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A dead man cannot assist in his own resurrection, it is true; but he may, and can, like Lazarus, obey Christ's command, and "Come forth! So Phil. It is a change in a man's relation or standing before God. It has to do with relations that have been disturbed by sin, and these relations are personal.

It is a change from guilt and condemnation to acquittal and acceptance. Regeneration has to do with the change of the believer's nature; Justification, with the change of his standing before God. Regeneration is subjective; Justification is objective. The former has to do with man's state; the latter, with his standing. According to Deut. One thing at least is clear from these verses, and that is, that to justify does not mean to make one righteous.

Neither the Hebrew nor Greek words will bear such meaning.


To justify means to set forth as righteous; to declare righteous in a legal sense; to put a person in a right relation. It does not deal, at least not directly, with character or conduct; it is a question of relationship. Of course both character and conduct will be conditioned and controlled by this relationship. No real righteousness on the part of the person justified is to be asserted, but that person is declared to be righteous and is treated as such. Strictly speaking then, Justification is the judicial act of God whereby those who put faith in Christ are declared righteous in His eyes, and free from guilt and punishment.

It is difficult for us to understand God's feeling towards sin. To us forgiveness seems easy, largely because we are indifferent towards sin.

Salvation in Christianity - Wikipedia

But to a holy God it is different. Even men sometimes find it hard to forgive when wronged. Nevertheless God gladly forgives. Micah ,19 -- "Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? What a wondrous forgiveness!

Forgiveness may be considered as the cessation of the moral anger and resentment of God against sin; or as a release from the guilt of sin which oppresses the conscience; or, again, as a remission of the punishment of sin, which is eternal death. In Justification, then, all our sins are forgiven, and the guilt and punishment thereof removed Acts , 39; Rom. God sees the believer as without sin and guilt in Christ Num. The forgiven sinner is not like the discharged prisoner who has served out his term and is discharged from further punishment, but with no rights of citizenship.

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No, justification means much more than acquittal. The repentant sinner receives back in his pardon, the full rights of citizenship.

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The Society of Friends called themselves Friends, not because they were friends one to another but because, being justified, they counted themselves friends of God as was Abraham 2 Chron. There is also the imputation of the righteousness of Jesus Christ to the sinner. His righteousness is "unto all and upon all them that believe" Rom. See Rom. For illustration, see Philemon At the bar of God no man can be counted righteous in His sight because of his obedience to law.

The burden of the Epistle to the Romans is to set forth this great truth. As a means of establishing right relations with God the law is totally insufficient. There is no salvation by character. What men need is salvation from character. The reason why the law cannot justify is here stated: "For by the law is the knowledge of sin.

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Indeed, it was never intended to remove it, but to intensify it. The law simply defines sin, and makes it sinful, yea, exceedingly sinful, but it does not emancipate from it. The law demands perfect and continual obedience: "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. The only thing the law can do is to stop the mouth of every man, and declare him guilty before God Rom. It is a question of Moses or Christ, works or faith, law or promise, doing or believing, wages or a free gift. From the contents of the epistle up to this point it must be clearly evident that if men, sinful and sinning, are to be justified at all, it must be "by his free grace.

It is impossible to get rid of this double idea from this passage. The sacrifices of the Old Testament were more than a meaningless butchery -- "Without shedding of blood is no remission" of sin Heb. The great sacrifice of the New Testament, the death of Jesus Christ, was something more than the death of a martyr -- men are "justified by his blood" Rom. When Paul in Romans says: "Now to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly," he gives the death-blow to Jewish righteousness.

Thus it come to pass that "all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses" Acts The best of men need to be saved by faith in Jesus Christ, and the worst need only that.

Salvation in Christianity

As there is no difference in the need, neither is there in the method of its application. On this common ground all saved sinners meet, and will stand forever. The first step, then, in justification is to despair of works; the second, to believe on him that justifieth the ungodly. We are not to slight good works, for they have their place, but they follow, not precede justification.

The workingman is not the justified man, but the justified man is the workingman. Works are not meritorious, but they meet with their reward in the life of the justified. The tree shows its life by its fruits, but it was alive before the fruit or even the leaves appeared. See under Faith, II. Summing up we may say that men are justified judicially by God. Regeneration begins the new life in the soul; justification deals with the new attitude of God towards that soul, or perhaps better, of that soul towards God; adoption admits man into the family of God with filial joy.

Regeneration has to do with our change in nature; justification, with our change in standing; sanctification, with our change in character; adoption, with our change in position. In regeneration the believer becomes a child of God John ,13 ; in adoption, the believer, already a child, receives a place as an adult son; thus the child becomes a son, the minor becomes an adult Gal.

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Adoption means the placing of a son. It is a legal metaphor as regeneration is a physical one. It is a Roman word, for adoption was hardly, if at all, known among the Jews. It means the taking by one man of the son of another to be his son, so that that son has the same position and all the advantages of a son by birth. The word is Pauline, not Johannine. The word is never once used of Christ. It is used of the believer when the question of rights, privileges, and heirship are involved. It is peculiarly a Pauline word Gal.

John uses the word "children," not "sons," because he is always speaking of sonship from the standpoint of nature, growth, and likeness cf. Exodus and Heb. We need to distinguish between the foreordaining to adoption, and the actual act of adoption which took place when we believed in Christ. Just as the incarnation was foreordained, and yet took place in time; and just as the Lamb was slain from before the foundation of the word, and yet actually only on Calvary.

Why then mention this eternal aspect of adoption? To exclude works and to show that our salvation had its origin solely in the grace of God Rom. Just as if we should adopt a child it would be a wholly gracious act on our part. Sonship is now the present possession of the believer.

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Strange as it may be, inconceivable as it may seem, it is nevertheless true. The world may not think so v. But some day we shall throw off this disguise 2 Cor. It doth not appear, it hath not yet appeared what we shall be; the revelation of the sons of God is reserved for a future day. See also I John The blessings of adoption are too numerous to mention save in the briefest way. Some of them are as follows: Objects of God's peculiar love John , and His fatherly care Luke We have the family name 1 John ; Eph.

We receive fatherly chastisement Heb. Those who are adopted into God's family are: Led by the Spirit Rom. Have a childlike confidence in God Gal. Have liberty of access Eph.