Justification by Faith -- By: Kenneth W. Allen

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 135:538 (Apr 1978)
Article: Justification by Faith
Author: Kenneth W. Allen

Justification by Faith

Kenneth W. Allen

[Kenneth W. Allen, Author and Bible Teacher, Heathmont, Victoria, Australia.]

In November, 1515, Martin Luther, while professor of sacred theology at the University of Wittenberg, began to study the Epistle to the Romans in order to expound it to his students. Soon a great change came over his thinking. He later wrote regarding these events:

I grasped the truth that the righteousness of God is that righteousness whereby, through grace and sheer mercy, He justifies us by faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before “the righteousness of God” had filled me with hate, now it became unto me inexpressively sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gateway to heaven.1

With this discovery the Reformation began and centuries of darkness began to roll away. The evangelical doctrine swept through nation after nation. In a short space of time much of Europe had been won to the Reformation and the greatest revival since Pentecost, both in scope and importance, had taken place.2 But what must never

be forgotten is that at the center of this great movement was the truth that sinful man, apart from his own works and by simple trust in Christ alone, could obtain pardon for his sins and acceptance with his God. This doctrine is called justification by faith. However, this great doctrine, once the battle cry of the Reformation, has become sadly neglected over the past one hundred years or so, and needs to be examined afresh and made prominent in the Christian’s proclamation and witness.3

Man’s Need of Justification

The twentieth century, a period of great human progress and achievement, has filled man with pride. He feels he has “come of age” and has outgrown his need for God. He thinks he can save himself by his own efforts, culture, and scientific achievement. But God, speaking through the inspired apostle, brings man down to the dust and states that “there is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Rom 3:10–11).

However, Paul does more in the opening chapters of Romans than accuse man of being depraved. He also proves man’s guilt and need of justification by the masterly presentation of three great universal facts.

First, man has universal light. The heathen ...

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