Justification and Santification - John Bunyan
Salvation and right standing with God rest on what God has already done outside of us in the person of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24).
Two thousand years ago there was an objective historical event. God himself broke into human history in the person of his Son. He became our representative Man. He bore our nature and became so identified with us that all that he did was not only for his people, but also was legally as if we had done it. He strove with sin, the devil, and death. He utterly defeated them and destroyed their power. His victory was for us. It was really and legally our victory.
When he lived that holy life, which satisfied the claims of God's law, it was for us. It was as if we had lived it. When he bore the punishment for sin, justice saw us punished in him. "If one died for all, then are all dead" (2 Corinthians 5:14). When he arose and was accepted with joy into the presence of God, honored and exalted to God's right hand, all that was for us. It was his people that God embraced in the person of his Son. As certainly as God came to this Earth in the person of Christ, just so certainly have we gone to Heaven in the person of Christ. The Gospel does not proclaim the good things that God will do in his people, but it proclaims the good things that he has done for his people.
By his glorious acts outside of us, he has actually accomplished our salvation. He has forgiven, justified, and restored us to glory and honor in the person of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:3-7; 2:4-6; Romans 4:25; 5:8-10, 18, 19; Colossians 2:10).
Justification is not only by grace alone and by Christ alone; it must also be by belief alone.
That which God has done outside of us in his Son must be believed. Faith comes by hearing this message of Christ (Romans 10:17). Faith does not bring salvation into existence. It does not produce the righteousness by which God justifies us. Faith does not make; it takes. It is assenting to an arrangement already made by God.
The object of faith is completely objective. It is not faith in what the Holy Spirit has done within us. It is not faith in our sanctification or in some past experience of being born again. It is not faith in our faith. It is not faith in the church. It is not faith in baptism. Faith is focused on what is in Heaven, on what we have in Christ at God's right hand (Colossians 3:1-4). Therefore, we must decisively say that sanctification, being on Earth, being in the believer, is no part of the righteousness that is by faith alone.
The righteousness that is of faith alone is the righteousness of the living and dying of Christ. It is that life of perfect holiness that Christ now presents at the bar of justice on our behalf. The only righteousness we have before God is the righteousness that is now actually before God. Our righteousness, therefore, is where we need it most-in God's presence, before God's law, at the Father's right hand. For our righteousness is Christ himself (Jeremiah 23:6).
As John Bunyan declared, the sublime secret of the Bible is "that a righteousness that resides with a person in Heaven should justify me, a sinner on Earth." This is righteousness by faith. It is a righteousness which the Reformers declared to be "an alien righteousness" - a righteousness completely outside of man and so foreign to sinful reasoning that it can be known only by the Gospel.
We have seen that God justifies by grace, on the grounds of Christ's work, and applies the blessing to the sinner who receives it in faith. The grace that justifies is outside of the believing sinner. The righteousness that justifies is outside of the believing sinner. The faith that accepts the blessing is affixed to that which is outside of the believing sinner. God's act of justifying the believing sinner is also outside the believer.
If you would like to read the whole treatise.... here is the link, really worth the effort to read: http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=165