The Cross Justifies the Existence of All Life
Christ commissioned the Apostle Paul to explain the gospel to the Gentiles. Thus he was inspired to teach the clearest gospel of them all. His epistle to the Romans contains the teaching of God’s universal justification for the existence of all sinful life. Notice that the first half of the sentence contains the word “all” which is understood as the subject of the last half of the sentence. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [the “all” are] being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 2:23, 24. It isn’t difficult to see that without exception, everyone born into the world has sinned. It is the “all [who] have sinned” that are “being justified.” This, of course, is a legal term meaning pardoned from sin, on the basis of a redemptive price paid by Christ. As an objective, legal reality, all human life is acquitted from sin because of the redemption of the cross.
As we move through Romans 5 this legal reality of justification of life looms large and explicit. We read that “Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6). The “ungodly” are the impiously wicked. This is the natural inheritance from Adam of all who come into the world. But “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). There is no need to emphasize that the class of “sinners” involves all for whom Christ died.
Furthermore, “when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son” (vs. 10). So the whole class of sinners, as enemies of God, were “reconciled,” (past tense), “by the death of His Son.” The notion of enemies being in a state of hostility toward God requires a legal settlement of hostilities, as well as a pathway to experience a restoration of peace. God has set forth the judicial peace at Calvary. This initiates the road map to experience peace by which we are “being reconciled” to God and “shall be saved by His life” (vs. 10).
Paul forthrightly states the objective, legal, setting right of the race in Rom. 5:18: “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation [κατακριμα is the punishment of eternal death]; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” Adam’s one sin was judged (vs. 16) by God and he was pronounced guilty for his personal sin, but since he was the fountain head of the whole human family and could only pass on to his descendants that which was in him, “all men” receive “condemnation,” i.e., the punishment, meaning eternal death.
However, Adam’s one offence is reversed by “the righteousness of one” which is “upon all men unto justification of life” (vs. 18).3 There is a reference here to “one act of righteousness” [see margin of KJV]; i.e., one judgment or decision. Obviously it was the Divine judgment against sin, which act was publicly displayed before the world, at the cross. He received the punishment for all the world’s sin. The Divine wrath against sin was executed upon Christ.
The cross was not done in a corner. Satan saw it. The angels beheld their beloved commander crucified. Our human representatives were there as eyewitnesses. It has been recorded as a witness for eternity in the Sacred Word. By means of the cross of Christ, it came “upon all men unto justification of life” (vs. 18). All of human life both in the past, present, and future exists because it is justified by the cross. Calvary justifies the existence of all life. So when reference is made to “justification of life” it is a specific Scriptural term for the legal reality of legitimizing, from God’s standpoint in His government, because of the great controversy with Satan, why He has given a second probation to sinful mankind. And this temporary probationary life of each individual is a real pardon from sin whether they are believers or unbelievers. It is a reality that goes far beyond the enjoyment of bread, food, family, loving relationships, a semblance of societal bliss, an accommodation of living within laws of social respect, etc. It goes far beyond making it possible for God to treat sinners in Christ as though they had never sinned. It is a fundamental answer to Satan’s charges to destroy sinners immediately if God’s government is one of law and order.
3 “There is no exception here. As the condemnation came upon all, so the justification comes upon all. Christ has tasted death for every man. He has given himself for all. Nay, he has given himself to every man. The free gift has come upon all. The fact that it is a free gift is evidence that there is no exception. If it came upon only those who have some special qualification, then it would not be a free gift. It is a fact, therefore, plainly stated in the Bible, that the gift of righteousness and life in Christ has come to every man on earth. There is not the slightest reason why every man that has ever lived should not be saved unto eternal life, except that they would not have it.” E. J. Waggoner, “Studies in Romans. The Free Gift,” The Signs of the Times 22, 11 (March 12, 1896), pp. 164, 165.