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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

An Exposition of the Assembly's
Shorter Catechism

by John Flavel

Of Justification.

Q. 33. What is justification?
A. Justification is an act of Godís free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

Q. 1. What are the parts of justification?
A. It consists of two parts. First, The pardon of sin; Acts 13:39. And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Secondly, The acceptation of our persons as righteous; Romans 5:1-3. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Q. 2. Whose act is it to justify sinners?
A. It is the act of God alone; Romans 8:33. It is God that justifieth. Manís justifying of himself is nothing: Luke a6:15. And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men, but God knoweth your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed amongst men, is abomination in the sight of God. Nor other menís justifying of us; Revelation 3:1. I know thy works, that thou hast a name to live, and art dead.

Q. 3. Is there any thing in man to merit his justification?
A. No; it is an act of free grace in God; Romans 3:24. Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ.

Q. 4. If it be not for any inherent righteousness; how then?
A. It is for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us; Romans 4:6. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.

Q. 5. How is Christís righteousness made ours?
A. By application of it to us by faith; Galatians 2:16. Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Q. 6. Is it not partly by Christís righteousness made ours, and partly our own?
A. No; by Christís righteousness, without any mixture of ours; Romans 3:28. Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified. by faith without the deeds of the law.

Q. 7. But doth not James say otherwise, James 2:14. What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith and have not works; Can faith save him?
A. The two apostles contradict not one another; Paul speaks of justification before God; and James of justifying our faith before men.

Q. 8. Is no regard then to be had to good works?
A. Yes, very great; they that believe must be careful to maintain good works; Titus 3:8. That they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

Q. 9. Why can none be justified by works?
A. Because all are guilty before God; Romans 3:29. Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the

Gentiles also. And the law curses all that are under guilt; Galatians 3:10. Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are

written in the book of the law to do them.

Q. 10. What is the first inference from hence?
A. The happy state of believers who are now at peace with God; Romans 5:1. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. And whom he justifieth he glorifieth Romans 8:30. Whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Q. 11. What is the second inference from hence?
A. The excellency and necessity of faith; Romans 3:30. The circumcision is justified by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith.

Q. 12. What is the third inference?
A. That the greatness of sin is no bar to faith, since it is the righteousness of Christ that justifieth; 2 Corinthians 5:21. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we may be made the righteousness of God in him.

Q. 13. What is the last inference?
A. That believers ought to be exceeding humble, and far from boasting. The law of faith excludes boasting; Romans 3:27. Where is boasting then? It is excluded: By what law? of works? nay, but by the law of faith.

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