Thursday, April 5, 2012

Quotes on the Cross, part 4

One of the many possible results of the death of Jesus on the cross is that it is possible for our condemnation to be taken away from us. We can experience forgiveness and not face the wrath of God. This is the subject of one of the chapters in John Piper's fabulous little book, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came To Die. The entire book can also be downloaded for free at the Desiring God website.
"The great conclusion to the suffering and death of Christ is this: 'There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus' (Romans 8:1). To be 'in Christ' means to be in relationship to him by faith. Faith in Christ unites us to Christ so that his death becomes our death and his perfection becomes our perfection. Christ becomes our punishment (which we don't have to bear) and our perfection (which we cannot perform). 
Faith is not the ground of our acceptance with God. Christ alone is. Faith unites us to Christ so that his righteousness is counted as ours. 'We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified' (Galatians 2:16). Being 'justified by faith' and being 'justified . . . in Christ' (Galatians 2:17) are parallel terms. We are in Christ by faith, and therefore justified. 
When the question is asked, 'Who is to condemn?' the answer is assumed. No one! Then the basis is declared: 'Christ Jesus is t he one who died!' The death of Christ secures our freedom from condemnation. It is as sure that we cannot be condemned as it is sure that Christ died. There is no double jeopardy in God's court. We will not be condemned twice for the same offenses. Christ has died once for our sins. We will not be condemned for them. Condemnation is gone not because there isn't any, but because it has already happened. 
But what about condemnation by the world? Is that not an answer to the question, 'Who is to condemn?' Aren't Christians condemned by the world? There have been many martyrs. The answer is that no one can condemn us successfully. Charges can be brought, but none will stick in the end. 'Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies' (Romans 8:33). It's the same as when the Bible asks, 'Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?' (Romans 8:35). The answer is not that these things don't happen to Christians. The answer is: 'In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us' (Romans 8:37). 
The world will bring its condemnation. They may even put their sword behind it. But we know that the highest court has already ruled in our favor. 'If God is for us, who can be against us?' (Romans 8:31). No one successfully. If they reject us, he accepts us. If they hate us, he loves us. If they imprison us, he sets our spirits free. If they afflict us, he refines us by the fire. If they kill us, he makes it a passage to paradise. They cannot defeat us. Christ has died. Christ has risen. We are alive in him. And in him there is no condemnation. We are forgiven, and we are righteous. 'And the righteous are bold as a lion' (Proverbs 28:1)" (42-43).

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