Some students from our youth group and I have been going through a small book over the past few weeks called, What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert. We’re over halfway through it now, and it has been focus on the central message of Christianity, to identify the sharp edges of the gospel, and to gain confidence in sharing God’s plan of redemption with those who have yet to hear and respond.

As I read them last week, I found the closing two paragraphs of chapter 5, “Response – Faith and Repentance”, to be poignant in a couple of ways. First, they pose a question that gets at the heart of the message of the gospel: How do I secure “a righteous verdict from God the Judge, rather than a guilty one?” (75). Such is the greatest need of all humanity and the need God has met through Jesus.

And, second, these words exalt in the glory of God in the salvation of sinners. They point to God’s work in Christ as the sole means of being justified before God. They rejoice in the beauty of the gospel.

When you stand before God at the judgment, I wonder what you plan to do or say in order to convince him to count you righteous and admit you to all the blessings of his kingdom? What good deed or godly attitude will you pull out of your pocket to impress him? Will you pull out your church attendance? Your family life? Your spotless thought life? The fact that you haven’t done anything really heinous in your own eyes? I wonder what you’ll hold up before him while saying, “God, on account of this, justify me!”

I’ll tell you what every Christian whose faith is in Christ alone will do, by God’s grace. They will simply and quietly point to Jesus. And this will be their plea: “O God, do not look for any righteousness in my own life. Look at your Son. Count me righteous not because of anything I’ve done or anything I am, but because of him. He lived the life I should have lived. He died the death that I deserve. I have renounced all other trusts, and my plea is him alone. Justify me, O God, because of Jesus.”