To declare, I say, at this time - To manifest now, by the dispensation of the Gospel, his righteousness, his infinite mercy; and to manifest it in such a way, that he might still appear to be the just God, and yet the justifier, the pardoner, of him who believeth in Jesus. Here we learn that God designed to give the most evident displays both of his justice and mercy. Of his justice, in requiring a sacrifice, and absolutely refusing to give salvation to a lost world in any other way; and of his mercy, in providing The sacrifice which his justice required. Thus, because Jesus was an atonement, a ransom price, for the sin of the world, therefore God can, consistently with his justice, pardon every soul that believeth in Jesus. This is the full discovery of God's righteousness, of his wonderful method of magnifying his law and making it honorable; of showing the infinite purity of his justice, and of saving a lost world.
Hitherto, from the ninth verse, the apostle had gone on without interruption, proving that Jew and Gentile were in a state of guilt and condemnation, and that they could be saved only by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. The Jew, finding his boasted privileges all at stake, interrupts him, and asks: -
At this time - The time now since the Saviour has come, now is the time when he manifests it.
That he might be just - This verse contains the substance of the gospel. The word “just” here does not mean benevolent, or merciful, though it may sometimes have that meaning; see the Matthew 1:19 note, also John 17:25 note. But it refers to the fact that God had retained the integrity of his character as a moral governor; that he had shown a due regard to his Law, and to the penalty of the Law by his plan of salvation. Should he forgive sinners without an atonement, justice would be sacrificed and abandoned. The Law would cease to have any terrors for the guilty, and its penalty would be a nullity. In the plan of salvation, therefore, he has shown a regard to the Law by appointing his Son to be a substitute in the place of sinners; not to endure its precise penalty, for his sufferings were not eternal, nor were they attended with remorse of conscience, or by despair, which are the proper penalty of the Law; but he endured so much as to accomplish the same ends as if those who shall be saved by him had been doomed to eternal death.
That is, he showed that the Law could not be violated without introducing suffering; and that it could not be broken with impunity. He showed that he had so great a regard for it, that he would not pardon one sinner without an atonement. And thus he secured the proper honor to his character as a lover of his Law, a hater of sin, and a just God. He has shown that if sinners do not avail themselves of the offer of pardon by Jesus Christ, they must experience in their own souls forever the pains which this substitute for sinners endured in behalf of people on the cross. Thus, no principle of justice has been abandoned; no threatening has been modified; no claim of his Law has been let down; no disposition has been evinced to do injustice to the universe by suffering the guilty to escape. He is, in all this great Transaction, a just moral governor, as just to his Law, to himself, to his Son, to the universe, when he pardons, as he is when he sends the incorrigible sinner down to hell. A full compensation, an equivalent, has been provided by the sufferings of the Saviour in the sinner‘s stead, and the sinner may be pardoned.
And the justifier of him - Greek, “Even justifying him that believeth, etc.” This is the uniqueness and the wonder of the gospel. Even while pardoning, and treating the ill-deserving as if they were innocent, he can retain his pure and holy character. His treating the guilty with favor does not show that be loves guilt and pollution, for he has expressed his abhorrence of it in the atonement. His admitting them to friendship and heaven does not show that he approves their past conduct and character, for he showed how much he hated even their sins by giving his Son to a shameful death for them. When an executive pardons offenders, there is an abandonment of the principles of justice and law. The sentence is set aside; the threatenings of the law are departed from; and it is done without compensation. It is declared that in certain cases the law may be violated, and its penalty “not” be inflicted. But not so with God. He shows no less regard to his law in pardoning than in punishing. This is the grand, glorious, special feature of the gospel plan of salvation.
Him which believeth in Jesus - Greek, “Him who is of the faith of Jesus;” in contradistinction from him who is of the works of the Law; that is, who depends on his own works for salvation.
(1 Corinthians 2:2; Colossians 1:20.) Light From the Cross—Without the cross, man could have no connection with the Father. On it hangs our every hope. In view of it the Christian may advance with the steps of a conqueror; for from it streams the light of the Saviour's love. When the sinner reaches the cross, and looks up to the One who died to save him, he may rejoice with fullness of joy; for his sins are pardoned. Kneeling at the cross, he has reached the highest place to which man can attain. The light of the knowledge of the glory of God is revealed in the face of Jesus Christ; and the words of pardon are spoken: Live, O ye guilty sinners, live. Your repentance is accepted; for I have found a ransom. 5BC 1133.1
Through the cross we learn that our heavenly Father loves us with an infinite and everlasting love, and draws us to Him with more than a mother's yearning sympathy for a wayward child. Can we wonder that Paul exclaimed, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”? It is our privilege also to glory in the cross of Calvary, our privilege to give ourselves wholly to Him who gave Himself for us. Then with the light of love that shines from His face on ours, we shall go forth to reflect it to those in darkness (The Review and Herald, April 29, 1902). 5BC 1133.2
Love Is Stronger Than Death—Jesus placed the cross in line with the light coming from heaven, for it is there that it shall catch the eye of man. The cross is in direct line with the shining of the divine countenances, so that by beholding the cross men may see and know God and Jesus Christ, whom He hath sent. In beholding God we behold the One who poured out His soul unto death. In beholding the cross the view is extended to God, and His hatred of sin is discerned. But while we behold in the cross God's hatred of sin, we also behold His love for sinners, which is stronger than death. To the world the cross is the incontrovertible argument that God is truth and light and love (The Signs of the Times, March 7, 1895). 5BC 1133.3
16. The Science of Redemption—The scheme of redemption far exceeds the comprehension of the human mind. The great condescension on the part of God is a mystery that is beyond our fathoming. The greatness of the plan cannot be fully comprehended, nor could infinite Wisdom devise a plan that would surpass it. It could only be successful by the clothing of divinity with humanity, by Christ becoming man, and suffering the wrath which sin has made because of the transgression of God's law. Through this plan the great, the dreadful God can be just, and yet be the justifier of all who believe in Jesus, and who receive Him as their personal Saviour. This is the heavenly science of redemption, of saving men from eternal ruin, and can be carried out only through the incarnation of the Son of God in humanity, through His triumph over sin and death, and in seeking to fathom this plan all finite intelligences are baffled (Letter 43, 1895). 5BC 1133.4
(Genesis 9:13-17; Revelation 4:3.) Bow Shows Righteousness of Christ, Mercy, and Justice—In the rainbow above the throne is an everlasting testimony that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish....” Whenever the law is presented before the people, let the teacher of truth point to the throne arched with the rainbow of promise, the righteousness of Christ. The glory of the law is Christ; He came to magnify the law, and to make it honorable. Make it appear distinct that mercy and peace have met together in Christ, and righteousness and truth have embraced each other.... 5BC 1133.5
As the bow in the cloud is formed by the union of the sunlight and the shower, so the rainbow encircling the throne represents the combined power of mercy and justice. It is not justice alone that is to be maintained; for this would eclipse the glory of the rainbow of promise above the throne; men could see only the penalty of the law. Were there no justice, no penalty, there would be no stability to the government of God. It is the mingling of judgment and mercy that makes salvation complete. It is the blending of the two that leads us, as we view the world's Redeemer, and the law of Jehovah, to exclaim, “Thy gentleness hath made me great” (The Review and Herald, December 13, 1892). 5BC 1133.6Read in context »
“Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and His Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, ... Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the Lord that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and He shall choose thee.” Isaiah 49:7. COL 163.1
“For every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” COL 163.2Read in context »
Jesus said, “Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again.” John 10:17. That is, “My Father has so loved you that He even loves Me more for giving My life to redeem you. In becoming your Substitute and Surety, by surrendering My life, by taking your liabilities, your transgressions, I am endeared to My Father; for by My sacrifice, God can be just, and yet the Justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.” SC 14.1
None but the Son of God could accomplish our redemption; for only He who was in the bosom of the Father could declare Him. Only He who knew the height and depth of the love of God could make it manifest. Nothing less than the infinite sacrifice made by Christ in behalf of fallen man could express the Father's love to lost humanity. SC 14.2
“God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son.” He gave Him not only to live among men, to bear their sins, and die their sacrifice. He gave Him to the fallen race. Christ was to identify Himself with the interests and needs of humanity. He who was one with God has linked Himself with the children of men by ties that are never to be broken. Jesus is “not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:11); He is our Sacrifice, our Advocate, our Brother, bearing our human form before the Father's throne, and through eternal ages one with the race He has redeemed—the Son of man. And all this that man might be uplifted from the ruin and degradation of sin that he might reflect the love of God and share the joy of holiness. SC 14.3Read in context »
The education and training of the youth is an important and solemn work. The great object to be secured should be the proper development of character, that the individual may be fitted rightly to discharge the duties of the present life and to enter at last upon the future, immortal life. Eternity will reveal the manner in which the work has been performed. If ministers and teachers could have a full sense of their responsibility, we should see a different state of things in the world today. But they are too narrow in their views and purposes. They do not realize the importance of their work or its results. 4T 418.1
God could not do more for man than He has done in giving His beloved Son, nor could He do less and yet secure the redemption of man and maintain the dignity of the divine law. He poured out in our behalf the whole treasure of heaven; for in giving His Son He threw open to us the golden gates of heaven, making one infinite gift to those who shall accept the sacrifice and return to their allegiance to God. Christ came to our world with love as broad as eternity in His heart, offering to make man heir of all His riches and glory. In this act He unveiled to man the character of His Father, showing to every human being that God can be just and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. 4T 418.2Read in context »