Justification by Free Grace Alone

“Therefore, as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:18,19) The great doctrine of redemption by grace is the theme of the inspired apostle in our text, and indeed of the gospel ministry. The consideration of this subject involves the fall, guilt and just condemnation of God’s people in the earthly Adam, and their deliverance in the second Adam, which is the Lord from heaven. “As by the offence of one.” That one was an entire race, embodied in one man, but to be developed by multiplication into all the tribes of mankind…Now as the nature and effect of the federal relationship of Adam and his posterity has involved all alike in sin, judgment and condemnation, “even so,” exactly so, or in the same manner the federal relationship of Christ and his spiritual posterity secures to all the people of God the righteousness of justification of life. church

On legal principles, if the relation subsisting between Christ and his members was such that Christ could bear their sins in his own body, or that justice could inflict the penalties of the divine law, which were due to our transgressions, on him, then the same relationship must make Christ’s obedience to the law, and sufferings under the law, the ground of our justification to life. The law condemned us to death, but the righteousness of Christ’s active and passive obedience to the law on our behalf, takes away our guilt, and death as the consequence of guilt, and justifies us to life, as the opposite of death…We all sinned in Adam, and in Adam we all die, so in Christ all whom God had chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, when he was delivered up for our offences, and bore our sins in his own body, on the cross, met the utmost of the penal demands of the law; and when Christ was raised from the dead, we were raised up with him to justification of life. Our perfect justification is therefore not predicated partly on what Christ has done and partly on what his people are to do, but it is by the obedience of one, that is, of Christ, exclusively of anything and everything else, that the saints are made righteous; this is prospective of what shall be by the obedience of one.

But if Christ did not fully, effectively and forever purge away all our guilt legally when he died and arose from the dead, this prospect, assurance and certainty that all his children shall be made righteous, experimentally, would be forever cut off. The atonement was perfect and complete in Jesus Christ our Lord, and in him we were reconciled to God while we were yet sinners in ourselves. But all that was legally fulfilled for us in Christ, shall most certainly be experimentally fulfilled in us individually at the appointed time…When Christ obeyed the law his people were so embodied in him that his obedience was our obedience, his death was the very death which the law consigned us to, and when he died for all his people, then were they all dead, and when he arose for their justification, they were all quickened together with him, and raised up together, and made to sit together in the heavenly places in him. Legally this was all accomplished when Christ, and all his people in him, died and arose again from the dead, they were legally all made righteous then and there.” (Signs of the Times-Editorials Volume 5, 1861)examination

“Therefore as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation.” All being in him, all are guilty, for judgment cannot righteously pass to the condemnation of the innocent, therefore the passage of this judgment from the infallibly just and holy Judge is proof sufficient of their guilt, and the certainty that all die is positive proof that all have sinned. “Even so, by the righteousness of one”, (or as the margin reads) “by one righteousness, the free gift came upon all men.” That is all his seed, all whom he had taken upon him; all whose iniquities were laid upon him. As Adam, by the offence, plunged head and body, all his seed or members, into condemnation and death, even so Christ, identified with all his body, seed, or members, which he took on him, and of whom he was the progenitor, high priest, captain of salvation, has raised up, and through him as their living head the free gift, which is eternal life has come to justification of life; for, “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord,” even as the wages of sin is death, through our earthly head. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.” As a unit, Adam and all his posterity, by a single offence, were made sinners, guilty and subject to the judgment of condemnation and death, so as a unit, Christ and all his posterity or seed, by his righteous obedience, were made righteous. His blood cleansed them from guilt, took away their sins; for he was delivered for their offences, and was raised for their justification.” – Gilbert Beebe (Signs of the Times-Editorials Volume 6, 1866)


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