Baptist History Homepage

      Editor's note: This was one of a series of Bible lectures brought to the students of Lexington Baptist College during their chapel services in the Fall of 1959 by Bro. Hafford H. Overby, who was pastor of Canfield Avenue Baptist Church, Detroit, Michigan and Secretary of Baptist Faith Missions at that time.

[1902 - 1994]

Our Many-Fold Justification
By Hafford H. Overby

     "That we should be holy and without blame, (without guilt) before him in love." (Ephesians 1:4.)

     Justification means to declare righteous, not to make righteous. A jury declares a man not guilty, they do not make him not guilty. So in justification we are declared to be righteous, not made so. Campbellites and others who teach salvation by works quote James 2:21 as proof that a man is saved by works. But James 2:21 does not teach such. Our justification is many fold:

     1. Romans 8:33 says we are "justified by God." That is the SOURCE of our justification. God declares that we are righteous, not guilty.

     2. Romans 5:9 says we are "justified by blood." That is the GROUND or BASIS of our justification. On the ground or basis of the shed blood of Christ we are declared to be righteous, not guilty.

     3. Titus 3:7 says we are "justified by grace." That is the STREAM of our justification. In the stream of unmerited and unmeritable favor of God we are declared to be righteous, not guilty.

     4. Romans 4:25 says we are "justified by the resurrection." That is the PROOF that we are declared righteous, not, guilty. The Mohammedan has no proof that he is justified because the body of Mohammed is still in the tomb. The Buddhist has no proof that he is justified because the body of Buddha is still in the tomb. But we have proof as Christians because our Christ arose from the dead - bodily.

     5. Romans 5:1 says we are "justified by faith." That is the CHANNEL through which our justification comes or is received. Our faith comes to us as a gift, Ephesians 2:8-10. Faith is the channel through which we receive the declaration that we are righteous, not guilty.

     6. Matthew 12:37 says we are "justified by words." That is EVIDENCE by words, testimony, witnessing that we are declared to be righteous, not guilty.

     7. James 2:21 says we are "justified by works." That is EVIDENCE by works that we are justified. God sees our faith but man can not see our faith. Man sees our works after we are saved and man declares us to be righteous by our works which he sees. Just so Abraham showed his works to men when he offered up Isaac. Rahab showed her works as evidence she was already saved when she received the two spies and hid them on her roof and sent them on their way secretly, James 2:25.

     8. Romans 3:24 says we are "justified freely." That is WITHOUT COST to us, without any cause in us to bring it about. The word "freely" comes from the same Greek word in John 15:25 translated "without cause." We are declared to be righteous, not guilty, freely or without any cause in us.

     9. Isaiah 53:11 says we are "justified by His knowledge." That is THE KNOW HOW of our being declared righteous, not guilty. The Lord knows how. It is by His knowledge, not ours, that we have the plan of salvation whereby we are declared to be righteous, not guilty. The Lord knows how to take water poured on the ground up in vapor and put it back in the glass, in rain, that it was poured out of and purer than when we poured it out, II Samuel 14:14.

     10. Luke 7:29 says that "God is justified" when a person is baptized with the baptism that comes from heaven. When one is saved and then scripturally baptized he is saying in a picture or symbol that God was perfectly righteous, not guilty, in putting His Son to death on the cross and in His burial and resurrection.

     11. Luke 7:35 says that "wisdom is justified" in the way she gets her children. Here wisdom is personified. And Wisdom is righteous in the way she takes guilty, lost, doomed, damned and condemned sinners and justifies them, or declares them to be righteous and not guilty. In God's wisdom all His attributes worked together for our good. The Trinity works together for our good.

      So when someone tells you that we are justified by works, tell him rightly so, but "much more," we are justified by God - the source, by blood - the ground, by grace - the stream, by resurrection - the proof, by faith - the channel, by words - the evidence, by works - the evidence, and freely - without cost, and by the knowhow or knowledge of onr Lord Jesus Christ, and then we justify God, or declare Him to be righteous in the way He declares us to be righteous and that Wisdom is righteous - not guilty, in the way she gets us, and all the other children, of God.

      Justification does not always refer to how we are saved because it sometimes refers to God and Wisdom being justified and God and Wisdom were never lost and cannot be lost and do not need to be saved.

      Yes, our justification is many fold and being justified by works, James 2:21, is the evidence of our being justified and not HOW we are justified.


[From the Ashland Avenue Baptist paper, November 20, 1959. Document provided by Donnie Burford. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

Baptist History Homepage