|Preview: How God ...
How God Gets You Back
There is a myriad of questions people want to ask as they begin to reach out in response to God's offer of justification. Recall from earlier chapters that justification is the entry level of Christianity discovered in the foundational stage Jesus of Nazareth described to Nicodemus as being born again (John 3:7). It is followed by a life-long pursuit of holiness called sanctification. The Apostle Paul described sanctification as simply working out your own salvation (Philippians 2:12). The final stage of the walk with God is glorification (Romans 5:9). Paul asserts that those who have been justified by the blood of Christ shall escape God's wrath through His glory. Gelpi (2001) states simply that only those who believe escape judgment. This stage of salvation (glorification) occurs in the great escape from this life to the next as Christians experience the glory of God in His heavenly kingdom.
This chapter investigates God's will for mankind in terms of the fundamental experience of justification. Specifically, what is God's will in bringing His human creation back to Himself? Early in the creation story, Moses states that God created humankind in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27). Further, that God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden, which had been provided with everything the created needed for eternal cohabitation with the Creator (Genesis 2:15). From this beginning, it is at least apparent that God created humankind to live with Him and experience His glory firsthand.
Chapter three of Genesis recounts the fall of humankind at their failure to keep the single commandment of God, which forbade them to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 3:22-24). So, the result of the action of Adam was condemnation (death) for all humankind as the righteous God separated sinful mankind from His presence (Romans 5:12). This fact emphasizes the basic requirement for any person who wishes to have a relationship with God to be a righteous person. But, as the Apostle Paul succinctly states, all have sinned, so there are no righteous people, not even one (Romans 3:10, 23). However, it seems obvious that the One who has the authority to declare a person unrighteous also has the authority to declare a person righteous. Returning to the first book of the Bible, Moses recounts that Abraham believed God and God accounted (or imputed) it to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6). This precedent-setting action of grace by God is quoted in the New Testament as evidence that God has established a pathway by which a condemned race (humankind) can attain righteousness and thereby qualify to stand in the presence of a righteous God (Romans 4:3, 9, Galatians 3:6, Hebrews 11:8, 17 & James 2:23). God did not impute righteousness to Abraham alone but to all who recognize Jesus of Nazareth as Savior and Lord (John 3:16). The Apostle Paul documents the statement of our justification by attesting that God made Jesus of Nazareth, who knew no sin at all, become the embodiment of sin in our place so that we could be made the righteousness of God through Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). Paul's physician, Luke, writes that there is no other path available to humankind to receive this righteousness except through faith in Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 4:12).
Jeremiah the prophet documented a forward look from the Old Testament to the New with the promise from God that there would be a new covenant established in Israel and in Judah; i.e., the entire Jewish race (Jeremiah 31:31-34). That covenant would be one that is written in the hearts of humankind rather than in tables of stone (reference to the Ten Commandments). This covenant would result in the forgiveness of their iniquity and God's loss of memory that we had committed any sin at all.