Justification: Basis – Pt. 1

The basis of justification can be studied in three sequential items: the initiative of God the Father, the principle of righteousness, and the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

The Initiative of God the Father

First, the righteousness of those with faith (Romans 1:17) is certainly a gift of God; for, it is God’s gospel (Romans 1:1). The full and initiatory righteousness of man comes from the action of God. To argue otherwise “involves an isolating of the gift from the Giver… that it is individualistic”.[1] The root of justification firstly concerns God’s action as the provider of grace (Romans 5:16; Titus 3:7). For whom God has justified, He has also called. Whom God has called, He has also predestined. Whom God has predestined, He also foreknew (Romans 8:30). God is undoubtedly at work long before the response of the man. Stott agrees, “the saving initiative from beginning to end belongs to God the Father,” and claims this truth to be “fundamental to the gospel”.[2]

The Principle of Righteousness

Second, flowing from the first pillar is the concept of righteousness. God is notably righteous, and He demonstrates it by saving His people. Therein, justification’s rationale begins with the idea of righteousness, for it is because of and for righteousness that God justifies a man. The anthropological perspective of salvation “requires” that man “be found righteous before God”.[3] It is easy to attend to the thought that God justifies man for the sake of the man, but God does not act but for Himself – that man can share in it by the grace of God. Further, God must be righteous to justify his people, and their conferred righteousness is the very core of their salvation. Righteousness directs every motion of justification. However, man is stricken with a predicament: how can a righteous God justify unrighteous people? Since righteousness governs justification, and no man is righteous (Romans 3:10-18), justification appears to be functionless. (To Be Continued)


 

[1]  C.E.B. Cranfield, (intl Critical Commentary), vol. 1 of A Critical and Exegetical Commentary On the Epistle to the Romans (New York: T&T Clark, 2004), 99.

 

[2]  John R.W. Stott, The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2001), 111.

 

[3]  C. K. Barrett, Epistle to the Romans, (The Black’s New Testament Commentary), Revised ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2011), 30.

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