It has been said that justification is the article by which the church is standing or falling. This statement is usually attributed to Martin Luther, whose actual statement is pretty close to the popular paraphrase. Others within the Reformed tradition have affirmed the truth highlighted in this statement, including Westminster professor, John Murray (1898-1975). The point of the statement is to underscore the spiritual and theological importance of justification: if the church is unclear about her standing with God, then spiritual life and vitality will quickly vanish.
In this post, I want to focus on the essential truth that justification is an instantaneous declaration. I will begin with some preliminary definitions. Continue reading “Justified at the First Moment of Faith”
Roman Catholic theologians turn to James 2:24 to argue their case that justification is according to works. There is good reason for this. James says explicitly: “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24). We need to get a solid grasp on this passage so we can be clear on what Scripture teaches about justification and know how to answer our Catholic friends when it comes to sharing the gospel. Continue reading “Justified by Works? Sola Fide (Faith Alone) and James 2:24”
At the same time Scripture exalts the sovereignty of God in salvation and regularly speaks of our need for God to grant us spiritual life (see John 1:12-13; 6:44; Acts 11:18; Eph 2:1-5; Col 2:12-13; Phil 1:29; 2 Tim 2:25-26), it calls us to believe in Christ and holds us responsible to do so.
Hyper-Calvinists typically argue that in order for a person to truly respond to the biblical exhortations to repent and believe, that person must have some confidence that they are elect in order to know that they have a warrant to believe in Christ. Specifically, a person should make sure they can discern the work of the Holy Spirit in their life before they put their faith in Christ. Continue reading “Hyper-Calvinism’s Deadly Mistake”
In medieval theology, union with Christ was not a fixed reality; it was something that could fluctuate and change over one’s spiritual pilgrimage. It was the believer’s responsibility, therefore, to seek greater and more complete union with Christ through prayer, the sacraments, obedience, and so on.
The Reformers, however, believed the Scriptures made a distinction between union with Christ and communion with Christ. Continue reading “The Vital Distinction Between Union and Communion with Christ”
One objection the Reformers faced was that their doctrine of justification by faith alone eliminated the need for good works and sanctification and thus robed people of the motivation for these necessary elements of the Christian life. Nevertheless, despite accusations to the contrary, Luther championed justification by faith alone while making clear that true faith would bear the fruit of good works. But it is was John Calvin a few years later who would provide greater clarity on how to understand the relationship between justification and sanctification. Continue reading “How Union with Christ Helps Us Apply Justification and Sanctification”