Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How scandal is triumphed in the cross

Romans 3:21-23 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

Justice and Forgiveness
Justice!  Forgiveness!  In the realm of human experience we all are acquainted with these two concepts.  Whenever a convicted felon in a court of law is sentenced to a long prison term or sentenced to death - many people will heartily agree that the person "got what he or she deserved".  Justice!  Likewise whenever a person who has demonstrated innocence in the face of accusation, everyone will quickly want to dispense forgiveness - since that is the appropriate thing to do for the innocent.  Forgiveness!

What constitutes a scandal
Even Scripture recognizes these two categories and their proper use, and the scandal of what can take place when they are confused.  Proverbs 17:26 notes - "Also, to punish the righteous is not good, Nor to strike princes for their uprightness."  If such a confusion takes place - both the scripture and human reason would conclude a great injustice has occurred.  When a judge does not discern the law, and lets off a clearly guilt man through a legal loophole - instantly people cry fowl! Likewise, whenever a plainly innocent man is sent to die, everyone demands a retrial - and questions the validity of the judgment.  Many would say that a scandal of major proportions was done.

The Scandal of all time - A Just God wanting to forgive the guilty
According to Proverbs 17:26, to punish the innocent or to punish a clearly righteous prince is simply unfair - a gross missuse of judgment.  With that being the case - how is it that God - the Holy Righteous Judge, can remain Fair and yet aquit sinners who are clearly guilty?  As Paul writes above, God's indeed did have the desire to aquit, or justify, the ungodly.  However as we noted in the last blog - a great dilemma would have to be overcome by God in order to accomplish His will in salvation.  Either God as a Holy and Just Judge would have to abandon His Eternal Desire to forgive so as to mete out justice on the ungodly; or He would have to lay aside His Holy Just character in order to show unbridled love.

How God Alone could truly demonstrate both Justice and Forgiveness
In order to remain both Just and Forgiving, without violating His character nor unraveling the plan of salvation - the Triune God had to do five things:

1. God the Father had to be willing to Forgive before He Created anything. 

2. God the Son had to willingly die on the cross, paying the price of Justice

3. God the Father had to agree to accept the Son's work as satisfaction for Justice

4. God the Holy Spirit had to agree to apply Christ's work to those whom by His grace and gifting of faith would excercise faith in Jesus Christ

5. God the Father had to be willing to accept faith alone in Christ alone as sufficient grounds for deeming the sinner guiltless and forgiven

Christ, the innocent Prince of Glory, was struck and treated as the most guilty person, in order that the most guilty who by grace would trust in Him could be deemed innocent, justified by God. (please compare 2 Corinthians 5:21)  By taking the scandal of the cross as the centerpiece of the Gospel, we discover that only God could resolve what otherwise is an impossibility - namely Justice and Forgiveness co-existing at the cross as they have always in the heart of God Himself. (Please compare Psalm 85:10)