How Can the Righteousness Be In Heaven, if Christ is In Your Heart?

I saw Jesus in heaven AT THE FATHER’S RIGHT HAND
 ‘THERE,’ I said, ‘is my righteousness!’ So that WHEREVER I WAS or whatever I was doing, God could not say to me, ‘Where is your righteousness?’ For it is always right BEFORE HIM. (John Bunyan)

I agree about our absolute need for the new birth. What some of us have said is that this “regeneration” should not be defined as “union” and it should not be given priority over God’s imputation of righteousness. We have said that the Spirit does not do the imputing. We have asked for a definition of “union”.

But I am asked this question: “Where is heaven that we are to look to? God is everywhere an especially in the hearts of His people.”

I guess that covers it. Nothing more needs to be said. No need to speak of the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ, No need to speak of the ascension of the Lord Jesus, and the real absence of the humanity of Christ until the second Advent. Even if you aren’t Zwinglian, or Calvinist, even if you are Lutheran, we can’t only talk about “God everywhere”. We need to be Christocentric.

The Holy Spirit is Christ’s gift to the church. Christ baptises the elect with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not baptize the elect into Christ. The elect in Christ are legally joined to the redemptive-historical merits of Christ by God’s imputation.

In heaven, Christ sits. Why? Because the work that saves Christ has finished. But why waste your time on what Hebrews when all you know and need to know is that “God is everywhere”?

Hebrews 9:28–”Christ, HAVING BEEN offered ONCE to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save them that eagerly await Him.”

What sense could that make? If Jesus Christ is simply everywhere, who cares if He comes again, since we have Him by His Spirit already in our hearts? Please pay attention. I am not denying that Christ indwells the hearts of those who have been justified, but I am\ suggesting that we talk about Christ’s kingdom without placing the present time into competition with what Christ got done at the cross.

Of course folks don’t deny that things like atonement and justification are part of the gospel. Of course they would sign the
Westminster Confession paragraphs on justification. Sure, they agree with that basic overall “Reformed” position, so no need for them to keep talking about that stuff when they can instead talk about their experiences.

Whether I am talking to a five year old or to a old old man on his death bed, I don’t want this “God anywhere and everywhere.” I want “Him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord who was handed over
because of our trespasses and raised because/in order to our justification.” (Romans 4:25).

Romans 5 (love in our hearts through the Spirit who has been given us) begins with peace with God by means of justification. Justification is not the Spirit’s gift. The Spirit is God’s gift to the justified elect. Romans 5:9– “We have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.”

I look to heaven, not simply because the God-man who died with the imputed sins of all the elect has ascended there, but also He is coming from there. And these historical events are not below my navel or under my chest. The righteousness by which the justified REIGN is NOT a righteousness imparted (or infused) in us by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 5:17 explains that those who receive (by imputation, like the guilt of Adam is received) “the free gift of righteousness REIGN in\ life through the one man Jesus Christ”. Romans 5:21 continues the theme into Romans 6. “Grace reigns through the righteousness” of that one man. Romans 6:9–”death no longer has dominion over Christ. For the death HE died HE died to sin, once for all.”

Christ’s triumph over the powers, Christ’s kingdom, none of this can or should be set over against His finished work of righteousness. The Holy Spirit is Christ’s gift, and it is not the Holy Spirit baptizing in Romans 6.

There are many who agree, sure the legal is part of “union”, but when it gets right down to it, they think the atonement and justification is somehow less real and true than what’s happening in their hearts.

Romans 8:10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit is alive because of righteousness.

I won’t take the time to do the full exegesis, but nobody is denying that Christ is in the justified elect, nobody is denying that this happens by the Spirit alive in the justified elect, but the point in question concerns the righteousness. Is that righteousness what you think God is doing in you? Or is that righteousness what God did in Christ’s satisfaction of the law? What is the “righteousness of faith” in this context?

Romans 10:6 But the righteousness of faith says: Do not say in your heart, who will ascend into heaven (to bring Christ down), or who will descend (to bring Christ up from the dead). The word (about what? is the news about what Christ did to satisfy the law?) is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.

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6 Comments on “How Can the Righteousness Be In Heaven, if Christ is In Your Heart?”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    Saying that Jesus lives in your heart CAN BE a sneaky liberal way of denying that the body of Jesus which died is the same body which rose again.

  2. markmcculley Says:

    HeIdelberg Catechism Q. 76.

    What is it then to eat the crucified body, and drink the shed blood of Christ?

    A. It is not only to embrace with believing heart all the sufferings and death of Christ and thereby to obtain the pardon of sin, and life eternal; but also, besides that, to become more and more UNITED to his sacred body, (b) by the Holy Ghost, who dwells both IN Christ and IN US; so that we, though Christ is in heaven (c) and we on earth, are notwithstanding “flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone” (d) and that we live, and are governed forever by one spirit, (e) as members of the same body

  3. markmcculley Says:

    if Christ indwelling you equals ‘faith”

    does that mean that “faith” is “Christ indwelling you?

    and does that mean your faith is your Christ?

    or that your Christ is your faith?

    and does it change anything to say

    not my faith, but Christ’s faith in me

    or to say, not my Christ but the only Christ for all or anybody?

  4. These two old songs are simply not biblical—
    When His chosen ones shall gather to their home beyond the skies,
    And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there”

    (The Old Rugged Cross) “Then He’ll call me some day, to my home far away….

    David Platt, Radical, p 179—“The key to taking back your faith from the American dream is to see death as a reward.

    Mike Wittmer—“-If the thought of being cremated or rotting in the ground does not scare you and sicken you, there is no way you will ever put your faith in Jesus. Why would you? Jesus came to solve a problem you don’t think exists…..”

    If heaven by itself were superior, then Jesus would not have raised Lazarus from the dead. Earth is the best place for humans, because this is where God made us to live. The problem of “better place” will not be resolved until Jesus returns and unites heaven and earth. Until then, we should be careful not to unequivocally call heaven “a better place,” as it isn’t better in every way and saying so promotes the Platonic idea that heaven is our final home. Who would want to leave the better place to come back here?

    Paul’s desire was to be with Jesus not by dying but by Jesus’ coming. Paul’s cry of “Maranatha!” (1 Cor. 16:22) echoes the closing prayer of Scripture, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).

    “Everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day” (John 6:40)

  5. markmcculley Says:

    orgiveness of sins without me changing? to some people it sounds too good to be true, and to other people it sounds like playing a game of pretend that doesn’t do anybody good

    so they don’t like it, and they say it can’t be true
    but if it is not true, then what do you think the solution is?

    forget the cynics, who say that truth does not matter and what works to improve people should be “imputed as true”

    are such cynical legalists REALLY improving anybody, including themselves?

    maybe not, they tell me, but you are only telling yourself
    that there is forgiveness of sins without changing
    because you want it to be true
    such forgiveness, they say, is wishful thinking, presumption

    it’s true that I see no other hope or solution for me



    I am interested in this entire “playing games” thing

    is all this stuff about imputation merely an intellectual puzzle to me?

    and now i have friends and
    acquaintance asking me because they know I am interested in this stuff

    and yes, they are all a bit curious about all kinds of things
    tea leaves in China the gold in Fort Knox and the basketball tournament

    which is to say

    is this only a game to God, some tricky book-keeping, a fiction
    forgiveness they call it, but does that really change anything

    punishment may or may not deter
    i doubt it one way or the other

    but what does forgiveness really do?

    and what does it matter how or why God “does forgiveness ?

    a preacher quotation– “It was not enough that our sins were imputed to him. His death on the cross was much, much more than a legal matter.”

    if God just by being God says I forgive you and I forgive that other person but I do not forgive that person

    if God says I forgive that person because they confessed their sins before mass
    if not once a day or once a week
    at least they did come back to the church and they did ritual they confessed their sins
    and then God let them eat God while God was still living, and while they were stilling
    so before they died God forgave them and they can pay off the rest in purgatory

    and what does it matter if God forgives by just doing it, or if God has to play legal fiction games with Himself?
    Paying Himself off with His death
    God counting the sins of those God forgives to Himself
    God really dying to pay off the price
    God counting God’s death AS F pretending but it’s not real
    God counting God’s death to those God forgives

    like I am asking
    what does it matter

    sure I am not a perfect person
    but I am not worse than other people
    pretty average
    and does it matter if you call it sin?
    whatever it is, it’s already done and forgiveness won’t change the past, and ritual won’t change the past
    and what does it really matter?

    does forgiving your past connect in any real way to your not doing the same thing in the future?

    is there anything existential happening?

    is there a reason to be moral?
    yes it helps people to get along better
    but if you are immoral, does somebody really need to pay?

    what does punishment matter, it was still immoral
    and we hope the secret shame does not come out
    but what does “seeing justice done” change?
    if you are only moral so you don’t have to pay for it, is that really moral?

    well most people need to have some sort of threat to keep them from doing the wrong
    and yes, I am not special, I am not unlike most people, I am not exempt from having to pay
    or at least thinking I will need to pay, like everybody else I need the same threat to keep me straight

    but what did I ever do which was so bad
    in the last 24 hours?
    suppose I did confess to some priest every day
    wouldn’t that be boring?
    the same stuff the same thoughts as everybody else as anybody else
    thank you god I am not like people in that family?
    everybody is about the same it’s all so boring
    is anybody interesting to that priest falling asleep listening to this stuff?
    so it’s not as important as you pretend to think
    for sure what you did was not hurting God
    God is still God still unchanged by what you did

    so for what you did or did not do, why do you want it to matter?
    if it doesn’t matter to God, why bring it up again and why think it needs forgiveness?
    maybe it matters to you but then if it’s only you
    forgive yourself, tell yourself whatever you need or want to say

    but these games about what God needed to do
    or about what you need to know about that game
    who gives a —–

    beneath that foot of snow that does not tell and does not show
    what’s not pretty underneath the beauty-show
    it’s just dirt, plain dirt, like all other dirt
    and eating God alive in this game you play
    or learning a vocabulary of imputation
    a grammar of forgiveness
    none of it changes the dirt into gold, the dirt is really still dirt

    yes, Jesus Christ was or is a real person
    who died and yes he rose from the dead
    but why play the game of saying why or what all that means
    does the reality of the death prove that the “transfer of sin”
    and the “justification of the ungodly” is real?

    only if the imputation is real
    and not a game
    would I then care if Jesus really died?

    yes I will stipulate now, Jesus really died
    but why bother and who cares?

    there must be more to “faith and hope” than legal fiction
    God cooking the books
    God making it look like it’s all square

    but why take the time?
    who is God making it look square to?
    if God is making it look square to God?
    why do the puzzle and jump through hoops?

    can’t we all agree?
    that God is God is sovereign God is just
    and God does not need to prove it to God
    and God does not need to prove to us that God is just

    God is just because God is just
    not because we say so
    a person is immoral and not because God says so

    God’s say so, God’s word



    God would not be at peace with God
    and God would not be at peace with any justified sinner

    unless God “saw the blood”, ie, saw the death satisfy the law

    Romans 3: 25 God presented Christ as a propitiation in His bloody death to show God’s righteousness… 26 God presented God to show His righteousness at the present time, so that God would be righteous (and declared righteous) and so that God declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus.

    Psalm 51: Be gracious to me, God,
    according to Your faithful love;
    according to Your abundant compassion,
    blot out my rebellion.
    2 Wash away my guilt
    3 For I am conscious of my rebellion,
    and my sin is always before me.
    4 Against You—You alone—I have sinned
    and done this evil in Your sight.
    So You are right when You pass sentence;
    You are blameless when You judge.
    5 Indeed, I was guilty when I was born;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
    9 Turn Your face away from my sins
    and blot out all my guilt.

    Colossians 2:20 If with Christ you died to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations – ‘Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch’ (referring to things that all perish as they are used) – according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

  6. markmcculley Says:

    If we are found resurrected, then we are also found justified. There is no future judgment after that. The resurrection itself is the reward of Christ’s righteousness

    Galatians 5:5
    For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness

    John 5: 24 “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has lasting life and will not come under judgment but HAS passed from death to life.

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