Within the last couple of weeks, while my laptop is at a friend's house, I spent a few days without a computer in the home. Although grown addicted to the Internet, during those few days without it, I read the Bible and spent time in meditation and prayer, when I felt God speaking to me about Judicial Acquittal, better known as Justification.
This awesome truth hit home. It was glorious news! Judicial acquittal means that God declares a sinner righteous who have faith in Jesus. As Paul wrote, But for him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness. (Romans 4:5 AV.) In other words, for the ungodly person to have faith in Jesus Christ is declared righteous by God the Judge in the Heavenly Court. That is judicial acquittal. It means that God sees this person "in Christ" - which is to say that before the Throne in Heaven, this person is as much righteous as Jesus himself was, and as such, no punishment would ever be bestowed for sins committed throughout his lifetime. Now that is good news, the precise meaning of the word Gospel.
This glorious truth did not commence in AD 32, when Jesus was crucified; it was already in place since the Fall, when God promised this acquittal when he declared that the seed of the woman (i.e. Eve) would crush the serpent's head. It was put into practise straight away when God himself killed a beast to clothe Adam and Eve with its skin. This was a dynamic demonstration of an innocent substitute paying the price of the couple's sin committed, and covering the resulting guilt. This also demonstrated that the fig leaves which the couple sewed together, which symbolised religion, was so useless to God that he ignored them completely. (Genesis 3.) It is utterly impossible for a sinner to work his way towards God by his own efforts. A person is only saved by the shedding the blood of another, itself sinless and innocent.
Throughout the whole of the Old Testament, great men were declared righteous by God. Noah was a good example. It is said that Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God (Genesis 6:9). Noah did not try to become righteous by his own efforts. Rather, God declared him righteous (judicial acquittal) and because of this, he was able to "walk with God". And he was still equally righteous before God when he drank to excess soon after the Flood and to lay in his tent drunk. Even then, he was seen as equally righteous as Jesus Christ himself (Genesis 9:20-21). Every saint in the Old Testament had the righteousness of Christ credited, or imputed into his account, as Christ was slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8).
Further examples of Old Testament Saints who were declared righteous included King David. He was the one who wrote,
Blessed is to whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man whom the LORD impute not iniquity, and in his spirit there is no guile. Psalm 32:1-2.
David knew about judicial acquittal very well, as being King of Israel, also knew enough about dispensing justice. Having being declared righteous by God, he went on to sleep with another man's wife and plotted the murder of this woman's husband in an attempt to rid himself of the guilt of impregnating her. As a result, he could not lose his salvation, having being declared righteous already, with the righteousness of Jesus Christ already imputed into his account. But God still had to discipline him for those deeds, and he did so by causing strife and pre-mature deaths among his other sons, his throne coming under threat by his son Absalom, his daughter raped by one of her brothers, and the king's harem of ten concubines enjoying sex with one of his sons on the rooftop of his palace, in full public view. King David paid a hefty price for the double sin of adultery and murder, yet God says of him that he was a man after (God's) own heart. He was already righteous in his sight.
|King David had a weakness with beautiful women.|
We can conclude then, that judicial acquittal spanned the whole of human history. It has never altered when the Law of Moses was given. Instead, the Crucifixion made judicial acquittal the only means of salvation throughout the whole of eternity, both before and after the Crucifixion.
Yet, the vast majority of the world's population is unaware of it. Even with me, it took years for this truth to sink in. Soon after Christ had risen and ascended to Heaven, there was an explosion of knowledge and faith, centred in Jerusalem and then spreading outward. It was not that long after that this truth was known throughout a large proportion of the Roman Empire. Multiple thousands were saved, acquitted by God and declared righteous. You would think that with such good news, the whole world would be converted and the truth passed down from generation to generation. After all, who would not want to be declared righteous by God himself?
But instead, the vast majority are not aware of justification by faith. What went wrong? Yes, what went
In the Dark ages, generation after generation lived in terror of Purgatory, a Catholic doctrine teaching that every believer must spend some time in unbearable, hellish torment before being admitted to Heaven. This temporal Hell lasted from a few days to thousands of years, and in those days, Indulgences were sold for money to the public from the clergy. Indulgences were passes out of Purgatory, allowing the believer to be released earlier. The more Indulgences were bought, the quicker he got out of this temporal Hell and entered Heaven. Therefore it becomes obvious that the rich and wealthy took a short cut to Heaven while the poor had to face the full brunt of their punishment. Through promoting fear, the Vatican became immensely rich. Meanwhile, in the Far East, the general population remained under two dominant religions - Hinduism and Buddhism. Hinduism specialised in the social class system based on karma, the re-carnation of the sinner depending on how sinful or virtuous he was during this life. If one was virtuous, he was re-born on the next rung of the social ladder, if not, then he was either demoted in the next life or re-born as an animal. Buddhism, also a religion of pure self-effort, had a very similar principle, except that sins committed in this life resulting in a lower rung of the social ladder in the next.
These two religions create slavery, as sin is a brat which lurks in the heart of everyone born. This, along with the growth of a third religion, Islam, has made me wonder whether hearing the Gospel is based largely on the postcode lottery. After all, if a Muslim converts to Jesus Christ, he is likely to face a death penalty. So a baby born in the UK or North America has a far greater chance of hearing and believing the Gospel.
So in my mind, I visualise millions of tiny babies born into a religious culture which blocks the truth of judicial acquittal. When I consider the vast non-Christian population of Asia, Africa, South America and much of Europe where Catholicism holds power, I have already asked God, Lord, why did you make us and bring us to existence, when the vast majority of us will perish? I find this so frustrating, as the death and resurrection of Jesus has already atone for the sins of everyone born. Whenever I see a newborn, a thought goes through my mind: Will this child grow up to know God, or perish? Even in Protestantism, the dominant UK/USA faith, there are hindrances in believing in Biblical justification. One idea, promoted by James Arminius in the 16th Century, is that if enough sins accumulate, or if one turns from his faith, then his salvation is lost. This has strong parallels with Catholicism, which teaches the same sort of thing. This should not be surprising, as Arminius was a Protestant student who sat at the feet of Catholic Jesuit Luis de Molina.Yet there are many Protestant denominations which holds on to this teaching, which denies imputed righteousness in favour of infused grace, in order to attain or keep one's own righteousness through works, and not the righteousness of Christ.
Then among evangelicals, the issue on how one can be saved can be confusing. Many sincere Christians insist that to be saved, one must turn from his sins and believe the Gospel. Did you know that this is putting the cart before the horse? It is false teaching, dare to say!
Recently I have read a story about a family who were saved at a church meeting, that is, except the husband and father. While the mother and children were rejoicing in their new faith, the man sat still, looking solemn. The minister approached and asked if there was a problem. The man answered,
"I can't do this."
"Why not?" the minister asked.
"Because, after believing, sooner or later I will sin again. If believing involves turning from sin, I'm doomed to fail."
"There is no 'turning from sin'." the minister answered. "All you need to do is to trust in Jesus Christ, his death and his Resurrection, and God will acquit you. That's all. It's as simple as that."
The man thought for a moment, broke into a smile and joined his family's celebrations.
For much of my forty years of being a believer, I had to undo all the Roman Catholic teaching of infused grace as well as its sibling, holding fast to keep my salvation. Not that I ever swallowed Arminius' teachings, but rather I was reading and listening to prominent men who taught it. Well educated men, respected to the point of reverence by other Christians, pushing a false gospel made me study the Bible more intensely, and trying to explain to myself why some "problem passages" such as Hebrews 6:4-6 and John 15:6 seem to contradict John chapters 6, 10 and 17. The sudden impact of the truth of judicial acquittal was almost a "Damascus Road" experience for me.
The truth of judicial acquittal, or justification by faith, underwent ferocious persecution over the past two millennia. If ever there was a doctrine so maligned as this one, this was it. It is almost unbelievable! I would have thought that Judicial acquittal would spread like wildfire across the globe, instead it has but all been extinguished by religion.
It does make me wonder whether the Devil is the author of all religion, which he designed specifically to blind mankind from this glorious truth.
Why, O Lord, why have you brought us into existence, only to be blinded from the glorious truth of the Gospel?
Isn't there any hope, Lord?