Justification Is Essential For Understanding The Christian Faith

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Justification Is Essential For Understanding the Christian Faith


Justification is a word used in the Scriptures to mean that in Christ we are forgiven and actually made righteous in our living. Justification is not a once-for-all, instantaneous pronouncement guaranteeing eternal salvation, regardless of how wickedly a person might live from that point on. Neither is it merely a legal declaration that an unrighteous person is righteous. Rather, justification is a living, dynamic, day-to-day reality for the one who follows Christ. The Christian actively pursues a righteous life in the grace and power of God granted to all who continue to believe in Him. (Philip, pp 77-206)

Christianity is a faith system not a religion. We trust (faith) God. Our faith is coherent and consistent in its reasoning and on the evidence that it is based. Peter writes "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty." (2 Peter 1:16)

Christians do not have blind faith. In the book of Hebrews we find the definition of faith as being "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1)

Christian faith includes believing in God, but that kind of faith is not considered particularly praiseworthy by Scripture. James writes: "You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe --- and tremble!" (James 2:19) Even demons know that God exists, but they don't trust God.


According to Roman Catholicism, justification is a process in which God's grace is poured forth into the sinner's heart, making that person progressively more righteous. During this process, it is the sinner's responsibility to preserve and increase that grace by various good works. The means by which justification is initially obtained is not faith, but the sacrament of baptism. Furthermore, justification is forfeited whenever the believer commits a mortal sin, such as hatred or adultery. In the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, then, works are necessary both to begin and to continue the process of justification. (Johann, pp.1-3)

The Old Testament affirms that justification is "by faith." Of Abraham's faith Genesis 15:6 states, "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." Roman Catholics have traditionally appealed to the verse to support their doctrine of justification by grace-empowered works, but nor one word is mentioned here of work or merit. Rather, in Genesis 15:6, God grants righteousness to Abraham as a free gift. Paul confirms in Romans 4 and Galatians 3:6-14 that the imputed (i.e. reckoned) righteousness of Genesis 15:6 is to be understood in terms of "by or through faith. "The Hebrew verb in Genesis 15:6 is also rendered "was counted" in Romans 4:3 (cf. Galatians 3:6, which uses "accounted" in the text and "imputed" in the marginal notes). This verb most often indicates "what a person, considered by himself, is not, or does not have, but is reckoned, held or regarded ...
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