Sunday, 2 September 2007

JUSTIFICATION by FAITH

Sphere: Related Content 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. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law (Romans 3:21-31)

The word justify and justification occur some thirty times in Romans and are concentrated in 2:13-5:1. The word justification comes from the Greek word "righteous" and means "to declare righteous". This verdict includes: pardon from the guilt and penalty of sin, and the imputation of Christ's righteousness to the believer's account, which provides for the positive righteousness man needs to be accepted by God. God declares a sinner righteous solely on the basis of the merits of Christ's righteousness. God imputed believer's sin to Christ account in His sacrifical death. The sinner receives this gift of God's grace by faith alone. Justification is a gracious gift God extends to the repentant, believing sinner, wholly apart from human merit or work.

Paul used the model of Abraham to prove justification by faith alone because the Jews held him up as the supreme example of a righteous man (John 8:39), and because it clearly showed that Judaism with its work-righteousness ave deviated from the faith of the Jew's patriarchial ancestors.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2)

As in the case of Abraham, Abraham did nothing to accumulate it; God simply credited it to him. God took His own righteousness and credited it to Abraham as if it were actually his. God did this because Abraham believed in Him. This is the heart of the doctrine of justification, whereby God declares the repentant sinner righteous the moment he places wholehearted faith in Christ and His sacrificial death. Christ made atonment by shedding his own Blood on the Cross. This provides forgiveness. And just as our sins were put to His account when He bore them on the Cross, so now His righteousness is reckoned as our own. His perfect righteousness thus becomes the ground on which we stand before God.
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