I posted this illustration back in July. Several people have linked to it, but if you missed it the first time here it is again. I hope that it encourages you.
Two brothers were talking one day. One of them had made a great success of his business career and had amassed a fortune. The other brother had made one bad decision after another and in the end racked up debts that he had no way of paying for.And yet, as wonderful as this would be, it is not enough to adequately illustrate the gospel.
One day, as they are talking together, the brother with the debts tells the other of his folly and shame.
The millionaire brother takes out his cheque book and asks "How much do you owe?" He then writes out a cheque and hands it to his brother and says "all your debts are cleared."
Taking hold of the cheque, with a lump in his throat, the other brother says "how can I ever find words to express how much your kindness means to me."
Revisit the scene:
One day, as they are talking together, the brother with the debts tells the other of his folly and shame. The millionaire brother...paused...and said "let's swap bank accounts. I will take your debts and you may have all my riches."That is the gospel.
Here are some statements that express the truth in clear terms:
The gospel is not just that we are forgiven, but that believers are reckoned as law keepers for the sake of Christ's law keeping credited to them (Rom. 4:3; 2 Cor 5:19-21; Gal 3:6). Whoever trusts in Jesus and rests in his finished work alone is righteous before God. It is as if the Christian has performed all that the law requires.And in the statements of the Heidelberg Catechism:
R. Scott Clark, "Do This and Live," in Covenant Justification and Pastoral Ministry, p. 265
By becoming incarnate, the Son of God became the representative and substitute for sinners, in his life keeping the law of God in all its demands and in his death bearing the full punishment that sin merits in the estimate of God. This provision of righteousness coram deo [before God] is the supreme expression of the grace of God--not just something undeserved but the opposite of what is deserved.
Hywel R. Jones, "Preaching Sola Fide Better," in Covenant Justification and Pastoral Ministry, p. 321
- 60. How are you righteous before God?
Only by true faith in Jesus Christ:1 that is, although my conscience accuses me, that I have grievously sinned against all the commandments of God, and have never kept any of them,2 and am still prone always to all evil;3 yet God, without any merit of mine,4 of mere grace,5 grants and imputes to me the perfect satisfaction,6 righteousness, and holiness of Christ,7 as if I had never committed nor had any sins, and had myself accomplished all the obedience which Christ has fulfilled for me;8 if only I accept such benefit with a believing heart.9
1 Rom 3:21-28; Gal 2:16; Eph 2:8-9; Php 3:8-11; 2 Rom 3:9-10; 3 Rom 7:23; 4 Dt 9:6; Ezek 36:22; Tit 3:4-5; 5 Rom 3:24; Eph 2:8; 6 1 Jn 2:2; 7 Rom 4:3-5; 2 Cor 5:17-19; 1 Jn 2:1; 8 Rom 4:24-25; 2 Cor 5:21; 9 Jn 3:18; Acts 16:30-31; Rom 3:22, 28, 10:10
- 61. Why do you say that you are righteous by faith only?
Not that I am acceptable to God on account of the worthiness of my faith, but because only the satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ is my righteousness before God;1 and I can receive the same and make it my own in no other way than by faith only.2
1 1 Cor 1:30-31, 2:2; 2 Isa 53:5; Rom 4:16, 10:10; Gal 3:22; 1 Jn 5:10-12