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Home arrow Griffin's History arrow Justification and Kindred Subjects: Chapter 12
Justification and Kindred Subjects: Chapter 12 PDF Print E-mail
Written by J.H. Oliphant   

The Arminian theory denies the actual justification of God's people. They represent God as treating men as if THEY WERE JUST. Mr. Campbell, in his work on baptism, page 276, says, "It is really no more than pardon." A man who is only pardoned is yet a criminal, and in this theory God's people are, and ever will be, but guilty ones pardoned. On page 277 he says, "Evangelical justification is the justification of one who has been convicted as guilty before God, the supreme and ultimate Judge of the universe. * * * It is utterly impossible that any sinner can be forensically or legally justified before God by a law which he has in any one instance violated." All Arminians must deny the  imputation of Christ's righteousness to us, and consequent justification, but the people of God are justified and will to all   eternity be not only pardoned, but justified as well. "It is God that justifieth." To justify is not to make one innocent or  holy, but it is to declare him to be what the law requires him to be.

The law is the rule used by the Judge to determine our state by, and to  justify is but to proclaim us in harmony with law. The claim that some set up, that the first law of God has been abolished as too rigorous, and a new and milder law given in its place, does not better their cause, if the law we are now under requires us to do no sin, or if it requires us to be free from sin. The business of the Judge is to determine whether we are what the law requires us to be, and we maintain that all God's people will be "accepted in the beloved."

By the atonement Christ satisfied the law for our sins, because the offering he made was one of infinite value; it was an infinite sacrifice and satisfied an infinitely holy and spiritual law. He "through the Spirit offered himself without spot to God." This spotless offering  satisfied the law in all its utmost rigor. Should we be punished in hell, there never would be a time when our offering or payment would satisfy law, because we are finite and the law is infinite, and hence our suffering could only be infinite in duration, and hence there will be no end to the punishment of the wicked. With respect to God's people the law is magnified and made honorable; it is put away; he is "the end of the law" for them. His suffering on the cross did satisfy law and bring life and immortality to light through the gospel, so now in the gospel is published life and salvation---not a chance of life and salvation.

But if we regard the atonement of Christ as only satisfying for our sins, this would leave us where Adam was at the first moment of his being, and we need not only that our sins be put away, but we need an inheritance, we need to be the confirmed heirs of heaven and endless glory. When Adam was first made he was not placed in heaven, but he was surrounded by circumstances that made his fall and ruin possible, and none, I suppose, will doubt but that he was placed where it was proper for him to be, and if our Saviour only restores us back to Adam's primitive state, there would be no eternal life or certain salvation in it to us.

It is not only proper that our past sins should be put away and every transgression atoned for, but it is proper we should have a positive righteousness. It would be as improper that we should be saved in heaven upon that bare atonement of Christ, as that Adam should have been confirmed in eternal happiness the first moment of being. The law not only requires that we should not do evil, but it also requires that we should do well, so the Saviour not only removes all our evil deeds, but he supplies us with all righteous deeds. We are dependent on him for both, for the payment of our debts and for the robe of perfect and spotless righteousness. The slave is not made rich by being redeemed from slavery only, but he must also be invested with the inheritance as well. The man who is a bankrupt would not be enriched by the bare payment of his debts, he would only be put in a condition to make his own fortune, and when he should make his fortune he would have just grounds for boasting. But Jesus not only pays the debt and redeems us from the curse of the law, but he is our righteousness. He "is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption." He is as much and truly our righteousness as he is our redemption. Some are ready to esteem him as our redemption, but repudiate the doctrine that he is our righteousness, as "a blow at the root" of all piety and of every effort to live right; but here the apostle sets him before us as our righteousness as truly and as really as he is our redemption, and assigns as the reason for it that we should glory in the Lord. "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." I Cor. ii. 31. Now if Christ only  redeems us from law and places us back in the first estate of Adam, then we should only glory in his redemption and in his atonement, but we are to glory in him as our righteousness and sanctification, as well as our redemption. We are held in every way as dependent on him. Some admit that we are dependent on him for the atonement and for the Spirit, but insist that we can and must furnish some of the essentials of salvation. They are willing to glory in God for some things, but not for everything; but the apostle would glory in God for everything.

Christ is called the "last Adam" (I Cor. xv. 45), because he did for us that the first Adam should have done, he kept the law as a public or representative person and secured our confirmation to eternal life by his own obedience. In his death he rendered not only passive obedience, but he was active and voluntary in it. He says (John x. 17), "I lay down my life that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." John xviii. 11. "The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" He was voluntary in his suffering. His life was without sin; it was a holy and sinless life. "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." His entire life pleased the Father well, and here is laid up a stock of righteousness which he, as our head, our husband and our surety, has prepared for us, and on which account we are justified and confirmed in eternal happiness.

In Romans (fifth chapter) we have Adam and Christ as heads of their respective families, each acting in a representative capacity. Christ acted representatively, his office was a representative office. "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." There must be some kind of relation between Christ and those whom he represented, antecedent to his death. If not, why should his death secure the salvation of any, and how could it be just that he should die for us, unless he is in some why   related to us, as a "shepherd," or "husband," or a "head?" I think here is the foundation of the atonement, he was our substitute, so that what was done TO HIM was done TO US in him, and what was done by him was done BY US in him, inasmuch as he was acting for us as our true representative. In Rom. v. 6 we read: "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." The word "for" denotes in our room, or stead; he took their sins and their low place and suffered the penalty in their stead. "He died for the ungodly." Those for whom he died were considered as "WITHOUT STRENGTH" and "UNGODLY," and in this state we are unprepared to aid in meriting or securing salvation. "In due time." There was a due time, a time when it was due as a debt, and at the due time, not too late or too early, when "the hour was come," he made the payment. In the 7th and 8th verses Paul urges that God loved us, and that while we were sinners. And the 9th verse reads: "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." The death of Christ reconciled us, and if we were reconciled and justified by his death and blood when we were enemies, when we were utterly unworthy, now, "much more," after we are justified and reconciled, we shall be saved. The same thought is in the words, "He that spared not his own Son, how shall he not also with him freely give us all things?" If he gave his Son for us, to pay our debts, to redeem us, to make sure our justification, will he, after all this, forsake and cast us off forever?

In the 12th verse he shows that sin entered by one man and passed upon all men. We are the offspring of Adam after his fall. Cain and Seth were born to the first pair after the fall, and their parents conveyed to them their fallen nature, and all the race of men came from this fallen head. He shows that death reigned from Adam to Moses over all men, even over infants who had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's  transgression, who had not violated a spoken or written law; but the fact that death thus reigned proved that all were under the law, and here he informs us that Adam was a figure of Christ. Adam, by one sin, brought death upon all he represents; so Christ brought the free gift of   justification to many (all he represented). "By one man's offense death reigned by one." " Much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ."

If Adam conveyed the poison of sin to all his race, much more shall Christ convey the antidote of sin, because Christ is greater than Adam, and shall with infinite certainty bring life to all his family. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." This whole connection of scripture places Christ before us as a representative head to transact business for the whole body, to die for them and live and obey for them, to rise from the dead for them and ascend to God for them where he ever lives to make intercession for them, and in all this he acts in a vicarious way, or as a substitute.

By generation we receive the poison of sin, conveyed to us from our first parent as the fruit of his sin, and by regeneration we receive the remedy provided by our second Adam as the result of his obedience. Regeneration is itself one of the benefits of the atonement, as much so as the resurrection of the dead. It is a part (the earnest) of our inheritance, and a drop from the ocean of God's love, and it prepares us to see and understand the things of God. (See the author's work on Regeneration.) It is evident that Christ was so related to us as that it was legal and right that he should dies in our stead. This fact argues that our sins were imputed to him, and that he was, in justice, bound to do just what he did. Luke xxiv. 26, "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory?" Also verse 46, "Thus it behooved Christ to   suffer," etc. Now from these texts it was right for him to suffer, and   certainly he was in some sense related to us, as a husband, or shepherd, or head, so that our sins became his by imputation, and thus his suffering and obedience represented us. See also Acts xvii. 3, "Opening  and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered," etc. This fact argues that he represented us in all he did in the way of obeying or  suffering. This principle of representation is the foundation of the whole system of salvation through Christ. It explains and answers two   questions of importance: First, Why should Christ have died for us? This principle of representation answers. And second, Why should his death result in salvation to us? Because he represented us in all that he did and suffered, and the law was as well satisfied as if we had met all its demands, one by one, so that salvation to us is a matter of justice as well as mercy.

It is objected that upon this theory, Christ being under obligation to die for us, etc., he could not manifest his mercy in it, seeing that  what he did he MUST do. In reply I would say, that there was some kind of transaction before the foundation of the world, touching this matter,  wherein Christ did act voluntarily and with a perfect knowledge of everything. He assumed the headship of his people, knowing the result,   and in his assuming the place of a shepherd with a full knowledge of our fall and ruin by sin, and his consequent obligation to suffer, he showed  his mercy and infinite love in assuming a relation that entailed on him  this obligation to suffer, so that in this system of salvation the mercy of our Lord was manifest in his voluntariness in the transaction, and the justice of God is seen in his being brought under obligation to suffer. There is a great deal of meaning in the text, "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him freely give us all things?" Such was his relation to sin, and to us as sinners, that his own loving Father would not SPARE him, it was not possible that the cup should pass from him. Not one jot nor tittle of the law could be relaxed or suspended, but now Paul triumphantly asks, "How shall he not also with him freely give us all things?"

God is as much concerned to confer on us the benefit of that death as he was to visit the penalty of the law on him, and the two features of the atonement are brought out in this text---the justice of God in sparing not his own Son, and the faithfulness of God in delivering from wrath those redeemed by his atonement.

If A becomes the security of B, knowing, at the time of the transaction, that years afterwards he will have all to pay, he would show as much  mercy in the payment as he would, had he not bound himself thereto until  the day of his making the payment. So our Saviour did commend his love and pity in dying for us as much so and as fully as if he had never consented to it until the day he was nailed to the cross.

So the fact that justice was done when he died for us does not at all deny that love and mercy were manifested in that event.

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