Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Paul's Portrait of Justification

Justification, as presented by the apostle Paul, was perhaps best stated in Romans 3:23-24, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (NIV). Here, as the apostle describes, the justified is, simply put, one who is declared righteous or just. The believer is made righteous, or justified, by the Lord and cleared of all charges (punishment) related to their sins. This verb, used fourteen times by the apostle through this particular letter to the Romans, is described as the act of the Lord declaring, with authority as in a judicial sense, the repentant heart justified or cleared of all sin.

We, as faithful believers, continue to be justified by God’s grace as we permit our faith to work in love and as we walk in the light of God. This is done in by two means: trust and obedience. We must first trust in the Lord and His holy Word in our lives, and we must second obediently respond to the grace offered to us, in faith.

How does this justification come to us, then?
It is not through a checklist of items printed neatly onto a bullet point list we must simply memorize or do upon completion of a membership class. It is through our faith and our faith alone that we are justified. Through a repentant heart and in a humbled state, God will know our motives and true acceptance of His Son. As individuals, the grace extended freely from the Father allows us to all be justified; this is a key aspect of Paul’s gospel. Though our works and good deeds may at times be seen as good or righteous in the eyes of others, it is only through the reception of grace (in faith) extended from the Father that we are justified, not through even our best human effort.

The effect(s) of this justification - which we surely desire to receive - is a natural desire of conformity to a life centered on Jesus. The desire of the individual should therefore be a calling whereas his/her course turns towards the good and that the idea of the good and the aspiration after the good take possession of his/her whole nature and personality.

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