If you ask the nominal professing Christian to give you a Scriptural definition of justification, many of them don’t even know what justification is; much less understand the ABSOLUTE NECESSITY of believing this Biblical truth. The Apostle Paul said: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved” (Rom.10:1). These people that Paul declared to be lost, knew the absolute necessity of justification before God, but their ignorance of HOW God justified the ungodly based on the imputed righteousness of Christ alone, revealed the fact they were lost – “For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God”(Vs.2). The Scriptures conclude that to be ignorant (void of knowledge) of HOW God can be “a just God and a Saviour”, is to be lost. Anytime a sinner is ignorant of “God’s Righteousness”, i.e., that righteousness established solely by Christ’s work of redemption at Calvary for the justification of His elect, they will always be “going about to establish their own righteousness” by their obedience, morality, and as in our generation, by their faith.
In the Scripture, the term justification means “to declare or pronounce one to be righteous or holy before God” (Strong’s Concordance). We see this in Acts 13:38.39, where the Apostle Paul declared the Gospel to the Jews – “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man (Christ the Lord) is preached (declared) unto you the forgiveness of sins.” In other words, Paul told them that the only way of salvation was through the WORK OF CHRIST ALONE. Notice Vs.39 – “And by Him (by His power) all that believe (literally, are persuaded) are (not will be, but are already) justified (declared legally righteous according to God’s Law and Justice) from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” From the last part of this verse we see that justification cannot be obtained by personal obedience to the law. Therefore the ground or cause for justification (being declared legally righteous and holy before God) cannot be personal obedience, sincerity of religion (the Jews had a “zeal for God”), or even faith. The ONLY ground, hope, or cause of JUSTIFICATION is Christ’s finished work of redemption at Calvary – “Being justified (declared legally righteous) freely (as a gift) by His grace (unmerited favor) THROUGH THE REDEMPTION THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS” (Rom.3:24). The ground of justification is the work of redemption performed solely by Christ alone though His substitutionary death at Calvary. This work of redemption JUSTIFIED all the elect, ONCE FOR ALL, at Calvary. To God be all the praise, glory and honor for His glorious grace.