Justification by faith is one of if not the most important doctrines in all of Scripture, because it is in this doctrine, that all other doctrines come together.
This morning I read Romans 3 and 4. I have to tell you that this is my most favorite passage in all of Scripture because it gave the answers that I was seeking. I did not grow up in a Christian home but when I was about thirteen years old our mother took us to a Methodist church. By this age, I had already done many things that I was feeling guilty about. I had reached puberty and had much lust. I heard in this Methodist church that God forgives sin but I did not understand how. I went along with it because I had meet many friends in the youth group and it became my place for socialization. During my last two years of high school I found other friends and other ways of filling my lustful desires. When I graduated high school, I joined the army and left my boyhood home and never attended a church until I was married and had children of my own.
I could not understand how a just God could forgive my sin and be righteous. If God forgives sin, he is gracious but he is not just. If God condemns sinners he is just but he is not gracious. How can God be just and justify the guilty. I knew that I was guilty of sin. I was told that God forgives sin. I did not believe because I knew that if he forgave my sin he would be an unrighteous. Only an unrighteous judge justifies a guilty criminal.
I spent my teen years in a church that said God forgives sin. However, I saw this as injustice, therefore, I did not truly believe but hoped for forgiveness. During my young adult years I heard sin, righteousness and judgment preached but when I sought to find out how I might be saved, I was told: “Repeat after me this prayer and you will be saved.” I did not really believe that I could be forgiven by reciting a repeated prayer, so I departed the church again. Our son had reached the youth group age and began to attend a local Baptist church’s youth group with some friends. I became part of a small group that was reading a book by Rick Warren called, “The Purpose Driven Life.” Again, I read that God forgives sin and if you pray this prayer and receive Jesus, you will be saved.
After reading that book, I decided that I would read the Bible. It was Romans chapter 3 that helped me to understand that God can be just and justify me because of the sin sacrifice of Jesus Christ. “He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.” (Romans 4:25) Justification is the free gift of God, given by his grace alone, received through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, for the glory of God alone, as it is written in Scripture alone. (Romans 3:21-26)