THERE are three texts of scripture which uniquely bring out facts about the wonderful doctrine of justification. The first is I Corinthians 15:17: “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain, ye are yet in your sins.” This clearly shows that faith has a relationship to justification and that the resurrection of Jesus is an important element. The second is Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.” This text states that only those “in Christ” have been justified. The third text is Romans 8:33: “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” This clearly shows that justification comes from the Heavenly Father.

When we combine the testimony of the three texts, as noted above, it means that those who are justified are a faith class and that justification becomes possible because Jesus was raised from the dead. The texts further bring out that those so justified are “in Christ” and the awarding of such a condition is from the Heavenly Father.

A simple statement of these reasons for, and the accomplishment of, justification is as follows. In the Gospel Age God is selecting the “body of Christ” (or the “bride”). These individuals are drawn from the world by the providences of God. If those who are called consecrate and are accepted of God, they are justified. This means they are released from adamic condemnation—or, stated another way—justified to life.

The word “justify” means “to make right.” However, whenever the word justify is used in the Bible it does not always have the special meaning of being released from adamic condemnation. To illustrate, we read in Luke 18:10-14: “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself. God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God, be merciful to me, a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for everyone that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

To understand justification as it pertains to the called out and consecrated ones of this Gospel Age, we need to appreciate “the eternal purpose” of God. His eternal purpose has been to have a family of divine beings with whom he can have full fellowship. That he has an eternal purpose is clearly brought to our attention in Ephesians 1:9: “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in himself.” The thought is continued in Ephesians 3:10,11: “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus.”

In these texts it is interesting that only the church understands this eternal purpose of God, and it is just as evident that only the called out and consecrated comprehend fully the doctrine of justification.

This planned family of God is prophetically spoken of in most tender terms. In one simple text the Father brings out (1) our receiving the truth, (2) his protective care, (3) the work the Christ is to perform in relation to the world, and finally (4) his exultant statement of what they shall mean to him.

Hear the testimony of that one text: “And I have put my words in thy mouth [receiving truth], and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand [his leadings and protective care], that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth [the work of restitution], and say unto Zion [his tender speaking to his family], Thou art my people.”—Isa. 51:16

In another text about Zion (the Messiah in glory), the Heavenly Father tenderly reveals what his “people” mean to him. “For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest forever; here will I dwell; for I have desired it.” (Ps. 132:13,14) This pictures the family that God has longed for and that will fulfill his eternal purpose.

God’s family were to be on his plane of existence, hence having the divine nature. The Apostle Peter states: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.”—II Peter 1:4

This means that those having this kind of life will never die—they will be immortal, sharing with Jesus this great privilege which has been his since his resurrection. The Scriptures teach that in the ages past God only possessed immortality. It becomes at once apparent that those who attain to such a high station must be previously tested and be so fixed in character that a defection from righteousness would never occur.

How tragic if Lucifer had possessed the divine nature! It would have meant that to all eternity there would have been a being opposing God and all righteousness. But divine wisdom decreed the opposite—such life could be given only to those who had been tested to the uttermost.

A part of God’s plan for his family required a place and conditions where they could be thus tested to the extreme. Hence God allowed Satan to tempt our first parents, Adam and Eve. When they disobeyed, the penalty for disobedience, death, was not immediately enforced. After they had been expelled from their perfect home, a family was started. From those first two have come all the families of the earth, born under condemnation, and constantly plagued by Satan. The place and conditions of testing were in existence.

From the Scriptures we know how much God loved his human family. He planned a redemption for them, as said so tenderly by Jesus, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16

The story of the ages, perhaps the greatest story that will ever be told, will be about our Lord becoming a human being to die in Adam’s place. Our Lord, the first being ever created, was brought into existence as the Logos billions of years ago.

The perfect babe Jesus became the perfect man Jesus at the age of 30 and offered himself to take Adam’s place in death. The 40th Psalm prophetically portrays his presentation to John the Baptist at Jordan. From this we can conclude the truth was revealed to Jesus at first in a primary sense and later in much greater depth.

Psalm 40:6 reads: “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened [margin, digged]: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.” This suggests that at some time prior to Jesus’ presenting himself to John at Jordan the Holy Spirit revealed to him that he was to die in Adam’s place as a corresponding price. The Apostle Paul stated this arrangement in crystal clear terms.

“For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (I Cor. 15:21,22) Because Jesus was a perfect, unblemished person, he could be an acceptable sacrifice. Later, in his intense forty-day wilderness study, the Holy Spirit revealed all the details of his ministry and the deeper features of God’s plan. Among the deeper features was the truth that Jesus and his faithful disciples of the Gospel Age would become God’s family on the divine plane.

Jesus offered to take Adam’s place in death, but had God allowed Jesus to die immediately, he would have gone out of existence. From all the scriptures that deal with this feature of God’s plan we can come to definite conclusions. We will paraphrase the matter as follows: It was as though our Father said: “My son, you have offered to take Adam’s place in death. It is my desire that one so noble and self-sacrificing should live forever. You will be allowed to die in Adam’s place. But I will beget you to a new life, a spiritual life. As you lay down your human life obediently, enduring the suffering that I will allow, your character will be fixed in righteousness so that you can be raised from the grave a divine being and be forever with me in fellowship.”

With this knowledge of God’s plan, we can understand the meaning of scriptures which baffle those not spirit-begotten. Among these is Hebrews 5:8,9. “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the Author of eternal salvation unto all that obey him.”

He was obedient under the most adverse conditions, hence was made “perfect.” Some might counter, “He was always perfect.” How true! But here the word “perfect” carries the thought of being made “complete” as a new creature; that is, his character was eternally fixed in righteousness.

Another such text which becomes understandable with a knowledge of God’s plan is Hebrews 2:10. “For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” This text introduces another feature of God’s plan, “bringing many sons to glory.”

It is in a study of this feature of God’s plan, “bringing many sons to glory,” that the doctrine of justification becomes important. We read of Jesus in Romans 4:25, “Who was delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification.” Jesus died in Adam’s place, but the benefit from the ransom price that he provided comes first to those who are to be his “body members” and later to the world of mankind.

In I John 2:2 we read, “And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” Those called of God to become members of the body of Christ, of the “bride,” or of the “Messiah” are, when first drawn, imperfect. When such understand their call, consecrate, and are accepted of God, they must be released from condemnation to be an acceptable sacrifice to God. This is when justification takes place, that justification which can be defined as “being released from adamic condemnation.”

Thus the Apostle John said, “He is a propitiation for our sins,” i.e. for the sins of the spirit-begotten of the Gospel Age. The Apostle Paul stated it in other words: “For Christ is not entered into holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”—Heb. 9:24

In the Old Testament there are numerous prophecies that refer to the Zion class (Jesus and his body members) in glory. One such text is delightful, for it foretells of God’s drawing this class for the purpose of dwelling with him: “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts.”—Ps. 65:4

Jesus also spoke of this class and emphasized that they would be selected by the Father. “No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44) Jesus also indicated that many more would be called than would accept the conditions of discipleship, “for many be called, but few chosen.”—Matt. 20:16

The “chosen” referred to here represent those who are drawn of God, respond by meeting the full terms of discipleship, hence are released from condemnation (justified) and are spirit-begotten. In Revelation 17:14 we read, “For he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.”

The very wording of this text suggests the possibility that some will not be faithful (more than overcomers) to the degree that is required to become members of The Christ. This is alluded to in the Parable of the Pounds, found in Luke 19:12-25. The parable starts with ten servants, each being given one pound to use. When the Lord reckons with his servants there is an account of only three. This seems to suggest three classes that will result from those chosen of God. The ten pounds, one given to each servant, could represent the opportunities given to each at the time they consecrate and are spirit-begotten.

The first servant was highly commended (vss. 16,17) because he had increased one pound to ten. The Lord said, “Have thou authority over ten cities.”

The second servant (vss. 18,19) was faithful to a lesser degree and was promised authority over only five cities. The third servant (vss. 20,21) was not faithful, and what he had was given to the first servant. In verse 22 he is called a wicked servant.

The third servant seems to represent a class who are wicked to the point that they lose life. We read of these in Hebrews 6:4-6: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

The second servant in the parable (made ruler of five cities) seems to represent a class who, although not of the church, yet live on a lower spiritual plane. Both the first (church) class and the second (great company) class are spoken of by the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 3:11-16.

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work shall abide [suggesting those who built with gold, silver, and precious things] which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward [the church class]. If any man’s work shall be burned [suggesting wood, hay, and stubble] he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved [suggesting the great company class], yet so as by fire.”

This second class is referred to in Revelation 7:9 “as a great multitude, which no man could number of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues.” Prior to this the Revelator had seen the church, the 144,000.

When John asked about this number which was not preordained (which no man could number) he was told (vs. 14),”These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” It states (in vs. 15), “Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night.” Revelation 3:21 states the church will sit on the throne. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also have overcome and am set down with my Father in his throne.”

This “great multitude” is at the marriage supper of the Lamb. “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, … Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.”—Rev. 19:6,7,9

Sometimes the doctrine of justification is considered a simple basic doctrine. But it is one of the “mysteries” of God’s Word and is understood in its depth only by the enlightening of the Holy Spirit. If we understand, it could mean that we have been drawn of God and that our consecration has been accepted and that we have been spirit-begotten and released from adamic condemnation. Dear Lord, help us to serve thee faithfully and experience fully the hope contained in this doctrine of the Word!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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