The title of my post could get some of you riled up, and maybe you need to be. For Paul teaches both at Romans 4:25 and here in Romans 5:9-11 that justification — that act whereby God makes us right with God (the Trinity) and with ourselves and with others and with the world (that’s how big I see “justification”) — isn’t the end of God’s grace. There’s lots more beyond justification.
And here’s where God’s act brings us: from being messed up Eikons to being made right (as God puts the world to rights through Christ) and then on to “salvation” (here surely a very big word — not at all unlike the holistic restoration of Eikons). His death justifies us (makes us right) and his life (code word for resurrection) gives us salvation. His sacrificial death removes us from historic wrath and gives us life. His death justifies, his life preserves us from wrath.
Now it is time for each of us, and I’d be happy to see you give an example of what Paul must mean by “salvation” if it is what happens to us “beyond justification,” to think about justification as one stop on the path to glorious redemption. It is not designed just to stop us with being made right, but to put us into a condition to “be right,” to be God’s people in this world as agents of embracing grace.
The other word Paul is using here, and it seems to be the heated and glowing mixture of both “justification” and “salvation,” is reconciliation. In this context, then, I’d say that justification plus salvation is reconciliation. [But see my comment below, for it is just as easy to take reconciliation as a near equivalent to justification, and salvation as the final completion.]
Such a process of going through and beyond justification leads to rejoicing in God through Christ in this reconciliation. We find our final joy, in other words, in God. This is what worship is all about. This is what spirituality is all about. This is what “churching” is all about. It is what it is ALL about. Where God will be All in All.
A good time perhaps for us now to Face God and Let God be God for us.
No one I’ve read in 30 years of Biblical study does a better job of teaching us the joy in God that is ours in Christ than John Piper, and I first read it in his Desiring God and it has been the theme of his entire teaching ministry.