Monday, July 26, 2010

Justifying Faith

“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised” (Romans 8:32-34).

Last week we considered Christ’s faith in His Father’s plan to justify the elect through faith in the work of Christ. In the text above, Paul uses language taken from Isaiah 5:8, 9, where Christ is speaking of His work as an obedient servant. It is the third of the “servant songs.” The first (42:1-9) speaks of His patient gentleness. The second song (49:4-13) deals with His acceptance of a frustrating work.

In the third (50:4-9), the Servant faces spite and the fury of evil flung against Him. However, there is no hint of discouragement. The Servant is there to learn (v. 4) and to give (v. 6). He has, as it were, enrolled in the school of our common discipline (Hebrews 5:8). “Morning by morning” suggests that He is set for the lifelong attention to God’s unfolding will (1 Kings 8:59). His schooling includes suffering, making Him the suffering Servant, although it will not be until Isaiah 53 that His suffering will be explained.

Nevertheless, the fruit of His yet unexplained suffering is demonstrated. First, He of-fers to God His unrestrained obedience (v. 5). Second, He gives Himself as a voluntary offering without resentment for His people. Third, in His suffering, He places His trust and confidence in God. These themes are taken by Paul and turned into his song of rejoicing (Romans 8:32-34). Christ faced the accuser, accepting his charges in the place of those whom He sought to justify by His obedience and sacrifice.

Now Paul asks, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?” None can successfully bring any accusation against any for who Christ died because Christ Himself answers any indictment that could be brought against us. There are four things that the apostle names as matters of triumph for believers. Christ (1) died; (2) rose again; (3) ascended to God’s right hand; and (4) continually intercedes in behalf of them. With such an arsenal none need fear the accuser. Christ Himself stands in our stead. All that He suffered as the obedient Servant is put to our account. Whatever He did, we did in Him.

In the second part of Paul’s song (Romans 8:35-39), we celebrate the love of God in Christ for us. It is true that we will suffer (Romans 8:35); however, no earthy peril can pull us away, for God, because of Christ’s obedience, has brought us near. We are justified from all things. No one can charge us. Nothing can separate us for His great love. Now, this is good news and a matter of triumph for faith. “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

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