Justification & the 1689 London Baptist Confession
Under the heading for Justification, the 1689 London Baptist Confession says this:
1._____ Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing Christ’s active obedience unto the whole law, and passive obedience in his death for their whole and sole righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God.
( Romans 3:24; Romans 8:30; Romans 4:5-8; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:30, 31; Romans 5:17-19; Philippians 3:8, 9; Ephesians 2:8-10; John 1:12; Romans 5:17 )
There is a statement here that, though certainly not heresy, it could have been worded better and given us an even greater appreciation of what Justification is.
Look at the first sentence:
Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins (emphasis mine)
Brethren, justification is not pardon, it is, in fact, so much more.
Grab any dictionary and look up the word pardon, and you’ll find something along the lines of this: The act of excusing a mistake or offense.
The truth is that pardon means to be declared guilty but not punished. It’s to be declared guilty and yet suffer no consequences. That is not biblical justification!
To be justified by God the Father (and it is His act, not Christ’s) is NOT to be declared guilty but pardoned, which is what the 1689 London confession says. No, to be justified is to be declared by God the Father as having never been guilty and therefore not worthy of punishment! See the difference? Justification is not pardon, for there is nothing to be pardoned, or forgiven for!
Wow! What a powerful and beautiful thought. It brought tears to my eyes. I’m not worthy of that sort of love, but I am so grateful to have it!
So you must have a problem with the Westminster Shorter Catechism too?
I guess the Westminster Confession gets it wrong too, as the London Baptist Confession language here is almost identical to the WC.
Moreover, justification certainly is pardon! We were guilty of sin prior to being justified. You are confusing the act of justification with the state of being justified.
No, I am distinguishing between the act of God declaring and the state of being. While justification certainly results in pardon, it does not consists of pardon. Justification is a one-time declaration from the throne of God regarding our legal status; it occurs one time and is never again repeated. You should rely more on the Bible than loyalty to creeds (which are, without question, helpful, but they are not the Word of God).
Talk about nitpicking. Scholasticism? 😉 This is talking about how God acts on those he has effectually called.
Regardless, even though we no longer stand in need of pardon it doesn’t negate the fact that we were pardoned. So to say that I am justified is to say at one time God pardoned me. Scripture refers to Christians as being forgiven (pardoned) all the time.