If you are a Christian this means, among other things…
- God has declared you to be legally righteous in his sight, forgiven and guilt free, fully and eternally “accepted in the beloved.”
- Jesus has propitiated God’s wrath on your behalf. God will never deal with you according to your sins or reward you according to your iniquities, for he has dealt with Jesus according to your sins and has rewarded him according to your iniquities. God will never be angry with you again as a holy judge requiring justice. Rather, he will be involved in your life as a loving Father, disciplining and correcting your heart in the journey towards Christ-likeness.
Because Jesus has taken away your punishment, God now greatly delights in you; he will quiet you with his love; he rejoices over you with singing and there is nothing you can do about it.
Justification and Adoption: There is a change in status (the penalty of sin). By grace through faith; imputed righteousness; instantaneous and compete forgiveness; irrevocable acceptance; the legal right of the children of God.
Sanctification: There is a change in nature (the power of sin). By grace through faith; imparted righteousness; progressive and partial transformation through our union with Christ; the work of the Holy Spirit; diligent use of the means of grace.
Glorification: There is a change in nature (the presence of sin). By the God of all grace; imparted righteousness; instantaneous and complete transformation at the second coming of Christ; made perfect in love we will live a life of “worship service” in the new heaven and new earth.
36 “Now therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning this city of which you say, ‘It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine, and by pestilence’: 37 Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety. 38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40 I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. 41 I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul. – Jeremiah 32:36-41
There is a difference between living a life devoted to appeasing the Lord from a life devoted to pleasing the Lord. When we appease someone we attempt to satisfy them, very often superficially, so that we can get what we want. That is a life consumed in selfishness. However, when we please someone we do so out of delight, without any expectations of anything in return. Pleasing the Lord means living life in a way that brings glory and honor. We will live out how we think about God. This is why we must preach the gospel to ourselves.
32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. – Hebrews 11:32-40
We often think of the Christian life as a series of progressive victories, but that is an idealistic notion. In reality, the Christian life is filled with struggles, bumps and bruises, and many trials. The above text in Hebrews testifies that some suffered and were mocked, yet they, too, received God’s grace in faith. Growth in the gospel means that the legal rights of justification become the personal delights of sanctification, even if those delights do not appear delightful to endure.