I. The Need for Justification
A. God's Wrath: "[W]e are all wrong with [God] because we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God[, earning] God's wrath (Rom 1:18): this is our situation and it is our relation to God; [therefore,] how can we be right with him?"
B. The Question Raised: "[H]ow can sinful man become just with God?... Justification is the answer and justification is the act of God's free grace. (Rom 8:33)
II. The Definition of Justification
A. Justification is NOT to be Confused with Regeneration, Sanctification, or Glorification: "Justification does not mean to make righteous, or good, or holy, or upright. It is perfectly true that in the application of redemption God makes people holy and upright. He renews them after his own image. He begins to do this in regeneration and he carries it on in the work of sanctification. He will perfect it in glorification. But justification does not refer to this renewing and sanctifying grace of God."
B. According to the Common Use of the Term, "Justification" Does NOT Mean "To Make Righteous": "When we justify a person we do not make that person good or upright. When a judge justifies an accused person he does not make that person an upright person. He simply declares that in his judgment the person is not guilty of the accusation but is upright in terms of the law relevant to the case. In a word, justification is simply a declaration or pronouncement respecting the relation of the person to the law which he, the judge, is required to administer."
C. According to the Biblical Use of the Term, "Justification" Does NOT Mean "To Make Righteous":
1. As seen in the activity of righteous judges under the Mosaic Law: "[In the OT Law-as seen in passages like Deut 25:1] it was not the function of judges to make people righteous. The meaning is simply and only that the judges were to give a just judgment..."
2. As seen in the contrast between justification and condemnation: "Justification is contrasted with condemnation (cf. Deut 25:1; Prov 17:15; Rom 8:33-34). Condemn never means to make wicked, and so justify cannot mean to make good or upright" [emphasis added].
D. JUSTIFICATION IS FORENSIC: "It has to do with a judgment given, declared, or pronounced;"
III. Justification Based Upon Imputation
A. The Difference Between Human and Divine Justification: "Man must condemn the wicked, and he may justify only the righteous... God justifies the ungodly" [emphases in original].
B. Divine Justification a "Constitutive Act": "Justification is therefore a constitutive act whereby the righteousness of Christ is imputed to our account and we are accordingly accepted as righteous in God's sight."
C. The Ground of Justification, NOT Our Own Works: "Justification is not by the righteousness of performance on our part; it is not of works (Rom 3:20; 4:2; 10:3-4; Gal 2:16; 3:11; 5:4; Phil 3:9)."
D. The Ground of Justification, An Alien Righteousness:
1. The righteousness of God: "It is by the righteousness of God that we are justified (Rom 1:17; 3:21-22; 10:3; Phil 3:9)."
2. The obedience of Christ: "The obedience of Christ must therefore be regarded as the ground of justification: it is the righteousness which God not only takes into account but reckons to our account when he justifies the ungodly"[emphases in original]... "The righteousness of justification is the righteousness and obedience of Christ (Rom 5:17-19)."
IV. Justification Is By Faith Alone
A. PROOFS: "We are justified by faith, or through faith, or upon faith (cf. Rom 1:17; 3:22, 25-28, 30; 4:3,5,16, 24; 5:1; Gal 2:16; 3:8-9; 5:4-5; Phil 3:9)."
B. Faith, the Instrument by Which We Are Justified: "[F]aith is an indispensable instrumentality in connection with justification."
C. Faith, The Prerequisite to Justification: "We are justified by faith and faith is the prerequisite... God justifies those who believe in Jesus and upon the event of faith."
D. Faith Takes Hold of Christ and His Righteousness: "[F]aith... receives and rests upon another, in this case Christ and his righteousness."
E. Faith and Works Antithetical: "Faith stands in antithesis to works; there can be no amalgam of these two (cf. Gal 5:4)."
V. The Old Objection: 'Justification by Faith Alone Leads to License'
A. Justifying Faith Works Itself Out Through Love: "Faith works itself out through love (cf. Gal 5:6)."
B. Justifying Faith Does Works: "And faith without works is dead" (cf. James 2:17-20).
C. Justifying Faith Is Living Faith: "It is living faith that justifies and living faith unites to Christ both in virtue of his death and in the power of his resurrection. No one has entrusted himself to Christ for the deliverance from the guilt of sin who has not also entrusted himself to him for the deliverance from the power of sin" (Rom 6:1-2).
Labels: Reformation Theology