Martin Luther declared that justification by faith alone is the doctrine upon which the church stands or falls. His words and his conviction led to the Reformation, the movement that turned the church upside down, eventually splitting Christianity into Roman Catholic and Protestant. Five hundred years later, justification by faith is still central to understanding what it means to be a Christian.
So what is justification by faith? Justification is the act by which unjust sinners are made right in the eyes of a just and holy God. Jesus’ death on a cross is what makes that possible.
“To be justified in the biblical sense does not mean that one is suddenly made just or sinless. It means that since Christ has suffered the punishment for sin in our place, we can receive the verdict of “Not guilty” or “Sentence served,” and thus be forgiven. According to this image, we are standing in the seat of the accused, sure to be sentenced, but the judge acquits us because Christ volunteered to be found guilty in our place (Romans 3:23-26; 4:24-25; 5:1, 9; 8:31-33; Colossians 2:13-14). (Christianity 101 by Gilbert Bilezikian)”
All Christians embrace the truth of justification. The big question, however, is how does a person appropriate justification, making it personal truth.
According to Luther, and his heirs, we are justified by faith, that is simply believing that Jesus died for me. Period. Nothing added.
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,… (Romans 3:21-24)
Please join us this weekend as we dig deeper into the significance of justification by faith – the doctrine upon which the church stands or falls.