Acts 13:38-39; Rom.1:17; 3:31- 5:21; 2 Cor. 5:13-21; Gal. 2:15- 5:1; Phil. 3:4-14; 1 John 1:9
This was the rallying cry of the Reformation. The main point that caused Luther and Calvin to challenge the Catholic Church and it's teachings. This is also the cornerstone of protestant theology that Christ through His work gave us a 'pardon'. This pardon is from the penalty of death through sin, and there is nothing we could ever do to earn this pardon. It is purely by His acceptance of us that we are saved (Eph. 2:8-9). There is nothing that we can add to it, such as good works or clean living. Justification means that God's righteousness is covering us from His wrath and punishment as a blanket! It is like getting a speeding ticket; going to court and having the judge declare you innocent, even though you were speeding. To God you are clean, covered by what Christ has done for you. This creates our Reconciliation to God, that we were in perfect relationship to Him before the fall, and now we are again in harmony.
God has a righteous basis for our justification through the sacrifice of His Son, for our sins. Grace was not cheap for God. Christ paid a great debt by pleasing God's wrath, both in metaphysical pain and human pain of the crucifixion (Lev. 16; Psalm 103:12). Our independence is a slap in His face, and He can do nothing in us until it is removed (John 3:5)! Let us pray to be cleansed by the atoning death of our Savior, who bore our punishment and lived out the law on our behalf.
Some Jews take issue with this saying it is umbilical that God cannot over rule His own law sighting Duet. 25:1 and Prov. 17:15; however they do not realize that Jesus Himself is the righteous One and He lived a perfect life in our place, as a designated hitter.
The Catholic Church taught that justification was a process through the sacraments and church, and that faith contributed to it as well as works. The reformers said this act was done at once at our acceptance of His gift of grace. The Catholic Church at the time of the reformation was even 'selling indulgences' granting people a spot in Heaven for money regardless of faith or even the church. They did this to pay for the cathedrals they were building, and you thought bingo was bad! Although Catholic apologist say this was never an 'official act' of the church. Nevertheless history clearly states this was a wide problem.
Faith is the instrument and not the cause, Christ is the cause.
It is based on the faithfulness of our Lord, and not of our goodness. Just as animal sacrifice in the O.T. was a means of forgiveness and surrendered attitude because of a loss of something precious, but not the cause (Gal 2:15-16; 3:24; Heb. 9:11-15; 10:1-4). The reformers called this 'meritorious ground for our justification, explaining it as the soil that the seed of justification is planted into. And that Christ was that soil too. As we give our lives to Christ in faith, He in turn gives us His righteousness.
© 1998, 2001, 2003 R. J. Krejcir Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.com/