Receiving the Righteousness of Christ’s Death is Not By Our Imputation, but By God’s Imputation

Romans 5: 17 speaks of “those who receive the free gift of righteousness” and how they reign in life through the one man Christ Jesus. This receiving is not the sinner believing. It is not an “exercise of faith”.

The elect “receive” the righteousness by God’s imputation. The elect do not impute their sins to Christ. Nor can the elect impute Christ’s righteousness to themselves until after God has already imputed the righteousness. God is the imputer.

The receiving of the righteousness is not the same as the righteousness. The imputation is not necessarily at the same TIME as when Christ earned the righteousness. God declaring the elect to be joint-heirs with Christ in that righteousness is not the same as the righteousness. There is a difference between imputation and righteousness.

Our continuing acts of faith toward the gospel are not the righteousness. But neither is God’s imputation, nor the indwelling of Christ which follows that imputation, the righteousness.

This is not four-pointer double-talk about a difference between redemption and atonement. Rather, it is a recognition of the biblical difference between the atonement and justification. The difference I am taling about is NOT that the elect “do something” to get justified. The difference I am talking about is that, God imputes the righteousness, and this means we need to see a distinction between God’s imputing and God’s righteousness.

Even before they are justified, the elect are entitled by Christ’s work to justification. But the elect are not justified until God imputes the righteousness to them.

Well, all this sounds logical enough, but what does it practically mean? Is not the safest and most far away place from Arminianism and legalism and conditionalism to agree with those who teach eternal justification that conversion does not matter?

I challenge the notion that the best way to counter salvation conditioned on the sinner is to teach eternal justification, so that conversion becomes only knowing that you were always converted.

In other words, their idea is that since I was always elect, I was always “saved”, I was never not converted.

The safest and best place to be is not the most extreme away from what the Arminians say. The safest and best place to be is what the texts of the Bible says.

I have no big problem with saying that the elect were “in some sense” always saved, but only if this “sense” is that they are elect. In other words, from God’s perspective, the elect are never in danger of perishing.

As far as I can tell, most folks who teach eternal justification do NOT teach “presumptive regeneration”. The gospel does not tell anyone: you are elect. The gospel tells everyone: God loves the elect and Christ’s death will save the elect. you might be elect but you won’t ever know that until you are justified. As long as you are under the wrath of God, you cannot and will not believe the gospel. As soon as God imputes Christ’s righteousness to you, you will understand and believe. BELIEF IN THE FALSE GOSPEL IS EVIDENCE OF GOD’S WRATH ON YOU NOW

But the eternal justification gospel says to Arminians—you might be already justified That to me is a quite a different gospel
Where the Arminian wants to tell everyone that God loves them, those who teach eternal justification (or presumptive regeneration) want to tell SOME of the unconverted that God has already justified them. But the Bible does not encourage this kind of logic

I Thessalonians 1:4 “For we know, brothers, loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to not only in word but in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”

To insist on the necessity of conversion is not to be a “revivalist”. I don’t approve what goes by the name of revival. I do want conversions, in which sinners come to understand and believe the gospel, and repent of false gospels.

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7 Comments on “Receiving the Righteousness of Christ’s Death is Not By Our Imputation, but By God’s Imputation”

  1. John Yeazel Says:

    So, should we expect the wrath and punishment of the self-righteous, who do not think they are self-righteous, when we proclaim this true Gospel to them? I don’t think it is going to sit well with them- especially those who have gained from their proclamation of false Gospel’s. I have experienced their wrath.

  2. MARK MCCULLEY Says:

    Jacobus Andreae, Acta Colloquij Montisbellogartensis, 1613, 447

    “Those assigned to eternal destruction are not damned because because they sinned. They are damned for this reason, because they refused to embrace Jesus Christ with true faith, who died no less for their sins than for the sins of Peter, Paul and all the saints.

    Beza—p448–”To me what you say is plainly new and previously unheard–that men are not damned because they have sinned….

    Garry J Williams, p 513—The notion that the lost will be punished for the sin of unbelief and not for sin in general allows Lutherans to hold that Jesus died for every general sin of every individual, and yet not all must be saved, because unbelievers may still be justly condemned for their unbelief since Christ did not die for it. This reply limits the sins for which Christ died..

    The Lutherans have created a difficulty with biblical texts referring to the sins for which Christ died. Every affirmation that sins have been borne by Christ must now be understood to contain a tacit restriction—except the sin of unbelief….If a sinner believes and becomes a Christian at age forty, and the Lutherans teach that Christ did not die for the sin of unbelief, this means that Christ did not die for this man’s sin of unbelief committed over forty years.

    Psalm 130: 3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
    O Lord, who could stand?

    II Corinthians 5: 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.

    mark: Most people have not heard the true gospel. Most people do not believe the true gospel because most people have not heard the true gospel.

  3. David Bishop Says:

    If the substitution for sins has been made, then all for whom it was made must eventually be justified by legal necessity. If Christ has obtained the righteousness, then all for whom He obtained it must eventually be justified by legal necessity.

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Christ has already obtained the righteousness for all the elect, but it has not yet been imputed to them yet. I John 2:2 and John 17 . I pray not for them. I do pray for those who will be.

  5. markmcculley Says:

    david Bishop: A substitution for sins has indeed already been made. But logically, there is no demand on God’s justice to immediately justify at the moment the substitution was made, anymore than there was a demand on His justice to immediately make the sacrifice at the instance the sin was committed. As long as God’s justifies at some point before the subject’s death, then God’s justice remains satisfied. This is why God can hold wrath in time for a person who has been sacrificed for, before He imputes to them the righteousness.

  6. markmcculley Says:

    Jesus Christ died for sins which had been committed long before, and also died for future sins, sins which have not yet been committed. There is no just reason that Christ die every time a sin is committed, because Christ died once for all time, and for some old sins, and for some future sins. The justification of all the elect at the cross folks deny that Abraham was justified before Abraham died, much less before he was circumcised!

    Romans 3: 21 But NOW the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ FOR ALL WHO BELIEVE. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he HAD PASSED OVER former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness ATH THE PRESENT TIME, so that he WOULD t be just and the justifier of the ONE WHO HAS FAITH IN JESUS.

  7. markmcculley Says:

    Mike Horton—Even if it is granted that justification is an exclusively forensic declaration, the rest of the order of salvation has usually been treated in Reformed theology as the consequence of an entirely different event the implantation of new life in regeneration.” (Covenant and Salvation p 216)


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