WHY HAS GOD JUSTIFIED US?
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
We have been justified by faith. But for what purpose? Today we would say we are justified for the purpose of going to Heaven when we die. Where in the New Testament is residence in Heaven presented as our goal? It is possible we do not understand the purpose for our being justified by faith.
WHY HAS GOD JUSTIFIED US?
So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. (Romans 7:4)
The Lord Jesus Christ kept the Law of Moses perfectly. The reward for keeping the Law of Moses perfectly is righteousness, and life in the Presence of God.
The Lord Jesus earned righteousness and life, but He did not spend it. He put it in the bank to be drawn on at a later time. Then He experienced for a brief season the penalty for breaking the Law of Moses, which is separation from the Presence of God. He became sin for us.
The righteousness and life that Christ earned are still in the Bank of Heaven. Whoever wishes to do so may by faith, in the name of Jesus Christ, draw righteousness and life from that account.
We call this being justified by faith. By faith in the Lord Jesus Christ we can receive perfect righteousness in God’s sight and eternal life.
In order to be free legally from our own obligation to the Law of Moses we have to count ourselves as having died with Christ on the cross. We portray this death when we are baptized in water.
Many believers have been baptized in water. But not all have counted that such baptism signals the end of their first life, their first personality. They continue in the erroneous belief that God is going to save them as they are. God is not going to save anyone as he or she is. God is going to crucify what we are so He can raise us into a new life in Christ.
Until we and God accept the fact that we have been crucified with Christ we are still under the Law of Moses. We are not free to draw righteousness and life from the Bank of Heaven.
Let us say we have been baptized in water into the death of Christ on the cross and have risen with Him to walk in newness of life. Let us say further that by faith we have drawn righteousness and life from the Bank of Heaven. We now have been justified by faith. God regards us as having fulfilled all the requirements of the Law of Moses.
In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)
God has justified us through our faith. But for what purpose?
The traditional understanding is God has justified us that He might bring us to Heaven, there to live forever with the angels. A pleasant thought indeed, but not nearly as pleasant as the truth.
When I say that eternal residence in Heaven is not the goal of our justification by faith I am going against a tremendous weight of tradition.
Therefore, if you would be so kind, before you read any further, would you please go through your New Testament and highlight every passage that states Heaven is our eternal home. Would you do that right now, please. Thank you.
Now that you have discovered there are no passages in the New Testament (or the Old) that state Heaven is our eternal home, you may be ready to hear what else I have to say.
There are at least four steps in a prerequisite-and-accomplishment chain that may be of interest to you.
- The first step is justification by faith. Justification by faith leads to:
- Our marriage to the Lamb. Our marriage to the Lamb leads to:
- Our change into the image of Christ and entrance into untroubled rest in the center of the Presence and will of God. Our change into the image of Christ and entrance into untroubled rest in the center of the Presence and will of God lead to:
- Our being qualified and competent to serve God in at least fourteen roles and tasks of the Kingdom of God.
You may notice that none of these four steps is a change in where we are, that is, in Heaven rather than on the earth.
- The first step is a change in our relationship to God. We are held to be righteous and thus live in His presence. We are justified by faith in Jesus Christ.
- The second step is a change in our relationship to Jesus Christ. We are married to the Lamb.
- The third step is a change in what we are and in our obedience to God. We are changed into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ in spirit, soul, and—at His return—in our outward appearance.
- The fourth step is a change in what we are able to do. We can perform at least fourteen roles and tasks in the Kingdom of God.
There is no question that righteousness and life are in the Bank of Heaven. Whoever is willing to do so may pray and ask God to apply some of this capital to his or her own account. Such righteousness and life, given freely to whoever chooses to ask for it, undergird all further work of salvation.
If we are to understand salvation (deliverance from the hand of the enemy) we must move from the current “ticket” doctrine to the view that salvation is a program. It is not a ticket, a one-time event in which we make a profession of faith in Christ. It is a program, a process made possible by our asking for and receiving the righteousness earned but not spent by the Lord Jesus Christ.
The program of redemption, of deliverance from Satan, includes two main aspects.
The first aspect of salvation is the destruction of the sinful nature from our personality. The second aspect is the forming of Christ in us. The program of salvation depends for its authority on our asking for and receiving the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We cannot come to God on our own. We must approach God, and His program of salvation, through the cross of Christ. God meets man only at the cross. The Christian redemption is not a philosophy. It is a Divine intervention into the race of Adam such that a human being is transformed into a new creation who behaves in a righteous manner. The transformation of the human being looks to the cross for its authority and to the Holy Spirit for its wisdom and power.
Having been justified by faith we now are eligible to be married to the Lamb. We are married to the Lamb by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. The Lamb’s flesh and blood are our eternal life and will raise us up at His coming.
The Communion service represents our partaking of the body and blood of the Lamb. But like water baptism, which represents our death and resurrection in Christ, and then is borne out in actual experience, so the partaking of the body and blood of the Lamb are borne out in actual experience.
Each day we have choices to make as we encounter several problems and responsibilities. We can choose to solve our problems and fulfill our responsibilities by relying on our own wisdom, strength, abilities, and experience. Or we can look to the Lord at each moment. If we look to the Lord at each point of action, instead of to our own resources, the Lord nourishes us with His body and blood.
If, when we are tempted, we choose to turn aside from the desires of our sinful nature and behave according to the guidelines found in the New Testament, the Lord nourishes us with His body and blood.
Finally we are living by the Lamb’s body and blood as He lives by the Father.
Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:53)
There is no manner in which we can overdo drawing close to Jesus in each circumstance. He greatly desires this kind of intimacy. We are to abide in Him as closely as a branch abides in the Vine.
The Christian salvation is not really a religion. It is an abiding in Christ.
So we see, then, that justification by faith makes it possible for us to be married to the Lamb. Notice that we are being married to the Lamb now, as we live by His body and blood. The marriage of the Lamb that will be announced at His return is really a revealing of a union that already has occurred.
The new Jerusalem, which is the glorified Christian Church, is the Wife of the Lamb.
The third step, for which justification by faith and marriage to the Lamb are prerequisites, consists of our change into the image of Christ, and our entrance into untroubled rest in the center of God’s Person and will.
Our change into the image of Christ comes about as the Holy Spirit puts our sinful nature to death, and Christ is formed in us.
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)
Our entrance into untroubled rest in the center of God’s Person and will is accomplished as we experience the Glory which God has given Christ, and also as we abide patiently in the prison in which Christ allows Satan to place us.
The Glory of God brings us into perfect union with one another and with God.
That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: (John 17:21.22)
Jesus is completely at rest in the center of God’s Person and will. The Lord comes to us as an individual to bring us to the place where He always is (in the rest of God).
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 17:4)
We are perfected in God’s will as we patiently endure various trials.
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)
Justification by faith, marriage to the Lamb, change into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ, and rest in the center or God’s Person and will, qualify us and provide us with the competence to perform at least fourteen roles and tasks in the Kingdom of God:
- Being a member of the Bride of the Lamb (Revelation 21:9).
- Being part of the Temple of God (Ephesians 2:22).
- Being a member of the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:12).
- Being a part of the vehicle for the end-time revival (Isaiah 60:1,2).
- Being a restorer of Paradise on earth (Romans 8:21).
- Being a member of the royal priesthood (I Peter 2:9).
- Being a witness of God (Isaiah 43:10).
- Being a son of God (Revelation 21:7).
- Being a brother of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29).
- Being an overcomer of the accuser (Revelation 12:11).
- Being a governor of the nations (Revelation 2:26,27).
- Being a judge of men and angels (I Corinthians 6:2,3).
- Being a wall of defense around the Glory of God (Revelation 21:14).
- Being a part of the revelation of Himself—God in Christ in the saints (Revelation 3:12).
We do not have to wait until we have been perfected in our relationship to Jesus Christ, or are in His image, or are dwelling in untroubled rest in God’s will, in order to serve the Lord in the roles and tasks assigned to us today.
But when the fullness of the Kingdom of God has come to the earth, then the above roles and tasks will be accomplished by saints who have been made perfect through the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is our responsibility today to move the believers past initial justification by faith to marriage to the Lamb; to change into the image of Christ; to stern obedience to the Father until we are at rest in God’s will. For the necessary roles and tasks of the Kingdom cannot be performed by believers who are spiritual babies—babies who have been forgiven but who have made little progress toward spiritual maturity.
Spiritual maturity is the ability to judge what is good and what is evil, and the willingness and strength to embrace the good fervently and totally reject and renounce all that is evil.
I am afraid today we are emphasizing building churches when we ought to be building people. Hopefully God will cause this emphasis to change appropriately in the near future.
(“Why Has God Justified Us?”, 3559-1)