An Abundant Entry into Heaven

Jan 13, 2015 1893

By Desmond Ford

Heavens Pearly GatesThe imputation of righteousness in justification is not a legal fiction, for when Christ died as the representative of the race, then “all … died” (2 Cor 5:14 RSV); and when he rose, all rose (Eph 2:6; Col 3:1). God declares me not subjectively righteous but forensically so. Justification has to do with my standing, not my state.

The New Testament offers many verbal pictures of the gospel which characterise the new age ushered in by the cross of Christ. These figures include ransom, reconciliation, atonement, justification, etc.

The reality always transcends the figure, and the forensic understanding of justification does not imply that acceptance with God is merely a bookkeeping transaction.

The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit and the event of regeneration ever accompany saving faith. But the forensic metaphor is very valuable. It enables those aware of their pollution of soul to depend upon a perfect righteousness which was wrought out 2,000 years ago and offered to them today as a free gift immediately available to all who will accept it (Is 6:5-7).

This outward and upward look accomplishes a thousandfold more than all sanctified, spiritual navel-watching could, for it lays the glory of man in the dust, and does for us what we could never do for ourselves.

The Spirit of holiness does not speak of himself but testifies of Christ alone and his righteousness – and so should we. This everlasting gospel, the faith once-for-all given to the saints, is the theme which has inspired all revivals, and must ever prevail in all Christian preaching – swallowing up all other themes – for it is the last and only hope for a hopeless world (Mt 24:14; 1Cor 2:2; 15:1-4; Gal 6:14; Jude 3; Rev 14:6 RSV).

Far from being a new-fangled heresy, it is the very gospel foretold in Genesis 3:15, and cherished by prophets, apostles, martyrs, reformers, and the greatest evangelists of all time.

Believing this good news that my acceptance with Christ is conditional on his perfection and not mine, I am free to work for others without feeling hypocritical concerning my own inadequacies and failures.

Only this gospel offers a message for others which will inspire faith, hope, and love, thus bringing that quality of life which all perfectionism strives in vain to accomplish.

Is not this the approach of the New Testament, which, while sketching the many infirmities of the early believers, encouraged them to fight the fight of faith with the assurance of an ultimate abundant entrance into heaven?

– Des Ford. Rom 8:27–32 (from “A Meditation Upon the Everlasting Gospel”)

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