Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Soul of Christianity

How important is the doctrine of justification?

"Justification is the article where the church stands or falls." - Martin Luther

"Justification is the soul of Christianity and the fountainhead of all true comfort and sanctification. He who errs in this doctrine errs to his eternal destruction." - Wilhelm à Brakel

As you can see, the Reformers and Puritans thought that justification was pretty important. Below I have posted the definition of justification from the Reformation Study Bible. I would encourage you to take some time to not only read and ponder the words below, but to delve into the supporting Scripture passages that are highlighted. It will be well worth your time and effort. The doctrine of justification has been a great source of encouragement, joy and comfort to saints of all ages. (Bold emphasis is mine)  

Justification is God's act of pardoning sinners and accepting them as righteous for Christ's sake. In it, God puts permanently right their previously estranged relationship with Himself. This justifying sentence is God's bestowal of a status of acceptance for Jesus' sake (2 Cor. 5:21).
God's justifying judgment seems strange, for pronouncing sinners righteous may appear to be precisely the kind of unjust action by a judge that God's own law forbids (Deut. 25:1; Prov. 17:15). Yet it is a just judgment, for its basis is the righteousness of Jesus Christ. As "the last Adam" (1 Cor. 15:45), our representative head acting on our behalf, Christ obeyed the law that bound us and endured the punishment for lawlessness that we deserved, and so "merited" our justification. Our justification is on a just basis (Rom. 3:25, 26; 1 John 1:9), with Christ's righteousness reckoned to our account (Rom. 5:18, 19).
God's justifying decision is in effect the judgment of the Last Day regarding where we will spend eternity, brought forward into the present and pronounced here and now. It is a judgment on our eternal destiny; God will never go back on it, however much Satan may appeal against the verdict (Zech. 3:1; Rom. 8:33, 34; Rev. 12:10). To be justified is to be eternally secure (Rom. 5:1-5; 8:30).
The necessary means of justification is personal faith in Jesus Christ as crucified Savior and risen Lord (Rom. 4:23-25; 10:8-13). Faith is necessary because the meritorious ground of our justification is entirely in Christ. As we give ourselves in faith to Jesus, Jesus gives us His gift of righteousness, so that in the very act of "closing with Christ," as older Reformed teachers put It, we receive the divine pardon and acceptance we can find nowhere else (Gal. 2:15, 16; 3:24).

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