First we must define salvation. I believe that salvation is best defined as a rescue operation. Salvation: Strong’s G4991 sōtēria Feminine of a derivative of G4990 as (properly abstract) noun; rescue or safety (physically or morally): - deliver, health, salvation, save, saving.
Job 25:4 How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?
Job 9:20 If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.
Let us notice that Job equates being justified with God as being perfect and clean (just, holy, righteous) and proposes a rhetorical question; “how can he be clean that is born of a woman?”. This shows that he IS NOT clean and CANNOT be cleaned or cleansed by his own self effort. “Born of a woman” here indicates both our sinful (fallen) nature which produces personal sin and the imputation of Adam’s sin to us. Rom 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Justify ,justifier, justified and justification come from the root word just; which in its most common use means holy, righteous or innocent. Strong’s dictionary gives the following definitions for the following NT words.
JUST G1342 dikaios From G1349; equitable (in character or act); by implication innocent, holy (absolutely or relatively): - just, meet, right (-eous).
JUSTIFY, JUSTIFIED, JUSTIFIER G1344 dikaioo From G1342; to render (that is, show or regard as) just or innocent: - free, justify (-ier), be righteous.
JUSTIFICATION G1345 dikaio From G1344; an equitable deed; by implication a statute or decision: - judgment, justification, ordinance, righteousness. G1347 dikaio From G1344; acquittal (for Christ’s sake): - justification.
We can see from these definitions that to be just is to be holy righteous and innocent; and to be justified is to be rendered (shown, regarded) and declared to be just (holy, righteous and innocent). We also can see that justification is a decision that results in acquittal. Therefore Wayne Grudem in his book [Systematic Theology; an introduction to biblical doctrine], is correct in saying that “justification is an instantaneous legal act of God in which He (1) thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us, and (2) declares us to be righteous in his sight. (pg722)” Justification is a right legal standing before God concerning our relationship to God‘s laws, stating that we are completely forgiven and no longer liable to punishment (wages of sin=spiritual death). Mr. Grudem notes, “A right understanding of justification is absolutely crucial to the whole of the Christian faith. Once Martin Luther realized the truth of justification by faith alone, he became a Christian and overflowed with the new found joy of the Gospel. The primary issue in the protestant reformation was a dispute with the Roman Catholic Church over justification. If we are to safeguard the truth of the gospel for future generations, we must understand the truth of justification. Even today, a true view of justification is the dividing line between the biblical gospel of salvation by faith alone and all false gospels of salvation based on good works (pg 723).”
Martin Luther declared, “The doctrine of justification is the article by which the church stands or falls.”
“[Justification is] the chief doctrine of Christianity and the chief point of difference separating Protestantism and Roman Catholicism.” [Jaroslav Pelikan, in “The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine.” Vol4 Pg 139]
The (free=without cost) Theology Program from Bible.org at www.thetheologyprogram.com gives the following definitions of the Roman Catholic and Protestant views of justification.
ROMAN CATHOLIC VIEW: “Justification is a process through which the limitless merits of Christ are appropriated by the church through people responding to God through faith and works.”
The Council of Trent (1545-1563) declared “this disposition or preparation [of faith] is followed by justification itself, which is not only a remission of sins but also the sanctification and renewal on the inward man through the voluntary reception of the grace and gifts whereby an unjust man becomes just and from being an enemy becomes a friend, that he may be the heir to the hope of eternal life.”
The Roman Catholic view of Justification was summed up by the Roman Catholic Church with the Latin term; “ex opere operato” = “By the work performed”. The authors of the theology program further define this term as “the belief accepted by Roman Catholics and rejected by Protestants that the sacraments administer grace to the recipient by virtue of the act itself through the power given to the church, regardless of the faith of the individual”
PROTESTANT VIEW: “Justification is a forensic declaration in which a sinner is declared righteous while still in a sinning state. It is a justification in standing, not in nature that occurs in an instantaneous event.”
Martin Luther said of Jesus, “He has made His righteousness my righteousness, and my sin His sin. If he has made my sin to be his sin, then I do not have it and am free. If he has made his righteousness my righteousness, then I am righteous now with the same righteousness as He. My sin cannot devour Him, but it is engulfed in the unfathomable depths of his righteousness for he himself is God, who is blessed forever.” (“Lectures on Romans” in Luther’s works; Hilton C. Oswald p.188)
The reformers (Protestant) view of justification was summed up with the Latin term; “simul iustus et peccator” = “same time just and sinner”. The authors of the theology program define this term as “Luther’s paradoxical dictum explaining that a Christian has a legal or forensic righteous standing before God according to the work of Christ, while at the same time lives as a sinner according to his own merits. This was adhered to by the reformers in rejection to the Roman Catholic concept of infused righteousness.”
The main difference between the Roman Catholic view of justification and the protestant view of justification is wrapped up in 2 terms. 1. “Infused righteousness” (a process of God and man by which man must become actually righteous before he is said to be justified) 2. “Imputed righteousness” (a one time event in which God justifies sinners by reckoning Christ’s righteousness to their account through a legal declaration). The biggest difference between the Roman Catholic view of justification and the Protestant view of justification is that one is by faith and works together and the other is by faith alone. The Catholics view justification as a work of both God and man together while Protestants view justification as a work of God alone. Wayne Grudem says of the Protestant Reformation “When the good news of the gospel truly became the good news of totally free salvation in Jesus Christ, then it spread like wildfire throughout the civilized world. It was simply a recovery of the original gospel which declares, “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23) and insist that “there is therefore no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. (Rom 8:1)” Pg. 729.
Does the bible say that justification is a process or an event? According to the bible, who does the justifying, God or man? Is justification by faith and works or by faith alone?
Rom 3:19-28 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 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; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Rom 5:1 Therefore being justified (past tense) by faith, we have (present tense) peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Gal 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
Paul says that God “justifies him who has faith in Jesus“(Rom 3:26) and that “a man is justified by faith apart from works of law” (Rom 3; 28) The word of God which was delivered to Paul by Jesus himself (1Cor 1:23, 15:3) says that “since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom5:1) Because “a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ” (Gal2:16)
Justification is solely a work of God that we must receive. We must answer God’s call.
Rom 8:30-34 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
Act 13:39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
Joh 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Rom 5:11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
ATONEMENT/RECONCILIATION: G2643 katallage From G2644; exchange (figuratively adjustment), that is, restoration to (the divine) favor: - atonement, reconciliation (-ing).
In the Old Testament, we can see that the institution of the Passover points to atonement through a vicarious substitution. The sacrificial system (esp. the day of atonement) pointed to the perfect sacrifice that Christ would give on behalf of our sins (Lev, 16:9-10, 16, 29) Christ is later called the lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world. (John 1:29, Rev. 5:7) In addition, Isaiah 53 vividly describes atonement through a vicarious substitution.
2. So “Is justification salvation“?
I believe so. Obviously, there are many other biblical terms to describe salvation such as election, calling, regeneration (spiritual rebirth), conversion (moral revolution through faith and repentance), sanctification (growth in likeness of Christ), glorification (receiving a resurrected body), and others. But Justification embodies other biblical terms for salvation such as atonement (restoration to divine favor), reconciliation (restoration to divine favor), redemption (to purchase), propitiation (the act by where which God‘s righteous wrath is satisfied by the atonement of Christ) and deliverance (ransom) . The preceding definitions come from Strong’s dictionary, Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem or The Theology Program.
Justification is the result of God applying the work of Christ to the believer though faith (trust) in Jesus Christ’s death in our place on the cross; resulting in the forgiveness of our sins and the imputation of Christ perfect righteousness to our account. Justification is the result of atonement, reconciliation, redemption, deliverance and propitiation rendered through Christ perfect life and substitutionary death. In my opinion, regeneration (being born again) is the only other biblical term for salvation that could possibly rival justification as an accurate synonym for salvation but regeneration is still not as fully a descriptive term for salvation. Regeneration causes conversion through faith and repentance. The result of justification is that we go from an unjust state to a totally justified position while still not being totally just in actual practice. (John 9:41, 1John 1:8)
Justification and salvation are terms that are used interchangeably in God’s word. We are “saved through faith“(Eph 2; 8), and “justified by faith” (Rom 5:1, Gal 2:16). We are saved not according to our works (2Tim1:9) and we are not justified by our works (Gal 2:16). We are saved by God’s grace. (Acts15:11, Eph2:8) We are justified by God’s grace. (Titus 3:7, Rom 3:24)
As noted above, if we are to have eternal life with God, mankind’s most basic problem that must be solved is that God is just, holy and righteous (PS 97:2, PS 119:142) and mankind is unjust, unholy and unrighteous. (Isa 53:6, Rom 3:10-18, 3:23, Gal 3:22, Eph 2:1, James 1:5) God is intrinsically by His nature just and he cannot even look upon sin (iniquity) Holiness is an immutable attribute of God’s character. Hab 1:13a Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity. Therefore, God must punish our sin. Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Eze 18:20a The soul that sinneth, it shall die. Spiritual death (separation from God) has always been the wages of sin. (Gen2:17, 3:6,23,24, Eze 28:15,16) The solution to mans problem is the Lord Jesus Christ. Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I believe that salvation and justification are synonymous because the promise of eternal life is achieved by the shed blood of Jesus Christ resulting in our redemption and reconciliation to God through Christ’s atonement. That atonement needs to be applied to us, through faith in Jesus as our Savior, because of our sins and separation from God. But Jesus bridges the gap between God and us. He provides the way that we may be restored to right relationship with God both at the moment of faith and even more so in the moment of death. Salvation and justification is achieved for us, by Jesus Christ, by our sins being imputed to Him on the cross (thus making a propitiation towards God), and Jesus’s perfect righteousness being imputed to our account for us. (Gen 15:6, Rom 4:3-5, 8-11, 22-24, 5:13, Gal 3:6, James 2:23) Christ perfect sacrifice expiates our sin through propitiation (the act by where which God‘s righteous wrath is satisfied by the atonement of Christ) i.e. [Rom 3:25, 1John 2:2, 1John 4:10]` And the work of Jesus Christ results in our justification and salvation. God is just and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus. (Rom 3:26) Therefore, I would say, yes, “Justification is Salvation…Would you say that a person who God has justified is not saved?
Perhaps you have heard the popular and clever play on words for “justified” that says “just-as-if -I-had-never-sinned” or “just-as-if-I-had-lived-a-life-of-perfect-righteousness”. These sayings contain a portion of the truth about justification but not the whole of the truth of justification. Obviously we have not “lived lives of perfect righteousness” nor have we “never sinned” and we are in fact deserving of death as the wages of sin, because we are in reality sinners who have transgressed God‘s laws . Gal 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, ‘Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. Deu 27:26 Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen. Jam 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. But JESUS LAYED DOWN HIS LIFE so,
Joh 3:15-18 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Joh 6:47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
Joh 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ,
It was Jesus, 1Ti 2:6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. It was Jesus Gal 1:4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: It was Jesus Tit 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Jesus not only saves us from the penalty of sin (spiritual death), but also from the power of sin so that sin should not have dominion over us. (Rom. 6:6,11) Because, Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. 2Ti 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
It was because of justification by faith alone that Paul could say Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. John the Baptist said of Jesus Christ “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)
Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Rom 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Rom 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Rom 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
Rom 5:15-19 But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification. For if by one man's offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offense 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.
Act 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
2Co 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Heb 7:26-27 For such a high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
Heb 7:19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.
Heb 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Heb 13:12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
Eph 1:5-7 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Eph 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor.
Gal 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
1Pe 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
1Jo 2:1-2 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
Rev 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
Gal 1:3-5 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver (RESCUE) us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
There are only two ways to be saved. 1. Actually be totally and perfectly just, holy righteous and as innocent as God is. 2. Be justified by God as a free gift. When you stand before God on judgment day will you say I am just and deserve eternal life; or will you fall on your face and say “Lord have mercy on me a sinner“?
If you have been working for your salvation or justification, or if you have never known Jesus, will you receive God’s free gracious gift of salvation by faith (trust) alone in Jesus Christ as your savior at this moment?
This article is created and copyrighted © by Damon Whitsell 2007. Free duplicating is allowed provided this notice and these Commons Copyright © licensing requirments are abided, kept intact and attached.