Justified (Saved) by Grace – H. Hoeksema


… and whom he called, them he also justified.- Romans 8:30

One of the greatest, and certainly the most fundamental, of all the blessings of salvation that are bestowed upon us through our Lord Jesus Christ by grace is that of justification.

In general, we may say that justification is the act of God whereby we become righteous before Him. It means that we stand before the judgment seat of God, as we always do; that God judges us, as He always does; that He applies the perfect standard of His holy will to us, to our being and nature, to our life and walk; that He expresses His verdict upon us, and that this verdict declares us free from all sin and guilt and perfectly righteous, so righteous as if we had never had any sin, as if we had always perfectly kept His every commandment. It also means that He inscribes that verdict by which He declares us righteous in our very hearts, so that we are conscious of it, are assured of our righteousness before God.

This gift of grace is so fundamental and all important because it is the key to all other blessings of grace. For God loves the righteous, and He hates all the workers of iniquity. He cannot look with favor upon the ungodly. If, then, we are to become the objects of His loving kindness, it is prerequisite that we are righteous. And the possession and consciousness of this righteousness fills us with unspeakable joy and with a great and profound peace. “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (Romans 4:6-8) And again:”Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5: 1)

The wonder of this justification is that at the very moment when God declares us righteous, we are very really sinners, worthy of damnation in ourselves, and that of this we are deeply conscious. The believer who receives this grace of justification is a justified sinner. For “to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” (Romans 4: 5) That is the great marvel of it.

It is very important that we clearly understand this. The justified sinner is not one who formerly was ungodly and therefore was the object of God’s condemnation, but who has reformed, converted himself, become godly, pious, religious, and who now appears in the judgment of God with his new piety and good works, and on the basis of them is declared righteous. Not at all! The contrary is true. The justified sinner is very really a sinner in himself, and as such he appears in the moment of justification before the tribunal of God. He is an enemy of God. His nature is corrupt, and there is no good in him at all. He is wholly inclined to all evil. He has transgressed all the commandments of God and kept none of them. Yea, what is worse, at the very moment when he stands before the judgment seat of God, he sins and violates God’s precepts. And he knows this. He carries the testimony in his own conscience that he is a sinner, worthy of damnation; that he is inclined to all evil and incapable of doing any good; that he trampled God’s holy law under foot, and that even now, as he stands before God’s holy judgment seat, he continues to transgress. He is deeply conscious of the fact that if God will enter into judgment with him and deal with him according to his nature and deserts, he cannot stand for a moment, but must expect that he will be sentenced to eternal damnation. All he can do, and even that he cannot and will not do of himself, is to cry out, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” And the marvel of justification is that this sinner, who has nothing to bring before God but corruption and rebellion, is declared righteous before God, and hears the verdict that he has no sin, that all his sins are blotted out and forgiven, that he is clothed with a righteousness that makes him worthy of eternal life and glory. He is justified by grace!

Such is the clear teaching of Scripture. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3 :23, 24) The sinner receives a righteousness that is not his own, but wholly of God, and that is given him, imputed to him, reckoned to him by grace. For, “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.” (Romans 3 :20-22) All boasting is excluded, for “a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3 :28) And even “as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:18, 19) From all this it is abundantly evident that God is revealed as the God Who justifies the ungodly, and that the sinner is made righteous by a righteousness which is of God, without any works of righteousness on his part whatever.

wonderofgrace-hhTaken from chapter 8, “Justified by Grace,” in The Wonder of Grace by Herman Hoeksema (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1944), pp.66-68. This work has now been republished by the Reformed Free Publishing Association.

More on this aspect of salvation by grace in a subsequent post.

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  1. […] For the first installment on this gospel truth, see this post. […]


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