What saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): If any doctrines within the whole compass of Christianity may be properly termed “fundamental,” they are doubtless these two—the doctrine of justification, and that of the new birth: the former relating to that great work which God does for us, in forgiving our sins; the latter, to the great work which God does in us, in renewing our fallen nature. In order of time, neither of these is before the other; in the moment we are justified by the grace of God, through the redemption that is in Jesus, we are also “born of the Spirit.”
At this time more especially will we speak, that by grace are ye saved through faith, Ephesians 2:8.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): We must also assert in a very special way justification by faith alone, and faith only. We have got to assert that justification is not the result of regeneration, nor does it depend upon our regeneration. That is the Roman Catholic teaching, that we are justified because we have been regenerated as result of our baptism. This error can come in, and is coming in today in very subtle forms, but we must assert that God justifieth the ungodly, that it is entirely a forensic action, a legal pronouncement by God, and that we play no part whatsoever in it.
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, COUNCIL OF TRENT (1545-1563), CANONS XI & XII: If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema. If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema.
JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The Papists imagine that sins are only half remitted by God, because He is not willing to absolve sinners gratuitously. But the Scripture speaks far otherwise.
JOHN WESLEY: It is endless to attack one by one all the errors of that Church. But salvation by faith strikes at the root, and all fall at once when this is established.
JAMES DURHAM (1622-1658): Would you know the ground on which this goes, or how it comes to pass, that the just God can justify an ungodly sinner? It is because of Christ’s righteousness, and of His satisfying justice, or paying of the sinner’s debt.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): If you are justified, it is through His righteousness…When we say that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to believing souls, we do not hold forth an exceptional theory, but we expound a grand truth, which is so consistent with the theory of the fall and the plan of pardon, that it must be maintained in order to make the gospel clear. Justification by faith is a matter about which there must be no obscurity.
MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): The world, I know, is full of wranglers who obscure the doctrine of justification by faith, and of fanatics who persecute it. This doctrine is the head and the cornerstone. It alone begets, nourishes, builds, preserves, and defends the church of God; and without it the church of God cannot exist for one hour.
C. H. SPURGEON: Between the Protestant and the Papist there is a controversy of such a character, that he who is saved on the one side by faith in Jesus, dare not allow that his opponent on the opposite side can be saved while depending on his own works. There the controversy is for life or death, because it hinges mainly upon the doctrine of justification by faith, which Luther so properly called the test doctrine, by which a Church either stands or falls.
R. C. CHAPMAN (1803-1902): No cup of poison is so deadly as that mingled cup of law and grace, of works and faith, which is presented to men by false teachers, instead of the Gospel of the grace of God.
C. H. SPURGEON: I must give up justification by faith if I give up imputed righteousness. True justification by faith is the surface soil, but then imputed righteousness is the granite rock which lies underneath it; and if you dig down through the great truth of a sinner being justified by faith in Christ, you must, as I believe, inevitably come to the doctrine of the imputed righteousness of Christ as the basis and foundation on which that simple doctrine rests.
MARTIN LUTHER: If the article of justification be once lost, then is all true Christian doctrine lost. And as many as are in the world that hold not this doctrine, are either Jews, Turks, Papists, or heretics. For between the righteousness of the law and the righteousness of Christ, or between active and passive righteousness, there is no mean. He then that strayeth from this Christian righteousness, must needs fall into an active righteousness; that is to say, when he hath lost Christ, he must fall into the confidence of his own works.
BROWNLOW NORTH (1810-1875): There can be no greater deception or lie of the devil than this, for he who depends in part or in whole on his own righteousness will surely be damned. This truth is so important to be received that I can use no other word: it is the truth of God. There are two righteousnesses in which a man can stand before God in judgment, and two only. The one is his righteousness, and the other is Christ’s righteousness―It must be wholly the one, however, or wholly the other; for we cannot stand partly in the one and partly in the other.
C. H. SPURGEON: It is essential that our faith rest alone on Jesus. Mix anything with Christ, and you are undone. If your faith stand with one foot upon the rock of His merits, and the other foot upon the sand of your own duties, it will fall, and great will be the fall thereof.
THOMAS WILCOX (1622-1687): To accept Christ’s righteousness alone, His blood alone for salvation, is the sum of the Gospel.
MARTIN LUTHER: We believe that the commencement of salvation, and the sum of Christianity, is faith in Christ, who by His blood alone, and not by our works, has expiated sin, and destroyed the dominion of death. We believe that this faith is a gift of God, and that it is created by the Holy Spirit in our hearts, and not found by our own exertion. For faith is a living thing, which begets a man spiritually, and makes him a new creature.
LORD SHAFTESBURY (1801-1885): Justification by Faith alone―that grand doctrine, the very life of the Bible and the Keystone of the Reformation.