Justification by Faith
Warren E. Berkley
What do you think when you hear the phrase, “justification by faith?” Some may associate this with the doctrine of salvation by faith only. This is one of the underlying tenets of modern denominational creeds. The essence of it is the assertion that faith in your heart (before and apart from any action) is the single condition of salvation. It is commonly taught by modern evangelists: “Just believe in Christ.”
It is a curious matter that those who so teach almost always urge people to repent. In their creeds they write “faith only,” but in their practical instruction they add repentance. If you are counting, that’s two conditions not one.
Also, they omit baptism. The apostle Peter told sinners to believe, repent and be baptized (see Acts 2:36-40). He preached Christ to sinners and gave them these instructions about responding: believe, repent and be baptized. Then what? Continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2;42).
Regardless of what modern preachers say, add or omit – this is what the apostles taught, and this can be described as justification by faith. This is developed in clear detail in the book of Romans, especially in chapters three, four and five. One way to think of it is – hear, believe and obey! This is what Abraham did (though he had sinned). This is what we must do (though we have sinned). Salvation is offered, based on who Jesus is and what He did. Salvation is personally received when you hear the gospel, believe in Christ and obey Him (initially and thereafter). This is the New Testament doctrine of justification by faith.
It is the means by which we can have “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Romans 5:1).