"They are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." (Romans 3:24-26)I wished the floor could have opened up and swallowed me whole. Mrs. Graves, my grade three teacher, had just demanded that I go to the front of the room and write my name on the chalkboard. I had broken the rules and I was to somehow get out of my seat, march to the front of the class and, for the first time ever, scratch my name in blazing white against the black for all the class to see how I had transgressed.
We were in our desks working on our art projects, when she had laid down the law and forbade anyone to talk at all. Art class made me nervous or maybe that incident during art class made me scared to make a mistake in art ever since. Whichever way, I had messed something up on my paper that day and not wanting it to be wrong, without remembering the rule, whispered to my neighbour to ask if I may please borrow an eraser.
Before I knew it, I was caught red handed and told to head on up to the front of the classroom that it might be a lesson for me to not break the rule again. I don't think I enjoyed art for the rest of my elementary years. I was too afraid to make a mistake, and although I really wanted to create something beautiful, I was never able to get it right.
The law proved to me that I had fallen short. I was unable to fix the mistake and in the attempt to fix it myself I only proved to myself that I had broken the rules. I felt humbled and knew I had broken the rule, but the humiliation of not being able to make it right myself was too much to bear.
The day my name was erased from the board and my transgression never mentioned again, was soothing to my sensitive nature, but I had to pay the penalty of the punishment myself.
Being in Christ, our eyes are opened to the beautiful doctrine of justification.
There is a penalty for the law transgressed and it is too great for us to pay by ourselves. So Someone stood in our stead and took our punishment that we might be declared righteous.
The most important aspect of what it means to be 'in Christ' is that we have been justified. The word in the original greek means to be declared just or right, or such as one ought to be.
We have transgressed the law. Even in our attempt to make it right for ourselves we could never attain the perfect standard.
The law accuses that we are sinners deserving punishment.
Faith accepts that we are sinners who have received the righteousness of Christ because He became our substitute and stood in our place taking the penalty for our sin.
God pronounces us right before Him.
Grace is the precious gift that we have received this great exchange at all.
The chicken's tucked in the oven along side a tray of beets and I've got the potatoes in a pot like boiling lava, and I'm digging into the deep doctrines of the faith.
This one, men have been debating over for centuries and how can I ever even skim the surface of being justified in Christ. I love theology, but I am no theologian. I love to study, but I've never even stepped inside a seminary.
And when I go back to the kitchen, after the pot boiled dry, I have to serve over-done Chicken roast and try to salvage scorched potatoes. I laugh at my own distraction while I whip up the potatoes that were rescued from the surface. And wonder that like a woman thirsty for the living water which becomes a spring of water welling up to eternal life, I can search these ways of God and yet know that his ways are so beyond our understanding and we have hardly begun to grasp His sovereign grace.
But, that there is peace in knowing that in Christ I am justified and men may continue to wrestle, as we should in order to renew our minds and hold fast to our faith, but God's Word plainly states:
"Yet we know that a person is . . . justified . . . through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ . . . I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose . . . Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith." Galatians 2:16-17, 20-21, 3:11