God’s Word teaches;
That Justification is God’s grace through which one receives forgiveness and remission of sins and is counted righteous before God, through faith in the atoning blood of Jesus. Having thus been cleared of every guilt of sin, the regenerated stands before God as though he had never sinned, not on the basis of any personal merit but in the light of what Christ had accomplished for mankind by His substitutionary death on the cross at Calvary (Psalm 32:1,2; Isaiah 1:18; Micah 7:19; Acts 13:38).
Justification is the act of God’s grace through which one receives forgive-ness and remission of sins and is counted righteous before God, through faith in the atoning blood of Jesus. Having thus been cleared of every guilt of sin, the regenerated stands before God as though he had never sinned, not on the basis of any personal merit but in the light of what Christ had accomplished for mankind by His substitutionary death on the cross at Calvary (Psalm 32:1,2; Isaiah 1:18; Micah 7:19; Acts 13:38).
In order to fully appreciate the benefits of salvation in Christ Jesus, the utter helplessness and hopelessness of man should be noted. The need for justification becomes necessary as man is incapable of personally providing a solution to his problem of sin or change his eternal destiny of damnation (Isaiah 59:8).
To meet the standard of divine justice, due price needed to be paid. Man lacked both the capacity and purity to afford this. It therefore required the sacrifice of the spotless Lamb of God, to pay the necessary ransom with His blood for the expiation of man’s sins.
It is instructive here to note that the nature of sin is not such that man could handle on his own or by the merit of his works (Ephesians 2:8,9). Just as circumcision cannot justify the Jew nor water baptism the Gentile, so can church membership or confirmation not justify anyone by the standards of God’s righteousness and holiness. Only faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross can assure a penitent soul of full justification. Three as-pects of the doctrinal question need be examined closely namely, redemption by the blood of Christ, necessity of faith, and evidence of justification.
Though physically present in the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve died spiri-tually and became alienated from God and from the commonwealth of His kingdom, after eating the forbidden fruit. Christ therefore became the sin-Bearer, based on the fact of God’s provision and promises of the Scripture (Romans 3:24,25). And He is “the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2; Acts 4:12). By Christ’s finished work of grace, solution was provided to the problem of sin to ensure man’s reconciliation with God (Isaiah 44:22; Romans 5:9).
Although Christ’s atonement on the cross guarantees universal provision of salvation for all mankind, this could only be appropriated on personal basis through faith in Christ Jesus. The sinner who seeks salvation must take the necessary step of exercising faith in the blood of Jesus. Apostle Paul gives proof of it in his Epistle to the Romans 5:1. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. And to the Jewish Christians he writes “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Hebrews 4:2).
Having been saved through faith in our Lord Jesus, the redeemed should have evidence to show for his justification (2 Corinthians 5:17). Before he was justified, the sinner was plagued by the works of the flesh as catalogued in Galatians 5:19-21. But in those that have been made a new creature, the fruits of the Spirit become manifest (Galatians 5:22,23). Therefore, in life-style, speech, conduct and disposition, the redeemed is more like Christ, hav-ing been quickened by the Spirit of God.
The misleading conception of justification by works as an article of man’s religion is opposed to justification by faith because it denies the grace of God and dishonours the blood of Christ.
The reference in the General Epistle of James 2:14-26 may be interpreted amiss by a cursory reader of Scriptures, where it asks: “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without work is dead?”
The underlying point being stressed by James is that ‘works’ as referred to, in this context are a complement of justification by faith. Whereas Apostle Paul’s epistle to the Romans, chapter 4, is essentially doctrinal, and the prac-tice is based upon the doctrine; that of James is essentially practical, the doctrinal element being purely incidental.
So, though in one sense a man is justified by faith without works, in an-other sense, we see “how by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” Justification is by faith before God but by works before men. Properly understood, none is really mutually exclusive.