In that horrific scene of Christ hanging on that cross, we find the ultimate expression of both hatred and love, of sin and grace. Christ hanging on that cross was the most vile display of evil, the worst conceivable expression, of man’s hatred against God. However, from God’s perspective, Christ hanging on that cross was the most gloriously righteous display, the highest conceivable expression, of His love for all mankind. We behold at the cross this breathtaking meeting place of hatred and love. Man displaying at Calvary, the height of his hatred against God, and God displaying at Calvary the height of His love for us all. Hatred and love met at the cross on Calvary, and His love proved victorious. God and sin met. God triumphed. The penalty and the consequence of sin was paid, and now, at the resurrection side of the cross, the eternal Spirit proclaims to us in Rom. 5:21 the good news that now His “grace reigns through righteousness, unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord”!
Once you accept by faith that the Son of God died on the cross for your sins, that He was buried, and rose again, as a sacrifice for all your sins, by grace God the Father imputes the righteousness of Jesus Christ to your soul and God declares you justified for all time. There’s nothing but grace and peace between you and God now and forevermore. God has forgiven you “all trespasses” (Col. 2:13), which is a forgiveness of all your sins – past, present, and future. He’s made you as righteous as His Son (Phil. 3:9). He’s made you “accepted in the beloved” (Eph. 1:6). You are “sealed with that holy Spirit of promise… until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:13-14), which means that you have eternal security. You can never lose your salvation. You are sealed with the Spirit until the day you die and find yourself absent from the body and present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:5-9).
When Paul says that we’re “accepted in the beloved” (Eph. 1:6), he means we are graced into the beloved. Acceptance isn’t just, “we accept you.” This is us receiving the fulness of His divine love. God makes us the objects of His grace according to all the love that’s in Him, all “to the praise of the glory of his grace” (Eph. 1:6). God the Father is the author of all our blessings. The blessings are made possible in Christ. And we read what kind of blessings we receive in Christ, “all spiritual blessings” (Eph. 1:3), that is, blessings given by the third person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit. God the Father has the entire Godhead involved in our redemption and He shows us as much love as He shows His only begotten Son. He has risen up to the fullest character of His love by blessing us in all this grace where He regards us as dear to Him as His only Son. This victory program we’re in by God’s grace was willed by God the Father, made possible through the sacrifice of Christ, and made complete through the baptism of the Spirit.
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:6-10)
Just consider the redemptive power in the Lord’s shed blood. We are “justified by his blood” (Rom. 5:9). We are declared righteous “through faith in his blood” (Rom. 3:25). We have “redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph.1:7). We are “made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13). We have peace with God “through the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:20).
In 2 Corinthians 5:21, we read:
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
In Ephesians 2:8-9, we read:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
In Romans 4:5, we read:
“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
Does Paul say in any of these verses that to be saved you must be sorry for all the sins you’ve ever committed? No. Does he say you must confess your sins to a priest and do penance? No. Does he say you must raise your hand in church or walk down an aisle? No. Does he say you must ask Jesus to come into your heart or make Him Lord of your life? No. Does he say you only have to obey the ten commandments and you can enter Heaven? No. Does he say that your desires toward God might be an indication that you’re one of the elect? No. Does he say you must be water baptized? No. Does he say you have to do all these ordinances and rituals so that maybe you might go to Heaven? No. He says that “faith is counted for righteousness.” It is faith and faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ and what He accomplished for you at Calvary through which God the Father saves your soul from the eternal consequence of sin.
The issue is not what works you can do for God to earn His acceptance, but rather, your acceptance of the perfect work He has done for you at Calvary. You have no righteousness of your own before God. To have eternal life, you must by faith be found in Christ having His righteousness (Phil. 3:9). Though our sins prevented us from coming to God, our sins never prevented God from coming to us with the gift of His Son to save us from the consequence of all our sins. God’s abundant grace flows out freely to all who believe. No man will be condemned merely because he is bad but because he refused to accept the gift of eternal life by His grace shown to us in Christ Jesus (2 Thess. 1:7-9). God is now in Christ begging us all to be reconciled to Him on the ground of our acceptance of His Son who was made to be sin for us.
God is ready to save you right here and now. “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Reconciliation is a two-sided agreement. God did something for us on His part that He didn’t have to do to bring about our reconciliation with Him by having His Son make the ultimate sacrifice for your sins and then offered a free gift of salvation. Will you do your part by accepting that gift?
[Excerpt from Joel’s book, Empowered by His Grace, which you can download for free.]