Justification By Faith – The Experience of Justification
When God the Holy Spirit regenerates the sinner, giving him faith in Christ, as that sinner looks to Christ alone as his Savior and Redeemer, the blessed Spirit sprinkles the blood of Christ upon the conscience and speaks like a bailiff reading the verdict in court – “JUSTIFIED!” Thus every believing sinner receives justification by faith in Christ, “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified, by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Christ has justified us by His great sin-atoning sacrifice; and all who believe on Christ as Lord and Saviour receive the many benefits of His finished work. One of those many benefits which we receive by faith is justification.
Faith does not cause God to justify us.
The obedience of Christ has done that. But faith, resting upon Christ alone as Savioir, obtains peace with God, even the peace of perfect, complete justification.
Faith does not merit justification with God; but faith receives justification. Faith is not the basis upon which men are justified; but faith is the instrument by which justification is received.
Faith is essential; but it is not meritorious. Faith receives Christ; but it does not merit Christ. Faith receives the forgiveness of sin; but it does not merit forgiveness. Faith receives grace; but it does not merit grace. Faith receives justification; but it does not merit justification.
We were justified in the court of heaven by the decree of God the Father and by the death of God the Son. Then, in the experience of grace, we are justified in the court of conscience by the declaration of God the Holy Spirit.
When the Scriptures speak of us being justified by faith, or by the faith of Christ, and of faith being imputed to us for righteousness, the meaning is not that our act of faith is imputed to us for righteousness, but that Christ, the Object of our faith, and his obedience to God as our Representative is imputed to us for righteousness. That which God imputes to us for righteousness must itself be perfectly righteous. Our faith can never meet that qualification; but Christ does. It is not our faith which is imputed to us for righteousness but Christ’s obedience which is the object of our faith (Romans 5:19).
Those who teach that we are justified by our faith, by the act of believing, make justification a conditional thing accomplished, not by the grace of God and the obedience of Christ as our substitute, but by us. According to Paul’s language in Romans 4:25-5:1, Christ was delivered over to the sword of justice because of our offenses which were imputed to Him. Once He had satisfied justice for our sins by the sacrifice of Himself, he was raised from the dead because of our justification accomplished. His resurrection was God’s public declaration that His one sacrifice for sin forever satisfied justice for His people and forever put away our sins. Now, every chosen sinner, being justified by His blood, obtains peace with God by faith in Christ, even the peace of perfect, everlasting justification. We are not justified by the act of faith. We are justified by Christ. We obtain the peace of justification by faith in Christ.