What is Justification?
”Justification is the article by which the church stands and falls.” -Attributed to Luther
“Justification is an instantaneous legal act of God in which He (1) thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us, and (2) declares us to be righteous in His sight.” -Grudem
Instantaneous, legal act –
- Romans 3:20, 4:4-5, 5:1, Gal 2:16, 3:24.
- Not a process, Justification is a declaration that we are righteous when our lives show otherwise. God acts as a judge, not a surgeon when justifying.
- Forensic Righteousness- having legal qualities.
Thinks of our sins as forgiven –
- “Just as if I never sinned.”
- Past, Present, and Future Sins – we are not held to pay the penalty.
- Rom 4:6-8, 8:1
- Forgiveness alone equals moral neutrality – God Requires perfection, not moral neutrality.
Gives Christ’s Righteousness –
- 2 Cor 5:21, 1 Cor 1:30.
- “It is essential to the heart of the gospel to insist that God declares us to be just or righteous not on the basis of our actual condition of righteousness or holiness, but rather on the basis of Christ’s perfect righteousness, which He thinks of as belonging to us.” – Grudem.
- Gives us assurance since justification is based on Christ’s righteousness and not our righteousness.
- This puts man higher morally than at creation.
What must I do to be saved?
Not by works but through our faith in Christ.
- Mark 1:15
- Repentance – “Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ.”
- Includes the whole person – Emotion, Volition, and Cognition.
- Faith –
- Rom 10:14 – requires knowledge
- Matt 7:22 – Requires trust, not just agreement that facts are good.
- Faith is a means and not a merit.
- Faith is the opposite of depending on ourselves. That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace – Rom 4:16
What about Works in James?
- Romans 3:28 – For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
- James 2:24 – You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
“There is no one doctrine in the whole Bible more fuller asserted, explained, and urged, than the doctrine of justification by faith alone, without any of our own righteousness.” -Jonathan Edwards
- Two Uses of “Justify”: make righteous (Paul) and show righteousness (James, cf Matt 12:37)
- The example of Abraham explains this, compare Jas 3:21, Gen 15:6, 22:12, and Heb 11:17
What About Old Testament Saints?
- Romans 3:22-26
- God allowed Old Testament Saints by passing over former sins. Jesus paid their price of life.
- They did not have full understanding, but trusted God.
- Hope and Assurance – We can be sure of heaven and don’t have to doubt our salvation
- Power – We have the power and promise to become what God declares we are
- Humility – There is nothing we did to become a Christian, it’s all God. This should lead to humility.
Final reminder: Theology cannot be separated from person-hood.
“To say God forgives sin is true. But in saying it that way, we must never lose sight of the fact that it is sinners from whom the liability of guilt is lifted. God punishes persons and He forgives persons. Some try to distinguish between sin and the sinner: “God hates sin; loves the sinner.” Such a separation isn’t possible. God sends sinners to hell; they, not their sin, are punished eternally. Christ, not the sin He bore, suffered and died on the cross.” – Jay Adams (Theology of Christian Counseling, 195)