The Question nobody is asking is stated in Job 25:4, "How then can man be justified with God? Or how can he be clean that is born of woman?" To the natural man, the answer to this question would be placed under the category of dull and uninteresting subjects. We are by nature so selfish and man centered that this question simply is not important to us. But the fact that nobody is asking this question does not take away from its importance. If we can learn the answer to this question, we have learned the gospel!
The issue behind the question can be stated like this. How can God be consistent with His justice, and yet justify somebody who is unjust? If somebody asks, "Why bring up the question in the first place? Does it really even matter? It matters because the word of God brings it up. But let me answer the question by asking another question. What would you think of a human judge who justified people who were guilty? What would you think of a judge who let a serial killer go free to walk our streets? Would it matter to you? If God does let people who are guilty into heaven without His justice being satisfied, than God would be no more just the human judge who let the serial killer go free. We shudder at the implications of a God who is not just. The God of the Bible is holy. In His holiness He hates sin. In Hebrews 1:9 we read, "Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity." God is so holy that He cannot let sin go unpunished. When He described Himself to Moses in Exodus 34:7, He said that He "would by no means clear the guilty". But not only is God holy; we are sinful and guilty! The scriptures say in Romans 3:10-12, "There is none righteous, no not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is non that doeth good, no not one."
If God is so holy that He "will by no means clear the guilty", and we are guilty, how can God bring any guilty sinner into heaven? The Bible does provide us with an answer to this question. We read in Romans 3:25-26, "God set forth Christ to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness.....that He might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus".
The word "propitiation" means literally "an atoning victim". The sins of God's elect were placed upon Christ on the cross. God was the one who placed them there. Only He had the authority to do it. Christ was actually made sin. "For He hath made Him to be sin." God laid this sin on Christ, and the He poured His wrath out upon Him. He punished the sins of His people in Christ. Christ was guilty as the sinner's substitute. He was charged with the sins of His people. But the imputation of guilt was not the only imputation going one. That perfect righteousness that Christ worked out was imputed to everybody that He died for. And now everybody that He died for is counted not guilty. By virtue of what Christ did on the cross, the people that God brings into heaven are not guilty! That is how God can be just and yet justify the ungodly. They are actually made just by imputation. Many believe that Christ was making salvation a possibility on the cross if we will just do our part. But Christ was not making salvation a possibility. He was saving! He literally accomplished the salvation of all of God's elect. This is how an unjust man can be just with God.
And dear friends, we can trust the Saviour who accomplished a salvation like that!
by Todd Nibert