Almost all Christians would claim to believe we were justified by faith, and perhaps quote Romans 3:28, which says we are justified by faith and not by the works of the Law. If pressed, many Christians would define “works of the law” as the actions we take to conform to the requirements of the Law, rather than what the “law” actually accomplishes, which is to make us aware of our sin and lead us to Christ. So lets back up and ask the question, justified by whose faith? Does our faith justify us? If we took a poll, would not a large group, perhaps even a majority, say our faith justifies us? But that would be a works based salvation would it not. Ah but you say faith is not a work. Maybe we should back up again and consider “justified by whom?” Were we justified by what we did or by what Christ did on the cross? The free gift of justification to life was provided by Christ on the cross, Romans 5:18. So it was Christ’s faithfulness, even unto death on the cross, which provided the propitiation for the whole world. So then the question becomes, how did we “receive” that gift or have that gift applied to us individually? So it would seem, then that our faith in Christ provides access to Christ’s free gift of justification by the grace of God. But does that too miss the mark? I think so. Would not our faith in effect “save us” then and make us the actual architect of our salvation? So if our placing our faith in Christ does not automatically save us, then God must credit our faith as righteousness and spiritually place us “in Christ” which saves us because in Christ we receive the justification to life provided by Christ. Wow now that is a systematic theology that fits with all scripture.