The Doctrine of the Application of the Work of Redemption

By Louis Berkhoficon

From Summary of Christian Doctrine
Justification

1. The Nature and Elements of Justification, Justification may be defined as that legal act of God by which He declares the sinner righteous on the basis of the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. It is not an act or process of renewal, such as regeneration, conversion, or sanctification, and does not affect the condition but the-state of the sinner. It differs from sanctification in several particulars. Justification takes place outside of the sinner in the tribunal of God, removes the guilt of sin, and is an act which is complete at once and for all time; while sanctification takes place in man, removes the pollution of sin, and is a continuous and lifelong process. We distinguish two elements in justification, namely: (a) The forgiveness of sins on the basis of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The pardon granted applies to all sins, past, present, and future, and therefore does not admit of repetition, : 12; ; ; . This does not mean that we need no more pray for forgiveness, for the consciousness of guilt remains, creates a feeling of separation, and makes it necessary to seek repeatedly the comforting assurance of forgiveness, ; Jas 5:15; . (b) The adoption as children of God. In justification God adopts believers as His children, that is, places them in the position of children and gives them all the rights of children, including the right to an eternal inheritance, ; . This legal sonship of believers should be distinguished from their moral sonship through regeneration and sanctification. Both are indicated in the following passages: ; ; .

2. The Time of Justification. The word ‘justification’ is not always used in the same sense. Some even speak of a fourfold justification: a justification from eternity, a justification in the resurrection of Christ, a justification by faith, and a public justification in the final judgment. In explanation of this it may be said that in an ideal sense the righteousness of Christ is already accounted to believers in the counsel of redemption, and therefore from eternity, but this is not what the Bible means when it speaks of the justification of the sinner. We must distinguish between what was decreed in the eternal counsel of God and what is realized in the course of history. Again, there is some reason for speaking of a justification in the resurrection of Christ. In a sense it may be said that the resurrection was the justification of Christ, and that in Him the whole body of believers was justified. But this was a general and purely objective transaction, which should not be confused with the personal justification of the sinner. When the Bible speaks of the justification of the sinner, it usually refers to the subjective and personal application and appropriation of the justifying grace of God. The usual representation is that we are justified by faith. This implies that it takes place at the time when we accept Christ by faith. Faith is called the instrument or the appropriating organ of justification. By faith man appropriates, that is, takes unto himself, the righteousness of Christ, on the basis of which he is justified before God. Faith justifies in so far as it takes possession of Christ. ; . We should guard against the error of the Roman Catholics and the Arminians, that man is justified on the basis of his own inherent righteousness, or of his faith. Man’s own righteousness or faith can never be the ground of his justification. This can be found only in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, ; ; .

3. Objections to the Doctrine of Justification. Various objections are raised to this doctrine. It is said that, if man is justified on the basis of the merits of Christ, he is not saved by grace. But justification, with all that it includes, is a gracious work of God. The gift of Christ, God’s reckoning of His righteousness to us, and His dealing with sinners as righteous,– it is all grace from start to finish. Again, it is said to be unworthy of God to declare sinners righteous. But God does not declare that they are righteous in themselves, but that they are clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. And, finally, it is said that this doctrine is apt to make people indifferent as to their moral life. If they are justified apart from any consideration of works, why should they care for personal piety? But justification lays the foundation for a living relationship with Christ, and this is the surest guarantee for a truly godly life. The man who is really in living union with Christ cannot be morally indifferent. .

To memorize. Passages speaking of:

a. Justification in general:

. “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

. “Him who knew no sin He made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

b. Justification by faith, not by works:

. “We reckon therefore that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”

. “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness.”

. “Yet knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we believed on Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law: because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

c. Justification and the forgiveness of sins:

. “Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom Jehovah imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.”

. “Be it known unto you therefore, brethren, that through this man is proclaimed unto you remission of sins; and by Him every one that believeth is justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”

d. Adoption of children, heirs of eternal life:

. “But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on His name.”

. “But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that He might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”

. “And if children, their heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him.”

e. Justification based on the righteousness of Christ:

. “But now apart from the law a righteousness of God hath been manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ unto all them that believe.”

. “So then as through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to condemnation; even so though one act of righteousness the free gift came unto all men to justification of life.”

For Further Study:

a. What fruits of justification are mentioned in ?

b. Does not James teach that man is justified by works? Jas 2:21-25.

c. With what objection to the doctrine of justification does Paul deal in ?

Questions for Review

1. What is justification?
2. How does it differ from sanctification?
3. What elements does it comprise?
4. In how far are sins forgiven in justification?
5. Why must believers still pray for forgiveness?
6. What is included in the adoption of children?
7. Can we speak of justification from eternity and in the resurrection of Christ?
8. How is faith related to justification?
9. What is the ground of justification? What is the Arminian view?
10. What objections are raised to this doctrine? Can you answer them?

103:1 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul! (ESV)

22 I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud
and your sins like mist;
return to me, for I have redeemed you. (ESV)

21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 8:1

8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:32-34

32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (ESV)

14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (ESV)

Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!

Psalm 32:5

I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

Psalm 51:1

51:1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions. (ESV)

12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
(ESV)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (ESV)

17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (ESV)

to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, (ESV)

12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

John 1:13

13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (ESV)

15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Romans 8:16

16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, (ESV)

to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Galatians 4:6

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (ESV)

And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, (ESV)

16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (ESV)

24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Romans 10:4

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (ESV)

21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)

and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— (ESV)

But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world? But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just. (ESV)

24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, (ESV)

21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)

28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. (ESV)

And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, (ESV)

16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (ESV)

32:1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.

Psalm 32:2

Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit. (ESV)

38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you,

Acts 13:39

39 and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. (ESV)

12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, (ESV)

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,

Galatians 4:5

to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (ESV)

17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (ESV)

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—

Romans 3:22

22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: (ESV)

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. (ESV)

5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (ESV)

But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) By no means! For then how could God judge the world? But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just. (ESV)

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