Justification is the doctrine that God pardons, accepts, and declares a sinner to be "just" on the basis of Christ's righteousness (Rom 3:24-26; 4:25; 5:15-21) which results in God's peace (Rom 5:1), His Spirit (Rom 8:4), and salvation. Justification is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ apart from all works and merit of the sinner (cf. Rom 1:18-3:28).

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The act of justification

One-time act

Justification is a legal act, wherein God deems the sinner righteous on the basis of Christ's righteousness. Unlike Sanctification, Justification is not a process, but is a one-time act, complete and definitive.

The word justification is not always used in the same sense. Some even speak of a fourfold justification as a justification from eternity, a justification from the resurrection, a justification in final judgment – as these are all true.[1]

Double imputation

God's act of justification may be seen to involve a double imputation. On the one hand, the sin and guilt of the believer are imputed to Christ. On the other hand, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer, whereby he is declared righteous.

See main page: Double imputation

Forgiveness and adoption

Justification is seen in two parts: (1) The sinner is forgiven on the basis of Christ's righteousness. The pardon does not merely cover sins already committed – but reaches to all sins. (2) The sinner is adopted as a child of God. God places them within his household, giving them all the rights of heirs and children (Rom 8:17, 1 Peter 1:4).

The instrumental cause of justification: Faith

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The ??????? ??????? debate

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Helpful quotes

  • Q. 33. What is justification?

A. Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone. Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 33

  • "The relationship of entailment between A [faith] and B [works] may be any of several kinds. A entails B if A and B are identical; If A then B is a valid inference by the law of identity. By causation, A entails B if A is a necessary and sufficient condition of B: If A then B. A. Therefore B” is a valid inference by modus ponens. By inclusion, A entails B if all A are B, even if not all B are A: All A are B. C is A. Therefore C is B is a valid inference by modus ponens. [With regard to faith and works, what matters] is whether the entailment is that of identity, cause, or inclusion. The first equates faith and works and destroys the whole Biblical teaching of justification by faith alone apart from the works of the law (Romans 3:28). The third subsumes works under faith and likewise destroys sola fide. Only the second maintains the Biblical distinction between faith and works and the Biblical doctrine that works are the necessary consequence of faith and so upholds the Biblical teaching of justification by faith alone apart from the works of the law." Calvin Beisner, Norman Shepherd and the Faith that Justifies, Knox Theological Seminary Chapel, October 22, 2002 [2]

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