Foundational Truths: The Bible is God’s self-revelation.
God is the Eternal, Sovereign Creator; all that He creates is good. Man is a responsible agent, held to a moral standard.
Sin originates within a person, separating us from God.

Genesis 15:1-6. When Abram believed YHWH’s offspring promise and illustration (v.5), “He reckoned it to him as righteousness” (v.6).

Though Abram did not know how the specifics would be fulfilled, he trusted what God said. “Faith” is no different for us today. We all have a doctor who we don’t really know, who diagnoses us with an illness that we cannot spell, prescribes us medication that we cannot pronounce, and yet we swallow it for results that we do not yet see. In some way, we all live by faith. The point is the Object of our faith, not the faith itself.

The word “reckoned” means “to assign value, impute, to regard, to esteem” someone as something. The “it” refers to the faith that Abram had in God’s promise. Abram was now “credited with” righteousness. “Righteousness” deals with the idea of vindication and is a legal term referring to one’s acquittal of all guilt and condemnation before the Creator/ Judge of all things. Abram was cleared of all wrong in his standing before God. This does not mean that Abram never sinned after Genesis 15:6 (as seen in Gen 16:2-4; 20:1-18). However, it does mean that Abram stood in a position of spotless perfection before the Almighty.

This passage establishes the doctrine of justification. Charlie Bing writes, “justification is God’s legal act by which an unrighteous sinner who believes in Jesus Christ as Savior is declared righteous before God, because Christ’s righteousness is imputed to him.”1

Romans 3:19-28- Paul’s treatise on justification by faith alone.

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Questions that are often asked in relation to justification

Q: How can a sinful person be made right with God?

A: Faith in Christ

Q: Doesn’t someone have to be a good person, believe the right things, and seek to live a good life in order to be right in God’s sight?

A: No. It is by faith alone- simply believing what God has said. In our Dispensation of the Church Age, our faith is a firm conviction in the fact that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God who died for our sins and rose again (John 20:31; Rom 3:22-24).

Q: Isn’t that too easy, that God only requires “faith alone in Jesus Christ alone?”

A: What else would we bring to our salvation to make it more complete? What part of the requirement did Jesus miss? When something more than believing in Christ is required, we are saying that Jesus’ perfect work was imperfect, or lacking in some way. His remark upon the cross that “It is finished” (Jn 19:20) means “paid in full.” His sacrifice was a complete, sufficient payment for the sins of the world. “Faith” does not save us; it is simply the channel by which the perfect work supplied by Jesus is imputed/credited to us.

Q: Why does justification matter?

A: First, the assurance of salvation. God’s accepts us is based on the perfect work of Christ. God has subtracted our guilt and the penalty for sin and has added a right standing that cannot be taken away. This is certain glorification, the “hope of the glory of
God” (Rom 5:2). (Romans 5:1-4)

Second, we have an unshakable foundation for Christian growth. Being accepted in Christ, we do not work for God’s favor. Rather, we already have God’s favor in Christ, therefore we serve joyfully!

Third, we have peace with God (Rom 5:1), a present reality. We are no longer in rebellion against Him, but stand blameless on His side.

Fourth, open access to God’s presence (grace) at any time (Rom 5:2).

Fifth, in a position to actually handle trials (Rom 5:3).

Sixth, the opportunity for an approved standing at the Bema. “Proven character” speaks to Jesus’ approval due to perseverance (Rom 5:4).

Seventh, the opportunity to be delivered from God’s wrath by living out Christ’s LIFE! (Rom 5:9-10; See 1:18; 2:5). 

1 Charles C. Bing, “The Doctrine of Justification,” GraceNotes, no. 74.