Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Christ’s Righteousness’

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.

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: Is Jesus Enough When We Sin?

January 23, 2019 3 comments

God has never forced us to sin. To our shame, we sin willingly and gladly. If the truth were known, there’s a part of us that quietly loves depravity. We may hate its consequences, but if left to our own devices we gravitate away from God. All of us have been smitten with the sin virus (Romans 6:6); it is, so to speak, lurking in our blood, continually spawning its foul children (sins) (Romans 5:12).

The awful problem with sin, however, is that it brings separation from God (Isaiah 59:2). God is holy and because He is holy, He hates sins and hates all workers of iniquity (Psalm 5:5). It may seem like a foreign concept to our ears to associate ‘hatred’ with the God of love but before objecting to this picture, let me warn against the subtle sin of idolatry.

Idolatry?

Yes, idolatry! When we reject God’s self-declaration and substitute Him for the God we’d like Him to be, we have become idolaters (see Romans 1:21,25). Much as we would like God to be simply the God of love who is never angry at sin or sinners, we must not project this false picture onto Him.

Here’s a word of warning that comes from antiquity; “If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you dislike, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself” (Augustine).

God refuses to fit our concept of who we want Him to be, … in fact, He won’t even try. He’s got better things to do! As for us, the best thing we can do is bow before, worship and enjoy Him as He is and for who He is.

God is Holy, and we are not. This knowledge is where false religion finds a natural breeding ground as it germinates in the fears and guilt of sinful man. We really are laughable; we cannot create ourselves but think that by practicing some religion or other, we can save ourselves. Yet, no matter how involved we become in our religion, no matter how zealous we are, we are impotent to stop the tendency towards sinning … and sins separate us from God.

Religion cannot remove the virus of sin. Although for the follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit will limit and restrain the production of sins, we remain sinners until the day we die. Remember this, if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8).

The good news for sinners (us), however, is that God is not only holy, He is also just. But how is this Good News? I can take some comfort knowing that He is loving, but surely there is no comfort in knowing that, in His unswerving justice, He will punish us and our sins?  A just God will surely mete out punishment. This is far from good news. So then, how can God be just, and yet save me a ruined sinner?

Which brings us back to the Gospel, the best news, the old news and the ever-new news—Jesus!

Only in Jesus is God discovered to be both loving and just. Between the all-holy God and sin-filled believer, there stands the remarkable sinless person of the God/Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is enough for both the sinner, and the Father. God punished our sins on Him, the beloved son (Isaiah 53:10). In grace, He became accountable for us and poured out His blood for our redemption (Ephesians 1:7).

Jesus, the Lord of glory, became a surety (Hebrews7:22) and substitute for His people (1 Peter 2:24). He took our place in his doing, dying and rising again.  He then ascended to the right hand of the Father (the place of cosmic authority) for us. And now, because of Jesus and His accomplishments, not only love but also justice endorses our acquittal.

Jesus is Enough.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!
Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

The Wednesday Word: Thank you Jesus for the Blood

Many people continually worry about whether or not they are doing okay spiritually. They ask themselves,

“Have I been good enough?”

“Have I read the Bible enough?”

“Have I witnessed enough?”

“Have I prayed enough?”

“Have I given enough?”

Let’s be honest; the answer to these questions is probably ‘no.’

But here’s the Good News. When Jesus Christ died on the Cross, His Blood took care of all our sins. Not just the bad sins but the Father put all our sins on Christ, the God/Man. We don’t, therefore, need to always be ducking and diving away from God. Our accounts are fully and finally settled.

The Blood of the cross has completely blotted out and cleansed our sins. As the prophet Micah said, they have been cast into the depth of the sea (Micah 7:19). The Father has already blessed us in Christ for “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” (Romans 4:7-8).

The Father doesn’t see the sins that we commit. Why? Because of the Blood. We are in Christ. He sees only the Finished Work.

But what happens if we sin? And we do sin … so, what happens? What happens is this, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1-2). But what if a person knows that God will not impute sin to them yet they stubbornly continue in known sin?

The first consequence is that he grieves His friend, the Holy Spirit.

The second consequence is that he breaks his fellowship with God. However, because of the blood, although the sin breaks fellowship with, it doesn’t change his relationship to the Father. Willful, deliberate sin brings chastisement, but it is a loving and gracious chastisement. There is no wrath in the Father’s discipline. His wrath was exhausted on Calvary for the Elect.

Nevertheless, let’s never forget that God hates sin. He is of purer eyes than to look upon iniquity (Habakkuk 1:13). This is a shocking truth which exposes our lostness outside of Christ. There is no way for us to be accepted in heaven unless the Father sees us as completely perfect. But here’s the genius of the matter, when Jesus Christ went to heaven, He took us with Him, and seated us there with Himself as justified, righteous and perfect believers (Ephesians 2:6).

Now, as we begin to apply Gospel truth, we realize that the Father can never again see us in sin. We are cleansed by the blood and seated (perfect tense) with Christ in heavenly places. It is a finished work, and we are hidden with Christ in God in heaven. Never again will He impute sin to us. We are ransomed by the Blood and saved for time and eternity.

The Blood has redeemed us. The blood has bought and purchased us (Titus 2:14; Mark 10:45). The blood has paid for us in full (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Now, the Father only sees the Son, and as He sees the Son, He beholds every believer. Why is this?

It’s because the Lord Jesus, the God/Man, has graciously hidden us in Himself (Colossians 3:3).

Because of redemption, we are now members of His body (Ephesians 5:30). He, therefore, sees no flaw in us (Song of Solomon 4:7).

Because of righteous grace, He sees us without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:27).

Because of the Finished Work, we are in Him by the purchase of the Blood.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

The Wednesday Word: Gossiping the Gospel Part 2

Last time we observed how in Acts 8:4, the early church left Jerusalem and went everywhere spreading the Good News. Indeed, it could be said that they went everywhere gossiping the Gospel. Let’s continue where we left off.

Origen, the 3rd-century theologian, inadvertently told how the church in his day embraced the practice of gossiping the Gospel. According to him, a lack of education and diminished social standing did not make the believers feel unqualified to spread the Good News. He said: “We see in private homes workers in wool and leather, laundry workers and the most illiterate and bucolic yokels who would not dare to say anything at all in front of the elders and more intelligent masters. But they get hold of the children… and (others) who are as ignorant as themselves. Then they pour out wonderful statements…”

In Part 1 we discovered that to gossip the Gospel, we learn to talk about Christ’s Person, Name, Life and Righteousness. Here, then, are some other matters about which we gossip.

When we spread the Gospel,

We gossip about (5) Christ’s blood.

By His Blood-Shedding and death, Jesus has accomplished redemption for His people (Ephesians 1:7).

Our death sentence has been reversed.

Blood has been shed …it’s the blood of sanctification (Hebrews 13:12).

Blood has been shed …it’s the blood of the everlasting covenant (Hebrews13:20).

Blood has been shed …it’s the blood of cleansing (1 John 1:7).

Blood has been shed…it’s precious blood; the blood of the Lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:19).

Blood has been shed…it’s the blood shed for many for the remission of sins (Mark 14:24).

Blood has been shed…it’s this blood which purges the conscience (Hebrews 9:14).

Reconciliation, Redemption, Atonement, Cleansing, Sacrifice. Remission,…what excellent matters to gossip about!

Not only do we talk about Christ’s blood, but we also gossip about (6) His resurrection.

He died, was buried, but rose again. He is now the risen One. He is not the dying one. Nor is He the dead one. He is the ever-living one!

His grave is empty, for His work is done. The work is accomplished; the seal of the tomb is broken, the stone rolled away. He is risen! His resurrection is the pledge and guarantee of ours!

Not only do we talk about Christ’s person, but we also gossip about (7). His Ascension.

After having shown Himself alive for 40 days among His disciples (Acts1:3), He was taken up both physically and visibly into the heavens (Acts 1:9). His last physical act was to bless His people (Acts 24:50-51), and in the midst of doing this, He returned to Glory. His work on earth was done. As our substitute and final word of God to man, He successfully discharged His mission. He has ascended and is now exalted, a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:31).

Not only do we talk about Christ’s Ascension but we also gossip about (8) His intercession.

He ever lives to intercede for us (Hebrews 7:25). He is the High Priest above all priests (Hebrews 4:14). He is our Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). He appears for us (Hebrews 9:24). The Father hears Him always (John 11:42). His intercession cannot fail—it is a mighty intercession; an intercession in which the Father delights. It’s an intercession which delivers further assurance of our present and eternal security.

Not only do we talk about Christ’s intercession, but we also gossip about (9) His second coming.

“Behold, He cometh with clouds” (Revelation 1:7). “Behold, I come quickly” (Revelation 22:12). “Behold, the Lord cometh, with ten thousand of His saints” (Jude 1:14). As it says in the hymn ‘It is well with my Soul’;

“But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,

The sky, not the grave, is our goal;

Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!

Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!”

The early Christians were full of the message of the return of the Lord. Indeed, the Church of the first century delighted in it. And, if we are to gossip the Gospel and the results of the Gospel we must gossip about a coming Christ as well as a Christ who has come.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com

The Wednesday Word: Gossiping the Gospel Part 1

March 1, 2017 1 comment

In Acts 8:4, we read how that the early church left Jerusalem and went everywhere spreading the Good News. It has been observed;

“This must often have been not formal preaching, but informal chattering to friends and chance acquaintances, in homes and wine shops, on walks, and around market stalls. They went everywhere gossiping the gospel; they did it naturally, enthusiastically, and with the conviction of those who are not paid to say that sort of thing. Consequently, they were taken seriously, and the movement spread, notably among the lower classes.”(Michael Green, Evangelism in the Early Church)

We have all been recruited to play our part in spreading the Gospel. Here, therefore, are a few pointers to help us do just that.

When we spread the Gospel…..

We gossip about (1) Christ’s person.

He is the Word made flesh (John 1:14); David’s Son, David’s Lord; King of kings (Revelation 17:14), yet a servant (Isaiah 42:19); Lord of lords, yet a worm and no man (Psalm 22:6).

In His person, there is perfection.

There is perfection in the astonishing union of the divine and human natures. He is the God/Man; He has two natures but is one person. As in His divinity, there is perfection in His humanity.

There is perfection in His holiness and perfection in His love.

There is perfection in His power and perfection in His goodness.

When the Father looks upon Him, He sees perfection.

There is perfection in every movement of that remarkable person, in every word and deed. We have much to talk about when we gossip about the person of Jesus

Not only do we talk about Christ’s person, but we also gossip about (2) Christ’s Name.

His name is Jesus, Immanuel, God with us (Isaiah 7:14)! He is the Christ, the Son of God. His name is a proclamation of the Gospel for that name contains the excellent news that He will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father” (Isaiah 9:6). He is the unspeakable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15)

His name is the joyful sound (Psalm 89:15). It is the name of names; His name is as ointment poured forth (Song of Songs 1:3). As Horatius Bonas said, “With the voice of a trumpet, we proclaim His name, that the whole earth may hear it, and rejoice in it. “

His glorious name ‘Jesus’ is the name above every name. “Wherefore God also has highly exalted him, and has given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; that every knee should bow and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). Not only do we talk about Christ’s name, but….

We also gossip about (3) His life.

He dwelt among us; doing and speaking grace. His whole life was good news; each part of it was good news for His life was a revelation of God. When Jesus spoke, God spoke. When Jesus healed, God healed. He was God manifest in the flesh. In His going out and coming in, we have the good news about God. Again Bonar says, “Miracles, parables, sermons, all contain the revelation of the mind of God. His whole life is the revelation of God’s love for His people.”

With great delight, we can learn to Gossip about Christ’s life.

Not only do we talk about Christ’s life, but…

We also gossip about (4) Christ’s righteousness.

He was the Righteous One, fulfilling the law for us; accomplishing the righteous demands of God for us. Christ Jesus alone is now our righteousness. He lived suffered and died, the just for the unjust (1 Peter 3:18).

As Luther said in his commentary on Galatians, “In that righteousness and life [of Christ] I have no sin, no sting of conscience, no care of death . . . I have another righteousness and life above this life, which is Christ the Son of God, Who knows no sin nor death but is righteousness and life eternal.—pp.105-106.

The righteousness which is imputed to us is the very righteousness of Christ. It is His and reckoned to us freely without cost to us or cause in us. But remember, the righteousness that saves us is nothing found within us. Although we believe in performing good works, we must also be diligent not to trust in them. To rest on saving righteousness by works is to fall from grace.

What a lot we have to gossip about.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

In part two we will consider 5 additional ways to “Gossip the Gospel.”

Please sign up your Gospel loving friends to receive the Wednesday Word. Send me their email, and I’ll make sure that they receive this Gospel Email each week.

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com

The Wednesday Word: Is Jesus enough when you sin?

God has never forced us to sin. To our shame, we do it willingly, gladly and readily. If the truth be known, we love sin. We may hate its consequences, but, left to our own devices, our inclination is always and ever away from God. All mankind has been smitten with the sin virus (Romans 6:6); it is, so to speak, lurking in our blood, continually spawning sins, its fowl children (Romans 5:12).

The awful problem with sins, however, is that they bring separation from God (Isaiah 59:2). God is holy: Because He is holy, He hates sins and hates all workers of iniquity (Psalm 5:5). It may seem a foreign concept to our ears to associate ‘hatred’ with the God of love but before objecting to this picture, let me warn against the subtle sin of idolatry. Idolatry? Yes, idolatry! For when we reject God’s self-declaration and substitute Him for the God we’d like Him to be, we have become idolaters. Much as we would like God to be the God of love who is never at angry at sin or sinners, we must never project this false picture onto Him.

God refuses to fit our concept of who we want Him to be, in fact, He won’t even try. He’s got better things to do! As for us, the best thing we can do is bow before Him and worship Him as He is and for who He is.

God is Holy, and we are not. This knowledge is where religion finds a natural breeding ground as it germinates in the fears and guilt of sinful man. We really are laughable; we cannot create ourselves, but think that by practicing some religion or other, we can save ourselves. Yet, no matter how involved we become in our religion, no matter how zealous we are, we are impotent to stop sinning … and sins separate us from God. Religion cannot remove the virus of sin. Although, for the follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit will limit and restrain the production of sins we remain sinners till the day we die. Remember this, if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8).

The good news for sinners (us), however, is that God is not only holy, He is also just. But how is this Good News? I can take some comfort knowing that He is loving, but surely there is no comfort in knowing that, in his unswerving justice, he will punish us and our sins? A just God will surely meet out punishment. This is far from good news. So then, how can God be just, and yet save me a ruined sinner?

Which brings us back to the Gospel, the best news, the old news and the ever-new news—Jesus!

Only in Jesus can God be both loving and just. Between the all-holy God and sin-filled believer, there stands the remarkable sinless person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is enough for the sinner, and He is enough for the Father. God punished our sins on Him. In grace, He became accountable for us and poured out His blood for us.

Jesus, the Lord of glory, became a security and substitute for His people. He took our place in his doing, dying and rising. He ascended to the right hand of the Father (the place of cosmic authority) for us. And now, because of Jesus and His accomplishments on our behalf, not only love but also justice endorses our acquittal.

Jesus is Enough

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com

The Wednesday Word: Is Jesus Enough for your Religion? Part 2

It is a hard and bitter pill to swallow, but the truth is, everything we do is flawed! But does that matter? It certainly does if we are relying on our religious rituals to get us to Heaven. However, if we are relying exclusively on Jesus, His person and performance, then we are already saved. We have no need to work to gain something from God. Christ’s perfections and righteousness have now delivered and set us free to enjoy Him. If we truly believe that Jesus is enough, then we must accept that we have been brought out from the dreary treadmill of religious performance. Now, as those who have been delivered from the tyranny of having to impress God with our works, we find that there is life abundant in the Gospel.

Will everything we do for Jesus from this time onwards be perfect? It’s exceedingly doubtful (Jeremiah 17:9). Will those around us who are following Jesus do everything correctly? It’s not likely! If this were continually remembered, then there would be fewer fussings and fightings among the followers of Jesus. Disappointments would diminish, and disillusion would disappear. So many have broken off fellowship and gone out on their own because another flawed, imperfect Christian, just like them, hurt them. Or maybe it was the Pastor! He ran off with the piano player! So let’s all quit! Wait a minute, is Jesus not enough for us? He didn’t hurt us or for that matter run off with anyone. He is faithful, loyal and genuine! Are His faithfulness and loyalty enough for us?

In times like those, I’d forgotten that Jesus is enough!

Remember this, the church, although it is comprised of followers of Jesus, is really a hospital for hurting people; it’s full of the walking wounded. Don’t be surprised, then, when one of them turns around and bites you. But as for us, let’s keep our eyes on Jesus. He did no sin, there was no deceit in Him, yet He, “was numbered among the transgressors. We all deserve condemnation, but we have been acquitted by mercy, love and grace working together in concert with God’s justice. Now we are pronounced not guilty, not because of our religion, but because of the person and performance of the Lamb.

Let me ask you then, what do we have that we didn’t receive by grace? He was condemned, we got the acquittal! He suffered, we got the peace. He was put to shame, we inherit glory! He was put to death, we got the abundance of life. Our sins were imputed to Him. His righteousness is imputed to us. This is Amazing Grace!

Why then are we so judgmental towards other weak, frail and flawed followers? We need grace, so do they! What’s so special about us that our rights must be preserved? Jesus had rights, yet He laid them down. He went to the cross where He was mocked as an impostor. He had the right to save Himself, but He laid it down. So now, all that we have, and are, and hope for, is due to the doing and dying of Jesus. That’s the kind of religion’s that is enough for us.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com

The Wednesday Word: Is Jesus Enough for your Religion? Part 1

Romans 10:3-4 … “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes.”

All of us are religious by nature. After all, religion is man’s system and way of approaching and worshiping his God. Religion, is the expression of worship and belief. Religion is man’s way of doing the things he feels his God wants him to do. Religion expresses all that a man believes about his God and how he should be served.

As believers, however, we need to be so very cautious of our religion: unknowingly and invariably, our system of religion can unintentionally replace the Gospel.

When our system of religious observances substitutes itself for the Finished Work of Christ, we are in trouble. We may be sincere, decent, reliable and religious and yet have nothing that God recognizes as being valid or acceptable. We may be very ardent about our religion, but our zeal will not gain us Christ’s righteousness. If Christ alone is not our way to the Father, we have, as yet, not come to God. At the end of the day, it was Christ who said, “No man comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). So long, therefore, as we are mistaken about the way to God, we are in darkness. If we do not know the way to approach God, our worship, sincere as it is, is unacceptable. Indeed, we ourselves are unacceptable. We have missed the Way…the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 3:12)! To replace Christ with our system of religion is both toxic and lethal. Religion does not and cannot give us a Righteousness that fits us for heaven!

To have access to God, we must have Jesus, His doing, dying and rising again. He is supremely superior to our system of religion. For access to God, nothing more than Jesus is needed, but nothing less than Jesus will do. He is enough!

We cannot work our way into God’s favour by our religious practices. Try it, if we must, but it’s a wasted effort. We, by doing so, are relying on man’s religion, not God’s. To try to work our way into heaven’s favour is to entirely miss the mark. To attempt to work our way into God’s approval is to actually fly in the face of the Gospel. Such religious behaviour, whilst commonplace, has no basis in gospel reality and no resemblance to that in which God delights.

The problem happens, when a person thinks that his religious system will ultimately give him favour with Heaven. But here’s the difficulty. Such a person, by his religious activity, admits to being on a quest for forgiveness and acceptance. He has, therefore, got things upside down. The gospel truth is this, acceptance and forgiveness begin our walk with God, they are not the end result. Our acceptance is secure only through the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:12). The only acceptable works which impress the Father are the works of His Son. The Father is well pleased with Jesus. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega of good works! We do not need, therefore, to attempt to be saved by anything we do. As believers, we have already been saved by works; Christ’s works, not ours.

Our salvation is discovered in Christ alone, not in ourselves. It is through Christ alone that we are saved. Jesus is the Saviour. He is God incarnate. It is, therefore, of no surprise that He effectively carries out His work of salvation. In Christ, we have redemption through His blood (Ephesians 1:7). It is by grace alone that the people of God become accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6). It is Jesus alone who is the Saviour of men, and, no matter how religious we become, we are not, and cannot be, our own saviours.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com

The Wednesday Word: Is Jesus enough For Your Righteousness?

Humanly speaking, one of the reasons people don’t come to Christ is simply because they don’t feel they need to. After all, they reason, it’s only sick folk who go to the Doctor. These traditional thinkers believe they are decent and good and, therefore, are qualified, by their goodness, to approach God. As Spurgeon says; “There are people who quite misunderstand the gospel; they think that righteousness qualifies them to come to Christ; whereas sin is the only qualification for man to come to Jesus.”

When we are keenly aware of our sins, it is then that we see our need for the Saviour. The more we understand of the Holiness of God, the more we see the necessity to be clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Nothing but a perfect righteousness is suitable for our approach to God. Either we are covered in our own sins or by His righteousness alone.

So, let’s look again at Jesus. See Him once more at Golgotha. Look at them, stripping Him of His clothes, the very clothes the sick had touched for healing. There He is, naked and ashamed! But why? It was so that we, who have no righteousness of our own, might be clothed in His perfect righteousness and be unashamed. Without His righteousness we would all, as it were, stand naked and exposed before the Justice of God on the Day of Judgment. Is His righteousness enough for you?

Look at Calvary. With angry nails, they fastened Him to the cross. They pierced the feet which had carried Him to proclaim the Good News. With hatred, they hammered their spikes into His hands. What harm had those hands ever done? They were the hands of help and healing yet in their rage they fasten those hands to the cross. Hear the blows of the hammer, listen to His screams, see the blood. Take note, see and above all, rejoice for here is the love of God!

“Here is love, vast as the ocean,

Lovingkindness as the flood,

When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,

Shed for us His precious blood.

Who His love will not remember?

Who can cease to sing His praise?

He can never be forgotten,

Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days.”

William Rees

Who nailed Him there? Was it the Jews for jealousy? Was it Pilate to show his power? Was it the soldiers for spite? No, it was our sins that nailed Him there—yours and mine. As J.C. Ryle says, “Our sins struck the hammer.” It was our sins that bruised and wounded Him. It was we who crucified Jesus.

But, have you embraced this sacrifice as your own? Since you are reading this, the chances are that you’ve heard much about the cross. But is Jesus your righteousness? George Whitefield said it like this, “Here’s something we must learn, going to Church and being good will not give you access to God. The only access we can have is if we have the righteousness of Christ? Nothing but Christ! Nothing but Christ! We need Christ alone and Christ only to be our righteousness.

He went on to say; “If you love Him and He is your righteousness, let the righteousness of your Lord be continually in your mouth. Talk about His righteousness. Recommend it to others! Think of the greatness of the gift, as well as of the giver! Tell everyone you know that Christ is your righteousness and you are saved, not because you are good but because Christ Jesus is your righteousness. Let everyone know that the Lord is your righteousness and that you are waiting for the Lord Jesus to come back from heaven to fetch you!”

Jesus is excellent! Even though our sins had caused a sinkhole of destruction, in Christ, we are brought out of its depths to the Throne.

Now we face our destiny. We have an appointed day, a Day of Judgment: But in that Day, He, the Lord Jesus will present us faultless and flawless before the Throne with exceeding joy (Jude 1:24). Then shall the Judge declare us, “NOT GUILTY!”.

Is this enough for you? Is there anything you would like to add to the Righteousness of Christ?

God forbid! Jesus is enough.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com