Archive for August 8, 2012

All or Nothing, Christ’s Righteousness or Yours

August 8, 2012

A mystical experience guy writes: “It was not only imputed sin, because Christ then had to live out that sinfulness by bearing that sinfulness”

This focus on the “sinfulness” that Jesus is bearing sounds like some six hour mystical experience, and it distracts from the meaning of Christ being legally counted with the guilt of the elect.

First, I question the biblical basis for these mystical guys assuming that Christ was not imputed with sins until six hours before He died. Second, the wages of sin is death, and not some six hour experience. Third, the focus on “sinfulness” rather than imputed guilt calls into question what these guys think “imputation” means. Is it only a transfer of punishment and consequence, and not of guilt, as Andrew Fuller would have it?

I understand the practical point is that imputation has results. Of course I agree. Indeed, I am the one saying that the life of the new birth is a result of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. But mystical guys don’t like that. They like to talk about their new birth experience. And when they talk about results of the new birth, they don’t deny imputation and forgiveness of sins, they are looking for more “real” results than that. They think the new birth has given them a better more righteous “soul” than the next guy.

This shows up when they deny that the reign of grace through righteousness in Romans 5:21 is about Christ’s earned and imputed righteousness. These mystical guys are itching to get your Spirit-enabled “righteousness” into that verse, even though it doesn’t fit the context, either before or after.

And of course their idea that imputed righteousness is not enough shows up again when they talk about II Cor 5:15-21, when they insist that “new creation” is about them and their new birth, even though the entire context is about judgment, Christ’s death, non-imputing of sins. But still they think that “becoming the righteousness of God in Christ” is not (only) about imputation.

I am not picking on people because of a word or two. I am saying we need the only. We need the sola. Texts like II Peter 1:1, Romans 5, II Cor 5, are ONLY about a righteousness that Christ earned. The righteousness in those texts is not God’s attribute, and it’s not Christ’s person apart from that finished obedience to death. Every time these mystical guys say “not only”, they might as well say, not that.

Galatians 2: 21–” I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

Arminians and Roman Catholics look at that verse and say, see it’s not through the law, so why talk about Christ’s satisfaction of the law when it’s about Christ in me by grace enabling me to imperfectly keep the law, and grace does not demand perfection. They don’t think that Christ’s death and resurrection are enough. They don’t deny it. They just don’t think it’s enough.

But the point of Galatians 2:21 is that Christ died to completely satisfy the law’s demand, and there is no possibility of satisfying God’s law in any other way except Christ’s death. And to those who would say, well sure, we don’t deny that Christ’s death figures into the equation but don’t forget how grace now causes us to get circumcised, Galatians 2:21 goes all or nothing. ONLY Christ’s death for righteousness, because if not ONLY that, Christ died for nothing. Thus the antithesis.

When the mystical guys proclaim (they don’t explain) that it’s not only about the imputed righteousness, they are opening up a false way for some other kind of salvation. If there were indeed a future justification based on our works, then we who are justified by Christ’s obedience alone are without hope, and Christ died in vain. Only the non-elect and non-justified will be judged by the books. This is why we who have our names written in the book warn those who don’t believe the gospel of the judgment to come.

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.”

No, the imputation of righteousness is not a result of the new birth. But yes, imputation of righteousness has results. Result one, those imputed with Christ’s righteousness know and believe God’s only gospel, and repent of the false gospel that gets them into the equation. Result two, there is no condemnation for those imputed with Christ’s righteousness.

There is no being “in Christ” without being imputed with Christ’s righteousness. “No condemnation” is not a result to be minimized. And “no condemnation” is not a result to be put back in doubt based on the works of those who are already in Christ.