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Theology of Justification by Grace



Justification is an important theological term in the Bible which have been taught by many teachers concerning the teachings of grace. What is justification; according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary justification can be defined as the act, process, or state of being justified by God. Justification is the work of God that reveals part of the process of God's grace for man. It is important to understand that justification is a very important process in the definition of God's grace for man. God renders his gift of grace upon man and part of the package is justification. According to H.M Higgle, he explained that justification is the Remission of sin, and absolution from guilt and punishment; or, an act of free grace by which God pardons the sinner, and accepts him as righteous, on account of the atonement of Christ.[1] It is an act of free grace that God bestows on all that have repented and received Jesus Christ as their lord and saviour. It is free because of grace; grace is given for this purpose because no one can justify himself before God. The Bible has testified that human righteousness is filthy before God. This clarifies that everyone on earth is a sinner except he receives grace from God; and only if he receives justification by grace can he be accepted as righteous before God. And it is a process, though Jesus did the work on the cross, sinners still have a part to play to be justified. The power of God's grace through justification was done on the account of the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed on Calvary's cross. The blood of Jesus is the "righteous lens" that justifies a sinner. A sinner, therefore, needs to repent of all his sins, he has to turn away from his errors and then receive Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and then justification and sanctification activate by the power of the Holy Spirit. These are found in the package of the grace of God. It is a wonderful gift to receive from God. Christians should be thankful for this package of God's grace that justifies one righteous before God.

The Bible explained in Romans 4:25 (NIV), that Jesus Christ was delivered to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.[2] This implies that no one contributed anything to his justification but Jesus. Jesus paid the price for man's disobedience to deliver man from death and justified man before God by being the Passover lamb that does not cover sins but takes away the sins of a man permanently. Sinners never deserved this kind of grace from God, but still, God offered it through Jesus Christ. Romans 5:16 (NIV), expressed "Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man's sin: the judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.[3] Adam's disobedience was the nature that every man born on earth inherited. But for one to escape this nature of sin and disobedience, such an individual needs to humble himself, be remorseful, ask for God's forgiveness and turn away from sin and receive the gift of grace through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ took away the sins of the world. The great prophet John the Baptist stated "here comes the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world". This was the work of grace, even to cleanse the world from unrighteousness. Only those in the world that have received Jesus Christ are cleansed and justified as righteous. Romans 5:18 (NIV)-"so then as through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to justification.[4] Jesus’s ministry was to resolve the damage that Adam inflicted upon human existence due to disobedience. Jesus lived a righteous life. In every area, man is being tempted Jesus Christ overcame all through righteousness to justify men before God (Hebrews 4:15 (NIV)-"For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that had been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin”.[5] Jesus came to demonstrate and explain the righteous nature of God that man should follow. Jesus walked on earth as a man; God appointed Jesus for the justification of man, which led to his crucifixion, death, and resurrection. Romans 4:25 (NIV)-" who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification.[6] This implies that it was not the death of Jesus Christ that seals the gift of justification by faith in Christ’s righteousness. The gift of justification was completed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave.

The difference between the Law and the gift of grace:

Andrew Wommack, the writer of the book titled "Grace, the power of the gospel" explained that the law was not given for justification; some Jews thought so, even though many persons in this period believed that is true, but it is wrong.[7] The difference between law and grace is centred on the scriptures. Romans 8:6 (NIV), States "for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus had made me free from the law of sin and death".[8] The law came with sin and death but Jesus brought grace that gives life and freedom from bondage. The knowledge of the law had its strength in the sin of man, for no one can be justified by the law. The law always searches for the weaknesses of men only to make them aware of their sins. Man has always fallen since the disobedience of Adam. But grace is different because it nullifies the power of the law over man through Jesus Christ. It is only those that are aware of this truth are experiencing peace and they have come to their rest. The law can never justify anyone but condemns one of his sinful acts. The law came to make a man understand that he can never be righteous before God. Grace testifies that man can be justified righteous before God through Jesus Christ. It is important to understand the gift of grace that renders justification for a believer. Man is given the privilege to experience freedom and peace in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. This is not the same in the lives of many. Some that claim to be saved are still under the law; their attitudes and reactions to certain issues and circumstances reflect their restless and uncanny behaviour. One that receives the gift of grace acknowledges that in Jesus Christ he is justified and accepted by God and therefore ceases to continue in sin; but will be edified to seek the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Romans 3:30 (NIV) states, "if so be that God is one, and he shall justify the uncircumcision through faith; this implies those under the dispensation of grace by faith in Jesus Christ and the group under the power of the law (those still living by the old covenant). Faith in Jesus Christ will still be the requirement for their justification. Faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to be justified as righteous before God, not by works. The power of the law rests on all that claim to live a righteous life through their effort. It does not necessarily means that the person must be a Jew living by the old covenant. He might identify himself as a Christian, but still living under the power of the law. A Christian can gradually fall from grace to the old covenant life under the power of the law. This might happen if he has not gone through proper discipleship. If his mindset has not been renewed to faith in Jesus Christ, he might be deceived by demonstrating righteous works to be accepted by God. Righteous works and services are good, but they should be exercised by faith in Jesus Christ. The scripture, Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV), rightly says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do".[9] This implies that there are two kinds of works, works under the law (works of human effort and boastings) and the works that are done in Christ Jesus (works created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do), human righteousness is served as a challenge to beat the laws of the old covenant which can never be possible on two grounds. Firstly, it cannot be possible because the law was made for the sole purpose of identifying human weaknesses, and highlighting their sins; secondly, the presumption that an individual might have in keeping all the commands of the law before God, thereby, glorifying his effort of overcoming sin by his strength and obedience to the law. But the works ordained in Christ Jesus are focused on bringing glory to God through his son Jesus Christ. Therefore a Christian showing an exemplary life and service in Christ Jesus with faith in Christ is justified as righteous before God.

Paul's Teachings of Justification according to Classical Arminianism:

Classical Arminianism perspective on Paul's teachings of justification by grace expresses that “The sole ground of justification is the propitiatory work of Christ received by faith,” and “the one act of justification when viewed negatively is the forgiveness of sins; when viewed positively, is the acceptance of the believer as righteous by God.[1] Classical Arminianism affirms that Jesus Christ paid the price of reconciling man with God so that man can be justified as righteous before God through Jesus Christ. Classical Arminianism's stance on Justification agrees that God’s grace was wrought through Jesus Christ to produce the gift of justification for humanity to be saved, thereby making repentance and faith in Jesus Christ the only credential to receive Justification.[2] This perspective on justification establishes the forgiveness of sins for the person that has received Jesus Christ and at the same, it establishes that the believer is righteous before God through Jesus Christ. Immediately a sinner repents and receives Jesus Christ by faith, his sins are forgiven. All his sins are forgiven by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Acts 20:21 (NIV) states "I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus".[3] Repentance must always be knotted together with faith, for justification to be realized for a convert. An individual can't say he is a Christian with faith in Jesus Christ, while he is not living a repentant life. Genuine repentance must always be present in anyone that has faith in Jesus Christ as his lord and saviour to experience justification by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

[1] Roger E. Olson, Arminian Theology Myths and Realities. InterVarsity Press, 1973, Page 37.

[2] Roger E. Olson, Arminianism FAQ. Seedbed, 2014, Page 2.

[3] Acts 20:21 (NIV).

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[1] H.M Higgle, Two Works of Grace. Gospel Truth Publishing, 2010, page 5.

[2] Romans 4:25 (NIV).

[3] Romans 5:16 (NIV).

[4] Romans 5:18 (NIV).

[5] Hebrews 4:15 (NIV).

[6] Romans 4:25 (NIV).

[7] Andrew Wommack, Grace, the Power of the Gospel. Harrison House Publishers, 2007, Page 181-183.

[8] Romans 8:6 (NIV).

[9] Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV).

© 2023 Chukwuemeka Chinedu

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