In the light of recent discussions, I think it might be helpful to look at the Doctrine of Justification as it is generally understood. I'm sorry is this is Grandma sucking eggs to some here, but I hope the post may be helpful to some who may not be completely au fait with the doctrine, and stimulate a discussion with those who believe it to be incorrect. Justification by Faith Alone is found in embryo in the ECFs (Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Justin Martyr etc.), but played a major part in the Reformation, being originated by Luther and supported by calvin and all the Reformers. It is also a Baptist doctrine. All the early Particular Baptists supported it. One of the best short works on the subject is The Marrow of True Justification by Benjamin Keach, published in the 17th Century and still available through SGCB. The best modern book is The God Who Justifies by Particular Baptist James White, published in2001 by Bethany House. The Hebrew word usually translated as ‘justify’ or ‘justified’ is tsadaq. Here are some examples of its usage: Exodus 23:7. ‘Keep yourself far from a false matter; do not kill the innocent and righteous. For I will not justify the wicked.’ The context of Exodus 23:1-9 is that of justice and the law court. Deut. 25:1. ‘If there is a dispute between men, and they come to court, that the judges may judge them, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked…….’ Again, the language is of the law court, and the words ‘justify’ and ‘condemn’ are placed in apposition. In the Hebrew, in the phrase, ‘justify the righteous,’ the same Hebrew root is used for both words (see NASB). Proverbs 17:15. ‘’He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.’ Isaiah 5:22, 23. ‘Woe to men…..who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away justice from the righteous man.’ Again the contexts of these verses is legal, and the idea of ‘justify’ is not to make someone innocent or righteous, but to declare him to be so. Both the righteous and the wicked were so when they entered court, and did not change when they left. Justification in the O.T. is a forensic statement, the pronouncement of a legal decision. One more example from the O.T., this time in a non-legal context: Job 32:2. ‘Then the wrath of Elihu……was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God.’ The position here is that Job was constantly declaring himself to be righteous (eg. Job 31). He was not making himself just, but claiming to be so. Obviously we have a problem here. If God declares righteous men to be righteous and the wicked to be wicked, how is it possible that He should ‘justify the ungodly’ (Romans 5:6)? How can God Himself be righteous if He does that which He condemns in others? In His own testimony of Himself in Exodus 34:6-7, there is an apparent contradiction: ‘The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgressions and sin, by no means clearing the guilty…...’ How can God be merciful and gracious, forgive iniquity and transgressions, yet absolutely not acquit the guilty? It doesn’t seem to make sense. But then we come to Isaiah 53:11-12. ‘He will see the labour [NASB ‘anguish’] of His soul and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.’ In previous verses (4-10), we may read of a substitutionary work of our Lord. He is ‘wounded’ and ‘bruised’ for our transgressions and iniquities; He is ‘stricken for the transgression of My people,’ and made an offering for sin.’ Substitutionary atonement is very much to the fore. But in v.11, we are told that the Christ will ‘justify many;’ that is, He will exonerate them, declare them righteous. How will He do that? By bearing their iniquities; by becoming one of them and bearing their sin. We can now look at Genesis 15:6, which is quoted four times in the N.T. ‘And [Abraham] believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.’ Abraham had no righteousness in himself, but when he trusted in the Lord, his faith was accounted, reckoned, credited, imputed to him as righteousness. In other words, he was declared righteous, justified, on account of his faith. His faith did not make him ethically righteous- he continued to sin after he was justified just as he had before- but he was declared righteous on account of his faith. So with those thoughts in mind, let us come to the N.T. The Greek verb ‘to justify’ is dikaioo. There is a question as to whether the word means ‘to make righteous’ or ‘to declare righteous,’ but dikaioo is the word generally used in the Septuagint to translate Tsadaq and when we come to look at the usage in the N.T. we can see that ‘to declare righteous’ is the meaning. Luke 10:29. ‘But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus…..’ This man had had his self-righteousness pricked by the Lord Jesus and he wanted to defend himself, to declare himself righteous. Romans 8:33-4. ‘Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies, who is he who condemns?’ We are back in the law courts. God has pronounced the verdict- “This is a righteous man!” Who can dispute the finding of the Supreme Court? But on what grounds does God declare guilty sinners to be righteous? Through the shed blood and perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood….. to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus’ (Romans 3:23-26). The sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the cross has propitiated God’s righteous anger against sin, and through His suffering, God is able to be righteous Himself in declaring guilty sinners to be righteous. ‘For [God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him’ (2 Cor. 5:21). This is Luther’s ‘great exchange.’ There on the cross, all our sins were laid upon the Saviour’s sinless shoulders, and His perfect righteousness credited to us who believe. Just a brief word on James 2. 'Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?' (v.21). This happened about 25 years after Abraham was credited with righteousness on account of his faith in Genesis 15:6. True faith will always issue forth in works. What the text is saying is that after Abraham was justified by faith, his works declared the genuineness of that faith. Imagine Abraham saying, "I really believe that God wants me to leave Ur of the Chaldees," and then staying just where he was! What sort of faith would that have been? No, our works justify us in the sense that they declare the genuineness of our faith. Rahab (v.25) was justified by faith when she believed in the God of the Israelites (Joshua 2:9), but her works justified her when she put her faith into action by protecting the spies (cf. Acts 26:20). Much more to say, but I will leave it there. I've run out of steam. That is what I understand by Justification. I believe it to be what the Bible teaches.