Only Dying Would Not Be Enough Righteousness?

Galatians 2:19 For through the law I have died to the law.

Romans 6: 6 We died with Christ in order that sin’s dominion over us would be abolished…because a person who has died is justified from sin’s claims… 9 We know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over Him. 10 For in light of the fact that Christ died, Christ died to sin once for all time.

Hebrews 7: 26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he DID THIS ONCE FOR ALL WHEN HE OFFERED UP HIMSELF

God has protected and will protect God’s elect from God. God’s wrath was appeased at only one time and at one place by the propitiation finished not in Christ’s life and suffering, but accomplished by Christ’s death . Romans 5:9 Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath

For many preachers, what appeases the wrath of God is not Christ’s death but Christ’s suffering before His death, and they also teach that Christ creates the positive righteousness not by His death, but by His perfect keeping of the Ten Commandments.

Everything Christ did was vicarious, for His elect people (not for all created humans). This is something different from saying that everything Christ did is imputed to the elect when they are justified. Christ’s resurrection is not imputed to the elect. Christ’s faith is not imputed to the elect.

Not everything Adam did is imputed to us. That does not mean that Adam’s other sins don’t matter. But only Adam’s first sin is imputed to us. And Christ’s death is His accomplishment, His one act of obedience. To change the one act into many acts is to read Mosaic law-keeping into the gospel (and usually into Adam’s situation before sin). God made Him to be sin who knew no sin. To be made sin is to be under the law for the guilt of the elect. To become the righteousness of God in Christ is to be be protected and justified before God by God’s identification of the elect with Christ’s death for the sins of the elect.

But many false gospels teach that Christ’s death was not the reason some have faith in the gospel. The Lutherans teach that Christ died for all, but agree that not all have faith.

The Calvinists teach that Christ died only for those who believe, but most of them are not teaching that it’s Christ’s death which causes those who believe the gospel to do so. Most of the Calvinists are only teaching that regeneration causes those who believe the gospel to do so. Of course that is true, but if you ask them why some are regenerate and others are not, they will not refer you to Christ’s death for the elect. Instead, most Calvinists will refer you to Christ’s law-keeping righteousness. and then on top of that, they will even teach that you have to believe the gospel in order to get God to impute to you that law-keeping righteousness. And none of this is about Christ’s death, because they don’t equate Christ’s death with Christ’s righteousness.

Even though propitiation comes before (or after) the justification of a sinner, and these are distinct events, it’s still true that all for whom propitiation was made will be justified. The Lutherans (and the free grace anti–Lordship people at the Grace Evangelical Society) are saying that there is one unforgivable sin, are teaching that there is no propitiation ever for the sin of “unbelief of the gospel”

I don’t see how we criticiZe this false gospel without talking about “timing”. It’s the connection between atonement and justification that some eternal justification folks are after—whenever one happens, the other happens, even if both are “timeless”. Those who teach atonement and justification at the same protest any time gap between the atonement and justification (to make the point that the atonement is actual not potential), but they are not bothered by the time gap which says that an elect person can be born justified from God before God and yet still be unregenerate for a long long time.

Calvinists tend to teach that Christ only died “for those who would come to faith”. This not only sounds different than saying “died only for the elect”, but it really is different because it’s teaching that Christ’s death only acts negatively, taking away sins. It’s teaching that Christ’s death still does not get you to a positive justification—all are propitiated for , but not all are justified because not all are given “positive righteousness”.

But who does that remind you of? It reminds me of every preacher who says that Christ’s death was not enough to obtain justification, and that for justification, we need also Christ’s law-keeping. How many preachers say “his death and His righteousness”, as if His death were not His righteousness? How many preachers say “His righteousness” but not defining what that righteousness is?
I am not trying to equate the “no hope without the law-keeping” preachers with the Lutherans and the Arminians who say that Christ made propitiation for all sinners. We all agree that Christ was sinless, and not disobedient to God’s law. But these groups are also saying that Christ’s propitiatory death was not the reason some have faith in the gospel. The Lutherans teach that Christ died for all, but agree that not all have faith. The Calvinists teach that Christ died only for those who believe, but most of them are not teaching that it’s Christ’s death which causes those who believe the gospel to do so.

Most of the Calvinists are only teaching that regeneration those who believe the gospel to do so. Of course that is true, but if you ask them why some are regenerate and others are not, they will not refer you to Christ’s death for the elect. Instead, most Calvinists will refer you to Christ’s law-keeping righteousness. and then on top of that, they will even teach that you have to believe the gospel in order to get God to impute to you that law-keeping righteousness. And none of this is about Christ’s death, because they don’t equate Christ’s death with Christ’s righteousness.

I don’t know if it’s chicken or egg, or which idea leads to the other idea, but many of these preachers also are dogmatic that “only destruction” or “only “perishing” or “only death” is not enough punishment for the non-elect. Some even say that the righteousness of the gospel would mean nothing to them if they thought the righteousness only saved them from destruction or perishing. So they re-define destruction and perish as meaning infinite torture that never ends. Instead of some permanent second death for the non-elect, they re-define death to mean never-dying but continuing to sin and to be tormented. The mere death of the non-elect is not enough for them.

Chicken. Egg. I don’t know if it was their philosophical intuition about what the non-elect deserve and “have coming” which came first, or if their first though was a docetic explanation which denies that Christ can really die. But either way, they fail to see that the death of the non-elect will never satisfy God’s wrath in the way that Christ’s death appeased God and expiated the sins of the elect to protect the elect from God. That philosophical soundbite about Christ being tortured for an infinite amount of time because He is God is not something you read in the Bible. You have to read that “tortured forever” INTO the Bible. Even though we don’t understand how Christ can be both God and human, we believe that Christ IS both God and human, and as the mediator of the new covenant, Christ’s death (one time, one place) is enough righteousness for all the elect. Christ did not only die for all those who believe the gospel. Christ died only for the elect and only for all the sins of the elect. Christ’ death did NOT bring in a righteousness infinite enough for all the noon-elect also (if only they would take it). Christ died only for those who will actually be justified before God.

When Lutherans and Calvinists and Arminians get their eyes off Christ’s death and start talking about Christ’s infinite law-keeping, it often turns out that their notion of Christ’s righteousness is not infinite enough to take care of one sin, the sin of not believing the gospel. Sure, they say the righteousness is infinite, but since you did not believe (or stopped believing), then the infinite righteousness will not be enough for you, and this means that the second death will not be enough for you either—-you will have to be tortured forever, and that means that there will never be a time when there will be no more dying. Dying you will continue dying, and it will never be enough, and death will always continue as God’s enemy.

Christ died enough for the elect to some time in their lives give them the faith to understand and believe the gospel. Even these elect were born under the wrath of God, but Christ’s death not only is enough to take away their sins (past and future) but Christ’s death DOES take away the condemnation and wrath for all their sins. And since Christ’s death is Christ’s righteousness, Christ’s death has purchased for all these elect the gift of the Holy Spirit (from Christ) so that each sinner for whom Christ died will come to believe the gospel before Christ’s coming or before they die.

Acts 2: 25 For David says concerning him,
“I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens

I Corinthians 15: 23 But each in his own order: Christ, the first fruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when He abolishes all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last ENEMY to be ABOLISHED is DEATH. 27 For God has put everything under His feet

Revelation 21: 3 Then I heard a loud voice from the throne
Look! God’s dwelling is with humans
God will live with them.
They will be His people,
and God Himself will be with them
and be their God.
4 God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Death will no longer exist;
grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer,
because the previous things will have passed away. 5 Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.”

The degrees of infinity idea does not make much sense, but it allows preachers to say that the non-elect being punished are never quite punished enough, even when they are punished more than others.

David Wells, Christianity Today, March 20 1987 — “If God is as good as the Bible says, if his character is as pure, if his life is as infinite, then sin is infinitely unpardonable and not merely momentarily mischievous. To be commensurate with the offense, God’s response must be correspondingly infinite. Annhilationism instead looks instead for a finished, finite, temporal response. An infinite response, however, is what we see happening at the cross. Was Jesus annihilated? Jesus could exhaust infinite punishment because he himself was the infinite God? Jesus did not bear a punishment MERELY LIKE that which sinners deserved. Jesus did not bear a death that was MERELY ANALOGOUS to theirs..”

Mark: To be “commensurate”, is Jesus still dying on the cross and will Jesus die on the cross forever?

If Jesus is not still dying on the cross, how is His death even LIKE that of non-elect people dying but never getting dead?

Where does the Bible talk about “infinity”? And where does the Bible talk about Christ’s suffering before His death being “infinite”? When did the “infinite punishment” of Jesus begin and when did it end?

If Christ only suffered an equivalent of “eternal torment in Hell”, does that mean that God’s grace arbitrarily (merely, only) “accepted” the punishment of Christ as the same?

Since the punishment of the non-elect will never be finished, does that mean that the punishment of the non-elect will never be infinite?

Does “I will repay” mean that “I will have never repaid”?

If duration of the torment is the real punishment, why is there any need to die after that torture is done, and would not death be the end before more needed punishment?

If the punishment is never done, so that the condemned can never die, why does the Bible teach that the wages of sin is death?

When you translate, the result is a translation.

When you destroy, the result is destruction.

When you finish dying, you are dead.

If you never finish dying, you are not yet dead.

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7 Comments on “Only Dying Would Not Be Enough Righteousness?”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    Many of the Plymouth Brethren claimed that what Christ DID was not the righteousness, but instead that the righteousness was being united with the risen interceding Christ. Not only did they reject vicarious law-keeping as the righteousness which is imputed (as I do) . They also rejected Christ’s death as satisfaction of law as the righteousness.

    In Gaffin, Christ’s present resurrected person is our righteousness, and since Christ is still interceding for us, His righteousness is not yet complete,

    Darby -we are accepted according to His present acceptance in God’s sight,…being held to be risen with Him, our position before God is not legal righteousness, but His present acceptance, as risen…, and we are accounted righteous according to the value of His resurrection [ Collected Writings, vol.14, p. 250].

    see also Justification in the Risen Christ, by Charles Stanley of Rotherham, of the Plymouth Brethren (or From New Birth to New Creation, complied by R.A. Huebner, pp.37-38)
    the Plymouth Brethren sound bite: His death for atonement —but Him (his person resurrected) for righteousness

    Nobody ever said Christ’s impeccability (inability to sin) was unimportant. Even our works are important and necessary. But for what reason?

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Romans 4 The non-imputation of sins IS imputation of righteousness. The pardon of sins IS justification of sinners This does not mean that we who teach that Christ’s death is our righteousness are saying that justification is only forgiveness. While sins of omission are also remitted, that does not change the fact that God’s imputation of Christ’s death to the elect results in the new birth, faith in the gospel, glorification, all the positive things are earned by Christ’s death.

    Reformed people think that the cross without “active obedience imputed” is doing an end-run around the law

    Reformed person—Many people tend to think that when the Father sent the Son to die on the cross to forgive sins, he was in some sense “breaking the law.”Like, because of Jesus, God is letting our law-breaking somehow slide. The god preached in this kind of scenario can only forgive sins by in some way compromising his holiness. In other words, he sort of tips the scales towards his mercy and away from his righteousness. A lot of Christians tend to think of God’s work like that — bending the rules. He sacrifices one part of his self (holiness) in order that we might take advantage of another (love).

    Reformed person—God has declared that he will by no means clear the guilty So God instead makes guilty people righteous! But to do this in a way that is just, God must make a righteous person guilty. And he accomplishes this, the Bible reveals, by punishing our sin by punishing his son Jesus. In this way, all sin is accounted for. Whether by the wrath of hell or by the wrath of the cross, every single sin is accounted for. W hen you do a bit of “reverse engineering” on the atonement, you can see that it wouldn’t be very loving at all for God to have broken his own laws to save us. An atonement made by a law not perfectly satisfied is no atonement at all. If God broke his law to save me, I am not saved.

    Mark—sounds good, correct? It is good. But because the person is confessional Reformed, he can’t stop there, but goes on to add vicarious law-keeping into the mix. Sure, all wrath for the sins of the elect have been taken care of by Christ’s death. But then however, there are still the sins of omission, the sin of not doing what Adam was supposed to do to earn his own immortality. Despite all the talk of the cross, that additional merit is not added to the equation by the Reformed formula. Because, at the end of the day, the law given to Adam did not say anything about anybody’s death being the cause of salvation. Even if you die, or if somebody dies for you, the law still expects you to produce.

    Reformed person—The Christian God is both just and justifier, not only forgiving sinners but also by making them righteous not by their obedience (because they could never obey well enough) but by Christ’s obedience, which is perfect and thus perfectly fulfills the perfectly holy law of God. Christ’s perfect obedience to the law of God is considered as my own perfect obedience to the law of God.

    Joel Beeke, p 148, God Adam and You, P and R, 2015—–“The work of the second Adam was not merely to die but to obey in all things.

    Jonathan Edwards–“What Christ did brought life, not ONLY as a sacrifice but it had the nature of meriting….Christ’s active obedience was JUST AS NECESSARY to satisfy the honor of God’s law as was His death.”

    (After you first tell me that the passive obedience was also the active, and then you tell me that we must not divide or separate the passive from the active obedience, and then after you separate the passive from the active by saying the passive was not enough alone…)..

    Tom Nettles, By His Grace and For His glory—-The idea of an offer based on infinite sufficiency for all sinners involves a shift in the understanding of the sacrificial death. Although Jesus’ death is spoken of as His obedience–and though the concepts of reconciliation and propitiation are defined as activities accomplished in the Father’s setting forth God the Son–when the notion of sufficiency for the non-elect arises, the emphasis shifts from the Son’s death to what Christ actively accomplished

    Lee Irons—The active obedience of Christ cannot be reduced to the perfect life of Christ, as if it excluded his death. For Christ’s death, Paul teaches in Romans 5:18, was “the one act of righteousness” antithetically parallel to the one transgression of Adam. As he says in Philippians 2:8, Christ was “obedient unto death

  3. markmcculley Says:

    Mennonite. My understanding of scripture is that Adam’s first sin is imputed to all men but that Christ’s one act of obedience makes sure that one sin ONLY was removed in all men.

    me—no, the first sin was imputed to all humans, but it’s not removed from all humans by Christ’s one act of righteousness—even non-elect infants are condemned only because of Adam’s one sin imputed

    There are dangers to describing sin as corruption instead of guilt, because guilt is cause of inability. There is great error in describing “made sin” as the “spiritual death” of Christ. Christ did not become corrupt, and Christian do not become righteous by infusion or by impartation (of an extra nature to make two) but by God’s legal imputation

    Tanqi Wu 1, Law requires perpetual obedience. How is Christ’s law obedience perpetual? In fact, scripture says one act of obedience makes the elect righteous. The death is the one act of obedience.
    2, Scripture says that the elect who have been justified have died to law when they are placed into the death of Christ, which is also a death to law. If on top of the death taking away sins, law obedience is also needed, then isn’t this saying instead by the death the elect are brought to a new life under law, which then needs to be vicariously kept by Christ?

    The comparison between Adam and Christ is that the guilt of Adam’s one act of disobedience is imputed to the elect and that the righteousness of Christ’s one act of obedience is imputed to the elect. Adam and Christ were NOT born under the same law. Christ was born under the Mosaic law, but Adam was not. Christ came to die to win immortality for the elect. Adam was threatened with death for disobedience, but was never promised immortality no matter what he would ever do

    After the fall, things change–now a penalty needs to be paid. But also, after the fall, things still don’t change—somebody needs to do what Adam could have done, obey long enough (who knows how long) to get the reward (with the assumption being that the reward is that this person and those represented are then no longer under the covenant of works). This is cherry picking, some times excused by the idea that “well, sin complicates things. But the root of the problem is saying that the Mosaic covenant is not a distinct covenant but “an administration of the one covenant of works”. And then you get the further problem of “and oh also it’s an administration of the covenant of works, but changed”.

    We need a bible proof-text for “active obedience”. It needs to explain how the one act of righteousness by Christ in Romans 5 is not ‘the active obedience”, since Christ’s death only get us back to neutral in Adam, is only for forgiveness, and not for positive righteousness. Even though Romans 5 does say that grace will reign through the righteousness of Christ’s one act of obedience. If Christ’s death does not count as “active obedience”, does his birth count as active obedience”? Does His resurrection count as “active obedience? Does his present intercession count as “active obedience” We needs answers to these questions, not the speculations of Berkhof and those committed to “one covenant, with administrations”

  4. markmcculley Says:

    To quote exact words from Jesus Is the Propitiation for All, But Only the Mercy Seat for Believers: Romans 3:25 and 1 John 2:2 by Zane Hodges

    “This brings us to an important phrase in Rom 3:25, the words through faith. The positioning of the words through faith in the NKJV does not strictly correspond to their position in the original Greek. In the Greek of Romans the order is as follows: as a propitiation through faith in (by) His blood. The Greek word represented in the NKJV as in can also mean by.

    This has led some to think that Paul is speaking about “faith in His [Jesus’] blood.” In fact this is the sense adopted by the NIV. However, there is major commentary support for the meaning reflected in the NKJV and in the NASV (= a propitiation in His blood). In particular it is pointed out that Paul never elsewhere makes the blood of Christ the object of faith.

    Instead we should connect the phrase with the word propitiation (= mercy seat) and translate it this way: a mercy seat…by means of His blood. The NKJV has simply altered the word order for the sake of clarity, as has the NASV.

    Without at all criticizing the choice of word order by NKJV and NASV, it nevertheless remains true that the Greek word order is significant. Paul is basically connecting the words through faith with the word for mercy seat (hilasterion). That is to say, Jesus Christ becomes the New Covenant equivalent of the mercy seat through faith.

    The point we are about to make is obscured by the English translations which render both hilasterion here (Rom 3:25) and also hilasmos in 1 John 2:2 as propitiation. First John 2:2, however, is an unqualified assertion that the Son of God is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. There is no qualification that He is this only if and when there is faith. The whole world is covered by His grand propitiatory work, regardless of how many believe it.

    But that is not true in regard to our Lord’s role as the fulfillment of the mercy seat. On the contrary, this mediatorial function is realized only when men come to God through faith in Jesus. Thus the saving encounter between man and God through the one and only Mediator is always, and only, an encounter that faith makes possible. The Lord Jesus Christ becomes a mercy seat to those who believe.

    In Greek the words that immediately follow the phrase through faith are the words by His blood. These words therefore give the basis on which our Lord Jesus Christ can be a mercy seat through faith. He can do so by virtue of His shed blood. In other words He can become the hilasterion through faith as a result of the fact that He is the hilasmos for the sins of all humanity.”

  5. markmcculley Says:

    Psalm 110: The Lord declared to my Lord,
    ‘Sit at My right hand
    until I put Your enemies under Your feet’?

    Matthew 22: 45 “If David calls Him ‘Lord,’ how then can the Messiah be his Son?” 46 No one was able to answer Him at all,and from that day no one dared to question Him anymore.

    Acts 2: 23 Though He was handed over according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people[ to nail Him to a cross and KILL Him.

    Psalm 16—I saw the Lord ever before me;
    because He is at my right hand,
    I will not be shaken.
    Therefore my heart was glad,
    and my tongue rejoiced.
    Moreover, my flesh will rest in hope,
    because You will not leave me in Hades
    or allow Your Holy One to see decay.

    Acts 2:29 speak to you about father David. David is both dead and buried, and David’s tomb is with us to this day. 30 Since David was a prophet, David knew that God had sworn an oath to him to seat one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing this in advance, David spoke concerning the resurrection of the Messiah

  6. markmcculley Says:

    all these people talk about “active obedience imputed”

    Myron S. Augsburger
    Kay Arthur

    Bill Bright
    Tony Evans
    Jerry Falwell
    Billy Graham

    Jack W. Hayford

    Ed Hindson
    Bill Hybels

    Woodrow Kroll
    Beverly LaHaye
    Tim LaHaye

    Bill McCartney
    Beth Moore

    Pat Robertson
    Adrian Rogers

    Joseph Stowell
    Charles Swindoll

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