Views on justification
Justification is often understood as the action of God in giving or reckoning the righteousness of Jesus to a sinner, so that the sinner is declared by God as being righteous under the Law. In other words, justification is the term that describes the removal of sins from a person. In the Book of Isaiah the concept of justification is stated beautifully - Isaiah 1:18
There are however significant differing views on justification among Christians.
The Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church teach that justification and cleansing from sin requires both faith in Christ's redemptive work on the cross as well as obedience and good works. This is known as justification by faith plus works.
Protestant churches traditionally have taught that justification and cleansing from sin requires only faith in Christ's redemptive work on the cross, and does not require any good works on the part of the sinner. This is known as justification by faith alone, and was one of the core reasons for the Protestant break-away from the Roman Catholic Church in the Reformation. Passages such as James 2:24 which discuss justification through works are explained by viewing good works as evidence of the justification that has already through the believer's faith.
Some Protestant scholars, most notably N.T. Wright, have recently questioned the traditional Protestant understanding of justification. This has lead to the development of the New Perspective on Paul, which is a term that actually refers to a wide variety of more recent interpretations on the theology of the Apostle Paul. According to Wright, justification is not the process of how a sinner becomes right in God's sight, but rather is simply the declaration that a person is already right with God. Wright has argued that justification is more about ecclesiology, or who belongs to the church, than soteriology (the theology of salvation). He suggests that when Paul has stated that a person is justified by faith apart from the Law, what Paul means is that a person belongs to the family of God (the church) by virtue of his faith alone and not by virtue of his ethnic identity as a Jew. This shift of emphasis has caused ripples among some Protestant Christians, who question the implication this perspective has on the contribution of good deeds or works to salvation.
Biblical passages on justification
The word justification is derived from the Koine Greek word Δικαιοω (dikaioo). It is used in a variety of settings in the New Testament, especially by the apostle Paul, who spoke strongly about justification by faith alone, for example in Romans 3:28
N.T. Wright in