Ready for the Day of God
Sometimes the idea has prevailed that Paul's message was just what was needed to prepare men for dying in the Lord, but that some new element would be necessary to prepare men to stand in the great day of God. But we shall see, without the slightest shadow of a doubt, that Paul's message of justification was the one and only way men could stand in the day of God.
"Being justified by faith," says the apostle, "we . . . rejoice in hope of the glory of God." And again: "Being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." Rom. 5:1, 2, 9.
The wrath of God is contained in the seven last plagues. Justification is the covering from the day of wrath (see also Ibid., p. 363). Being justified, God's people have every reason to rejoice in the prospect of the coming day.
In Romans 8:30 the apostle says: "Whom He justified, them he also glorified." Justification means that God's people are prepared for glorification. So also could Ellen White say: "If you are right with God today, you are ready if Christ should come today." —In Heavenly Places, p. 227.
Paul ends Romans 8 with a shout of holy triumph. Being justified by the grace of God in Christ, he declares that we are ready for life, death, judgment, day of wrath—in short, all things present and all things to come. Such is the all-sufficiency of God's justification.
Paul's consistent emphasis throughout the epistles is that the church may stand ready and waiting for the coming of Christ by faith in His finished work. To the Corinthians who thought that they would have to go on from Paul to some other high spiritual ecstasies in order to meet the approval of God on the last day, the apostle declared in words of great clarity:
"I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; that in every thing ye are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 1:4-8.
Notice: the grace given to the Corinthians through the message of Paul constituted them ready for the coming of Christ. They came behind in no gift, for in Christ they were enriched in everything.
Paul reminded the Thessalonians how they "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven." 1 Thess. 1:9, 10. He closed his letter by saying, "I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thess. 5:23.
Paul did not, in this context, urge the church to go on to become blameless in mind and soul and body. He prayed that God would preserve them in their condition of blamelessness. This means that through faith in Christ they were already blameless. Christ died on the cross "to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight: if ye continue in the faith. . . ." Col. 1:22, 23. "Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate." Heb. 13:12. " . . . we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." Heb. 10:10. Through faith in Jesus' blood, God's people stand before Him as wholly sanctified moment by moment. And more than that: "For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." Heb. 10:14. Only by faith in this finished work of Christ can God's people wait with confidence and rejoicing for the great day of God. Being justified by faith, the believer is ready. Paul's emphasis is on staying ready rather than on getting ready. Jesus also said, "Be ye also ready." No one could ever look to his own spiritual attainments and be confident that he was ready. But the Lord says, "All things are ready." Matt. 22:4. Faith so joins the soul to Christ, that before God he is as ready as Christ Himself.
Of course, the believer must continue in the faith if he is to be preserved blameless in God's sight. This faith must be confirmed by obedience, purified by trial and strengthened by steadfast endurance. Every believer has enough righteousness for the day of God—unless someone is bold enough to say that the righteousness of God is not enough (Rom. 3:21, 22). The struggle is not to get enough righteousness for the day of God, but to maintain our faith in the One who is our righteousness.