WE hear almost everything preached today from legalism to
"monkeyshines," or evolution, but how seldom do we hear a real solid message on
Paul's grand doctrine of "justification?" Just recently I received a letter from
a dear saint of God, well past the half century mark in life, saying, "I do not
recollect of ever hearing a message on justification." This certainly is a pitiable
condition, and I venture the assertion there will be many who will read this article, who
never heard a sermon preached on the subject.
Why is this? I believe I have the solution. It solved the question in
my own case, and I believe it will solve it for all who will give it serious
consideration. It is this: Instead of "correctly partitioning the word of truth"
and holding fast to those transcendent doctrines of grace given to Paul, for us, the
nations, we have pulled them down and mixed them, with the doctrines of the
"Circumcision writings" and dimmed their significance and glory. Cut Paul's
teachings loose from the earthly and fleshly shadows of the "Circumcision
writings" and they shed forth a superabundant wealth of transcendent grace, flowing
down from the great loving heart of God to His undeserving creatures, lifting them up,
through faith, to an allotment of celestial glory in Christ Jesus that will dazzle the
universe in the "on-coming eons." Oh, that the eyes of our heart may be
enlightened to grasp what is the glorious riches of our allotment among the celestials, in
Christ Jesus, through the evangel of which Paul became the dispenser!
Justification is one of those gems of Paul's transcendent doctrines
which Peter, James, and John never preached, and which cannot be found outside of Paul's
writings. As we seek to set it forth, we beseech you to follow carefully and weigh every
argument thoughtfully, for we expect to submit you some facts from the sacred Scriptures
which are almost totally lost in Christendom today.
JUSTIFICATION AND PARDON
In the first place, to get the truth of God on this subject, we must
heed the admonition of the apostle Paul, and "distinguish the things that
differ." And the difference between the terms "justification" and
"pardon" becomes wider and wider the more we ponder it. The significance of this
may not grip us at first thought, but a comparison with divine inspiration will reveal
that it is truth.
We have recently considered pages upon pages of arguments, by an
eminent pioneer expositor of the Scriptures, that "pardon" or
"forgiveness" is synonymous with "justification." This is one of the
many instances where teachers have dimmed the glorious doctrines committed to the apostle
Paul, for us, the nations, by degrading them in order to harmonize them with the teachings
of the Circumcision writings. They have failed to apprehend the true significance of
Paul's admonition to "rightly divide" or "correctly partition" the
word of truth and "distinguish the things that differ."
No government executive will tell you that "pardon" or
"forgiveness" is synonymous with "justification." It is only in the
matter of salvation that we have confused these terms. It might be well, right here, to
contrast the two by illustrations from our court proceedings, then compare this with God's
dealings with Israel and the nations in the Scriptures.
"Pardon" or "forgiveness" is the exercise of
executive clemency in remitting guilt or the penalty incurred, or extending courteous
forbearance. It is the prerogative of a governor or a king. But the record still stands,
and if the party to whom such probational forbearance has been extended fails in their
part of the transaction, the "Pardon" will be revoked, and they must pay the
Now "justification" is in sharp, contrast to all this. In the
first place, it is the judicial act of a judge, showing to be just, exonerating,
acquitting and pronouncing "not guilty." There is no "pardon" or
"forgiveness" about it. Neither is it probational, but is absolute and final,
and once pronounced it cannot be revoked!
All of this is in perfect accord with the procedure in the courts of
our land. Now we shall turn your attention to the sacred Scriptures and there give
illustrations of God's methods with mankind which confirms our court standards on a higher
CHRIST AND PETER
A good place to begin is the incident that occurred between our Lord
and Peter, as recorded in Matthew 18:21,22. Peter approaching the Lord, said, "How
many times shall my brother be sinning against me and I shall be pardoning him? Till seven
times?" Jesus is saying to him, "I am not saying to you `Till seven times,' but
`Till seventy times seven.'" It is then He gives the parable of the "Ten
Thousand Talent Debtor," which graphically illustrated the true meaning of
"pardon" or "forgiveness."
In this parable Christ tells of a man owing ten thousands of talents
(about ten million dollars), who could not pay it, and in compassion he dismisses
him and remits the loan. Yet this same slave, coming out, finds one of his fellow-slaves,
owing him only a hundred denarii (about $16.66), catches hold of him and chokes him,
commanding him to pay. The slave begged him to be patient, and he would pay all. Yet he
would not, but, coming away, cast him in jail, till he may pay all. His fellow-slaves
perceiving what had occurred, were tremendously sorry, and went away and told their lord.
The lord, calling in the wicked slave, said: "I remit your entire debt since you
entreated me. Was it not binding on you also to be merciful to your fellow slave, as I am
merciful to you?" And being indignant, his lord gives him up to the tormentors till
he may pay Ill that was owing him (Matt.18: 32-34). Immediately after giving this parable
to the sons of Israel, our Lord said to them: "Thus will My heavenly Father, also, be
doing to you, should not each one be pardoning his brother from your hearts"
This parable and its admonition was fulfilled in the Pentecostal era,
the period recorded in the book of Acts. Those of Israel who were "pardoned"
during the Acts period, are the ten thousand talent debtor. They had crucified their
Prince Messiah, the Lord of glory, and were under incalculable obligations to God.
Nevertheless, out of the compassion of His heart He "pardoned" their sins, as
Peter proclaimed at Pentecost (Acts 2:38).
The "nations," who had none of the light and privilege which
was Israel's special portion, did not owe nearly as much. They were the one hundred
denarii debtor. But the "pardoned" believers in Israel had no thought of sharing
the mercy they had received with the despised aliens. In fact, it took much persuasion
before Peter would go to Cornelius, even though he was already a proselyte to Judaism
(Acts 10). And when he did go, he found his brethren most antagonistic to the very thought
(Acts 11:3). But they were far more antagonistic to Paul's ministry among the nations. At
his final appearance in Jerusalem, these "pardoned" believers sought to stone
him to death for the very mention of the name "gentiles." In his speech of
defense, he got as far as the word "nations" and they refuse to hear him
further, but cried out "Away with such a one from the earth, for it is not befitting
for him to live" (Acts 22:21). Their "pardon" was revoked just as the Lord
told them during His earthly ministry among them.
But let us turn to Paul's writings and study the scope and
transcendence of the wonderful word "justification." And let it be remembered
that "justification" is taught only in Paul's writings. It is a doctrine
peculiar to Paul, for us, the nations, and should be given the closest attention.
"Justification" comes from the Greek word
"dikaiooo," which means to "justify" "acquit," and
"vindicate." Now to "justify" is to "show to be just; declaring
to guiltless or blameless." "Acquit" means to "declare innocent, to
exonerate." While "vindicate" means to "defend against anything that
attacks and maintain successfully as right and just."
By all this we can see that divine inspiration used a word very full of
meaning, and shows conclusively the wide contrast between Paul's teaching and that of the
Circumcision. "Pardon" never carried any such deliverance as we find in
"justification." And may He give us the grace to consider and imbibe the
glorious deliverance we have in "dikaiooo." "Dikaiooo, to justify--showing
to be just, guiltless, and blameless." "Dikaiooo, to acquit- -declaring free and
innocent; exonerating." "Dikaiooo, to vindicate--defending against anything that
attacks and maintain successfully as right and just." Isn't it wonderful? Isn't it
glorious? Then, with the apostle of the gentiles, why not exult in the blessed truth, that
"Being, then, justified by faith, we may be having peace with God through our Lord,
Jesus Christ, through Whom we have had the access, also, in faith, into this grace in
which we stand, and may be glorying in expectation of the glory of God" (Rom.5:1,2).
Praise and honor and glory be His for such a wonderful deliverance that puts us, by faith,
into grace where we may stand and glory in expectation of the glory of God that is sure
and certain to be ours!
"Justification" puts us beyond the reach of condemnation! It
is based entirely upon the blood of Christ, is received by faith, apart from works, in
order that it may accord with grace (Rom.8: 1; 4:5,16).
"Pardon" is probational, because it is based on behavior.
Unbecoming conduct causes it to be withdrawn. God canceled it in every case, during the
kingdom proclamation to Israel, when they failed to extend it to those of the nations. But
our "justification" is irrevocable, because it is based solely on the blood of
Christ, which is ever precious and potent.
WHAT THE SCRIPTURES SAY
We are told in the Scriptures that Paul was separated for God's
evangel...Concerning His Son...Jesus Christ, our Lord, through Whom he obtained grace and
apostleship for faith obedience among all the nations for His name's sake (Rom.1:1-6; Acts
13:2). It is the "evangel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24), given only to the
apostle Paul to certify, and offers "justification," by faith obedience, to the
nations. It takes us back to Abraham, with whom the covenant to bless all the nations of
the earth was made. And, as the gift of justification was first given to Abraham, he is
the great example, and Paul takes up his case at length, both in his Roman and Galatian
epistles, to show its absolutely gracious character. Therefore, to apprehend the argument
he is making in behalf of the graciousness of God in dealing out justification to the
nations, we must consider what is said concerning it in the Scriptures.
"For if Abraham was justified by his acts, he has something to
boast in, but not toward God. For what is the Scripture saying? `Now Abraham believes God
and it is reckoned to him for righteousness'" (Rom.4:2,3).
"Now the Scriptures perceiving before that God is justifying the
nations by faith, preached an evangel to Abraham before, that `In you shall all the
nations be blessed.' So that those of faith are being blessed together with believing
"Being justified gratuitously by His grace, through the
deliverance which is in Christ Jesus (Whom God purposed for a Propitiatory, through faith
in His blood, for a display of His righteousness because of the passing over of the
penalty of sins which occurred before in the forbearance of God) toward the display of His
righteousness in the Current era, for Him to be just and the Justifier of the one who is
of the faith of Jesus" (Rom.3:24-26).
"Being, then, justified by faith, we may be having peace with God
through our Lord, Jesus Christ, through Whom we have had the access, also, in faith, into
this grace in which we stand, and may be glorying in expectation of the glory of God"
Dear friend and beloved in the Lord, you may search through the
writings of Peter, James, and John, in fact, all the writings of the Circumcision, book by
book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, and word by word, and you will never find
anything to compare with the wonderful Scriptures you have just read from Paul's writings.
As I have said before, and let me press the fact again, the pardon of sins and
regeneration of the Circumcision writings must not be confused with
"justification" and the "new creation in Christ" of Paul's writings to
us, the nations. If we confuse them, great loss will be suffered.
The glorious allotment which is ours among the celestials in Christ
Jesus far transcends that of Israel in the earthly kingdom. Let the Jew have what God has
graciously sent him through Peter, James and John and the rest of the Circumcision
writers--"pardon" of sins" and "regeneration." We don't need it.
God, through His vast love wherewith He loves us has given us something far
better--"justification" and a "new creation in Christ."
Therefore, let us get away from the terrestrial blessings of the Circumcision writings for
Israel, and exult in the transcendent spiritual blessings which are ours among the
celestials in Christ Jesus, of Paul's writings.
NOT OF WORKS
Furthermore, our salvation in connection with Paul's evangel is a
deliverance solely and entirely on the ground of grace, because of the mediatorial work of
Christ, apart from ritual or works of merit on the part of the one "justified."
In truth, justification is for him who is not working, but is believing. Paul
verifies this in these words: "Now to him who is working, wages are not reckoned as a
favor, but as debt. Yet to him who is not working, yet is believing on Him Who is
justifying the irreverent, his faith is reckoned for righteousness (Rom.4:4,5). In this
Scripture, we can see that justification is as free or freer than sunlight. In judgment,
God will pay everyone who is entitled to wages. But when He gives, He gives, and refuses
to allow His gifts to be paid for, even if anyone could pay the price. Paul says,
"Therefore, it is of faith that it may accord with grace..." (Rom.4:16). Then
let us accept it with gratitude and thanksgiving.
NOT OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS
And remember, dear reader, that in our justification, the righteousness
we receive is not our righteousness, but God's own righteousness, imputed or reckoned to
us for faith. We have this verified by Paul in these words: "I forfeited all, and am
deeming it to be refuse, that I may be gaining Christ, and be found in Him, not having my
righteousness, that of law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the
righteousness which is from God for faith" (Phil.3:8-10). This is further
strengthened by Romans 3:21,22, "Yet now, apart from law, a righteousness of God has
been manifested (being testified to by the law and the prophets) yet a righteousness of
God through Jesus Christ faith, for all and on all who are believing."
On the cross at Golgotha our deliverance was purchased, when the
"One knowing no sin, He makes sin for our sakes that we should be becoming God's
righteousness in Him" (2 Cor.5:21). Again we read, "Now it was not written
because of Him only that it is reckoned to him [Abraham], but because of us also, to whom
it is about to be reckoned, who are believing on Him Who rouses Jesus our Lord from among
the dead, Who was given up because of our offenses, and was roused because of our
justification. Being, then, justified by faith, we may be having peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom.4:23 to 5:1). These Scriptures show conclusively
that our justification is solely and entirely on the ground of the mediatorial sacrifice
of Christ. His death and resurrection put away our offenses and made us just before God,
according as it is written, "Now the just by faith shall live" (Rom.1:17). The
sins He bore are all gone, and we, through His resurrection, are just, and live by
But the grandest and most overwhelming thought of the whole subject is
found in the word "gratuitously" of our text. "Being justified gratuitously
by His grace, through the deliverance which is in Christ Jesus" (Rom.3:24). By the
rendering put upon this word in our Common, or King James, version of the Scriptures, much
has been lost of the exceeding riches of God's grace which He has been pleased to reveal
to us right here. The original word is doorean. In our Common version it is
rendered into English by the word "freely." But this word is entirely too weak
and inadequate to express the depth and richness of the original. By going to John 15:25,
we find the word used again by divine inspiration, but given a different rendering
by our King James translators. Here we find it used with reference to the Jews hating
Jesus, and they translated it, without a cause." And such is the meaning of this
precious word. Justification on any other ground than the free and unforced favor of God,
is impossible, for none deserve it. But now, in Christ Jesus, has been effected a
deliverance from all condemnation and judgment, absolutely free to all who believe, and
all "without a cause"--gratuitously.
ETYMOLOGY OF THE WORD
This is great and wonderful and glorious, yet when we look into the
etymology of this word doorean, we find still a more transcendent scope of richness
than we have ever dreamed. By separating the word into its elements and assigning a
standard English equivalent for each element, we get the literal meaning in a compound
English word, viz., GIVE-GUSHED. Now this reveals in what way we are
"justified." It is GIVE-GUSHED through the deliverance which is in Christ Jesus.
I believe this is the thought glorious thought that ever came to me of how God saves the
sinner. Justification with all its depth of richness in meaning is magnified and
intensified by this precious word doorean. It means that God not only
"justifies," but He "give- gushes" it on us. That is, He pours forth,
in an extravagant display of affection, all His transcendent riches of grace contained in
the meaning of the wonderful word dikaiooo. The sinner in dikaiooo is justified
shown to be guiltless and blameless. He is acquitted--declared to be free and
innocent; exonerated. And he is vindicated defended against all attacks and
maintained successfully as right and just. And the glorious part about it all is, it is
done "without a cause," "gratuitously." That is, it is
GIVE-GUSHed--bestowed as an extravagant display of His love wherewith He loves
us--"through the deliverance which is in Christ Jesus (Whom God purposed for a
Propitiatory, through faith in His blood)."
Such a deliverance, beloved, is entirely on the ground of grace, and
bars all boasting unless it be in Christ and in His God Who has become our Justifier.
Through our justification by faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord, we are placed in the
unclouded favor of God, where "nothing consequently is condemnation" (Rom.8:1).
What more could we desire? May He give us the grace to exclaim from the depths of our
hearts, with the psalmist of old, "Praise the Lord, O my soul; all that is within me,
praise His holy name."