Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Justification Based on Real Works of Righteousness...

... but not ours!

Scott Clark doing what he does so well - dispelling myths.  He does so in a post today by means of explaining the biblical doctrine of justification in contrast with the Federal Vision error of final justification. Christians have a real righteousness, one wrought through works of obedience, that is the basis for God declaring them justified.  It is a righteousness that is not far off, nor a legal fiction.  Scott writes,
When we say, “justify” we mean, “a divine declaration of righteousness.” The basis or ground of this declaration is the actual, perfect, condign merit and perfect righteousness (active and passive obedience) of Jesus which is imputed to all those who believe, i.e., who are “receiving and resting” in Christ and his finished work for us. God is right to declare us righteous, because the terms of justice have been fulfilled by Christ. By the way, our doctrine of justification does not, therefore, make justification a “legal fiction” as the papists and moralists (i.e., the FV) like to say. We have a real, actual basis for our righteousness before God. It is not “grace and cooperation with grace” or Spirit-wrought sanctity within us. Christ’s righteousness for us was and is real, actual, intrinsic, and perfect and it is imputed to all who believe sot that all believers are reckoned as perfectly righteous before God...

So then, what about on that last day when we shall stand before God? Will there be a final justification in judgment that rests at least partially upon our works done in this life?  Is justification secure for the believer who's life's works are lacking in righteousness?  Scott explains,
The phrase, “openly acknowledged and acquitted” refers to the Protestant doctrine of vindication before God and man at the last day. It is only the justified who shall be acknowledged and acquitted and they are just who are clothed with the perfect (condign) righteousness and merit of Christ. We dare not stand before God on the basis of anything wrought in us or anything done by us because it is all imperfect, it is all tainted, it is all corrupted and none of it meets the unbreakable standard of God’s righteousness: “cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the book of the law” (Gal 3:10). This is why the Protestants universally rejected the notion of congruent merit, because it denies the divine righteousness. God does not overlook sin and he doesn’t act arbitrarily. He acts according to his nature and his nature is just.
That is why Paul says, “having been justified” and “there is therefore now no condemnation….” Justification is done. Christ’s righteousness is done. The latter is the basis for the former, and it is just and right for God to reckon it so and to reckon us righteous who trust in him who fulfilled all righteousness. Remember, the question isn’t even whether we are to believe in imputation since both papists and moralists believe in imputation. The question is whether we’re to confess the Protestant, confessional, and biblical version of imputation or some other.
Because we are righteous in Christ, we shall be vindicated at the judgment. There is no such thing as “initial” justification as distinct from “final” justification. We are justified now and we shall be vindicated then.
Read the whole thing HERE.

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