A series of articles exploring teachings from the Good News as reavealed by God in His Word to us.


Justification by Christ Alone

Scales of Justice

How will you get to Heaven?
Many who are asked the question "How they hope to get to Heaven?", quite naturally respond something like "By observing the golden rule." Or similar words. Most of us justify this way of thinking when they look around and observe that we are not as "bad" as most people. Most do not look too bad when compared to peers using human standards. But, when we compare ourselves to God's Law, we find that we fall woefully short of meeting His expectations. For we all have sinned.

How are we justified before God?
The question is, how do we be declared "just" before an all Holy God when we have failed so miserably to live up to His standard? Is it by good works? Is it by a fusing of our good works with Christ's righteousness? Or is it by Christ's righteousness alone? I suspect that the "average Joe" would respond by saying that it is by doing good works to make up for our occasional slips. Many Catholic apologists would probably respond that our works are fused with His righteousness. I believe that the Bible teaches that we are justified by the gift of Christ's righteousness, and His righteousness alone. Consider the abundance of what Scripture has to say on the subject below.

Romans 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Romans 3:25 Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
Romans 3:26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus.
Romans 3:27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded.
John 17:23 I
[Jesus] in them [the disciples], and you [the Father] in me, that they may be made perfect in one [Jesus]; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me.
Acts 13:39 And by him
[Jesus] all that believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.
Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
- I never understood this verse until about a year or two ago. I couldn't see why Martin Luther got all excited about it. I understood it as the just - being all of us Christians - shall go about our daily lives living by faith. In other words, we keep God in our minds most of the day and live with that faith in front of us through the day. I believe that to have been an incorrect understanding - or perhaps not the full understanding. I now believe that it teaches that the just (or justified), being all of us Christians, will live, (in our souls) as opposed to being spiritually dead, by faith. In other words, the justified of God are made spiritually alive through faith.
Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. - Seems to say the direct opposite of James2 (see my article on James2) - except we note here that the justification is in God's sight, not faith that is justified in my fellow man's sight - BIG difference.
Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Romans 3:30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
Romans 4:2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he would have reason to glory; but not before God.
Romans 4:3 For what does the scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
- sounds like the opposite of James2 again except, again it is justification before God that is being looked at here as opposed to justification of one's faith by what a man "says" as in James2:18
Romans 4:5 But to him that does not do works, but believes on him [Jesus] that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Romans 4:25 Who [Jesus] was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Romans 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
Romans 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he
[God]also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
Romans 8:33 Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifies.
Romans 8:34 Who is he that condemns?
Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we who have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Galatians 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, previously preached the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In you shall all nations be blessed.
Galatians 3:9 So then they which are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
Galatians 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
Galatians 3:24 Therefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
Galatians 5:4 Christ has become of no effect for you, you who are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace.
Hebrews 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draws back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
Luk 7:50 And he said to the woman, your faith has saved you; go in peace.
Luk 8:48 And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: your faith hath made you whole; go in peace.
Luk 18:42 And Jesus said unto him, Receive your sight: your faith hath saved you.
Joh 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but has passed from death unto life.

Only one conclusion can be drawn.
Based upon the abundance and clarity of the above Scriptures (and more), it is really confounding to me how some (who say they are familiar with Scripture) can come to a conclusion other than that we are justified by Christ... and Him alone.

Excusing bad works or no works?
Many who hold to the doctrine that we are justified by faith and works accuse Evangelicals of excusing bad works. This is not the case at all. Evangelicals often point out that if one really is a genuine Christian whom God has regenerated, he will, by nature of having the Holy Spirit indwelling him, produce good works. He still struggles and fails against the lusts and appetites of his flesh, but for the most part, true Christians are motivated from the new heart (given to them) to please a God who has bestowed so much mercy and grace upon them. As a result of this inward motivation, good works flow from his life. Sin is never to be excused. Evangelicals often encourage self examination of one's works to determine if one is bearing the fruit of good works. So then, works are not a means by which we gain favor with God, but rather an outward manifestation of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Boasting in our works.
Salvation from our sins and justification before God are the heart of the matter. It is a matter of eternal destiny. If Evangelicals are correct in saying that we are saved and justified totally by Christ's work through the faith that God imparts upon us, then there is nothing we can do that can add any value to us before God. We can do nothing. God has to do everything. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. (Ro 3:27). We are totally at His mercy.

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