The latest Pauline Theology lectures at HTC have thrown up Dr Michael Bird's Four Essential Points on Justification, together with a definition. These also appear (in expanded form) in Dr Bird's new book 'A Bird's Eye View of Paul', which I have had the pleasure of delving into already. Anyway...
- Justification is forensic: it is the opposite of being condemned; it is God's declaration; it is our status, not our state.
- Justification is covenantal: it means belonging to the family of Abraham; there are no other conditions of membership.
- Justification is effective: sanctification cannot be subsumed into justification but they cannot be totally separated; whilst we may treat them distinctly in conceptual terms, we cannot do this logically; for Paul, justification is sometimes transformative.
- Justification is eschatological: the verdict of final judgement is declared in the present; the verdict is declared in Christ's atonement and resurrection.
the act whereby God creates a new people, with a new status, in a new covenant, as a foretaste of the new age.