Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
Brian Vickers, Associate Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Southern Seminary, has recently published Justification by Grace through Faith: Finding Freedom from Legalism, Lawlessness, Pride, and Despair, Explorations in Biblical Theology (Phillipsburg: P & R, 2013).
In an interview, Vickers responded to a series of questions about the book. One of those that resonated strongly with me, being influenced by the Reformational stream, was this question: Can you define the doctrine of justification?
Justification is God’s declaration that (Christians) stand before him without guilt and are fully acceptable to him as those who are pleasing to him in every way through Christ Jesus, who both lived and died on our behalf and whose righteousness becomes ours by faith. So, it’s really a declaration that’s first and foremost about what Christ has done for us, and secondly, that we have these benefits through him and in him.
It’s vitally important that we understand that justification is not first and foremost about us. It’s not even first and foremost about our standing before God. Of course, it is about those things, but what justification is about primarily is on the work of Christ on our behalf. Justification should ultimately point us to him, not to ourselves, not simply to debates and not even to books about justification, but to Christ himself.
How sweet it is to be reminded of this wonderful truth! How vital it is to be brought back to Christ and His completed work on our behalf!