The Doctrine of Justification is the central core of Protestant Theology. It is based on theological statements of the New Testament, the discovery of which helped Martin Luther become aware of the Reformation.
The Doctrine states that it is not through his own works and deeds that a man is made “just”, but only through the grace of the saving action of Jesus Christ (solus Christus) and faith (sola pistis, sola gratia).
Those who, in faith of Jesus Christ, allow God’s grace to be given to them will be judged by God not for what they do or fail to do, but for what Jesus did (Romans 3, 21-28). In this way, they will have a share in eternal life, as stated in the words of Jesus handed down to us: “Very truly I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and does not come under judgement but has passed from death to life.” (John 5, 24).
Hence, the Doctrine of Justification states that we do not establish the meaning of our life ourselves, but we can only receive from God with gratitude.
The Doctrine encourages us to look through God’s eyes. We are far more than the sum of our actions – and our faults. Our dignity is given to us by God. It does not have to be ‘made’ or earned first.
Freed from the obligation of having to continually justify and purify ourselves against our doubts and self-reproaches, we can devote ourselves to others simply through the freedom given to us by faith. Faith and daily action are inextricably linked to each other.
Considered for a long time as a distinguishing feature of Protestantism, the Doctrine of Justification has long since been acknowledged also by the Catholic Church. In this regard, in 1999, the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church signed a joint Declaration.