Saturday, March 30, 2013

Justification by Faith and Justification by Faith Alone

Rome'sView of Justification

"The merits of Christ's death are reckoned to the believing sinner not as the immediate and all-sufficient grounds of the sinner's justification, but only as a remote "procuring" cause of that 'infused sanctifying grace' given at baptism (deleting original sin in infants and deleting original sin and past sins in adults) by which the believer would be perfected more and more, not only in this life, but fully in purgatory through the endurance of 'temporal punishment,' Only when the believer had been thus purged from all taint of sin could he be 'made righteous' and thereby be justified in God's eyes and granted the 'beatific vision.'"-John H. Armstrong, 'Justification by FaithAlone'



Charles Hodge summarizes the doctrine of justification with six crucial points:

1. [Justification is] an act, and not, as sanctification, a continued and progressive work.
2. It is an act of grace to the sinner. In himself he deserves condemnation when God justifies him.
3. As to the nature of the act, it is, in the first place, not an efficient act, nor an act of power. It does not produce any subjective change in the person justified. It does not effect a change of character, making those good who were bad, those holy who were unholy. That is done in regeneration and sanctification. In the second place, it is not a mere executive act, as when a sovereign pardons a criminal, and thereby restores him to his civil rights, or to his former status in the commonwealth. In the third place, it is a forensic, or judicial act, the act of a judge, not of a sovereign. That is, in the case of the sinner, or, in foro Dei, it is an act of God not in his character of sovereign, but in his character as judge. It is a declarative act in which God pronounces the sinner just or righteous, that is, declares that the claims of justice, so far as he is concerned, are satisfied, so that he cannot be justly condemned, but is in justice entitled to the reward promised or due to perfect righteousness.
4. The meritorious ground of justification is not faith; we are not justified on account of our faith, considered as a virtuous or holy act or state of mind. Nor are our works of any kind the ground of justification. Nothing done by us or wrought in us satisfies the demands of justice, or can be the ground or reason of the declaration that justice as far as it concerns us is satisfied. The ground of justification is the righteousness of Christ, active and passive, i. e., including his perfect obedience to the law as a covenant, and his enduring the penalty of the law in our stead and on our behalf.
5. The righteousness of Christ is in justification imputed to the believer. That is, is set to his account, so that he is entitled to plead it at the bar of God, as though it were personally and inherently his own.
6. Faith is the condition of justification. That is, so far as adults are concerned, God does not impute the righteousness of Christ to the sinner, until and unless, he (through grace), receives and rests on Christ alone for salvation.

The believer in Christ, justified before God through faith in Christ’s work may sing in the words of Horatius Bonar:

Not what my hands have done can save my guilty soul;
Not what my toiling flesh has borne can make my spirit whole.
Not what I feel or do can give me peace with God;
Not all my prayers and sighs and tears can bear my awful load.

Thy work alone, O Christ, can ease this weight of sin;
Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, can give me peace within.
No other work, save thine, no other blood will do;
No strength, save that which is divine, can bear me safely through.

Augustus Toplady adds to this chorus of praise to God’s “grace alone” salvation:

A debtor to mercy alone, of covenant mercy I sing;
Nor fear, with Thy righteousness on, My person and off’ring to bring.
The terrors of law and of God with me can have nothing to do;
My Savior’s obedience and blood hide all my transgressions from view.