Justification (Discipleship Training)
Justification: The most urgent message we need is the news of how we can find forgiveness for our sins. If we are indeed guilty before God because of the sin we have inherited from Adam and for the sins that we have personally committed, then there is nothing more important than to gain God’s forgiveness.
The doctrine of justification declares that God forgives sinners through faith in Christ, who has accomplished salvation for us through his life, death, and resurrection. Although we could never have done enough to earn forgiveness for our sins, God graciously sent his Son into the world to accomplish salvation for us, a salvation he freely gives to us through faith.
More than forgiveness of sins, the doctrine of justification also declares that we are declared righteous in Christ. God imputed (i.e., counted/reckoned) our sins to Christ, who bore the curse of God’s wrath in our place, and then God imputes Christ’s righteousness to us through faith. This is not only good news, but scandalous news of God’s free grace toward sinners.
To understand the free grace of God toward sinners through justification by faith alone, for the forgiveness of our sins and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us.
Read and discuss:
- Genesis 15:6: God declared Abraham righteous by faith alone
- John 3:16: Those who believe in Christ will have everlasting life
- Romans 3:22–28: Jews and Gentiles alike are justified by faith, apart from works of the law
- Romans 4:5–8: God justified Old Testament saints through faith alone
- Ephesians 2:8–9: We are saved by faith, not by works
- Philippians 3:9: We gain righteousness through Christ, by faith
- 1 John 2:1–2: Jesus Christ is the propitiation for our sin
Read and discuss:
- Westminster Confession of Faith, Ch. 11
- Westminster Larger Catechism #70–71
- Westminster Shorter Catechism #33
- What does the word “impute” mean? (e.g., Our sins were imputed to Christ, and Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us.)
- Why do we say that faith is the “alone instrument of justification” (WCF 11.2)? Do works play any role in our justification?
- Can we fall away from our justification (WCF 11.5)? What, though, would it mean to “fall under God’s fatherly displeasure” for our sins?
- To what degree was justification for Old Testament believers like justification for us today (WCF 11.6)?
- If you have never done so, pray for God to forgive you of your sins, and to count you as righteous, through faith in Jesus Christ.
- Consider whether you are putting the confidence for your salvation in anything other than Christ. What would it mean, practically speaking, for you to trust in Christ alone for our justification?
- Are you discouraged and dismayed over your sins? Consider how justification gives you confidence, even in spite of your guilt.
- Praise the Lord for his gracious gift of justification through faith alone in Christ alone!
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