Monday, December 21, 2009

James Buchanan: Biblical justification answers the most pressing questions regarding sinful man's standing before a just God

James Buchanan on the importance of the biblical doctrine of justification:

[The biblical doctrine of justification] is an attempt to solve the deepest problem, and to answer the most anxious question, which conscience continually prompts men to raise, but which their minds strive in vain to determine--'How shall a man be just with God?' or, 'How can God be just,' and yet 'justify the ungodly?' That great problem may seldom occur to those that are habitually unmindful of God, and of their relation to Him; and should it be suggested to their minds, it will probably be lightly dismissed, as long as they cherish slight views of sin, and have little or no sense of their solemn responsibilities and prospects as subjects of the righteous government of God. ... The Gospel of Christ alone has presented that problem in all its magnitude, and in its just proportions; and the Gospel of Christ alone has offered a solution of it, based on a full view of the Attributes of God,--of the unalterable requirements of His Law,--of the principles and ends of His Moral Government,--and of the state, character, and prospects of man, as a dying yet immortal being, chargeable with past guilt, and still depraved by inherent sin. (James Buchanan, Justification, pp. 405-406, Banner of Truth, 1997 -- reprinted from the 1867 original)

. . .

The mere statement of such a problem, and of its indispensable conditions,--including the glory of God, the honour of His law, and the ends of His moral government, as well as the pardon of sin, and the salvation of sinners,--is peculiar to the Gospel of Christ, and may well be regarded as a proof of its superhuman origin: but the solution of it, by the Incarnation, Substitution, and Satisfaction of the Son of God Himself, is such a marvellous manifestation of divine wisdom as 'it could never have entered into the mind of man to conceive.' For none other than the infinite mind of God was capable of such a conception, either of Love, or of Justice, as that on which it is based; and far less of carrying it into effect in the stupendous work of Redemption. It may be esteemed as 'foolishness' by those who have never seriously considered, or sufficiently realised, the conditions of the great problem; but no sooner is any one brought, under the teaching of the Word and Spirit of God, to apprehend them aright, and to apply them in earnest to the case of his own soul, than that which hitherto seemed to be 'foolishness,' is seen to be the 'wisdom of God.' Hence,--while the very repugnance with which it is regarded by many affords ample evidence that it could never have been invented by men,--the best and most convincing evidence of its divine origin is discerned, when it is seen to be worthy of the infinite perfections of God, as well as adapted to the most urgent wants of man; and when 'He who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shines into our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.' (Ibid., pp. 407-408).

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