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Charles Hodge – The Imputation of Righteousness

30 Apr

It seems unnecessary to remark that this does not, and cannot mean that the righteousness of Christ is infused into the believer, or in any way so imparted to him as to change, or constitute his moral character. Imputation never changes the inward, subjective state of the person to whom the imputation is made. When sin is imputed to a man he is not made sinful; when the zeal of Phinehas was imputed to him, he was not made zealous. When you impute theft to a man, you do not make him a thief. When you impute goodness to a man, you do not make him good. So when righteousness is imputed to the believer, he does not thereby become subjectively righteous. If the righteousness be adequate, and if the imputation be made on adequate grounds and by competent authority, the person to whom the imputation is made has the right to be treated as righteous. And, therefore, in the forensic, although not in the moral or subjective sense, the imputation of the righteousness of Christ does make the sinner righteous. That is, it gives him a right to the full pardon of all his sins and a claim in justice to eternal life.

~Charles Hodge~

Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 144–145. Free PDF | $2.99 Kindle Version

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Wilhelmus à Brakel – Understanding How Christ Is Our Substitute

17 Apr


In order to understand the nature of satisfaction correctly, we need to consider the nature of sin, the Judge, and the work of redemption.

(1) Sin brings upon man guilt, wrath, and punishment. If the sinner is to be delivered, he must be acquitted and be delivered from guilt. God must be appeased and the punishment must be borne.

(2) God is the Judge who appears here not so much as a creditor, nor as Lord and offended party, but as Judge. A creditor may forgive a debt if he so desires, and a lord and offended party may relinquish his rights; such freedom of action has been afforded to man by the supreme Judge. A judge, however, may neither relinquish justice nor the punishments due upon crime. However, the manner, time, place, and nature of the punishment, God has left to the discretion of the judge. Since God is the supreme Judge, His justice demands the punishment of the criminal.

(3) The work of satisfaction is contingent upon the diversity of the debt in question. In retiring monetary debts the debtor is not taken into consideration, but only the debt to be paid, which is satisfied with an amount equivalent to the debt. It is immaterial to the creditor whether this debt is paid by the principal debtor or by another who functions as surety. He will be paid with the identical sum of money, which is not a concession at all. With criminal guilt, however, the situation is different. Then the debt cannot be retired by something equivalent in value, but punishment is required for the satisfaction of justice as administered by the judge. Not only the debt or guilt is considered, but also the person who has rendered himself guilty, the criminal. If this satisfaction were to be accomplished by a surety, then, in addition to the surety making satisfaction by bearing the punishment, there must also follow the forgiveness of the criminal. Thus justice would be satisfied; the judge, however, must be willing to admit and accept the surety as well as to punish the incurred guilt in him. Viewing his rights in the absolute sense of the word, the judge would not have to do so. He must thus not impute the punishment to the criminal, but release him from guilt, wrath, and judgment, since all these have been imputed to the surety. Thus mercy and justice, satisfaction and forgiveness meet each other in the atonement, all of which is true in Christ.

~Wilhelmus à Brakel~

The Christian’s Reasonable Service, ed. Joel R. Beeke, trans. Bartel Elshout, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1992), 465–466.

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Martyn Lloyd-Jones – The Biblical Doctrine of Justification

20 Mar

But this is the amazing message, and this is what is meant by justification – that God tells us that, as the result of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, because of his life, his death and his resurrection, if we believe on him and trust ourselves solely and entirely to him, God pardons and forgives our sins. Not only that, he declares that we are free from guilt: more than that, justification includes this. He not only declares that we are pardoned and forgiven and that we are guiltless, he also declares that we are positively righteous. He imputes to us, that is, he puts to our account, the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who was entirely without sin, who never failed his Father in any way, and who never broke a Commandment or transgressed any law. God gives to us – puts upon us – the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ himself, and then looks upon us and pronounces that we are righteous in his holy sight. That is the biblical doctrine of justification.

~Martyn Lloyd-Jones~

The Assurance of Our Salvation (Wheaton, IL; Crossway Books; 2000) p. 35

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Martin Luther – The Justice of God?

14 Mar

I had conceived a burning desire to understand what Paul meant in his Letter to the Romans, but thus far there had stood in my way, not the cold blood around my heart, but that one word which is in chapter one: “The justice of God is revealed in it.” I hated that word, “justice of God,” which, by the use and custom of all my teachers, I had been taught to understand philosophically as referring to formal or active justice, as they call it, i.e., that justice by which God is just and by which he punishes sinners and the unjust.

But I, blameless monk that I was, felt that before God I was a sinner with an extremely troubled conscience. I couldn’t be sure that God was appeased by my satisfaction. I did not love, no, rather I hated the just God who punishes sinners. In silence, if I did not blaspheme, then certainly I grumbled vehemently and got angry at God. I said, “Isn’t it enough that we miserable sinners, lost for all eternity because of original sin, are oppressed by every kind of calamity through the Ten Commandments? Why does God heap sorrow upon sorrow through the Gospel and through the Gospel threaten us with his justice and his wrath?” This was how I was raging with wild and disturbed conscience. I constantly badgered St. Paul about that spot in Romans 1 and anxiously wanted to know what he meant.

I meditated night and day on those words until at last, by the mercy of God, I paid attention to their context: “The justice of God is revealed in it, as it is written: ‘The just person lives by faith.'” I began to understand that in this verse the justice of God is that by which the just person lives by a gift of God, that is by faith. I began to understand that this verse means that the justice of God is revealed through the Gospel, but it is a passive justice, i.e. that by which the merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written: “The just person lives by faith.” All at once I felt that I had been born again and entered into paradise itself through open gates. Immediately I saw the whole of Scripture in a different light. I ran through the Scriptures from memory and found that other terms had analogous meanings, e.g., the work of God, that is, what God works in us; the power of God, by which he makes us powerful; the wisdom of God, by which he makes us wise; the strength of God, the salvation of God, the glory of God.

I exalted this sweetest word of mine, “the justice of God,” with as much love as before I had hated it with hate. This phrase of Paul was for me the very gate of paradise.

~Martin Luther~

Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Peabody, Massachusetts; Hendrickson Publishers; 2009) p.49-50

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John Bunyan – God to the Christian

20 Feb

Sinner, thou thinkest that because of thy sins and infirmities I cannot save thy soul, but behold my Son is by me, and upon him I look; and not on thee, and will deal with thee according as I am pleased with him.

~John Bunyan~

The Works of John Bunyan Vol. 1: Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (Edinburgh, Scotland; Banner of Truth Trust, 1991) No. 258

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John Bunyan – Whose Righteousness Allows Us to Stand Before God?

9 Feb

That this righteousness [the imputed righteousness of Christ] still resides in and with the person of Christ, even then when we stand just before God thereby, is clear, for that we are said, when justified, to be justified ‘in him.’ ‘In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified.’ And again, ‘Surely, shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness,’ &c. (Isa 45:24,25). And again, ‘But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us – righteousness’ (1 Cor 1:30). Mark, the righteousness is still ‘in him,’ not ‘in us,’ even then when we are made partakers of the benefit of it; even as the wing and feathers still abide in the hen when the chickens are covered, kept, and warmed thereby. For as my doings, though my children are fed and clothed thereby, are still my doings, not theirs; so the righteousness wherewith we stand just before God from the curse, still resides in Christ, not in us. Our sins, when laid upon Christ, were yet personally ours, not his; so his righteousness, when put upon us, is yet personally his, not ours. What is it, then? Why, ‘he was made to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of 3 God in him’ (2 Cor 5:21).

~John Bunyan~

The Works of John Bunyan Vol. 1: Justification by An Imputed Righteousness (Edinburgh, Scotland; Banner of Truth Trust, 1991)

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Spurgeon: I Want No Other Garments

19 Jan

I know that I am completely justified.
His blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress.
I want no other garments,
save Jesus’ doings, and his imputed righteousness.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Spurgeon’s Sermons (5 Vol. Set) ”Sweet Comfort for Feeble Saints” A Sermon Delivered on February 4, 1855. Sermon 6. Vol. 1.

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John Owen – Double Imputation

25 Jul

These two things, then, complete our grace of acceptation. Sin being removed, and righteousness bestowed, we have peace with God—are continually accepted before him. There is not any thing to charge us with: that which was, is taken out of the way by Christ, and nailed to his cross—made fast there; yea, publicly and legally cancelled, that it can never be admitted again as an evidence. What court among men would admit of evidence that has been publicly cancelled and nailed up for all to see it? So has Christ dealt with that which was against us; and not only so, but also he puts that upon us for which we are received into favor. He makes us comely through his beauty; gives us white raiment to stand before the Lord. This is the first part of purchased grace wherein the saints have communion with Jesus Christ. In remission of sin and imputation of righteousness does it consist; from the death of Christ, as a price, sacrifice, and a punishment—from the life of Christ spent in obedience to the law, does it arise. The great product it is of the Father’s righteousness, wisdom, love, and grace—the great and astonishable fruit of the love and condescension of the Son—the great discovery of the Holy Ghost in the revelation of the mystery of the gospel.

~John Owen~

Communion With The Triune God (Wheaton, IL; Crossway Books; 2007) p. 290-291

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