There is, perhaps, no greater realization to which I have come in my “journey of faith” in recent years than the fact the justification that I enjoy by faith in Christ is an objective fact of the gospel. That might seem like a rudimentary thing to articulate, but I assure you, that isn’t always the prevailing notion you’re made to come away with when exiting the sanctuary. Sometimes it feels as though God’s “feelings” about waver by the hour. And to the degree that you live sanctified is the degree to which God loves you.
That sort of performance-driven concept of God’s favor is nothing but rubbish. I am sure of it. There is nothing that squanders honest faith than the idea that one’s experience of justification is tied to one’s ability to act faithfully. It’s not. If it were, that’d be really bad news. You and I are really bad at staying and acting “Christian” all the time. We all struggle with the notion of consistent faithfulness. Fortunately, God’s good news tells us that our ability to stay and act “Christian” has no bearing on whether God justifies us or not. Your Christianity doesn’t rest on your shoulders. Your justification is entirely outside of you. It is an objective fact which God has already established in the new covenant of his blood, which secures for you and me and every sinner ever the perfect righteous record that fulfills all the jots and tittles of the law — that is, which secures your justification.
To amplify this concept, take the following excerpt from Gerhard Forde’s Free to Be. I was turned on to these paragraphs via my friends from Mockingbird. But I am so grateful for these words. And I’m so glad that God has already decided how he feels about me. Listen:
God has made a decision about you. He hasn’t waited to find out how sincere you are, how devout or religious you might be, or how well you understand the Bible and the Catechism. He hasn’t even waited to find out if you are interested or willing to take this decision seriously. He has simply decided.
God made this decision knowing full well the kind of person you are. He knows you better than anyone else could — inside out, upside down, and backwards. He knows where you are strong and where you are weak, what you are most proud of and what you would most like to hide. Be that as it may, God’s decision is made.
He comes straight out with it: “I am the Lord your God.” This is the decision: God has decided to be your God. For God wants to be as close to you as your next breath, to be the one who gives you confidence and value, to open a future to you in the freedom of the Word. God wants to be the one to whom you turn for whatever you need . . .
With God’s decision, you receive the freedom of forgiveness. The God who has decided for you is the God who in Christ refuses to hold your past against you, no matter what shape it has had. The God we know in Jesus is the one who takes you as you are — with your strengths, gifts, talents, and abilities, and also with your bad habits, selfishness, pride, and whatever else you might want to conceal. There are no strings on his decision and so no strings on you, either. You’re free.
Yes, indeed. “If the Son sets you free, you really will be free.” (Jn 8:36) “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Cor 3:17) Soli Deo Gloria.