All or Nothing, Christ’s Righteousness or Yours

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.

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5 Comments on “All or Nothing, Christ’s Righteousness or Yours”

  1. mark mcculley Says:

    If become the righteousness of God in Christ means “more than
    imputed”, then of course “made sin” is also “more than legal”.

    “More than” is not “not”, so the implication becomes that Romans 5 and II Cor 5:21 are legal (also legal). But if “made sin” is legal, what does that mean? I am still waiting for these guys to tell us how imputation is legal. What is not real about God transferring guilt (not only punishment) from one person to another?

    In the case of the Lord Jesus, the legal transfer of the sins of the
    elect to Christ was so real that the result was that Christ died for
    those sins. Romans 6:9–”We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.”

    Why did death once have dominion over Christ? It was the legal
    imputation of the sins of the elect that made it so. If mystical guys want to deny the reality of the legal transfer of guilt, and say it was only punishment and consequences (bearing sinfulness) let them say so. Let them say: Christ was not made sin legally but by experience. But they don’t say that. They say: Christ was not ONLY made sin legally.

    But to say it that way, they need to explain first what IS real and
    about Christ being made sin legally. Is it “real” only because it has consequences? If they don’t want to explain, they should stop being so subtle and simply say:” I don’t know how Christ was made sin, but I do know it was not legally”.

    Mystical experience guys always have a plus, a more. Christ’s work, Christ’s legal righteousness is never enough for them. Their larger hope is a new nature they see in themselves, a new nature that does not keep them from sinning but at least wants not to sin, and wants not to sin for the right reasons, unselfish motives.

    These guys have a more. Legal bearing away of sins by Christ is not enough for them.. Christ was also made sin some OTHER way. And they also think themselves to be made righteous in some OTHER way.

    Of course there is a difference between the legal imputation of
    sin (made sin) and the death of Christ which was a result of that. But what information do we find in the Bible to tell us about this
    supposed difference between a legal matter and something “real”?

    In John 6:63, the Lord Jesus says, “The words that I HAVE SPOKEN UNTO YOU are spirit and life.” The Lord Jesus had no words to tell us about this “more than legal”.

    II Timothy 2:24 commands us to “correct opponents with meekness, because God may PERHAPS grant them repentance leading to a KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH”.
    Is it not true that this legal matter, the imputation of the sins of
    the elect to Christ, is real, so real that Christ died for these sins?
    So where is there any BIBLE distinction between the legal and the real? And what can be more real than real? if legal imputation is not a fiction, and if the death of Jesus Christ is a real result of that, where is the “more”?


    John Murray: We thus see that if we are to find the righteousness which supplies the basis of the full and perfect justification which God bestows upon the ungodly we cannot find it in anything that resides in us, nor in anything which God does in us, nor in anything which we do. We must look away from ourselves to something which is of an entirely different sort in an entirely different direction. What is the direction which the Scripture indicates?

    1. It is in Christ we are justified (Acts 13:39; Rom. 8:1; 1 Cor. 6:11; Gal. 2:17). At the outset we are here advised that it is by union with Christ and by some specific relation to him involved in that union that we are justified.

    2. It is through Christ’s sacrificial and redemptive work (Rom. 3:24; 5:9; 8:33, 34). We are justified in Jesus’ blood. The particular significance of this truth in this connection is that it is the once-for-all redemptive accomplishment of Christ that is brought into the centre of attention when we are thinking of justification. It is therefore something objective to ourselves and not the work of God’s grace in our hearts and minds and lives.

    3. It is by the righteousness of God that we are justified (Rom. 1:17; 3:21, 22; 10:3; Phil. 3:9). In other words, the righteousness of our justification is God’s righteousness. Nothing more conclusively demonstrates that it is not a righteousness which is ours. Righteousness wrought in us or wrought by us, even though it be altogether the grace of God and even though it be perfect in character [as the Roman Catholics say], is not a God-righteousness. It is, after all, a human righteousness. It the commanding insistence of the Scripture is that in justification, it is the righteousness of God which is revealed from faith to faith, and therefore a righteousness which is contrasted not only with human unrighteousness but with human righteousness. It is righteousness which is divine in quality. It is not, of course, the divine attribute of justice or righteousness, but, nevertheless, it is a righteousness with divine attributes or qualities and therefore a righteousness which is of divine property.

    4. The righteousness of justification is the righteousness and obedience of Christ (Rom. 5:17, 18, 19). Here we have the final consideration which confirms all of the foregoing considerations and sets them in clear focus. This is the final reason why we are pointed away from ourselves to Christ and his accomplished work. And this is the reason why the righteousness of justification is the righteousness of God. It is the righteousness of Christ wrought by him in human nature, the righteousness of his obedience unto death, even the death of the cross. But, as such, it is the righteousness of the God-man, a righteousness which measures up to the requirements of our sinful and sin-cursed situation, a righteousness which meets all the demands of a complete and irrevocable justification, and a righteousness fulfilling all these demands because it is a righteousness of divine property and character, a righteousness undefiled and inviolable.

  3. David Bishop Says:

    It’s not only the mystical guys who say it’s not only the imputed righteousness. The Lordship Salvation guys are also big into that. Thing is, though, both groups do say imputed righteousness has results. The problem is, they say those results show more than only imputed righteousness. Now show us the results, or we’ll say you don’t have the imputed righteousness.

  4. alexd281 Says:

    Romans 5:21 KJVS
    That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

  5. markmcculley Says:

    Sometimes “imputation” is only “declaration”, without any sharing or transfer involved.
    Romans 4: 4 Now to the one who works, pay is imputed as something owed.
    The “righteousness of God” has more than one meaning. HOWEVER the GOSPEL meaning is the “righteousness from God”. Christ’s death is the righteousness Christ obtain and GIVES SHARES TRANSFERS to the elect. Where God has not given faith in the gospel, God has not yet given the righteousness of God which is Christ’s death imputed.
    Imputation of righteousness and righteousness are not the same thing. And “imputation” has more than one meaning. “Righteousness” also has more than one meaning

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