© 1999 James A. Fowler

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I. Some Biblical references to "justification"

    A. Hebrew word sadeq - "to do justice, vindicate, acquit, prove right"
         Isa. 45:25 - "In the Lord all the offspring of Israel will be justified"
         Isa. 53:11 - "the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many..."
    B. Greeks words dikaioo (60), dikaioma (10), dikaios (81), dikaiosune (92), dikaiosis (2) and          dikaios (5) - "right, righteous, righteousness, justify, justification"
         Rom. 3:24 - "justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus"
         Rom. 3:28 - "a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law"
         Rom. 5:9 - "having been justified by His blood"
         Rom. 5:18 - "through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men."
         Rom. 8:33 - "God is the One who justifies"
         Gal. 2:16 - "we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by               the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified."
         Gal. 3:24 - "we may be justified by faith"
        Titus 3:7 - "being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of              eternal life."

II. Historical background of understanding "justification"

    A. Greek thought
         1. Dike was mythological Greek god of justice - Acts 28:4
         2. Justification was acceptable alignment with cultural and moral values, the law of nature, the               law of the land; civility, the customary
    B. Roman thought
         1. System of Roman Empire based on law and order.
         2. Justification was alignment with Roman governmental law, and respect for Roman Emperor.
    C. Jewish thought
         1. Mosaic law became basis of Judaic religious ethics.
         2. Justification was behavioral alignment with God's Law.

III. Uniqueness of Christian understanding of "justification"

    A. Christian gospel not formulated on law-concept, but on grace-concept.
         1. Christian justification not based on ethical behavioral alignment with God's law - Rom.               3:28; 9:31; 10:3,4; Gal. 2:2:16,21; 3:21; Phil. 3:6,9
         2. Grace is the dynamic divine provision for expressing God's character - Rom. 3:24; Titus 3:7
         3. Faith is man's responsibility for receptivity of God's activity of grace. - Rom. 3:28; Gal.               2:16; 3:24
    B. Christian understanding of "justification" has reference to alignment with character of God
         1. God is Righteous - Ps. 11:7; 119:137,142; I Jn. 2:29; 3:7
         2. Jesus Christ is the Righteous One - Acts 3:14; 7:52; 22:14; II Tim. 4:8; I Jn. 2:1;Rev. 16:5
         3. Christians are made righteous in Christ - Rom. 5:19; II Cor. 5:21; Heb. 12:23
         4. Christ is our righteousness - I Cor. 1:30...

IV. History of Christian understanding of "justification"

    A. Concepts expressed by Jesus Christ and New Testament writers.
    B. Reversion to Judaic religious concept of legal, moral, ethical righteousness
    C. Adaptation to Greek concepts of social, cultural concepts of righteousness.
    D. Adaptation to Roman concepts of institutional, governmental law.
    E. Roman Catholicism
         1. Infused grace
         2. Alignment with ecclesiastical law (institutional, social, moral, legal)
         3. Co-operative performance of righteous "works"
    F. Protestant Reformation
         1. Reaction to Roman "works" righteousness
         2. Objectification of righteousness
         3. Justification still cast in legal, judicial and forensic categories
         4. Justification primarily understood as status of right-standing with God.
    G. Modern misunderstanding of "justification"
         1. References to "self-justification" - excuse, vindication
         2. Computer terminology of alignment - "left, right, center justification"
         3. Righteousness relativized to popular opinion, social consensus, majority rule.
         4. Religious righteousness = performance righteousness = works righteousness =               self-righteousness = unrighteousness.

V. Perspectives of Biblical understanding of "justification"

    A. Objective
         1. Verdict - declared "Not guilty." Declared "Righteous"
         2. Ledger entry - in the "asset" column of the "Book of Life."
         3. Status conferred - child of God, saint
         4. Right standing - positional placement - imputation
         5. Reconciliation
    B. Subjective
         1. Spiritual condition
              a. Regeneration
              b. Christ in us
              c. Identity as "Christ-ones" - Christians
              d. Made righteous
         2. Behavioral expression
              a. Sanctification
              b. Instruments of righteousness - Rom. 6
              c. Grace impartation of righteous character
    C. Consequences of over-emphasizing objective or subjective perspective
         1. Objective over-emphasis
               a. Knowledge-based interpretations of objective truth
               b. Focusing on benefits and blessings
               c. Positive thinking of "reckoning"
               d. Legalizing and moralizing basis of behavior
               e. "Works" basis of behavior
         2. Subjective over-emphasis
               a. Inherent or intrinsic condition of righteousness
               b. Infused righteousness
               c. Feeling right about relationship with God.
               d. Feeling right about oneself



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