Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Theodore Beza: Christ has satisfied God's justice -- penal and preceptive -- once and for all, silencing the railings of the accuser

You say, Satan, that God is perfectly righteous and the Avenger of all iniquity. -- I confess it; but I add another property of His righteousness which you have left aside: since He is righteous, He is satisfied with having been paid once. You say next that I have infinite iniquities which deserve eternal death. -- I confess it; but I add what you have maliciously omitted: the iniquities which are in me have been very amply avenged and punished in Jesus Christ who has borne the judgment of God in my place (Rom 3:25; 1 Pet 2:24). That is why I come to a conclusion quite different from yours. Since God is righteous (Rom 3:26) and does not demand payment twice, since Jesus Christ, God and man (2 Cor. 5:19), has satisfied by infinite obedience (Rom 5:19; Phil 2:8) the infinite majesty of God (Rom 8:33), it follows that my iniquities can no longer bring me to ruin (Col. 2:14); they are already blotted out and washed out of my account by the blood of Jesus Christ who was made a curse for me (Gal 3:13), and who righteous, died for the unrighteous (1 Pet 2:24).

... Here is the second assault that Satan can raise against us on account of our unworthiness: It is not sufficient to have no sin, or to have satisfied for sins. But more is necessary; that man should fulfil all the Law, that is to say, that he love God perfectly and his neighbour as himself (Deut. 17:26; Gal 3:10-12; Matt 22:3740). Bring therefore this righteousness, Satan will say to our poor conscience, or know well that you cannot escape the wrath and curse of God.

Now, against this assault, what will all men profit us except Christ alone? For it is a question of perfect obedience which is never found in any save in Jesus Christ alone. Let us learn therefore here to appropriate to ourselves once more, by faith, another treasure of Jesus Christ: His righteousness. We know that it is He who has fulfilled all righteousness (Matt 3:15: Phil 2:8; Is 53:11). He has given a perfect obedience and love to God His Father, and has perfectly loved His enemies (Rom 5:6-10) as far as being made a curse for them, as St. Paul says (Gal 3:13); that is to say, as far as bearing, for them, the judgment of the wrath of God (Col. 1:22; 2 Cor. 5:21). Thus, being clothed with this perfect righteousness which is given to us through faith, as if it were properly our own (Eph. 1:7-8), we can be acceptable to God (John 1:12; Rom 8:17), as brothers and co-heirs of Jesus Christ.

On this point, Satan must of necessity close his mouth, provided we have the faith to receive Jesus Christ and all the benefits He possesses in order to communicate them to those who believe in Him (Rom 8:33).

(Theodore Beza, “Faith and Justification”)

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