Faith in Christ’s Death, not Faith in Faith or the Working of Faith
God’s Words, p 145—the rendering which declares Abraham’s faith to have been counted “as righteousness” is not good. “As” suggests identity, as if righteousness was being used here in Romans 4 in the sense of man’s obedience to God. “As” represents the Greek proposition eis, meaning “toward” or “with a view to” and “for righteousness” was a much better way to translate it. Paul is not saying there that faith is our righteousness….
Our faith needs to be in Christ, and not faith in faith, not even faith in faith caused and enabled by God’s regeneration. My own opinion is that we will never stop finding assurance in our WORKS of faith until we also stop finding assurance in our FAITH. Works of faith are not our righteousness. But neither is faith our righteousness.
Galatians 3:5-8, which quotes Genesis 15:6, tells us that Abraham believed God and “IT” was imputed to him as righteousness. Many read this text as saying that faith alone is imputed as the righteousness. Luther, for example, reminds us that to have faith is to have Christ indwelling, and tells us that God really is pleased with the faith God has given us, and this faith is really righteous in God’s sight. But Luther does not explain how this righteous faith (produced by God in the water of regeneration) satisfies the law of God . It is NOT our faith (or works) which satisfies God’s law.
To begin to understand Genesis 15:6, we need to know that “as righteousness” should be translated “unto righteousness”. (See Robert Haldane’s commentary, Banner of Truth). That’s important to see, but at the end of the day, it does not explain the imputation. What is the “it” which is being imputed?
No matter if we have gone to great lengths to say that the “IT” is not credited as righteousness but only unto righteousness, what is the “IT”“ and why is God imputing “IT
Those who now define justification simply by talking about “union” with the resurrected Jesus feel not need to talk about a legal transfer of a righteousness that Christ brought in for the elect by His death.
The “It” has an antecedent, but the antecedent is not faith alone. God imputes the righteousness revealed in the gospel to the person justified by the gospel.
Galatians 3:5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and IT was counted to him as righteousness”? 7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify[c] the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith
In Genesis 17, God warned Abraham that anybody not circumcised would be cut off from the covenant. But that conditional “work of faith” is NOT the gospel God preached to Abraham. God did not say to Abraham: if you believe, then I will bless you. God said, I will bless you without cause, not only so that you will believe but also so that in your SEED there will be one who will bring in the righteousness for the elect alone required by the law.
The “IT” which is imputed by God to Abraham is the obedient bloody death of Christ Jesus for the elect alone.. The death of Christ is the righteousness of Christ and this is the “IT.