Rebecca Stark is the author of The Good Portion: God, the second title in The Good Portion series, a series written to encourage women to immerse themselves in the depths of Christian doctrine.

The Good Portion — God explores what Scripture teaches about God in hopes that readers will see his perfection, worth, magnificence, and beauty as they study his triune nature, infinite attributes, and wondrous works. 

Rebecca also blogs at Out of the Ordinary.

                         

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Saturday
Jul282007

Quiz Key: Justification, Questions 2 and 3

Moving on with the answers to the quiz on justification. (You’ll find the answer to question 1 here.)

Question 2

2. Justification includes

  • a. the forgiveness of our sin.
  • b. the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us.
  • c. the declaration that we are righteous in God’s sight.
  • d. a and c.
  • e. all of the above.
The correct answer is e: Justification includes the forgiveness of our sin, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us, and the declaration that we are righteous in God’s sight.


Justification includes the forgiveness of our sin.
For proof that this is the historical reformed protestent view, we can go back to Westminster Larger Catechism, Question 70, where it says that in justification God “pardoneth all their sins.”

Scriptural proof can be found in Romans 4:6-7. We’ve looked at the first part of this text in the explanation of the answers to the first question in the quiz, but this time we’ll read a little more.

… David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered….

David is speaking, Paul says, about the person who is justified. The person who is justified has their lawless deeds (or sins) forgiven (or covered).

Justification includes the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us.
Quoting again from Question 70 of the WLC:

Justification is an act … in which [God] … accounteth their persons righteous in his sight … for the perfect obedience … of Christ, by God imputed to them….

Justification includes the imputation of Christ’s perfect obedience (his righteousness) to sinners.

I gave a more thorough scriptural defense of  the imputed righteousness of Christ  than I can give here in a previous post on the active and passive obedience of Christ. I’ll just quote a bit of from it about 1 Corinthians 1:30-31, and if you need more evidence, please go to the linked post.

Paul tell us in 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 that it is “by God’s doing we are in Christ Jesus, who  became for  us…righteousness;” and that based on this truth, no one has grounds for boasting except in the Lord. Since Paul says that this righteousness precludes our boasting about our own works and gives us reason to glory in Christ’s work instead, I’d understand this to mean that the righteousness Christ became for us must be a righteousness that is not inherent to us; but rather, Christ’s own righteousness counted as ours.

Justification includes the declaration that we are righteous in God’s sight.
This statement hinges on the meaning of the word justification itself, and I’ve given the evidence that “declared righteous” is both the historical reformed view and the scriptural one in the evidence for the answer to the first question under the second heading, Justification is a legal or judicial act of God.

 

Question 3

3. Justification changes

  • a. our moral condition
  • b. our natures.
  • c. our legal status.
  • d. b and c above.
  • e. none of the above.

 The correct answer is c. Justification changes our legal status.

Justification does not change our moral condition.
I’m sure you are sick of Question 70 by now, but tough cookies. We’re going back to it. It says that  justification is “not for any thing wrought in them….”  Justification itself, according to the historic reformed view,  does not change anything within the person being justified.

For scriptural proof, I’d go back to the evidence in the answer to the first question, in the section under the heading, Justification is a legal or judicial act of God, focusing on the texts that suggest that to justify does not mean “to make righteous.”

Justification does not change our natures.
The proofs that justification does not change our moral condition work just as well as evidence that justification does not change our natures.

Justification changes our legal status.
It’s a definitional question again. See the answer to question 1 under Justification is a legal or judicial act of God

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Reader Comments (3)

No, "nature" is very different to "moral condition", and so the same argument does not necessarily apply.

We were by nature children of wrath. Justification changes our nature so that we are by nature sons of God.

In this way, we can view "nature" as being, in fact, a legal standing.

July 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Dekker

No, "nature" is very different to "moral condition", and so the same argument does not necessarily apply.

Regardless of whether they are exactly the same thing or not, they are both inner conditions (at least as scripture uses the term "nature"), so they both require inward work to change, and that's why I've used the same defense for each point: the argument that justification is not an inner work.

We were by nature children of wrath.

But nature in this verse is not referring to our legal status. It is referring to the natural condition we are in--our constitution or make-up. That natural condition (our nature, our flesh with it's passions, our body and our mind with their desires, our spiritual deadness) is the grounds for our legal status (an object of God's wrath.)

Justification changes our nature so that we are by nature sons of God.

In the passage in Ephesians 2 that you cite, the solution to our nature problem is "being made alive together with Christ" or being "created in Christ Jesus": regeneration rather than justification. Condemnation is mentioned, but nowhere is justification or the righteousness of God mentioned specifically.

Having the actual nature of sons comes by regeneration, sanctification and glorification. Having the status of sons comes by justification and adoption.

In this way, we can view "nature" as being, in fact, a legal standing.

To use the word "nature" to refer to our legal standing would be using it differently than it is used in scripture. Our legal standing in our condemnation comes on the grounds our nature (or our demerit), but it is not our nature.

Updated to add: Here is a link to an article by J. C. Ryle on the difference between justification and sanctification which, I think, deals with some of the issues that you've brought up here.

July 28, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterrebecca

This is all so interesting to me...thank you, Rebecca.

July 28, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

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