God’s Gift of Justification Says a Lot about Him
Rev. Kurt Lantz Midweek Advent 3 Christian Questions 5-7
December 15, 2021 Resurrection Lutheran Church St. Catharines, ON
We have previously noted that the gift that God gives is a very much needed gift and that He chose us for it because He knows us so well. It may not be one that we would pick out for ourselves, but it is the one that we need and the perfect one for us. It is also a gift that says something about the giver. The gift of God’s justification of the sinner says a lot about Him.
Have you ever sat around the Christmas tree with the whole family opening presents and as soon as someone pulls their gift out of its wrapping, you immediately know who gave it to them? You don’t even have to see the tag or the card. You don’t have to see who handed it to them. You just know, by what it is, who it came from.
If it is hand knitted you know that it came from grandma. If it is something hand-drawn then it just had to have come from your artistic sister. If it is a competitive game you know that it came from your brother. You just know.
God’s holy Law, as summarized in the Ten Commandments, holds the whole world accountable to Him. He knows us well enough to see that we are not righteous based on His holy Law. So the gift He chose to give you is to make you right with Him, to justify calling you righteous even though you have broken His holy Law. Not only does that say that you are a sinner in need of His gracious forgiveness. It also says that He is a merciful God toward you.
Yet, the way in which He chose to give you justification before Himself says even more about Him. You see, He didn’t do it by breaking the rules He had set in place, or by finding a loophole in the Law. He didn’t do it by trickery or stealth. He didn’t cheat or pull off some magic trick.
Sometimes when someone gives you gift, the way in which they obtained it says something about them. What if you find out that their gift to you didn’t cost them anything? I mean not only did it not cost them money, but it did not cost them any time or any thought investment either. Maybe it is even something that they wanted to get rid of and your house proved to be the easiest place to dump it onto someone else. What if you find out that the gift they gave to you was acquired by some dishonest or even illegal means?
And what if the case is just the opposite, that not only did they pay a pretty price for it, but it also required them to invest a considerable amount of their own personal time in preparing it for you? What if they made some significant sacrifice in order that they could you give you the gift that is perfect for you? This is the case with God’s gift of justification for us sinners.
We are “justified freely by His grace” (Romans 3:24), but it wasn’t free for Him. It was acquired “through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” When you redeem something it means that the price has already been paid. You don’t need to pay any more because someone, somewhere has already paid enough. And the price for our justification was paid in full when Jesus Christ paid with His eternal, holy, divine life. His body and His blood given in payment upon the cross paid the full price in order to redeem mankind from all sin.
It was the full price paid in advance and God redeems you based on that full price paid for every one of your sins past, present, and future. It is not a cheap gift. It is not a thoughtless gift. It is not something He was going to throw away anyhow. Neither is it something that He obtained by trickery or deceit. It is the price in full, the penalty completely paid, the sentence fully carried out.
It says a lot about your God, “who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all” (Romans 8:32). “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). That shows you how much He was willing to spend on you. It shows He was willing to give everything, His very self, for you.
In addition to showing His love, it also shows His integrity and His justice. This is no cheat. He does not let any sin slip by. St. Paul tells us in the letter to the Romans that this “demonstrates His righteousness” (Romans 3:25-26). He is not working around His own holy Law. He is serving justice to the fullest extent. He does not overlook even one sin from the past or from your life today. Not one of them gets a free pass. But they are all paid in full by the blood of Christ, true God and true Man, who died for you and shed His blood on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.
So God is just even as He justifies the sinner. Divine justice is fully served. There is no short cut, no clemency, no pardon. Every sin is given its penalty. Every sentence is served out. Every sinner is justified, made right with God, through the redemption that comes by Christ Jesus. This gift of justification says a lot about God. It shows His unfathomable love for us and His immense commitment to justice.
It tells us a lot about our Saviour Jesus Christ. He is the Son of God, true God and man. The gift of justification is God become man in Jesus. He is fully God so as to bear the sin of the whole world and be the full payment for every one throughout the entire history of fallen mankind. He is fully man so that He justly serves the sentence for mankind. As the first man, Adam, brought sin to all mankind, so the man Christ Jesus provided the redemption for all of mankind (Romans 5:12-21).
That baby that we celebrate at Christmas is God becoming you. Jesus Christ, true God, became true man, so that He could truly pay the full price for your sins. That baby is the righteousness of God taking on the sin of the world, your sin, so that you might take on His righteousness and stand before God justified, made right in a way that is fully in accord with the divine, holy, justice of God. He declares you righteous because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). He has taken all of their sins upon Himself by becoming fully man, that baby lying in a manger.
This is God’s gift to you, given because of your great need for someone to save you. This is God’s gift to you, given because He knows you so well. This is God’s gift to you, given because of both His love for you and His righteous justice.
It is not necessarily something you would choose for yourself, but it is something you need, something perfect for you, something that could only come from Him. So the gift is not just Jesus, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. The gift is also God declaring you to be righteous even though He knows you have broken His holy Law. The gift is God’s justice that ensures the penalty has been fully paid and we are fully free from our sins and completely righteous before Him, and can stand in the confidence that He has done it all justly.
The gift you need has been given. It is yours through faith in that He has justly given Jesus for you. In Him you have redemption. His blood shed upon the cross was given in payment for your sins. It is because God is just and righteous that He gives you the gift of justification.