Every summer millions of US citizens cross the international border and enter into foreign countries. In order to travel abroad, one needs to obtain a passport. In order to obtain a passport one needs a certified copy of his or her birth certificate.

What does that mean, certified? Certified by whom? Certified in what way? Certified to say or be what?

Webster defines the idea to certify thus: to declare a thing true, accurate, certain, etc. by formal statement, often in writing; to verify, attest, guarantee.

So, a certified copy of one’s birth certificate is a copy which has been made by the official custodian of birth records for the county in which the person was born (the County Clerk and Recorder, the Director of the Department of Health, etc.) and guaranteed by that Government Official to be a true and accurate representation of the document that is on file within their custody.

But, who can certify the certifier? For some legal proceedings it is necessary to get an additional layer of guarantee from the government. In the case of birth records and such this additional layer is called an apostille.

An apostille is an additional seal placed on some documents in order to verify the verifier. In the case of a certified birth certificate, the County Clerk and Recorder certifies the birth certificate and then the Secretary of State guarantees that the County Clerk and Recorder really is the County Clerk and Recorder!

This can go on forever, can’t it?

Take the case of a Last Will and Testament as another example of this multi-layered approach to certification:

  • A person signs a will.
  • Two or three witnesses (depending on the state’s laws) then sign the same will saying that the Testator really signed the will.
  • Then, a Notary Public signs the same will saying that the witnesses really saw the Testator sign and really signed their names AFTER the Testator.
  • Then, the Notary Public affixes a seal saying that she is really who she says she is, and then . . ..

In the case of human beings, we need multiple layers of guarantee just to be sure that the document is genuine. Not so with God.

“[But] when God made promise to Abraham, since he could swear by none greater, he sware by himself . . .” (Hebrews 6:13). I think of the movie, Oh God in which George Burns, playing the Big Guy, says “I swear to tell the truth, so help me … me.”

Our justification, our righteousness–God’s righteousness imputed to us based upon our faith in Jesus Christ–is based upon the sworn promise of God. Human redemption is guaranteed by the character of Jehovah.

Nothing more is required to guarantee that promise. All that is needed now is a little trust on the part of sinful human beings.

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