No Exceptions

No Exceptions

by Bob Burridge ©2011

Humans were created without an inclination to do evil. Adam and Eve were holy and free. Their freedom didn’t mean that God had no plan or idea what would happen. Their Creator was not open for suggestions about an uncertain future which in any way was dependent upon them. Eden was not a cosmic moral experiment. God is sovereign eternally. By “free” we mean that man had no built in pull toward evil. He had the moral ability both to do good and to sin.

In the fall, all humans lost that freedom and
became corrupted, inclined toward evil.

Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

At that moment in Eden, when Adam represented us all in the first sin, humanity became depraved. Sin brought death and bondage. There was no more ability to do good. The chains of corruption were firmly fixed upon us all. Fallen humans were cut off from the Creator, the source of truth and life. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:1 saying that we were all, “… dead in trespasses and sins”

Sin alienates us all from God. The guilt that comes from it deserves eternal judgment, eternal separation from the Creator. Romans 6:23 says, “the wages of sin is death.”

This corruption, or “depravity”, is inherited by all humans. In Romans 5:12 Paul wrote, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

Just how seriously damaged are we from our inherited corruption?

We say this depravity is “total” because every part of the person is involved. Fallen humans are unable to do any spiritual good. Humans are corrupted to the core of their soul. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?”

The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:20, “For there is not a just man on earth who does good  And does not sin.” The Apostle Paul references that verse, and quotes from Psalm 14:1-3 in his letter to the Romans. There he tells how complete our depravity is from the time of our conception. The classic passage of Romans 3:10-12 says, “As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.’ ”

No one, aside from God’s grace, has the ability either to believe or to repent. Jesus said in John 6:44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” In 1 Corinthians 2:14 the Apostle Paul wrote, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

No one can change his own basic nature. To do that he would have to go against what he already is. He can’t even understand the real problem, much less understand and trust in the solution. As far back as the time of the prophets, Jeremiah 13:23 said, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.”

Fallen humans hate the fact that they need God’s grace in order to do what is truly good. Once confronted with this biblical teaching, it either converts them, or condemns them. Those not renewed by a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit will be offended. They will refuse to admit their lost condition. Their negative response further exposes the corruption they are so quick to deny.

The denial of man’s total depravity is at the root
of all non-christian thought and values.

The philosopher Rousseau proposed the idea of the “Noble Savage”. He was born in Calvin’s Geneva in 1712 (about 200 years after John Calvin). Rousseau came to hate the principles of God which were revealed in Scripture. Instead of total depravity, he taught the natural goodness of humanity. To him civilization was a mistake. It gets in our way. He thought that if we could just get rid of rules and cultural traditions, we would see mankind at his best.

The Frenchman Robespierre believed strongly in the teachings of Rousseau. He believed that man will prove his natural goodness if he was only allowed to be really free. He believed this theory could liberate the people of France.

He and his followers finally came to power. He had his opportunity to put his beliefs into practice. We call this period of France’s history the “Reign of Terror”. It lasted for a little over a year beginning in 1793. When it was over more than 20,000 Frenchmen had been killed in a horrible blood-bath by the “good men” of Robespierre. Included among those massacred were many clergymen who dared to doubt that man was naturally good.

How did he justify his use of terrorism and violence in proving that humanity is basically good? He explained it this way, “We must annihilate the enemies of the republic at home and abroad, or else we shall perish… in time of revolution a democratic government must rely on virtue and terror… Terror is nothing but justice; swift, severe and inflexible; it is an emanation of virtue …”

A couple generations later there was the French artist Gauguin. He also believed in Rousseau’s idea that man is basically good. He left civilization to live with the “Noble Savage” in Tahiti. The Tahitians lived without civil laws and restrictions. He was certain he would find an ideal society where there was unhindered human kindness and goodness. However, Gauguin was disillusioned with what he found in Tahiti. After painting a Tahitian scene, showing that what he found was not noble, he committed suicide.

History confirms what God reveals about man in the Bible. Humans are all fallen creature. We are totally depraved and live under the shadow of eternal damnation.

These are hard teachings. Jesus admitted this to the disciples in John 6. Some had stopped following him because of his teachings. In John 6:60 it says, “Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can understand it?’ ”

So Jesus repeated that same thing he had said earlier in verse 44. In John 6:65 Jesus said, “… Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”

Our total depravity provides the barrier
that reveals the power of God’s grace.

In contrast with our being dead in sin, Paul said in Ephesians 2:4-5, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)”

Since salvation is totally a work of grace, and since it is entirely granted by an all sovereign and all powerful God, there can be no uncertainty about our salvation when we truly believe in Christ’s work as our only hope. Our confidence is never dependent upon our works or knowledge. The price demanded by our offenses against God was fully paid for on the cross of Calvary long ago by Jesus.

(The Bible quotations in this article are from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.)

An Offer That Can’t Be Refused

An Offer That Can’t Be Refused

a study in Ephesians 2:8-9
by Bob Burridge ©2011

People generally like to be commended for the good things they do. We live in a rewards based culture where praises and prizes are lavished upon the best movies, the best songs, the best dressed, the most likely to succeed, the fastest, the most popular, and the first to set some record.

When “good” is measured by popularity or majority preferences it’s easy for those to be good who we see meeting those standards. A good singer is one who gets the most votes on “American Idol”, sells the most music tracks, or charges the most for seats at concerts.

Good can easily become very subjective and divorced from any absolute standard to which we are all to conform. Moral good becomes giving to the poor, helping the handicapped, contributing to hospitals, or being kind to our neighbors. While these certainly can be good things, they can also be manipulative and self-serving if done with the wrong motives.

It’s generally agreed that we should do good things in life. It’s not as easy to define what things are really “good” by these mere appearance based standards. Even those who do what they admit is “bad” do it for some result they think is “good” by whatever standard they use for measuring things morally. A thief might think it’s good when he gets away with a robbery because he gets money.

People often believe that what they are doing is truly good. They even believe that the good they do is a great personal accomplishment. Individuals want to take credit for the things they do which they think are good. The problem is that in our fallen estate, the effects of our inherited sin nature distort our ability to see things as they really are. This disables us from understanding spiritual truths and from doing good as God sees it.

Even religion is distorted to where mere belief in some kind of God is thought to be a good thing. Religion is promoted where God has to wait for us to allow him to do good in our lives, and where we get the credit for doing it. The Bible is very clear that in our fallen condition, we can’t do any good thing. Our motives are stained with sin, and are not focused on giving God the glory he deserves.

Romans 3:10-12, “As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”

The greatest good is for us to fulfill the purpose for which we were created. We are here to honor our Creator, to promote his glory and to enjoy his blessings responsibly and thankfully.

The greatest good thing we can do is to be reconciled with our Creator by the grace that sent Jesus as the Messiah. Even that is a work of God, not of our own fallen nature.

Ephesians 2:8-9 are classic verses that explain God’s grace as the cause of our salvation.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: It is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

All people are challenged by the gospel to repent of sin, believe in Christ as Savior, and to do good. However, they can’t respond in these truly good ways because of their total inability to do what is really good in God’s sight.

The outward call of the gospel sometimes comes to those not enabled to believe. They will refuse God’s salvation because they aren’t able to understand it properly or to trust in it sincerely.

There is also God’s inward call described in the Bible. This is the call of the Holy Spirit which applies the work of Christ and regenerates the soul. This can’t be resisted because it inclines the heart to irresistibly come to Christ. It makes the redeemed grieve for their sins and repent. It makes them trust in the work of Jesus Christ alone as the way of forgiveness and salvation. and it makes them begin the process of sanctification, of growing in obedience to God. It is this offer, where the soul is transformed, that is an offer that can’t be refused.

Ephesians 2:8-9 makes this very clear. Being saved from our lost condition is by God’s grace through faith.

Grace is the undeserved favor of God to redeem the unworthy. That is the cause of salvation. It is that “by which” we are saved from our lost condition of separation from fellowship with the God who made us. The foundation of that grace toward the lost is the work of Jesus Christ who satisfied justice in the place of those he loved from all eternity. Earlier in this same Epistle (Ephesians 1:3-7) this foundation was laid out very clearly.

Faith is the means God uses by which grace works in the heart. He puts that certain knowledge, that trust, in our hearts which causes us to rely upon the gospel promise as our only hope. This work in us is done “by grace” but “through faith.” In our lost condition we are not able to trust what is true, or even to know what really is true. A true faith in God’s promises is impossible until the work of grace has already changed the lost heart to give it life.

Faith and the good works that flow from conversion to Christ are never initiated by us independently from God. They are God’s gifts. Until God gives that gift, there will be no true repentance, faith, or obedience.

When we come to Christ there is nothing to brag about. It is not our work, it is God’s work entirely. Even our faith is God’s gift. To put faith first and grace second turns this verse around. Faith is never the action of a fallen heart that then causes or allows God to work by grace. If grace is earned or deserved by us, it is not grace.

This is a very good message. Our salvation does not depend upon our doing enough, or of our doing something in the exact right way. There is no test or minimal standard for God’s work in saving us. It is by his love, not by our permission and human wisdom, that we are transformed into children of God.

What’s more, if we never deserved it to begin with, we can do nothing to lose it once we really have it. God’s forgiveness and perseverance with his children is our eternal hope and encouragement through all our stumbles and failures. We imperfect creatures, redeemed by grace through faith, are secure in the hands of our Sovereign God.

(Note: The Bible quotations in this article are from the New King James Bible unless otherwise noted.)

How We are Made Right with God

How We are Made Right with God

by Bob Burridge ©2010

The good news of the gospel isn’t anchored in our own efforts or feelings. It’s anchored in the work of Christ in fulfillment of God’s promise.

The person who needs to hear about Christ needs to be taken beyond his sorrow for sinning. If we just scare him with the fires of hell we drive him to whatever he believes is the escape. Often that’s not to the true deliverance they can have in Christ.

The statistics of emotionally charged revival campaigns are not very encouraging. The large majority of those who allege to come to Christ under those conditions show no change in their lives. After a few weeks they are never heard from again by the churches.

We need to point them to the work the Savior did, not to an emotional leap in the dark. They may come to God for mercy, but mercy comes only through Christ. Cries for mercy based on anything else are not the way to salvation.

First we need to be sure they understand the atonement. They may not know the word. You may not know the full theological definition of it yourself. But you need to lead them to the truth of it.

1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit”

The Demands of Justice
This verse begins with these words, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, …”

We humans are all unjust. We are sinners who stand accused before God. We are law-breakers.

As we see in Romans 3:23, “… all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Sin has a penalty as the Apostle Paul explained in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’

As those who sinned in Adam, and as those who sin by our own imperfect moral nature, we are guilty and condemned in the eyes of God.

Satisfying Those Demands
1 Peter 3:18 gives more detail about how that gift of God can benefit the sinner. Jesus died for the unjust. He was just one, innocent of any moral guilt. He suffered for the unjust. We are the ones who are not innocent.

Jesus only had to suffer once for all. He was that infinite sacrifice needed to cover so much guilt. The infinite God who is infinitely powerful, absolutely innocent and just, took on a full human nature to represent us just as Adam did.

Only the Messiah, God and man in perfect union, could stand as our representative. Adam represented the human race. Jesus represented those chosen by God. They weren’t chosen because of anything good in them. They were chosen by grace alone (Ephesians 1:4-5) — an act of a perfect love.

Our Savior died in the place of those God called to life by taking on their guilt and penalty. He suffered infinitely to pay our infinite debt. With the barrier of guilt removed we can be reconciled with God. This is what today’s verse teaches us, “… that he might bring us to God”

The guilt barrier is removed. God is reconciled with us and we with him. Aside from his atonement God is offended by us and we are alienated from him. In Christ there is reconciliation: The offense is removed so that God is not separated from us any longer.

With the separation between us and God ended, we have life in Christ.

The Benefits of Satisfied Justice
This important verse ends with this promise, “being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:”

Jesus died in the flesh. His human body and spirit were separated as a consequence of our sins. Then Jesus was made alive again by the act of the Triune God. His body was raised as ours will be some day. It was reunited with his human soul because the sin that caused physical death was paid for.

In him we are made alive again too because the guilt of sin has been removed. We are re-united with God by being born-again, made alive spiritually, regenerated. At death our bodies will be separated from our souls only temporarily. At our resurrection our bodies will be glorified and re-united with our souls forever. That union will be in full fellowship with God eternally.

This is the good news the person who doesn’t know Christ needs to know. We need to explain it in the best way we can and urge others to trust in it.

(Note: The Bible quotations in this article are from the New King James Bible unless otherwise noted.)

The Nature of God’s Law

The Nature of God’s Law

by Bob Burridge © 2010

This article is a taken from our lager Syllabus lesson about God’s Law. It deals with just one brief aspect of that holy law. For the details, support texts and a more complete presentation read through the lessons on God’s Law in Unit 5, Nomology in our Syllabus. The following paragraphs were excerpted from the first lesson in this Unit.

The Nature of Law

Law is a concept many tend to isolate and examine as if it had an existence of its own. We tend to think of individual precepts and rules that bind us morally or civilly as various conditions arise. However, law ultimately has its origin in the unified and independent nature of God. It is what pleases him, and what is consistent with his purpose as Creator and Sustainer. It defines what is moral and right.

Matthew 5:17-20
The ancient sects of the Scribes and Pharisees had departed from a right understanding of God’s law and confused its use. They made it into a superficial set of regulations which they saw as a means of salvation, and as a cause for personal pride and judgmentalism. Jesus explained to them how their attitude toward the law was wrong. The context of Matthew 5 contrasts their perversions of moral law with what God had actually said and intended. He also countered the charge that he in any way degraded the ancient law given through Moses. He said …

17. Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.
18. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished.
19. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus denied that his coming was intended to abolish or to destroy the law or the words of the prophets. The Greek term he use in 5:17 is kataluo (καταλυω), which means to throw down, destroy, demolish, abolish, or annul.

He immediately added the positive side showing what his purpose was regarding the law. He came to fulfill it. The word he used for fulfill is plaerosai (πληρωσαι), which means “to fulfill, accomplish, complete or to bring something to its full measure.”

John Calvin stated in his commentary, “Christ, therefore, now declares, that his doctrine is so far from being at variance with the law, that it agrees perfectly with the law and the prophets, and not only so, but brings the complete fulfillment of them.”

Jesus accomplished this in his three offices. As Prophet he brought the law to it fullest revelation by showing us the meaning underlying the symbols and practices of the ceremonial law. As Priest he was the Sacrificial Lamb satisfying the demands of the law in the place of his people. He represented them both in the keeping of the law perfectly, and in the suffering and dying to satisfy the demands of divine justice for their sin. As King he pronounced the curse of the law upon those who remain the enemies of God and of God’s Kingdom.

The perpetuity of the law is compared with the persistence of the created universe. Beginning with the solemn declaration “truly” (αμην), he said that the law would last as long as the universe lasts. It would remain until the heaven and earth pass away. Those who imagine that Jesus was declaring the elimination of the law should observe the stars and mountains and conclude that such an end to the law has not yet taken place.

He then showed that the law as a whole persisted. Not even the smallest parts were being canceled out. He illustrated with references to the forms of letters in the Hebrew alphabet, the language of the law and the Old Testament. It is represented in Greek by the gospel writer.

The smallest letter in Greek is called the iota. It is like our letter “i” (ι). Matthew uses this to represent the Hebrew letter yodh, (translated “jot” in the KJV). It is a small mark raised above the line (י) representing the letter “y”, or as a helping consonant to lengthen the vowel “i”. The “stroke” he spoke of is the keraia, a Greek word representing the little extension on some forms that distinguish between certain Hebrew letters. For example the “b” (ב) in Hebrew and the “c” (כ) look similar. The difference is the hook or projection on the bottom right which is called the “tittle” in the KJV.

The analogy in English would be to say that not a dot over an “i” or a cross on the “t” would pass away from the law until all has been accomplished. That is the attitude of Jesus regarding the stability of God’s law.

To clarify even further Jesus condemned as least in the Kingdom of Heaven anyone who would dare annul and teach the annulment of even the least of these commandments. The rabbis had divided the law into 613 commandments. They identified 248 of them as stated positively and 365 as stated negatively. They debated which were the heavier or lighter commandments. According to many the lightest was found in Deuteronomy 22:6-7 which says that if you find a bird’s nest with young or eggs, and the mother of the bird is with them, you may take the eggs but you may not take the mother. The most weighty was generally agreed to be Deuteronomy 6:5 which requires that we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and might. In Luke 10:27-28 Jesus accepted the answer about the weightiest law when it was offered to him by an expert in the law.

Jesus’ comments clarify what he meant by not coming to destroy the law but to fulfill it. All the points of God’s moral law, expanded upon in the context of Matthew 5:21-48, are perpetual and are not annulled or set aside in the coming of Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus came to complete the law for us, not to take it away.

We must lay hold of the law in its true sense as a moral and perpetual revelation of God’s commanded holiness. This ought to make us live more honorably to the Lord who has transformed us by grace, than did those hypocritical critics the Scribes and Pharisees.

John Calvin comments, “If we intend to reform affairs which are in a state of disorder, we must always exercise such prudence and moderation, as will convince the people, that we do not oppose the eternal Word of God, or introduce any novelty that is contrary to Scripture. We must take care, that no suspicion of such contrariety shall injure the faith of the godly, and that rash men shall not be emboldened by a pretense of novelty.” (Calvin’s Commentary on the Harmony of the Gospels, table 1-43)

Though Jesus seemed to disobey the law, it was really only their perverted interpretations of the law that he disobeyed. He did not abolish the law by fulfilling it. This is directly denied by his own words. Instead of abolishing the law he fulfilled it.

Summary of the Practical Importance of God’s Law
To summarize the practical importance of the law of God for believers living in this age of the ascended Savior, a few principles may provide a helpful guide.

1. God’s moral law reveals what is pleasing to the Eternal King.
It shows us what is right and true. The revealing of the nature of God is presented in Scripture as a prime purpose of all things made (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:20). Therefore making himself known must also be a prime purpose of his specially revealed moral law. The more we understand God’s law, the more we will respond with proper worship regarding his glory.

2. God’s law exposes our fallen nature and inability to please God.
The more we understand God’s law, the more we are humbled before the perfectly pure holiness and justice of our Heavenly Father. It shows how unworthy we are of his blessing, and how impossible it is for us to keep the law sufficiently to please God, even in one little point.

3. God’s law foreshadows the work of Jesus as the Messiah.
The ceremonial law illustrates dramatically that our sin deserves death. It teaches that unless God provides a substitute for his people by a gracious covenant, there is no hope for any one. The symbolic animal sacrifices of the Old Testament foreshadowed the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Since his death for his people has been completed, the rituals of the Levitical code have ceased to have a purpose. But what was required by divine justice remains: Death for sin is required of everyone descending from Adam by ordinary generation. The only satisfaction in place of the sinner would be a perfect Redeemer who was also the infinite God who was the party offended. The ritual laws continue to drive us to Christ as we study the principles underlying them which are now made clear in the New Testament.

4. God’s law is a perfect guide for showing us how we ought to live.
The believer is made alive spiritually. This compels him by the renewed disposition of his heart to give thankful obedience to his Savior. The law of God shows what is pleasing to the object of our love. Otherwise we would not know how to honorably show our gratitude.

5. God’s law restrains sin for the benefit of the covenant people.
The general effects of the law are applied by God to society in general to provide a restraining effect that keeps depravity from expanding into total moral chaos. Ungodly societies have laws against murder, civil violence, theft, and such crimes that would disrupt societal tranquility. These laws are not imposed by them to honor the true God, but to benefit their own peace and prosperity. There is no true benefit to this kind of obedience for the unbeliever. The beneficiary of this restraint is the redeemed people of God.

God’s law continues to have great uses and benefits today. Though some legal duties may have only temporal applications, there is an eternal element to all of God’s law. The moral principles underlying the revealed precepts are never done away. We need to learn to honor that law and to be holy even as the Lord our God is holy (Leviticus 19:2).
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The Meaning of Imputation

The Meaning of Imputation

Genevan Institute for Reformed Studies
by Bob Burridge ©2010

Imputation: The act of assigning a condition, standing, or value. When it relates to persons, the new condition is credited to them, and accounted as being fully theirs. The sin of Adam was imputed to us long ago. The righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed (credited) to all those redeemed by him on the Cross of Calvary. There our sin was imputed to our Savior where the demands of its guilt were satisfied before God forever.

(Note: The Bible quotations in this article are from the New King James Bible unless otherwise noted.)

We’re often warned about the dangers of living on credit. The basic idea of credit is something very familiar to us in our society today. It’s when you are made able to spend someone else’s money on things you aren’t able to pay for yourself. It’s based on the assumption that you will soon be able to pay them back, and pay them for the privilege of the loan.

In economics this can be dangerous if it is handled unwisely. No one really knows what the future will hold. The assumption is made that the borrower’s income will be able to pay back the loan in a reasonable time frame, and will also be able to pay the price charged for the loan.

There’s a Greek word for that crediting of something to someone’s account. The word is logitzomai. It’s found in several New Testament passages. But the context isn’t about economics. It’s about righteousness.

James 2:23 “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. ”

The word translated “imputed” is that Greek word logitzomai. The righteousness of Abraham didn’t come from his own pure motives, efforts, or works. It was credited to him by God through his faith. He believed that God would provide what he didn’t have and couldn’t obtain.

It wasn’t only James who talked about this imputed righteousness. Paul used the same example of Abraham to make the same point in Romans 4.

In Romans 4:11 he said, “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also”

It wasn’t Abraham’s own act of circumcision that made him righteous. That was just a sign of what God had already credited to him.

Then in that same chapter Paul said, “(22) And therefore ‘it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ (23) Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, (24) but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, (25) who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”

The words “accounted” and “imputed” in this passage are that same word, logitzomai. The faith God puts into our hearts by grace turns from it’s own merits to the merits of Christ.

Then again in Galatians 3:6-9 Paul wrote, “(6) just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ (7) Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. (8) And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’ (9) So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.”

The word for “accounted” is again the word logitzomai.

We have no righteousness of our own, yet we are credited as being righteous. The reason we can’t earn this standing on our own is that is another imputation that took place back in Eden. The sin of Adam was imputed to all who would descend from him by natural conception. Jesus was born by supernatural conception so the sin of Adam was not credited to him. He was born without that debt of sin. As our perfect representative he paid the penalty we all owe.

God’s word directly teaches that sin together with its consequences passed upon all of the human race by Adam’s sin. Romans 5:12 “… through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned”, and 1 Corinthians 15:22 “For as in Adam all die …”

Adam’s guilt was imputed to his posterity in a way similar to the manner in which Jesus Christ’s righteousness is imputed to his people by grace, and their sin is imputed to their Savior.

Charles Hodge defines it, “to impute is to attribute anything to a person or persons, upon adequate grounds, as the judicial or meritorious reason of reward or punishment.” (Systematic Theology. vol 2, pg 194)

The wonderful truth is that we who are redeemed have Christ’s righteousness imputed to us. It’s credited to our account as if it was our own.

No one can ever pay back the debt he owes for his sins. Only Jesus could pay that infinite debt. Our sins were credited to him as if they were his own.

That’s the message behind this name of God in Jeremiah 23:6. He is THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Only dressed in the righteousness of our Savior, that which is credited to us, can we be God’s children.

Unlike the crediting that takes place in economics, we are never expected to pay back what’s credited to us. We could not. Jesus paid the debt in full for us.

Critics of this idea often say that this makes us unconcerned about doing what’s good. They assume that if it is not our good deeds that make us right with God, then we will have no reason to do good at all, since we already have righteousness in Christ. But there are things not taken into consideration by these critics. They fail to understand the motivation that drives the redeemed human heart.

It is our grateful love for the Loving Redeemer that stirs us to want to live for his glory. The pride that imagines that anything we do is pure enough to make us innocent before God is destructive, self-centered, self-deceptive, and arrogant. It is not a reliable motive for obedience.

The best motive that stirs us to honor God in our thoughts and lives is a humility that admits its own poverty, weakness, and total unworthiness. The person who understands that his righteousness can only come by the imputation of that which belongs to his Savior, is the one who can truly appreciate the fact of this amazing grace.

Those who come to see their own unworthiness, and to trust in Christ’s work alone for salvation, are the ones who are thankfully humbled before God and before others. They engage in humble and faithful worship. They struggle hard to obey out of gratitude with no delusions of earning their salvation. They busily evangelize telling others, all kinds of others, both the good and the evil, that in spite of their own record, their own successes or failures, there is hope in the promise of God in the work of Christ.

They will stand before God as holy children, dressed in the purest of righteousness, the righteousness of the perfect Savior. They can be confident that in spite of their sins, their inexcusable crimes and evil, they are loved and counted as heirs of eternal blessing with Christ.

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