Do you want to start your day off with a real encouragement? Well I couldn’t think of a much better way than to ponder over the following quote by George Eldon Ladd.
“However, Paul asserts that by virtue of the death of Christ, men of faith have already been justified. ‘They are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith ’(Romans 3:24f). In the death of Christ, the eschatological judgment has already in essence taken place. The man of faith has in Christ appeared before the righteous Judge and by virtue of the death of Christ has been acquitted from all guilt of sin.
The eschatological judgment, which belongs to the age to come, has reached back to the Cross of Christ, and the man of faith is living in the new age so far as his relationship to God is concerned. The last judgment for him is passed. This is not to say that Paul has relinquished the expectation of an eschatological judgment: even men of faith must appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10, 1 Corinthians 3:13-15). But so far as their relationship to God is concerned involving their guilt as sinners, judgment has been passed: they are absolved. (bold type supplied)
‘There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:1). God has acquitted them: no one can condemn.” “Eschatology and the Unity of New Testament Theology” Expository Times 68 (June 1957): 268-73
Did you absorb the wonder of this quote? The judgment that we should receive when we stand before God at the end of time (eschatological judgment) has already been taken care of at the cross. We have no fear of future judgment because Jesus took our judgment upon Himself when He died on the cross.
We think of Jesus taking our sins upon His shoulders and removing our guilt at the cross when He became our substitute, but through His sacrifice He also took our judgment. The father declares us redeemed because Jesus took the penalty of our sins and when we accept that wonderful grace so lovingly poured out to us, we are declared righteous.
This is why Paul can say; “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus Rom.” 8:1. It is why John can write with confidence, “He who does not honor the Son, does not honor the Father who sent Him. Truly, truly I say to you, he who hears my word and believes Him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” John 5:23b-24.
John further states, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” John 3:18.
Throughout the Gospels Jesus proclaims that for all who believe in His name have eternal life. (John 3:16; 1 John 5:11) Eternal life means the life of the age to come, and yet the New Testament writers state over and over that we have eternal life now. If judgment belongs to the age to come (eschatological judgment) then how can God assure us of eternal life now if we have not already been judged?
The answer is that everyone who professes their faith in Christ and comes to the foot of the cross in humility and seeking forgiveness is acquitted of their sins and declared righteous. This means we have been judged and pardoned through the grace of God. Because we have been judged, we can be given God’s assurance that we have eternal life.
Of course we can turn our back on the gift and walk away from it and find ourselves having to face judgment at the end of time as a non-believer but that is not the lot of a born again Christian. As long as we are “in Christ” we are accounted righteous by the Father and have passed from death into life, and that is only possible because we have been pardoned.
As Christians we must never think that God’s reign is future. With the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Kingdom of God has broken into history and is active now. Whenever men and women give their lives to Jesus, they become sons and daughters of the Kingdom of God and have assurance of their salvation.
Death is God’s judgment on sin and Christ bore that judgment (Isaiah 53), and He bore our curse (Galatians 3:11-13). Herman Ridderbos sums this idea up nicely, “In Christ’s death God has sat in judgment, has judged sin, and in this way He has caused His eschatological judgment to be revealed in the present time…..Christ’s death was the demonstration of the judging and justifying judgment of God in the eschatological sense of the word because the old aeon and the old man were judged in Him, and justification unto life and the new creation came to light in Him as the second Adam.” Paul An Outline of His Theology p. 168-169
So what should be our conclusions from this little study? I believe that as Christians we are judged on whether or not we accept Christ. The cross event is the defining moment in our relationship with God. When we come face to face with the cross and accept its ramifications, then we are declared righteous. That is only possible because God, our great judge, declares us redeemed through the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus.
As Christians we do not have to look forward to a future judgment because we have been judged already. And because we have been judged and declared saved by the grace of God we have eternal life. Since we have eternal life we need not fear or fret over our salvation because it is assured.
No wonder the writer of Hebrews could exclaim with great confidence “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
I pray that this post has encouraged you in your assurance of salvation as much as I have been encouraged writing it.
* The persecution continues even though it’s seldom reported in the media. Our prayers are needed for those we do not know but share the same belief that we are redeemed children of God. Some of their stories can be found at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/