Righteousness is Not An Objective Thing Out There?

new perspective: “Christ Himself is our righteousness. There is no objective thing out there called the righteousness of Christ, but it is Christ Himself who earned it as the Federal Head for His people. ”

The denial sounds like Osiander’s. I commend to every reader Calvin’s responses to Osiander in the Institutes. If there is no objective merit to Christ’s work of obedience, then Christ presumably could have skipped the cross and entered directly and personally into our hearts. NP says Christ earned “it”, but if it’s not an objective thing, then what is “it”?

Romans 1:16– “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”

the NP gloss. For in the gospel, there is this person and that person has this history but that history does not result in an objective thing called “the righteousness” because you see it’s the person who is revealed….

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.

the NP gloss. But now Christ Himself has been revealed, and He Himself is the priority, so this means that there is no objective thing called “the righteousness of God”. I mean, first you get faith to get it, but the it you then get it is not an objective thing which itself could be the real difference between life and death before God….

Romans 4:6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

the NP gloss. I don’t deny that God counted righteousness to David, or that this meant “not counting David’s sins against him”, but let’s not think that this “righteousness” and the not counting are “objective things”, The righteousness which God counts is only a means to an end, and really not even that, “it” is only a result of a real relationship that David had with Christ in his heart, because we need to remember not to give the priority to the benefits, even when we have fallen into sin big time, the pious thing to do is to focus on Christ Himself and not on something objectively done in time and space, obtained in the past, and then “transferred” (like a thing) to us as if it were merit points, without which we would have no hope. I don’t deny that Christ earned something of course but I do deny that this something is an objective “out there” commodity which has legal value….

Romans 10:1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

NP gloss. Of course it’s important to have knowledge, but we have to know that knowing a person is not like knowing an objective thing like the value of something a person did. And in the case of “the righteousness of God”, it’s not an objective thing we know from hearing the gospel, so we need to know Christ before we can know about it, and indeed if we know Christ, then we won’t be trying to establish our own righteousness. And you don’t need to know anything positively objective about the righteousness of God in order to stop trying to build your own righteousness. I mean, if you know that righteousness is not a thing that really counts as the legal gatekeeper between you and Christ, you will stop worrying about righteousness all together, yours or God’s!

II Peter 1:1 –Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

NP gloss: This needs to be reversed. We get righteousness by faith. And our faith is not in the righteousness of Christ, as if the object of faith were some objective commodity that belonged to Christ instead of Christ Himself If we are spiritual, we don’t want what Christ has,but instead we want Christ personally. Some say that the righteousness of Christ is the means we get Christ, but they have it backwards since the truth is we must get Christ before we get the righteousness. And having Christ in your soul is the important reality. Because then Christ in you is no longer out there as merely some object of faith. He Himself is the righteousness, and He is not an objective thing, so Jeremiah 23 means that His righteousness is not an objective thing….

NP: the only way one obtains the imputation of the righteousness of Christ is to be one with Christ.

mark: which being translated means—- being imputed with the righteousness, obtaining the righteousness that Christ obtained is NOT THE WAY TO BE ONE WITH CHRIST. This is NP begging the question NP thinks “union with Christ” is not legal but real and personal. He sometimes agree that there is a “legal aspect” but only to then disagree that “union” has anything to do with legal placement into Christ’s death.

The NP is not the only one to want an “union with Christ” apart from Christ’s righteousness which then permits those thus united to then be imputed with such righteousness. Some give the priority to sacramental “union”. Some give the priority to “experience” which is not about an “objective thing”.

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6 Comments on “Righteousness is Not An Objective Thing Out There?”

  1. mark mcculley Says:

    Even though none of us denies an “union by election” so that only the sins of the elect were ever imputed to Christ, there is an individual “union” in history. Romans 16–some were “in Christ” before Paul was.

    As there was no election into Christ but election in Christ from the beginning, even so there is no such thing as having Christ first and apart from His imputed righteousness. Prove that any person has Christ apart from Christ’s righteousness.

    The debate concerns this idea that people have that you can have Christ before you have Christ’s righteousness imputed. To have faith is to have Christ Himself, and how can we have either Christ or faith without Christ’s righteousness? If we could obtain Christ and faith apart from Christ’s righteousness, why would we need His righteousness?

    Only Arminians say that faith precedes regeneration, and when they say that, we tend to ask them—if you can faith before regeneration, what do you need the regeneration for? In parallel, if you could have Christ “really in your soul” before and apart from being legally placed into Christ’s death, why then would you even need to be legally placed into Christ’s death?

    I have agreed many times that we receive Christ by faith. See John 1:12, 13. But I have also said that we receive Christ passively by imputation, and talked about texts like Romans 5:11, 17 (the children of Adam received guilt by imputation) and II Peter 1:1, where faith is not given to get righteousness, but rather faith is given because of righteousness.

    Can we have Christ IN US before we are IN Christ? Can we have Christ changing our disposition even while we continue to be guilty sinners, still dead in sins? Can Christ live in a person who has no legal right to even approach God?

    Certainly we have the righteousness of Christ when we have Christ, because if God has not yet imputed us with Christ’s righteousness, then we don’t have Christ yet but are still without Christ. it’s the old “deny the order to assert an order” trick again. Deny the priority of justification in order to insist on justification as a result of something more real like infusion and indwelling and experience.

    The New England theology sounds pious. It says: let’s don’t talk about the benefits, let’s talk about the person. Let’s don’t talk about the righteousness now, that’s for later, for now let’s talk about the sovereignty and grace. The New England theology says—let’s talk about the atonement now, but let’s don’t get election mixed up into the atonement right now.

    The New England theology is not non-partisan about order. If we can talk first about Christ and the gospel, without talking about the atonement (the righteousness obtained) and justification (the righteousness imputed), then we can keep talking about Christ and the gospel without ever talking about the atonement and justification. But the Apostle’s Creed is not enough gospel.

  2. markmcculley Says:

    In Isaiah 53:10 Christ is referred to as “My righteous Servant,” in Jeremiah 23:5 as “a righteous Branch,” and in the next verse as “the Lord our righteousness.”

    In Malachi 4:2 Christ is named “the Sun of righteousness,” in Luke 23:47 as a “righteous Man,” in 2 Timothy 4:8 as “the righteous Judge.”

    In Hebrews 7:2, 3 Christ is seen as the “King of righteousness”; while in 1 John 2:1, as our Advocate with the Father, He is described “Jesus Christ the righteous.”

    In Matthew 27:19 Pilate’s wife sends a warning to her husband saying “Have you nothing to do with this righteous Man”; while in verse 34 of the same chapter Pilate himself declared “I am innocent of the blood of this righteous Person.” In Acts 3:14 and James 5:6 Christ is denominated “the Just,” and in Acts 7:52 and 22:14 “the Just One”; while in 1 Peter 3:18 we have the well-known words “Christ also has once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust”.

    Zechariah predicted Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, riding on the back of an donkey— “Behold, your King comes to you, He is just,” and in Revelation 19:11, where Christ is shown on a white horse—-”in righteousness He does judge and make war.”

    In all of the above passages, the Father’s Equal Son is viewed in His official character, as the God-man Mediator. The Lord Jesus is righteous in His person, in the administration of His office, in the discharge of the great commission given to Him. Before His incarnation it was announced “righteousness shall be the belt of His loins and faithfulness the belt of His reins” (Isaiah 11:5)

    In His own words to the Father, Christ prayed— “I have glorified You on the earth, I have finished the work which You gave Me to do” (John 17:4). God’s owning of Christ as “My righteous Servant” signifies that Christ completely executed the work entrusted to Him—as the Holy Spirit declares, He “was faithful to Him who appointed Him” (Hebrews 3:2).

    Christ is the righteous Redeemer of his people only because their righteousness was earned and obtained by Christ while on earth. Christ worked out a perfect righteousness for them, which, upon their believing in Him, is imputed to their account, and therefore is He designated “the Lord our righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6).

    Christ was righteous—not as a private Person, not for Himself alone—but for elect sinners and their salvation. Consequently God is not only gracious—but “just” at the same time. Christ is “the Justifier of as many as who believe in Jesus” (Romans 3:26), because Jesus Christ satisfied every requirement of righteousness in the stead and behalf, of all who trust in Him.

    In the righteous Redeemer, then, we find the answer to the question, “How can those who have no righteousness of their own, and who are utterly unable to earn any—become righteous before God? How can I, who am guilty, draw near unto the ineffably Holy One—and look up into His face in peace?” Only by coming to God as unrighteous, acknowledging my inability to remove my unrighteousness, offering nothing to propitiate Him. Because elect sinners were unable to reach up to the holy requirements of righteousness—God has brought down His righteousness to them, “I bring near My righteousness” (Isaiah 46:13).

    That righteousness was brought near to elect sinners when the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. It is brought near to us now in the Gospel, “for therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith” (Romans 1:17), a righteousness which God imputes to all who believe the gospel.

    A W Pink

  3. markmcculley Says:

    Many say that only the punishment of our sins was transferred to Christ but not our guilt, some of them also say that justification is transferred to Christians but deny that righteousness was transferred to Christians because they say that “righteousness not a gas or a liquid or a solid or a thing”——-
    I quote one of them (john thomson)—–When we say Christ bore our ‘sins’ we do not mean that the sins as such were laid on Jesus, we believe that the penalty for these sins is borne by him.

    https://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/the-liberal-hubris-of-volfs-dogmatic-denial-that-guilt-can-be-transferred/

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Faith is not ‘all that is needed”. Christ’s righteousness is needed. Faith is a gift given by means of Christ’s righteousness. II Peter 1:1– To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Vickers attempts to distance himself from the metaphor of a “storehouse of merit”. While I don’t have a big problem with old writers who used the metaphor that way, Vickers seems very worked up when he insists that “righteousness is not a commodity”. Sure, agree also that it’s not a gas or a liquid either, but if you really want to do us a service, interact with a specific old (or new) writer who uses the metaphor in a way you don’t approve.

    https://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/the-new-book-by-brian-vickers-on-justification/

  5. markmcculley Says:

    Since God has condemned His righteous Son (scandal!) in order to justify the ungodly elect (scandal!) , there is no righteousness if all these elect for whom Christ died are not one day justified

  6. markmcculley Says:

    forgiveness 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

    kathistemi

    logizomai.

    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

    kathistemi

    logizomai.

    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.


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