FOUR FACTS ABOUT JUSTIFICATION
The Lord our God must deal with all men upon the grounds of strict justice, because he is just. Justice and holiness are as essential to the character of God as love and mercy. God can no more put aside justice in his dealings with men than he can put aside love from his character. Because God is just, the only way he can save a guilty sinner, bring the sinner into an eternal union of life with himself, is if he can make the sinner guiltless and sinless in the eyes of his own law and justice. This act of God's matchless grace, by which he declares men to be guiltless and sinless is what Paul calls "justification''. Now, when God declares that a person is guiltless and sinless, perfectly righteous before him, that person really is in the eyes of God perfectly righteous. Our righteousness before God is not just a merciful supposition, it is a blessed reality in Christ.
1. EVERY BELIEVER IS ETERNALLY JUSTIFIED IN THE PURPOSE OF GOD.
Paul, speaking of God's eternal decree in predestination, declares that all of God's elect were justified in his eternal purpose of grace - "Whom he did PREDESTINATE, them he also CALLED: and whom he called them he also JUSTIFIED: and whom he justified them he also GLORIFIED." From all eternity, God looked upon his Son as our Substitute, and looking upon us in his Son, we are, and always have been, righteous in his sight. This fact of our eternal justification in Christ is the reason why our race was not destroyed immediately after the fall. "As God's will to elect is the election of his people, so his will to justify them is the justification of them. As it is an immanent act in God, it is an act of his grace towards them, is wholly without them, entirely resides in the Divine mind, and lies in his estimating, accounting, and constituting them righteous through the righteousness of his Son; and, as such, did not first commence in time, but from eternity."(John Gill) "We may say of all spiritual blessings in Christ what is said of Christ, that 'his goings forth are from everlasting. In Christ we are blessed with all spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3). As we are blessed with all other, so with this also, that we were justified then in Christ!" (Thomas Goodwin)
2. ALL OF GOD'S ELECT WERE JUSTIFIED AT
Having lived in perfect
obedience to the law of God as our Representative, establishing perfect
righteousness for us, the Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died as our Substitute
3. EVERY BELIEVER RECEIVES JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH IN CHRIST.
Christ justified us by his great sin-atoning sacrifice; and all who believe on Christ as Lord and Savior receive the many benefits of his finished work, one of which is justification. It is written that our Lord Jesus Christ "was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore BEING JUSTIFIED, by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Faith does not cause God to justify us. The obedience of Christ has done that for us. But faith, resting upon Christ alone as Savior, obtains peace with God, even the peace of perfect, complete justification.
4. AND EVERY TRUE BELIEVER IS JUSTIFIED BY HIS WORKS.
Read James 4:20-26. James and
Paul are not opposed to each other. In Romans 3 Paul shows us the ACCOMPLISHMENT
of justification. Here James is showing us the EVIDENCE of
justification. If a man is a true believer in Christ, he will justify his faith
and prove its reality by works of righteous obedience to God, even as Abraham
did. Any faith which does not produce such obedience is a false faith, a
demonic delusion. Justification, then, is an ETERNAL ACT of God, ACCOMPLISHED