By Amos Binney and Daniel Steele
In a theological sense, is either legal or evangelical. It is important that this distinction be observed.
Legal justification is justification according to the strict demands of the law. Holy angels are justified in this way, as mankind might now be had they never sinned. Every attempt in sinners at justification by law is vain. Ps. 103:3-4; 143:2; Rom. 3:20, 28.
Nevertheless, the believer, who has already been forgiven, or justified, through faith in Christ, is said to be justified by works when God approves of his works as evincing the genuineness of his faith. James 2:14-26.
That justification about which the Scriptures principally treat, and which reaches the case of the sinner, is called evangelical justification or pardon; by which is meant the acceptance of one, by God, who is, and who confesses himself to be guilty, and who repents and believes in Jesus Christ. Mark 1:14-15; 16:16; Rom. 1:16-17; 4:3-7; 5:1; Gal. 2:16-17. (104. What is justification? Is there any distinction of importance? What is legal justification? Who are justified in this way? Can sinners be justified by the law? When are they said to be justified by faith? What is said of evangelical justification?)
As to the method of justification, three things are to be considered: the originating, the meritorious, and the instrumental causes. The originating cause is the grace of God, which disposed him when we were exposed to death, as the penalty of our offense, to provide a substitute in his Son. Rom. 3:24-26; II Cor. 5:18-21; Gal. 2:16-20; Eph. 2:4-8, 15-16; 5:2; Tit. 3:4-7.
This substitute is the meritorious cause of our justification. What Jesus Christ did in obedience to the precepts of the law, and what he suffered in satisfaction of its penalty, constitute the ground of our forgiveness or justification before God. Acts 13:38-39; Rom. 3:21, 22.
As to the instrumental cause of our justification, the merit of Christ does not operate so as to produce pardon as a necessary and unavoidable effect, but through the instrumentality of faith.