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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Wednesday, October 08, 2008
The Imputation of Righteousness
There are two (main) aspects to the doctrine of imputed righteousness, and some tertiary afterthoughts. The first aspect is that righteousness can be imputed, and second that it is Christ's righteousness that is imputed.

To the first:

In Romans 4:21-22, Paul argues that when Abraham trusted God to keep His promise, that by this same trust God counted Abraham as righteous. That is, Paul teaches that Abraham was regarded as "just" by God, not because of Abraham's piety, or his holy conduct - and certainly not premised upon Abraham being sinless (for all of us are sinners).

Paul is teaching that the righteousness by which Abraham was justified was not produced by Abraham, but was reckoned to Abraham the moment Abraham placed his trust in God.

Paul goes on to argue then, that the righteousness that justifies us is imputed to us and does not come from works of the flesh. We are not justified by our own righteousness, for no one is truly righteous, rather we are justified by faith because through faith God reckons righteousness to our account.

To the second part (this righteousness is Christ's):

If we are agreed that sin is indeed worthy of the punishment God demands for it, then God cannot fail to administer that punishment, lest He himself be unjust, or the punishment be unjust. If the punishment for sin is just, and God is just - then the righteousness by which we are justified cannot be "pretend" righteousness, it must be "real" righteousness, or God is not just in justifying us.

So was ask, where then does this righteousness come from?

The answer is that it is God's own righteousness (c.f. Romans 3:22) that comes from God (c.f Philippians 3:9) and is reckoned to our account, in and through Christ (c.f. 1 Corinthians 1:30, Philippians 1:11) who Himself is equally the source of it (c.f. 2 Peter 1:1).

Thoughts:

An important question concerning the integrity of this imputation is raised by those who object to it: How can God pretend that a guilty man is just, and on the basis of that phantom, declare the man innocent? Does not God's justice demand punishment for the sins, and can that justice still be justice if it can be thwarted by God pretending a man to be innocent?

I word the question as an adversarial, because it really is quite valid. How is it that a just God can merely pretend a guilty man is innocent, and expect anyone to agree that this is just. Does it become just because all parties agree to the ruse? Or is it in fact that we have framed the question poorly? I think the latter.

God doesn't pretend that guilty people are innocent - He is perfectly just, and will by no means allow the guilty to go free.

That leaves only one option - the guilty do not go free, and the righteousness that is reckoned is not a pretend righteousness, but actual righteousness. The question is, how can real righteousness get accounted to guilty sinners, and the answer scripture gives is, I believe, through being born again.

When we are born again, something happens - we are baptized into Christ Jesus - we become spiritually "married" to Christ - the "two flesh become one flesh". Not married in the way that we think of marriage today, but married in the way marriages were done in biblical times - where the marriage begins with the betrothal. Recall that when the betrothal was announced the two were considered married, but the ceremony wouldn't take place until after the groom went to his father's house, and made a new room on the house for him and his bride to live in. When the addition to the house was completed, the groom would set out (at night) to take to him his bride. They would return to his father's house, where there would be a great celebration ending in the formal consummation of their marriage.

The take away here is that we, when we exercise faith in Christ, enter into a union with Christ that is pictured in marriage. Paul described marriage as a mystery - not in the sense that we use the word, as if we meant something that can never be fully understood - rather it meant something that was previously unknown, but has now been understood and revealed. Marriage, says Paul, pictures the union of Christ with His church.

Paul writes about our union with Christ all over the place - it is this same union that makes the imputation of righteousness "real".

It isn't that God pretends we are righteous - it is that we are united to Christ who is righteous. God cannot deny Christ's righteousness, and since we are united to Christ - the bride of Christ, and one flesh (as it were), his righteousness is our righteousness in a very literal and real way.

It becomes our righteousness because through our union with Christ we are not only crucified with Him, but we die with Him and are buried with Him - and the moment that God raised Jesus from the dead - He raised us up with Him too - and in that moment God declared us truly righteous in Christ. Our sins having been punished "for real" in Christ, our righteousness is just as real "in Christ".

Our sins were put on Christ through the union that is called the new birth.

It is a new birth because we die in (and with) Christ on Calvary, we are buried with Him in the grave, and in that moment our debt is settled forever. So that when God raises us in Christ, he is not raising us and our debt too, our debt was paid, and it stays in the grave. In Christ, our righteousness is not pretend, it is tangible - it is the righteousness of one who has paid their debt, and been restored to God in and through Christ.

The foundation of my justification is Christ and Christ alone. My justification does not depend upon my righteousness, it depends upon Christ and my apprehending Him by faith. It depends upon a genuine conversion - a real birth from above. The righteousness that is imputed to me is real righteousness. It isn't that I start acting righteous and my new righteous acts justify me - it is that I am clothed in the righteousness of Christ which becomes my righteousness through the new birth.

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posted by Daniel @ 3:04 PM  
6 Comments:
  • At 8:29 PM, October 08, 2008, Blogger Barbara said…

    Beautiful. Thank you.

     
  • At 9:36 AM, October 09, 2008, Blogger Pedro Jimenez said…

    "The foundation of my justification is Christ and Christ alone. My justification does not depend upon my righteousness, it depends upon Christ and my apprehending Him by faith. It depends upon a genuine conversion - a real birth from above. The righteousness that is imputed to me is real righteousness. It isn't that I start acting righteous and my new righteous acts justify me - it is that I am clothed in the righteousness of Christ which becomes my righteousness through the new birth."

    AMEN!

     
  • At 10:53 AM, October 09, 2008, Blogger Marcian said…

    Horatius Bonar's "The Everlasing Righteousness" and Spurgeon's "All of Grace" have been very solid books to encourage me to meditate on the imputation of Christ's righteousness to me. Only out of this meditation, it seems, do I grow to love Him more as does my desire to be a servant in His kingdom.

     
  • At 3:47 PM, October 09, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    It is one of the sweetest doctrines there is.

     
  • At 11:12 AM, October 10, 2008, Blogger Even So... said…

    It is the gospel...

     
  • At 11:16 AM, October 10, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    Yet there are those would characterize God is merely agreeing to pretend that we are righteous if we have faith... which goes hand in hand of course, with the governmental model of the atonement.

     
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