh,
but after the Spirit” (Rom 8:1)
A SETTLED ACCOUNT – “Much
more then, being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through
him” (Rom 5:9). There is an audit scheduled for every one of us (Rom 14:12). All will “give account of themselves to God”. Sin bankrupted the human race. We
had “nothing to pay”. Yet “He paid a debt He did not owe; I owed a debt I could
not pay…” Because of sin we all had a long list of spiritual debts,
liabilities, fines and penalties stacked up against us that an eternity in Hell
could not even repay. But Christ paid our debt on Calvary, and not only cleared
the debt but then shredded the documents that testified against us,
“Blotting out the
handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and
took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Col 2:14)
He took that sin “out of the
way” – which implies that our debt of sin stood as a impassable obstacle
between us. Heaven put out a “road closed” sign. Lines of communication were
severed – “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and
your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa 59:2). All
that changed because of the Cross.
PEACE WITH GOD – The feud
ceases at Calvary! How can God any longer be angry at us when He has already
deliberately poured all of His wrath out on the Victim on the Cross?
“He maketh wars to cease…” (Psa
46:9) and the war with the greatest death toll in human history was that war
between human nature and God. Thank God that the battle is over. When Jesus cried
“It is finished!” cease-fire was ordered and, as Bill Gaither wrote, “all
prisoners of war could go home”. But greater still, the Cross didn’t just
effect a temporary truce, it won the battle, vanquished the enemy called SIN
and restored repentant man into “right relationship” with God.
Now by simply accepting the
free transfer of Christ’s righteousness, “by faith”, we can now “have peace
with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. What an awesome privilege! We now have
the PEACE OF GOD as our emotional status, and PEACE WITH GOD as
our spiritual status.
A BRAND NEW START –
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature” old things are passed
away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor 5:17). That’s a new start, a
new heart and a new part!
UNSPEAKABLE JOY – “…we also
joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the
atonement” (Rom 5:11). This is what David called the “joy of my salvation”.
This joy goes beyond anything the world can give. As the old chorus proclaims –
“the world didn’t give it to me, and the world can’t take it away”. The
believer is now the possessor of a new life, a new purpose, a new Friend, new
horizons…which automatically carries with it a sense of new joy.