When I became a Christian I fell in love with the doctrine of justification. I confess to you that I did not know right away how to define it perfectly or even defend it properly, but I did now that I loved it passionately. When I understood that God had declared me righteous based on the work of another—I was undone with love for basis of my righteousness, Jesus Christ, and the God who justifies me by his grace.
As I was making my way along in understanding this doctrine, a brother recommended that I read this new book that came out on justification. He said, “It’s kind of technical but, man, it is so good.” So, being appropriately warned, I picked up The God Who Justifies by James White. That was 2002. And this book remains one of my absolute favorites on this topic.
Dr White is a debater. He debates Muslims, Roman Catholics, and various critics of Christianity. This serves him well in how he carefully examines, understands, and articulates the truth of Christianity. What is of more importance than the doctrine of justification by faith alone in Christ alone to the glory of God alone?
The book is technical but it is not too difficult. One might be tempted to be discouraged by the number of times White quotes Greek or seems to split exegetical hairs to make a big point, but we shouldn’t be. He is doing the heavy lifting and careful reasoning to make us more confident in the doctrine of justification so that we may be better equipped to delight in and defend this glorious truth.
When you pick up the book you’ll notice that the back half of the book looks like a commentary. In fact it is. White shares his exegetical notes and study through the important passages that deal with justification. So you have detailed work on Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, James, and others. This is gold.
You’ll also notice that White spend the first 60 or so pages teaches the total depravity of man. You may ask, “Why is he doing this in a book on justification?” White would answer that before you can understand the beauty of the gospel you must see the ugliness of sin. Further, he would labor to show that every attempted solution to man’s problem is a form of justification. If the diagnosis is off then so will the solution. And, finally, he labors to show that we cannot ever forget that it was in fact God that justified us, not ourselves. This is worship provoking stuff.
White also shows how what he is teaching was the bedrock of the Protestant Reformation. White’s knowledge of church history helps to provide texture to the study for us today. As a Baptist I am particularly fond of this book and the fact that he quotes the London Baptist Confession.
I go back to my friend’s comment, “It’s kind of technical but, man, it is so good.” He was right. If you want to have a better handle on the doctrine of justification by faith, then this book will serve you well. Pick it up and spend some time with James White. He’ll take care of you.