The Righteousness of Christ

What Turretin, John Owen and many others from history have tried to get at in the discussion or teaching that faith must be viewed as an instrument in justification is that in order for justification to be by grace alone and Christ alone all the righteousness must be the righteousness of Christ. If this is thought and meditated on with open Bibles and prayerful hearts, the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be seen with greater clarity. The use of faith is crucial in this discussion and Arminian theology will also be seen as severely lacking. Again, this is not a diatribe saying all professing Arminians are lost, but in the context of justification by faith alone it is an attempt to show that Arminian theology is severely limited (at best) in its explanations of the Gospel by grace alone. There also appears to be many presentations in the Reformed camp today that do not take into account the use of faith. If faith is an instrument to receive grace, then clearly one cannot believe on behalf of an infant as one does not receive grace for another. If faith is an intellectual exercise of believing some facts, then faith is something other than an instrument to receive Christ Himself. When faith is viewed as an instrument in receiving Christ and His grace, it is a very different thing than if faith does something in and of itself that pleases God or fulfills a covenant in some way.

In the last post we started looking at how Turretin handled this. In that BLOG the whole of reason (a) was given. This time just a short part of (a) will be given in order to help with the thought. We will continue to look at the vital point that believing or faith itself cannot be our righteousness itself. Our righteousness is Jesus Christ and He is the righteousness of God that is given through faith.

As to the former, faith or the act of believing is not considered as our righteousness with God by a gracious acceptation: (a) because what is only the instrument for receiving righteousness cannot be our righteousness itself formally…(b) Because faith is distinguished from the righteousness itself which is imputed to us, both because it is said to be “of faith” and “by faith” (Rom 1:17; 3:22; Phil 3:9) and because Christ with his obedience and satisfaction is that righteousness imputed to us (Isa 53:11; Jer 23:6; 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:13, 14), which faith indeed apprehends as its object, but with which it cannot be identified. Hence Scripture nowhere says that God willed to count our faith for righteousness, but that he made Christ unto us righteousness; that he is Jehovah our righteousness and that we are the righteousness of God in him.

Romans 3:22 – “even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction.”

Philippians 3:9 – “and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.”

1 Corinthians 1:30 – “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.”

Galatians 3:13 – “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us– for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE “– 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

Romans 3:22 sets out for us the truth that the righteousness we are declared righteous by is not our own righteousness, but it is the righteousness of God and it comes through faith in Jesus Christ. A person is not declared righteous because s/he has righteousness in and of himself or because faith is counted as righteousness itself, but because one has faith in Jesus Christ. A true faith unites a person to Christ and so one is declared just or righteous based on the righteousness of Christ imputed to the person. Philippians 3:9 specifically says that our righteousness is not what we have derived, but comes through faith in Christ. This is a righteousness that comes from God but is not the faith itself. I Corinthians 1:30 is also specific in that it says that Christ is our righteousness rather than faith itself is our righteousness. The other side of imputation is seen when Christ redeems people from the curse of the Law (their unrighteousness) by “having become a curse for us.” How much of the curse did Christ bear and how much of the curse did He deliver us from? Does the act of faith also have something in it that will bear part of the curse of the Law? No, but faith is the instrument of receiving Christ Himself. The sinner that has true faith has received the true Christ. The sinner that has received Christ has all of his or her sin taken away by the work of Christ on the cross. The sinner that has received Christ has all the righteousness that is needed or will ever be accepted by God imputed to him. The Gospel is Christ alone and grace alone. Faith receives Christ who alone became a perfect curse and a perfect righteousness in the place of sinners. All the glory belongs to God and men try to steal the glory of God when they say that faith itself is righteous. Psalm 115:1 should be our Gospel cry.

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