The Verdict: Not Guilty, Part 1 (Understanding God’s Great Salvation #46)

The Bible says in Romans 5:1: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:”

Today’s God’s Great Salvation quote is from John R. Rice. He said: “When you get saved, you get saved not because you deserve it, but because you simply let God save you and because you confess your own poor sinful state and your inability to save yourself.”

Our topic today is titled The Verdict: Not Guilty (Part 1) from the book, “So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ” by Dr. Charles Ryrie.

Justification is one of those important words in the Scriptures that is either seldom defined or poorly defined. It simply means “to announce the verdict ‘not guilty.’”

THE CONCEPT OF JUSTIFICATION

Justification does not make a person “not guilty”; it announces the fact that the individual is not guilty before God. Or to put the concept of “not guilty” positively, justification announces that the person is righteous before God. Again, it does not make the person righteous, but announces the fact that he is righteous.

As part of the Old Testament law for Israel, one of the provisions was this: “If there is a dispute between men and they go to court, … the judges decide their case, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked.” The judges did not make the person righteous or wicked, nor could they. He was already righteous or wicked when he appeared before the judges. What they did was examine the case and pronounce the verdict. They did not change the person’s character or actions; they announced a verdict that they believed to be true and verified.

When King Solomon stood before his subjects at the dedication of his temple, part of his prayer was this: “If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath, and he comes and takes an oath before Your altar in this house, then hear in heaven and act and judge Your servants, condemning the wicked by bringing his way on his own head and justifying the righteous by giving him according to his righteousness.”

Again it is quite clear that the person is righteous or wicked before the verdict is rendered. The verdict does not make him so; it announces what is so.

The courtroom, therefore, is the stage for the concept of justification. When the judge justifies the person standing before him, he announces that the person is not guilty of whatever the charge was. In the courtroom of God, He announces not only that the sinner who has believed in Jesus is not guilty, but that he is perfectly righteous before Him. Justification includes more than bare acquittal. The judge is not only saying that the one standing before him may go without penalty, but he also declares that as far as the law is concerned, the person is blameless and righteous.

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