“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
God gave up His only Son because He loves the world. Yes, Jesus took away the sins of the world. He didn’t merely die for the elect. Because of His death, God’s vengeance has been stayed, and He forgives every sinner. Yet not all the world will be saved. Many sinners will perish eternally. Many sinners will be condemned. Faith is necessary for salvation. People will only be saved if they depend on the Savior. Jesus gives eternal life to them, and trust in Jesus alone receives that eternal life as free gift from Him.
A king could pardon every criminal in his kingdom and the guards could open every prison cell at his command. Unfortunately, such grace will do the prisoner no good if he refuses to believe the good news, crosses his arms, and stays in his cell.
In other words, justification is both objective and subjective at the same time. It is an objective fact: Jesus Christ died for you and His blood cleanses you from all your sins. The Word of Absolution objectively delivers that forgiveness right to you?into your ears and soul! Justification is also subjective. It is received by every individual believer through faith in Christ alone.
In fact, the faith that believes in Jesus and trusts what He done for us at Calvary and in His Gifts? That faith is a free gift of the Holy Spirit. Through His work you receive Jesus, salvation, trust Him, and are justified.
O God, who gave Your Holy Spirit to the apostles, grant us that same Spirit that we may live in faith and abide in peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.