1. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness, by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.
2. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.
3. Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to his Father’s justice in their behalf. Yet, inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them; and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead; and both, freely, not for anything in them; their justification is only of free grace; that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.
4. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification: nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.
5. God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and, although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.
6. The justification of believers under the old testament was, in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the new testament.
WLC Q&A – 70-73
Q. 70. What is justification?
A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace unto sinners, in which he pardoneth all their sins, accepteth and accounteth their persons righteous in his sight; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them, and received by faith alone.
Q. 71. How is justification an act of God’s free grace?
A. Although Christ, by his obedience and death, did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice in the behalf of them that are justified; yet inasmuch as God accepteth the satisfaction from a surety, which he might have demanded of them, and did provide this surety, his own only Son, imputing his righteousness to them, and requiring nothing of them for their justification but faith, which also is his gift, their justification is to them of free grace.
Q. 72. What is justifying faith?
A. Justifying faith is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and Word of God, whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition, not only assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receiveth and resteth upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.
Q. 73. How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?
A. Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification; but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness.
WSC Q&A 33
Q. 33. What is justification?
A. Justification is an act of God’s 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.
Belgic Confession Article 22
ARTICLE 22 – OUR JUSTIFICATION THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST
We believe that, in order that we may obtain the true knowledge of this great mystery, the Holy Spirit kindles in our hearts a true faith.1 This faith embraces Jesus Christ with all His merits, makes Him our own, and does not seek anything besides Him.2 For it must necessarily follow, either that all we need for our salvation is not in Jesus Christ or, if it is all in Him, that one who has Jesus Christ through faith, has complete salvation.3 It is, therefore, a terrible blasphemy to assert that Christ is not sufficient, but that something else is needed besides Him; for the conclusion would then be that Christ is only half a Saviour.
Therefore we rightly say with Paul that we are justified by faith alone, or by faith apart from works of law (Rom 3:28).4 Meanwhile, strictly speaking, we do not mean that faith as such justifies us,5 for faith is only the instrument by which we embrace Christ our righteousness; He imputes to us all His merits and as many holy works as He has done for us and in our place.6 Therefore Jesus Christ is our righteousness, and faith is the instrument that keePsalm us with Him in the communion of all His benefits. When those benefits have become ours, they are more than sufficient to acquit us of our sins.
1. John 16:14; 1 Cor 2:12; Eph 1:17-18. 2. John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Gal 2:21. 3. Psalm 32:1; Mat 1:21; Luke 1:77; Acts 13:38-39; Rom 8:1. 4.Rom 3:19-4:8; Rom 10:4-11; Gal 2:16; Phil 3:9; Titus 3:5. 5. 1 Cor 4:7. 6.Jer 23:6; Mat 20:28; Rom 8:33; 1 Cor 1:30-31; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 John 4:10.
ARTICLE 23 – OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS BEFORE GOD
We believe that our blessedness lies in the forgiveness of our sins for Jesus Christ’s sake and that therein our righteousness before God1 consists, as David and Paul teach us. They pronounce a blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works (Rom 4:6;Psalm 32:1). The apostle also says that we are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus (Rom 3:24).2
Therefore we always hold to this firm foundation. We give all the glory to God,3 humble ourselves before Him, and acknowledge ourselves to be what we are. We do not claim anything for ourselves or our merits,4 but rely and rest on the only obedience of Jesus Christ crucified;5 His obedience is ours when we believe in Him.6
This is sufficient to cover all our iniquities and to give us confidence in drawing near to God, freeing our conscience of fear, terror, and dread, so that we do not follow the example of our first father, Adam, who trembling tried to hide and covered himself with fig leaves.7 For indeed, if we had to appear before God, relying – be it ever so little – on ourselves or some other creature, (woe be to us!) we would be consumed.8 Therefore everyone must say with David, O LORD, enter not into judgment with Thy servant, for no man living is righteous before Thee (Psalm 143:2).
1. 1 John 2:1. 2. 2 Cor 5:18-19; Eph 2:8; 1 Tim 2:6. 3. Psalm 115:1; Rev 7:10-12. 4. 1 Cor 4:4; James 2:10. 5. Acts 4:12; Heb 10:20. 6. Rom 4:23-25. 7. Gen 3:7; Zeph 3:11; Heb 4:16; 1 John 4:17-19. 8. Luke 16:15; Phil 3:4-9.
Heidelberg Catechism 59-64
Lord’s Day 23
59. WHAT DOES IT HELP YOU NOW, THAT YOU BELIEVE ALL THIS?
That I am righteous in Christ before God, and an heir of eternal life.1
60. HOW ARE YOU RIGHTEOUS BEFORE GOD?
Only by true faith in Jesus Christ: that is, although my conscience accuses me, that I have grievously sinned against all the commandments of God, and have never kept any of them, and am still prone always to all evil; yet God, without any merit of mine, of mere grace, grants and imputes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, as if I had never committed nor had any sins, and had myself accomplished all the obedience which Christ has fulfilled for me; if only I accept such benefit with a believing heart.
 Rom 3:21-28; Gal 2:16; Eph 2:8-9; Php 3:8-11;  Rom 3:9-10;  Rom 7:23;  Dt 9:6;Ezek 36:22; Tit 3:4-5;  Rom 3:24; Eph 2:8;  1 Jn 2:2;  Rom 4:3-5; 2 Cor 5:17-19;1 Jn 2:1;  Rom 4:24-25; 2 Cor 5:21;  Jn 3:18; Acts 16:30-31; Rom 3:22, 28, 10:10
61. WHY DO YOU SAY THAT YOU ARE RIGHTEOUS BY FAITH ONLY?
Not that I am acceptable to God on account of the worthiness of my faith, but because only the satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ is my righteousness before God; and I can receive the same and make it my own in no other way than by faith only.
Lord’s Day 24
62. BUT WHY CANNOT OUR GOOD WORKS BE THE WHOLE OR PART OF OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS BEFORE GOD?
Because the righteousness which can stand before the judgment seat of God, must be perfect throughout and entirely conformable to the divine law, but even our best works in this life are all imperfect and defiled with sin.
63. DO OUR GOOD WORKS MERIT NOTHING, EVEN THOUGH IT IS GOD’S WILL TO REWARD THEM IN THIS LIFE AND IN THAT WHICH IS TO COME?
The reward comes not of merit, but of grace.
64. BUT DOES NOT THIS DOCTRINE MAKE MEN CARELESS AND PROFANE?
No, for it is impossible that those who are implanted into Christ by true faith, should not bring forth fruits of thankfulness.