JUSTIFIED BY FAITH ALONE
By Nick Bibile
"If you, O LORD, kept a record of our sins, O LORD who could stand?" (Psalm 130:3)
Martin Luther said, "Justification is the article where the church stand or falls" The 16th century theologian Wilhelmus `a Brakel said, "Justification is the soul of Christianity and the fountainhead of all true comfort and sanctification. He who errs in this doctrine errs to his eternal destruction." Reformers saw that sola fide is vital and essential to the gospel. The modern evangelical church embrace the justification by faith alone, but they have departed from the true meaning, as it is not taught from the pulpit, as a result the common laymen have no idea of the glorious meaning of sola fide. We need to expose the fuller meaning for us to understand the fullness of the gospel.
The word justification has to do with justice, that one day we have to face the justice of God. We all have to stand before the Judge of the universe, as we are accountable to our Creator. On that day God will expose all our secret sins, where he will judge by his righteousness. As God is infinitely holy and righteous, his measure of judgment is not according to the our human standard, which even if we get 99% correct still we are failed from the perspective of God, as God's measurement is infinitely perfect. We stand guilty and condemned before the throne of God, as Apostle Paul said, " There is no one righteous, not even one." (Romans 3:10) "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) "Now we know that what ever the law says, it is to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God." ( Romans 3:19) There is nothing good in the flesh of man even the best of man cannot say I have purified my heart and I am free from sins. Psalmist said, " Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you." (Psalm 143:2)
The law of God, the Ten Commandments requires perfection, and apostle Paul said, "What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that the Jews and Gentiles are all under sin." (Romans 3:9) The Psalmist said, "If you O LORD, kept a record of sins, O LORD who could stand?" (Psalm 130:3) We know for sure it is not going to be you and I. We realize that we are without hope. How can we stand before a just God? We need to be justified, in order to be justified, a person must have a righteousness equivalent to Gods perfect righteousness.
How can we stand before a just God? We need to be justified. We cannot find any justification by observing the law or by good works before the Lord. But praise be to God for the gospel! as apostle Paul said, "In the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to the last, just as it is written; the righteous will live by faith." (Romans 1:17)When the sinner realizes that he deserve the wrath of God and he has offended God in thought, word and action and surrender his llfe to the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness of his sins, the believing sinner is justified.
Augustus M. Toplady, wrote included the following in his hymn.
Nothing in my hands I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.
Justification is not taught from the pulpits today.
If Justification is the soul of Christianity and as Martin Luther said it is the article where the church will stand or falls, why is it that it is not taught and explained from the pulpits today? The Pastors, Ministers and the church leaders who are shepherding and leading the flock of God into maturity are responsible for not taking care of the sheep in the right manner. As a result of this we have produced weak sheep, lukewarm and worldly who have no interest in learning theology. Many Christians believe that theology is for the Pastor, and allow someone else to do their thinking and studying the Word of God.
The Protestant evangelical church have been accusing the Roman Catholic church by saying that Roman Catholics does not believe on salvation by grace through faith because of Jesus Christ. On the other hand the Roman Catholic church always believed that justification by grace through faith because of Christ. This may come as a surprise to you, that Rome also consistently believed that justification is not earned by any good works or merit of our own, justification is entirely God's gift and justification of God, declared us to be righteous on the basis of Christ's righteousness. Rome opposed to the heresy of Pelagianism. Rome believed that our salvation rests on grace and it is based on the righteousness of Christ. Historically Roman Catholics believed that all good works that we perform and the merit we have is ultimately based on the grace of God, because without the grace of God, we cannot have any kind of good works or even to have any merit.
So why did Martin Luther cry out and said, "Justification by faith alone (sola fide) is the article where the church will stand or fall." The Roman Catholic church justification is based on the infused righteousness of Christ, and the reformers disagreed on this as they said the justification is based on the imputed righteousness of Christ.
The reformers said that the justification is forensic in nature, meaning judicial and legal in it's context. It is the concept of legal declaration. It is a legal issue where the sinner stands or falls before the Judge of the universe.
On what basis does God declares an unjust person to be justified.
Roman Catholic View
The Analytical Justification.
The Roman Catholics believe in the analytical justification. Analytical means a statement that is true by analogy. Example, a triangle has three sides, or ice is cold. In analytical justification God will not pronounce a person just until, righteousness is found in that person.
The Infused Righteousness of Christ
According to Rome the righteousness of Christ is infused into the
believer, then that righteousness becomes the believers inherent
righteousness. Then on the basis of that inherent righteousness God declares a
person righteous. If the believer has an inherent righteousness, then where
does 'grace' fit in? Grace have no room. Then it becomes a different
gospel, as Paul said to the Galatians, "I am astonished that you are soon
quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are
turning to a different gospel." (Galatians 1:6)
Reformed View of Justification
Synthetic has to do with something adding to another, as an example your clothes, cotton is added to the polyester. When God sees you, he will not find enough righteousness to declare you just. God needs to clothe your nakedness with the righteousness of Christ. This alien righteousness was not inherent but it is the addition of Christ's righteousness.
The Imputed Righteousness of Christ.
An imputation means charging to another account. At the cross our sins were
(charged) credited to the account of Jesus, and the righteousness of Jesus was (charged) credited to
the believing sinners account. Our position of righteousness that is before the cross is found in
Romans 3:10 as the apostle Paul said, "There is no one righteous not even one." Then the
imputation happened at the cross as the apostle said, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21) Also in Romans 4:22-24, apostle Paul said, "This is why it is credited to him as righteousness. The words it was credited to him were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead."
Apostle Paul writing on Philemon said, "If then you regard me a
partner, accept him as you would me. But if he has wronged you in any way or
owes you anything, charge that to my account;(Philemon 1:17-18)
The word imputation carries the meaning, 'charging' to another account. As sinners we cannot repair the damaged we have done to God, there is no way we can pay him back for the sins we have done against him, as we owe him a debt. A debt that cannot be paid. But beloved! as our sins were charged to the account of Christ, and his righteousness was charged to our account.
Luther said, that we are justified by an alien righteousness. This righteousness is not our righteousness but the righteousness of Christ. "For just as through the disobedience of one man the many were made sinners, also through the obedience of one man the many were made righteous." (Romans 5:19) We have broken the law of God, Jesus became our substitute as he became a man, and as a man he represented us. He was obedient to Gods law, as he came to fulfill the Law, which we have broken. (Matthew 5:17) It is a righteousness that is apart from us. It is the righteousness not in us (inherent) but for us. (Imputed) This is the righteousness of Jesus our Lord, it is his goodness, his holiness, his righteousness, his obedience to the father and his performance of work. This righteousness is charged or credited to our account. The difference between infused righteousness and the imputed righteousness is the righteousness that is in you (Roman Catholic view) or the righteousness that is outside of you. (Reformed View) Which one are you trusting?
Faith is the Instrumental Cause for Justification.
The Roman Catholic View of Faith in Justification
At the council of Trent the Roman Catholic Church defined the doctrine of Justification by faith. They said that faith is the initial movement, the foundation of justification and the root of justification. They believe that faith is essential for justification. But by the infusion of the righteousness of Christ, now you can enter into sacraments and works.
The Arminian View of Faith in Justification.
The Arminians and the Semi-Pelagians believe on the doctrine of
Justification by faith alone. They believe that we have no merit in us
toward justification. And we do not trust in our work but the work of
Christ. They believe that our justification totally rests on the
righteousness of Christ alone.
But the word faith to the Arminian is that something in a person. And we need to exercise this faith to be justified. Here we see the Arminians have turned the faith into a meritorious work. So for the Arminian man has the power to exercise the faith. This faith determines a persons salvation. The problem here is that faith comes first, before regeneration. The reformers said faith is the result of the regeneration and the result of our faith is works.
The Reformed View of Faith in Justification.
When the reformers say that we are justified by faith alone, it does not mean that we are justified by our faith but, the meaning of faith alone is 'by christ alone'.
Reformers believed that man is spiritually dead in his transgressions. (Ephesians 2:1) And in his fallen nature he is blinded by the enemy that the fallen man cannot see the light of the gospel. (2 Corinthians 4:4) As a result the fallen man cannot understand the spiritual things. (1 Corinthians 2:14) The Spiritually dead, blinded fallen man need to be regenerated (Born again) for him to receive faith, as the fallen man's faith is dead. (Ephesians 2:4) In order for man to believe in Christ, the faith must be given to him. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; (Philippians 1:29) The faith is not of ourselves. for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, [it is] the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory. (Ephesians 2:8)
The thief on the cross realized that he deserved to be punished, and he trusted on Christ alone. He was justified on the righteousness of Christ. The tax collector realized of his sins and his spiritual bankruptness before God, but went home justified but not the Pharisee. (Luke 17:9-14)
Apostle Paul's illustration on Abraham.
Wilhelmus `a Brakel said in the following.
"For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but
not before God. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was
counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not
reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on
Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness"
(Rom. 4:2-5; cf. vss. 18-24). Abraham was justified; however, he was not
justified by his works, for all his works were excluded. In his justification
he was stripped of all honor and glory, and why is this so? He was justified by
the righteousness of Another, which he received by faith, and which is
therefore called the righteousness of faith (vss. 11, 13). God promised him
that he would be a father of many nations, and that the Savior would be born
from him through Isaac. Abraham believed this
promise, even when he offered Isaac; he received the promise by faith. In doing so he not only received the word of the promise but the matter promised by the word, the promised Savior. "But as many as received Him ... even to them that believe on his name" (John 1: 12). Having been united by means of faith to the matter itself, that is, to the Savior, God thus imputed to him this received righteousness of Christ the Surety. Faith, as the means whereby the righteousness of Christ is received, which unites itself to Christ, and by which one is translated into Christ, was counted unto him for righteousness; that is, not the act of faith, but the righteousness of Christ of which he became a partaker by faith. The infinitive "to impute, " which is used frequently in this chapter, implies the reckoning of some- one's righteousness, someone's work, to the account of another, thereby justifying this individual. In this manner Abraham was justified, and in like manner all believers are justified (Rom. 4:1 1)."
Apostle James illustration on Abraham
20 You foolish man,
do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ?
21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he
offered his son Isaac on the altar?
22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was
made complete by what he did.
23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was
credited to him as righteousness,"  and he was called God's friend.
24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
According to Roman Catholics, they mis-interpret James; as a result, works of satisfaction must be performed in order for a person to be justified. sacraments, penance and other works are are necessary in order to receive justification.
Here James speaks that Abraham was justified by works and on the other hand Paul speaks that Abraham was justified by faith and not by works. Now to the young Christian this looks like a contradiction. But we need to remember it is the same Holy Spirit have spoken through Paul and James and God will not contradict his word.
Paul is speaking on the book of Romans to the sinner being justified, by
faith. When the sinner realizes who he is in the presence of God, and surrender
himself to God he is justified. Paul is dealing with the Jews who were
converted into Christianity from the law, where man cannot be justified by
obeying the law but by faith. On the other hand if you read the context
on James he is speaking to the Christians who were having a loose lifestyle
believing they were justified by faith, so now works is not necessary.
Paul speaks on justification before God and James speaks on justification
before men. The result of our regeneration is good works. If you
are truly justified there will be good works. Works are the fruit of the faith.
One is justified by living and fruit bearing faith..
As Paul said in Ephesians 2:10
8 For it is by
grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from
yourselves, it is the gift of God--
9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Are you trusting in a righteousness in you that is your performance to God
and on the judgment day God will look at your own righteousness that you trusted
in to him it looks like a filthy rag. God spoke through Isaiah as he
"All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like
filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." (Isaiah 64:6)
Are Roman Catholics and Evangelical Protestants Brothers in Chrst?
According to CRI's President Hank Henegraff, Yes. CRI believes; Roman Catholics and the Protestants have common believes that are essential to the gospel, such as the Deity of Christ, Bodily Resurrection, Trinity, Virgin Birth etc.,
Yes the Roman Catholics and the Evangelical Protestants believe in some of
the essential and central issues to the Christian faith, but what about Justification
By Faith Alone? Justification By faith alone is the most central issue to
the gospel, as Martin Luther said, "Justification is the article where
the church stand or falls" If Martin Luther and the reformers were
here today, do you think they will agree with the CRI President Hank Henegraff?
In fact the Roman Catholic Church pronounced a divine curse on anyone who
believes in justification by faith alone. The following is the stand of the Roman
Catholic Church on Justification By Faith Alone.
Canon IX. If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining of the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema. (Roman Catholic Council of Trent)
Beloved, how far we have fallen from the true reformation, it is time for the Church to wake up and go back to the true historical Christian faith.
There is no way that you can be justified in your own righteousness, you need to cover your nakedness with the robe of Christ's righteousness. You need to cover your disobedience with the obedience of Christ. Then God will look at you and he will see Christ's righteousness that was imputed for you and on the basis of Christ's righteousness you will be justified.
"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness
and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in
common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God
and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I
will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will
be my people."
"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)
There are some Protestant leaders like Bill Bright, Pat Robertson, Chuck Colson and others who have signed a document with the Roman Catholic leaders, called ECT. (Evangelicals and Catholics Together) An Appeal to Fellow Evangelicals