Monday, September 24, 2007

A Triumphant Orthodoxy: A Theology of the Cross (pt. 6) and humility (Romans 3:26b-31)

"...that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:26b)

7. The Cross Delights in the Person of God


Sin can never merit anything but punishment, and repentance is no atonement for sin. The sinner is hopelessly and helplessly lost to sin, conceived in sin; a slave to sin; sinful and a sinner; bound to its sinfulness and its inheritance. No amount of optimism, no amount of love or grace or mercy can put sin aside and stop requiring its penalty. A holy God could never bypass sin and be complacent about evil. And even though He loved the sinner deeply, He cannot forgive the sinner unless His justice is satisfied. God did not set aside His justice in our salvation. He did not abandon Himself—“He is just.”

The word “just” here (as most commentators agree) does not only mean sometimes benevolent, or merciful; but more importantly refers to the fact that God had retained the integrity of his character as “a moral Governor”; that He had shown a right regard to His law, and to the penalty of the law, in His plan of salvation. Should he forgive sinners without atonement, justice would be sacrificed and abandoned. The law would cease to have any terrors for the guilty, and its penalty would be a nullity. In the plan of salvation, therefore, he has shown a regard to the law by appointing his Son to be a substitute in the place of sinners. And accordingly, He secured the proper honor to His holy character as a lover of His law, a hater of sin and the sinner, and a just God. For “the wages of sin is death…” “Sin is the transgression of the Law…” “The thought of foolishness is sin.” “The law has shut us up in sin…” We are “dead in trespasses and sin…”

Therefore, no principle of justice has been abandoned; no warning against sin has been tailored; no standard of His law has been lowered; no disposition has been:

“evinced to do injustice to the universe by suffering the guilty to escape. He is in all this great transaction, as just to His law, to Himself, to his Son, to the universe, when He pardons, as he is when he sends the incorrigible sinner down to hell. A full compensation, an equivalent, has been provided by the sufferings of the Saviour in the sinner’s stead, and the sinner may be pardoned” (A. Barnes).
But here is the good news, the joyous news of the cross: God's justice is satisfied in Christ and He has become the sinners friend. For where the gospel is simply preached it is never preached in vain. Amen?

But when the kindness of God
our Savior and His love for mankind appeared,
He saved us, -Titus 3:4-5a

How great is the gospel to redeem sinners like me, like you? How great is the justice of God in the just condemnation of sinners; but how blessed is the justice of God in the salvation of sinners! We never speak of God’s justice as being a blessed ting… something to celebrate; something to delight in; something that brings joy. But the cross delights in the person of God… Why? Because “He is just and the justifier of all who believe in Jesus…”

Spurgeon unfolds this truth for us when saying:
“And am I not content, too? Guilty though I am and vile, can I not plead that this bloody sacrifice is enough to satisfy God's demands against me? Oh, yes, I trust I can,

"My faith doth lay its hand,
On that dear head of thine,

While like a penitent I stand,

And here confess my sin."

Jesus, I believe that they sufferings were for me; and I believe that they are more than enough to satisfy for all my sins. By faith I cast myself at the foot of thy cross and cling to it. This is my only hope, my shelter, and my shield. It cannot be, that God can smite me now. Justice itself prevents, for when Justice once is satisfied it were injustice if it should ask for more. Now, is it not clear enough to the eye of every one, whose soul has been aroused, that Justice stands no longer in the way of the sinner's pardon? God can be just, and yet the justifier.

He has punished Christ, why should he punish twice for one offence? Christ has died for all his people's sins, and if thou art in the covenant, thou art one of Christ's people. Damned thou canst not be. Suffer for thy sins thou canst not. Until God can be unjust, and demand two payments for one debt, he cannot destroy the soul for whom Jesus died. "Away goes universal redemption," says one. Yes, away it goes, indeed. I am sure there is nothing about that in the Word of God. A redemption that does not redeem is not worth my preaching, or your hearing, Christ redeemed every soul that is saved; no more, and no less. Every spirit that shall be seen in heaven Christ bought. If he had redeemed those in hell, they never could have come there. He has bought his people with his blood, and they alone shall he bring with him.

"But who are they?" says one. Thou art one, if thou believe. Thou art one if thou repent of thy sin. If thou wilt now take Christ to be thy all in all, then thou art one of his; for the covenant must prove a lie, and God must be unjust, and justice must become unrighteousness, and love must become cruelty, and the cross must become a fiction, ere thou canst be condemned if thou trust in Jesus.

This is the way in which Justice ceases to be the enemy of souls.”

not on the basis of deeds
which we have done in righteousness,
but according to His mercy,
by the washing of regeneration
and renewing by the Holy Spirit, -Titus 3:5b

"Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law" (Romans 3:27-31).

8. The Cross Divests Man of all Boasting Before God

"Where then is boasting? It is excluded."

As the capstone to this wonderful text Paul ends with humility in regards to orthodoxy. “Where then is boasting? It is excluded.”
  • Where is the ground for man’s pride and self-reliance in salvation?
  • Where is his right to claim anything before the Dread Sovereign of Heaven as to his regeneration?
  • Where is his confidence in moral superiority that brings him into eternal favor with God?
  • Where is his self-achieved perfect obedience to the Law that affords him entrance in glory?
It is excluded!

Literally—utterly forbidden. It is as Paul has stated earlier: “All have sinned and continually fall short of God’s holy appraisal of them.”

So the cross exalts God’s grace in the salvation of His own. It exalts Christ as the Lamb, the High Priest, the Son of Man and Son of God; it exalts the once for all propitiatory sacrifice for our sins; it exalts God’s Word in fulfilling the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms in regard to the coming Messiah; it exalts the law of faith for the Law can never justify anyone before God; and it exalts the perfect righteousness of God.

whom He poured out upon us richly
through Jesus Christ our Savior, -Titus 3:6

Paul further drives home the great truth that the law of works cannot bring man into relationship with God when saying: “A man is justified by faith apart from the works of the Law.” Did you hear that Romanist friend? No work of any Pope, of the Treasury of Merit, of Penance, of Purgatory, of the Mass, of Mary or the saints, etc. can justify you before God. No religious enterprise can make you holy, righteous, forgiven or cleanse you from the depth of your sins. It is the triumph of Christ alone over sin, death, the grave and Satan that we find our greatest joy and delight.

The cross brings God delight and therefore is the hightest form of adoration for His people.

God is the God of both Jew and Gentile. Both the uncircumcised and the circumcised are justified by faith in God. And thus, they are one. But let us be careful here to be clear. God’s covenant people of Israel merits them nothing in regards to salvation. “All who are Israel are not Israel…” Meaning, all who make up the nation of Israel are not the true “Israel of God.” Only those who are circumcised heart are His true covenant people… amen?

Rom. 3:31 ¶ Do we then nullify the Law through faith?
May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.

Here the Apostle absolves all doubt in the futility of placing ones trust in law-keeping for ones redemption. Christ has completely fulfilled the Law and brings salvation by grace through faith alone in Himself alone for all who believe. The Law is established through faith. How could this be? Because its demands are fully satisfied, its penalty totally paid for, its sting absolved, and its curse removed. Jesus Christ is the end of the Law in regards to righteousness; and this is our eternal hope!

The Law now bears no offense against those for whom Jesus died and redeemed. It is no longer our judge, our tutor, our condemnation. The Law is holy, just, pure, and good for it has been completely fulfilled in Jesus. He did not come to abolish the Law... but to fulfill it.
Therefore, a theology of the cross delights in God for all that He has done AND divests man of all boasting before Him. We are left in humility boasting of only what Christ has accomplished. Our tongues are silent and dumb to sing of our own ability and works, but our tongues are loosened as we offer praise to Him and worship to Him and glory to Him for all that He has done to secure our redemption.

that being justified by His grace
we might be made heirs according to the
hope of eternal life.
-Titus 3:7

Rejoice this day beloved for your salvation is complete lacking nothing. This is cause for celebration and rejoicing with humility in a triumphant orthodoxy.

I conclude with these powerful Trinitarian words from the Apostle himself from the storehouse of God's grace--Eph. 1:4-14. We are chosen by God the Father; redeemed by God the Son; regenerated and sealed by God the Holy Spirit to the praise of the riches of the glory of His grace. Here is your triumph, your humility, your rejoicing, and your delight.

Worship God and God Alone!
Eph. 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love Eph. 1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, Eph. 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. Eph. 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, Eph. 1:8 which He lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight Eph. 1:9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him Eph. 1:10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth. In Him Eph. 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, Eph. 1:12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. Eph. 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation — having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, Eph. 1:14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

1 comment:

Bhedr said...

>Jesus, I believe that they sufferings were for me; and I believe that they are more than enough to satisfy for all my sins. By faith I cast myself at the foot of thy cross and cling to it. This is my only hope, my shelter, and my shield. It cannot be, that God can smite me now. Justice itself prevents, for when Justice once is satisfied it were injustice if it should ask for more.<

Man I really love that. What a wonderful truth.

Great post!