Justified through the Gospel
By Erin Bird
I’m excited to continue our series on Gospel Facets because this week I get to talk about Justification.
Justification is a theological word that often gets ignored because many of us aren’t quite sure exactly what it means. We’ve heard the word, but the definition is a bit fuzzy in our brains. So let me help out. Here are two ways you can remember what Justification means:
- The first way you can remember “justified” is the “Maid Rite sandwich” definition. Simply put, to be “justified” is to be “made right” (Maid Rite) with God.
- The other way you can remember “justified” is to put it in a sentence; “Just-if-I’d (justified) never sinned.”
While I think it’s important you remember what this “seminary” word means, it’s more important to me that you to see the awesomeness of this concept in the Scripture.
Justification in the Bible
The Apostle Paul talks about justification more in the book of Romans than in any of his other letters. Right after one of the most famous verses from Romans (“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (3:23)), Paul says this:
” and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”(3:24)
This is amazing news! When a person (who is a sinner falling short of God’s glory) puts their faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus, they are “justified by His grace as a gift.”In other words, the gospel makes you right with God, “just if I’d” never sinned. Wow!
A Justified Example
But maybe that doesn’t wow you. Maybe that is still “too theological” for you, or you grew up in church and have heard all this for dozens of years and so it’s common place to your ears. Let me give you an illustration then:
Imagine you committed a horrible crime. In an unexpected fit of enraged passion, you struck someone, and that blow killed the person. While you are filled with regret, you still committed the crime, and thus the judge is required by law to sentence you to time in prison.
Now imagine, the judge’s son walks in to the courtroom, put his arm around you, and says, “Dad, I heard about this person’s story, and I know he/she didn’t mean it. And because I know they feel awful for what they did, I want to take their place, and have his/her record expunged.”
While this example is pretty ludicrous in our modern age, this is exactly what happened in the spiritual realm. Your sin made you guilty against a perfect, Holy God. Your sin deserved the punishment of death. But Jesus walked into the courtroom, put His arm around you, looked up at his Dad the judge, and said, “I’ll take the punishment so he/she can be made right with you. And as I take his/her sentence, please give him/her my perfect record.”
THAT is what justification is all about! This is why Paul also said in Romans:
“Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.”(Romans 8:33)
If you are a follower of Jesus, God the Perfect Judge has declared you justified through the gospel. And because God has declared it, no one can say otherwise! You are free from your sin. It is not held against you. God looks at you as “just if I’d never sinned.”
So this Sunday, if you are able to join us in worship, as you partake of the communion elements, tell God, “Thank you for your justification. Thank you for making me right, by taking my sin to the cross, and giving me the flawless record of Jesus.”