Beautiful Description of Justification

I love this gem from the Heidelberg Catechism:

Question 60: How are thou righteous before God?

Answer: Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ; so that though my conscience accuse me, that I have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, and kept none of them, and am still inclined to all evil; notwithstanding, God, without any merit of mine, but only of mere grace, grants and imputes to me, the perfect satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ; even so, as if I never had had, nor committed any sin: yea, as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ has accomplished for me; inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a believing heart.


5 Responses

  1. even so, as if I never had had, nor committed any sin:

    I’m not sure if this line is quite correct. It’s not “just as if I had never sinned” but that I am declared righteous in spite of my many sins.

    Or maybe I am misunderstanding the quote…

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  2. Those are rich words, Chris. Thanks for passing them on. What a comfort! If they weren’t biblical, I’d say they were too good to be true!

    What resource are you using for the catechism?

  3. Don, I don’t think the statement denies that justification is in spite of our sinfulness (which it affirms strongly). It means simply that God treats us as though we’ve not sinned and were as righteous as His Son–“as if” based on imputation.

    Steve, I got this particular quotation of it online. Not sure where. Sorry. I did compare a couple sources to be sure it was accurate, though. Glad it was a blessing to you. What grace!

  4. You might want to check with a few theologians before dismissing my objection.

    Charles Hodge:

    The righteousness of Christ is in justification imputed to the believer. That is, is set to his account, so that he is entitled to plead it at the bar of God, as though it were personally and inherently his own.

    Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Originally published 1872., 3:118 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

    In justification, we are declared righteous, not “as if we had not sinned” but on the basis of the righteousness of Christ which we are entitled to plead.

    If the catechism had left out the line I highlighted, I would have no objection.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  5. PS, this isn’t a big issue for me, and at least it got me to reading the good Dr. Hodge again this morning.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

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