Christians throw around Bible jargon often, but I’ve often wondered a couple of things regarding that practice. First, do the Christians who use those words truly know what the words mean? And second, do people who are new to Christianity, or are curious about it, know what those words mean? This blog series will attempt to give brief explanations for common Christian jargon.
Todays’ word: Justification
If we’re going to give faithful explanations for these words, we MUST start with the Bible. Read each verse and note how the word (or the form of the word) is used.
For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. - Romans 3:28
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…Rom. 5:1
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! - Rom. 5:9
Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. - Rom. 5:18-19
However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. - Rom. 4:5
So what do we learn about “justification” through these verses?
How do we put this all together?
Justification is God declaring the ungodly to be righteous and at peace with Him through their faith in Jesus’ obedient life and death.
In our natural state, at conception (Ps. 51:5), we are sinful and “at war” with God. Therefore, nobody is born into this world a “Christian.” A Christian is someone who has been “justified.” A Christian is someone who has been made “righteous” not by living a moral life, but by believing, having faith in, the perfect life of obedience Jesus lived and the sacrificial death he died. Such a person has been "justified."
Scientist: I establish what is true based on science. Science is my highest authority.
Question: How do you determine science is your highest authority?
Scientist: Through science.
Christian: I establish what is true based on Scripture. Scripture is my highest authority.
Question: How do you determine Scripture is your highest authority?
Christian: Through Scripture.
Imagine a conversation like this:
Skeptic: I don’t believe in Christianity.
Christian: Why not?
Skeptic: Because science can prove some of the stuff in the Bible isn’t possible. There’s no way it could have happened.
Christian: So science is what you use to determine what is true?
Christian: How did you decide science is what you would use to determine what is true? How did you go about making that decision?
Skeptic: I don’t know. I guess I found it compelling.
Christian: So you decided you would use science to determine what is true?
Christian: Am I permitted the same privilege?
Skeptic: What privilege?
Christian: The privilege of, like you, deciding for myself what I will use to determine what is true?
Skeptic: I guess so. I don’t want refuse you something I grant to myself.
Christian: Great! I choose Scripture. Scripture is what I’ll use to determine what is true. Scripture says Jesus died on the cross and was raised three days later.
Skeptic: Not possible!
Christian: Why not?
Skeptic: Science can prove it.
Christian: Wait a minute. You’re using your self-declared highest authority to critique my self-declared highest authority. Is that a privilege you will grant to me also?
Skeptic: What privilege?
Christian: You just used your highest authority, science, to critique my highest authority. Am I permitted that privilege as well?
Skeptic: I guess so. I don’t want to refuse you something I grant to myself.
Christian: Great! Jesus died on the cross and was raised three days later because my highest authority clearly says so.
Say the scientist questions the Christian's highest authority and dismisses it. A possible response the Christian could use is: "on what basis are you dismissing my highest authority?" The scientist would likely say, "Science." Response: why is your highest authority allowed to critique my highest authority? Is my highest authority allowed to critique your highest authority? Why are you allowing yourself to subordinate my highest authority to yours, but I’m not allowed to subordinate your highest authority to mine? You grant yourself the privilege of declaring what you want your highest authority to be, but you are refusing to give the same privilege to me.