With the acceptance of the gospel come countless glorious benefits. To name just a few, we have our sins forgiven and are cleansed from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). We are “blessed…in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3; also see 1 Peter 1:4). We are adopted as sons and daughters into the family of God (Ephesians 1:5; also see Romans 8:14-16). As a result of this, we are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). We also receive the Holy Spirit, who teaches us and helps us remember the words of Christ (John 14:26). Finally, we are promised that one day, Christ will return to Earth to establish his eternal Kingdom, and he will make “all things new” (Revelation 21:5), including our physical bodies, which will be perfected and “raised…imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:42).
Of course, this is just the beginning. There are many other blessings that we experience now and will experience in Heaven as a result of confessing that Jesus is Lord and believing that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9). But all of these are but glorious means to one magnificent end: seeing God and delighting in him. Consider the following example from Scripture.
In the following text, we see that the key tenet of the gospel, which is justification, is a means to restore our relationship with God. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Justification is the act of being declared righteous or innocent which, in this case, is God declaring those who place their faith in Christ righteous. This happens as a miracle by the Holy Spirit who gives us a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26) and enlightens the eyes of our heart (Ephesians 1:18) to see our sin for what it is⎯an insult to God by not seeing him as valuable⎯and repent of it, and then turning “by faith” to the finished work of Christ.
Through this action, we are relieved of the burden to bear the punishment of our own sins because the punishment is placed on Christ (Isaiah 53:5) and, in return, his righteousness is counted to us as if it were our own. “For our sake he made him who knew so sin to be sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). This is what justification means. It is done “through our Lord Jesus Christ” and is received “by faith” in him. But as wonderful as this gift of justification is, we see from the verse in Romans that justification is not an end in itself. There is a purpose behind it.
“Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God.” You could say this in another way, that, “Peace with God is the result of justification.” Before conversion, we “were alienated and hostile to mind, doing evil deeds,” (Colossians 1:21) and had our minds set on the things of the flesh, which is “hostile to God” (Romans 8:5, 7). We were once “far off” from God (Ephesians 2:13). But through justification⎯the removal of our sins, and imputation of Christ’s righteousness⎯we are at peace with the One whose wrath we formally under. The words of one of my favorite hymns certainly rings true to this: “He to rescue me from danger interposed his precious blood.” Justification brings peace.
Have you ever had a relationship with someone, maybe a friend or a family member, and at some point, you were at odds with one another and the relationship was strained? Perhaps there was a strong disagreement between you two, or one person said or did something that hurt the other. Things were said back and forth in attempts to resolve the issue, but they really just threw more fuel on the fire. Or maybe there was silence altogether and you didn’t speak for a long period of time. But maybe, after things had been strained for months, maybe even years, the issue is resolved and your relationship is restored. Apologies and forgiveness are offered and accepted, and you once again enjoy the sweet fellowship of the person you were once at odds with and hostile to.
So it is with God when we are justified. Justification breaks down the walls and hostility that laid between us and him. Except, in this case, God is not and never will be the one in the wrong; we are. Regardless, though we are in the wrong, God is the one who offers us forgiveness for all the wrongs we have ever committed against him and a fresh start. As a result of being forgiven and clothed in Christ’s righteousness, we are restored to a relationship with him, which is sweeter than any earthly relationship we could ever have. Jesus is the “friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
This is the goal of the gospel: to see God and enjoy him for who he is. This is not at all to minimize the great and glorious gifts of the gospel, but to elevate and exalt the One who gives them.