Jesus is the first and the last in the pardon of sin. That there is forgiveness with God, forgiveness of the greatest sins, is one of the sweetest refrains in the music of the gospel. “Who is a God like unto you, who pardons iniquity, and passes by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage. He retains not His anger forever, because He delights in mercy.” But Jesus is the sum and substance of this pardon. It comes alone through His wounded body, His pierced and bleeding heart. There is no forgiveness of sin, no guilt-cleansing, no conscience purifying, but through the atoning blood of Jesus. “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission.” “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” To this blood, this blood alone, let me direct your eye, my sin-distressed, guilt-burdened reader. I ask not how many, nor hove deep a dye, your sins are. Enough that you feel, and are sensible of them; that you deplore, and mourn over them. I meet you with the blood, the blood that can wash your sin-tainted, guilt-oppressed soul whiter than snow. And how, you ask, am I to avail myself of this full and free pardon of sin? I answer, simply and only by believing in Jesus. Listen to the proof: “For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us.”
Oh, what precious words are these! “What!” you respond, “is there pardon for me?- is there forgiveness for one so vile as I?” Yes; through the blood of Jesus, there is a complete, a free, a present pardon- a pardon which no unworthiness shall ever cancel, which no ingratitude shall ever revoke. Believing this truth- experiencing the blood of atonement upon the conscience- how sincere and earnest will be your desire never to presume upon this irrevocable, ineffaceable forgiveness of a sin-hating, yet a sin-forgiving God, but will only, and all the more, draw from it your strongest obligation to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live godly, righteously, and soberly in this evil world.”
Christ is also the first and the last of our justification before God. As in our pardon, so in our justification, nothing of our own finds a place. Not a shred of our own doings is woven in the web of our righteousness. How luminously the apostle argues this truth! “For no one can ever be made right in God’s sight by doing what his law commands. For the more we know God’s law, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying it. But now God has shown us a different way of being right in his sight—not by obeying the law but by the way promised in the Scriptures long ago. We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done.” Thus clear is it that, if we are ever justified, it must be by a righteousness entirely foreign to ourselves- by the righteousness of another.
And who is He? Even Him who is entitled “The Lord our Righteousness.” Of this justifying, this acquitting righteousness, this righteousness imputed to us who believe, and without a work of our own, Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last. It is all in His divine and full obedience to every precept of the law in our stead; so that every believing soul is “accepted in the Beloved,” and is “complete in Him.” The crowning of this great truth, is the declaration of the apostle- “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” Behold the method of our justification!
To read the rest of the chapter Christ, the Alpha and Omega, click here.