At the beginning of the year, we had the joy of “campaigning” to allow you as the church to decide which study you were going to jump into. While it was enjoyable attempting to sway the congregation into the greater Growth Group, both Pastor and I believe that the concept of smaller groups has proven to be successful. In fact, it has become the highlight of my week!
Throughout the past ten weeks, our small group has been discussing various cults and religions highlighting their histories, modern-day presence, and doctrinal deviations. During our study on Catholicism, we studied in a similar way but ended by discussing the distinct difference found by the understanding of justification.
Justification is the biblical teaching about how believers are declared to be right before God even though they are not actually righteous in themselves. This doctrine is foundational to our faith.
The primary debate between Evangelicals and Catholics has been whether justification is a forensic declaration based on the imputation of Jesus’ righteousness to believers or based on the imputation of righteousness into the believer through sacraments, enabling them to do works of love by which they might be justified. Throughout the centuries, Catholic apologists have expressed the need for sacramental justification. The enablement of grace-produced justification before God.
The Latin word for justification that many have used is the word from in which we get the English word justification—the Latin word justificare. This came from the Roman judicial system. Justificare is made up of the word justus, which is justice or righteousness, and the verb, facare, which means “to make.” Many believe that the doctrine of justification is what happens when God, through the sacraments of the church, make unrighteous people righteous.
"In Greek, the usage of the verb dikaioō, usually translated as “to justify” in the New Testament, commonly has a judicial sense of “to show justice, do justice,” though in other instances it can designate a forensic declaration along the lines of “to acquit, to vindicate” or “to recognize/declare as right” (BDAG, 249).
During the Protestant Reformation, this was Luther’s claim, that faith alone justifies and makes a person righteous in the eyes of God. This faith affects the imputation of Christ’s righteousness that covers the sins of the believer. Luther demanded that Christ himself, not love, is the form, or the essence, of faith; love and good works are the necessary consequences of justification and are not necessary for justification. (Although they are evident after justification, see James 2:17-18)
But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. - Titus 3:4–7.
The difference… found in the study of Biblical texts.
Justificare - to make righteous
Dikaioō - to regard, or declare as righteous.
Church Family, consider today that your faith is based upon the finished, atoning work of Christ. What marvelous grace that God gave, that he would regard sinners righteous.