by Herman Bavinck
“The benefit of justification through faith alone has in it a rich comfort for the Christian. The forgiveness of his sins, the hope for the future, [and] the certainty concerning eternal salvation do not depend upon the degree of holiness which he has achieved in life, but are firmly rooted in the grace of God and in the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.”
“If these benefits had to derive their certainty from the good works of the Christian they would always, even unto death, remain unsure, for even the holiest of men have only a small beginning of perfect obedience. Accordingly, believers would be constantly torn between fear and anxiety, they could never stand in the freedom with which Christ has set them free, and, nevertheless being unable to live without certainty, they would have to take recourse to church and priest, to altar and sacrament, to religious rites and practices. Such indeed is the condition of thousands of Christians both inside and outside of the Roman church. They do not understand the glory and the comfort of free justification.”
“But the believer whose eye has been opened to the riches of this benefit, sees the matter differently. He has come to the humble acknowledgement of good works, whether these consist of emotional excitements, of soul experiences, or of external deeds, can never be the foundation but only the fruit of faith. His salvation is fixed outside of himself in Christ Jesus and his righteousness, and therefore can never again waver. His house is built upon the rock, and therefore it can stand the vehemence of the rain, the floods, and the winds” (p. 465-6).
Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith.
"Justification is the doctrine on which the church stands or falls. Either we must do something to be saved, or our salvation is purely a gift of grace. If our work, our virtue, our sanctification is primary, then we remain in doubt and uncertainty to our last breath; Christ's unique, all-encompassing, and all sufficient mediatorial office is set aside and God is robbed of his honor."
Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics:
Besides the fact that Holy Scriptures very plainly speak of justification as a legal or forensic act, this further fact must be pointed out to the opponents of the doctrine of justification: they have a mistaken notion of what justification is. They say that such an acquittal of man on the basis of a righteousness outside of himself is unworthy of man and that leaves him quite unchanged. But this charge comes back upon the heads of those who make it, for if they justify a person on the basis of a righteousness which is in him, they must themselves certainly admit that this righteousness in man here on earth is very frail and imperfect, and must therefore conclude that God justifies a person on the basis of a very inadequate righteousness and thus makes himself guilty of a false judgment. On the other hand, an acquittal based on the righteousness which is in Christ is a perfectly just one for it was presented perfectly by God himself in the Son of his love.
Justification and sanctification are not the same, and ought to be sharply differentiated from each other. For whoever neglects or erases this distinction again sets up a self-righteousness in man, does injustice to the completeness and adequacy of the righteousness of God which has been manifested in Christ, changes the gospel into a new law, robs the soul of man of its only comfort, and makes salvation dependent upon human merits. In justification, faith has only the role of a receiving agency, like that of the hand which accepts something; by it the soul places its dependency solely in Christ and his righteousness. …[Faith] justifies not by its own intrinsic moral worth but by its content, namely, the righteousness of Christ.
Herman Bavinck, Our Reasonable Faith.