A Study On Justification -- By: David H. Linden
RAR 8:1 (Winter 1999) p. 167
A Study On Justification
I am alarmed to find in our age that the doctrine of justification is fading while the more experiential doctrines of regeneration and sanctification fill the vacuum.1 For so many, “What God is doing in my life today” takes great precedence over what He did on the cross, and over the moment when we were pronounced righteous in His sight. Thus the imperfect pushes out the perfect!2 I observe meetings of Christian workers where the focus is entirely on methods and the delivery of some message, the content of which is hardly ever discussed. Protestants today are more familiar with Luther’s name and picture than his world-changing discovery of justification.
Sinners ought to have a little interest in God’s verdict concerning our crimes, one announced for believers before the Judgment Day. That we may walk out of His court acquitted, in spite of our guilt, is a matter that raises profound questions about God’s justice and the surprising grace of our Mediator. He, Jesus Christ our Lord, unlike any lawyer on earth, assumed our entire burden legally and experientially in His life and His death on the cross. God has even provided us with the benefit of the verdict of Christ’s record as our own.
This is no small thing. If it can be treated lightly, it is the same as saying, “Who cares what God thinks?” since justification occurs in the mind of God, not our experience. Forgiveness happens only in the Forgiver. What God thinks
RAR 8:1 (Winter 1999) p. 168
and declares about us should be the chief thing in any enlightened self interest. Here is a most basic element of our identity in Christ. When we speak of our new life, we speak of the superstructure. Justification is the foundation. And that foundation rests on our Savior’s obedience and blood. So our Christian experience should not rest on the sand of our imperfect progress.
Justification is not just a nice doctrine. It is the key doctrine in our acceptance by God. Since it happens once, it cannot be repeated in the daily dynamics of Christian living, but it is the reason our walk with God can even begin. And in our many sins, it is the sure foundation on which our confidence to run the race is built. With heaven secured we are more prepared to face life on earth. With our status as righteous irrevocable, we may in God’s enabling grace, work on our condition.
1. The Three Questions
1) Is there a holy God who requires righteousness of all men?3
2) Does He find i...
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