A Book Summary from Books At a Glance
About the Author
Brian Vickers (Ph.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Associate Professor of New Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
The doctrine of justification by grace through faith is essential. Although it is easy to get distracted by the contemporary debates and perspectives on justification, our focus needs to be on what Scripture teaches concerning this matter. In order to properly understand justification, the biblical-theological relationship between the first Adam and the last Adam needs to be grasped. The first Adam is the covenantal head of the human race and brings sin and death into the world. The last Adam is likewise the covenant head of his people, and brings righteousness and life.
Paul clearly articulates the reality that the ungodly are justified by receiving the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. Sinners can – just like Abraham – be declared righteous on the basis of their faith. This is not because faith itself is righteousness, but because faith instrumentally ties us to the righteous one, Jesus Christ. In him our sins are forgiven, God’s wrath and justice are satisfied, and we are credited with his righteousness. It is not enough, however, merely to hold an orthodox view of justification. Genuine saving faith produces fruit in our lives. Where there is real justification there is also real transformation. Our works can never justify us before God, but the way we live our lives does demonstrate whether or not we are justified before him. Justification frees us from guilt and legalism, and it allows us to live in radical freedom because of our acceptance in Christ.
Table of Contents
1 The Legacy of Adam
2 The Obedient and Last Adam
3 Not by Sight: Abraham and the Righteousness of Faith
4 Abraham: Our Father according to the Faith
5 The Law: Things by Which You Cannot be Justified
6 God’s Righteousness and Ours
7 Faith Works: The Life of the Justified
8 Freedom: Justification Applied
Conclusion: The Biblical, Central, and Practical Doctrine of Justification
Questions for Study and Reflection
Select Resources on Justification
Resources for Further Study
Index of Scripture
Index of Subjects and Names
The Legacy of Adam
To understand the doctrine of justification it is important to see how the biblical plotline relates Jesus Christ to Adam. The first chapter of Genesis reveals the fundamental truth that this world has been created by God, and that human beings have been made by him and are answerable to him for their conduct. Adam is given the positive commands to have children and subdue the earth, but he is also given the negative command not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He disobeys this command and is barred from eating from the Tree of Life. It is the second Adam who will give people the right to eat fruit from this tree.
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Justification By Grace Through Faith: Finding Freedom From Legalism, Pride, And Despair