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Justification: Just Declared Right or Made Right? — 74 Comments

  1. William, I am confused and I hope it is just a matter of semantics. Could you please clarify exactly what you mean by saying that justification makes us right. In other words are you saying that when we are justified that we become righteous in a physical, literal sense or are you saying that we are sinless because Jesus paid the price at Calvary and thereby cleared our condemnation under the law in a forensic sense?

    • Hi Tyler, thank you for your question. I can see by the "likes" on your question you are not the only one who has this question, so thank you for bringing it up so I can clarify.

      Real justification is exactly as you say, where Jesus paid the price for my sin. But by being "made right" I am also born again of the Holy Spirit, and through the power of the Holy Spirit I am free to make good choices. I am a new creation, still empowered with free choice, but that is good thing. I am not a slave to bad choices anymore. I can choose either way, and I am free to choose the right way now. When David was justified after his sin of adultery and murder, we don't see David going back making the same mistakes over and over. Sure God could still forgive him if he did, but thankfully David did not add heartache to heartache by making those same bad choices over and over. When we are made right we are not only forgiven for the past, but are given a clean slate and are made brand new.

      • From the above response, I perceive you are making the point that justification cannot be separated from regeneration in a person's actual experience. That's because, whom God justifies, He also renews in holiness.

        This is, in my view, a vital truth. However, I would also urge the point that justification and regeneration must not be confuted in concept. Otherwise, I fear that we may come dangerously close to giving the imparted righteousness of Christ, as exhibited in our hearts and lives, a certain amount of justifying merit on our behalf.

        The truth remains that we are justified by the imputed righteousness of Christ alone. In other words, Jesus bore the penalty of our sin, in which He had no share, that we may be justified by His righteousness, in which we have no share.

        But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness...
        Romans 4:5 (NKJV)

      • William, thank you for your response.
        I agree with that concept of justification and born again (new creation) as you mentioned. But I would like to add something that very crucial and we need to aware of, which is the remaining presence of the old man that we have to deal with on daily basis. Though no longer reigning but still remain. This is the main issue what Paul struggle in Romans 7, which is inbred sin (sin by nature).

        So if i can summarize in short ways:
        Problem of sin:
        Required Penalty -----------> solution: justification
        Reigning Power -----------> solution: sanctification
        Remaining Presence ----------> solution: glorification

        1 Cor 15:52-53: "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."

    • Dear Tyler, (sorry for my grammar...) I would like to share the statement from SOP that also written in our fundamental belief: "The righteousness by which we are justified is imputed and the righteousness by which we are sanctified is imparted". The first is our"TITLE" to heaven and the second is our "FITNESS" for heaven. Justification happen outside of us imputed/credited/accounted) and sanctification happen inside of us (imparted/become part of us). Justification by the blood of Christ, sanctification by the Holy Spirit. Only in HIM we are justified.

      Also I believe that as long as we live we can not have holy flesh (sinless). Inspiration stated that "from the cross to the crown we are struggled with inbred sin". (inbred sin= sinful flesh = sinful by nature = indwelling sin). We are freed from condemnation if we are in Christ and walk according to the "Spirit". In Romans 7, Paul is struggle with inbred sin and not with the commit sin/behavior. He was converted and matured Christian.

      • Bingtoro, you do not have to apologize for your grammar. There are a lot good Christians commenting on SSNet that have English as their second or third language. English is not easy to learn and probably one of the hardest languages in the world. So I think the staff at SSNet appreciates your comments along with everyone else’s.

        The quote basically comes from the Review and Herald, June 4, 1895, par 7.

  2. [Moderator's Note: Please us full name when commenting.Thank you.]

    Being made right does not appear to be the meaning of the Greek in Romans 5:1. Look at Romans 5:18, where we read that as by the offence of one (judgement came) upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one (the free gift came) upon all men unto justification of life.

    The objective facts are that justification was given to all men, not just those who are righteous or who will become righteous.

    Subjectively, though, only those who accept the free gift will enjoy the results of what Christ did.

    • Good point, Gary. However, I believe it is less confusing and more accurate to note that Christ's death provided justification for all men. However, not all men are justified, because not all accept the provision. In that way, justification is like a pardon: A pardon has no practical value to the pardoned person unless he accepts the pardon. This was even debated in the Supreme Court of the United States. A certain prisoner on death row was granted a presidential pardon but refused to accept it. The court ruled that the pardon must be accepted to be valid. And the prisoner was executed, even though he was pardoned.

      Reading the context of the texts you quote makes it clearer.

      For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness ereign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

      18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for fall men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:17-19)

  3. Thank you for your explanation William. I think you are absolutely right concerning what Christ's death on the cross did for repentant sinners. It seems to me that redemption and freedom are major topics in the Bible and is something that Jesus emphasized while in the synagogue at Nazareth when He read a Messianic prophesy of Himself, "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD." (Lk. 4:18-19 NKJV). It was also something that Jesus was actively involved in, "So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound-- think of it-- for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?" (Lk. 13:16 NKJ) and as our Sabbath School lessons have pointed out is one of the themes of the Sabbath (Deut 5:15).

    I think the confusion happened when you apparently tried to define justification solely in terms of redemption. Justification is a technical term theologians use to describe a legal change in relationship to the law. I like the way Ellen White defines it, "To be justified means to be pardoned" (Manuscript Releases Volume 4, #241). When a governmental official pardons someone it doesn't change him/her nor does it change the guilty verdict of the court, it only sets them free from prison by annulling the prison sentence.

    Ellen White repeatedly uses the term "impute" when talking about justification which according to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary means, "to credit to a person or a cause" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/impute). In order to see this, one only needs to go to Deut 25 where is says, "If there is a dispute between men, and they come to court, that the judges may judge them, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked" (Deut. 25:1 NKJV). The question is how can a person who is already righteous be made righteous? Well, in a court of law it is a matter of declaration by the judge who pronounces the person innocent of all charges even though he/she was innocent all along. The same happens with Christ in the great controversy which is another purpose of the cross that involves the Day of Atonement.

    Even though it is a long quote I would like to conclude by sharing what Ellen White had to say on the subject in the compilation, "Faith and Works", Chap 15, p 103.1-104.1 which is commented on by the EGW estate in a heading, "Portion of Manuscript 21, 1891, written February 27, 1891. Published in SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, pp. 1070, 1071".

    As the penitent sinner, contrite before God, discerns Christ's atonement in his behalf and accepts this atonement as his only hope in this life and the future life, his sins are pardoned. This is justification by faith. Every believing soul is to conform his will entirely to God's will and keep in a state of repentance and contrition, exercising faith in the atoning merits of the Redeemer and advancing from strength to strength, from glory to glory.
    Pardon and justification are one and the same thing. Through faith, the believer passes from the position of a rebel, a child of sin and Satan, to the position of a loyal subject of Christ Jesus, not because of an inherent goodness, but because Christ receives him as His child by adoption. The sinner receives the forgiveness of his sins, because these sins are borne by his Substitute and Surety. The Lord speaks to His heavenly Father, saying: "This is My child, I reprieve him from the condemnation of death, giving him My life insurance policy--eternal life--because I have taken his place and have suffered for his sins. He is even My beloved son." Thus man, pardoned, and clothed with the beautiful garments of Christ's righteousness, stands faultless before God.
    The sinner may err, but he is not cast off without mercy. His only hope, however, is repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the Father's prerogative to forgive our transgressions and sins, because Christ has taken upon Himself our guilt and reprieved us, imputing to us His own righteousness. His sacrifice satisfies fully the demands of justice.
    Justification is the opposite of condemnation. God's boundless mercy is exercised toward those who are wholly undeserving. He forgives transgressions and sins for the sake of Jesus, who has become the propitiation for our sins. Through faith in Christ, the guilty transgressor is brought into favor with God and into the strong hope of life eternal.

      • William, I think you did a splendid job in both the original article and your first response to Tyler in interpreting "justification" as consistent with Galatians 2:20: "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, and the life I live.........." In Manuscript 21, quoted by Tyler above, after saying "pardon and justification are one and the same thing", EGW continued in the next sentence to identify both pardon and justification passing from being a "rebel" "to the position of a loyal subject of Christ Jesus..... as His child by adoption."
        Once justified means always justified, based on that description of pardon.
        God bless all in writing and feedback, as we study Him and His Word.

        • Tyler, Seventh Day Adventists don't believe in "once saved always saved" but this is an intellectual point only. We do believe in assurance of salvation. The promise is there that no stone will be left unturned, Jesus saves us to the uttermost.

          The attitude of Adventists toward the "once saved always saved" doctrine refers to the acknowledgement of the fact that even though we accept Jesus Christ as our Saviour, we still have free choice. In this free choice, we always have the potential to choose to walk away from Christ and not come back. This is the unpardonable sin.

          But remember also, the unpardonable sin is a state. If you do choose to walk away from Christ, he constantly pleads with you for your return. The further you walk away, there will come a time that you become set in your ways and you become deaf to those pleadings. When this happens you have no hope, but you are in a state where you wouldn't care anyway.

    • William, justification is only one part of a complex process that involves other things beside that one aspect of salvation. The letter you quote from is focused on the person's trials as a Christian. It may not seem obvious to others but to me it seems that Ellen White was discussing the man's sanctification, not his justification.

      Sanctification goes beyond justification because justification doesn't change a person it only "justifies" him. When Paul uses the experience of Abraham to argue for his thesis of justification by faith he quotes Genesis, "And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness" (Gen. 15:6 NKJV). That is the language of imputation. The Hebrew word for accounted is chashab (חָשַׁב) which means, "to think, plan, esteem, calculate, invent, make a judgment, imagine, count." That experience didn't change Abraham. What happened is that Christ's righteousness was put to Abraham's account so to speak. In other words God covered Abraham's sins and considered him without sin. Justification is instantaneous while sanctification takes a lifetime.

      To again quote Ellen White:

      Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, a day, but of a lifetime. It is not gained by a happy flight of feeling, but is the result of constantly dying to sin, and constantly living for Christ. Wrongs cannot be righted nor reformations wrought in the character by feeble, intermittent efforts. It is only by long, persevering effort, sore discipline, and stern conflict, that we shall overcome. We know not one day how strong will be our conflict the next. So long as Satan reigns, we shall have self to subdue, besetting sins to overcome; so long as life shall last, there will be no stopping place, no point which we can reach and say, I have fully attained. Sanctification is the result of lifelong obedience.
      None of the apostles and prophets ever claimed to be without sin. Men who have lived the nearest to God, men who would sacrifice life itself rather than knowingly commit a wrong act, men whom God has honored with divine light and power, have confessed the sinfulness of their nature. They have put no confidence in the flesh, have claimed no righteousness of their own, but have trusted wholly in the righteousness of Christ. (Acts of the Apostles, p 560.3)

      • Tyler, thank you for pointing out the difference between justification and sanctification. Justification is me in Christ. Sanctification is Christ in me. Justification is my deliverance from the penalty of sin. Sanctification is my deliverance from the power of sin. Justification is my title to heaven. Sanctification is my fitness for heaven. If you read some of my further comments you will see that by being justified we are not only forgiven and pardoned but also, as Wednesday May the 7th's lesson said, "The death of Jesus placed formerly sinful human beings in a right relationship with God and with His holy and righteous and good law (Rom. 7:12, NASB)."

  4. I have a lot of questions myself. In what circumstances does God declared 'man righteous'. Or do man never declared righteous but is only 'made righteous'.

    • Thank you Marva, for your comment. Of course we have no righteousness outside of Christ. But Jesus by taking human flesh restores our relationship with Christ. Many say Jesus' baptism was merely a show and tell example for the world. Well it was an example, but as Jesus took on humanity He took humanity into the the river to be baptized. When Jesus came up out of the water the Father said, "This is my Son in whom I am well pleased." The Son was representing the entire human race when the Father said this. We are accepted in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:6 This is why we are admonished to continue to live in Christ and Christ in us, because our acceptance is found in Christ, and there our relationship with God is made right.

    • Dear Marva,

      I believe that the Bible answers your question in 1 John 1:9.

      If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (NKJV)

      If and when we confess our sins, deeply regretting our past course of action, and in heart turning away from all known sin, we are declared righteous. Furthermore, God does not stop with merely declaring us righteous, but cleanses our hearts by the applied blood of Christ, and begins the lifetime process of making us holy through our newly formed union with Christ.

      What a God!

  5. Being made right does not appear to be the meaning of the Greek in Romans 5:1. Look at Romans 5:18, where we read that as by the offence of one (judgement came) upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one (the free gift came) upon all men unto justification of life.

    The objective facts are that justification was given to all men, not just those who are righteous or who will become righteous.

    Subjectively, though, only those who accept the free gift will enjoy the results of what Christ did and the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life. It is the Holy Spirit that then leads the believer in the process of sanctification.

    • You are right Gary, but remember too that in Romans 5:18 just as many as were made sinners were justified. Romans 3:23-24 tells us all who have sinned have been justified. Genesis 12:3 tells us all the families of the earth would be blessed by Abraham's seed which was referring to Christ. So in a way everyone has benefited from justification, though as you say not everyone will capitalize on the opportunity justification has provided.

      "To the death of Christ we owe even this earthly life. The bread we eat is the purchase of His broken body. The water we drink is bought by His spilled blood. Never one, saint or sinner, eats his daily food, but he is nourished by the body and the blood of Christ. The cross of Calvary is stamped on every loaf. It is reflected in every water spring. All this Christ has taught in appointing the emblems of His great sacrifice. The light shining from that Communion service in the upper chamber makes sacred the provisions for our daily life." -Desire of Ages, Page 661

  6. William in your response to Tyler's question you say you are free to make right choices. Have you never had that freedom before? Paul said in Romans 7:15 he does not understand, and in verse 25 he reiterates the struggle between both the laws of God and the laws of the flesh that continue in his body. He only knows that Jesus is the answer to his dilemma in verse 15. Romans 5:1 that you mention is what many see as the answer that is the most meanigful to our relationship with God. Here again Jesus is the answer. Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit. 1Cor 12:9

      • William, I guess what was going though my mind was, as I understand, we are able, or unrestricted, or free, to make bad choices as well. If not there would be no sin. We would be rebots. Free that Paul talks about in Romans is the absence of a law of the flesh, compared to the law of his mind. An environment, Romans 8:2. I think maybe the analogies are understood differently. Bottom line, Jesus is responsible for what ever freedoms we have.

    • Paul, it is only because of Christ's death that we are free to make choices. Sin enslaves, and, without the grace of Christ and the power it provides, we would be helpless victims without the power to choose.

  7. This, I believe is the crux of the Adventist dilemma. As far as I can tell it confuses everyone but the answer lies in the proper reading of Romans 7. Paul wrote this confession some thirty years into his ministry and he wrote it in the present tense. Adventists go through some fancy footwork to get it to say what they think it ought. He was lamenting in the present tense that he had not been changed as he desired. Then he points out that it is not he but the sin that dwells in his flesh that is responsible. So then what is the answer to the above question? Repentance is the English word used for metanoia in the Greek which means to change ones mind. Paul had changed his view on many things. His thinking was coming in line with that of his Creator. When we agree with God, we demonstrate faith in His instruction and governance. We become of one mind. However, this may not be demonstrated in the flesh. We nevertheless can claim the forgiveness regardless of our struggles and failings as does Paul. When we are acutely aware of our shortcomings it is the most difficult to grasp the hand of faith and the most necessary.
    This argument is always countered with a reference to Romans 8 and Paul's comment that "there is now no condemnation to those who walk... according to the spirit." Pages might be required to explore this even superficially but let me just say that if you study this carefully you will see that this is not a new statement but a reiteration of the previous one. The 'now' refers to what? It refers to what he has just been writing about. 'NOW' in this circumstance of which I am speaking there is no condemnation. Until we get this right we will never make sense of the workings of faith.

    • Chris, never mind the interpretation or opinion of scholars, "the answer lies in the proper reading of Romans 7". Paul understood living in the tension between faith and reality; and offers the most profound statement of that tension in the life of the Believer.
      Note: Ellen G. White, It Is Finished, pp. 758-764, in The Desire of Ages.

      "The law requires righteousness -a righteous life, a perfect character; and this man has not to give. He cannot meet the claims of God’s holy law. But Christ, coming to the earth as man, lived a holy life, and developed a perfect character. These He offers as a free gift to all who will receive them."

      Faith accepts the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as my reality, when it is not yet my reality. Faith is "evidence" of what is not yet present in my reality; but "hope" to receive, in His time.

      Justification is not a surgical removal of the "flesh", followed by a "righteous life" transplant. Justification by "faith" is present acceptance of a future reality; while present reality is that I live in the flesh, and subject to the choices of the flesh.

      So the Apostle, in his Epistle to the Ephesians, calls upon believers to put away the controls of the flesh so our wills can be sealed for redemption. Apostle John exhorts: "Sin not" but "if we sin, we have an advocate with the Father". A life of Victory is a current reality in which we overcome the lusts of the flesh through the power of Jesus Christ, through the indwelling Holy Spirit; all the while clearly knowing that "faith" is my "evidence" that I am justified, I am righteous, I am victorious, I am Son/Child of God, now and for eternity.

      Reality now? I am in sinful flesh.
      Faith now? I am justified.

      Romans 7 is profound. We must read on in Romans 8.

      • But Hurford, faith makes it a reality. Faith did not heal people for pretend even for a while, it was always for real. Jesus does not pretend to forgive us and He does not pretend to justify us. You can be pardoned without being justified. Dr. Mudd was pardoned for having any involvement in President Lincoln's death. Meanwhile his family is still fighting to this day for him to be justified and exonerated. We are more than pardoned. We are justified.

  8. Chris, many scholars agree that in Romans 7 Paul is describing his life before conversation and in chapter 8 life after conversion. Either way it is always a battle as long as we are in the flesh, but the Spirit gives us victory over the flesh. Meanwhile God continues to justify us as He continues to sanctify us. Great is His faithfulness!

    • That is my point. People believe that because that is what they have been taught, however it is not what the text says. We believe what seems like it ought to be correct regardless of the simple message of the text.

      Paul says "I do" and "I do not do" and we say that refers to the time before he was converted. Really? Of course because that is what we believe regardless of the fact that it is not what is said. We can choose what we believe but our actions will not always be in accordance with that choice.

      When it is said that we have righteousness by faith that means that we have it by believing the promise and not because we have evidence. This sounds like heresy to Adventists but it is not. It is what Jones and Wagner taught and which Ellen White endorsed and believed herself. We are declared righteous when we are not. We are made righteous at the glorification when "this corruption will put on incorruption".

      We must put ourselves on God's side. We must believe His instruction and His promises. There are consequences to coming up short. "The wages of sin is death." "All have sinned and fall short (again present tense)". The closer we follow the Light the better our life will be but we will (if we are honest) as Paul lamented, fall far short.

      I see no one has "liked" my comments so far. I am not surprised.

      [Moderator note: I wouldn't put too much stock in the "Like" status. Generally the first comments generate more "Likes" than later comments. It is a function of when people read the blog. If they read it when first published, most people don't come back to read it again, and thus they don't see the later comments - unless they left comments themselves.]

      • Chris, read Romans 5-8 as one chapter. Keep each point within context of all other points being made. Paul is very clear in his allegories and there needs to be no confusion on this matter of what he is speaking about in the first person in chapter 7. It does not stand alone, but must be seen in it's relevance to the point being made. Romans 8 is the conclusion of what Paul is trying to illustrate in the previous 2 chapters.

        When Paul wrote "I", he was saying "I...the sinner (any sinner) from birth, a human (any human) without power of myself to change my corrupt nature" (see Jer 13:23, Prov 20:9). But notice his question and answer in Romans 7:24,25! At this turning point he elaborates on this solution in Romans 8. In Romans 7 he creates the inevitable problem for every sinner, and in the final verses of that chapter and in Romans 8 he defines the solution. This all begins in Romans 6 and concludes in Romans 8.

        The point being made with his frustrating attempts to follow the will of God expressed in God's law is settled in Romans 8:7. In this context, read "Lift Him Up" p. 144.

        Every promise has a condition to meet, and Romans 5:17 is the condition for being justified/sanctified. (see also John 1:12) Paul is clear that sinning is not to continue if grace has been received by faith. I think the problem most seem to have is the meaning of "receive". Jesus give a great definition in Matt 11:28,29. If we are daily yoked (bound together with) Jesus, how can we continue in sin? Our trouble is in being fully surrendered to Christ as He was fully surrendered to His Father, as our Example. There is no other way to be justified/sanctified. Faith works, as the Holy Spirit makes clear through the pen of James. But faith must be genuine and fully exercised, or like the wretched man in Romans 7, we will meet with failure every time.

        • The whole book of Romans follows one line of thought. It is obvious that this is not a new problem. Let me approach it another way. The answer to the title question is both. We are declared righteous because it is a stated reality. As a poor example but an accurate one, when someone has the winning numbers for the lottery they go nuts. Nothing has changed. They are still in debt, maybe even overdrawn at the bank. This is their reality.... with one difference. They have a promise. A promise that they believe. We have a promise. If we believe it this will change our behavior (not always the way it ought to). We have the promise that we will be made perfect (at the glorification) but God considers it a done deal so He declares it to be a fact.

          Romans 8:7 which you suggested I read continues on Paul's theme in chapter 7. What Paul has done is to divide man into to parts, the flesh and the spirit. He laments that the flesh won't do what the spirit desires. He concludes then that the flesh is dead because it is locked in sin but the spirit is not. That is, we are able to choose what is right even when we haven't the strength to accomplish our intentions (the Romans 7 lament) which he continues to refine in 8:7. Until this distinction between the spirit and flesh is clearly understood one can make no sense of justification. It is an ahah moment which puts everything in perspective.

        • "Paul is clear that sinning is not to continue if grace has been received by faith."

          If grace has been truly received by faith -- if the Holy Spirit has begotten a new life in the soul -- continuing in sin is the LAST thing a person is going to want to do.

          A love for righteousness and holiness, with a corresponding hatred for sin, must be implanted in our hearts. We cannot produce one thread.

        • Robert, I appreciate the discussion you and Chris are having. There is much I would like to say but I must be rather brief here. The problem is that we are never actually perfect in a literal sense. John makes that clear when he says, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 Jn. 1:8 NKJV). No one in the Bible has ever claimed perfection and yet it is required. From what I see the only way that can be accomplished is by accepting the imputed righteous of Christ by faith. To me that is the key and the thing that Paul considered so vital.

          In Romans Paul's main thesis is righteousness through justification by faith which is given to us as a gift of God because of His grace. It is unearned - we don't deserve it and we can't manufacture it ourselves.

          In promoting that thesis Paul was not at all naive about what sheep are like and was very much aware of how much sheep tend to stray. He therefore sets up a series of questions and statements after stating his thesis, in fact 10 of them (Rom 3:4,6,31; 7:7,13; 9:14; 11:1-11). What he was doing was anticipating the devious mind of man and cutting off that problem as much as possible. Even then James had to enter into the debate because people were concluding that since they were righteous by faith they didn't need to be concerned about having good works. And so the problem continues on to this day.

      • You say that, "We are made righteous at the glorification when 'this corruption will put on incorruption.'" Chris, that is not how I have understood it. What I have always understood is that this life is where we determine our characters and that through justification and sanctification we are fitted up for Heaven before the Second Advent. When Jesus comes a second time, "this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality (1 Cor. 15:53 NKJV).
        The word corruption is translated from the Greek phthora (φθορά) which means, "corruption, destruction, perishing." All of us that are in our retirement years know very well what that is as our bodies deteriorate and we move steadfastly toward the grave. As for the word mortal we shouldn't have any problem with that since it simple means subject to death. Paul says nothing more than this and we all will face judgment before the Second Advent that will determine whether we go to Heaven or Hell for as the true witness says, "behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work" (Rev. 22:12 NKJV). As Ellen White states:

        We are not to settle down, expecting that a change of character will come to us by some miraculous work, when Jesus shall appear in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. No, my young friends, we are judgment-bound, and probation is granted to us here in this life, in order that we may form characters for the future, immortal life. (Sons and Daughters of God, p 9)

        Only those will enter heaven who in probationary time have formed a character that breathes a heavenly influence. The saint in heaven must first be a saint upon earth. The habits of speech, the character of our actions, put a mould upon us; and that which we cultivate in our association with others in this life, goes down into the grave with us, and will be unchanged when we come up from the grave. Many are deceiving themselves by thinking that the character will be transformed at the coming of Christ; but there will be no conversion of heart at his appearing. Our defects of character must here be repented of, and through the grace of Christ we must overcome them while probation shall last. This is the place for fitting up for the family above. (Signs of the Times, November 14, 1892, second to the last paragraph)

        • I very much appreciate your comments, Tyler. Here are my recent thoughts on the matter of justification and righteousness (or perfection). In order to justify oneself, in case of being accused, a person would have to be good or righteous in and of himself. I believe that we shall be in such a state in the hereafter. This is how I perceive the ultimate meaning of Luke 16:12.

          And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? (NKJV)

          In this life we have no righteousness of our own. Christian perfection, attainable in this life, consists 100% in borrowed righteousness. In and of ourselves, even if perfected in character, we are nothing but sinful. Hence, until glorified, we remain totally dependent on the righteousness of Christ reckoned to us by faith.

  9. I see the problem of our failure to live a fully righteous life as Paul did resolved by the marriage of the lamb with his church. We are accepted in heaven not because of who we are but in spite of who we are. We are accepted as the bride of Jesus and because we have accepted his proposal of marriage and so are now bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. We get to inherit his kingdom and rule with him.

  10. "Declared" right or "made" right presents an unnecessary conflict. Justification has been provided for everyone since Jesus Christ opened the way into the Holiest. It is received immediately by "whosoever", upon acceptance by faith. The acceptance of the righteousness of Jesus Christ is only true if it is a commitment to be made right by the Holy Spirit, through transformation and renewal. Galatians 3, Ephesians 3: We begin by the Holy Spirit, we live by the Holy Spirit, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit. We are justified when we come to the altar, through our daily lives, and finally when faith meets reality at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. May we all have that kind of "evidence".

    • Hurford, I think the difference is that just "declared right" is considered a "legal fiction" that does not match reality.

      The emphasis of "made right" is that a real change takes place in the sinner who accepts the justification provided by Christ. That is the new birth. In real life, justification cannot be separated from the new birth/new heart reality. And that is a real change which is demonstrated by a change of the direction of the person's life.

      • On the other hand, Inge, that new birth does nothing to place us in a position to justify ourselves. We are still far from perfect, making it necessary that the righteousness of Christ be imputed (or accounted) to us. Because we have now given ourselves to Christ, to live (or learn to live) in union with Him, God has the right to reckon His righteousness as ours.

        As an accountant, I am familiar with "imputed interest." In such a case, the actual contract calls for no interest (or a lower rate of interest). However, interest is imputed because, all in all, the imputation of interest best reflects the greater reality of the contract.

        In the same way, I believe, imputing the righteousness of Christ to the penitent believer reflects the greater reality that the grace of God will eventually perfect him or her in holiness. Absent the peace with God that this imputed righteousness provides for the believer, there would be no opportunity for this growth in grace.

        • Do I really want the physician to take all of my records and replace them with someone else's? What good does that do me in my healing?

        • Agree Larry. The record is only valid if it reflects the reality. And with Salvation it does! If not, it's fake.

        • When we choose to unite with Christ, His record becomes ours. So does His death, and so does His resurrection.

        • R.G., please explain how His death becomes ours. I'm not sure I have heard that before. However, there are those around here that have said we died with(in) Jesus, and I have wondered why they say that. Are you saying what they are saying? If so, why? What does that mean?

          I have always thought He died so I would not have to. I see Isaac walking back home with Abraham while the ram's ashes cooled on the altar. Though the knife was raised to take Isaac's life, he never felt it's blade. I have never felt the wrath of God and by His grace never will.
          If we died with Jesus, we would never be raised since we have sinned. Jesus' own righteousness allowed Him to live again while my sin would have left me in the tomb forever. Then we must wonder why Jesus would have to die....etc.

          However, do you refer to "the likeness of His death"? That I understand to mean entire submission to God's will, no matter what.
          Is that how you mean it?

        • Good questions, Robert. I believe that we are to count ourselves to have died with Christ, so that we intend no longer to live for ourselves, but for Him. This reckoning is an act of faith, and the power of the Holy Spirit will "resurrect" us to a new life in Christ.

          Key texts:

          Colossians 3:1-4

          II Corinthians 5:14-15

          If we are truly "in Christ," then His righteousness imputed to our account is no "legal fiction." He is totally identified with us, and we with him.

          Think of it this way. If I have $10,000 in savings as my net worth, and I marry a woman whose net worth is a negative (a debt of) $5,000, is it a legal fiction to say that she is no longer in debt? Of course not. Our interests are now united, and our net worth is a positive $5,000.

      • In that case, Inge, declared right applies to the entire race. The human race has been justified by the death of Christ. Made right only applies to those who believe it.

        • Shorey, The Bible is clear, that both Justification and Sanctification are by faith, and not naturally occurring to just anyone, though offered to everyone. Only those who receive the gift can benefit from it. This reception is clearly defined as being a required action and will be seen in the changed life. There is no salvation by any other means than our acceptance of God's grace through faith. Faith is revealed in resulting works. A seed planted in good soil will grow to full maturity, because we are promised that the Seed is good.

          • I'm not disagreeing here Robert, but adding that in Romans 32-24 all who have sinned have also been justified at least for a probationary time. God told Abraham in Genesis 12:3 that all families would be blessed by his seed, the Messiah. The believer and unbeliever both owe their life today to the cross. Now as you say, not everyone will have faith and accept His grace for a life beyond this life.

        • William, Romans 3:22 has the condition that must be met in order to enjoy the benefits of God's grace through Christ as our propitiation. God's grace has "appeared to all men", but will only work in those who believe/accept this grace. (See also John 1:12, Romans 1:16, Titus 2:11-14, etc.)

        • William, I just now understood (I think) what you meant in being temporarily justified. I'm taking that to mean a probationary time to accept God's offer of salvation, and not true justification, which has specific conditions to receive it's benefits.

    • I think it would behoove us to read the Bible as a whole and relate Paul's words and concepts to how Jesus would say things. It would place it in terms that are a less cold, court-room style. For example, Luke 15 quotes Jesus describing joy in heaven, celebrating when someone comes back to God. The father celebrates and holds a party, the message being that heaven and God are essentially giving a two-thumbs up and rejoicing when any one of His children come to faith in Him. God is essentially saying, "That's good. You're heading in the right direction. That's exactly what I want to see--faith, trust, and a willingness to listen. I can bring healing and regeneration to you." And, as Jesus said more than once to someone who trusted in Him for healing, "Your faith has saved/healed you." In other words, that's what God wants to see and He rejoices in it. That's what enables Him to work. So declare right and make right do indeed work together in one's experience. They happen organically, naturally, together.

  11. You are right Hurford, it is an unnecessary conflict. The point is simply that justification is a reality. Justification means being "just" and "right" and not just forgiven. A pardoned criminal is not justified. Jesus not only forgives us, but He clears our name, thus justifying us. "I have a most earnest desire that you shall enter the city of God, not as a culprit barely pardoned, but as a conqueror." Testimonies to to the church. Vol. 8, Page 126

  12. I for one am in favor of translating those big, Latin-based English words that Paul never used (he spoke in Greek) and use simpler concepts that children could understand. I love the way Ellen White described salvation in the following references. Yes, she used the big words, but she wasn't limited to those. Note the following:

    "The atonement of Christ is not a mere skillful way to have our sins pardoned; it is a divine remedy for the cure of transgression and the restoration of spiritual health. It is the Heaven-ordained means by which the righteousness of Christ may be not only upon us but in our hearts and characters." (Letter 406, 1906). – {6BC 1074.2}

    "But man was deceived; his mind was darkened by Satan’s sophistry. The height and depth of the love of God he did not know. For him there was hope in a knowledge of God’s love. By beholding His character he might be drawn back to God." – {DA 761.5}

    "The only way in which he could set and keep men right was to make himself visible and familiar to their eyes. That men might have salvation he came directly to man, and became a partaker of his nature." – {Signs of the Times, January 20, 1890 Par. 6}

    "Christ exalted the character of God, attributing to him the praise, and giving to him the credit, of the whole purpose of his own mission on earth,—to set men right through the revelation of God. . . When the object of his mission was attained,—the revelation of God to the world,—the Son of God announced that his work was accomplished, and that the character of the Father was made manifest to men." – {Signs of the Times, January 20, 1890 Par. 9}

    • Also note the quote from Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p 114:

      "But forgiveness has a broader meaning than many suppose... God's forgiveness is not merely a judicial act by which He sets us free from condemnation. It is not only forgiveness for sin, but reclaiming from sin. It is the outflow of redeeming love that transforms the heart."

    • Paul like everything else we deal with we can take things too far and end up with less than what we could have had. We could reduce the Bible to just two verses:

      For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (Jn 3:16 NKJV)

      If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1Jn 1:9 NKJV)

      We could then ask ourselves why we need the rest of the Bible and end up throwing out everything else but the two verses. The question is would that be beneficial?

      • The short answer is "no" Tyler. The condition of "whoever believes in Him" cannot be fulfilled with just the knowledge these two verses give us alone. We need to know what to believe in, and to understand what true belief is/does. Without that, these verses are empty. The law is a teacher (Gal 3:24, Prov 2:1-5, etc) and without this knowledge, we don't know what to confess or what to believe in. Jesus, as our Example, "increased in wisdom...and in favor with God and man". Proverbs 3:1-4 tells us how we follow His example. Keep in mind, Jesus is the "end" of the law, or the "sum". We need both old and new testaments. Those two verses are vital to understand, but only if we understand WHY they are vital.

        If we didn't need the rest of scripture, would God have given it? Remember "all scripture is from God". Not Paul. 🙂

        • Robert, I think I know what you are trying to get at, but the way you are saying it bothers me. Those two verses quoted by Tyler are a pretty good summary and do stand on their own as such. They do spell out what to believe.

          They don't spell out who is God and why there is a sin problem. It is the who and the why that leads us to the what. I can tell you what to believe. But who am I that I should know. I can tell you why to believe. But who am I pointing to as an authority.

          The rest of the Bible tells us who God is. You talk about the law in the context of the what. But without knowing the who, the law is miss-interpreted. The law on the other hand does give us part of the why, it doesn't give us the what.

          Who is God?
          He is the Creator of the universe. Love is His character and He rules accordingly. He is an example for all His subjects.

          Why is there sin?
          Someone decided not to love any more. They started a rebellion against God claiming that loving is impossible to do. They miss-interpreted God's declaration of love to be something other than what it is.

          What is done about it?
          Going against God's declaration of love leads to self destruction. But, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (Jn 3:16 NKJV)

          If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1Jn 1:9 NKJV)

      • Actually, Tyler, with all due respect, the intent of what I explained is to broaden our perspective in order to include Jesus' way of describing the atonement. When we do that I think it helps us to explain it more easily to even children. And that has the opposite effect of reducing our understanding of the Bible, but rather to enlarge it. Or do you think the apostle Paul had a better understanding of salvation than Jesus did? 🙂 The fact is, Jesus didn't use the same terms as the Apostle Paul did. Ultimately, I think we'd be better off understanding salvation from more than just books like Romans, as wonderful as those books are. Why not read the Bible as a whole as EGW counsels us and discover that it is we who are narrow-sighted? She had a very broad understanding of the gospel, more than we give her credit for. I think it is we who are so prone to reducing the gospel to a mechanical and humanistic way of thinking, instead of a living, vibrant, real relationship with God. For example, Jesus didn't say to Nicodemus, "unless you are forgiven." He said, "unless you are born again.” Mrs. White certainly used the terms that many here are debating the meaning of, but she also used other words: “remedy," “cure," "set right," and "keep right." And that's because she wasn't merely looking at the trees, but also at the forest.

        • Paul, basically you are fully in line with what William is saying and I really must agree with both you to a very great degree. What he is saying is that the gospel needs to be simple, and yes it should be especially to those new in the faith but we should be growing in our understanding. My only concern is that while we start with simplicity we don’t stay there indefinitely. As a child grows and learns and his world enlarges, things usually don’t get simpler but rather more complex with exceptions and problems that are more involved. To quote someone who was much wiser than I will ever be that was speaking to those of his generation, “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, And fools hate knowledge” (Prov 1:22 NKJV). I don’t think he said that about children neither can I imagine him trying to teach a small child advanced philosophy.

          To me the problem happens when an adult is fully capable of understanding something beyond the foundations and yet refuses to because he has to expend a little effort. As far as I am concerned, to such people Satan is waiting with a full array of traps that are easily set because the person has neglected to take the time to study and find out what the truth is. Under those circumstances I don’t think that God is going to restrain Satan as much as He would under normal circumstances (Ref. 1 Cor 10:13).

          The writer of Hebrews also seems to have faced this same problem with those he was writing to when speaking of Christ:

          And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called by God as High Priest "according to the order of Melchizedek," of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Heb 5:9-14 NKJV)

          Do I “think the apostle Paul had a better understanding of salvation than Jesus did,” no, of course not. I do think that both Jesus and Paul used appropriate terms within the environmental context they were in. For instance, to Nicodemus Jesus used the phrase “born again” because that was a theological concept well known to well educated Jews. Nicodemus was familiar with it even though he along with the rest of the Jews were misapplying in a way to exclude themselves from its claims. Again, when Paul faced the philosophers on Mars Hill at Athens I doubt he was dealing with kindergarten terminology and concepts. But when dealing with children or with those with very little education it was a vastly different story.

          If I am to be charged with anything perhaps it is that I tend to speak more to those already in the church especially those who are settled in the faith and seem to neglect others that have needs too. It is my hope that people like you and William and Jane and Inge will see the need that I have failed to bridge and will put things in ways that the newbie and less talented can better understand.

  13. What is "justification of faith?" It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it in not in his power to do for himself. For example. if I am a compulsive liar, I cannot stop lying. I may stop for one or two hours just to return to my old ways. With the help of the Holy Ghost and the relationship we form, I do not want to lie anymore because the spirit of Satan no more lives in me but Jesus now lives in me. Jesus newer tells lies but lies is of Satan. If I cont telling lies them can I claim that I am "justified by faith"?

    • I believe that the key word here is "continue." To my mind this implies the intent to go on telling lies, not the occasional slip-up for which one is deeply sorry. With the question thus clarified, I believe the obvious answer is NO. The imputed righteousness of Christ will not cover one cherished sin.

  14. Justification declared Romans 4:6-7 ( God imputes his righteousness, Forgiving lawless deeds, Sins our covered) represents the altar of burn offering in the courtyard of Hebrew sanctuary.Justification experienced Titus 3:5-7 according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost which represent the laver in the Hebrew Sanctuary.Regeneration or Born again experience completes justification .Look carefully at how God saves us. The washing of regeneration does not refer to the waters of baptism, but to the washing of the heart. This is a heart experience--a complete transformation. It happens in the mind. It changes my values and my attitudes. The Holy Spirit renews my mind. No longer am I self-centered; now I am Christ-centered and others-centered. Now I have the mind of Christ.

    When this washing and renewing have been accomplished by Christ and the Holy Spirit, then I am justified and saved. There is more to justification than being pardoned from past sins. This is justification experienced in the inward life. It is crucial to understand that justification follows regeneration and renewing.

    To be pardoned in the way that Christ pardons is not only to be forgiven, but to be renewed in the spirit of our mind. The Lord says, 'A new heart will I give unto thee.' The image of Christ is to be stamped upon the very mind, heart, and soul." (Review and Herald, August 19, 1890)

    • I see no basis in Scripture for the statement that "It is crucial to understand that justification follows regeneration and renewing." In fact, I believe this statement to be misleading, because it implies that we have a part to play in justification beyond coming to Christ in faith and trust.

      Indeed, at the very moment we come to Him in faith, Christ freely gives us His righteousness as we give up our "filthy rags" to Him. At the same time that He justifies us by giving us His righteousness, He gives us a new heart - which is an implanting of new spiritual desires. Yet, He does not take our sinful nature from us, and we will experience a conflict between the two natures. As we choose to continually yield our will to Christ, are we sanctified. But even as we are being sanctified, we will continuously need the justification that only Christ's death affords. None of our own deeds contribute in any way to this justification. Any good deeds we do flow from the new nature that Christ implanted and thus result from justification, rather than contributing to it.

      Ellen White summarizes the experience of justification when she writes:

      "When God pardons the sinner, remits the punishment he deserves, and treats him as though he had not sinned, He receives him into divine favor, and justifies him through the merits of Christ’s righteousness. The sinner can be justified only through faith in the atonement made through God’s dear Son, who became a sacrifice for the sins of the guilty world. No one can be justified by any works of his own. He can be delivered from the guilt of sin, from the condemnation of the law, from the penalty of transgression, only by virtue of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ. Faith is the only condition upon which justification can be obtained, and faith includes not only belief but trust. (1 Selected Messages, p. 389)"

      • Inge, I agree with your comments, yet I understand what Rhys is saying as well. They are in harmony if you see it correctly. I understand that as given, Rhys' comment could be misunderstood.

        In the end, if we are not regenerated, there will be no justification, which the regeneration is evidence of. Even the thief on the cross demonstrated a regeneration didn't he? 🙂 The psalmist says; "He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord."[as a result of our regeneration!] This is how we are his witnesses.

        For the points you make, the experience of the prodigal son illustrates them very well doesn't it?! This shows the meaning of Jesus message: "Repent and believe the Gospel!" The rest will follow if we truly believe in the Lamb of God, and not our carefully stitched fig leaves, to make us right with God.

  15. I had no choice in what Adam did but it resulted in me being made a sinner. Similarly, I had no choice in what Christ did but His death resulted in me being justified - declared right. Now it's up to me to believe it. That's what the Bible says.

  16. I feel we are in danger like the Jews of serving the letter of the law instead of the Spirit of the law which is God. The problem is how to reconcile the righteousness of God with fallen man. Only Jesus,who willingly gave his life for us on the cross, stretching out his hands so as to grasp the hand of man and the hand of God at the same time, is able to make that reconciliation possible.

  17. Why didn't anyone answer Marva on May 10th I believe. She asks a simple question. A practical, A, B C, 1, 2, 3 question. One that is asked all the time in Sabbath School. Can someone answer her question In practical, relevant and simple terms? Not the SDA 3 paragraph answer, but something that can resonate. She uses "complusive liar". You can substitute anything you want: Overeating, Lack of Exercise, Bad Language, Grumpy/Snarly, Superiority Complex, Nastiness, Depression, and the list goes on. You note I did not choose drinking/smoking/drugging because God often gives instant release from these chains, but sometimes he doesn't. I offered up things that, to me, feel more in line with Marva's original "compulsive liar". Please this is a real question and needs a real simple answer. Thank you.

    • Katrina, why didn't you answer her? You seem to have thought about it, and it seems you should have been able to answer her.

      But to be fair the short answer is, "It depends."

    • Katrina, Marva was not asking a question, but making a point. Notice the number if "likes" to her comment. The short answer she implies is "no!".


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