Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Concept of Justification

Over the next 10 days, I will be posting 10 observations from the concept of justification. In large, each of these observations will be taken from Anthony Hoekema's chapter on justification from his book on soteriology, 'Saved By Grace'. While these concepts may be simple in nature, my hope is whether we are visiting these beautiful truths for the first time, or revisiting them, that God would give us a deeper understanding of Christ's justifying work on our behalf, and that as a result, we would love Jesus more, and see Him as exceedingly glorious. I pray God would renew a sense of awe, wonder and joy in us for the doctrine of justification.

In his book, Hoekema defines justification as "that gracious and judicial act of God whereby he declares believing sinners righteous on the basis of the righteousness of Christ which is credited to them, forgives all their sins, adopts them as his children, and gives them the right to eternal life".

Observation # 1:

The Doctrine of Justification presupposes a recognition of the reality of God's wrath. 

The need for justification stems from God's holiness. Inherently, the word holy means to be 'set apart' or 'separate from'. In the biblical sense, it means that God is perfect. He is sinless. He is 'other' from us. He stands alone in His holiness. The Bible is clear in its teaching that because is holy, he cannot tolerate sin. Darkness cannot stain the perfect light. The prophet Habakkuk puts it this way, "Your [God's] eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong" (Hab. 1:13).

In order for the gospel to be good news, we must understand what we are saved from. Our state of sin demands God's wrath. Because He is holy, because He is perfect in all His ways, God cannot simply overlook sin. Rather, Sin deserves God's wrath.

Some observations from verses describing God's wrath:

God's wrath abides on those who reject Jesus (John 3:36)
We are all by nature, objects of God's wrath (Ephesians 2:3)
God's wrath comes upon those who are disobedient (Ephesians 5:6)
Because God's wrath abides on us, we are alienated from God (Colossians 1:21)
Christ saves us from God's wrath (Romans 5:9)

So, the first observation of the doctrine of justification is that it presupposes the reality of God's wrath. Because God is holy, and we have sinned, we deserve His wrath. This fits in line with God's perfect justice. We would not say it is unjust for a judge to give a fair punishment to a criminal. How much more  perfect is God's justice than an earthly judge. Our rebellion against God, our turning away from him rightly and justly demands His wrath. Therefore, in order to have any understanding of justification, we must understand what we are justified from, and why we need to be justified.

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