Justification in Christ Alone

Posted: Thursday, October 31, 2013 in Justification, Reformation

solasFor by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (Ephesians 2:8-10).

The first word of v. 10 in the Greek is autou, “His.” The first word of a sentence in the Greek holds the place of emphasis.  Paul has already shown that salvation is not of our works.  He now emphatically states that it is God’s work, “For we (that is, all believers) are His workmanship, created…” Paul uses creation language, and creation language is nonsense without a Creator.  But Paul specifically states that we are “created in Christ Jesus.”

Here we have the centerpiece of the gospel.  We are not saved, in fact cannot be saved, by our works.  The moment we add anything to faith, salvation is no longer of grace.  That was the issue for the Reformers.  Catholic theology said, and still does, “Faith plus works equal justification.”  But the Reformers cried “Heresy” because that is not what Paul taught.

However, we must be careful that we do not insist that no work of obedience was required for our salvation.  Under the covenant of works that God made with Adam and Eve, the requirement for obedience to His law for continued fellowship with Him did not change after the Fall.  It certainly affected their relationship to God, and the relationship of all their posterity.  As a result of their failure to obey, their failure to keep the covenant of works, we were all born guilty, separated from God, sinners.  But the requirement for perfect obedience to the Law, the covenant of works, still remained.

So how is man saved today?  How is one made right with God?  How can he who is separated from a holy God because of sin with no hope of his own works ever be reconciled to Him?  Solo Christo – in Christ alone!  It is to believe that His work did indeed satisfy God’s justice and punishment for sin.  How can salvation come to us in Christ alone?  It does so because he removed the obstacles between God and us.  By his perfect life (active obedience) he provided the righteousness we need to stand before God, and by his death (passive obedience) he paid the penalty for our sins.  He actually bore in himself the wrath of God on our behalf.

Justification means Christ took on himself our sin, and by turning from our sins and trusting solely in him, we receive his righteousness.  Christ fully accomplished salvation at the Cross for all who God initiates salvation by His grace. He bore the judgment we deserve because of sin and it is through trusting in Him and Him alone that one is rescued from the eternal wrath of God.


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