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Written by David Montgomery   

Of Justification

So you are sitting in a courtroom having been accused of a terrible crime. The evidence against you is insurmountable. Everyone knows you’re guilty…you can see it in the jury’s faces. The Judge looks at you like you have already been convicted. The Prosecutor had done his job well, so well that he is pressing for the death penalty. Your lawyer has seemingly done nothing to prove your innocence and why should he even try? You know you’re guilty and that your case was lost before it ever went to trial. Finally, the Foreman stands to read the verdict and the Judge tells you to rise and face your accusers. You clench your fists and you prepare to hear the declaration of guilt and the pronouncement of the ultimate punishment—death. The Foreman says in a loud voice, “We the jury, find the defendant innocent of all charges made against him, and innocent of any charge that could be laid against him forever.” Shock follows shock as you see your defense attorney handcuffed and led away from the courtroom and immediately executed. The Judge looks at you and says, “Your advocate has agreed to take away your guilt and to suffer your punishment. You are now free to go.”

This, kind readers, is the doctrine of “Justification by Blood.” God’s people are declared innocent by the Father because His only begotten Son has taken away their guilt and suffered the punishment in their stead. We did nothing to merit this verdict, but we know the One who did, and we ought to dedicate our lives to acknowledge and honor Him.

Romans 3:23-25, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.”

Romans 5:18-19, “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”

But back to the Scenario…

So you go home your mind is reeling with what transpired. It seems too good to be true; in fact, you tell yourself that it IS too good to be true. You are afraid to go out in public, for you fear that the authorities are waiting for you. When the doorbell rings, you are afraid to answer because you think it might be them coming to take you away. You lie awake at night for you fear that this might be your last night of freedom. Sometimes you have nightmares about the terrible things you did and then facing the grim executioner.

But after a while, it slowly dawns on you that perhaps, what happened in that courtroom did happen. But you have to know for sure; you have got to hear that verdict again. You seek out the Judge and timidly ask him about what transpired. He says, “It’s true, it’s all true and will always be true. You owe everything to your attorney. He begged me to allow Him to take your punishment and He did such a thorough job that all crimes you might commit in the future have already been charged to Him. You should be very grateful for such a man as this.” Now, you believe the verdict and you have faith that the verdict is true. You rejoice in this news. Life is suddenly brand new and what was once so gloomy is now bright. Hope springs up within you and you burst out in a song of gratitude and thanksgiving. This is the best news you have ever heard…it is the news of freedom…it is the news that you are forever free. You have been declared innocent. You have been declared just, and now, you really believe it.

This, kind readers, is the doctrine of “Justification by Faith.” It is when the good news of the gospel really sinks in. It is when you see the One who took away your sins and washed them away in His own blood. It is that faith telling you, “You have been forgiven.” Of course, the faith did not MAKE you just but it TELLS you, or DECLARES to you that you are just. Indeed, you were just before you even believed it, but in believing, you now desire to honor the One who made you just. You are no longer afraid of going to Hell, or facing a final judgment at the end of time. Once you were afraid that your works will condemn you…but now you know that it is not your works that saves you…it is Jesus Christ that saves.

Romans 5:1-2, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

Galatians 3:24, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

But back to the Scenario…

So now you want to live a good life. Yes, even though you know that all sins have been paid for, you want to dedicate your life to the One who took away your charge. Perhaps once, you despised that defense attorney but now every thought you have of what He did for you renews your pledge and strengthens your resolve. You are more honest, kinder to people, less judgmental and selfish, you do not use profanity and you work hard and obey the law. You may marry and have kids and you will raise those children to be likewise honest and good. People will observe you and say, “Now, that is a good and just person.” How do they know you’re good? How do they know you are just? Were they at the courtroom and heard the declaration of innocence? Were they there when you spoke to the Judge and heard his words confirming that declaration? No they weren’t. So how do they know? They know by seeing your good works; your good actions that speak so much louder than words.

This, kind readers, is the doctrine of “Justification by Works.” It is the testimony of your life of what Jesus did for you. Your works do not make you just but they declare to all who see them that you are just. A person who has faith ought to back up that faith by their works. James says this in James 2:18, “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” Yes, talking the talk isn’t enough; you ought to walk the talk. This is what James is saying.

Let us try to make this even simpler.

Justification by Blood—Declares to *God* that all that *is* needed to render an innocent verdict has been accomplished.

Justification by Faith—Declares to *you* that all that *was* needed to render an innocent verdict has been accomplished.

Justification by Works—Declares to *others* that you *are* just.

The works we do spring from the faith we have, and the faith we have is due to the work of Jesus Christ. So, it’s kind of a circular thing: Jesus did a great work for us, and we ought to do good works for Him. We cannot pay Him back for what He did, but we sure ought to thank Him and serve Him for the rest of our lives. Yes, we have been declared just through Him, and our faith reaffirms that great declaration; now let’s declare that reaffirmation loudly through our good works. It’s the least we can do.

Thank you,
David Montgomery
Some are still waiting for the verdict. Aren't you glad you already know what the verdict is?
Hearing the verdict...aka Justification by Faith.
Last Updated ( Friday, 03 April 2009 )
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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.