Justification Topical Study

<h2 class="heading-lg"><strong>What does the Bible say about justification?</strong></h2><ul><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Romans%203%3A21-28">Romans 3:21-28</a>, righteousness of God through faith in Jesus</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Romans%204%3A3-8">Romans 4:3-8</a>, &quot;Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.&quot;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Romans%204%3A11">Romans 4:11</a>, the sign of circumcision</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Romans%204%3A25-5%3A1">Romans 4:25-5:1</a>, &quot;Jesuswas handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification. &quot;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Romans%205%3A19">Romans 5:19</a>, Jesus made us righteous by his death</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Romans%208%3A33-34">Romans 8:33-34</a>, &quot;Who will bring any charge against God&#39;s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus.&quot;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/1%20Corinthians%201%3A30">1 Corinthians 1:30</a>, &quot;Jesusbecame for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.&quot;</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/2%20Corinthians%205%3A17-21">2 Corinthians 5:17-21</a>, everything is new</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Galatians%202%3A16">Galatians 2:16</a>, &quot;We know that a p<span class="body-copy">erson is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ.&quot;</span></span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Ephesians%201%3A5-8">Ephesians 1:5-8</a>, we are destined for adoption as God&#39;s children</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/Philippians%203%3A8-9">Philippians 3:8-9</a>, we have righteousness through faith</span></li><li><span class="body-copy"><a href="https://zeteosearch.org/search/James%202%3A21-24">James 2:21-24</a>, &quot;F<span class="body-copy">aith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works.&quot;</span></span></li></ul><h2 class="heading-lg"><strong>Sermon ideas about justification</strong></h2><h3 class="heading-sm">Justification as acceptance</h3><p><span class="body-copy">John Calvin&#39;s favorite ter<span class="body-copy">m for justification was &quot;acceptance.&quot; So regarded, the justification of guilty sinners no longer looks like merely legal acquittal. It looks and feels much more like a welcome. And, of course, acceptance is basic to human flourishing &mdash; so basic that if a ten-year-old is cruelly nicknamed (&quot;fats,&quot; &quot;monkeyface&quot;) she may spend a lot of her life trying to bury this early humiliation. She has not been properly accep</span>ted, and her nickname says so.</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">The craving for acceptance never stops. Teens are sometimes consumed by it. Clothing, slang, friends, demeanor, dates, and hairstyles are all chosen to gain acceptance from others and therefore from ourselves.</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">And then the beat goes on. People choose colleges for their prestige. People marry or couple to feel they belong, and sometimes end up lonelier than they were before. People pad résumés, puff accomplishments, wedge boasts into conversations, join clubs, appear in places with the right people &mdash; all to reassure themselves of acceptance. Some assassins of famous figures brood over their status as nobodies until they figure out the one way they will never be forgotten.</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Deep in the Christian gospel is a word of acceptance. Outside of God&#39;s grace, our status is unacceptable. We are guilty sinners. In justification, our sin does not suddenly disappear. It remains. But, in a glorious turn of events, our guilt does disappear. We are forgiven. And though we are not actually righteous, we are declared righteous. We are seen as, regarded as, accepted as righteous. We are credited with Christ&#39;s righteousness just as if we really deserved to go scot-free. With memorable phrasing, the Heidelberg Catechism declares that &quot;even though my conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned against all God&#39;s commandments, of never having kept any of them, and of still being inclined toward all evil, nevertheless, without any merit of my own, out of sheer grace, God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, and as if I had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me&quot; <span class="body-copy-sm">(Heidelberg Catechism, Answer 60)</span>. This remarkable answer, with its powerful pair of &quot;as if&quot; clauses, concludes simply: &quot;All I need to do is accept this gift [of God] with a believing heart.&quot;</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">All I need to do is to accept my acceptance. Justification is by faith. Or is it through faith? It&#39;s the latter, and the difference is important. &quot;By&quot; suggests that faith itself justifies us, but it doesn&#39;t. God justifies by grace alone. Faith &mdash; itself a gift &mdash; is only the instrument or channel through which we receive God&#39;s acceptance. </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;">Justification includes the forgiveness of our sins. God never justifies sins &mdash; that is, God never excuses or accepts them. In fact, someone must pay for them. But God does justify sinners because in his atonement Christ stands in for them. God exempts his sons and daughters from the penalty they deserve and accepts them as children he loves. Sin is unacceptable to God, but sinners may be accepted.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy">Sin is a spoiler. Let&#39;s probe a little. Maybe we can look at things this way: sin is a problem to God as well as to us. It&#39;s like malware in a computer. It&#39;s like mistrust in a friendship or animosity within a church. Sin is a spoiler.God wants to receive and accept his sons and daughters, but sin is in the way.</span></span></p><h3 class="heading-sm">Gracious arithmetic</h3><p><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy">God&#39;s<span class="body-copy">solution to the problem is the atoning work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who suffers our penalty so that we might have forgiveness and peace with God. Because of the mighty, painful work of Christ, Go</span>d does a kind of gracious arithmetic. God subtracts our sin from us, and then adds to us the righteousness of Christ in its place. God himself makes us acceptable.</span></span></p><h3 class="heading-sm"><strong>The righteousness of Christ</strong></h3><p><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy">Jesus loved his friends<span class="body-copy">. He spent time and energy on unpopular people. He resisted temptation. He stuck by a high-maintenance disciple like Peter. He fed his betrayer in the Last Supper. He honored the tiniest manifestations o</span>f faith. He was willing to die for the sins of others.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy">We now carry Jesus&#39; &quot;alien&quot; righteousness with us. In justification, all this is mysteriously transferred to us as if we had acted in just the same way. We now carry Jesus&#39;s &quot;alien&quot; righteousness with us, the righteousness that is not properly our own but belongs to another. We shop with someone else&#39;s credit card. We get past checkpoints in someone else&#39;s uniform. We travel on another&#39;s passport. In fact, we now have perfect lives. We cannot live perfect lives; nonetheles</span>s, when God looks at us what God sees is Jesus&#39;s perfect life.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;">In this way <span class="body-copy">we are like Dulcinea in Cervantes&#39;s Don Quixote. Don Quixote is a sad, awkward, brave, and silly knight, a throwback to a time when there really were knights. In one episode, Don Quixote walks into a little village inn, where he meets the village prostitute. She is a prostitute, no doubt. After all, that&#39;s what everybody in the village says she is. And they all treat her like a prostitute. When people look at her, she reads &quot;whore&quot; in their eyes. But the sad and brave Don Quixote doesn&#39;t see a prostitute when he looks at her. He sees a sweet and noble lady. He tells her how noble she is. More important, when he looks at her, she sees in his eyes the image of a respected and noble person, and she recognizes the image as her true self. So she starts acting like the image she recognizes. She stops acting like</span> a prostitute, and starts acting like a great and respected person. She becomes Don Quixote&#39;s noble lady.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;">James and Paul seem to contrad<span class="body-copy">ict each other on justification. No doubt the tension between their positions may be underestimated. But, most likely, James means something different by &quot;justification&quot; than Paul does. When James says that Abraham&#39;s faith was &quot;brought to completion&quot; by works, he tips his hand. James wants to say that faith is attested, validated, confirmed by works. Faith is still the instrument of justification</span>, but the evidence of true faith is good works. A good tree will produce good fruit.</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">An imperfect atonement for sin and perfect obedience to the law. Because he represented all the rest of us in these things, we are now actually just, actually justified. (Nicholas Wolterstorff, &quot;Justice and Justification,&quot; in Reformed Theology for the Third Christian Millportant alternative interpretation of Paul is that in speaking of justification he&#39;s speaking of God&#39;s arranging for us to be just, not righteous. Righteousness has to do with an interior, individual quality. Justice has to do with right relations with others. Our problem is that we have wronged God by withholding from God what is due to God (gratitude, for example) and by mistreating others, whom God loves. In this interpretation, God does not just &quot;declare&quot; us to be righteous, but actually arranges for us to be</span><span style="font-size: 16px;"> just, to be justified, to be in the right, by having Jesus Christ represent us with his </span><span class="body-copy-sm"><em>ennium</em>, ed. B. A. Gerrish (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003), 83 - 96.)</span><span style="font-size: 16px;"> <span class="body-copy">Thus, justification is a burst of shalom that prefigures the coming of the kingdom of God in its fullness.</span></span></p>