August 30, 2014 by directorfsm
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
– – – Galatians 2:16
Midway in the Order of Salvation we find the doctrine of Justification. I think it is fitting that this doctrine has its place here. It is the bridge between our old sinful nature and the new nature infused by the grace of God.
Everyone I have ever spoken to wants justice, or so they claim. The truth of the matter is if we as individual really got the justice we deserve we would be in dire straits. Sinful man (woman) should have no expectation of a merciful justice being doled out upon them. No our expectation in response to our sinful nature should be nothing more than pain and suffering.
For some this outcome is inevitable but for those whom God has chosen to share the Good News there is a secure hope. Titus 3:7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Justification by faith alone, through Christ alone was the realization that changed Martin Luther’s life and the church forever. It was while he meditated on Romans 1:17, “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” That he was pricked by the Holy Spirit and concluded that the righteous that the Apostle Paul spoke of was not the punishment we deserved but the merciful righteousness that God freely gives to sinners. Not all sinners, only those whom he chooses and solely on the basis of Christ’s virtues (for man in his sinful state has no virtue before God). Luther recognized that the doctrine of justification by grace alone (sola gratia) through faith alone (per sola fidem) because of Christ alone (solus Christus) was the heart of the gospel and the core of salvation.
Let us now explore three areas; 1) the need for justification 2) the meaning of justification and 3) the means of justification.
Anyone who has read the bible will most likely be familiar with Rom 3:23 We are all guilty of sin and Rom 6:23 The penalty for sin is death. As we noted earlier everyone wants justice and that include God. At the same time I know of no one who truly welcomes death as punishment and again that includes God.
If we are condemned to death by our sinful yearnings and at the same time desire to escape the penalty for said sin our actions must become justified before God. In other words our sins must be able to be exempt by God. No one can escape this need. It is with us from birth.
In defining biblical terms I often find it useful to use Webster’s Dictionary of 1828:
1. The act of justifying; a showing to be just or conformable to law, rectitude or propriety; vindication; defense. The court listened to the evidence and arguments in justification of the prisoner’s conduct. Our disobedience to God’s commands admits no justification.
4. In theology, remission of sin and absolution from guilt and punishment; or an act of free grace by which God pardons the sinner and accepts him as righteous, on account of the atonement of Christ.
Justification is a legal or judicial term. What justification is, said the Reformers, must be learned from Paul, its great New Testament expositor, who sees it clearly and precisely as a judicial act of God pardoning and forgiving our sins, accepting us as righteous, and instating us as his sons. http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/sola-fide-the-reformed-doctrine-of-justification/
Calvin defines justification as “acceptance, whereby God receives us into his favour and regards us as righteous; and we say that it consists in the remission of sins and the imputation of the righteousness of Christ.”
We are all sinners and therefore all guilty and all deserving of death and eternal damnation. But Christ for Christ this would be the lot of everyone.
This is where we will spend the majority of our time. First as we have seem we care totally and completely incapable of Justifying ourselves before God. There is nothing we can do to earn our acceptance before by Him.
Therefore considering our sinful state and total inability to do anything about it we come to the inevitable conclusion that Christ alone, His substituting righteousness is the only grounds for justification. Faith is acknowledging our unrighteousness while looking to Christ as our righteousness.
Faith is our act, but not our work; it is an instrument of reception without being a means of merit; it is the work in us of the Holy Spirit, who both evokes it and through it ingrafts us into Christ in such a sense that we know at once the personal relationship of sinner to Saviour and disciple to Master and with that the dynamic relationship of resurrection life, communicated through the Spirit’s indwelling. So faith takes, and rejoices, and hopes, and loves, and triumphs.
The faith of the individual must be seen as having no value in itself, but as discovering value wholly and solely through movement towards and committal to Christ. It must be seen as simply a means of finding all one’s hope outside oneself in the person and work of another; and not in any sense an originating cause or objective ground of justification. For true faith is active only in the man who is wholly occupied with Christ; its practice means that every blessing is received from another. For this reason faith is exclusive and intolerant of company; it is only truly present when any and every contribution towards his salvation on the part of the believer or on the part of the Church is absolutely and unequivocally shut out. Justification must be seen and received as a blessing dependent wholly and exclusively on Christ alone, on what he is and what he has done—a blessing enjoyed simply through being joined directly to him, through finding one’s all in him, through drawing one’s all from him, without the interposition of any other mediator or mediating channel whatever. http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/sola-fide-the-reformed-doctrine-of-justification/
The following is taken from A Faith to Confess: The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 Rewritten in Modern English ©1975, Carey Publications, Ltd., 75 Woodhill Road, Leeds, U.K., LS16 7BZ Reprinted here by permission (Please Note I used KJV Text)
CHAPTER 11 – JUSTIFICATION
1. GOD freely justifies the persons whom He effectually calls. He does this, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins and by accounting them, and accepting them, as righteous. This He does for Christ’s sake alone, and not for anything wrought in them or done by them. The righteousness which is imputed to them, that is, reckoned to their account, is neither their faith nor the act of believing nor any other obedience to the gospel which they have rendered, but Christ’s obedience alone. Christ’s one obedience is twofold-His active obedience rendered to the entire divine law, and His passive obedience rendered in His death. Those thus justified receive and rest by faith upon Christ’s righteousness; and this faith they have, not of themselves, but as the gift of God.
Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Romans 4:5-8 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. 6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
Romans 5:17-19 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Romans 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified
Other confirming text include: John 1:12; 1Cor. 1:30-31; Eph. 1:7; 2:8-10; Phil. 3:8, 9.
2. The faith which receives and rests on Christ and His righteousness is the sole means of justification. Yet it is never alone in the person justified, but is invariably accompanied by all other saving graces. Nor is it a dead faith, for it works by love.
Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law
Galatians 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone;
2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
3. By His obedience and death Christ paid in full the debt of all those who are justified. By the sacrifice of Himself in His blood-shedding on Calvary, and His suffering on their behalf of the penalty they had incurred, He fully and absolutely satisfied all the claims which God’s justice had upon them. Yet their justification is altogether of free grace, firstly because Christ was the free gift of the Father to act on their behalf; secondly because Christ’s obedience and His satisfying the demands of the law was freely accepted on their behalf; and thirdly because nothing in them merited these mercies. Hence God’s exact justice and His rich grace are alike rendered glorious in the justification of sinners.
Isaiah 53:5-6 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Romans 3:26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him
1 Peter 1:18-19 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
Also see Eph. 1:6,7; 2:7; Heb. 10:14; 1
4. From all eternity God decreed to justify all the elect, and in the fullness of time Christ died for their sins and rose again for their justification. Nevertheless they are not justified personally until, in due time, the Holy Spirit actually applies to them the benefits of Christ’s Person and work.
Romans 4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification
Colossians 1:21-22 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
Titus 3:4-7 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
5. God continues to forgive the sins of all the justified. They can never lose their justification; but they may, by reason of sin, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure; in which case, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg God’s pardon, and renew their faith and repentance, God will not usually restore to them ‘the light of His countenance’.
Psalm 32:5 I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
Psalm 89:31-33 31 If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; 32 Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. 33 Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.
John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness
Also look at: Ps. 51; Matt. 6:12; 26:75; 1 John 1:7
6. Believers in Old Testament times were justified in precisely the same way as New Testament believers.
Romans 4:22-24 22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
Galatians 3:9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
Recapping this doctrine we can see
That all men are in need of being found justified before God.
This justification is a judicial act of God pardoning and forgiving our sins, accepting us as righteous, and instating us as his sons.
We are justified but by God pardoning our sins and by accounting us, and accepting us, as righteous.
This He does for Christ’s sake alone, and not for anything wrought in us or done by us.
This has been the same for all mankind from all eternity.
Until next time
In HIS Service