1. God freely justifies the persons whom He effectually calls.
He does this, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins and by accounting them, and accepting them, as righteous.
This He does for Christ's sake alone, and not for anything wrought in them or done by them.
The righteousness which is imputed to them, that is, reckoned to their account, is neither their faith nor the act of believing not any other obedience to the gospel which they have rendered, but Christ's obedience alone.
Christ's one obedience is two fold - His active obedience rendered to the divine law, and His passive obedience rendered in His death. Those thus justified receive and rest by faith upon Christ's righteousness; and this faith they have, not of themselves, but as the gift of God.
John 1:12; Rom. 3:24; 4:5-8; 5:17-19; 8:30; I Cor. 1:30-31; Eph. 1:7; 2:8-10; Phil. 3:8-9.
2. The faith which receives and rests on Christ and His righteousness is the sole means of justification.
Yet it is never alone in the person justified, but is invariably accompanied by all other saving graces.
Nor is it a dead faith, for it works by love.
Rom. 3:28; Cal. 5:6; Jas. 2:17, 22, 26.
3. By His obedience and death Christ paid in full the debt of all those who are justified.
By the sacrifice of Himself in his bloodshedding on Calvary, and his suffering on their behalf of the penalty they had incurred, He satisfied all the claims which God's justice had upon them. Yet their justification is altogether of free grace.
Firstly because Christ was the free gift of the Father to act on their behalf.
Secondly because Christ's obedience and His satisfying the demands of the law was freely accepted on their behalf.
Thirdly because nothing in them merited these mercies. Hence God's exact justice and His rich grace are alike rendered glorious in the justification of sinners.
Isa. 53:5-6; Rom. 3:26; 8:32; II Cor. 5:21; Eph. 1:6-7; 2:7; Heb. l0:l4; I Pet. 1:18-19.
Extracted from The 1689 Confession