Although justification is gratuitous, coming about as it does through the free grace of God, this does not render it merely a legal fiction--a divine decision to regard us as other than we are. The grace of justification is not something extrinsic, in the sense of something that remains abidingly external to our own being. On the contrary, just as each sinner is responsible for his sins (else wrongdoing would not be his), so the forgiveness of those sins must affect every part of him. The New Testament speaks of the transformation of the person into a new creature, who is the friend of God. For Saint Paul, the Christian presses on to make salvation his own, as Philippians 3 testifies, and if the Christian life is seriously lived, then, for the same apostle, writing in his second extant letter to the Church at Corinth, our inner nature is being renewed every day. There must be, in other words, a thorough and progressive appropriation of grace at all levels of our existence.
A Canterbury Tale
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