Topic : Justification


Legal term meaning “acquittal,” a declaration that someone is in the right.

Sinners are in the wrong before God. They have broken his laws, they deserve punishment, but on the cross Christ took their place. Now, when they put their trust in Christ, they are declared to be in the right, acquitted, justified. The cross shows God to be just, not simply in the fact that he forgives, but in the way he forgives. To pass over sins would show mercy, but it would not show justice. Forgiveness by the way of the cross shows both (Rom. 3:25-26).

The Shaw Pocket Bible Handbook, Walter A. Elwell, Editor, (Harold Shaw Publ., Wheaton , IL; 1984), pp. 351-352



“The question is asked: How can justification take place without the works of the law, even though James says: ’Faith without works is dead’? In answer, the apostle distinguishes between the law and faith, the letter and grace.

The ’works of the law’ are works done without faith and grace, by the law, which forces them to be done through fear or the enticing promise of temporal advantages. But ’works of faith’ are those done in the spirit of liberty, purely out of love to God. And they can be done only by those who are justified by faith.

An ape can cleverly imitate the actions of humans. But he is not therefore, a human. If he became a human, it would undoubtedly be not by virtue of the works by which he imitated man but by virtue of something else; namely, by an act of God. Then, having been made a human, he would perform the works of humans in proper fashion.

Paul does not say that faith is without its characteristic works, but that it justifies without the works of the law.

Therefore justification does not require the works of the law; but it does require a living faith, which performs its works.”

- Martin Luther

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What is Justification

Justification is the declared purpose of God to regard and treat those sinners who believe in Jesus Christ as if they had not sinned, on the ground of the merits of the Savior. It is not mere pardon. Pardon is a free forgiveness of past offenses. It has reference to those sins as forgiven and blotted out. Justification has respect to the law, and to God’s future dealings with the sinner. It is an act by which God determines to treat him hereafter as righteous—as if he had not sinned. The basis for this is the merit of the Lord Jesus Christ, merit that we can plead as if it were our own. He has taken our place and died in our stead; He has met the descending stroke of justice, which would have fallen on our own heads if He had not interposed. - Albert Barnes

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The Rolls Royce

My friend Dr. Roy Gustafson has the finest illustration of justification I have ever heard. It seems that there was a man in England who put his Rolls-Royce on a boat and went across to the continent to go on a holiday. While he was driving around Europe, something happened to the motor of his car. He cabled the Rolls-Royce people back in England and asked, “I’m having trouble with my car; what do you suggest I do?” Well, the Rolls-Royce people flew a mechanic over! The mechanic repaired the car and flew back to England and left the man to continue his holiday.

As you can imagine, the fellow was wondering, “How much is this going to cost me?” So when he got back to England, he wrote the people a letter and asked how much he owed them. He received a letter from the office that read: “Dear Sir: There is no record anywhere in our files that anything ever went wrong with a Rolls-Royce.” That is justification!

W. Wiersbe, Key Words of the Christian Life, p. 16

Did Christ Finish His Work?

How dangerous it is to join anything of our own to the righteousness of Christ, in pursuit of justification before God! Jesus Christ will never endure this; it reflects upon His work dishonorably. He will be all, or none, in our justification. If He has finished the work, what need is there of our additions? And if not, to what purpose are they? Can we finish that which Christ Himself could not complete? Did He finish the work, and will He ever divide the glory and praise of it with us? No, no; Christ is no half-Savior.

It is a hard thing to bring proud hearts to rest upon Christ for righteousness. God humbles the proud by calling sinners wholly from their own righteousness to Christ for their justification.

- John Flavel

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You Can’t Add Anything

It is an insult to God to try to add anything to Christ’s finished work. What if a boy was swimming in a lake one day, and began yelling for help. Another young man on shore ran to the water and swam out to rescue the first fellow. In the process of saving the life of the boy who was drowning, the young man lost his life. The two families, who had been observing all of this, were overwhelmed by the unexpected turn of events. The father of the youth who had been saved approached the father of the dead young man to offer his sympathy. “I really can’t express how much I appreciate what your boy did, and how sorry I am that he lost his life. But I just happen to have $1.83 on me, and want to offer this to you as an indication of my feelings.

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Jesus Paid It All

Imagine a man before a judge who has been given the choice of paying $100 or serving 90 days in jail. The man doesn’t have any money, but does have a invalid wife and five hungry children at home who are depending on him and him alone. He tells such a heartrending story that the courtroom spectators are moved with pity and take up a collection to help pay the man’s fine. Although it is unlike him, even the judge chips in. Altogether they raise $99.95. Even though they are only five cents short, the judge declares that the entire $100 must be paid, and orders the bailiff to take the man to jail. He dejectedly walks out of the courtroom, thrusting his hands deep into his pockets...where he finds—A nickel! Elated, he rushes back into the courtroom and slaps it on the bar before the judge, declaring “I’m free, I’m free!” In his mind, what saved him"? The $99.95, or the five cents?

If we did anything to merit our salvation, we would be forever boasting about it in heaven. The fact is that we could do nothing, so Jesus paid it all.

- C. Ryrie

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I Am a Sinner Still

I do not come because my soul is free from sin
and pure and whole and worthy of Thy grace;
I do not speak to Thee because I’ve ever justly kept
Thy laws and dare to meet Thy face.

I know that sin and guilt combine
to reign o’er every thought of mine and turn from good to ill;
I know that when I try to be upright and just and true to Thee,
I am a sinner still.

I know that often when I strive to keep
a spark of love alive for Thee,
the powers within Leap up in unsubmissive might
and oft benumb my sense of right and pull me back to sin.

I know that though in doing good I spend my life,
I never could atone for all I’ve done;
But though my sins are black as night,
I dare to come before Thy sight because I trust Thy Son.

In Him alone my trust I place, come boldly to Thy throne of grace,
and there commune with Thee.
Salvation sure, O Lord, is mine,
and, all unworthy, I am Thine, for Jesus died for me.

- Martin Luther

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