This week I’ve been blogging about why the Gospel is necessary and Jesus is the only way for salvation. In order to see why the Gospel is necessary we’ve had to look at some bad news. We saw the bad news that we are all thoroughly corrupt apart from Jesus. Then we saw the bad news that no matter how we feel, we really are sinners and we really are legitimately guilty in the courts of heaven. The bad news has to precede the good news or the good news won’t be good news.
Imagine it this way. Someone comes up to you and tells you that they’ve sold their house, car and cashed in their retirement account to buy you the cure for the Sontaran disease. How would that make you feel? Would you think it was good news or would you think they had lost their minds? This is a safe place, it’s okay to admit you’d think they were crazy.
But let’s imagine the story a different way. Someone comes up to you and tells you about a terrible disease called the Sontaran disease. After telling you about the terrible pain and fatal nature of the disease they inform you that you have the disease. They don’t merely tell you that you have it, they show several clear and unmistakable symptoms of the disease in your life. Then they say to you, “But don’t worry I have the cure right here.” How would you feel now? Would you see it as good news? Of course you would.
In a similar way, people must not simply be told that they need the Gospel and Jesus. They must be told WHY they need the Gospel and Jesus. This means that the bad news must first precede the good news. So now the good news we’ve been waiting all week to see.
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Romans 3:21-24 (NKJV)
We are told that there is a righteousness apart from the Law. What this means is that even though the natural state of all people is that they are unrighteous and unable to make themselves righteous, God has made a way that we can have His righteousness totally apart from our attempts to earn or create this righteousness. This righteousness comes from Jesus and is available to all who believe.
Since all have sinned, all can be justified in the exact same way. That way is through faith in Jesus Christ. Justification through faith is when God declares a believing sinner to be righteous because of Jesus’ sinless life, sacrificial death and victorious resurrection. God does it this way so that He can be just and the justifier of those who believe. He is just in that sin has been punished. That is what the cross was all about. Jesus willingly died on the cross as a vicarious sacrifice. On the cross, Jesus bore all of God’s wrath against all of our sin so that we could be saved from the wrath to come.
When we believe on Jesus, His death on the cross is accounted as the punishment for our sins. Through this God’s justice has been satisfied in that our sin has been punished but not excused. At the same time, when I believe on Jesus, the righteousness of Jesus is credited to my account and God then declares me to be righteous because of Jesus. So God is just in that sin is punished. He is also the justifier in that He is the one that declares me to be righteous because of Jesus.
We must recognize here that this doesn’t happen automatically and it doesn’t happen for all people. It only happens for those who trust in Jesus for their salvation. Only those who trust in Jesus for their salvation will be justified by God. Dutch theologian Jacob Arminius explains this. “Faith, and faith only, (though there is no faith alone without works,) is imputed for righteousness. By this alone are we justified before God, absolved from our sins, and are accounted, pronounced and declared righteous by God, who delivers his judgment from the throne of grace.”
Here is what happens. The Holy Spirit works through the Gospel and reveals our unrighteousness to us. This recognition of our unrighteousness brings a deep sense of guilt and condemnation over us. We understand, maybe for the first time, that we are legitimately or judicially guilty in the court of a Holy God.
After convincing us of our unrighteousness and guilt, the Holy Spirit then opens our eyes to see Jesus and His righteousness that is available to us through faith in Him. The Holy Spirit then begins to urge us to repent of our sin and trust in Jesus for His righteousness. When we surrender to the Holy Spirit’s urging to repent of our sin and trust Jesus an exchange takes place. My unrighteousness is exchanged for Jesus’ righteousness. Again, this only happens through faith in Jesus. Everything about salvation rises and falls on our connection to Jesus. The Gospel is necessary because it points us to Jesus who is is the only cure for our unrighteousness.
For further study read Romans 5:1-11.
How are we justified?
Who is this through?
How are the people whom Jesus died for described?
Why did Jesus do this?
 Complete Works of Arminius, Under: “JUSTIFICATION”.