Justification: The Status of the Christian -- By: Steven A. Hein

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 06:4 (Fall 1997)
Article: Justification: The Status of the Christian
Author: Steven A. Hein

Justification: The Status of the Christian

Steven A. Hein

If the call of God can be seen as a journey to our final heavenly home, it ought also be seen as a journey that continually traverses the agony and the ecstasy of the cross of Christ. Our sojourn through life involves a continual tension between what we experience in daily living about who and what we are, and what we understand by faith. It is the tension between the dual realities of sin and grace: between living as a sin-corrupted citizen of this fallen creation, yet a righteous member of the kingdom of God. Faith requires a vision by which we might become reconciled to the experiences of living in a fallen creation. And in the cross of Christ, that vision can be found.

Our vision of the manner in which God is redemptively at work in the world and in our life can be helpfully described by the idea of “salvific worldliness” as best seen and climaxed in the cross of Christ. The world of our experience takes in the shame, agony and seeming abandonment of God in the cross. We see evil openly at work producing its fruit of injustice and suffering in the One who hangs between two thieves. Yet, to faith is given a vision of the merciful Creator who turns the tables on the powers of evil to accomplish His saving purpose. Oddly, we notice, however, that He does not banish evil. Rather, He uses it to accomplish its own defeat. An incredible exchange is made. God places the world’s evil on the righteous Jesus, and His righteousness is imputed to us. A sham atonement for trumped-up sins becomes a real atonement for the sins of the world. Through the world’s greatest injustice, God justifies the world.

God’s Word provides for us a saving picture of the cross, and faith receives it. It also bestows the righteousness of the cross—and faith receives that as well. Our sense experience of the cross tells us one thing, our faith another. Our vision

of the cross embraces the tension of both. And what corresponds to tension for us, is method for God. Salvific worldliness is not simply the mystery of an infinite God at work with finite means, it is the tension of a holy and gracious God accomplishing His saving purposes in a fallen creation enlisting even corrupted means.

As God’s supreme call of His Son to the cross presents us a vision with a tension between what is open to experience and what must be held by faith, so also does living in God’s call as His adopted sons and daughters. Christian life in the old creation is God’s call to the full range of possible experiences one can encounter from being in the world together with the full inheritance of God’s salvation. But neither our old world experiences...

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