I Believe in Justification by Faith Plus Works
Justification by Faith Alone is so often proclaimed I thought I'd go with this provacative title. I have not changed my doctrinal conviction and still agree with the Reformation teaching that Justification is solely by Faith alone in Christ alone. That is, I believe that there is no work done by sinful humans in order to put us in a better standing before God. This teaching is strict legalism and is condemned multiple times throughout scripture (see especially Galatians).
However, in another very real sense, Justification is the result of works. The works of Christ not only pardon us for our sin but also credit to us his righteousness.
Historically, Justification consists of two points. I have found it best to view it in terms of a Positive and Negative point:
(-) Our sin is pardoned because Jesus bore the wrath of God (He is our propitiation) on our place at the cross. That is, He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf. Our sin is Imputed to Jesus and he faithfully bears the full punishment poured out on Him. For this reason, those who are found in Christ will not recieve the punishment we deserve.
(+) The righteousness of Christ is imputed to us. Where we lived a sinful life, he lived a perfect life. His perfect righteousness is credited those found in Him. For this reason we might become the righteousness of God.
Both of these affirmations (the positive and negative) are absolutely essential. In our time we are more likely to ignore the (+) point. As a necessary corollary, we often exaggerate the Death of Christ over the life of Christ. However, this cannot and must not happen if we desire to maintain sound doctrine.
For this reason, the catechism says:
Q. 33. What is justification?
A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.
In conclusion, Justification is received by Faith alone but meritied by the works of Jesus alone. For this reason I believe in Justification by Faith Plus Works.
In Christ Alone,