Legally Sharing in Another’s Person’s Action
Romans 4:24-25 “IT will be counted to us who believe in Him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised up for our justification.”
Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare His own Son but delivered him up for us all, how will He not also WITH HIM graciously give us all things?”
1. Christ and His death are the IT. Faith is not the IT. Christ and His death are the object of faith. But Christ and His death are the IT credited by God.
2. We can distinguish but never separate His person and work. Also we can distinguish but never separate his death and his resurrection (and also the life of obedience before His death).
3. Though this sounds difficult, we are saying that God counts according to truth. God counts righteousness as righteousness! a. The righteousness counted as righteousness is not our righteousness (not our works of faith) but legally “transferred” to us when Christ marries us, so that what is His is still His but now ours also. b. Justification is not only the righteousness, but the righteousness imputed to the elect.
4. Imputation means two different things. One, the transfer, the legal sharing of what belongs to another. Two, the declaration. God is justified, declared to be just, without transfer. God is counted as just because God is just.
Some folks relate Romans 5:13-14 to infants, but I think it’s about the Mosaic law. Until the Mosaic covenant, there are no commands like Adam had commands. This means that a.. the Mosaic covenant leads to death. b. Most importantly for the context, this means that God is NOT counting the sins in between against them.
So why are the people between Adam and Moses dying? They are dying because of Adam’s sin imputed to them (verse 12). They are legally sharing in the guilt (not only the punishment of) Adam’s first act of sin. No sins of their own counted: no matter, Adam’s sin is counted against them.
The elect have been born guilty, condemned, not justified. They are unrighteous ( prior to justification). Therefore, the crediting of Christ’s righteousness to them must be done if God is to save them. God saves them, by crediting them with Christ’s righteousness
This righteousness by which the elect reign and which leads to life is not what God works in us, but imputed. Like they once legally shared in Adam’s act of sin, now the justified elect legally share in Christ’s one act of righteousness.
Guilt to Adam, then corruption. Righteousness to the elect, then regeneration. So many people have that wrong, even people who believe in sovereign predestination. Augustine, for example, thinks of sovereign regeneration as the righteousness.
Even Calvin, on the first Adam side of things, puts corruption before guilt. In other words, Calvin taught a mediate imputation of guilt. First, he said, we got corruption from Adam, and then the guilt.
But we “federalists” say that it would not be just for God to give us corruption from Adam until first God legally gave us Adam’s guilt. If we don’t get the first Adam side right, it will make it hard to understand the Christ (last Adam) side of things.
Romans 5:17 we “receive” the free (for no cause) gift of righteousness, not by our faith, but passively, by God’s imputation. The IT imputed is not our faith, because the righteousness (the death of Christ for the elect) is the IT which is imputed.