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The Wednesday Word: Grace not Debt

“Now to him that works is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that works not, but believes on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” (Romans 4:4-5).

Good gracious, that is an audacious statement, but it is perfectly correct and accurate.

God justifies the ungodly!

Why the ungodly? Because there is no other kind of people for Him to justify. All outside of Christ are ungodly. As Romans 3 explained, “There is none righteous and none that doeth good.” NONE! That’s comprehensive if you ask me.

So, let’s say it again, if God did not justify the ungodly, no one would be justified (acquitted). All are ungodly, some are very ungodly; but none are too ungodly to be justified. Why so? Because justification, (acquittal) is by grace— sheer unbounded grace, and not because of merit (what we deserve or earn).

At Calvary, infinite grace met unbounded demerit and grace triumphed.

Notice, we are not even told to believe that God justifies the ungodly. No, we are called to believe on Him,—on God Himself,—who justifies the ungodly (see our text).

Faith in God for justification implies the abandonment of any confidence we have in justification by our own good works. The old gospel Hymn by James Proctor deals so well with this. It says,

“When He, from His lofty throne,

Stooped to do and die,

Ev’rything was fully done;

Hearken to His cry!

Refrain

It is finished! yes, indeed,

Finished, ev’ry jot;

Sinner, this is all you need,

Tell me, is it not?

2) Weary, working, burdened one,

Wherefore toil you so?

Cease your doing; all was done

Long, long ago.

Refrain

3) Till to Jesus’ work you cling

By a simple faith,

“Doing” is a deadly thing-

“Doing” ends in death.

Refrain

4) Cast your deadly “doing” down-

Down at Jesus’ feet;

Stand in Him, in Him alone,

Gloriously complete.”

Our only hope of heaven is Jesus Himself. Our good works cannot bring us eternal life. As the scripture says, “To him that works is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” Now that is a plain, well-known matter. If we work for a wage, we’ve earned it. It is not grace, therefore, on the part of our employer to, at the end of the week, give us our wages. We’ve earned them.

But grace gives us what we haven’t earned or deserved.

Supposing you met a homeless stranger and you bought him a meal, that would be grace,—but only in a small measure. Gospel grace is much greater than that. Gospel grace is more akin to the following. Suppose a stranger plundered your home and robbed you and you, knowing who he was and what he had done, unbegrudgingly and gladly bought him a meal, that’s more like the grace of God.

We are saved by grace!

There is no question of working for wages to gain eternal life.

Salvation is “to him that works not— but believes on Him that justifies the ungodly,”—Gospel truth makes us repudiate our works as our hope of salvation. In grace, the Lord justifies the ungodly, the stranger, the destitute and the enemy. He is “the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.”

The blood of the Lamb is the basis on which He can righteously justify. That is why He “is just, and the justifier of him that believes in Jesus” (Romans 3:25-26). God justifies the ungodly—but some people would rather do anything other than simply trust themselves to Him. They would rather work than believe. They want their own righteousness and refuse to surrender themselves to the righteousness of God. They won’t submit, they won’t repent.

But, thank God, the most ungodly who trusts in Him is declared not guilty.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com  

The Wednesday Word: Repentance or Reformation?

Opinions are like noses…everyone has one. That’s why, when it comes to doctrine, we so often hear “I think this,” or “I think that,” and “Mr So-and-So thinks the other.” There are many varied and colourful opinions out there but to establish the veracity of a matter we need to ask what God thinks? What are His thoughts?

In Matthew 22:29 the Lord rebuked the Sadducees saying, “You do err, not knowing the Scriptures.” That’s a sombre reprimand for many of us.

God has spoken and His word endures for ever (1 Peter 1:25). What then does His Word say, for example, about repentance? Is it the same as reformation? Let’s then, for just a moment, look at this important truth.

In Acts 17:30-31 we discover that, “God now commands all men everywhere to repent: Because he has appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained; whereof he has given assurance unto all men, in that he has raised him from the dead.” Let’s unpack this;

Who commands repentance? God!

When does He command it? Now!

Whom does He command to repent? All men!

Where does He command this? Everywhere!

Why does He command repentance? To escape the coming judgment.

What assurance have we that there is a coming judgment? Christ has been raised from the dead!

Through the years, many have considered their responsibility to repent, and yet they still lack salvation.

Why?

Because they confuse reformation with repentance. They realise, to a point, their sinful condition, and unfitness for God’s holy presence, so they turn over a new leaf. They give up their obvious and visible sinful habits and try to lead a good and religious life. By doing so, they hope to make amends for their ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’. Oh, and yes, they believe that Christ died on the cross, but they seem to have no idea that they are to trust Him for their salvation. They do not see Him as their sin-bearer and substitute. However, by their upright behavior and sincerely trying to be good they believe they will reach heaven someday.

But is this repentance? Far from it! Repentance is seeing ourselves as poor, helpless, vile, lost sinner whose only hope is Jesus. What we are looking at with the ¨new leaf adherents¨ is the evidence of the deeply rooted self-righteousness of a deceived mind. These folks have gone through reformation not repentance. But God commands repentance, not reformation. Reformation will probably be appreciated by their neighbours but repentance towards God and repentance unto life are other things altogether.

If a person trusts in their reformation to gain eternal life, they are trusting in what they have done. But we are not saved by works. We are not called upon to trust what we have done (see Ephesians 2:8-9). A saved person does not justify themselves, but they look to Christ alone for their right standing before God. What a vast difference there is between reformation and repentance! Repentance is a change of mind about sin, our lostness and about Jesus. Real salvation is by grace. By the work of the Spirit we see that we are guilty and lost (see Luke 19:10). We comprehend that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (see 1 Timothy 1:15). We understand that Jesus, the appointed Judge, is also the Saviour.

Those hoping in their reformation must realise the following: God is “just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). They must, ‘Believe on (trust on) the Lord Jesus Christ, and they shall be saved,’ (Acts 16:31).

We are not called to believe about Him as merely an historical fact, but to trust the Person and finished work of the risen One. We cannot do a single thing to please God before we believe, for ” in all your doings your sins do appear ” (Ezekiel. 21:24). Reforming our ways is not the ground of salvation. We must believe and trust on Him first, and then follow Him.”

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com   

Dagg BK 7 Chapter III

When the Scriptures speak of Christ’s blood as the ground of our justification, his obedience is supposed: and, on the other hand, when his obedience is mentioned, his sufferings are supposed. His obedience to the precepts of the law would not have sufficed, if he had not also endured its penalty: and if, while enduring his sufferings, he had not loved God with all his heart, his sacrifice would have been polluted. A lamb without spot was needed; and perfect obedience was therefore necessary to render his offering acceptable. His active and passive obedience are both necessary to make a complete salvation; and when only one is mentioned in the Scriptures, the other is supposed.

In being made under the law, Christ became our substitute; and his obedience and sufferings are placed to our account, as if we had personally obeyed and suffered, to the full satisfaction of the law. We are thus justified by the righteousness of Christ imputed to us: “He who knew no sin, was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”[77] Our sins were imputed to Christ when he died for them; and his righteousness is imputed to us when we receive eternal life through him. He was treated as if he had personally committed the sins…..

Read the entire article at Founders Ministries.

The Most Important Question One Can Ask!

By Roger Duke

“Of Justification”

There are many important questions that should be asked concerning the possible paths one’s life should take. These questions must be considered, especially in the light of “characteristic … key events … which compose the essential[s] of human existence, such as birth, growth, emotionality, aspiration, conflict, … morality”3 and even death. No one single question is more important than: How can a sinful person be in right standing with a Holy God? This “must ever be a question of intense interest.”4 It is fundamental to any contemplative and sober-minded person—especially one concerned with their soul’s ultimate destination. It can be asked in theological parlance; “How can [a righteous] God justly account an ungodly [hu]man righteous[?]”5 It is profoundly, pointedly personal; “How can I be right with or just before God?”6 The Baptist Catechism simply asks: “What is justification.”7 This article will seek to shed light on this Bible truth from The Baptist Confession of Faith,8 and…..

Read the entire article at Founder’s Ministries.

John Owen on the Imputation of Christ’s Active Obedience

by Michael Brown

Introduction

In 1677, when John Owen (1616-1683) published his book, The Doctrine of Justification by Faith through the Imputation of the Righteousness of Christ; Explained, Confirmed, and Vindicated, the Protestant doctrine of justification was still engulfed in controversy. “In my judgment,” said the English Calvinist, “Luther spake the truth when he said, ‘Amisso articulo justificationis, simul amissa est tota doctrina Christiana.’ And I wish he had not been a true prophet, when he foretold that in the following ages the doctrine hereof would be again obscured.”[1] As a Reformed theologian, Oxford University Vice-Chancellor, and Congregationalist pastor, Owen defended the Protestant and confessional doctrine of justification against Arminianism, Socinianism, and Roman Catholicism.[2] Indeed, The Doctrine of Justification by Faith was primarily a repudiation of these three positions, particularly Socinianism.

These were not, however, Owen’s only opponents on this subject. While Protestants in the seventeenth-century generally understood the formal cause of a believer’s justification to be the imputed righteousness of Christ, not all agreed on the precise definition of that imputed righteousness. At the Westminster Assembly (1643-1649), for example, the majority believed that the imputed righteousness of Christ included both Christ’s active and passive obedience. A small minority, however, affirmed the latter but denied the former. Among these were the Assembly’s first prolocutor, William Twisse (1578-1646), and the theologian Thomas Gataker (1574-1654).[3] While Owen was not present at the Westminster Assembly, he was nevertheless fully committed to the majority view….

Read the entire article here.

Romans 1:17 & the imputation of God’s inherent righteousness?

by Hershel L Harvell Jr.

A few weeks ago I blogged an article which was entitledThe ‘Word of God’ and quotes from Reformers via social media,” you can read that article here, which consists of three parts. In part three I made mention of a minister friend, of whom I respect and love, which had a problem with the term ‘eloquence,’ as used by ministers to describe one who is fluent in the scriptures. You can read that article here.

My minister friend and I, even though we are friends on Facebook, usually interact on Linkedin. Whatever quote I place up on Facebook, I also place on Linkedin, Tumblr, and Twitter. My friend usually finds fault with my quotes, but does not interact with them on any other platform except for Linkedin and because Linkedin is like Twitter, in that it restricts the amount of characters one can use in a post, then I have to place my reply here, because my wordpress posts also blog to Linkedin when they go out.

Even though my minister friend is a particular Baptist, nevertheless he finds fault with much of what is held to within particular Baptists and Reformed Baptists circles and finds fault with much that is written in historic Reformed creeds and confessions. For instance, even though both the Westminster Confession[1] and the 1677/89 London Baptist Confession[2] state that, “The moral Law doth for ever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof,” nevertheless this he rejects. (I hope I did not misrepresent him here, but believe that I have stated his view correctly, namely, that he rejects a moral law which all men are obligated to obey).

The controversial point on which I am writing now, has to do with the righteousness of Christ imputed to the believer once he is regenerated and places faith in Christ. I placed up an article several days ago entitled, “Justification and Imputation,” wherein the writer of said article stated, “he died the death and bore the wrath of God that we deserved. This is the imputation of Christ’s passive obedience in which he freely submitted to the Father by becoming the atoning sacrifice for our sins,” and again, “From his birth to his death, he was tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. We failed. He did not. We disobeyed. He perfectly obeyed the Father. Thus we are declared righteous based on his merits alone by the imputation of his active obedience.

Whereby my minister friend commented on this article, “The Bible does not teach imputation of obedience but of righteousness. His obedience (which cannot be separated into “active and passive”) was the foundation of the imputation of His righteousness.

My response was: “What righteousness would be imputed to the sinner, if it is not the obedience of Christ which he wrought by keeping the law for us?” and then I quoted the 1677/89 London Baptist Confession of Faith whereby it states: “Those whom God Effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth, not by infusing Righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting, and accepting their Persons as Righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone, not by imputing faith it self, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their Righteousness; but by imputing Christs active obedience unto the whole Law, and passive obedience in his death, for their whole and sole Righteousness, they receiving, and resting on him, and his Righteousness, by Faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.[3] I also stated that the article is not separating the righteousness which has been imputed to us, into active and passive, but is distinguishing them, or distinguishing what Christ has wrought for us, namely in his living an obedient life in our stead, and then dying on the cross in our stead and that the Bible teaches both his active obedience and his passive obedience.

Whereby my minister friend responded: “The righteousness of Christ is imputed to the saints, not obedience. The confessions are wrong. The Bible does not teach obedience to be imputed……He was born under the law, was obedient to the Father in all things. As man, He earned the right (as being without sin) to stand in our place. As God, He imputed His divine righteousness to us that we could be reconciled to God.

In the above comment my minster friend stated that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the saints, not Christ’s obedience, yet turns around and states that Christ was born under the law, and was obedient in all things, whereby he earned the right to stand in our place. Wherein I believe that he is saying that Christ’s perfect obedience to the law does nothing towards an imputed righteousness, but only makes Christ worthy to stand in our place on the cross and worthy to pay the penalty for our sins. And by so doing, as God, He imputes His divine righteousness to us.

My final comment was and I am paraphrasing: “Ok, I will look into that more brother. Though I am settled in my mind that what Christ wrought in obedience to the law, in our stead, was the righteousness imputed, nevertheless I will give your view some thought and study, for I am open minded and am still learning and still reforming. God bless.

You see I am fair in dealing with individuals on social media. I am also fair in dealing with individuals in person. I am willing to consider a view and to search a view out. I try to be as the Bereans were and search the scriptures to see if these things be so. However, it is hard to search a view out, which cannot be found. (When I say it can’t be found, I mean that the view that Christ’s inherent righteousness, as God, is imputed to the believer upon regeneration and believing in Christ by faith, cannot be found. However, there are some that deny an active obedience of Christ, which is imputed to the believer after regeneration and accepting Christ by faith. These groups will be listed at the end of this article). I have many commentaries (when I say many, I mean many: which will be shown by quoting Puritans that some have probably never heard of) and I have found absolutely no one who holds the view that Christ’s inherent divine righteousness is imputed to the sinner. Therefore, to say that the confessions are wrong, then he is also saying that everyone in the history of the Church was wrong, seeing that I can find no one who states that the inherent righteousness of Christ, as God, was imputed to those who possess faith. So this is the crux of the matter. This is the decisive, pivotal point on which this disagreement hinges. Is the righteousness imputed to us a righteousness which Christ merited or was it Christ’s inherent divine righteousness as God? When we use the term sola fide we are saying that justification is by faith alone in the righteousness of Christ alone. But what is meant by the righteousness of Christ alone? This is what we shall look into in the remaining part of this article.

To begin, I will quote from R. C. Sproul:

“Christ’s mission of redemption was not limited to the cross. To save us he had to live a life of perfect righteousness. His perfect, active obedience was necessary for his and our salvation. He earned the merit of perfect righteousness, not only for his own humanity, but for all those whom he redeems. Christ perfectly fulfilled all demands of the law, meriting by his active obedience the blessing promised in the old covenant.”[4]

Is the above quote Biblical? Can we find any place in scripture which teaches that Christ’s obedience was the merit which justifies us? Of course we can.

Rom 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

Rom 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

In the verses above we see a contrast between the offence of one, namely Adam, with the obedience of another, which was Christ. Whereas Adam’s actions brought judgment upon all of humanity, Christ’s perfect obedience in his life and death brings justification of life on all who place their faith in him. Where Adam failed in keeping God’s law, Christ succeeded. These two verses are reiterating the same thing, yet are using different words to state the same thing. Repetition was common among Hebrew writers in order to emphasize what was being said. Thus Paul uses the words ‘righteousness of one‘ in verse 18 and in verse 19 uses the words ‘obedience of one.’ This is speaking of Christ’s work. His obedience or righteousness is a free gift. Calvin says on Romans 5:19:

“For the meaning is — As by the sin of Adam we were alienated from God and doomed to destruction, so by the obedience of Christ we are restored to his favor as if we were righteous.”[5]

John Owen says on these verses: In this place, [Rom. v.] ὑπακοή, verse 19, and δικαίωμα, verse 18, are the same, — obedience and righteousness. “By the righteousness of one,” and “by the obedience of one,” are the same. But suffering, as suffering, is not δικαίωμα, is not righteousness; for if it were, then every one that suffers what is due to him should be righteous, and so be justified, even the devil himself. The righteousness and obedience here intended are opposed τῷ παραπτώματι, — to the offence: “By the offence of one.” But the offence intended was an actual transgression of the law; so is παράπτωμα, a fall from, or a fall in, the course of obedience. Wherefore the δικαίωμα, or righteousness, must be an actual obedience unto the commands of the law, or the force of the apostle’s reasoning and antithesis cannot be understood. Particularly, it is such an obedience as is opposed unto the disobedience of Adam,— “one man’s disobedience,” “one man’s obedience;” — but the disobedience of Adam was an actual transgression of the law: and therefore the obedience of Christ here intended was his active obedience unto the law; — which is that we plead for. And I shall not at present farther pursue the argument, because the force of it, in the confirmation of the truth contended for, will be included in those that follow.[6]

But is this righteousness ‘from God’ or ‘of God?’ Here we turn to Romans 1:17:

Rom 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Here it is manifestly clear that the righteousness which is revealed is from God. It is not his inherent righteousness, wherein God is righteous, but is called his righteousness because it originates from him. It is God’s method of saving sinners. Let us look at the Greek word which was translated ‘righteousness‘ here:

Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the NT– righteousness- δικαιοσύνηdikaiosunē

1) in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God

1a) the doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved of God

1b) integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting

2) in a narrower sense, justice or the virtue which gives each his due

Part of Speech: noun feminine

Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionary-righteousness- δικαιοσύνη dikaiosunēdik-ah-yos-oo’-nay

From G1342; equity (of character or act); specifically (Christian) justification: – righteousness.

Vincent’s Word Studies δικαιοσύνη γὰρ Θεοῦ ἐν ἀυτῷ ἀποκαλύπτεται).

Rev., more correctly, therein is revealed a righteousness of God. The absence of the article denotes that a peculiar kind of righteousness is meant. This statement contains the subject of the epistle: Righteousness is by faith. The subject is not stated formally nor independently, but as a proof that the Gospel is a power, etc. This word δικαιοσύνη righteousness, and its kindred words δίκαιος righteous, and δικαιόω to make righteous, play so important a part in this epistle that it is desirable to fix their meaning as accurately as possible.

John MacArthur– Better translated, “righteousness from God.” A major theme of the book, appearing over 30 times in one form or another, righteousness is the state or condition of perfectly conforming to God’s perfect law and holy character. Other terms from the same Gr. Root also occur some 30 times and are usually translated “justified,” “ justification” or similarly. Only God is inherently righteous (Deut. 32:4; Job 9:2; Psalm 11:7; 116:5; John 17:25; Rom. 3:10; 1 John 2:1; Rev. 16:5) and man falls woefully short of the divine standard of moral perfection (Rom. 3:23; Matt. 5:48)…..Rom. 3:21– This righteousness is unique: 1) God is its source (Is. 45:8); 2) it fulfills both the penalty and precept of God’s law. Christ’s death as a substitute pays the penalty exacted on those who failed to keep God’s law, and His perfect obedience to every requirement of God’s law fulfills God’s demand for comprehensive righteousness.[7]

So by these definitions we see that the righteousness that is from God is that righteousness by which he justifies his elect. It is Christ’s righteous deeds wherein he fulfills the law in our stead. It is the merit of Christ, which is given to us, so that we are as righteous as Christ himself. If Christ’s inherent righteousness, as God, is the righteousness imputed to us, then Christ did not have to live for thirty-three years on this earth before he died in our stead to pay the penalty of the law for us. He could have just came to the earth, as a man, and go straight to the cross. Therefore, when we say that we are saved by works, then we are saying that we are saved by the works of another, namely, the works or merit of Christ. My minister friend stated that Christ earned the right, as man, to stand in our place. So he distinguishes what Christ done in his humanity from what Christ does as God. He only allows what Christ earned or merited in obedience to the law, as only being applied to himself, so that he earns a merit that only benefits his humanity and makes him worthy to die for mankind. Yet, when it comes to the righteousness which is imputed to us, my minister friend then turns to Christ’s divinity and insists that Christ’s inherent righteousness as God, is the righteousness imputed to us. But why make this distinction. I mean if you are going to hold the view that Christ’s inherent righteousness as God is the righteousness imputed, then why not also hold to the righteousness of God as being that righteousness that would make Christ worthy to stand in our place without having to live under the law. I mean if it is Christ’s righteousness, as God, that is imputed, then his righteousness, as God, would have given him the right to stand in our place. However, the law would not be satisfied. Someone had to obey the law perfectly in our stead, in order to inherit the blessing promised in the covenant or law, and this Christ done on our behalf.

Now I will quote from men throughout the history of the Church in order to show that the righteousness which is imputed to us, is not Christ’s inherent righteousness, but that righteousness or merit which he obeyed the law in our stead.

Martin Luther– Here, too, “the righteousness of God” must not be understood as that righteousness by which he is righteous in himself, but as that righteousness by which we are made righteous (justified) by Him, and this happens through faith in the gospel. Therefore, Blessed Augustine writes in the sixteenth chapter of his book On the Spirit and the Letter. “The righteousness of God is that righteousness which he imparts in order to make men righteous. Just as that is the Lord’s salvation by which he saves us.” He says the same thing in the ninth chapter of the same book. The righteousness of God must be distinguished from the righteousness of men which comes from works—as Aristotle in the third chapter of his Ethics clearly indicates. According to him, righteousness follows upon and flows from actions.[8]

Augustine– Romans 3:21 Does this then sound a light thing in deaf ears? He says, “The righteousness of God is manifested.” Now this righteousness they are ignorant of, who wish to establish one of their own; they will not submit themselves to it. Romans 10:3 His words are, “The righteousness of God is manifested:” he does not say, the righteousness of man, or the righteousness of his own will, but the “righteousness of God,”—not that whereby He is Himself righteous, but that with which He endows man when He justifies the ungodly. This is witnessed by the law and the prophets; in other words, the law and the prophets each afford it testimony. The law, indeed, by issuing its commands and threats, and by justifying no man, sufficiently shows that it is by God’s gift, through the help of the Spirit, that a man is justified; and the prophets, because it was what they predicted that Christ at His coming accomplished. Accordingly he advances a step further, and adds, “But righteousness of God by faith of Jesus Christ,” Romans 3:22 that is by the faith wherewith one believes in Christ for just as there is not meant the faith with which Christ Himself believes, so also there is not meant the righteousness whereby God is Himself righteous. Both no doubt are ours, but yet they are called Godʹs, and Christʹs, because it is by their bounty that these gifts are bestowed upon us. The righteousness of God then is without the law, but not manifested without the law; for if it were manifested without the law, how could it be witnessed by the law? That righteousness of God, however, is without the law, which God by the Spirit of grace bestows on the believer without the help of the law,—that is, when not helped by the law.[9]

John Gill– For therein is the righteousness of God revealed,…. By the righteousness of God“, is not meant the essential righteousness of God, the rectitude of his nature, his righteousness in fulfilling his promises, and his punitive justice, which though revealed in the Gospel, yet not peculiar to it; nor the righteousness by which Christ himself is righteous, either as God, or as Mediator; but that righteousness which he wrought out by obeying the precepts, and bearing the penalty of the law in the room of his people, and by which they are justified in the sight of God: and this is called “the righteousness of God”, in opposition to the righteousness of men: and because it justifies men in the sight of God; and because of the concern which Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit, have in it. Jehovah the Father sent his Son to work it out, and being wrought out, he approves and accepts of it, and imputes it to his elect: Jehovah the Son is the author of it by his obedience and death; and Jehovah the Spirit discovers it to sinners, works faith in them to lay hold upon it, and pronounces the sentence of justification by it in their consciences.[10]

Albert Barnes’ Is the righteousness of God δικαιοσύνη Θεοῦdikaiosunē Theou.. There is not a more important expression to be found in the Epistle than this. It is capable of only the following interpretations.

(1) Some have said that it means that the attribute of God which is denominated righteousness or justice, is here displayed. It has been supposed that this was the design of the gospel to make this known; or to evince his justice in his way of saving people. There is an important sense in which this is true (Romans 3:26). But this does not seem to be the meaning in the passage before us. For,

(a) The leading design of the gospel is not to evince the justice of God, or the attribute of justice, but the love of God; see John 3:16; Ephesians 2:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:16; 1 John 4:8.

(b) The attribute of justice is not what is principally evinced in the gospel. It is rather mercy, “or mercy in a manner consistent with justice,” or that does not interfere with justice.

(c) The passage, therefore, is not designed to teach simply that the righteousness of God, as an attribute, is brought forth in the gospel, or that the main idea is to reveal his justice.

(2) A second interpretation which has been affixed to it is, to make it the same as goodness, the benevolence of God is revealed, etc. But to this there are still stronger objections. For

(a) It does not comport with the design of the apostle’s argument.

(b) It is a departure from the established meaning of the word “justice,” and the phrase “the righteousness of God.”

(c) If this had been the design, it is remarkable that the usual words expressive of goodness or mercy had not been used. Another meaning, therefore, is to be sought as expressing the sense of the phrase.

(3) The phrase “righteousness of God” is equivalent to God’s “plan of justifying people; his scheme of declaring them just in the sight of the Law; or of acquitting them from punishment, and admitting them to favor.” In this sense it stands opposed to man’s plan of justification, that is, by his own works: God’s plan is by faith. The way in which that is done is revealed in the gospel. The object contemplated to be done is to treat people as if they were righteous. Man attempted to accomplish this by obedience to the Law. The plan of God was to arrive at it by faith. Here the two schemes differ; and the great design of this Epistle is to show that man cannot be justified on his own plan, to wit, by works; and that the plan of God is the only way, and a wise and glorious way of making man just in the eye of the Law. No small part of the perplexity usually attending this subject will be avoided if it is remembered that the discussion in this Epistle pertains to the question, “how can mortal man be just with God?” The apostle shows that it cannot be by works; and that it “can be” by faith. This latter is what he calls the “righteousness of God” which is revealed in the gospel.

To see that this is the meaning, it is needful only to look at the connection; and at the usual meaning of the words. The word to “justify,” δικαιόω dikaioō, means properly “to be just, to be innocent, to be righteous.” It then means to “declare,” or treat as righteous; as when a man is charged with an offence…..That the phrase is to be understood of the righteousness which Christ has procured by his obedience and death, appears from the general sense of the original term δικαιοσύνη dikaiosunē. Mr. Haldane in a long and elaborate comment on Rom 3:21, has satisfactorily shown that it signifies “righteousness in the abstract, and also conformity to law,” and that “Wherever it refers to the subject of man’s salvation, and is not merely a personal attribute of Deity, it signifies that righteousness which, in conformity with his justice, God has appointed and provided.[11]

Robert Haldane– The word rendered ‘righteousness,’ Romans 1:17, and in the verse before us, signifies both justice and righteousness; that is to say, conformity to the law. But while both of these expressions denote this conformity, there is an essential difference between them. Justice imports conformity to the law in executing its sentence; righteousness, conformity in obeying its precepts, and this is the meaning of the word here. If these ideas be interchanged or confounded, as they often are, the whole scope of the Apostle’s reasoning will be misunderstood. In various parts of Scripture this phrase, ‘the righteousness of God,’ signifies either that holiness and rectitude of character which is the attribute of God, or that distributive justice by which He maintains the authority of His law; but where it refers to man’s salvation, and is not merely a personal attribute of Deity, it signifies, as in the passage before us, ver. 21, that fulfillment of the law, or perfect conformity to it in all its demands, which, consistently with His justice, God has appointed and provided for the salvation of sinners. This implies that the infinite justice of His character requires what is provided, and also that it is approved and accepted; for if it be God’s righteousness, it must be required, and must be accepted by the justice of God. The righteousness of God, which is received by faith, denotes something that becomes the property of the believer. It cannot, then, be here the Divine attribute of justice, but the Divine work which God has wrought through His Son. This, therefore, determines the phrase in this place as referring immediately not to the Divine attribute, but to the Divine work. The former never can become ours. This also is decisive against explaining the phrase as signifying a Divine method of justification. The righteousness of God is contrasted with the righteousness of man; and as Israel’s own righteousness, which they went about to establish, was the righteousness of their works, not their method of justification, so God’s righteousness, as opposed to this, Romans 10:3, must be a righteousness wrought by Jehovah. As in 2 Corinthians 5:21, the imputation of sin to Christ is contrasted with our becoming the righteousness of God in Him, the latter cannot be a method of justification, but must intimate our becoming perfectly righteous by possessing Christ’s righteousness, which is provided by God for us, and is perfectly commensurate with the Divine justice…..The death of the Son of God serves to magnify the law, by demonstrating the certainty of that eternal punishment, which, if broken, it denounces as its penalty. There are no limits to eternity; but when the Son of God bore what was equivalent to the eternal punishment of those who had sinned, He furnished a visible demonstration of the eternal punishment of sin. But if nothing beyond the suffering of the penalty of the law had taken place, men would only have been released from the punishment due to sin. If they were to obtain the reward of obedience, its precepts must also be obeyed; and this was accomplished to the utmost by Jesus Christ. Every command it enjoins, as well as every prohibition it contains, were in all respects fully honored by Him. In this manner, and by His sufferings, He fulfilled all righteousness…[12]

John OwenFrom the foregoing general argument another does issue in particular, with respect unto the imputation of the active obedience or righteousness of Christ unto us, as an essential part of that righteousness whereon we are justified before God. And it is as follows:— “If it were necessary that the Lord Christ, as our surety, should undergo the penalty of the law for us, or in our stead, because we have all sinned, then it was necessary also that, as our surety, he should yield obedience unto the preceptive part of the law for us also; and if the imputation of the former be needful for us unto our justification before God, then is the imputation of the latter also necessary unto the same end and purpose.” For why was it necessary, or why would God have it so, that the Lord Christ, as the surety of the covenant, should undergo the curse and penalty of the law, which we had incurred the guilt of by sin, that we may be justified in his sight? Was it not that the glory and honour of his righteousness, as the author of the law, and the supreme governor of all mankind thereby, might not be violated in the absolute impunity of the infringers of it? And if it were requisite unto the glory of God that the penalty of the law should be undergone for us, or suffered by our surety in our stead, because we had sinned, wherefore is it not as requisite unto the glory of God that the preceptive part of the law be complied withal for us, inasmuch as obedience thereunto is required of us?[13]

Arthur W. Pink The “righteousness of Christ” which is imputed to the believer consists of that perfect obedience which He rendered unto the precepts of God’s Law and that death which He died under the penalty of the law. It has been rightly said that, There is the very same need of Christ’s obeying the law in our stead, in order to the reward, as of His suffering the penalty of the law in our stead in order to our escaping the penalty; and the same reason why one should be accepted on our account as the other… To suppose that all Christ does in order to make atonement for us by suffering is to make Him our Saviour but in part. It is to rob Him of half His glory as a Saviour. For if so, all that He does is to deliver us from Hell; He does not purchase Heaven for us” (Jonathan Edwards).[14]

Elnathan Parr– The righteousness whereby we are justified in the sight of God, is called often by Paul “The righteousness of God”:

1. Because it is given us of God

2. Because it is approved of God

3. To distinguish it from man’s righteousness Romans 10:3

4. To these I add, because it is a most perfect righteousness, even such a one, with which God himself can find no fault with

5. Because it was in; and performed by a person, which was God…….

In Paul’s time the question was, Whether our own works, or the satisfaction of Christ, severally or jointly, were the cause of meritorious justification….But now the Papists go further, and call the whole doctrine into question……They say that our opinion is absurd, as that a man should be justified by so light a thing as faith, without satisfaction for our faults…..We answer, that we teach satisfaction, but performed by Christ, not by ourselves….[15]

Andrew Willet– There is a justice of God, wherein he is righteous and just in himself: as Psalm 11:7 ‘The righteous LORD loveth righteousness,’ but this the apostle speaketh not of: the essential justice of God is not communicated to us by faith. There is a justice distributive in God, whereby he rendereth to every man according to his works: Origen understandeth this justice of God: but this is not the justice, whereby a man is justified to salvation, for if the Lord should mark what is done amiss, no man should be able to abide it Ps. 130:3…..Theodoret understandeth the perfect justice of Christ, whereby he satisfied the wrath of God for our sins, and accomplished our redemption: and this perfect justice of Christ is revealed in the gospel, but the apostle speaketh evidently of such justice, whereby a man is justified before God, which is not that perfect justice inherent in Christ, but the applying unto us by faith,….because by his obedience we are justified.[16]

I could keep quoting comments from theologians of the past, however, I believe that these will suffice to show that the righteousness of Christ which is imputed to those who place faith in Christ, is that righteousness or merit of Christ, whereby he kept the law in our stead. This is called Christ’s active obedience. I will now briefly list several groups who deny the active obedience of Christ.

Arminianism

The doctrine of Christ’s active obedience has usually been denied by Arminians. One of the primary groups to which Owen argued against in his ‘The Doctrine of Justification by Faith,’ was of the Arminian persuasion and he argued for the doctrine of Christ’s active obedience over and against the corrupt views held by that system. The other two positions Owen refuted with this same treatise was Socinianism and Roman Catholicism. So well known was Owen’s opposition to these three positions, that on his tombstone in Bunhill Fields, London, are inscribed the audacious words, “The Arminian, Socinian, and Popish error, those Hydras, whose contaminated breath, and deadly poison infested the church, he, with more than Herculean labour, repulsed, vanquished, and destroyed.”

Louis Berkhof states that the Arminian view of justification only places man “in the position of Adam before the fall.”[17]

Calvinism

Some within the Reformed community, particularly writers associated with the Federal Vision theology, have objected to the traditional formulation of this doctrine, because of its basis in the covenant of works and the idea of merit. James B. Jordan argues that the “transformation… achieved by Jesus was not something ‘earned’ like a weekly allowance.[18] “What is transferred to the believer is not Jesus’ “works and merits” but his “glorified and resurrected life in the Spirit.[19]

Dispensationalism

Some who hold to a dispensational hermenutic deny the doctrine of Christ’s active obedience. On what basis did God impute or “put” righteousness on our account? The basis is the sufferings of Christ on the cross, according to some dispensationalists like Charles Ryrie.

“The sufferings of Christ in His death have been labeled His passive obedience in classical Protestant theology. This passive obedience stands in contrast to Christ’s active obedience which refers to the obedience exhibited during His lifetime. . .. The sufferings of Christ’s life, though real, were not atoning…. Strictly speaking, then, only the sufferings on the cross were atoning. It was during the three hours of darkness when God laid on Christ the sins of the world that Atonement was being made”[20]

Above and beyond that most dispensationalists hold to an Arminian soteriology. All one has to do is go to Dallas Theological Seminary’s website and view their statement of beliefs and they will see that they affirm that faith precedes regeneration.[21]

New Covenant theology

Some adherents of New Covenant Theology have also been critical of this imputation, on the basis that the sinless life of Christ merely qualified him to be the perfect substitute on behalf of humanity. Christ’s keeping of the law proved that he was righteous, rather than making him righteous.[22]

Thus we see that those who reject the view of Christ’s imputed righteousness, contained in the terms ‘active’ and ‘passive’ obedience, have deviated from classical orthodox theology. Those who reject this doctrine can be placed in one of the groups above or into one that is similar to those above.

I will end this article with a quote from J. Gresham Machen:

As he lay dying, J. Gresham Machen, the American Presbyterian theologian, sent a final telegram to his friend John Murray containing the words, “I’m so thankful for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it.[23]


Footnotes:

[1] The Westminster Confession of Faith- Of the Law of God, ch. 19, point 5.

[2] The 1677/89 London Baptist Confession of Faith- The Law of God, ch. 19, point 5.

[3] The 1677/89 London Baptist Confession of Faith- Of Justification, ch. 11, point 1.

[4] R. C. Sproul- Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification, Baker Book House Company, Grand Rapids, MI., 1995, p. 104.

[5] John Calvin- Institutes of the Christian Religion, Translated by Henry Beveridge, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. 2008, (2.17.3) p. 342.

[6] John Owen- The Doctrine of Justification by Faith- Chapter XII. The imputation of the obedience of Christ unto the law declared and vindicated

[7] The MacArthur Study Bible- By Word Publishing, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1997, Commentary on Romans 1:17 & Rom. 3:21, pgs. 1692-1693; 1698.

[8] Luther Lectures on Romans edited by Wilhelm Pauck- The Westminster Press, John Knox Press, Louisville, Ky., 2006, p. 18.

[9] Augutine- On the Spirit and the Letter, Chapter 15 [IX.] The Righteousness of God Manifested by the Law and the Prophets, Commentary on Romans 3:21-22, Downloaded from the internet, https://wisdomhomeschooling.com/images/courses/continuedgreatbooks/augustineonthespiritandtheletter.pdf

[10] John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible- Romans 1:17

[11] Albert Barnes’- Notes on the Bible, Comment on Romans 1:17.

[12] Robert Haldane- Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans, Comment on Romans 3:21.

[13] John Owen- The Doctrine of Justification by Faith- Chapter XII. The imputation of the obedience of Christ unto the law declared and vindicated

[14] Arthur W. Pink- Doctrine of Justification- Chapter 5- Its Nature

[15] Elnathan Parr- The Works of that Faithful and Painful Preacher Mr, Elnathan Parr Bachelor in Divinity, Minister in Suffolk, London: Printed by G. P. for Samuel Man, dwelling in Paul’s Churchyard, at the Signo of the Swanne, 1633, Commentary on Romans 1:17.

[16] Andrew Willet- Hexapla, That is, A Sixfold Commentary upon the Most Divine Epistle of the holy Apostle S. Paul to the Romans, Printed by Cantrell Legge, Printer to the University of Cambridge, 1611, Commentary on Romans 1:17.

[17] Berkhof Systematic Theology, 515.

[18] James B. Jordan, “Merit versus Maturity: What did Jesus do for us?” in Steve Wilkins and Duane Garner (eds.), The Federal Vision (Monrone: Athanasius, 2004), 158.

[19] Jordan, “Merit versus Maturity,” 195.

[20] (Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology, Colorado Springs: Chariot Victor, 1999, p. 282).

[21] Article VII—Salvation Only Through Christ…’We believe that the new birth of the believer comes only through faith in Christ’……..Article VIII—The Extent of Salvation…’We believe that when an unregenerate person exercises that faith in Christ’ https://www.dts.edu/about/doctrinal-statement/

[22] Examining the Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ by Geoff Volker and Steve Lehrer.

[23] John Piper, J. Gresham Machen’s Response to Modernism

The Wednesday Word: THE RIGHT WAY

“He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation “Psalm 107: 7.

There is only one way to heaven … the right way. Unfortunately, the ways that lead to destruction are many (Matthew 7:13). The way to heaven is narrow, but the numerous ways that lead to damnation are broad and thronged with people. Since all of us will die, it would be a smart thing to ask then if we are on the right way to heaven, or on the downward road to hell?

Unfortunately, no question is more irritating to the unbeliever than that one. The unsaved usually shrink from such a query. Perhaps, they do not want to disturb their conscience! They are content with the thought that they are no worse than their neighbours, and shall stand as good a chance as any of them. Poor misguided people! It will give them no comfort in the Lake of Fire to discover they were right, … indeed they were no worse than their neighbours.

So, what does the Lord Jesus Christ say on this subject? He says, “Enter in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction¨ (Matthew 7: 13-14). I fear that multiplied thousands, deceived by Satan, are on the road to eternal ruin, being fully satisfied in their own minds that they are safe.

Again we read, “There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death (Proverbs 14:12).

But how shall we find “the right way?”

The Lord Jesus Christ answers this with full authority when He declares, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6). Christ alone is the way to heaven. No church, no sacrament, “no Guru, no method no teacher.” Christ alone!

Jesus also announces, “I am the door: by Me, if any man enters in, he shall be saved” (John 10:9). Christ is the helpless sinner’s only hope. He is the only refuge from the wrath to come.

Again, we read, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

The Lord Jesus Christ is the right and the only way to eternal glory. We, believers, know that God, by an act of sovereign grace and mercy, enabled us to see our utterly lost condition. By grace, we saw the urgent necessity of fleeing for refuge to Jesus the sinner’s only shelter and hiding place from the wrath to come.

By grace, we have been shown that,”All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” and that our best good works need washing in the precious blood of Jesus? We realise that, of ourselves, we are absolutely bankrupt of all power, will, or ability to take a single step towards heaven. We know that, if left to our own strength and guidance, we should be hopelessly lost and ruined forever. But as believers, the Holy Spirit has given us a glimpse of the unutterable value of the Saviour’s love and blood. He has created in our souls a burning thirst after our Saviour, a longing which can never be satisfied until we see Jesus as He is.

“Just to see Jesus, once scarred as Redeemer!

Jesus my Lord, from all suffering free;

Just to see Jesus transfigured forever,

That will be glory, be glory for me.”

And that´s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com

The Wednesday Word: The Heart of Jesus

In my young days in Northern Ireland, I often saw pictures of what was called, ‘The Sacred Heart of Jesus’ hanging on kitchen walls. Without wishing to be offensive to my Roman Catholic friends, I have to admit that I found those wall hangings quite goulish and oftentimes frightening. Apparently, if a home was to display this chilling picture, the family would earn favour from God. What a terrible doctrine!

The truth is, Jesus´heart is discovered in the gospel, not in framed pictures. For example, we find Jesus depicted in Luke 10:30-35 as the Good Samaritan. After the priest and the Levite had passed by the poor, half-murdered man, the Good Samaritan came where he was, bound up his wounds, poured in oil and wine, set him on his own beast, brought him to an inn, took care of him, paid all his expenses, and promised to return. What a glimpse of the heart of Jesus.

He is the one who comes where we are, binds up our wounds, takes care of us, pays our debt of sin and promises to return for us. Isn’t He lovely?

We find the same heart of Jesus in John 4:4 when He purposed to travel into the unwelcoming Samaritan territory to bring salvation to the worst woman in the district. Remember how it was said of Him, “He must needs go through Samaria.” He must needs—He was impelled and propelled by the love in His heart. He had been walking under the glare of a hot Eastern sun, where a man couldn’t find his own shadow. But look at Him, warily trudging all those hard miles, to rescue that poor, profligate, Samaritan woman.

What a revelation of the heart of Jesus and thus a revelation of the heart of God! Isn’t He lovely?

This is the same Jesus who at later time came down the right street and stopped at the right place and looked up into the right tree and spoke to Zacchaeus (Luke 19:5). Yes, Jesus showed us His heart when He came looking for that crooked little money- grubber. He came, however, not to punish him or beat him, but to go home and dine with him. Isn’t He lovely?

This again is the same Jesus who, by His love, melted the heart of the woman, who was a sinner (see Luke 7:36-48). Jesus was invited to the right house on the right night so that the woman, who was a sinner, could wash His feet with her tears of repentance.

Go where you will through the gospels and look at Jesus. He´s seeking to save the lost, the last, the least and the left behind. (Luke 19:10), and He´s still doing it. The Lord is not passively waiting for people to come to Him. He is seeking sinners. That´s why, as we walk with Him, we learn how to bring the gospel to our friends and family and those He brings into our path.

“He left the radiant throne above,

Stooped down to bleed and die,

To meet the need of ruined man,

What love with this can vie?”

The Pharisees mockingly said of Him, “This man receives sinners”(Luke 15:2), … and they were right. ” This man [Jesus] receives sinners.” He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance”(Luke 5:32).

He, out of deep love and pity, left heaven’s glory, and came to seek and to save that which was lost. That´s the heart of God! He came searching for His people, His lost sheep. That´s the heart of God! Nothing turned Him aside and nothing daunted Him.

That´s the heart of Jesus for us.

And that´s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com  

The Wednesday Word: “Getting in!”

“Behold, thy days approach that thou must die” Deuteronomy 31:14

Many years ago, a preacher, Dr Charles H. Berry, had, at a young age received the highest honours his denomination could confer. His fame as a preacher was as wide as the English-speaking world. But he was a theological liberal. He, at that stage of his life, didn’t believe in the fundamentals of grace, the blood and substitutionary atonement. He told the following story of his conversion to his friend, Dr J. H. Jowett.

“One night there came to me, a Lancashire girl, with her shawl over her head, and with clogs on her feet.”

“‘Are you the minister?’ she said.

“‘Yes.’

“‘Then I want you to come and get my mother in’

“Thinking it was some drunken brawl, I said, ‘You must get a policeman.’

“Oh, no,’ said the girl, ‘my mother is dying, and I want you to get her into salvation.’

“‘Where do you live?’

“‘I live at so and so, a mile and a half from here.’

“‘Is there no minister nearer than I?’

“‘Oh, yes, but I want you, and you will have to come.’

“I was in my slippers, and I did all I could to get out of it, but it was of no use. That girl was determined, and I had to dress and go. I found the house, and upstairs I found the poor woman dying. I sat down and talked about Jesus as the beautiful example and extolled Him as a Leader and Teacher. I talked about His kindness and how we ought to be kind. She looked at me out of her eyes of death, and said:

“‘Mister, that’s no good for the likes of me. I don’t want an example. I’m a sinner.’

“Jowett, there I was face to face with a poor soul dying and had nothing to tell her. I had no gospel; but I thought of what my mother had taught me, and I told her the old, old story of God’s love in Christ’s dying for sinful people, whether I believed it or not.

“‘Now you are getting at it’ said the woman. ‘That’s the story for me.’

“And so I got her in, and….. I got myself in. From that night,” added Dr. Berry, “I have always had a full gospel of salvation for lost sinners.”

What a marvelous little story. The preacher and listener saved by the same message!

Dr. Berry discovered that theological liberalism is not for the sick, the dying and the desperate. It can’t “get people in.”

Theological liberalism is very ensnaring as it subtly whittles away at the cross. In its teaching, the atonement becomes nothing other than a sublime example of selflessness. Christ is reduced to the status of only a man. There is no saving blood sacrifice. There is no gospel. In theological liberalism, the Bible is torn to shreds! There is no life in that—death, only death.

Let me ask you a personal question. If you were called to a death bed and the dying person was urgently concerned about their salvation, humanly speaking, could you “get them in”?

Do you know that although death is like a giant scorpion, for the believer its sting is removed? As William Romaine rightly observed, ‘Death stung himself to death when he stung Christ!’

To help those who are dying we need to know that Christ has settled the sin and death problem. Do you know this? Could you tell a dying person this as you urge them to trust in Christ? We need to ask ourselves, therefore, do we believe the gospel or is it just a theory. Or, do we from the depth of our being trust that Christ Jesus is the One who has already, thoroughly and finally dealt with sin and death? (see Hebrews. 1:3; 9:26; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

Christ Jesus alone is the One who is to be trusted and relied upon for salvation.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com  

The Wednesday Word: The Satisfactory Sacrifice

When Jesus called out, “It is finished” (John 19:30) it was a declaration that His redeeming work had been accomplished. Because redemption happened in the past, in history, redemption cannot be undone or added to. Nothing more is needed. It is finished.

At the cross, there was a once-and-for-all completed sacrifice for sin. We were purchased, bought and paid for by the shedding of Christ’s precious blood.

Since the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was completed at Calvary it is incorrect to say that redemption was finalised when Christ sprinkled His blood upon the heavenly mercy seat. There are those who incorrectly teach that the blood of Jesus had to be applied to the heavenly mercy seat to redeem us. They say that if Jesus’ blood had soaked into the ground at Calvary, then sins could not have been taken away.

Wrong!

Christ ascended into heaven because His work of atonement was finished, not in order to complete it. Of course, He sprinkled His blood on the mercy seat but that was not to achieve redemption. He had already accomplished redemption at the cross. This is made clear when we read, “But by His own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:12).

Notice how eternal redemption had already been obtained before Christ came to the mercy seat.

So, let’s say it again. To complete redemption, Jesus did not need to present His blood in heaven.

Why not?

Because our redemption was, by that stage, already un fait accompli (an accomplished fact: a done deal). See Hebrews 9:7-12, 24-25; 10:19; 13:12, 20; 1 John 2:2.

Before we continue with this thought, here’s another gospel truth about Jesus! He, unlike the Old Testament high priest, did not have to make a sin-offering for Himself

Why Not?

Because He was already perfect, sinless and flawless. He was without sin (Hebrews 7:26). There was no need, therefore, for Christ to shed blood for His own redemption. He was the only man who has ever lived who didn’t need a saviour.

But, back to what we were saying. Christ entered heaven having secured our eternal redemption at the cross—He is now enthroned in heaven as the High Priest who completed the work of redemption (Hebrews 1:3; 8:1).

Nothing else needed to be added to the work of atonement.

Nothing!

Redemption was not a partially completed work.

He did not leave things half-done.

Our salvation does not depend upon something we need to do to complete it.

Christ did not have to do some atoning act in heaven. Redemption was finished, done, complete! The mission was accomplished! (John 19:30).

The sacrifice of Christ was made once for all on the cross. Any theory of atonement, therefore, which teaches that Jesus Christ needed to take His blood with Him into heaven (or hell) to complete our salvation, denies the finished work of the cross.

We do not need another sacrifice. We do not need the mythical bloodless sacrifice of the Roman Catholic Mass in order to be made right with God.

We Do not need another sacrifice. The one we have will do just fine.

We do not need another sacrifice. Jesus Christ willingly offered Himself in our place by shedding His blood as the price of our redemption (Matthew 20:28).

We do not need another sacrifice. Every person who trusts on Jesus Christ for salvation is eternally secure in Him (John 10:28-29). We have been redeemed out of slavery forever (Galatians 3:13; 4:4-5). He purchased us with His blood and took us out of the marketplace. We are no longer available; we are off limits. We are now owned by God….and He refuses to re-sell His precious possessions which He bought with His blood (Acts 20:28).

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com