Why Justification Means so Little to Us

“We all are all wrong with him [God] because we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Far too frequently we fail to entertain  the gravity of this fact. Hence the reality of our sin and the reality of the wrath of God upon us for our sin do not come into our reckoning. This is the reason why the grand article of justification does not ring the bells in the innermost depths of our spirits. And this is the reason why the gospel of justification is to such an extent a meaningless sound in the world and in the church in the twentieth century. We are not imbued with the profound sense of the reality of God, of his majesty and holiness. And sin, if reckoned with at all, is little more than a misfortune or maladjustment.” (John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, p. 117)

Christ is a Complete Savior: John Murray on Justification and Sanctification

“It is an old and time-worn objection that this doctrine [justification] ministers to licence and looseness. Only those who know not the power of the gospel will plead such misconception. Justification is by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. Justification is not all that is embraced in the gospel of redeeming grace. Christ is a complete Savior and it is not justification alone that the believing sinner possesses in him. And faith is not the only response in the heart of him who has entrusted Christ for salvation. Faith alone justifies but a justified person with faith alone would be a monstrosity which never exists in the kingdom of grace. Faith works itself out through love (cf. Gal. 5:6). And faith without works is dead (cf. James 2:17-20). It is living faith that justifies and it is living faith unites to Christ both in virtue of his death and in the power of his resurrection. No one has entrusted himself to Christ for deliverance from the guilt of sin who has not also entrusted himself to him for deliverance from the power of sin.” (John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, p. 131)

John Murray on Regeneration

I have been enjoying Redemption-Accomplished and Applied. I have not read it before. Murray is not the most exciting writer on the planet. But he is precise and clear. All of these quotes come from Part II, Chapter III. Here is his definition of regeneration.

God effects a change which is radical and all-pervasive, a change which cannot be explained in terms of any combination, permutation, or accumulation of human resources, a change which is nothing less than a new creation by him who calls the things that be not as though they were, who spake and it was done, who commanded and it stood fast. This, in a word is regeneration. 

And later in the same chapter

Regeneration is the beginning of all saving grace in us,  and all saving grace is exercise on  our part proceeds from the fountain of regeneration. (emphasis his)

And later commenting on several verses in I John (2:29, 3:9, 4:7, 5:1, 4, 18)

This simply means that all of the graces mentioned in these passages are the consequences of regeneration and not only consequences which sooner or later follow upon regeneration, but fruits which are inseparable from regeneration. 


Far too frequently the conception entertained of conversion is so superficial and beggarly that it completely fails to take account of the momentous change of which conversion is the fruit. And the whole notion of what is involved in the application of redemption becomes so attentuated that it has little or no resemblance to that which the gospel teaches. Regeneration is at the basis of all change in heart and life. It is a stupendous change because it is God’s recreative act. A cheap and tawdry evangelism has tended to rob the gospel which it proclaims of that invincible power which is the glory of the gospel of sovereign grace.