The Importance Of Getting It Right- Justification
Justification. Was Christ's death a justifying, atoning act for all, or only to a few?
If justification is not universal, how can you be sure Christ died for YOU? Because if he didn't justify everyone, but only the "elect", then maybe he didn't die for YOU, because maybe you are "unelect". Which makes you nothing but the unholy sinner you are, and your life is a wasted sham.
It's a shame some people believe in a limited atonement, despite the number of scriptures to the contrary, starting with the most basic, John 3:16. And to the Lutheran, there is comfort in knowing he paid for ALL SINS on the cross. Every single thing. Everything. It is all forgiven. And the forgiveness is already there, all you have to do is accept it in faith. It is finished. It is done. There is nothing a person has done, or will do in the future, that was not already paid for by Christ on the cross. All the sins we have ownership to, every rotten thing we have done and will do. Because Christ paid for the sins of the whole world, and for His sake, God forgives us all our sins. Mine, my kid's, my neighbor's, my friend's, my great grandfather's, and all of my descendants' sins. Even "uglier" sins, like Muslim bombers and Nazi sins. Every single sin made by every single person who ever walked this planet is already forgiven by God, including the "most evil" of us. Because Christ took on the sins of the WHOLE WORLD.
Isn't that great? All that we have to do is have faith this is so.
But even God does that for us through the Holy Spirit. So we have nothing of ourselves, but everything by God.
So how could anyone believe Christ did not die for all? That would make me terrified.
It also keeps me from worrying every time I fall down that God won't forgive me this time. But because He paid for everything, I no longer fear I will sin so much I will no longer be forgiven. Sure, I need to repent daily of my continuing sins, which is a part of the ongoing conflict we are promised we will fight until we leave this world. But I don't despair that God will abandon me when I keep on sinning. And I do.
I love this summary of the doctrine of justification found in Albert Kohler's "A Summary Of Christian Doctrine." He writes:
"Thus, the reconciliation of the whole world by Christ and the forgiveness of all sins of all men is an accomplished fact, which, in itself, is not affected by the attitude of men (Romans 3:3). This fact is proclaimed in the gospel to every slave of sin; and the very moment that he applies this fact to himself, believing that for Christ's sake also his sins are forgiven, he has the forgiveness of all his sins, is free from the guilt and punishment of sin, and is personally justified before God...
If we tell a heathen man that for Christ's sake God has forgiven all his sins, we are simply stating a fact, which the unbelief of man cannot make ineffectual, "without effect" (Romans 3:3). The function of faith in this matter is merely instrumental; it does not achieve forgiveness of sins; it does not earn it; it does not make us worthy of it; nor does it move God to forgive our sins. It is not a condition we must fulfil before forgiveness is available for us...
Justification is that forensic act of God, by which He, on the basis of the perfect vicarious atonement wrought by Christ, declared the whole world to be justified in His sight (objective justification), and transmits and imputes the effect of this declaration to all whom He brings to faith by the work of the Holy Ghost through the means of grace (subjective justification)."