THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION
(Lesson 20 on Bible Doctrines)
"Then Job answered and said, I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God?" (Job 9:1,2).
"Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses" (Acts 13:38,39).
- THE DEFINITION OF JUSTIFICATION
"Justification is the judicial act of God whereby those who put faith in Christ are declared righteous in His eyes, and free from guilt and punishment" (William Evans, The Great Doctrines of the Bible).
II. THE MEANING OF JUSTIFICATION
- To justify means to declare righteous; to announce or pronounce a favorable verdict. It does not mean to make righteous, but to announce righteousness (cf. Deut.25:1).
- To justify means to declare righteous in a legal sense. "There are only three options open to God as sinners stand in His courtroom. He must condemn them, compromise His own righteousness to receive them as they are, or He can change them into righteous people. If He can exercise the third option, then He can announce them righteous, which is justification" (Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology).
- Justification is a change in a manís relation or standing before God. This relationship has been disturbed by the sin of man. Justification is a change from guilt and condemnation to acquittal and acceptance.
- Regeneration has to do with the change of the believerís nature Ė it is subjective. Justification has to do with the change of his standing before God Ė it is objective. The former has to do with manís state; the latter, with his standing.
- Justification involves the imputation of Christís righteousness, and restoration to Godís favor (Rom.5:17-21).
- THE METHOD OF JUSTIFICATION
- At the judgment bar of God no man can be counted righteous in his own sight because of his obedience to the law. "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sinÖWhere 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" (Rom.3:20,27,28). The law can open the sinnerís eyes to his sin, but it cannot remove the sin. Only the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ can wash away our sins. The Bible is clear that we are "justified by His blood" (Rom.5:9); this is the ground of justification.
- "The justified believer has been in court, only to learn that nothing is laid to his charge" (Scofield Study Bible, p. 1195). We have been "justified freely by His grace" (Rom.3:24); this is the source of justification.
- Sinners are justified by grace through faith alone. "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law" (Rom.3:28); this is the condition of justification.
- THE EVIDENCE OF JUSTIFICATION
- "Justification before the bar of God is demonstrated by holiness of life here on earth before the bar of men. This was the perspective of James when he wrote that we are justified by works (James 2:24). Unproductive faith is not genuine faith; therefore what we are in Christ will be seen in what we are before men" (Ryrie, Ibid.).
- We are justified judicially by God (Rom.8:33); meritoriously by Christ (Isa.53:11); mediately by faith (Rom.5:1); and evidentially by works (James 2:17-26).
- "Does your life testify to the reality of the faith that you profess? If you have trusted Christ, you are complete in Him, you are justified freely by His grace. Now by a life devoted to His interests you are to prove to those around you the reality of that faith of which you speak" (H. A. Ironside, Great Words of the Gospel).
Pastor James Barker