What do you think of when you picture standing before God’s throne for the first time?
Perhaps you tremble at the thought. You picture your knees knocking together, your hands shaking, waiting for the deepest, darkest parts of your heart, the most shameful moments of your life to be displayed on a giant screen for all to see. You picture God as judge, glaring down at you, gavel in hand. You are unworthy. You shudder as you await the verdict.
- God is holy. He cannot allow sin in His presence.
- God is just. He must punish sin.
- God is also love. He desires all men to be saved.
Truly, we have all missed the mark. We are woefully far from God’s holy standards. But because of God’s glorious grace, if we repent and believe, the scene in heaven will look very different. God is still judge, but we have miraculously been changed. For although we were once sinners, at the moment of our salvation we were justified.
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
We had no righteousness of our own. Our righteousness is like filthy rags (Isa 64:6). Since the justice of God demands punishment of sin, since the holiness of God cannot allow unrighteousness in His presence, He offers to us the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The spotless, holy Lamb of God sacrificed Himself in our place. When we place our trust in Jesus Christ and receive His sacrifice on our behalf, everything changes. The courtroom of heaven no longer looms threateningly.
When the individual receives Christ he is placed in Christ. This is what makes him righteous. We are made the righteousness of God in Him. This righteousness overcomes our desperate, sinful condition, and measures up to all the demands of God’s holiness. – Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology
Standing before the throne of God in our desperate, sinful condition we are certainly deserving of His wrath and judgment. But when I stand before Him dressed in the righteousness of Christ, I have nothing to fear. My sin has been atoned for. No shameful scenes will be replayed for all eternity – they are washed away, forgotten; I stand before the throne declared righteous. I could never measure up to the demands of God’s holiness – but Jesus did so on my behalf.
I have been justified. It is just-as-if-I’d never sinned.
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss to bear the dreadful curse for my soul?
When I was sinking down, sinking down;
When I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown, Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.
To God and to the Lamb I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb who is the great “I Am,” while millions join the theme I will sing.