We are continuing to work through our confession of faith on Sunday evenings here, and just in time for Reformation Sunday, we have arrived at Article 5: “Justification.” Providential! I was reading from Boyce’s Theology in preparation, and was struck by his introduction and definition of justification:
“No doctrine of Scripture is more important than that of justification. It involves the whole method of salvation of sinners. It is vitally connected with all other fundamental doctrines. A correct conception of it cannot exist when other truths are ignored, or only partially received. The opinions held upon this point control in great part the theological views in general of all Christian individuals and parties. The importance of a correct knowledge of what God has taught on this subject cannot therefore be exaggerated.
“The discussion of this doctrine will be best presented by a definition of the word Justification, accompanied by a proof of the several elements involved in that definition.
“Justification is a judicial act of God, by which, on account of the meritorious work of Christ, imputed to a sinner and received by him through that faith which vitally unites him to his substitute and Saviour, God declares that sinner to be free from the demands of the law, and entitled to the rewards due to the obedience of that substitute.”
(James P. Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology. 1887, republished 2006 by Founders Press, 394-395)