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Justification: A Meaningless Sound?

Sep 14, 2018

Does the gospel of justification ring the bells in the innermost depths of your soul, or does its sound ring meaningless? In this week’s Faithful Friday Blog we consider John Murray’s reflections on the silence of the gospel in our souls.

In Chapter 5 of Part II of his book Redemption Accomplished and Applied, John Murray writes the following words regarding justification.

The basic religious question is that of our relation to God. How can man be just with God? How can he be right with the Holy One? In our situation, however, the question is much more aggravated. It is not simply, how can man be just with God, but how can sinful man be just with God? In the last analysis sin is always against God, and the essence of sin is to be against God. The person who is against God cannot be right with God. For if we are against God then God is against us. It could not be otherwise. God cannot be indifferent to or complacent towards that which is the contradiction of himself. His very perfection requires the recoil of righteous indignation. And that is God’s wrath. “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Rom. 1:18). This is our situation and it is our relation to God; how can we be right with him?

The answer, of course, is that we cannot be right with him; we are all wrong with him. And we all are all wrong with him because we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Far too frequently we fail to entertain the gravity of this fact. Hence the reality of our sin and the reality of the wrath of God upon us for our sin do not come into our reckoning.  This is the reason why the grand article of justification does not ring the bells in the innermost depths of our spirit. And this is the reason why the gospel of justification is to such an extent a meaningless sound in the world and in the church of the twentieth century. We are not imbued with the profound sense of the reality of God, of his majesty and holiness. And sin, if reckoned with at all, is little more than a misfortune or maladjustment.

Have you stopped and considered this reality? God cannot standby and be indifferent to that which is the contradiction of himself. The unrighteousness and ungodliness of man brings the wrath of God. All of us are unrighteous and ungodly and therefore under the wrath of God. Apart from Christ, there is no hope. Yet, how often does this reality escape us? How often are we blind to our circumstances before a holy God. 

The last two sentences, in particular, caught my attention. What is the reality of God? What is the reality of his majesty? What is the realty of his holiness? When was the last time you stopped and considered God as he reveals himself in Scripture? When was the last time you reckoned with your sin? Do you see sin as the biggest problem in the room? Do you see sin as an outrageous affront to the holy God of the universe or is it just a misfortune or maladjustment?

If the latter is your view of sin, then there is no need for justification and if there is no need for justification there is no need for a Savior.

Friends, how is sinful man made right with God? By the gracious act of God justifying those who are his own.

By His Grace Alone,

Josh