[Editorial Note: Note carefully the words of Ellen White in regard to Justification and WHEN it takes place. In the relational kingdom, justification includes the response of the sinner. The response of the sinner is under the influence of the Spirit of God. Repentance is a gift but without that gift manifested there is no justification in the soul.]
MR No. 629 - Justified by Faith
Justification by faith is to many a mystery. A sinner is justified by God when he repents of his sins. He sees Jesus upon the cross of Calvary. Why all this suffering? The law of Jehovah has been broken. The law of God's government in heaven and earth has been transgressed, and the penalty of sin is pronounced to be death. But "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Oh what love, what matchless love! Christ, the Son of God, dying for guilty man!
The sinner views the spirituality of the law of God and its eternal obligations. He sees the love of God in providing a substitute and surety for guilty man, and that substitute is One equal with God. This display of grace in the gift of salvation to the world fills the sinner with amazement. This love of God to man breaks every barrier down. He comes to the cross, which has been placed midway between Divinity and humanity, and repents of his sins of transgression, because Christ has been drawing him to Himself. He does not expect the law to cleanse him from sin, for there is no pardoning quality in the law to save the transgressors of the law. He looks to the atoning Sacrifice as his only hope, through repentance toward God--because the laws of His government have been broken--and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ as the One who can save and cleanse the sinner from every transgression.
The mediatorial work of Christ commenced with the commencement of human guilt and suffering and misery, as soon as man became a transgressor. The law was not abolished to save man and bring him into union with God. But Christ -356- assumed the office of his surety and deliverer in becoming sin for man, that man might become the righteousness of God in and through Him who was one with the Father. Sinners can be justified by God only when He pardons their sins, remits the punishment they deserve, and treats them as though they were really just and had not sinned, receiving them into divine favor and treating them as if they were righteous. They are justified alone through the imputed righteousness of Christ. The Father accepts the Son, and through the atoning sacrifice of His Son accepts the sinner.
A general faith is entertained by many, and their assent is given that Christianity is the only hope for perishing souls. But to believe this intellectually is not sufficient to the saving of the soul. James tells us in his epistle that the devils believe and tremble, but this is not a saving faith that will justify them. There are thousands who believe in the gospel and in Jesus Christ as the world's Redeemer, but they are not saved by that faith. This is only an assent of their judgment to that which is a fact, but it does not transform the character. They do not repent and have that faith that lays hold upon Christ as their sin-pardoning Saviour; their belief is not unto repentance. There must be a faith that accomplishes its work for the receiver, a faith in the atoning sacrifice, a faith that works by love and purifies the soul.
There will be need not only of faith but of a trust in God. This is the true faith of Abraham, a faith which produced fruits. "Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness." James 2:23. When God told him to offer his son as a sacrifice it was the same voice that had spoken telling him to leave his country and go into a land which God would show him. Abraham -357- was saved by faith in Christ as verily as the sinner is saved by faith in Christ today.
The faith that justifies always produces first true repentance, and then good works, which are the fruit of that faith. There is no saving faith that does not produce good fruit. God gave Christ to our world to become the sinner's substitute. The moment true faith in the merits of the costly atoning sacrifice is exercised, claiming Christ as a personal Saviour, that moment the sinner is justified before God, because he is pardoned.--Ms 46, 1891. ("Justified by Faith," January 6, 1891.) 8MR 355-357