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Catechism Class: LD23 Q59, Justification (1)


Justification Part 1.

We have spent quite some time with our instructor, going through the clauses of the Apostle’s Creed, learning the vital truths that are contained in that classic statement, a succinct, historic declaration of the Christian faith. But we have reached the end of that summary, and now we are faced with a challenge in LD23, Q59, But what does it help you now that you believe all this? Our answer is, In Christ I am righteous before God and heir to life everlasting.

Listen to the PODCAST HERE.

The key here is the phrase, “I am righteous before God.” Over three questions in Lord’s Day 23, the catechist teaches us about the foundation of the Christian faith, how I can be right with God. It’s called Justification, and it is what we shall consider in this lesson, an introduction to Justification, and in the following two lessons, Q60 and 61. READ: Romans 5:1-2  


Before we go further let’s attempt to define our terms. The word ‘RIGHTEOUS’ translates the Greek word δικαιοσύνη and it describes the condition of being in a right standing, legally, before God. Not to be under the condemnation of the broken law. The word JUSTIFICATION comes from a variant of the same Greek word, δικαιόω and it the means by which we become righteous, how we enter  into a right standing before God. When Zacarias Ursinus, the main author of the catechism defines these terms in his commentary on the catechism, he goes into very careful detail. He discusses the difference between 

  • UNCREATED RIGHTEOUSNESS, – which is only found in God, alone, and is the absolute standard of righteousness, by which we will all be measured, Psalm 11:7  2 Corinthians 5:21 and 
  • CREATED RIGHTEOUSNESS, found in mankind. Created righteousness is a legal concept, it requires either the keeping of God’s law, or the imposition of a penalty when the law is broken. But our righteousness always falls far short of God’s perfect standards. Even the very best of us are sinners, and even the good deeds that we do fall very far short of God’s standards of righteousness. Our good deeds may be morally acceptable in society, they may be beneficial to others, but that doesn’t make them, or us ‘right’ in the sight of God. We are NOT right – let’s call that ‘UNRIGHTEOUS’ in the sight of God. We sometimes refer to this attempt to make ourselves right with God as SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS, something Paul describes in Romans 10:2-3, when he is speaking about the Jews of his day.

So, we have our definitions. Righteousness is to be right with God, and justification is how we are made right with God. We need this justification because our own righteousness falls short, and leaves us condemned, we need to depend on someone else’s righteousness, to have another’s righteousness credited to our account. Because Jesus was perfectly righteous, without sin, at the cross he imputed his righteousness to all who believe in him, and we are thus accounted as righteous before God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 

2. What does the Catechist mean by IN CHRIST? In Christ I am righteous before God and heir to life everlasting.

Being ‘in Christ’ seems to be a favourite phrase of the apostle Paul. READ Galatians 3:26–28,  Christians can said to have PUT ON CHRIST.  We are sinners, but we have ‘put on the righteousness of Christ’ 2 Corinthians 5:21 so we are no longer condemned by the law, because we are clothed with his righteousness, like a robe covers a person’s clothes. Isaiah 61:10. When God looks at us, he sees Christ’s robe of righteousness. He sees Jesus, and he declares us NOT GUILY – we are justified, – just as if we had never sinned. Romans 8:1 To be “in Christ” means that God no longer sees our imperfections; He sees the righteousness of His own Son. Ephesians 2:13 

3. How am I an HEIR to Eternal Life? In Christ I am righteous before God and heir to life everlasting.

Christians, being in Christ and no longer under condemnation, are given a new status before God. We are at peace with God. Colossians 1:21-22 We once were rebels and sinners, but our new relationship with God is that of an adopted SON. In ancient near eastern culture, a son has certain privileges and rights and responsibilities. And one of those rights is the right of inheritance.  And while we know that in the new heaven and earth, there will be both men and women, 2 Corinthians 6:18 Yet in status, we are all sons! Galatians 3:26-29  Romans 8:14 

So we are heirs, – heirs of eternal life! Titus 3:7 …that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  


So, we have learned about righteousness, – God’s righteousness, and our righteousness, and justification, – how Christ’s righteousness is transferred, imputed, to my account, at the cross, where he took my sins, and clothed me in his cloak of righteousness. That changes how God views me, for he declares me not guilty, brings me into his family, adopts me as he his son and makes me his heir, and a joint heir with Christ. Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Next time we will look at Question 60, when we will learn how we obtain that transfer of Christ’s righteousness to us, – justification by faith ALONE.

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