Volume. XXXii, No. 29
Sunday, 14 January 2018

From the Pastor’s Heart: Justification

I chose the subject of justification to be my first message in this new year.  Until not too long ago, it was not an unfamiliar doctrine, but the best known and the most blessed doctrine that many Christians cherished.  However, a high level of ignorance of this doctrine dominates the rank and file of church goers today.  It used to be a precious theme message from many pulpits, but it is now an almost forgotten doctrine amongst the professing believers of Christ.  The Bible declares that God justifies the ungodly.  We are familiar with its tone and wording, but do not deeply appreciate what it actually means and how we should apply it to our Christian faith and living.  One of the reasons that many of us are ignorant of this doctrine is that it takes much effort on the part of the preachers to deal with it deeply and go into detail of its lessons. On the part of the hearers, it requires much effort and thinking to fully digest its meaning.  Ordinary believers do not have the patience to consider its teaching, though they need to gird up the loins of their minds and seek to prayerfully understand its lessons. 

As with all doctrinal teachings, there are two sides: one is the literal doctrinal side of the truth, while the other is its practical side.  It sounds a bit strange to dissect any biblical truth into two parts: doctrinal and practical.  This division gives us the wrong impression that doctrines are not practical.  However, it should not be so.  When Paul wrote his epistles, he usually discusses doctrines first and practical applications later.  It is because we need a conceptual understanding of each doctrine in order to properly apply it to our spiritual and daily life.  Paul does not forget to remind us in 2 Timothy 3:16 that all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.  Thus, we can confidently say that biblical doctrines are also practical. 

There are a few things we need to consider in order to fully understand the doctrine of justification.  First, we must be willing to think and to give mental effort to grasp this doctrine intelligently.  A prayerful heart is, of course, an absolute necessity.  A reason that we should be willing to think and meditate on it is because the justification of the ungodly by God is not an abstract speculation but a stated and declared fact.  Second, we must widen and deepen our understanding of the other parts of the biblical doctrines including God, man, sin, redemption, Savior, forgiveness of sin, and etc.  It is because all of them are related to the doctrine of justification.  For example, why man must be justified can be answered with a correct understanding of man and his nature.  In order to understand man and his nature, we should understand sin, depravity, and the inability of man.  Questions and answers must go on and on. 

Abraham Booth aptly explained the above point in his writing, “The Reign of Grace” (Written in 1768), as follows: “Far from being a merely speculative point, it spreads its influence through the whole body of divinity (theology), runs through all Christian experience, and operates in every part of practical godliness.  Such is its grand importance, that a mistake about it has a malignant efficacy, and is attended with a long train of dangerous consequences.  Nor can this appear strange, when it is considered, that this doctrine of justification is no other than the way of a sinner’s acceptance with God, being of such peculiar moment, it is inseparably connected with many other evangelical truths, the harmony and beauty of which we cannot behold, while this is misunderstood.  Till this appears in its glory, they will be involved in darkness.  It is, if anything may be so called, a fundamental article; and certainly requires our most serious consideration” (cited by Arthur W. Pink, The Doctrine of Election and Justification, New Ipswich, NH: Pietan Publications, 1974, 186-87). 

The doctrine of justification displays and demonstrates nothing but the glory of God.  It tells us of the goodness of God.  His goodness is even infinite.  He, out of His goodness, procured salvation freely for the lost, miserable, and corrupt man, to the praise of the glory of His grace as in Ephesians 1:6.  He, out of perfect justice, executes justice to sin and trespasses.  Thus, the mediator received every punishment according to the sins of the mediated and served divine justice, by which God shows that He is just and the justifier as Romans 3:26 says, “To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”  His mercy is immeasurable through His forgiveness.  Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.”  We cannot think of justification without having a deep appreciation of God Himself. 

The righteousness we are imputed with through His grace of justification is neither small nor forgettable.  One of the most outstanding verses I can think of is 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”  We are made the righteousness of God in Christ.  It means that the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf has perfectly satisfied the wrath of God and He was appeased.  2 Peter 1:1 says of the ones who believe: “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”  How could it be possible that we obtained the precious faith through the righteousness of God and at the same time we are made the righteousness of God?  One thing is for sure.  It is that the righteousness of God we are made does not refer to our perfection in the flesh.  Who amongst us, the believers of God, would say that he/she/they are perfect since the day of their salvation?  Paul’s confession in Romans 7 is not strange to us at all.  Romans 7:15, “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.”  Romans 7:19, “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”  If the righteousness of God, which we have become, is not doing the good that we desire to do, but the evil that we do not will to do, then it is very obvious that the righteousness of God we have become does not mean that we became perfect and sinless beings in the flesh.  Then, how should we understand this righteousness of God?  Hence comes the important teaching of the imputation of the righteousness of God, or forensic righteousness.  God does not see us righteous because we are perfect.  We must remember that Jesus died while we were yet sinners.  He died for the ungodly.  The righteousness of God is not imparted into us so that we must work out our perfect righteousness for ourselves.  Instead, the righteousness of God is imputed to us.  It means that we are righteous by believing in Jesus and His righteousness, not by gaining it through our works.  No one is righteous in the world, and there is no one who is able to work out his own righteousness.  Thus, our righteousness is also a fruit of the grace of God, not of our works. 

W. Cunningham said, “This [doctrine of justification] was the great fundamental distinguishing doctrine of the Reformation, and was regarded by all the Reformers as of primary and paramount importance. The leading charge which they adduced against the Church of Rome was, that she had corrupted and perverted the doctrine of Scripture upon this subject, in a way that was dangerous to the souls of men; and it was mainly by the exposition, enforcement, and application of the true doctrine of God’s Word in regard to it, that they assailed and overturned the leading doctrines and practices of the Papal system. There is no subject which possesses more of intrinsic importance than attaches to this one, and there is none with respect to which the Reformers were more thoroughly harmonious in their sentiments.” 

We may consider this teaching a bit more next time.


Your Pastor



More Lively Hope



  • Church Theme this year is “Take Heed” from 1 Timothy 4:16.
  • Thank you to those who organised and participated at the outreach to Alwyndor Aged Care last Lord’s Day.
  • Welcome back from Cambodia Missions (1st Team).
  • Cambodia Missions 2nd Team :  16-23, 25-31 Jan.
  • Laos Missions:  23-25 Jan.
  • Those who completed BBK course & would like to have Baptism, Re-Affirmation of Faith or Membership Transfer, please see the Elders by 28 Jan.
  • Kitchen Duty helpers - This week: Team B. Next week: Team C.



  • Healing: For those who are sick and those who are recuperating.
  • Journey mercies: Cambodia Missions 2nd Team (Sihanoukville);  & others who are travelling.
  • Cambodia Missions: God’s guidance, protection & wisdom for 2nd team.
  • Laos Missions: God’s guidance, protection & wisdom.

Praise & Thanksgiving

  • Journey mercies: For all who have travelled.
  • Music Ministry, Gospel preached & participants at Alwyndor Aged Care last Lord’s Day.
  • Fruitful ministry of those who went to Cambodia.





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