Article for publication week of 7-4-2012 AD)
“Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth” (Romans 8:33). For several weeks now we have been considering Job’s tremendous question in Job 9:2, “how shall man be just with God?” We have considered the eternal importance of the question, and shown clearly from the scriptures that man cannot be just with God by his own works or merits. We are now ready to proceed to the doctrine of justification itself.
Our text for this week tells us that it is God Himself that justifies a person. Justification is an act of God. It is God Himself Who acts in justifying a person. We have already proven that a fallen man can perform no act that will give him a righteous standing before God. All our righteousnesses are but filthy rags; we have all sinned and come short of God’s glory; we are unprofitable servants; there are none righteous among the fallen children of Adam. Salvation is of the Lord, and is not a joint effort between God and man.
Secondly, we see that justification is a covenantal act of the Triune God. Only the God of the Bible can justify a poor sinner. It is God that justifies. That is, the Triune, eternal, immutable, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign and Thrice Holy God of the Bible justifies His people. Justification is an act of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit Who are One in essence and purpose.
Thirdly, Justification is a sovereign act of God. God is under no obligation to justify any of us. God will have mercy upon whom He will (Romans 9:15). Our text proclaims the absolute sovereignty of God in justification for it is His elect people that God justifies. Our justification rests on the strong foundation of God’s eternal decree of election.
Fourthly, justification is an eternal act of God. Since it is God Himself who justifies, justification is something that is completely without a sinner. Indeed, there is no good thing in any sinner (Romans 7:18). Since the grounds for justification resides wholly in the Triune God, and there is no good thing in any of us, we must see that God does not justify us as a response to some act of our own. This is a vital scriptural concept that you need to embrace. Now, if justification is solely an act of God, and nothing is found in the sinner to move God to justify him, then this must be an eternal act of God.
Finally, justification is a gracious act of God. God justifies us freely by His grace (Romans 3:24). Justification is by grace alone. This is the reason true ministers of the gospel often say “sovereign grace.” Justification is by the unmerited favour of God toward undeserving, ill deserving, hell deserving sinners. It is God that justifies!