We live in a “fast food” world where we have been conditioned to have things in quick and easy fashion. We pull through a drive through at our local fast food restaurant and expect our food to be ready in the time it takes us to drive around the building after placing our order. Information is at the tip of our finger tips now. Rarely do we need to take a trip to the library to investigate a matter now. We simply ask Siri.
If I’ve come to know anything about salvation and the way God works in the lives of people, It is rarely as quick as pulling through our local Chick fil A or as easy as speaking a question into our phones. God’s timing is not our timing and we all probably wish that God would work a bit quicker in our lives than he often does.
With that being said, there are some things that happen instantly when a person turns to trust Christ as their Savior. That’s what we want to focus on below.
“And he [Abraham] believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” Gen. 15.6
- quoted 5x in the NT.
- “believed” – to hold fast, believe firmly, trust.
- “counted” – to credit another’s account, impute
- “righteousness” – implies conformity to the nature and will of God.
“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” Psalm 32.1,2
- “forgiven” – to lift up, carry away
- “covered” – hidden, concealed, forgiven.
- “does not count against him” – same as Gen. 15.6. Impute.
QUES: How does justification occur? Compare the verse below.
“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” Rom. 3.20-25
- The Source of Justification – “justified by his grace as a gift” (24)
- The Ground of Justification – “a propitiation by his blood” (25)
- The Means of Justification – “to be received by faith” (25)*
QUES: What does justification accomplish?
“propitiation” – “the turning away of the wrath of God because of the offering of Christ.”**
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Rom. 5.1
- Remission of the penalty of sin
- Restoration to favor (positive righteousness)
- Imputation of Christ’s righteousness (imputation – to think of as belonging to someone, and therefore to cause it to belong to that person. The act in which God counts sinners to be righteous through their faith in Christ on the basis of Christ’s perfect blood and righteousness, specifically the righteousness that Christ accomplished by His perfect obedience in life and death.***)
First theologian to really explore the doctrine was Augustine.
Luther then came to understand what he deemed principled (positional) righteousness and practical righteousness. In principle (position), we are declared righteous by God, however, practically, we still struggle with sin (Rom. 7).
Council of Trent: Because Luther’s view of justification contrasted so greatly with the Catholic understanding of justification, Catholics gathered together to clarify their understanding of justification. According to RC theology, justification consists on spiritual and moral renewal, rather than the judicial absolution of guilt and the forgiveness of sins. Justification can be forfeited by mortal sin, but also can be recovered by the sacrament of penance. Because justification can be forfeited there remains no objective assurance of salvation. They alienated and condemned the protestant perspective of justification through faith alone. In short, it is Jesus and our obedience which ensures justification.
RC theology promotes infused righteousness. Instead of receiving the imputed righteousness of Christ, Faith is itself our righteousness by God’s decision to impute it to be so. Righteousness is declared so on the basis of our faith, not on the basis of Christ’s righteousness.
New Perspective (on Paul) Vs. Imputation
Justification begins by grace and is maintained by work Vs. a judicial pronouncement of God.
“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!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,” Rom. 8.15, 16
“he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,” Eph. 1.5
“an act of God whereby he makes us members of his family” – Grudem, p. 736.
“that privilege, bestowed upon those who are united with Christ, and justified by faith, by which they are admitted into the family of God, adopted as his children, and made join heirs with his own Son.” J.P Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology, p. 404.
Adoption: Thinking Deeper
- Adoption means placing us in a family to which we did not naturally belong.
- Adoption means complete freedom from former relationships, particularly to the Law.
- Adoption is possible only because of a voluntary act of the one doing the adopting.
- Adoption means we have full rights to all the privileges of being in God’s family.
Adoption carries the ideas of ownership, authority, responsibility, and above all, security.
A Secure Adoption:
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Eph. 1.13,14.
*John Stott, The Cross of Christ. p. 189-92.
**Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology. p. 537.
***John Piper, Counted Righteous in Christ. p. 42.