Rich, historic truths on the central article of our faith - which you can get really bang into your head!
3. 1By His obedience and death Christ paid in full the debt of all those who are justified. 2By the sacrifice of Himself in His blood-shedding on Calvary, and His suffering on their behalf of the penalty they had incurred, He fully and absolutely satisfied all the claims which God’s justice had upon them. 3Yet their justification is altogether of free grace, firstly because Christ was the free gift of the Father to act on their behalf; secondly because Christ’s obedience and His satisfying the demands of the Law was freely accepted on His behalf; and thirdly, because nothing in them merited His mercies. 4 Hence God’s exact justice and His rich grace are alike rendered glorious in the justification of sinners.
Is. 53.5-6, Rom. 3.26, 8.32, 2 Cor. 5.21, Eph. 1.6, 7, 2.7, Heb. 10.14, 1 Pe. 1.18, 19
1. 1God freely justifies the persons whom He effectually calls. 2He does this, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins and by accounting them, and accepting them, as righteous. 3This He does for Christ’s sake alone, and not for anything wrought in them or done by them. 4This righteousness which is imputed to them, that is, reckoned to their account, is neither their faith nor the act of believing nor any other obedience to the Gospel which they have rendered, but Christ’s obedience alone. 5Christ’s one obedience is twofold – His active obedience rendered to the divine law, and His passive obedience rendered in His death. 6Those justified receive and rest by faith upon Christ’s righteousness; and this faith they have, not of themselves, but as the gift of God.
John 1.12, Ro. 3.24, 4.5-8, 5.17-19, 8.30, 1 Cor. 1.30, 31, Eph. 1.7, 2.8-10, Phil. 3.8-9.
2. 1The faith which receives and rests on Christ and His righteousness is the sole means of justification. 2Yet it is never alone in the person justified, but is invariably accompanied by all other saving graces. 3Nor is it a dead faith, for it works by love.
Ro. 3.28, Gal. 5.6, Jas. 2.17, 22, 26
The Heidelberg Catechism Question 60
Question: How are you right with God?
Answer: Only by true faith in Jesus Christ. My conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned against all God’s commandments and of never having kept any of them, and I am inclined toward all evil. Nevertheless, without my deserving it at all, out of sheer grace, God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ. It is as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, and as if I had been as perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me. All I need to do is to accept this gift of God with a believing heart.
i. Our Confession chapter doesn’t define justification, but instead it explores it. Look at the Heidelberg Catechism Q&A above. What strikes you about the answer? What parts of the answer do you most need to dwell on, and why?
ii. Conf. 3.1-2. Why is God’s justice such a problem to us, and how does Jesus make us just in God’s sight?
iii. What are the three ways in which Conf. 3.3-4 assures us that we are freely justified?
iv. What is the link between God’s call and our justification, in Conf.1.1?
v. Look at Conf. 1.2-3. What is God’s righteousness? How does God accept us as righteous?
vi. Look at Conf. 1.4. What does being made righteous depend on? What does it not depend on? And why is this such good news?!
vii. In 2.1-3 what mistake is the Confession guarding us against about being made right with God? Give one clear Bible reference which helps us here.
viii. Look at the following quote. Are you a Gospel head-banger? If not, what might you be missing out on…?
Martin Luther and Gospel Head-Banging
“I must listen to the gospel, which teaches me, not what I ought to do, (for that is the proper office of the law), but what Jesus Christ the Son of God has done for me: that He suffered and died to deliver me from sin and death. The gospel wills me to receive this, and to believe it. And this is the truth of the gospel. It is also the principal article of all Christian doctrine, wherein the knowledge of all godliness consists. It is most necessary, therefore, that we should know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.”