Theological Review #1
November 10, 2009
Time: 3 hours
What is Justification?
Justification means, “to be declared legally righteous.” This is the free “gift” that God gives to believers the moment they put their trust in what Christ has done for them. “The final ground of justification is the completed, finished, sufficient work of Christ atoning for the sinner in His redeeming work on the cross” (Tenney 560). Faith is the “means or condition of justification…which rests upon the pure grace of God and is itself, therefore, His gift (Ephesians 2:8)” (Orr). No works. No rituals. No justification even if we died on the cross for ourselves. This is because man is a helpless sinner and as Romans 3:10 says, “None is righteous, no, not one.” Every man is associated with Adam and the original sin, and thus is born sinful. Since man is sinful nothing he produces will meet the standard that God requires (Romans 3:20). Because God is righteous and pure He must deal with sin, it is His nature which He will never compromise. Sin deserves judgment and will not go unpunished. This is why justification is necessary for a believer, to have fellowship with God and able to receive our inheritance.
How does it relate to one’s standing before God (or how does it effect our relationship with God?)
Through justification, our redemption through Jesus Christ, our standing before God changes from His enemy to His friend (Romans 5:1). God no longer sees our sins because He has judged them through Jesus’ death on the cross which means we are no longer guilty of our sins. “We are as righteous before God (positionally) as we will ever be (2 Corinthians 5:21)” (Keen 8). Not only are we at peace with God, but we also now have a favorable standing before God (Romans 5:2). We have be reconciled with God and are now able to “have positive interaction with” Him (Keen 7).
How does Justification relate to the Christian life/make it possible (by Christian life I mean our walk in newness of life – living the Christian life)?
First of all, justification gives Christians security. Every person who has put their faith in the person and work of Christ has been justified and thus been promised future glorification; eternal security (Romans 5:21, 8:30). Though we are promised eternal life and are positionally righteous before God, we still need to walk according to our calling (it doesn’t give us license to sin). Justification has made the Christian life possible because through it God has given to us the gift of the Holy Spirit who enables us to abide in Christ (Romans 6:3,4) and gives us a new life (Romans 8:10).
What is “identification”?
Identification with someone means “to be categorized or associated with that person” (Keen 9). Man can either be associated with Adam or with Christ. All men, when they are born, are associated with Adam because of original sin. “Sin came into the world through one man [Adam]” (Romans 5:12) and “by the one man’s [Adam’s] disobedience the many were made sinners” (Romans 5:19). When we put our faith in Christ and were justified as a result, our identity changed from with Adam to with Christ through our death, burial, and resurrection with Him. It wasn’t our obedience to God that saved us, but our identification with Christ whose obedience declared us righteous.
How does identification effect my relationship to sin? The law? God?
Now that believers are identified with Christ, we are no longer bound to sin. Because we have died with Christ on the cross we have been set free from sin (Romans 6:6-8). We are now “dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). Our relationship to law has changed to one of grace. Romans 15:6 says that we are “not under law but under grace” and Romans 7:4 tells us that we have “died to the law through the body of Christ so that [we] may be raised to…Him.” If we return to living under the law it is adultery because we are no longer bound to something that demands our performance; it is unnecessary because of what Christ has done for us.
How does identification relate to the Christian life/make it possible?
Again, because of our identification we have eternal security. Colossians 3:3,4 says, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Any person who has been justified has been identified with Christ, and everyone who is identified with Christ has been promised eternal life (2 Timothy 2:11).
Because we have been raised with Christ we have the ability to “walk in the power of His resurrection life” (Keen 9). Ephesians 2:6 says that we have been seated “in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Our identification with Christ has enabled Him to work in us and and manifest His life in us (Galatians 2:20). “Believers are no longer identified with the fallen world in which they live” (Keen 9).
What is “adoption” (describe past and future aspects)?
Adoption means receiving a sonship that you didn’t have and in the future will receive privileges that came with that new position. When someone is adopted they can “no longer inherit from his natural father” (Tenney 17) and they are no longer under any debt that their former father had.
How does the concept of adoption further our understanding of the way we relate to God?
All believers were adopted by God “by birth through regeneration” (Keen 11) and adoption. Through adoption we have become His children and we have become heirs with Christ (Romans 8:14). Through our adoption we now have a loving relationship with God and have full access to approach Him with anything.
How does adoption relate to the Christian life/make it possible?
Once again, we have assurance of our salvation and eternity through our adoption. Romans 8:39 tells us that nothing “will be able to separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord,” and because we are heirs with Christ we have been promised future glorification with Him (Romans 8:17). Because of our adoption every believer has been given “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (1 Peter 1:4). God has given us the ability and the resources to live the Christian life, though this is a lifetime process of learning to appropriate these truths.
What is “regeneration”?
Regeneration is the “spiritual change wrought in people’s hearts by an act of God in which their inherently sinful nature is changed and by which they are enabled to respond to God in faith” (Tenney 851). It is the impartation of a new life in which we have received a new birth, a new creation, and a resurrection.
How does the concept of regeneration further our understanding of the way we relate to God?
It shows God’s mercy as He chose to, out of love, allow us to be regenerated. Through our new man we are now able partake of God’s divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). We can relate to God because part of us is righteous and holy.
How does regeneration relate to the Christian life/make it possible?
Regeneration relates to the Christian life because the new life (or new man) that results from it gives us the desire to do the will of God. “The indwelling Spirit enables us to do the good that the new man desires (Romans 7:18, 22)” (Keen 12). Regeneration also ensures eternal security, because those who believe Christ receive eternal life as their possession (John 5:24).
How does the indwelling Spirit relate to the Christian life/make it possible?
The indwelling Spirit “makes it possible to walk according to the desires of the new man” (Keen 13). If we didn’t have the Holy Spirit in us we would have a desire to do good but, because of our flesh, we would continue to fail in fulfilling that desire (Romans 7:18).
We are told that we have everything we need to live the Christian life (Eph. 1:3; 2nd Pet. 1:3-4). How does this relate to your growth in the Lord? Your confidence as you study the scriptures in order to grow?
We have every spiritual thing that we need to live the Christian life, and this has been given to every believer by God through the indwelling Spirit. “Life and godliness speaks of the time span between justification and glorification and what I need to function within that timeframe” (Keen 14). This helps us in our growth because we know that we have everything we need to grow and that it is now only a process of learning how to understand these spiritual blessings and appropriate them in our lives. It gives us confidence as believers studying the Scriptures in that whenever we are convicted in an area of our life, through abiding in Christ and His Word we can make godly choices and see growth.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Wheaton: Good News, 2006.
Keen, Scot. Soteriology notes. Jackson: New Tribes Bible Institute, Fall 2009.
Orr, James. “Justification.” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online. 1939. Web. 9 Nov. 2009. .
Tenney, Merrill C., ed. New International Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987.