Justification by faith is a reference to your being made right with God because of your faith. You are saved by the grace of God, but you access that grace and enter into God's good favor by faith. What kind of faith do you need to have in order to be justified? What does the Bible say about justification by faith?
Let's give some thought to Romans 5.1.
This is a passage that tells about justification by faith. In other words, Romans 5.1 says that faith justifies me. When you keep reading about this justification by faith you learn what it means to be justified.
When you are justified, you enjoy the benefits of being saved without the fear of experiencing God's wrath. But how are you justified? Romans 5.1: "Therefore, having been justified by faith." You don't have to be afraid of God's wrath. Your relationship with God is restored. Your life is made right with God, and it is all because of faith. But what is this faith?
What is the first word in Romans 5.1? Did you notice the word, "therefore"? This is a word that indicates that a conclusion is being drawn. What we find in Romans 5.1 is that we are justified by faith. This statement is a conclusion based on what was said in the previous chapter. If you want to know what kind of faith you are to have that justifies, you have to go back to the previous chapter.
As we go back to Romans 4, we are reading a context in which Paul describes the faith of Abraham. From this example, we can identify faith as consisting of three components:
When you have faith, you accept the fact that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God. you trust that He has the authority to tell you what you need to do to get to heaven. And because you accept the fact of His deity and trust His authority, you are willing to act on what He tells you to do.
Let's look more closely at this faith by going to the previous chapter. Let's think about Romans 4.
In Romans 4.12, you are told that you are to have the same kind of faith that Abraham had.
We are to have the same faith as Abraham. The phrase “walk in the steps” in the verse above is an idiomatic expression that means to walk in rank and file like in a marching band or in the military. You have Abraham in the front leading, and we are all walking in step with Abraham as it relates to faith. But what kind of faith did Abraham have?
Don't miss this idea of Abraham “according to the flesh” in the above verse, and its connection to Romans 3.20 which says that no flesh is justified.
Paul writes that no flesh can be justified if they are under the works based system such as the Law of Moses. You can already hear the objections. “Wait a minute. What about Abraham? Wasn't Abraham justified by the works of the law?” Paul then responds to this objection.
The question is asked if Abraham was justified by works (according to the flesh). In Romans 4.2, the answer is "no." So how was Abraham justified? Romans 4.3 says that Abraham believed.
When you study the faith of Abraham as it is referenced in Romans 4.3, you go back into the Old Testament scriptures to Genesis 12. God came to Abraham when Abraham was seventy-five years old. God promised him that he would be the father of a great nation “and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12.2-4).
Abraham accepted as fact what God had promised, and it was accounted to for righteousness. But his acceptance of the facts was only part of it. Abraham had the promise of God that he would be the father a great nation. But later God gives him some additional information.
Ten years later, Abraham still has no children. Sarah is getting impatient. So she gives their servant Hagar to Abraham as wife. Abraham and Hagar have a child name Ishmael. (Gen. 16.15).
Thirteen years later, Abraham is 99 years old and still have no children except Ishmael. Abraham wants Ishmael to be the heir. God responds to Abraham request.
What does the Bible say about justification by faith? The Bible says that Abraham was justified by faith. God told Abraham in Genesis 12 that there would be a son that would come from his own body, and from this son there will be a great nation. Abraham believed God. And when Abraham believed God, God looked at Abraham and said, “This is a righteous man.” Abraham accepted as fact that God would make him the father of a great nation.
As we continue our study on faith, let’s skip down to Romans 4.19,20 where we find another component of faith.
God told Abraham at the age of 99 that he was going to be the father of a child that would be conceived in Sarah’s womb who was 98 years old and had been barren all her life. He was an old man. Sarah was an old woman. They were incapable of conceiving a child. But Abraham was not weak in faith. Although he tried to help God realize the promise, he did not waver at the promise of God.
In order to conceive you have to do something. Some sort of action has to be taken. Abraham believed God so he and Sarah went to a place of privacy, and they did what they needed to do in order to conceive.
Why would this couple, Abraham 99 years old and Sarah 98, go into the bedroom and do what they did? It is because they believed God when he told them that they would have a son. Abraham did not give thought to the age of his body, nor did he give thought to whether or not Sarah was capable of having children in her golden years. He did not take that into consideration.
Abraham did not waver once at the promise of God. He went into Sarah, she conceived, and Isaac was born. Do you see that faith compelled Abraham to do what God said to do?
Abraham had faith, and God called Him righteous. Abraham was not righteous because he obeyed. He was righteous because he believed, and his faith compelled him to obey. Obedience was the product of his faith.
The faith that produced obedience is the faith that made him right with God. It is not a faith that merely accepts. That’s only part of it. It is not a faith that merely trusts. It is a faith that accepts, trusts, and as a result obeys.
So when you study this idea of justification by faith, you learn that...
What about the third component of faith which is trusting?
When Abraham went into Sarah to conceive, He trusted that the God who made this promise of making him a great nation, was also the God who could carry out what He promised. He trusted that God would do what He promised.
The word "therefore" in verse 22 is the conclusion that is drawn. Abraham accepted the facts. He trusted in God to deliver on His promise. He acted on those facts by obeying God. Therefore, it was accounted to him for righteousness. That is an example of faith.
Abraham was justified by faith. Paul writes in Romans 4.12 that we are to have the same kind of faith that Abraham had. Abraham had a faith that accepts, trusts, and obeys. That leads right into chapter 5.
We are justified by faith. What does that mean? What kind of faith is needed for you to be justified by faith so that you can live at peace with God?
Answer: The same kind of faith that Abraham had. It is a faith that accepts, trusts, and obeys. Therefore having been justified by an accepting, trusting, and obedient faith as Abraham was, we have peace.
You don’t change the way you think in repentance, confessing your faith in the presence of others, and allowing someone to baptize you in water because you are just blindly doing what you are told to do. You obey the gospel because you believe God.
It is that faith that compels you to repent, confess, and be baptized. You obey God because you trust Him.
It is of great interest as you study this idea of being justified by faith that as we keep reading in chapter 5 we read how we are justified in conjunction with the blood and resurrection of Christ. We continue into chapter 6 and we read about baptism. (Rom. 6.1-4). When you are baptized, literally immersed in water is what the original language means, you put to death the old life, the body of sin, and you become a brand new person without sin. Peter described repentance and baptism as bringing the remission of sins (Acts 2.38). When Paul was baptized, we read in Acts 22.16 that it was to wash away sins.
When you are baptized, your sins are washed away, and you become a new creation. The subject of baptism in Romans 6 immediately follows the chapter that says that you are justified by the same faith that was in Abraham. Abraham had a faith that moved him to act in obedience to God. Abraham was justified when he heard God, trusted God, and obeyed God. You are to have a faith like that.
You are justified by faith because you heard the word of God, believed what you heard, trusted in God, and am moved by your faith to submit to the commands of God which include baptism so that your sins can be washed away.
In reference to being justified by faith, if you have never been immersed, then you have not had biblical faith. You may say that you believe in Jesus. You may alter your life to live for Jesus, but if you have never been baptized, you do not have the kind of saving faith that was exemplified in Abraham, because you have not obeyed what Jesus has told you to do.
The Bible says that God’s plan of salvation involves hearing the word of God, and then believing Jesus as the Son of God. But the kind of faith that saves is a faith that accepts, trust, and obeys.