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” ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.