Justification, Study, Know, Apply

Why is the doctrine of justification important to a Christian and why they need to study it, know, it, apply it and teach it ?   Read on…

A study of Systematic Theology from Louis Berkof
Chapter 21: Justification

1. The Nature and Elements of Justification, Justification may be defined as that legal act of God by which He declares the sinner righteous on the basis of the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. It is not an act or process of renewal, such as regeneration, conversion, or sanctification, and does not affect the condition but the-state of the sinner. It differs from sanctification in several particulars. Justification takes place outside of the sinner in the tribunal of God, removes the guilt of sin, and is an act which is complete at once and for all time; while sanctification takes place in man, removes the pollution of sin, and is a continuous and lifelong process. We distinguish two elements in justification, namely:

(a) The forgiveness of sins on the basis of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The pardon granted applies to all sins, past, present, and future, and therefore does not admit of repetition, Ps. 103: 12; Isa. 44:22; Rom. 5:21; 8:1, 32-34; Heb. 10:14. This does not mean that we need no more pray for forgiveness, for the consciousness of guilt remains, creates a feeling of separation, and makes it necessary to seek repeatedly the comforting assurance of forgiveness, Ps. 25:7; 32:5; 51:1; Matt. 6:12; Jas. 5:15; I John 1:9.

(b) The adoption as children of God. In justification God adopts believers as His children, that is, places them in the position of children and gives them all the rights of children, including the right to an eternal inheritance, Rom. 8:17; I Pet. 1:4. This legal sonship of believers should be distinguished from their moral sonship through regeneration and sanctification. Both are indicated in the following passages: John 1:12, 13; Rom. 8:15, 16; Gal. 4:5, 6.

2. The Time of Justification. The word ‘justification’ is not always used in the same sense. Some even speak of a fourfold justification: a justification from eternity, a justification in the resurrection of Christ, a justification by faith, and a public justification in the final judgment. In explanation of this it may be said that in an ideal sense the righteousness of Christ is already accounted to believers in the counsel of redemption, and therefore from eternity, but this is not what the Bible means when it speaks of the justification of the sinner. We must distinguish between what was decreed in the eternal counsel of God and what is realized in the course of history. Again, there is some reason for speaking of a justification in the resurrection of Christ. In a sense it may be said that the resurrection was the justification of Christ, and that in Him the whole body of believers was justified. But this was a general and purely objective transaction, which should not be confused with the personal justification of the sinner. When the Bible speaks of the justification of the sinner, it usually refers to the subjective and personal application and appropriation of the justifying grace of God. The usual representation is that we are justified by faith. This implies that it takes place at the time when we accept Christ by faith. Faith is called the instrument or the appropriating organ of justification. By faith man appropriates, that is, takes unto himself, the righteousness of Christ, on the basis of which he is justified before God. Faith justifies in sofar as it takes possession of Christ. Rom. 4:5; Gal. 2:16. We should guard against the error of the Roman Catholics and the Arminians, that man is justified on the basis of his own inherent righteousness, or of his faith. Man’s own righteousness or faith can never be the ground of his justification. This can be found only in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, Rom. 3:24; 10:4; II Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9.

3. Objections to the Doctrine of Justification. Various objections are raised to this doctrine. It is said that, if man is justified on the basis of the merits of Christ, he is not saved by grace. But justification, with all that it includes, is a gracious work of God. The gift of Christ, God’s reckoning of His righteousness to us, and His dealing with sinners as righteous,– it is all grace from start to finish. Again, it is said to be unworthy of God to declare sinners righteous. But God does not declare that they are righteous in themselves, but that they are clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. And, finally, it is said that this doctrine is apt to make people indifferent as to their moral life. If they are justified apart from any consideration of works, why should they care for personal piety? But justification lays the foundation for a living relationship with Christ, and this is the surest guarantee for a truly godly life. The man who is really in living union with Christ cannot be morally indifferent. Rom. 3:5-8.

To memorize. Passages speaking of:

a. Justification in general: Rom. 3:24. “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

II Cor. 5:21. “Him who knew no sin He made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

b. Justification by faith, not by works: Rom. 3:28. “We reckon therefore that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”

Rom. 4:5. “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness.”

Gal. 2:16. “Yet knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we believed on Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law: because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

c. Justification and the forgiveness of sins: Ps. 32:1, 2. “Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom Jehovah imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.”

Acts 13:38, 39. “Be it known unto you therefore, brethren, that through this man is proclaimed unto you remission of sins; and by Him every one that believeth is justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”

d. Adoption of children, heirs of eternal life: John 1:12. “But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on His name.”

Gal. 4:4, 5. “But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that He might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”

Rom. 8:17. “And if children, their heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him.”

e. Justification based on the righteousness of Christ: Rom. 3:21, 22. “But now apart from the law a righteousness of God hath been manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ unto all them that believe.”

Rom. 5:18. “So then as through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to condemnation; even so though one act of righteousness the free gift came unto all men to justification of life.”

For Further Study:

a. What fruits of justification are mentioned in Rom. 5:1-5? b. Does not James teach that man is justified by works? Jas. 2:21-25. c. With what objection to the doctrine of justification does Paul deal in Rom. 3:5-8?

Questions for Review

1. What is justification?
2. How does it differ from sanctification?
3. What elements does it comprise?
4. In how far are sins forgiven in justification?
5. Why must believers still pray for forgiveness?
6. What is included in the adoption of children?
7. Can we speak of justification from eternity and in the resurrection of Christ?
8. How is faith related to justification?
9. What is the ground of justification? What is the Arminiam View?
10. What objections are raised to this doctrine? Can you answer them?

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Louis Berkof, Systematic Theology

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A Christ Centered Home: A Place Where Sinners Live

Theology Girl-ReformedWomen Studies
Study Notes: “A Christ Centered Home”
Title: “A Place Where Sinners Live”
Author: JacyJoyPals
“ReformedWomen-Theology Girl”
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“What does a Christian home look like? Is it an idyllic place where peace and quiet, tranquility and joy continuously reign? Definitely not! The first and most important fact to remember about a truly Christian home is that sinners live there.” (Dr. Jay Adams)

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:1-2

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good
works.”  II Timothy 3:16-17

As I prepared this post of my “Summary Notes” excerpts from Chapter 1 of my “A Christ Centered Home” study, it was again a reminder of the importance of God’s Word in the daily life of the believer and why, without God’s Word, prayer and help, we cannot, as redeemed sisters, live a life that is pleasing to God and in love to our neighbor.  It is my prayer that the Summary Notes and supporting documentation will help you as you press forward in your walk with Christ and grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ while living in a sinful world.  Thus,

1. A “Christian home is a place where sinners live” — “a place where sinful persons face the problems of a sinful world.”

2. We are sinners, both of original sin and actual sin. That our sins are covered in Christ as a result of our salvation; that our salvation is complete in Him, but that He has given us commandment to live a godly, sanctified life and to seek His kingdom first in everything.

3. Christians admit their sins, know what to do about their sins and that they progress out of their sins.

4. That God’s Word, the Bible, is the guidebook for our lives and thus all matters pertaining to our life and godliness are applied by it. As Christians, it gives us the answers on how to live, how to love, how to serve each other in love and humility. It teaches us of forgiveness, righteousness, and grace and strengthens us to live a life that is pleasing to Christ. It strengthens our faith and gives us hope; it protects us from evil, wrong-thinking, worldly philosophy and psychobabble. The Bible shows us how to be “preventative” in solving matters of the Christian life.

5. We are reminded that as Christians we are not perfected in this life and that we must battle sin in ourselves as a “warrior” for Christ every moment of the day. That we are to “present ourselves as a living sacrifice to God” daily and make “no provision for the flesh” and the “old man and his deeds.” We are to confess our sins, seek forgiveness from Christ and our neighbor, be it husband, children, family member or neighbor. We are to press on to godliness in our relationships and to desire a godly home where Christ reigns.

6. That we are “in training” for our own personal walk with Christ but also for our children. We are to train them “in righteousness” in everything, every day, 24-7. We are “women of the Book” (the Bible) and we are to teach our children to be “children of the Book” as God has commanded us in Deuteronomy 6:7-8.

7. That we progress in our growth as Christians “out of sin into righteousness” by daily “Bible study, prayer, witness, and the fellowship of the saints.” That the Holy Spirit enables us by bringing conviction of sin, comfort, helping us in our infirmities, and by working in our lives to produce the fruit of righteousness.

8. That God has given us His Word and wonderful tools, leaders, churches, and brethren to help us in our personal walk and in guidance on how to have a godly home. He has given us “a standard” — the Bible — by which to live that our unsaved neighbor does not have. We are people of grace and faith.

9. We have learned by the verses quoted, the WCF and additional study materials about sin, sanctification, holiness, and family life. That God has provided, in Christ and His enabling Holy Spirit, the provision and perseverance of living the Christian life.

10. Dr. Adams sums it up best this way: “The Christian home then, is a place where sinful persons face the problems of a sinful world. Yet, they face them together with God and His resources, which are all centered in Christ (cf. Col. 2:3). Sinners live in the Christian home, but the sinless Saviour lives there too. That is what makes the difference!”

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Study Helps:

KEY WORD:

“sanctification” Strong’s Number: 38
Original Word Word Origin aJgiasmovß from (37) Transliterated Word
“Hagiasmos”
Phonetic Spelling Parts of Speech “hag-ee-as-mos’ ” Noun Masculine
Definition:
consecration, purification
the effect of consecration
sanctification of heart and life

WCF: (Westminster Confession of Faith)
CHAPTER XIII
Of Sanctification
I. They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new
heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and
personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by his
Word and Spirit dwelling in them: the dominion of the whole body of sin is
destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and
mortified; and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving
graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the
Lord.

II. This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man; yet imperfect in
this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part;
whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against
the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.

III. In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much
prevail; yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying
Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome; and so, the saints grow
in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
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[1]  Jay Adams, “Christian Living in the Home” Chapter 1
[2]  ReformedWomen-Theology Girl Book-Bible Study: “Christian Living in the Home, Summary and Commentary on A Christ Centered Home”  (2001-2019)

 

The Attributes of God: “The Knowledge of God”

knowledgeTHE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD
A.W. Pink

THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD

God is omniscient. He knows everything: everything possible, everything actual; all events, all creatures, God the past, the present and the future. He is perfectly acquainted with every detail in the life of every being in heaven, in earth and in hell. “He knoweth what is in the darkness” (Dan. 2:22). Nothing escapes Hs notice, nothing can be hidden from Him, nothing is forgotten by Him. Well may we say with the Psalmist, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it” (Ps. 139:6). His knowledge is perfect. He never errs, never changes, never overlooks anything. “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13). Yes, such is the God with whom “we have to do!”

“Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou understandest my thoughts afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue but, lo, O Lord, Thou knowest it altogether” (Ps. 139:2-4). What a wondrous Being is the God of Scripture! Each of His glorious attributes should render Him honorable in our esteem. The apprehension of His omniscience ought to bow us in adoration before Him. Yet how little do we meditate upon this Divine perfection! Is it because the very thought of it fills us with uneasiness?

How solemn is this fact: nothing can be concealed from God! “For I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them” (Ezek. 11:5). Though He be invisible to us, we are not so to Him. Neither the darkness of night, the closest curtains, nor the deepest dungeon can hide any sinner from the eyes of Omniscience. The trees of the garden were not able to conceal our first parents. No human eye beheld Cain murder his brother, but his Maker witnessed his crime. Sarah might laugh derisively in the seclusion of her tent, yet was it heard by Jehovah. Achan stole a wedge of gold and carefully hid it in the earth, but God brought it to light. David was at much pains to cover up his wickedness, but ere long the all-seeing God sent one of His servants to say to him, “Thou art the man! And to writer and reader is also said, Be sure your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23).

Men would strip Deity of His omniscience if they could—what a proof that “the carnal mind is enmity against God” (Rom. 8:7)! The wicked do as naturally hate this Divine perfection as much as they are naturally compelled to acknowledge it. They wish there might be no Witness of their sins, no Searcher of their hearts, no Judge of their deeds. They seek to banish such a God from their thoughts: “They consider not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness” (Hosea 7:2). How solemn is Psalm 90:8! Good reason has every Christ-rejecter for trembling before it: Thou hast set our iniquities before Thee, our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance.

But to the believer, the fact of God’s omniscience is a truth fraught with much comfort. In times of perplexity he says with Job, “But He knoweth the way that I take.” (23:10). It may be profoundly mysterious to me, quite incomprehensible to my friends, but “He knoweth!” In times of weariness and weakness believers assure themselves “He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust” (Ps. 103:14). In times of doubt and suspicion they appeal to this very attribute saying, “Search me, 0 God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23,24). In time of sad failure, when our actions have belied our hearts, when our deeds have repudiated our devotion, and the searching question comes to us, “Lovest thou Me?;” we say, as Peter did, “Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee” (John 21:17).

Here is encouragement to prayer. There is no cause for fearing that the petitions of the righteous will not be heard, or that their sighs and tears shall escape the notice of God, since He knows the thoughts and intents of the heart. There is no danger of the individual saint being overlooked amidst the multitude of supplicants who daily and hourly present their various petitions, for an infinite Mind is as capable as paying the same attention to millions as if only one individual were seeking its attention. So too the lack of appropriate language, the inability to give expression to the deepest longing of the soul, will not jeopardize our prayers, for “It shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” (Isa. 65:24).

“Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite” (Ps. 147:5). God not only knows whatsoever has happened in the past in every part of His vast domains, and He is not only thoroughly acquainted with everything that is now transpiring throughout the entire universe, but He is also perfectly cognizant with every event, from the least to the greatest, that ever will happen in the ages to come. God’s knowledge of the future is as complete as is His knowledge of the past and the present, and that, because the future depends entirely upon Himself. Were it in anywise possible for something to occur apart from either the direct agency or permission of God, then that something would be independent of Him, and He would at once cease to be Supreme.

Now the Divine knowledge of the future is not a mere abstraction, but something which is inseparably connected with and accompanied by His purpose. God has Himself designed whatsoever shall yet be, and what He has designed must be effectuated. As His most sure Word affirms, “He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand” (Dan. 4:35). And again, “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand” (Prov. 19:21). The wisdom and power of God being alike infinite, the accomplishment of whatever He hath purposed is absolutely guaranteed. It is no more possible for the Divine counsels to fail in their execution than it would be for the thrice holy God to lie.

Nothing relating to the future is in anywise uncertain so far as the actualization of God’s counsels are concerned. None of His decrees are left contingent either on creatures or secondary causes. There is no future event which is only a mere possibility, that is, something which may or may not come to pass, “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning” (Acts 15:18). Whatever God has decreed is inexorably certain, for He is without variableness, or shadow, of turning. (James 1:17). Therefore we are told at the very beginning of that book which unveils to us so much of the future, of “Things which must shortly come to pass.” (Rev. 1:1).

The perfect knowledge of God is exemplified and illustrated in every prophecy recorded in His Word. In the Old Testament are to be found scores of predictions concerning the history of Israel, which were fulfilled to their minutest detail, centuries after they were made. In them too are scores more foretelling the earthly career of Christ, and they too were accomplished literally and perfectly. Such prophecies could only have been given by One who knew the end from the beginning, and whose knowledge rested upon the unconditional certainty of the accomplishment of everything foretold. In like manner, both Old and New Testament contain many other announcements yet future, and they too “must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44), must because foretold by Him who decreed them.

It should, however, be pointed out that neither God’s knowledge nor His cognition of the future, considered simply in themselves, are causative. Nothing has ever come to pass, or ever will, merely because God knew it. The cause of all things is the will of God. The man who really believes the Scriptures knows beforehand that the seasons will continue to follow each other with unfailing regularity to the end of earth’s history (Gen. 8:22), yet his knowledge is not the cause of their succession. So God’s knowledge does not arise from things because they are or will be but because He has ordained them to be. God knew and foretold the crucifixion of His Son many hundreds of years before He became incarnate, and this, because in the Divine purpose, He was a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world: hence we read of His being “delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23).

A word or two by way of application. The infinite knowledge of God should fill us with amazement. How far exalted above the wisest man is the Lord! None of us knows what a day may bring forth, but all futurity is open to His omniscient gaze. The infinite knowledge of God ought to fill us with holy awe. Nothing we do, say, or even think, escapes the cognizance of Him with whom we have to do: “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Prov. 15:3). What a curb this would be unto us, did we but meditate upon it more frequently! Instead of acting recklessly, we should say with Hagar, “Thou God seest me” (Gen. 16:13). The apprehension of God’s infinite knowledge should fill the Christian with adoration. The whole of my life stood open to His view from the beginning. He foresaw my every fall, my every sin, my every backsliding; yet, nevertheless, fixed His heart upon me. Oh, how the realization of this should bow me in wonder and worship before Him!

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There are several very excellent treatments of this subject and ones in which we distinctly adhere to, i.e., Calvin, Hodge, BB Warfield and more but we have chosen A.W. Pink’s “Attributes of God” for its simplistic easy-to-understand writing for the novice believer who happens upon our blog. _TheologyGirl