With Abounding Grace Radio On Justification By Grace Alone, Through Faith Alone

When Scripture uses the verb “to justify” (δικαιόω) as it does in Romans 3:20, “wherefore out of the works of the law will no flesh be justified before he, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin,” it means to say, “to declare righteous.” The bible doctrine of justification is a forensic, legal doctrine. Paul goes on to say that the “righteousness of God” (δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ) has been manifested “without the law” (χωρὶς νόμου). It was to this righteousness to which the Old Testament, the Torah and the Prophets (a shorthand expression to summarize all of the Hebrew and Aramaic Scriptures) bore witness. True righteousness for justification is not something that we can accomplish nor is it even something that is accomplished within us by grace and cooperation with grace—that was taught by some of the Pharisee and by the medieval church—rather it is something that was accomplished by Christ for us and it is received through faith (διὰ πίστεως) alone, in Christ alone. It is believers (τοὺς πιστεύοντας) in Christ who are declared to be righteous on the basis of Christ’s performance of the law for them, as their substitute (Rom 2:21–22). It is neither on the basis of our performance (not even our performance in cooperation with grace) nor on the basis of the Spirit’s work in us but, as Paul reiterates in v. 28, “we say that we are justified by faith (alone) without the works of the law” (i.e., our performance).

The church has had a difficult time hanging on to this doctrine, however, and in this episode, Chris and I discuss how and why that is.

Here is the episode on the Abounding Grace site.

My pastor, Chris Gordon, is host of Abounding Grace Radio and we talk regularly about these are other issues. AGR airs daily on KARI in the Pacific Northwest (4:30 PM), in San Diego on KPRZ (1:30 PM and 4:00 PM), in KRDU in Fresno (4:00 PM), KPDQ in Portland (1:30 PM and 4:00 PM), GraceRadio 107.9FM in Modesto (7:00 AM and 7:00 PM), and weekly on CJFW in Terrace, B.C. Canada (7:30 PM Sundays), and 8:00 AM and 9:00 PM (Sundays) on CFIS 93.1 FM (Prince George, B.C.). AGR also airs on KVOH out of Zambia into the larger African continent.

6 comments

  1. It is interesting to see how Satan is always busy attacking the doctrines of salvation, expressed as salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone, throughout the history of the Church. Above all, he hates the teaching that we trust only in the perfect righteousness of Christ imputed to us. Satan would always have us look to our own righteousness instead. This casts an interesting light on the current controversy over justification and salvation.

  2. At least you’re honest. Since you’re saved by grace alone, there’s no reason for you to do good deeds, since you’ll get to heaven either way.

    • Tony,

      I’m replying because experience tells me that many people think as you seem to do.

      You’re quite wrong. Christians have the greatest reason to do good works: gratitude and the impelling power and work of the Spirit within them.

      Were our salvation dependent upon our performance or our good works, we should be hopeless but we are not hopeless because Christ has accomplished our salvation for us and and the Spirit has graciously, sovereignly applied it to us, by raising us from the dead spiritually, by granting us the grace of faith and through that union with Christ.

      The Spirit is at work in believers even now sanctifying them and consequently empowering them to obey unto the well being of their neighbor and the glory of God.

      So, you see Tony, we have the best reasons for obeying, the grace of God, free salvation, the the ongoing work of the Spirit in the life of his people.

    • A plan of salvation is useful only if it is complete, Tony. How many deeds must you do? How good must be they be? How do you know if you’ve done enough? Haven’t you left some stones unturned? Couldn’t you sell all you own and give to the poor? You’ve stopped short of doing *everything* you could, certainly. How are you sure you stopped on the right side of the line?

  3. In all such matters, the unerring plumb-line is to ask oneself concerning any doctrine the question; “In this belief, who gets the glory?” The psalmist declares; “Not unto us O Lord, not unto us. Unto your name be the glory O Lord.” (Ps. 115:1.) But Piper is cunning, and assures us that God’s grace will do it all in us. But if this is the case, what is the point of introducing any doubt about it all, by asserting that there is a final assessment yet to be made, as though the God who ordains the future cannot put the matter beyond all doubt in the present, which in forensic declaration of Justification He does indeed do. Is this two-stage justification then smelling of Open Theism?

  4. Tony, Christians have the most powerful motive of all, we love much because we have been forgiven much. That gives us the most poweful incentive to obey the Saviour who has given us His all.

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