The golden chain of salvation (3)
‘And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified’ (Romans 8:30).
The fourth link in the golden chain is justification. When a judge justifies an accused man, he declares that he is righteous. He has heard all the evidence about his actions: the witnesses have spoken up; his advocates have pleaded for him; and the prosecution’s case has been made.
Now the judge gives his solemn judgement. He declares the accused a righteous man. Nothing has changed in that man’s past or in his recollection of what he has done. What has changed is his status. He was accused, but now, to his wonder, he is justified.
‘Righteous!’ says the judge concerning the charges brought against him. ‘No condemnation!’ ‘You may go free. Case dismissed’.
Justification is not making someone righteous, but declaring a person righteous in the eyes of the law. The change will, no doubt, affect his feelings, as he cries, ‘Tis mercy all, immense and free, and O my God it found out me!’
There were two men praying in Jerusalem’s temple and Jesus was watching the scene (Luke 18:9-14). One man was full of himself and boasted about his righteous life. Outwardly he was a respectable member of society. The other man is described as a ‘publican’, a Jew employed in tax collection for the Roman government.
Hear how Christ described the tax collector’s actions. He ‘stood at a distance and would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner”.’
What you see here is a very imperfect man, but you also see his contrition and sense of sin. Out of his conviction of guilt is born a prayer for mercy. And that prayer receives an answer from God, as the sincere prayer for mercy always does.
Jesus said, ‘I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted’ (Luke 18:14).
That day, the publican had left his home and come to the temple with the guilt of all his past and all he has done pressing on him. When he returned home, those past events remained unchanged. None of his past sinful actions could be altered, but they could be pardoned by God and his guilt washed away.
God can show him mercy, and when he asks God for it, God gives it to him. The tax collector went home justified before God!
Do you realise how such an amazing change in status can be possible? It is because of Golgotha’s cross, on which Jesus, the prince of glory, died. There the Lamb of God took away the sin of the world and there too we must throw ourselves upon the mercy of God in Christ.
This indeed requires grace, for the ‘natural man’ is a man of pride who rebels at the thought of pleading for forgiveness. He rebels at the idea that his own righteousness is ‘filthy rags’ in the sight of God.
But when God is calling him, he shows that he is hearing the voice of God by his repentance. He prays, as the tax collector prayed, and throws himself on God’s mercy. This is the blessed fruit of God’s effectual call to him.
What a different tax collector went home through the same, familiar streets! Leaving home condemned, but returning home justified by God.
Paul writes in Romans 5, ‘Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’. The fruit of justification is peace with God.
How many people are looking for peace these days! We live in a nation of unhappy, restless people, who have not located the seat of their trouble. They are not seeking peace with God, but for peace from within their own hearts and lives. Yet the root trouble is our sinful heart which, from birth, is estranged from God.
When you have found peace with God, you will have peace in your soul — and not before. There is no trite formula for achieving this. It is not finding peace with God through religious mumbo-jumbo, but through seeking him in the name of the Jesus who died and rose again.
You say to the Lord, ‘Deal with me in mercy, for Jesus’ sake’. In penitence of heart you find forgiveness for your sin and, by faith, receive the righteousness of Christ.
The fifth link of the golden chain is glorification. Why does Paul omit ‘sanctification’ from the chain? Why isn’t sanctification there as a sixth link, between justification and glorification?
Because it is part of glorification. Sanctification is glory begun; and glory is sanctification consummated.
How daring is the apostle’s use of words here! He uses the past tense rather than the future for ‘glorified’. In other words, glorification is as absolutely certain as ‘foreknowledge’, ‘predestination’, ‘calling’ and ‘justification’.
Being glorified is not a matter of speculation; it is not even a strong possibility. It is absolutely certain! It’s as if glory has already been accomplished in us, because we are joined to Christ and Christ is in glory now.
Jesus is our head and we his body and it is impossible for the living head and living body to be separated. We are as glorified in status now as we shall be when we see him, and are in reality as glorious as he is.
The truths of Romans 8:30 make up a golden chain, because not one link can be broken. This chain comes down from heaven and it draws up to heaven all those whom the Father has given to the Son; not one of them is lost.
The chain gives certainty to salvation. Salvation is the work of God from beginning to end; it is all that Jesus Christ by himself has accomplished. He has made every link and attaches the chain to us.
He breaks all the chains of condemnation linking us to our wretched past. No chains of sin can pull us to hell, because chains of glory are drawing us to heaven.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If just one of the five links depended merely on the religious efforts of man, it would be hopeless. That weak link would inevitably break and the whole chain be destroyed; we would drop into hell. But, if all the links are fashioned by omnipotence, then nothing can destroy them or us.
You wouldn’t drive your car on a dangerous road without a safety belt. Without that belt fastened, you might have an accident, be thrown through the windscreen and receive horrible injuries. Yet, without Christ, you are on a dangerous journey towards death and judgement.
God has provided a wonderful golden chain to hold you safe. Have you asked God to wrap it around you?
Often we are satisfied by good health and relative prosperity. Things are going well for us, at least at present, and we forget about the golden chain and how it extends into glory.
Think again! The golden chain was planned before the world was made. It was formed by the life and death of God the Son. It will last throughout this age and on to everlasting, heavenly glory.
Today, we are in transition, travelling in a foreign land and along a narrow way. On one side of us there is a bottomless pit and on the other a lake of fire. Only the golden chain of grace can keep us safe.
God is offering you this golden chain of salvation. Wrap it around you! Ask the Lord to attach it to you and bring you to everlasting glory. There is nothing like it!