Other places where justification doesn’t mean forgiveness


Continuing the topic of illegitimate totality transfer (ITT) it struck me on the way back from the school run that MOST instances of justification do not mean forgiveness plus being declared righteous, but simply being declared righteous.

In Luke’s Gospel the people justified God, meaning that they judged Him to be righteous. No mention or implication of forgiving God there, in the nature of the case. God justified the Lord Jesus by raising him from the dead, and again there is no suggestion of forgiveness. The man who perseveres in well-doing wil be justified by his works according to Paul.

So then, justification is usually used to describe righteous persons and Persons, not forgiven sinners.

Having said that, far be it from me to downplay our justification by faith alone. My purpose is to show that it is illegitimate to assume that forgiveness is always part of the meaning of justification.

The ONLY time that forgiveness is included in the semantic range of justification is when a sinner is justified. The Christian is not called a sinner in scripture, because it is assumed that he is righteous.

James’s man is justified by works and not by faith alone because he is no longer a sinner. God is justified by his works in the eyes of Israel. Jesus is justified by God by being raised to life again.

In other words there is a strong case to argue that MOST uses of the justification word group do not include forgiveness, but only being judged righteous.

Finally, it is thus right and proper to speak of a justifiaction by works while continuing a Reformation believer.


4 thoughts on “Other places where justification doesn’t mean forgiveness

  1. If justification is a declaration of righteousness in the court room of God, where we are imputed with the righteousness of Christ, then we are eternally forgiven. We repent of sin, after our declaration as a matter of dependance and sanctification. Justification by works is what the Reformation was all about. If it is by works, then you have fall into the condemnation mentioned in Galations. We are justified not by our works. But by the finished work of Christ. Let me encourage you to read Romans (the explanation of justification), Galations (the defense of justification) and Ephesians 2:8 (the gift of faith).

  2. Thanks for your concern. May I encourage you to read the article called Introduction to my Galatians Commentary. You will find that I fully understand and believe sola fide.

    How do you, on the other hand, explain the fact that James says that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only? He says in so many words that there is another justification – by works.

    Read too my articles on illegitimate totality transfer for the difference in meanin between Paul and James on justification.


  3. One who has been saved has been given the gift of faith, Ephesians 2:8. We are not the fruit givers (far from it be from me too judge), but we are fruit inspectors. James is saying that a person who works is demonstrating his genuine salvation. Works and faith go hand to hand in demonstrating that one is actually saved. Many who call the Lord, Lord will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Not because they didn’t work. But they were not called out, elected, saved. For the church, we see many who do claim to be saved, but their life and service to the body (Spiritual gifts given to serve the church) doesn’t show that.

    Catholics hold to a strict sola fide doctrine. But it is sola fide plus. Hence the reformation. When you move from Grace alone, through Faith alone, in Christ alone to those plus works…then you are saying that the cross wasn’t sufficent enough. True beleivers in Christ have been forgiven and desire to work. It is for the love of Çhrist and His church. Romans says that we are dead to the law and slaves of righteousness. Law would require works. We aer free from the law and through that freedom, we find that works are a normal and desired effect of the believer. The law makes people arrogant, prideful, and makes the cross seem to be a judgery. I will pray for your continued search for the truth.

    Blessings in Him – Wisecarver

  4. Wisecarver, I understand your point, but you are missing mine. I am not denying the sufficiency of the cross at all. I believe that we are justified by faith alone. Ialso believe that the man who has been justified by faith alone must be justified by works – as James says. This second justification is NOT for acceptance by God. It is for those who have already been accepted. This justification is not for the remission of sins, but it is God’s judgement of the Christian’s works.

    Hope this helps to clarify things.

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