Benefits of Justification

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Question
What are some of the benefits of our redemption?
Answer
When sin entered the world through Adam, our relationship with God was disrupted. We see that in Adam's trying to hide, Adam and Eve trying to hide from God, God covering their nakedness, of course, God expelling them from the Garden of Eden after he's confronted them over their sin. The relationship is broken. We're now guilty before the righteous justice of God. We need restoration. We need reconciliation. We need forgiveness. But even more than that, we need to be accounted right in God's sight, not just to be put back to zero, but to be accounted righteous in God's sight. Jesus has done that for us in terms of the relationship. He obeyed where Adam failed to obey. He kept God's covenant command, start to finish, inside and out. And therefore, we are declared right in God's sight because Jesus' righteousness is credited to us. And the climax of his obedience is his suffering death for us. And that suffering of death for us cleanses our conscience, cleanses our record of guilt. Those are the two sides we often think of when we talk about that big word "justification," that God has cleared our record of guilt because of Jesus' death for us, and that God has credited our record with Jesus' righteousness because of his obedience for us.

And along with that external, that forensic, legal restoration of our relationship comes right on its heels, and right with it, that wonderful theme of adoption, that we are declared to be children of God. Again, because we are united to God's eternal Son, we are now adoptive sons and daughters of a living God, and brothers and sisters of Jesus, the eternal Son. That would be enough, but there's more. The Holy Spirit, in applying to us what Jesus has done for us, also applies that work of our union with Christ subjectively. Paul talks about this in Romans 6, when he talks about our dying to sin and being raised to righteousness. But that's a dimension that, Paul says, now, that's going to make for a new way of living, for a new freedom from the tyranny, and the dominion of sin in our lives. Not that we'll never sin again, but we no longer need to be dominated by sin as though it were our lord. It's no longer our lord; we've died, and we've been raised with Christ. And so, the Spirit begins his lifelong, patient, quiet, relentless work of conforming us more and more to the image of Christ. That's what we call "sanctification". What a wonderful benefit that is of the gospel, of the fact that we are united to Christ by faith. And sanctification is leading to the day that we speak of as "glorification", when we will be made like Christ, when we see him at his return and are made like him in every respect. No more sin. No more guilt. No more suffering, or sorrow, or pain. And it all flows to us because we are united to Christ, by the work of the Spirit, drawing us to trust, and to rest in Jesus, and what he's done for us.

Answer by Dr. Dennis E. Johnson

Dr. Dennis E. Johnson is Academic Dean and Professor of Practical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in California.