|A Biblical View of Justification|
|Written by Ben Winslett|
|Thursday, 02 December 2010 12:54|
The following is the answer to an inquiry I received via email - BW.
The word Justification, as used in the Bible, is a legal term. It is not a biological term (as most people incorrectly use it). It means "to declare one just." When a judge issues his verdict of "not-guilty," the person on trial is then "justified." There are texts that speak of God being "justified in the Spirit" (1 Tim 3:16) and even texts when men "justified God" (Luke 7:29). Obviously, God needs no one to "make" Him righteous. These verses teach of God being "declared to be Just." Certainly every action of God declares that He is just! But, I hope these verses help define a Biblical usage of the term itself.
Now on to specifics. In the Bible, pertaining to men, there are three types, or phases, of Justification. There is justification by blood, justification by faith, and justification by works. I will write briefly about each of the three.
Justification by Blood (Rom 5:9). This is legal justification in the sight of God. This happened ONCE in the history of all the Earth, when Christ made Himself an offering on the Cross. When Christ was made an offering for sins, God the Father was pleased with the Son's sacrifice and we were legally justified (declared just). This verdict occurs in God's courtroom!
Justification by Faith (Rom 4). This is experiential. In short, when a born again person trusts solely in Christ's power to raise the dead, that faith is "counted unto him" for righteousness. The reality of being redeemed (justified by blood) is understood by the believer. That person, upon believing, experiences peace with God (5:1). Below are some specific, undisputable facts about justification by faith.
Paul's two examples of this are Abraham and David.
Abraham - According to Paul in Romans 4, Abraham was justified by faith in Genesis 15:6 when he believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Notice though, that Abraham left Ur in Genesis 12:1. According to Hebrews 11, Abraham left Ur by faith. According to Galatians 5:22, faith is a fruit of the Spirit. According to Hebrews 12:2, Christ authors Faith in a person. In short, no one has faith without first being born again (1 John 5:1). Faith is a product of the New Birth, when God writes His laws upon our hearts, and teaches us to “know Him” (Heb 8).
According to Reformed Theology however, justification by faith comes at the identical time as the new birth. Yet, we find Abraham walking by faith 15 years prior to the event in which he was “justified by faith,” all the way back in Genesis 12:1. Hmm...how can one walk by faith for over a decade prior to being justified by faith, if justification by faith and the new birth are synonyms? Simple, that idea is erroneous.
Abraham walked by faith, worship God, etc., prior to believing in Christ's power to raise his dead body in a reproductive sense. He was already born again. But, when he believed God's promise, his redeemed state with God was felt and he was justified on the level of his conscience. The legal fact was now a felt reality!!!
David – Paul, in Romans 4, quotes from Psalm 32 written well into David's life pertaining NOT to the event in which David was born again, but when David confessed sins and was blessed with a renewal of God's fellowship through repentance.
So what is Justification by faith? Simple – as stated above, when a Child of God believes in Christ's power and turns to God in repentance, he is declared on the level of his conscience to be just, and experiences peace with God. This is experiential.
Justification by works (James 2). This occurs in the “courtroom of others' opinions.” By good works, we show ourselves to be righteous to other people. To quote James 2, we “show our faith by our works.”
To sum up justification:
This view is the only view consistent with both Paul's examples, other fundamental teachings (such as faith being a fruit of the Spirit, not the cause), and the actual definition of the term.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 02 December 2010 13:10|