September 4, 2015

Romans 4:25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

The mechanism of our salvation is so incredible that the Bible has to talk about it many, many times from many different angles. Paul was the most formally trained of all the Biblical writers, and he took up the issue several times. Here we have, first, the stark statement that it was our sin that sent Jesus to the cross. Any Christian is familiar with that statement, but too often it remains abstract for us. To experience the full joy of salvation we need to grasp, on a gut level, that we deserved that scourging, those nails, that agony, and Jesus didn’t. We don’t have much trouble with Jesus not deserving it, but we don’t like to admit that we did. These days people get upset if a prisoner being executed seems to suffer in any way, forgetting how they made their victims suffer in the crimes they committed. We don’t understand the severity of our sins, but rather tend to excuse them. If sin didn’t cut us off from eternal life and fellowship with our Creator, then He would have had no need to send His Son to die for us as the penalty for our sin. The second half of this involves a word that most of us understand far too little. “Justification” is used most often on the level of “making excuses,” as in, “He tried to justify his actions.” Japanese doesn’t have a single word with the Biblical meaning, so it renders it as “acknowledge/accept as righteous.” That might help us understand it in English! Jesus’ resurrection was proof that His cross was effective in canceling our sin, because it was victory over the penalty for that sin, death. That’s one reason the devil dries so hard to deny the reality of Jesus’ resurrection: it is absolute proof that he has lost, and that we can be admitted into the very presence of God. When we really grasp that, the peace and joy we gain are far beyond anything that can be had any other way.

I have known the facts of salvation as long as I can remember, but the reality of salvation has taken much longer to sink in. I could give quite a list of sins I’ve committed but it would be far from complete, because I’m not even aware of all the ways I ignore God and violate His law. Rather than focus on the sins, I need to focus on the glorious reality of what God has done for me in Christ. I tell people often that other religions are people trying to earn right standing with God, (or with gods) but true Christianity is simply a response to what God has already done. I need to be as complete as possible in my own response so that others may grasp, through seeing me, what God has done for them as well. That’s why we receive salvation by grace through faith, repenting of our past unbelief and rebellion and submitting to Jesus as Lord.

Father, I could write on and on about this because I so desire that people grasp and accept it, when so few do. I cannot force anyone to repent and believe, but I can speak the truth to them in love, making myself available as an instrument of Your Holy Spirit. Today I start a new class at the nursing school. I pray that the students I meet today and the staff members I have known for years would alike encounter, believe, and follow the Christ they see in me, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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