For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (LSB)
What is it that causes God to justify believers? What is justification? I heard a definition a long time ago where the preacher said something like this, “Justification is what happens when we are born again, it is ‘Just as if I had never sinned’” Of course, those of us who are Reformed in our Theology believe that our regeneration, our quickening, our New Birth takes place prior to belief because that is what enables ungodly, spiritually dead people to repent and believe. Justification follows that. Let’s look at an example.
1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about—but not before God! 3 For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS COUNTED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Romans 4:1-3 (LSB)
Our justification then is God counting us as righteousness. This is God declaring us righteous. Therefore, Justification is God imputing Righteousness to our account. It is Jesus Christ’s Righteousness that God imputes to us. Why does He do it? Abraham believed God. For this reason he is called the Father of Faith. Notice it doesn’t say that he believed in God, but that he believed God. God had covenanted with him, making several wonderful promises. Abraham believed Him and God justified him. This is justification by faith. Now let’s look at what God does to bring us to this point.