JUSTIFICATION and SALVATION: What they are under the Law vs under Grace?
JUSTIFICATION is any form of temporal or eternal cancellation of guilty records by penal reparation or judicial acquittal from wrongdoings. Justification acquits sin and thereby imputes righteousness – legally/morally, outwardly/inwardly or temporarily/eternally.
SALVATION in Christ is not only ETERNAL Justification from damnation of sin and guilt, but also COMPLETE Redemption from demonic and depraved bondage, as well as INWARD Regeneration to partake in the Divine Nature of HEAVENLY Sonship through Christ for ETERNAL Inheritance in glory. Therefore, Eternal Salvation offered in the New Testament by the Blood of Christ supersedes temporal salvation offered in the Old Testament by the cleansing rituals of the Law and its priestly mediations. The offer of this uttermost super-salvation which is in Christ alone (Heb 7:25) is the message of the Gospel of Christ!
The finished Messianically mediated cleansing Works on the Cross superseded and outdated the repetitive Priestly mediated cleansing Works of the Law. But such greater salvation puts greater responsibility on those who are thus saved. They are now to exceed the righteous Pharisaic good works of carnal righteousness because they are now empowered by the Holy Spirit to do good works as the Fruit of the Holy Spirit.
(14) Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people for his own, zealous of good works.
(7) That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
(8) This is a faithful saying, and these things I desire that you affirm constantly, that they who have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
(14) And let our own also learn to maintain good works for urgent needs, that they not be unfruitful.
PENAL/RITUAL WORKS THAT ATONE are not same as GOOD WORKS THAT APPROVE! The Church often muddles up these two categories of works.
A guilty man is not counted righteous by GOOD WORKS of righteousness even under the Law or any culture. A guilty man is accounted righteous or acquitted by PENAL WORKS of paying a ransom and suffering a penalty or by RITUAL WORKS of mediated cleansing done by a priest. This always holds true under the Jewish Law as well as Gentile cultures. Even if you do righteous works they will never atone your unrighteousness but only approve you in your righteousness.
Christ did not sin but suffered the penalty acceptably and adequately, paid the acceptable and adequate ransom and performed the acceptable and adequate works of cleansing for all human sins.
WORKS that SAVE the guilty or sinner are not really about good works of righteousness (RIGHTEOUS WORKS) but actually about redeeming works of penalty, ransom and cleansing (REDEMPTIVE WORKS).
Works of the Law and the finished Work on the Cross are PENAL WORKS. These atone for sins.
Works of Righteousness and Fruit of the Spirit are GOOD WORKS. These don’t atone for sins.
The RITUAL works/ceremonies of the Law performed by the Priests on Israelites with blood, sacrifices, water, hyssop and other rites/observances of the Law, were provided by God as TEMPORARY means to ritually work OUTWARD sacerdotal atonement for wrongdoings until Christ comes (Heb 9:1-15). This Old deficiently symbolic and intermittent priesthood under the Law was to ensure Israel’s corruptible inheritance of the temporal Promised Land while this life and the earth last, but NOT for incorruptible inheritance of Heaven (1Pet 1:3-5) when this life and the earth pass away. Only under the New efficaciously substantive Priesthood of Christ is Heavenly Eternity graciously offered to all humanity through Faith in Christ.
(22) By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better covenant.
(23) And they truly were many priests, because they were not allowed to continue by reason of death:
(24) But this man, because he continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood.
(25) Therefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.
(26) For such a high priest was befitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;
(27) Who needs not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
(28) For the law makes men high priests who have weakness; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, makes the Son, who is consecrated forevermore.
Before, during and after, within or without the Law, God always requires MORAL goodworks or works of righteousness from all persons and peoples, but such FADING righteousness does not and cannot cancel guilt or acquit records of wrongdoings, therefore they remain FILTHY because of such uncancelled sins (Isa 64:6). Only by the blood of Christ are such fading and filthiness effectively propitiated by grace for whosoever believes in Christ. To be sure, every righteous work sown by anyone (under or outside the Law) always reaps guaranteed TEMPORAL reward (Psa 1; Prov 11:18; 15:6), but ETERNAL reward is only for righteous works done by those already saved through Christ. This exceedingly great and precious provision in Christ (2Pet 1:3-4) is the Goodnews we preach!
After one is saved in Christ, MORAL goodworks or works of righteousness done through the enabling Grace of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, (without any need for all the RITUAL works/ceremonies of the Law mediated by its priests) become worthy to fully please God (Col 1:10) and be rewarded eternally (Rev 22:11-14). This is God’s purpose for saving us and endowing us with Grace through Christ and indwelling us by the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:10). Whatever we think Gospel Salvation in Christ to mean or meant for is not important except the Scriptures say so.
- It is God, not ourselves, Who in His mercy saves us BY the power of His grace THROUGH our faith in Christ.
- Our salvation is not possible to be OF works (whether PENAL WORKS, GOOD WORKS and RIGHTEOUS WORKS of the Law) but is meant to be UNTO goodworks of GRACE, FAITH and FRUIT in Christ.
- This is God’s intention and purpose for saving us.
(8) For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
(9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.
(10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.
Believers saved by Grace must be stirred up to diligently ensure that their Faith and God’s Grace in them produce the Spiritual Fruit of goodworks (2Pet 1:5-13) and never to disappoint God (Heb 10:26-31) or disdain “so great a salvation”! (Php 2:12-13; Heb 2:1-3). Believers must always remember that using Grace to sin is forbidden (Rom 6:14-15) and any Faith that lacks goodworks is dead (Jas 2:17-20).
In summary, these are spiritual means to various degrees of blessings:
- OUR WORKS of righteousness: This, whenever sowed by whosoever, reaps temporal reward but cannot cleanse sins or attain eternal salvation. Nevertheless, the Goodworks of the believer done through the Fruit of the Spirit and Christ’s enabling Grace are rewarded with eternal crowns.
- OUR FAITH in God and in His Christ: Through this alone could we receive imputed righteousness and eternal salvation.
- The ritual WORKS OF THE LAW: This has temporal and external cleansing power but lacks inward and eternal saving power.
- The saving GRACE OF CHRIST: By this alone are we granted inward and eternal salvation, but this also favours us with temporal blessings, though it puts greater responsibility on us too.