The above title is the cutesy play on words which earned a chuckle from me on the White Horse Inn page promoting their new book, Justified: Modern Reformation Essays on the Doctrine of Justification, Vol. 1. This is the only time in the 5 years I’ve been listening to the White Horse Inn that I have ever heard or read of them endorsing Justification as something one must purchase. And of course, they don’t mean that one must purchase one’s own verdict of good standing before Almighty God. They mean one should purchase their book in which the doctrine of forensic justification is skillfuly and carefuly explained according to the Bible and defended against contemporary attacks.
In an earlier post, I gushed about how important the White Horse Inn podcasts were in my own maturing in the understanding of the central importance of forensic justification for a proper understanding of the Gospel. But I’m about to gush a little more.
In 2005, during what turned out to be a year-long ministry in a church whose leadership later fired me for holding to the doctrines of Grace (The Glory of God alone, the Authority of Scripture alone, Salvation in Christ alone, by Grace alone, through Faith alone), a friend of mine, a Lutheran pastor, introduced me to the podcasts of the White Horse Inn. And he changed my life. No exaggeration.
I’ve often said, since then, that I’ve learned and clarified more theology from the White Horse Inn podcasts than I did in seminary. And I went to a relatively good seminary. But the single greatest benefit I’ve derived from the White Horse Inn is a clear and biblical understanding of the doctrine of forensic justification. This is sort of an important doctrine–one that comes up in conversation pretty often with other pastors. And I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked by other pastors to explain justification or clarify some aspect of this doctrine. The president of a certain Mennonite Brethren Bible college, when I challenged him on his school’s neglect of this doctrine, claimed ignorance and asked, “Is it important?” I’ll say. When I’ve had the opportunity in such conversations to help another man gain a better, more biblical view of the Gospel through a good explanation of the doctrine of justification, the response has generally been deep gratitude. So in fairness, I’ve tried to point those men back to the folks who helped in this area: Mike Horton, Rod Rosenbladt, Ken Jones and Kim Riddlebarger at the White Horse Inn.
So, to echo that unfortunate college president, how important is the doctrine of forensic justification? Put it this way: without it, there is no Gospel.
Justification, moreover, we thus define: The sinner being admitted into communion with Christ is, for His sake, reconciled to God; when purged by His blood he obtains the remission of sins, and clothed with righteousness, just as if it were his own, stands secure before the judgment seat of heaven.
(John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion [Hendrickson, 2008. p 533], Book 3, Chapter 17, Section 8 )
Without this justification there is no Gospel because, as Calvin puts it, there would then be no “communion with Christ”; no “reconciliation to God”; no “purging by His blood” or “obtaining the remission of sins”; no “clothing with righteousness”. I can therefore say, again without exaggeration, that White Horse Inn was used by God to teach me to understand the Gospel in its fullness. I’m therefore confident that God can use WHI to help anyone come to a fuller understanding of the Gospel. If you can’t answer this question, “Why was it necessary for Jesus to live a sinless life and die on the cross in order for anyone to be forgiven by God?” then please buy this book, Justified, read it, and perhaps tune in to the podcasts of the White Horse Inn.
Here’s WHI host, Mike Horton, on the new book from Modern Reformation magazine, Justified: Modern Reformation Essays on the Doctrine of Justification.