|Q32: What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?||Q33: What is justification?|
|A: They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification (Rom. 8:30), adoption (Eph. 1:5), and sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them (1 Cor. 1:30).||A: Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins (Eph. 1:7), and accepteth us as righteous in his sight (2 Cor. 5:21), only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us (Rom. 5:19), and received by faith alone (Ga. 2:16).|
I. Justification, adoption, and sanctification are the leading benefits of those who are effectually called.
A. Other benefits in this life received are reconciliation with God (Rom. 5:1), access to God (Eph. 3:12), freedom from slavery to sin (Jn. 8:32), and the right to eternal life (Acts 20:32).
1. These benefits in the life to come will be fully enjoyed: glorification, the joining of the converted soul to the body.
II. Justification is God’s gracious act, whereby He as Judge pardons sinners and declares them righteous based on the merit of Christ.
The answer to the great question: “How can a guilty sinner be righteous before God?” This doctrine is the heart of the gospel: “[T]he article by which the church stands or falls” (Martin Luther). Calvin wrote:
And we must so discuss them as to bear in mind that this [the doctrine of justification] is the main hinge on which religion turns, so that we devote the greater attention and care to it. For unless you first of all grasp what your relationship to God is, and the nature of his judgment concerning you, you have neither a foundation on which to establish your salvation nor one on which to build piety toward God. But the need to know this will better appear from the knowledge itself. (source)
A. That this act is a legal judgment and not the infusion of holiness making a sinner just is seen in three ways.
1. Meaning of the term contextually: in justifying a righteous man a judge declares him to be what the evidence proves the man is, and is not making the man righteous (Deut. 25:1).
2. Antithesis: the opposite of righteousness is condemnation (Deut. 25:1).
3. Use of term contextually: courtroom scene (Rom. 3:19-20; 8:33).
B. This act is not carried on by degrees, but is an instantaneous one time act (Rom. 8:1)
1. No justification until one repents and believes (Ga. 2:16; Col. 1:21-22).
III. Justification has two parts: pardon of sin and the acceptance of the sinner as righteous.
God is Judge, Lawgiver, and therefore He alone can forgive the debt of sin (Ps. 9:4; Mk. 2:7; Ja. 4:12). God summons sinners to answer before His judgment seat through the gospel.
A. Pardon: its meaning, elements, and nature.
1. Pardon means the removal of the guilt of sin. Guilt is an obligation to punishment. The sinner is obligated to bear the eternal wrath of God to satisfy justice for breaking the law. Pardon nullifies the obligation (Job 33:22-24).
2. The elements of pardon are that it is full (Mic. 7:19; Col. 2:13), free (Rom. 3:24), and irrevocable (Rom. 11:29; cf. Jer. 31:34).
3. The nature of a pardon is variously expressed.
a. A “blotting” out of sin (Isa. 43:25; Acts 3:19), as a creditor discharges a debt; a blotting out of a “thick cloud” (Isa. 44:22) that obscures the face of God.
b. A “covering” of sin (Ps. 32:1), alluding to Israel having to “cover” their refuse (Deut. 23:13-14). Sin is the worst pollution, but pardon covers over its appearance.
c. Not “imputing” sin (Ps. 32:2). Imputation, according to the scriptural usage, denotes an attributing of something to a person, or a charging of one with anything, or a setting of something to one’s account. This takes place sometimes in a judicial manner, so that the thing imputed becomes a ground of reward or punishment.
B. Accepting the person as “righteous” (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 4:6; 5:19) means that the sinner is viewed as having fulfilled the demands of the law, and as having been removed from its reach. Righteousness is imputed.
1. The sinner now has flowing to him the rivers of God’s compassion (Rom. 5:1); the accusations of Satan are silenced (Rom. 8:33-34); he no longer seeks acceptance with God by his works (Rom. 9:30-32).
IV. Justification, its meritorious ground: negatively and positively (Rom. 3:20-4:5).
A. Negatively: it is not by any worth or merit in the sinner himself.
2. Good works are imperfect (Isa. 64:6; Ja. 3:2).
3. The sinner who is justified is “ungodly” (Rom. 4:5; 5:6, 9).
B. Positively: it is Christ’s righteousness alone by faith alone.
1. Christ’s righteousness is His perfect obedience to the law (Matt. 3:15; Heb. 4:15), and His suffering the penalty for the law being broken (Ga. 3:13; Phil. 2:8). He fulfilled the law to the last and suffered wrath to the utmost.
2. Christ’s righteousness is what justifies us (Isa. 45:24-25; 53:6, 11; Jer. 23:6; 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 5:18-19; 10:3; Phil. 3:9).
3. Christ’s righteousness is received through the instrumentality of faith (Rom. 1:17; 3:22; 10:10; Ga. 2:16; Phil. 3:9).
4. Christ’s righteousness vindicates God’s holiness (Rom. 3:26).
C. Faith and works: their relationship.
1. Justifying faith brings the sinner to perform good works out of gratitude towards God (Eph. 2:8-10). His faith works through love (Ga. 5:6), showing it to be genuine (Ja. 2:14-24).
A. Use, of knowledge.
1. Being pardoned is no slight thing (Num. 14:17-19); “God forgive me” should not be some common, cavalier phrase.
2. Blessed is the man who is justified (Ps. 32:1); miserable are the unjustified (Ps. 94:23).
B. Use, of testing.
1. Has the Judge brought you to a reckoning of your sin, causing you to renounce all other confidences (Phil. 3:7-8) and flee to Christ alone for righteousness?
2. Has the reigning power of sin been broken (Rom. 6:14)?
3. Has justifying faith been proven to be genuine (Eph. 2:8-10; Ja. 2:17)?
C. Use, of exhortation: sinners and saints.
1. Sinners. Consider:
a. The dreadful disadvantages of the unjustified state. You stand under condemnation and know not when the sentence will be executed (Jn. 3:18; Rom. 2:5; Ga. 3:10), you have no peace with God (Rom. 5:1), and no access to Him (Isa. 59:1-2).
b. The unspeakable advantages of a justified state: peace with God (Rom. 5:1), which also brings peace of conscience (Acts 24:16; Heb. 9:14), access to God (Eph. 3:12), deliverance from bondage to sin (Rom. 6:14), and all providences working for good (Rom. 8:28).
c. That the time of pardoning grace may not last (Isa. 55:6).
(1). Directions: labor to get your hearts concerned for a pardon. Flee to Christ, making full confession and receive Christ’s righteousness, laying your guilt upon Him, and believing in His ability and willingness to remove it.
2. Saints. Consider the duty that this privileged state calls you to: love the Lord much (Lk. 7:47); have a forgiving disposition (Eph. 4:32); walk humbly (Mic. 6:8); bear adversity patiently (Rom. 5:3); and walk tenderly (Jn. 8:11).