And if you are, by what or by whom did you come by this justification? You did not get through any work or anything on your own, so what makes you think that you are justified?
The great 16th Century German Reformer, Martin Luther, called it “the article upon which the church stands or falls.”
The article in question is that of justification by faith alone. To Luther, whether this doctrine was believed and preached or not was the basis by which we judge if it is a true church! A church ceases to be a church when it ceases to declare that sinners are reconciled to God by no other way than by faith.
It is our faith which defines us as Christians because without it, we have no hope in Christ nor are we justified in Him.
We live in a day of religious tolerance, when truth, it is said, should be sacrificed on the altar of relationships. May our voice sound with the noble martyrs of generations of the true church who say with the apostle Paul, “If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.’ (Galatians 1:9)
The doctrine of justification by faith alone is essential to the gospel. The gospel ceases to be ‘good news’ if it ceases to declare that Christ alone has accomplished our salvation. We are trying to mix our own brand of law with the Grace that comes from the belief that we are supposed to have in Christ. Theologians have always understood that when we say we are justified by faith alone, we are really saying we are justified by the work of Christ alone.
The work that Christ did on the cross was all that needed to be done, we cannot add anything to it. We are unable to add anything to the perfect sacrifice which Christ gave for us. That’s why this doctrine is so important. If we try to contribute anything more to our salvation than simply believing what Christ has already done, we cheapen His work of grace and declare it insufficient. We are calling Him a liar by trying to add to His work, because He said “It is finished!”, and with those words Christ proved that nothing else was needed except for us to accept it and believe in the saving grace that Christ provided for us through His sacrifice.
Paul himself was Saul at first, a Pharisee and a zealot for the Jewish faith. He tried to eradicate the Way as it was called at first but Jesus met him on the road to Damascus and it changed him forever. He became one of the most influential apostles of the first century. Our faith is the path, and it must be in Jesus and the work that He alone accomplished on the cross.
Our justification has always been in Him and through Him and what He did, it has never been based on anything that we can do because nothing that we do is holy or acceptable to God unless we have the holiness of Christ living in us and through us by faith in Him.
The only possible way that we have to be justified in our Christian walk if through faith in Christ and in His sacrifice for us on the cross. If we don’t believe in that, then we might as well decide to be an agnostic and not believe any of the Word of God. Because dis-belief in any part of God’s Word nullifies all of it. Just like not believing in any part of any contract, or disagreeing with any part of it makes the entirety of the contract useless.