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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

A Scripture Catechism
in the
Method of the Assembly's

by Matthew Henry

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

1. Have we all need to be justified? Yes: for we are all guilty before God, Rom. 3:19. Is it enough if we justify ourselves? No: If I justify myself my own mouth shall condemn me, Job 9:20. Is it enough if our neighbours justify us? No: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God, Luke 16:15. Must it be God's act then? Yes: It is God that justifieth, Rom. 8:33. And his only? Yes: for none can forgive sins but God only, Mark 2:7. And is it an act of free grace? Yes: we are justified freely by his grace, Rom. 3:24.

2. Are all that are justified discharged from the sentence of the law? Yes: for there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, Rom. 8:1. Have they their sins pardoned? Yes: we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, Eph. 1:7. Does God forgive them? Yes: I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions,, Isa. 43:25.

3. When God forgives sin does he forgive all? Yes: having forgiven all your trespasses, Col. 2:13. Does he forgive even great sins? Yes: though your sins have been as scarlet, they shall be white as snow, Isa. 1:18. Does he forgive many sins? Yes: he will abundantly pardon, Isa. 55:7. Does he forgive freely? Yes: I will be merciful to their unrighteousness. Does he forgive fully? Yes: their sins and their iniquities I will remember no more, Heb. 8:12. Is he forward to forgive? Yes: I said I will confess and thou forgavest, Ps. 32:5. Does he forgive and forget? Yes: thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea, Mic. 7:19.

4. Is forgiveness of sins offered to all upon gospel terms? Yes: for repentance and remission of sins is preached to all nations, Luke 24:47. Is it secured to all the chosen remnant? Yes: for Christ is exalted to be a Prince, and a Saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins, Acts 5:31. Have all believers their sins pardoned? Yes: through him all that believe are justified, Acts 13:39. Are they accepted in God's sight? Yes: he hath made us accepted in the Beloved, Eph. 1:6. Are they accepted as righteous? Yes: for we are made the righteousness of God in him, 2 Cor. 5:21.

5. Can we be justified by the covenant of innocency ? No: for who can say, I have made my heart clean? Prov. 20:9. Can we be justified by any thing in ourselves? No: How call men be justified with God? Job 25:4. If we know no ill by ourselves will that justify us? No: though I know nothing by myself, yet am I not thereby justified, 1 Cor. 4:4. Will the law of Moses justify us? No: we are justified from all those things from which we could not be justified by the law of Moses, Acts 13:39. Will our own works justify us? No: by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified, Rom. 3:20. Would the ceremonial sacrifices justify men? No: they could not make the comers thereunto perfect, Heb. 10:1. Are we justified for the righteousness of Christ? Yes: By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous, Rom. 5:19. And for that only? Yes: Not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, Phil. 3:9.

6. Is the righteousness of Christ imputed to us for our justification? Yes: for he is made of God unto us righteousness, 1 Cor. 1:30. Did Christ die that it might be imputed? Yes: He shall justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities, Isa. 53:11. Do we owe our justification then to the death of Christ? Yes: the blood of Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin, 1 John 1:7. And does that lay the foundation of our salvation? Yes: being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath, Rom. 5:9. Were we justified from eternity? No: for in due time Christ died for the ungodly, Rom. 5:9. If Christ had died, and not risen again, could he have justified us? No: for he was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification, Rom. 4:25. Is that then our plea for peace and pardon? Yes: for who then is he that shall condemn? Rom. 8:34. May we then depend upon Christ for righteousness? Yes: In the Lord I have righteousness and strength, Isa. 45:24. Is it become an act of justice in God to pardon sin upon the account of Christ's righteousness? Yes: for he is just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus, Rom. 3:26. 1 John 1:9.

7. Are we to receive the righteousness of Christ? Yes: We have now received the atonement, Rom. 5:11. Do we receive it by faith? Yes: through his name; whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins, Acts 10:43. And by faith only? Yes: for being justified by faith we have peace with God, Rom. 5:1. Did Christ's death satisfy the law? Yes: for Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, Gal. 3:13. Is that then our only righteousness in the law court? Yes: for we are reconciled to God by the death of his Son, Rom. 5:10. Do we by true faith come up to the terms of the gospel? Yes: Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved, Acts 16:31. Is that then our righteousness in the gospel court? Yes: for to him that believeth, his faith is counted for righteousness, Rom. 4:5. Is it therefore our life? Yes: for the just shall live by his faith, Hab.2:4. Is it so as it applies Christ's righteousness? Yes: This is the name whereby he shall be called, the Lord our righteousness, Jer. 23:6.

8. Is justifying faith a working faith Yes: for by works is faith made perfect, Jam. 2:22. And will that faith justify us which does not produce good works? No: for by works a man is justified, and not by faith only, Jam. 2:24. Is faith then dead without good works? Yes: for as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also, Jam. 2:26. And are good works dead without faith? Yes: for without faith it is impossible to please God, Heb. 11:6. Must they both act together then? Yes: for that which avails is faith, which works by love, Gal. 5:6. Do we then make void the law through faith? No: God forbid, yea, we establish the law, Rom. 3:31. Is our faith our own? No: it is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, Eph. 2:8. Are our good works our own? No: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us, Isa. 26:12. Is any room left for boasting then? No: it is excluded by the law of faith, Rom. 3:27. Must God therefore have all the glory? Yes: for by the grace of God I am what I am, 1 Cor. 15:10.

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