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Our world is divided by hatreds and hurts over past wrongs committed against one another. How does understanding the Bible teaching of justification help us deal with these wrongs? God does not expect us to call past or present injustice right. Christ strongly condemned evil in all its forms (Matt. 23). Though we have wronged God by our sins (Ps. 51:4), In Christ, God has put them out of His sight (Ps. 103: 10-12). Therefore, we too can leave past wrongs forever behind us, because God's mercy empowers us to forgive others (Mark 11:25; Eph. 4:32).
There has been much recent publicity suggesting that Protestants and Roman Catholics are now drawing closer to each other. Does this mean that Roman Catholicism now strictly accepts justification by grace through faith alone as revealed in the Bible and as taught by the Reformers? No! While Rome always stressed the "primacy" of grace and the importance of faith, Rome's understanding of the terms "grace" and "faith" is different from that explained by St. Paul and emphasized by the Reformers. Rome continues to refuse to say that salvation is by grace through faith alone. Along with the Scriptures and the Reformers, we must continue to stress that we receive perfect reconciliation with God through faith alone and in Jesus Christ alone.
Why does the Lutheran Church stress the doctrine of justification as the one upon which the church stnads or fails? Isn't it enough simply to believe in Jesus? A house may have many rooms but only one foundation. For the church Jesus Christ is the one foundation (1 Cor 3:11; Eph. 2:20). The doctrine of Justification keeps us straight on this. Many cults claim to believe in Jesus. Thus the question is "who is this Jesus in whom we believe?" Some churches wrongly teach that He is a second Moses who came primarily to show us what we must do to improve ourselves enough to eventually be good enough to become justified. This is contrary to God's Word (John 1:17). Jesus' main role is that of exclusive Mediator and Redeemer of people of whom are spiritually helpless sinners (John 1:17; Rom 5:6-8).
Some people make a great distinction between the expressions through faith and on account of faith when speaking about how a person is justified before God. Why is this distinction necessary? Justification is not some kind of business transaction in which God contracts to supply forgiveness to those who agree to pay with faith (John 15:16). "Through faith" stresses that justification is God's work alone (Eph. 2:8-9; Gal. 5:4; Rom 3:28). But to say "on account of faith" would wrongly suggest that because of our feeble act of having faith, we earned the blessing. Faith is simply like a beggar's open hand that receives God's spiritual nourishment (1 Cor. 4-7; Rev. 22:17).
Why do pastors talk about justification as objective and subjective? This distinction emphasizes Christ's glory and the unqualified comfort He gives us sinners. "Objective" means we have before us something already accoumplished. It is "outside of us" (Eph. 1: 8-7). Its existence, reality and truthfulness have nothing to do with us or our feelings. To say the world is "objectively" justified avoids the erroneous belief that God loves only the predestined or that any one of us has contributed something to our being saved.

On the other hand, the term "subjective" stresses that the precious gift of salvation Christ earned for us is meant to be accepted and enjoyed by us "subjects," the individuals for whom it is intended. When we speak of "subjective" justification, we also sadly acknowledge that there are individuals who refuse the amazing gift of divine forgiveness wrapped in Jesus Christ, the world's only Savior.
~Richard Shuta

Excerpted from Good News magazine.
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