Justification, an act of God or an act of man?

Justification, an act of God or an act of man? By Jack Kettler

How is man-made right with God? By his own works? By the works of another? Or a combination of his own works and the grace of God?

Martin Luther, a Protestant reformer was instrumental in rediscovering and formulating the doctrine “Justification by Faith.” Luther was influenced by Paul in Romans where he teaches: “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17) Luther saw in Scripture that man is made righteous in Christ by faith apart from and prior to works.

The English word justification comes from the Latin word justificare. Luther saw in Scripture that being justified involved the believer being made righteous by Christ’s righteous, not our own. Hence, it is called justitia alienum, a foreign or alien righteousness; a righteousness that belongs to someone else, namely, Christ. Christ’s righteousness is credited to us through the instrumentality of faith which itself is a gracious gift. See Ephesians 2:8. *

Martin Luther explained Christ’s righteousness being credited to us this way:

“If thou believe, thou art righteous, because thou givest glory unto God, that he is almighty, merciful, true, &c… And the sin which remaineth in thee, is not laid to thy charge, but is pardoned for Christ’s sake in whom thou believest, who is perfectly just; whose righteousness is thy righteousness, and thy sin is his sin.” (1)

Without using the theological term imputation, Luther introduces us to the idea our sin being transferred to Christ and Christ’s righteousness being transferred to us. This understanding is essential to the correct understanding of justification.

This is how the apostle Paul explains it:

“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 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.) 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. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:12-21)

This text from Paul deals with the federal headship of the human race under Adam and the redeemed race under the headship of Christ.

Imputation: A reckoning or crediting of something to a person. Used salvifically, it refers the crediting of the personal guilt or personal righteousness of another, as in the imputation of the sin of Adam to all his descendants, the imputation of the sins of human beings to Christ, or the imputation of the righteousness of Christ to believers. *

The following definition will be a good starting point for our understanding of justification.

Justification: A judicial act of God in which he pardons sinners and accepts them as righteous on the basis of Christ’s work on their behalf, which includes both his representative obedience to the law and his representative endurance of the penalty for their disobedience. *

Justification by faith alone or Sola Fide which is from the Latin. Sola Fide is a theological doctrine that differentiates the Lutheran, Presbyterian and Reformed divisions of Protestant Christianity from Romans Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox.

Sola Fide: The Reformed Doctrine of Justification:

“Of utmost importance is the question of how man is made righteous or justified before the Holy God of Scripture. Most misunderstandings in this area happen because of a confusion between justification and sanctification. Sanctification is a process that starts once a person becomes regenerate and lasts through the entirety of the Christian life. Justification, in contrast, is a judicial or forensic one-time act of God that involves the pardoning and forgiving of our sins, and accepting us as righteous in His sight because of what Christ accomplished for us. Moreover, justification is unequivocal or absolute for eternity. Our sins (the breaking of God’s law) were imputed to Christ in that he experienced God’s judgment on our behalf, and because of this, Christ’s righteousness (keeping the law perfectly) is imputed to us. We are therefore pardoned and counted as righteous for His sake. It is not a legal fiction as some may say; it is a fact in the courts of heaven based upon Christ’s perfect propitiatory sacrifice and accomplishment at Golgotha.

In further consideration, biblical justification involves the Hebrew verb tsayke, to which both the Greek word dikaioun and the Latin justificare refer, and is used in Scripture when dealing with passages on forensic or declared judicial righteousness. As noted, the Hebrew verb is forensic, and means to absolve someone in a trial, or to hold or to declare just, as opposed to the verb to condemn and to incriminate. See Exodus 23:7; Deuteronomy 25:1; Job 9:3; Psalms 143:2; Proverbs 17:15; Luke 18:14, Romans 4:3-5; and Acts 13:39. The Scriptures are unequivocal in establishing our justification because of how Christ bore the wrath of God for us (see Romans 4:1-7). Justification does not happen over and over again. Christ’s died once for all of our sins (not just some) and His death was accepted by the Father on our behalf. It is a finished fact!

In addition, and of particular importance for this study, is the doctrine of God’s covenantal dealings with man in Scripture and how this explains God’s transactions with man. What is a covenant? In short, a covenant is an agreement or contract between two parties. The word “covenant” is translated from the Hebrew word berith. It literally means “to cut.” In the Scripture there are covenants made between men, and there are covenants made between God and man, such as the covenant God made with Abraham in Genesis 15:9-18, 17:2.

It should be noted that there are two types of covenants: unconditional and conditional. A conditional covenant obligates both God and specifically man to certain responsibilities. In the case of a conditional covenant, God’s promises are contingent upon man meeting his part of the agreement such as the land promises made with Israel. Historically, Israel was removed from the Promised Land by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, for her unfaithfulness to God’s covenant. By way of contrast, in an unconditional covenant, God obliges Himself to certain expressed responsibilities for the fulfilling of the contract regardless of how man responds. An unconditional covenant is a promise made by God to man that is not contingent upon man fulfilling any obligation or conditions. Genesis 15:9-18 is a perfect example of this, where we see the cutting of the animals into pieces and God alone walking between the pieces of animals in the form of a smoking furnace and a burning lamp in verse 17, thus guaranteeing the eternal covenant would be fulfilled because of His action. If God did not keep the covenant made with Abraham and ultimately his spiritual descendants in Christ, God is saying that He Himself would be cut in pieces, or bear the judgment for violation of the covenant, which is an impossibility.” (2)

Objections:

In defense of Protestantism, it needs to be explained how someone may look at the Reformation doctrine of Sola fide (by faith alone) and say this is not what the Bible teaches. They might say, “The Bible says we are saved by grace.” Yet the Latin phrase that highlights this Protestant doctrine does not even mention grace, it only speaks of faith. Such statements would reveal an appalling amount of ignorance. Sola Fide, or “by faith alone” must be understood in its historical context. The debate that was raging at the time concerned faith as the means through which a person was saved or justified. Both positions had the doctrine of salvation by grace in their formulas.

Although the Roman Church uses the word “grace” in its formulation of justification, their sacramental system has subverted the biblical doctrine of grace and turned it into a system of works. The Protestant battle cry was “by faith alone” in contrast to the Roman Church, which was essentially saying “faith plus works.” Understanding the historical circumstances of the debate clears up any misconception about the Protestant use of the formula “by faith alone”, which did not leave out grace at all. Sola gratia or “by grace alone” went right along with Sola fide.

The Romanist position essentially said that faith plus works produced justification, which placed man in a tenuous state of grace. In the Romanist view, man could fall from this state of grace. The Protestant position in contrast to this said that it was “faith alone” (the result of God’s imputing grace) that produced justification, thus saving man. If Sola fide is taken out of its historical context it can be made to appear to be in conflict with Scripture. The Latin formula is a phrase drawing attention to the difference between the Protestant and Romanist positions on justification. The Protestant position did not reduce it to “faith only,” minus grace, as the surface meaning of the Latin might appear. It should be noted that an objection like this is only a clever ‘straw-man’ fallacy that capitalizes on the ignorance of modern readers.

[A small excursus, to further make a point]

Likewise, the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura, if taken out of its historical context, can be made to appear to be unconvincing. The debate surrounding Sola Scriptura was a debate over ultimate authority. The Roman Church claims that it, the church, was the infallible final court of appeal. If time is taken to study the debate during the Reformation, it is clearly seen that the Protestants were claiming that the Bible the only infallible rule of faith and is the final court of appeal. They were not saying, “The Bible plus nothing else.” An ignorant person in the twentieth century looking at the Latin formula just on the surface may get this impression. If they believe this is the Protestant position, it is the result of their own ignorance. To properly understand the Latin formula used by the men of the reformation, you must understand the context of the debate at the time.

The Protestants were not claiming that a person was forbidden to use commentaries or to refer to church history, or to have church synods and assemblies to help settle disputes. To illustrate, John Calvin produced a commentary set on the Bible that is still the standard against which all others are measured. Philip Schaff, a noteworthy Protestant historian, wrote a valuable eight-volume church history, a three-volume work on the creeds of Christendom, and edited the thirty-eight-volume church fathers set. (3)

Additional Scriptures:

“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3: 21-28)

“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” (Philippians 3:8-9)

William Hendriksen in his New Testament Commentary masterfully expounds Philippians 3:8-9:

1. It is Christ’s

8b, 9a. “I am still counting them refuse,” says Paul, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him. Paul wishes to make Christ more and more fully his own. As long as one keeps clinging, even in the slightest degree, to his own righteousness, he cannot fully enjoy Christ’s. The two simply do not go together. The one must be fully given up before the other can be fully appropriated. It is Paul’s great aim that in the observation of all his fellow-believers he may be found to be completely in him, that is, in union with Christ. For the meaning of “in Christ” see also on Phil. 1:1. Here in Phil. 3 this “in him” relationship is described as to its forensic side in verse 9, and as to its practical side in verse 10. The “in him” relationship means that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the sinner, so that it is reckoned as his own. This implies redemption from the claims of Satan (Rom. 8:31, 33), reconciliation with God (2 Cor. 5:18–21), forgiveness of sins (Eph. 1:7), hence, the state of being in conformity with the law of God (Rom. 8:1–4).

Now when Paul states that he is counting everything to be refuse in order that he may gain Christ and may be found in him, this sacrifice with the purpose of capturing the one, real prize must not be interpreted in a selfish, mercenary sense. It must, of course, be interpreted in the light of such passages as Rom. 11:36 and 1 Cor. 10:31. It is the glory of God that Paul has in mind, not just his own selfish benefit. To be sure, he is not forgetting himself. His is, in fact, seeking to promote his own welfare, which is altogether right and proper. But this ideal is never separated from the highest possible objective. The two go together. Hence, Paul is not like a man who sells an article in order to make a huge profit for himself, to be used entirely on himself. He is not like a fisherman using bait in order to catch a big fish, to be proudly displayed. Nor even like a chess-player who “sacrifices” Knight and Queen in order to checkmate his opponent’s King, for the simple pleasure of winning the game. No, the apostle is more like a sea-captain who in time of war, for patriotic reasons jettisons his cargo, thereby lightening his ship so that it will have the speed needed to overtake and capture the enemy’s vessel that contains a far more precious treasure. Even better, he is like a young man, heir to a going concern, who cheerfully gives up this inheritance in order that he may prepare himself for the ideal of his life: that of rendering service to the Lord in the work of the ministry, whether at home or abroad. Cf. Mark 10:21.

2. It is not merited by works performed by man, law-works

9b. Says Paul, not having a righteousness of my own, legal righteousness (or: a righteousness proceeding from law). The apostle’s meaning is: not in any sense can the righteousness that counts before God be regarded as based on my own accomplishments in conformity with the Old Testament law. Sin earns wages (Rom. 6:23). This return is paid to those who deserve it. But God’s righteousness is given to the undeserving. God justifies the ungodly. Christ died for the ungodly (Rom. 4:5; 5:6; Titus 3:5).

3. It is appropriated by faith

Not righteousness proceeding from law, says Paul, but that (which is) through faith in Christ. Faith is the appropriating agent, the hand extended to receive God’s free gift. Since the only righteousness that has any value before God is Christ’s righteousness imputed to the sinner as God’s free gift to the undeserving, it stands to reason that the only possible way to obtain this righteousness is to accept it (one accepts, one does not earn, a gift!) by simple faith, that is, by appropriating confidence in the Giver; hence also in his word. God’s Anointed is himself the object of this childlike trust (Rom. 1:16, 17; 3:21, 22; Gal. 2:20; 3:22; cf. Hab. 2:4; John 3:16).

4. It comes from God

The faith-appropriation is repeated for the sake of emphasis, but first one more element is added: the divine origin of this righteousness. Hence, the righteousness (which is) from God (and rests) on faith. This righteousness is provided by God and avails before God (Rom. 3:24, 25; 8:3; 2 Cor. 5:19). Its possession and enjoyment rests on, is conditioned on, faith, faith possessed and exercised by man, to be sure (John 3:16), and for which man is fully responsible, but given, nurtured, and rewarded by God (Eph. 2:8).

5. It results in a striving after spiritual perfection

10. Paul continues, that I may know him. Here he resumes the thought of verse 8 (“the all-surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord”), but also links his words to the immediately preceding idea of the righteousness (which is) from God (and rests) on faith. The progress of thought here is altogether natural. The experience of every person who has been brought out of the darkness into God’s marvelous light, and has felt in his heart the glory of Christ’s pardoning love is that he will sing:

“More about Jesus would I know,
More of his grace to others show;
More of his saving fulness see,
More of his love who died for me.
“More, more about Jesus,
More, more about Jesus,
More of his saving fulness see,
More of his love who died for me.”
(E. E. Hewitt)

Thus the faith-appropriation of “the righteousness (which is) from God” and contemplation upon this fact implies, calls forth, the ardent yearning, that I may get to know Christ better and better. And, considering the matter from God’s side, we can say that when God justifies his child he also sends forth his sanctifying Spirit into the heart. Hence, from the divine side the link between righteousness imputed and righteousness imparted is the Holy Spirit; from the human side — ever dependent upon the divine — the link is the gratitude of faith. (4)

“Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the sinner.” “God justifies the ungodly.” “Christ died for the ungodly.” “Faith is the appropriating agent, the hand extended to receive God’s free gift.” “Hence, the righteousness (which is) from God (and rests) on faith.” “This righteousness is provided by God and avails before God.” These sentences are key thoughts in Hendriksen’s exposition of the Philippians text. The Philippian text supports Luther’s understanding of Romans 1:17.

Digging deeper into the Greek, from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:

Justification, Justifier, Justify

DIKAIOSIS 1: δικαίωσις (Strong’s #1347 — Noun Feminine — dikaiosis — dik-ah’-yo-sis)

Denotes ‘the act of pronouncing righteous, justification, acquittal;” its precise meaning is determined by that of the verb dikaioo, “to justify” (see B); it is used twice in the Ep. to the Romans, and there alone in the NT, signifying the establisment of a person as just by acquittal from guilt. In Romans 4:25 the phrase “for our justification,” is, lit., “because of our justification” (parallel to the preceding clause “for our trespasses,” i.e., because of trespasses committed), and means, not with a view to our “justification,” but because all that was necessary on God’s part for our “justification” had been effected in the death of Christ. On this account He was raised from the dead. The propitiation being perfect and complete, His resurrection was the confirmatory counterpart. In Romans 5:18, “justification of life” means “justification which results in life” (cp. ver. 21). That God “justifies” the believing sinner on the ground of Christ’s death, involves His free gift of life. On the distinction between dikaiosis and dikaioma, see below. In the Sept., Leviticus 24:22.

DIKAIOMA 2: δικαίωμα (Strong’s #1345 — Noun Neuter — dikaioma — dik-ah’-yo-mah)

Has three distinct meanings, and seems best described comprehensively as “a concrete expression of righteousness;” it is a declaration that a person or thing is righteous, and hence, broadly speaking, it represents the expression and effect of dikaiosis (No. 1). It signifies (a) “an ordinance,” Luke 1:6 ; Romans 1:32 , RV, “ordinance,” i.e., what God has declared to be right, referring to His decree of retribution (AV, “judgment”); Romans 2:26 , RV, “ordinances of the Law” (i.e., righteous requirements enjoined by the Law); so Romans 8:4 , “ordinance of the Law,” i.e., collectively, the precepts of the Law, all that it demands as right; in Hebrews 9:1,10 , ordinances connected with the tabernacle ritual; (b) “a sentence of acquittal,” by which God acquits men of their guilt, on the conditions (1) of His grace in Christ, through His expiatory sacrifice, (2) the acceptance of Christ by faith, Romans 5:16 ; (c) “a righteous act,” Romans 5:18 , “(through one) act of righteousness,” RV, not the act of “justification,” nor the righteous character of Christ (as suggested by the AV: dikaioma does not signify character, as does dikaiosune, righteousness), but the death of Christ, as an act accomplished consistently with God’s character and counsels; this is clear as being in antithesis to the “one trespass” in the preceding statement. Some take the word here as meaning a decree of righteousness, as in ver. 16; the death of Christ could indeed be regarded as fulfilling such a decree, but as the Apostle’s argument proceeds, the word, as is frequently the case, passes from one shade of meaning to another, and here stands not for a decree, but an act; so in Revelation 15:4 , RV, “righteous acts” (AV, “judgments”), and Revelation 19:8 , “righteous acts (of the saints)” (AV, “righteousness”).

Note: For dikaiosune, always translated “righteousness,” See RIGHTEOUSNESS.

DIKAIOO 1: δικαιόω (Strong’s #1344 — Verb — dikaioo — dik-ah-yo’-o)

Primarily, “to deem to be right,” signifies, in the NT, (a) “to show to be right or righteous;” in the Passive Voice, to be justified, Matthew 11:19 ; Luke 7:35 ; Romans 3:4 ; 1 Timothy 3:16 ; (b) “to declare to be righteous, to pronounce righteous,” (1) by man, concerning God, Luke 7:29 (see Romans 3:4 , above); concerning himself, Luke 10:29 ; 16:15 ; (2) by God concerning men, who are declared to be righteous before Him on certain conditions laid down by Him.

Ideally the complete fulfillment of the law of God would provide a basis of “justification” in His sight, Romans 2:13. But no such case has occurred in mere human experience, and therefore no one can be “justified” on this ground, Romans 3:9-20 ; Galatians 2:16 ; 3:10,11 ; 5:4 . From this negative presentation in Romans 3 , the Apostle proceeds to show that, consistently with God’s own righteous character, and with a view to its manifestation, He is, through Christ, as “a propitiation … by (en, ‘instrumental’) His blood,” Romans 3:25 , RV, “the Justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26 ), “justification’ being the legal and formal acquittal from guilt by God as Judge, the pronouncement of the sinner as righteous, who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. In Romans 3:24, “being justified’ is in the present continuous tense, indicating the constant process of “justification” in the succession of those who believe and are “justified.” In Romans 5:1, “being justified” is in the aorist, or point, tense, indicating the definite time at which each person, upon the exercise of faith, was justified. In Romans 8:1, “justification” is presented as “no condemnation.” That “justification” is in view here is confirmed by the preceding chapters and by verse Romans 3:34. In Romans 3:26, the word rendered “Justifier’ is the present participle of the verb, lit., “justifying;” similarly in Romans 8:33 (where the article is used), “God that justifieth,” is, more lit., “God is the (One) justifying,” with stress upon the word “God.”

“Justification” is primarily and gratuitously by faith, subsequently and evidentially by works. In regard to “justification” by works, the so-called contradiction between James and the Apostle Paul is only apparent. There is harmony in the different views of the subject. Paul has in mind Abraham’s attitude toward God, his acceptance of God’s word. This was a matter known only to God. The Romans Epistle is occupied with the effect of this Godward attitude, not upon Abraham’s character or actions, but upon the contrast between faith and the lack of it, namely, unbelief, cp. Romans 11:20. James (James 2:21-26 ) is occupied with the contrast between faith that is real and faith that is false, a faith barren and dead, which is not faith at all.

Again, the two writers have before them different epochs in Abraham’s life, Paul, the event recorded in Genesis 15, James, that in Genesis 22. Contrast the words “believed” in Genesis 15:6 and “obeyed” in Genesis 22:18.

Further, the two writers use the words “faith” and “works” in somewhat different senses. With Paul, faith is acceptance of God’s word; with James, it is acceptance of the truth of certain statements about God, (James 2:19), which may fail to affect one’s conduct. Faith, as dealt with by Paul, results in acceptance with God. i.e., “justification,” and is bound to manifest itself. If not, as James says “Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14). With Paul, works are dead works; with James they are life works. The works of which Paul speaks could be quite independent of faith: those referred to by James can be wrought only where faith is real, and they will attest its reality.

So with righteousness, or “justification:” Paul is occupied with a right relationship with God, James, with right conduct. Paul testifies that the ungodly can be “justified” by faith, James that only the right-doer is “justified.” See also under RIGHTEOUS, RIGHTEOUSNESS. (5)

“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17) The essential meaning in Romans 1:17 is captured by Augustus Toplady’s humility when he pens:

“Not the labors of my hands,
Can fulfil thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no languor know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and thou alone.”
From the hymn “Rock of Ages”
by A. M. Toplady

Justification from the Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 11:

I. Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies;[1] not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them,[2] they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.[3]

II. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification:[4] yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but works by love.[5]

III. Christ, by His obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real and full satisfaction to His Father’s justice in their behalf.[6] Yet, in as much as He was given by the Father for them;[7] and His obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead;[8] and both, freely, not for anything in them; their justification is only of free grace;[9] that both the exact justice, and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.[10]

IV. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect,[11] and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification:[12] nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit does, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.[13]

V. God does continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; [14] and although they can never fall from the state of justification, [15] yet they may, by their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of His countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance. [16]

VI. The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament. [17] See link for scriptural proofs below.

In Summary

From The Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry’s (CARM) Theological Dictionary:

Justify, Justification

“To be justified is to be made righteous. It is a divine act where God declares the sinner to be innocent of his sins. It is not that the sinner is now sinless, but that he is “declared” sinless. This justification is based on the shed blood of Jesus, “…having now been justified by His blood…” (Romans 5:9). When God sees the Christian, He sees him through the sacrifice of Jesus and “sees” him without sin. This declaration of innocence is not without cost for it required the satisfaction of God’s Law, “…without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22). By the sacrifice of Jesus, in the “one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men” (Romans 5:18, NASB). In justification, the justice of God fell upon Himself–Jesus. We receive mercy–we are not judged according to our sins. And grace is shed upon us–we receive eternal life. This justification is a gift of grace (Romans 3:24), by faith (Romans 3:28) because Jesus bore our guilt (Isaiah 53:12).”

Closing comments:

The goal of this study is to help us magnify the Lord God for his marvelous grace that made us children of God through no merit of our own. It is my prayer that this goal has been attained. While we were yet sinners and his enemies, Christ died for us!

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Nothing in us caused or merited this supreme act of love on God’s part!

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Notes:

1. Roland Bainton, Here I Stand; A Life of Martin Luther, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson), 1950, p. 48.

2. Jack Kettler, The Religion That Started in a Hat, (Maitland, Florida, MCP Books, 2017), pp. 151-152.

3. Ibid., pp. 55-56

4. William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary, Philippians, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House, 1984), pp. 164-167.

5. W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, (Iowa Falls, Iowa, Riverside Book and Bible House), pp. 614-616.

“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.” (Titus 3:5)

“To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28, 29)

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: http://www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

For more study:

Scriptural proofs for Chapter 11 of the Westminster Confession of Faith: http://www.reformed.org/documents/wcf_with_proofs/

* For a great source of theological definitions go to Rebecca writes at Rebecca Writes: http://www.rebecca-writes.com/theological-terms-in-ao/

CARM Theological Dictionary: https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/ctd.html

Sola Fide: The Reformed Doctrine of Justification by J. I. Packer: https://www.monergism.com/sola-fide-reformed-doctrine-justification-0

The Doctrine of Justification (eBook) by James Buchanan: https://www.monergism.com/doctrine-justification-ebook

* Is Faith the Gift of God in Ephesians 2:8? By Jack Kettler http://www.undergroundnotes.com/Ephesians2.html

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