David Westerfield

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Tag: Summary of Christian Doctrine

Louis Berkhof on Justification

Excerpt from Summary of Christian Doctrine by Louis Berkhof

1. The Nature and Elements of Justification. Justification may be defined as that legal act of God by which He declares the sinner righteous on the basis of the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. It is not an act or process of renewal, such as regeneration, conversion, or sanctification, and does not affect the condition but the-state of the sinner. It differs from sanctification in several particulars. Justification takes place outside of the sinner in the tribunal of God, removes the guilt of sin, and is an act which is complete at once and for all time; while sanctification takes place in man, removes the pollution of sin, and is a continuous and lifelong process. We distinguish two elements in justification, namely: (a) The forgiveness of sins on the basis of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The pardon granted applies to all sins, past, present, and future, and therefore does not admit of repetition, Ps. 103: 12; Isa. 44:22; Rom. 5:21; 8:1, 32-34; Heb. 10:14. This does not mean that we need no more pray for forgiveness, for the consciousness of guilt remains, creates a feeling of separation, and makes it necessary to seek repeatedly the comforting assurance of forgiveness, Ps. 25:7; 32:5; 51:1; Matt. 6:12; Jas. 5:15; I John 1:9. (b) The adoption as children of God. In justification God adopts believers as His children, that is, places them in the position of children and gives them all the rights of children, including the right to an eternal inheritance, Rom. 8:17; I Pet. 1:4. This legal sonship of believers should be distinguished from their moral sonship through regeneration and sanctification. Both are indicated in the following passages: John 1:12, 13; Rom. 8:15, 16; Gal. 4:5, 6.

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Recovering True Religion

While many are well-intentioned in saying, “I hate religion, but I love Jesus,” or, “It’s not about a religion but a relationship [with God],” it seems the word ‘religion’ itself has come under intense fire as a source of all kinds of evil, particularly amongst the evangelical landscape. There is some validity to this assumption looking back upon our history as fallen sinners (or even the present day), where in the name of religion, many horrible things have been done to others. And in the last 50 years there is more weight given to this view that the concept of religion is a bad thing based upon the kinds of Christian groups who picket absolutely everything the world does they don’t like, or which threaten their reign on things of this world.

However, those wise men of old who have gone before us to be with the Savior knew the problem wasn’t with religion itself. The problem is sinful man and the work of Satan have distorted what the Puritans called ‘true religion,’ that is a living faith granted by the living God in which we do that which is pleasing to Him, initiated by and through the work of Christ’s grace alone. One of those men who has gone before us (though not a Puriran per se, but certainly within the same tradition) was Louis Berkhof.

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