Justification is essentially Jesus answering for God’s wrath over all our sins. Then, with His Spirit, He continues to deliver the forgiveness of sins through Baptism, Absolution, and the Lord’s Supper.
Justification is forgiveness of sins. According to our Lord, forgiveness is our deepest need. If we are not sinners, justification is irrelevant!
Justification is before God. It is not before man or the world. To stand before God means to stand under His judgment, where I am responsible for my sinful actions. Because of my Baptism, though, God does not see me standing before Him, but see Jesus Christ, my substitute.
Justification is not by what we do or who we are. Before God all our achievements and fame in the world are vanity. We cannot prepare ourselves to be justified by Him.
Justification is a gift. We contribute nothing to our salvation at all. Martin Luther illustrates justification as rain, a heavenly gift from above.
Justification is Christ’s doing. It is the office of Jesus alone to justify us. He bestows the forgiveness of sins in the ways that are most certain and true— by the water of Baptism, by words of Absolution, by the body and blood of Jesus to eat and to drink.
Justification is received through faith. As opposed to active righteousness, justification is passive righteousness. We receive—and only receive! Faith is nothing but receiving the Lord’s gifts. If we are told that we must believe it and accept it to be saved, there is not much hope. Faith is not achieved by something that we do.