Catechism Insight – Doctrinal Standard WSC #33

Doctrinal Standard #33 (2 of 2 weeks)

  • Q. 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.

Memory Verses

  • “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit” (Psalm 32:1–2, ESV).


  • Study Passage: Romans 5:12-21
  • Support Passages: Romans 4:1-9, Psalm 32:1-2, Philippians 3:8-12, I Corinthians 1:30-31, II Corinthians 5:21
  • Bible Story: Philemon


  • Romans 5:12-21 contrasts the work of Adam and Jesus Christ. Had Adam lived in perfect obedience to God’s word sin would have not entered into the world and been passed on to the generations. But we know that did not happen. Romans 5:12 tells us that, “just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” Jesus Christ (sometimes referred to as the second Adam) came into the world and did what the first Adam was unable to do. He died a perfect sacrifice, taking away the sins of those who believe. He also lived a righteous life according to God’s Law and imputed that righteous to his follows enabling his believes to be accepted before God the Father (refer to lesson #48 for more on the act of justification).
  • So when does justification take place in the life of a believer? C.I. Williamson provides some thoughts on this question. “In order to see the glory of this justification more clearly, we need now to stress certain truths. One of these is the fact that a man can be justified only once. It is not possible for a man to be justified again and again. Justification is not a work (which is only gradually completed) but an act (which is completed in a moment). This is because of the fact that when Christ finished His life of obedience on earth, He offered up to the Father for His elect people a perfect righteousness. And when He received the terrible punishment for their sins, He made a full payment for all of their sins. When a man repents of his sin and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, in other words, he is from that moment onward – even through all eternity – legally righteous before God. He is no more subject to God’s wrath and condemnation. ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus’ (Rom. 8:1). But another thing that we must stress is the fact that no man is justified until he repents and believes. Since Christ died for the ungodly many centuries ago, some have thought that God’s elect people who were already justified at that moment when Christ’s work was finished. Others have supposed that they were justified from eternity because God already planned to justify them before the world began. But the Bible clearly teaches us that this is not so. ‘You,’ says the Apostle, ‘were some time alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death’ (Col. 1:21-22). And ‘we have believed in Jesus Christ,’ he says in another place, ‘that we might be justified ‘ (Gal 2:16). The reason for this is that there is a difference between God’s plan and execution of God’s plan. There is a difference between what God has done to provide a basis for our justification, and what God does in making application of redemption to us” [1] (Pg. 150)

Discussion Questions

  • Adam was created without sin and then what happen? What was the result on all of humanity?
  • Was Adam capable of saving mankind from sin entering into the world? Explain.
  • Jesus Christ is sometimes referred to as the second Adam. Why is that?
  • Jesus Christ was able to do what Adam could not, live righteous before God. How does Christ righteousness benefit believers?
  • How does Christ sacrifice benefit believers?
  • Why does God accept Jesus’ death as forgiveness for the believers’ sins?

[1] Williamson, C.I. (2003). The Westminster Shorter Catechism – 2nd Edition. Phillipsburg, New Jersey, USA; P&R Publishing Company.

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