Assurance & Justification

Why do Christians struggle with assurance of their salvation? In the last post I explored the Bible’s teaching about salvation generally. In this post I want us to go a little further and think about how that salvation works. At the heart of the Gospel, at the heart of salvation, is the doctrine of justification.

What is Justification?

Justification is one of the most important terms used by the New Testament in order to describe our salvation. It is a legal term, drawing its meaning from the pronouncement of a verdict in a court of law. In God’s economy, to be justified is to be declared “not guilty” of sin and therefore to be free from any fear of condemnation of judgement.

In the New Testament a person is justified by God when he or she turns to Christ in faith and repentance. Jesus’ death and resurrection effectively cleanse the Christian of all their wrong-doing and cover the Christian with Christ’s right-doing so that they are “justified” in the sight of God.

We are not justified by anything that we have done, but rather by grace alone through faith in Christ alone.

Therefore justification means that Christians can walk through this life in the full assurance that when they face final judgement at the end of time, they already know what the verdict will be. It is as if they have never sinned and always obeyed. They are justified.

This glorious reality is given to us as a gift, free and undeserved.

Justification and Assurance.

The connection between the doctrine of justification and assurance should be fairly obvious by now. If you have turned to Christ in repentance and faith then you are justified and should have no fear of being condemned by God.

So why do we fear?

At one level we fear because our faith is weak. It is one thing to clap for the man taking the wheel-barrow across the tightrope, it is another thing entirely to get into the wheel-barrow. It is important to remember that the strength of our faith may affect our subjective experience of salvation in this life (happiness) but it never affects the objective reality of our salvation. Christ is our Saviour, not faith. It is the presence of faith, not the strength of it that matters.

The one who sits in the wheelbarrow on the tightrope, with eyes closed and fists clenched may not be having fun, but he is still in the wheelbarrow. He is safe in the hands of the one who holds him, whether he knows it fully or not. One day, he will see that there is nothing to fear. For now, he just needs to sit tight.

 

 

 

Bible Overview 1: There is a Creator

I’m no scientist. I’m not even an armchair scientist. This means that the level at which I engage with cosmology and astronomy basically amounts to looking at the stars and going “oooh!” So please don’t switch off if some of the facts are wrong or outdated because the simple point that I’m trying to make is that the universe is mind-blowing.

Apparently, the speed of light is about 186,000 miles per second which is so fast that it travels the circumference of the earth roughly 7 or 8 times per second.

Our galaxy is so vast that in order to measure the distance between the stars, we are forced to use something called “light-years”. This is the distance that light can travel, at 186000 miles per second, in one year.

Our galaxy, the “Milky Way” galaxy is approximately 100,000 light-years in diameter. I’ll let you do the math. The Andromeda Galaxy is about 2.75 million light-years away. And our Local Group of galaxies is about 6 million light-years in diameter. The farthest objects ever viewed were photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope and are thought to be about 12.5 billion light-years away!

It’s completely befuddling isn’t it? Yet here is something even more amazing… Before the oldest star, and beyond the furthest star, is God. God was there in the beginning and is infinitely greater than all of the combined galaxies that we will ever discover.

I was recently asked the question “who made God?” by a group of 8 year olds. Even at that age the question is inevitable. Everything in our experience has a beginning and an end. Even those who do not believe the Bible know that the universe began at some point. Surely it is the same with God we think. Yet it is precisely this finitude that separates God from everything else. He is the Creator and everything that exists was made by him. God is the only being, the only entity, that is infinite and eternal.

This is the beginning of the gospel: There is a God and he is the only eternal Creator and this is only a sliver of the mystery behind the words: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)