Justification and Adoption

Part 9 - The Holy Spirit
Chapter 42 - Justification and Adoption

Justification and adoption deal with our guilt and punishment, which come from our sin.
In justifying us, God does the opposite of condemning us.  He declares us not guilty, giving us a new legal status before Him, of not only innocent but righteous.  This can only happen by God imputing Christ's righteousness to us, as Adam's sin was previously imputed to us (Rom 3:21-22).  The ground of our justification is not our faith, but Christ, both His death on the cross (passive obedience) and His sinless and righteous life (active obedience).  Faith is what receives God's grace, it doesn't earn it. Our good deeds are evidence of our real faith, but don't earn our justified status with God in any way.

Frame puts justification and adoption and sanctification on his triangle, where (1) the top point, the normative perspective, is our righteousness from our justification; (2) at the left point, the situational perspective, our punishment is lifted by our adoption; (3) and the right point, the situational perspective, is our holiness from our regeneration and sanctification.  While these three points are inseparable in a person (no one is justified who isn't also sanctified), we shouldn't confuse them either, which would lead to Roman errors confusing justification and sanctification.  But each point finds meaning for itself in the context of the other two points, as James 2:14-26 shows us.  Our justification is shown by our works/sanctification.

The new perspective advocated by N.T. Wright argues that justification in the New Testament was about criteria for church membership, not how we are right with God.  This doesn't work because the basic dictionary definition of righteousness is not membership criteria but standing before God.  The context where our righteousness is discussed in Scripture is our standing before God (Rom 1-5; Phil 3:9).

Norm Shepherd has argued that Jesus didn't have to earn salvation for us, and it's true He didn't have to rack up a certain number of points for God to accept Him.  But he did deserve his exaltation (worthy is the Lamb!).  Much of Shepherd's ideas come from rejecting the imputation of the active obedience of Christ, already discussed (briefly) above.

This relates to our punishment because the Genesis 3 curse came in the family context of childbearing and work.
God puts us in His family when we were sons of the devil. Jesus is uniquely God's Son, but the Spirit testifies to us that we are, too.  This makes believers brothers and sisters to each other.
The privileges of adoption are:

  • Maturity in our relationship to God.
  • Confidence in praying.
  • Discipline in the family of God (Heb 12:5-10)
  • New relationships with fellow believers
  • A future to look forward to of glory, perfect sanctification, victory,

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