Anyway, Chapter 17 covers questions #69-73...
“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.”1...HOW CAN A SINFUL HUMAN BEING BE ACCEPTED BY THE HOLY, SIN‑HATING GOD? 1. Wilhelmus á Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, 4 vols., trans. Bartel Elshout (Ligonier, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1993), 2:341. (721)
Self-justification damns the person guilty of it because it is based on that person’s faith in himself. Justification by God through faith in Christ saves forever because it is based on the life and redemptive work of Jesus Christ. (722)
The believer's communion in grace with Christ:
The Biblical text the Catechism gives to support its statement is 1 Corinthians 1:30: “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” The point of this verse is this: because God has, brought us into union and communion with Christ, i.e., has
placed us “in Christ,” in that relationship God has made Christ to be to us “wisdom, and righteousness, sanctification and redemption.” (723)
We enjoy personal fellowship with Him as a living person; and because of that union with Him, we participate in all the accomplishment of His work as Mediator of the New Covenant. Because of our union and communion with the person of Christ, we participate in all those benefits which He purchased for us in His death. (723)
To say that Christ purchased the blessings of salvation for us, is not to say that He purchased God’s love for us...It was God’s eternal love for His people that moved Him to send His only begotten Son to redeem them (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8). (724)
Our sins have separated us from God, alienating us as sinners from God. To receive the gifts of God and the inheritance of God’s children, we must be restored to acceptance with God. To be accepted with God, we must have the cause of the hostility between us removed, that is, our sins must be forgiven; and we must be given that by which we are accepted with God which is the righteousness of
Christ. By His death on the cross, Jesus Christ removed the obstacle of sin: “He who knew no sin was made sin for us” (2 Cor. 5:21); and He is made “to us righteousness” (1 Cor. 1:30)....Our sins have been credited (imputed) to Him and His righteousness
has been credited (imputed) to us. By His obedience in life and death, we, who are represented by Him, are “made righteous” (Rom. 5:19). (724-725)
The Bible is emphatic: God is “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26)....“[A]nd whom He [God] predestined, He also called; and these whom He called HE also justified” (Rom. 8:30). Justification—the declaring of a believer to be righteous because of Christ—is an act of God, and of God alone. It is not self-justification, or peer-justification, or psychiatrist-justification, it is JUSTIFICATION BY GOD, whose decisions are just, infallible, irreversible, legal, unalterable and eternal. (725-726)
The point of these questions is that condemnation by God is an utter impossibility for all whom GOD HAS JUSTIFIED. It is legally and morally absurd to think that God would ever condemn those whom He has declared righteous and accepted in Christ. (726)
“Justification” and “justify” are legal, judicial, forensic terms, the language of the courtroom. (726)
“The sentence of a human judge is merely declarative; it does not constitute a man either innocent or guilty, it only pronounces him to be so in the eye of the law...whereas in justifying the sinner, God does what no human judge can do,—He first constitutes him righteous, who was not righteous before, and then declares him to be righteous in His infallible judgment, which is ever according to truth”
[James Buchanan, The Doctrine of Justification]. (727)
"Not only does God declare the sinner justified, he also constitutes him just. The declaration presupposes the imputation of righteousness....It is entirely in the forensic area that the constitutive act occurs."12. Morton Smith, Systematic Theology, 2 vols. (Greenville, SC: Greenville Seminary Press, 1994), 2:457–58. (727)
The word, “justify,” in Greek and Hebrew, does NOT mean “to make righteous,” as Roman Catholicism teaches; but “to declare righteous.”...To justify means to declare a person’s life in harmony with and in conformity to the Law of God. (728)
If there is a dispute between men and they go to court, and the judges decide their case, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked, then it shall be if the wicked man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall then make him lie down and be beaten in his presence (Deut. 25:1–2).
The issue here is not in making someone righteous or wicked, both of which are beyond the ability of a judge....Evidence is presented, one person is proven to be not guilty, and the judge “justifies the righteous,” i.e., declares him not guilty of breaking the law but in conformity to that law. The other person is proven guilty, and the judge “condemns the wicked,” i.e., he declares him guilty, having broken the law, and liable to just punishment for his crime. (729)
The purity and essence of the gospel is at stake in our definition of the word “justify.” (730)
The Catechism introduces the doctrine of Justification with the words that it is an act of God, rather than a work of God, or a process of God. It is an ACT, completed all at once and of eternal value and effect. It is not a progressive work that continues through life. (730)
Although justification is a legal and judicial declaration by God, it is not to be abstracted from the life of believers as if it were irrelevant to our everyday experience. ...
"[W]hen we speak of justification, we must recognize that this legal act by the sovereign God has moral and personal consequences for man. Where there is no justification, there is condemnation. When the living God who made every atom of man’s being declares a man to be legally justified, then every atom of that man’s being is alive with this freedom from sin and death and the penalties thereof. Then
man’s conscience and being reflect, not condemnation but justification. Then too the calling of and the responsibilities under God previously denied are now assumed and discharged in terms of a growing sanctification." 16. Rousas J. Rushdoony, Systematic Theology, 2 vols. (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1994), 1:624–25. (731)
Justification is an act of GOD’S FREE GRACE: “being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24).
" This combination of the terms “freely” and “by His grace” emphasize the completely unmerited and unearned character of God’s justification. “Freely” is literally “without a cause,” meaning that no cause, merit or worth in man is the
basis of his acceptance with God; rather his justification with God is based on “His grace,” i.e., His totally unmerited, undeserved, unearned favor on those who have merited His condemnation." 17. John Murray, New International Commentary on the New Testament:The Epistle to the Romans, 2 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1959), 1:115.(731-732)
Justification is an act of God’s grace, as distinguished from His creative and providential works.
"A grace is something given; a work is something done. Justification is a grace, a something bestowed by the kindness and love of God, and not a something which is procured by works, either small or great....To the Redeemer it is just and right; to the sinner it is kindness and generosity." 18 Webb, Christian Salvation: Its Doctrine and Experience, 359–60. (732)
The grace of justification is seen also in the identity of those who are chosen of God, whom God justifies by faith—the ungodly, who are chosen of God and who believe in Christ. (732)
First, God “justifies the ungodly” (Rom. 4:5), because “Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6). The Catechism reflects this Biblical emphasis when it defines justification as an act of God’s free grace UNTO SINNERS. (733)
"“Him that justifieth the ungodly.” These words cannot mean less than that God, in the act of justification, has no regard whatever to any thing good resting to the credit of the person He justifies. They declare, emphatically, that immediately
prior to the divine act, God beholds the subject only as unrighteous, ungodly, wicked, so that no good, either in or by the person justified, can possibly be the ground on which or the reason for which He justifies him."20 Pink, The Doctrines of Election and Justification, 228 (733)
Second, God justifies His “elect” (Rom. 8:33). From all eternity God willed the justification of those upon whom He set His love and predestinated to eternal life: “Whom He foreknew [foreloved], He also predestined… and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified” (Rom. 8:29– 30). (733-734)
Third, God justifies “the one who believes in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26), “apart from the works of the Law” (Rom. 3:28). God justifies those who rest upon Christ alone for salvation, who receive Him as their Lord and Savior, and who in no way trust in themselves or in anything or anyone else for their acceptance with God. Salvation is
“through faith” and not through our efforts or merit, because salvation is “by grace” alone. (734)
William C. Robinson of Columbia Seminary used to say that when Christ comes to the believer in justification, He comes with blessings in both hands: forgiveness of sins in one hand and righteousness and a title to eternal life in the other hand. The point he was making is that justification in the Bible includes two elements, two blessings. (734)
...the two elements of justification are the forgiveness of sins, which includes the
removal of all guilt and of every penalty our sins deserve, and adoption in the family of God, which includes the title to eternal life, i.e., forgiveness and righteous standing with God. (735)
It is of utmost importance that we understand that justification is more than forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness removes that which condemns us, so that we are no longer condemned; but the need remains of that which is necessary to obtain a right standing in God’s presence: a perfect righteousness which we cannot produce,
but which God in grace must credit to us. (735)
The FIRST ELEMENT in justification is THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account” (Rom. 4:7–8). (736)
These two verses are important in understanding justification for several reasons. (1) They show us that the New Testament doctrine of justification by faith is imbedded in the Old Testament. (2) They illustrate and confirm Paul’s theme that justification is by faith and not by works. (736)
The sinner is condemned by the divine law he has broken, making him guilty before God and liable to eternal punishment. He therefore owes the justice of God a debt of punishment. And being a creature under the Law of God, he also owes God a debt of obedience. When God forgives the justified sinner, because of the atonement of Christ, the sinner’s guilt is removed, and in the eye of God’s law, it is as if he had never sinned. (737)
This forgiveness of sin—the removal of the guilt and punishment that comes to us in justification—is complete and comprehensive. (738)
The SECOND ELEMENT in justification is GOD’S ACCEPTING AND ACCOUNTING OF THE BELIEVER AS RIGHTEOUS IN HIS SIGHT, GIVING HIM ADOPTION INTO HIS FAMILY AND A TITLE TO ETERNAL LIFE....justifying faith in Christ receives from God forgiveness of sins AND inheritance among the sanctified people of God. (740)
The justified believer is accepted as a child and heir of God, because God has given him white clothes (Rev. 4:4; 6:11) which have been washed white in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 7:14). So then, to enter into the favorable presence of God, the believer must be washed and dressed, forgiven of sin and regarded by God as in right‑standing with His righteous Law. (741)
These two elements of justification are necessary for our salvation
for two reasons. (1) The double demand of the Law of God. On one hand, the Law demands the punishment of death to transgressors; and, on the other hand, it demands obedience from all, with the promise of reward to obedience....(2) The effect of sin on the sinner. On the one hand, our sin has made us guilty before God and liable to punishment; and, on the other hand, it has made us enemies and aliens from God, who is the fountain of life and happiness. (741-742)
Although the two elements in justification are distinguishable, they are inseparable. (742)
done by them, but only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them, and received by faith alone.
The Larger Catechism refutes the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification by saying that God pardons all the believer’s sins and accepts him as righteous in His sight, not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, and the Confession adds, but for Christ’s sake alone (XI, i).
Roman Catholicism teaches that the formal cause of justification is infused righteousness.
"The soul is made holy by the operation of the Holy Spirit through baptism. This infused righteousness banishes the nature of sin, and enables the sinner to perform good works. This infusion of righteousness [making righteous] is what Rome defines as justification, not a forensic act of declaring us accepted as righteous.… In virtue of the infused grace, a person is able to do good works, and to merit an increase of grace [initially imparted to the sinner by baptism] and attainment
of eternal life for those who persevere therein....Second, justification is not complete until the person is wholly sanctified [fully made righteous]. Not until
full satisfaction is made by temporal punishment, either in this life or in purgatory, for all post‑baptismal sins is a person fully justified."35. Smith, Systematic Theology, 2:462. (744-745)
The following is Morton Smith’s concise criticism of the position of Rome:
1. Rome rejects the Biblical idea of justification as a forensic act. ...
2. The Biblical ground of justification is ignored. Roman Catholicism emphatically rejects the doctrine that the righteousness of Christ is the righteousness imputed in justification. ...
3. Rome relegates faith to a position of relative unimportance. This is certainly contrary to the Biblical emphasis on faith, especially in connection with justification.
4. Rome substitutes baptism for faith as the instrumental cause of salvation.
5. The rejection of the Biblical teaching that justification is a once for all act of God, and the substitution of a progressive justification is another error of Rome.
6. Rome’s teaching on merit cuts across the Biblical teaching that by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. According to Rome good works increase grace and procure eternal life.
7. Rome teaches that justification may be lost by infidelity or by mortal sin.36. Smith, Systematic Theology, 2:462–63. (745-746)
The Catechism refutes legalism by saying that God pardons all the believer’s sins and accepts him in His favor… not for anything…done by them. Legalism, at heart, is the teaching that a person is accepted with God on the basis of his meriting the favor of God by obeying the laws of God. (746)
In the tribunal of God, the standard of judgment is the perfect character of God revealed in His Law. (746)
The reason every mouth should be closed and the whole world condemned before God is “because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight.”...Furthermore, justification by the works of the law is impossible, for
the function of God’s Law is to bring the knowledge of sin and to convict of sin. (747)
The Bible, in its presentation of salvation, shuts the door once and for all to any self‑praise, self-trust, self-righteousness, self-congratulation, i.e., “boasting,” because our sins are forgiven and we are accepted into God’s favor “by faith apart from the works of the law”....Justification by doing good works always finds its basis in that which the person is and does and merits. It is always oriented toward a person’s esteem of himself as basically virtuous. The specific nature of faith is trust in and commitment to another to provide what man cannot provide. Salvation based on meritorious works is based on faith in self; salvation by grace looks
away from self to the meritorious works of Another in man’s behalf. (748)
The only way to be justified by God is “through faith in Christ Jesus.” This is not simply intellectual conviction, it is an act of coming to Christ to be to the believer what Christ claims to be in His Word....Faith in Christ, then, “is an act of committal, not just assenting to the fact that Jesus lived and died, but running to Him for refuge and calling on Him for mercy.”44 Stott, The Message of Galatians, 62. (749)
In the Larger Catechism’s definition of justification (Q. 70), we are told that God forgives the believer of his sins and accepts him into His favor, not because of any merit in him or performed by him, BUT ONLY FOR THE PERFECT OBEDIENCE AND FULL SATISFACTION OF CHRIST. (755)
God requires of human beings two demands if anyone is to be acquitted before God’s tribunal and received into His family. (1) the full payment of the penalty due him for his sins against God, and (2) a perfect life of obedience from the heart to God’s Law without the smallest infraction. (755)
These are demands which are totally beyond the capabilities of human beings to perform. (756)
God, the Judge of the universe, pardons believers of their sins and adopts them into His eternal family on the basis of the life and death of Jesus Christ, who has completely satisfied all the demands of God’s Law for all those whom He came to earth to save. He obeyed ALL the requirements of the Law and paid ALL the penalties of the Law in behalf of and in the place of sinners. And, it was God’s love and mercy that moved His great heart to send His Son to be our Savior—But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). (756)
So then, if sinners are to be justified by God, the only ground they have to stand on is, not their own righteousness, but the life and work of Jesus Christ, their Substitute. In our place and for us, He became incarnate and lived a life of perfect obedience to God’s Law; by this vicarious obedience believers are saved from
sin and reconciled to God...And, in our place and for us He suffered and died on the cross; by this vicarious punishment believers are saved from sin and reconciled to God... (757)
Jesus Christ was our substitute in life and death. He lived for us, obeying God’s Law in our place; and He died for us, taking the punishment God’s Law required because of our sins, in our place. And so, the basis of our justification is the obedience and sacrifice of Christ. (758)
How can God justify someone He knows to be a guilty sinner, and remain a just God?...Christ’s righteousness is credited (imputed) to believers as the basis of their justification with God. Thus, “the Biblical gospel stands or falls with the concept of IMPUTATION. Without the imputation of our sins to Christ, there is no atonement. (759)
IMPUTATION is a Biblical idea. ...
IMPUTATION is fundamental to the gospel of Christ, so that, without it, as we have seen, we have no gospel. “The Biblical doctrine of justification is not a legal fiction. It is a legal reality precisely because it is based on a real (or true) imputation of real and true righteousness. Neither Christ’s righteousness nor its imputation to us is a matter of fiction. It represents the reality of divine grace.”62
IMPUTATION is used with reference to three acts of God in the history of the human race.
First, Adam’s sin was IMPUTED to all his descendants, i.e., the entire human race whom he represented in the covenant of works....He acted for the race, the race was
charged with the guilt and consequences of his disobedience. ...
Sin and death entered human existence and permeated human experience at the very beginning of the human race with the disobedience of Adam in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3)....The one sin of the one man Adam is counted (imputed) as the sin of
all human beings. ...
Second, man’s sin has been IMPUTED to Christ. ...
God made the Sinless One sin for us, for whom He died. God did not make Him a “sinner,” He made Him to be “sin” for us. This point must never be overlooked, for to make Christ Himself a sinner would be to destroy the very possibility of His being our Redeemer from sin. ...
Third, Christ’s righteousness is IMPUTED to believers....Christ’s death reconciledus to God, because the sinner’s sins are imputed to Christ and the spotless perfection of Christ’s righteous life is credited to us, with the consequence that “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). ...
This “righteousness of God” consisting of Christ’s obedience and sacrifice, which is imputed to believers, refers to merits of Christ’s righteous life and obedient death that are actually credited to the account of believers just as if we had worked those things out ourselves. 62. Sproul, Faith Alone, 106. (760-764)
After teaching that justification is an act of God’s grace in which He pardons all our sins and accepts us into His favor as righteous in His sight, because of the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, the Catechism concludes (A. 70) by pointing out the instrument by which God’s righteousness and salvation become ours. It states very simply that they are RECEIVED BY FAITH ALONE. (768)
The rallying cry of the Protestant Reformation over against the sacramental system of merits of Roman Catholicism was SOLA FIDE!, which is Latin for “BY FAITH ALONE!” The word, “alone,” is essential to the gospel of salvation for without it room could be made for additional requirements....Faith is the ONLY means for receiving justification, not faith PLUS something else. It is faith in Christ as Lord and Savior that brings us justification, not anything else we may know, feel, or do. (769)
Faith in Christ is THE instrument by which justification is received, not the cause or basis of justification. The cause is the grace of God and the basis is the righteousness of Christ. Faith contributes or merits nothing toward our justification. (770)
Whereas it is God who justifies the ungodly, it is only those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior who are justified by God; and they are not justified by Him until they believe in Jesus. (770)
The gospel tells us that we are justified by faith, through faith, of faith, but NEVER does it tell us that we are justified on the basis of faith, or on account of faith.83 We are justified on the basis of, and on account of, Christ’s righteousness and Christ’s blood, not on the basis of or on account, of our believing in Christ. (771)