THOSE WHO have become justified by faith have received and experienced a great blessing from God and Christ. It is also the condition intended to lead the individual to consecration [Please see our article entitled Christian Consecration].
To be justified implies one of two thoughts:
(1.) To be declared or proven to be right.
(2.) To be made right.
The Scriptures use this term mainly in the second sense. From this standpoint, the primary thought in the word justification is:
(1.) Justice, or a standard of right.
(2.) That something is out of accord with that standard – not up to its requirements.
(3.) The bringing of the person or thing that is deficient up to the proper or just standard.
We may illustrate this by a pair of balances or scales. On one side a weight would represent Justice; on the other side a weight representing human obedience would be found of equal weight, to balance Justice. All are more or less deficient in this, and the deficiency requires to be compensated for by having something added to it, in order to its justification or balancing.
Applying this illustration more particularly, we see Adam as created perfect, in the image of God (Genesis 1: 26, 27). But through sin he came under God’s sentence of death, as being no longer up to the Divine standard. Since then his posterity have been “born in sin and shapen in iniquity.” None of Adam’s race can measure up to the standard of perfection, therefore all stand condemned before the bar of Divine Justice. All are in need of justification before God, if they are ever to come back into covenant relationship and fellowship with Him and gain eternal life.
God in His great love (John 3: 16, 17) sent His Son into the world – “the Word was made flesh” (John 1: 14) – that He, being “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Hebrews 7: 26), might as the man Christ Jesus give Himself as a ransom-price, a corresponding price (1 Timothy 2: 6) for Adam and the entire race in his loins when he sinned. In this way Jesus can satisfy, make up for deficiencies before Divine Justice for the sins of His Gospel Age people in this Age, and for the sins of the world in the Millennial Age (1 John 2: 2).
The Two Steps to Faith Justification
To obtain the benefits of Christ’s ransom sacrifice during the Gospel Age certain conditions must be fulfilled. The first benefit is justification by faith – to become tentatively justified. The term tentative justification refers to the condition of one who has received a reckoned imputation of Christ’s ransom merit. To enter this blessed condition two steps must be taken. The first one is:
(1.) Repentance toward God (2 Corinthians 7: 10), which consists of two parts:
- The first part concerns sin, the following being the parts of true repentance as to sin: (a) intellectual conviction of sin, (b) heart’s sorrow for sin, (c) hatred of sin, (d) abandonment of sin, (e) confession of sin, (f) restitution for sin and (g) opposition to sin.
- The second part concerns righteousness, the following being the parts of true repentance as to righteousness: (a) love for righteousness, (b) practice of righteousness and (c) warfare for righteousness.
The second step is:
(2.) Faith in Jesus as Savior (Romans 3: 26), which also consists of two parts:
- The first part is mental appreciation, whose three ingredients are: (a) knowledge, (b) understanding and (c) belief as to the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.
- The second part is heart’s reliance, whose three ingredients are: (a) full assurance, (b) appropriation and (c) responsiveness as to the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.
Those who have taken these two steps, though still imperfect, are reckoned by God as being just or right. This reckoned justification, or justification by faith, continues so long as the faith continues and is backed up by endeavors to live a righteous life and to overcome sin in oneself to the best of one’s ability. If faith and obedience cease, the justification ceases to be imputed.
Justification’s Two Foundational Pillars
Many debates have been waged over the years among Christians as to the foundation of one’s justification. Some claim that one is “justified by faith” and others that one is “justified by works.” Although many Scriptures can be quoted to support either argument, we answer that justification is not founded upon either one. Though faith plays an essential role in justification, it has no merit of itself by which one can be made right with God. It is through faith, as an instrument, in which one can become justified. Works are also an important part of justification, particularly for the consecrated, for in consecration God expects works in order to demonstrate the vitality of one’s faith (James 2: 18). But one’s works cannot make one right with God, for at best, they are merely imperfect (Romans 3: 23).
The foundation for faith justification consists of two pillars: The grace of God and the ransom sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 3: 24; Hebrews 2: 9). Without these two, no amount of faith or good works could have any significance. Let us consider these foundational pillars:
(1.) First, one is justified by the grace of God. God created Father Adam and placed him on trial for life, but Adam fell into sin and he and his race were justly sentenced to death. God foresaw Adam’s fall, and though He was under no obligation to recover mankind, He had compassion, and developed a Plan which provided redemption for Adam and his race.
(2.) Second, one is justified by the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The death of Jesus paid the penalty for Father Adam, so that ultimately all – the Church in the Gospel Age and the world in the Millennial Age – have the privilege of being released from the condemnation of sin and given the opportunity to gain eternal life.
The Blessings of Faith Justification
Those who become “justified by faith” receive many blessings, including the forgiveness of their sins and the imputation of Christ’s merit. Instead of being at enmity with God, he has peace with Him, becomes His friend and enjoys fellowship with Him.
If one continues to maintain his faith justification, God provides all the help necessary in order to grow in the knowledge and appreciation of righteousness, and to become cleansed from the filthiness of the flesh and spirit by the Word of God (2 Corinthians 7: 1).
Actual Justification in the Millennial Age
During the period of Christ’s Millennial reign of righteousness on earth, Satan will be fully bound so that he can deceive the nations no more (Revelation 20: 1-3), and God will pour out His spirit for all flesh (Joel 2: 28). The Seed of Abraham, Christ and His Church, will bless all the families of the earth with the knowledge of the Truth and with an opportunity for restitution to the image of God as represented in father Adam. They will also have the advantage of the experiences of the fall and of the recovery from it.
During that Age there will be no tentative justification, for the people will not receive the reckoned imputation of Christ’s ransom merit. Instead, they will receive the applied ransom merit of Christ. The application of Christ’s ransom merit for them will grant them the forgiveness of their sins, and thus will cancel their Adamic sentence. This will result in the non-elect being awakened from the death state and placed on trial for eternal life.
The Millennial justification will require the entire Millennium to complete. The people will not attain human perfection instantaneously, but gradually, as they exercise faith and obedience. The Millennial faith however will not be a sightless faith such as we must now exercise, for the evidence then will be convincing to everyone; all will witness the effects of the curse being gradually removed, and their opposite blessings prevailing everywhere. But they will have to obey the Millennial teachings and arrangements completely in order to gain justification in its fullness. Whereas faith is the justifying instrumentality in this Age, obedience, works, will be the justifying instrumentality in the next Age. Jesus and the Church will heal the people of the curse and bestow restitution upon them by giving them Jesus’ perfect human merit – perfect life, perfect bodies, the right to life and its life-rights.
By the end of the Millennium, as faith and obedience is exercised in all its details, all the effects of the curse will then have been destroyed, and all then living will be perfect physically, mentally, artistically, morally and religiously – having regained everything that father Adam was given at his creation, but lost because of his disobedience.