The basic fact of biblical religion is that God pardons and accepts believing sinners (cf. Ps. 32:1–5; 130; Luke 7:47 ff.; 18:9–14; Acts 10:43; 1 John 1:7–2:2). Paul’s doctrine of justification by faith is an analytical exposition of this fact in its full theological connections. As stated by Paul (most fully in Romans and Galatians, though also in 2 Cor. 5:14 ff.; Eph. 2:1 ff.; Phil. 3:4 ff.), the doctrine of justification determines the whole character of Christianity as a religion of grace and faith. It defines the saving significance of Christ’s life and death by relating both to God’s law (Rom. 3:24 ff.; 5:16 ff.). It displays God’s justice in condemning and punishing sin, his mercy in pardoning and accepting sinners, and his wisdom in exercising both attributes harmoniously together through Christ (Rom. 3:23 ff.). It makes clear what at heart faith is—belief in Christ’s atoning death and justifying resurrection (Rom. 4:23 ff.; 10:8 ff.), and trust in him alone for righteousness (Phil. 3:8 f.). It makes clear what at heart Christian morality is—law keeping out of gratitude to the Saviour whose gift of righteousness made law keeping needless for acceptance (Rom. 7:1–6; 12:1 f.). It explains all hints, prophecies, and instances of salvation in the Old Testament (Rom. 1:17; 3:21; 4:1 ff.). It overthrows Jewish exclusivism (Gal. 2:15 ff.), and provides the basis on which Christianity becomes a religion for the world (Rom. 1:16; 3:29 f.). It is the heart of the Gospel. Luther justly termed it articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiae: a church that lapses from it can scarcely be called Christian.

The Meaning Of Justification

The biblical meaning of “justify” ...

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