Monday, January 11, 2010

Romans Chap 4 - Counted Righteous

From the movie, Martin Luther, as spoken in a sermon by Martin Luther:

“So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell tell him this, ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know one that suffered and made satisfaction in my behalf, his name is Jesus Christ, son of God, where he is there I shall be also.’ ” from the video found at

In Romans chapter three we read and adopted as our keyword “There is None Righteous.” This is a very large statement - for when it says NONE it includes us all. Rom 3:19 says the same thing “every mouth maybe be stopped” from any sense of excuse or defense. And “all the world may become guilty before God.”

Rom 3:23 also plainly declaring in truth that “All have sinned…”

Eze 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

Gal 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. (that word “continueth” tells me that under the law you must continue at all times - every moment - with every breath and every beat of your heart. And that word “all” tells me that it must be in everything perfectly. Every point of the law nothing failing must be kept perfectly and continuously. I AM UNDONE)

So the testimony being clear that there is NONE RIGHTEOUS, and we know also that the UNRIGHTEOUS shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.
1Co 6:9-11 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?

But if the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God, and there is None righteous, not even me, where can I go? To whom should I flee, for I, having no righteousness of my own, am at a loss, a great and terrible loss, I with no goodness of my own by which I can enter heaven and stand before GOD. My heart cries out in earnest despair “What righteousness is there then by which I can stand in the day of Judgment?”

GLORIOUS AND EXCEEDINGLY GREAT GOOD NEWS - for what does the scriptures say:
Rom 4:3 - Abraham believed God, and it was COUNTED unto him for righteousness. Surely the scriptures included Abraham when they said there is NONE RIGHTEOUS, and yet Abraham by God was COUNTED righteous. This gives me some hope. This is good news. Can I hope also like Abraham to believe God and by faith to be counted righteous?

Romans Chapter Four assures us that this is the very case:
Rom 4:23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
Rom 4:24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
Rom 4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross in our place and for our sins. Jesus Christ having completed and satisfied in his LIFE and Death all that he set out to do, sin having no more hold on him, HE was raised again, having completed that work which was necessary for our justification.

TO US it shall be IMPUTED, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. Nothing meritorious in our own faith, but faith the means or instrument which joins us to Christ who did what he did in our place.


In Eleven verses in Romans Chapter Four the Greek word, Logizomai, appears:
Verses 3,4,5,6,8,9,10,11,22,23,24

This Greek word, Logizomai, in Romans Chapter Four translated in various translations as:
Credited, Counted, Reckoned, Imputed, Take into Account

“When we say that God imputes Christ’s righteousness to us, it means that God thinks of Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us, or regards it as belonging to us. He “reckons” it to our account. … In this way, Christ’s righteousness became ours. Paul says that we are those who received “the free gift of righteousness” (Rom 5:17) 1

- How he was counted righteous, not by works but by faith. (Rom 4:1-5)
- How he is the father of us all which are of Faith (Rom 4:16)

Was it before or after Abraham was circumcised that Abraham was counted righteous? There is a significant emphasis on timing in this chapter that it was indeed BEFORE. (Rom 4:10)
- So that we would know it is NOT by Works BUT by Faith that Abraham was counted righteous.
- So that we would know Abraham is the father of all them that believe even though they are not circumcised. (Rom 4:11)
- So that we would know the promise is not through the law but through the righteousness of faith. (Rom 4:13)
- So that we know that the promise is SURE to those who are of the faith of ABRAHAM (Rom 4:16)
- So that we know that there is no future imputation of righteousness but NOW if we believe we are counted righteous. Not after a life well-lived on the merit of cooperating with the grace of God worked in us, but NOW we are counted righteous even as Abraham was 14 years before he was circumcised who Believed God’s promise of the seed which is Christ. See also Gen 12:3, Gen 15:6, Gal 3:8, Gal 3:16, Gen 3:15.

We are counted righteous not on account of our faith, but by means of faith. (Remember even faith is a gift Eph 2:8-9)

Wayne Grudem writes: “Faith is an instrument to obtain justification, but it has no merit in itself….Scripture never says that we are justified because of the inherent goodness of our faith, as if our faith has merit before God. It never allows us to think that our faith in itself earns favor with God. Rather, Scripture says that we are justified “by means of” our faith, understanding faith to be the instrument through which justification is given to us, but not at all an activity that earns us merit of favor with God. Rather we are justified solely because of the merits of Christ’s work (Rom. 5:17-19)” 2

From The Everlasting Righteousness by Horatius Bonar.
Faith is not the cross.
Faith is not the sacrifice.
Faith cannot be a sin bearer.
Faith does not expiate any guilt.
Faith does not propitiate the wrath of God. Christ is our propitiation. He is the propitiatory sacrifice for us to God.
Faith is not the blood that washes away all our sins and by which we are redeemed.
Faith is not satisfaction to God.
Faith is not the physician but brings us to the physician that heals.
Faith is not Christ - it is our connection unto him.
1Co 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
2Co 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Php 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:


During our discussion of Romans Chapter Four, I made a big deal over the distinction between these two terms. Citing the comfort and understanding that came to me when I first had this distinction described. Plus the battle that still continues even within myself not to confuse these two truths and realities as I continue daily in my walk with Christ.

By Imparted Righteousness, I mean that change of character which God works in us. It is an internal work of the Holy Spirit. It is the making of the man a new creation. Grace working in him. God working in Him both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
See 2Cor 5:17, Phil 2:13, Rom 8:13.

Wayne Grudem using a synonymous term “infused righteousness” and describes what we mean by imparted righteousness as:
“righteousness that God actually puts into us and that changes us internally and in terms of our actual moral character.” 3 God does this, we refer to this work as taking place in sanctification. If we view this “righteousness imparted” as that by which we merit acceptance with God and as the basis of our justification (or being declared righteous) then as Wayne Grudem also writes “ultimately, the logical consequence of this view of justification is that our eternal life with God is not based on God’s grace alone but partially on our merit as well. … to assign saving merit to man’s internal righteousness and “good works” in this way ultimately destroys the heart of the gospel itself.” 4

The following table contrasting the two doctrines of Justification and Sanctification may prove helpful in understanding how it is NOT by the internal change (imparted righteousness) that we find our PERFECT RIGHTOUES STANDING before God.


Imputed Righteousness <--> Imparted Righteousness
Legal Standing <-->Internal Condition
Once for all time <--> Continuous throughout life
Perfect in this life <--> Not perfect in this life
The same in all Christians <--> Greater in some than in others
Entirely God’s Work <-->We cooperate (this takes some qualification 6)

As an illustration showing that Justification involves not only the forgiveness and cleaning of our sins but also the counting us as perfectly righteous through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to our account by faith consider the following analogy:
Suppose the following to have occurred:

I’m in great debt to the bank.
But bank no longer requires me to pay the debt.
But better yet - not only do I not need to pay the debt the balance is wiped out. I am free of any debt. My debt balance is zero.
But now I am still penniless - I have no money.
But then the bank deposits an equally great sum to my account.

And so also: Not only have I been forgiven by virtue of Christ dying in my place but there is no debt against me. Not just forgiven but cleansed of any debt. Truly forgiven.
But if I hope to get to heaven I must not be merely neutral, I must be perfectly righteous - which righteousness I have in Christ for his righteousness has been reckoned to me.

So justification is more than just-as-if-I-never sinned. It is MORE, We mean more, we mean that plus…., that on the basis of the death of Jesus in my place I have been forgiven plus also his in-my-place-life-of-obedience-and-righteousness which he did is imputed to me by faith. JUSTIFICATION a declaration of righteousness based on both the guilt and penalty of sin fully satisfied in the death and suffering of Jesus and the COUNTING to me of his righteous obedient life.

When we sing the hymn, SOLID ROCK, with words “nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness” we are singing to the truth that it is indeed Christ righteousness alone upon which our hope is built. Not on our cooperating with his Grace and work for a possible recognition of righteousness. And when we sing “I dare not trust the sweetest frame,” we mean that we are NOT trusting some work of grace internally done in us. Which if we belong to Jesus Christ will be done in us and yet this is not our ground of merit for heaven. This sweet frame though a work of grace and of the Spirit of God is a work in progress. It is a righteousness IMPARTED and the sanctifying work of the Spirit. But Justification is a righteousness declared based upon an imputing of Jesus’ own Righteousness, which is perfect and complete, and so we sing of a hope built upon that which is by faith counted to us as our own perfection. And not of a hope based upon good works, good thoughts, good love, which we do by his grace. For what Christ did in our place and for us far outshines in perfection, and holiness and goodness all the good we can hope to do by his grace in this life.

On that great day of judgment if we are found IN HIM (the Lord Jesus Christ) we will be dressed in HIS righteousness alone. We will be faultless because Christ is Faultless. For the righteousness of another, even the Lord Jesus Christ, which he worked on our behalf and in our place has been counted to us by faith.

SOLID ROCK by Edward Mote
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
For a commentary on this hymn see:

Which leads to Chap 5 with this Ques. How is it that the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF ANOTHER can be COUNTED to me?

And in answering this question we come to the keyword and memory verse for Romans Chapter Five.

Memory Verse: Rom 5:19

REVIEW and Personal Application QUESTIONS: 7
(I found these questions in Bible Doctrines, by Wayne Grudem. It seemed appropriate both as an introduction to Romans Chapter five and as a check to see if we understand the material we have covered this far.)

- Define the word justify as used in the New Testament in verses such as Rom 3:20, 26, 28 Rom 4:5, Rom 8:33.

- Does God’s act of justification actually change our internal nature or character at all? Why or why not?

- God’s declaration of justification involves what two factors?

- How can God declare us righteous when we are in fact guilty sinners? Is this righteousness based on our own actions or actual inner nature? If not, then on what is it based?

- Briefly explain the difference between a belief system which teaches you are declared righteous and justified based on an internal change God has done in you -- verses having the righteousness of Jesus Christ credited to you? Contrast how these might affect the practical living out in an individual, how it would affect the way they view their relationship to God if they held to one or they other view. Contrast how these reflect on these two differing ideas of justification relate to the glory of God.

- What is the relationship between faith and justification? Does faith earn us salvation? Explain.

- If you think of yourself standing before God on the day of judgment, would you think that it is enough simply to have your sins all forgiven, or would you also feel a need to have the righteousness of Christ reckoned to your account?

- Have you ever wondered if God is still continuing to punish you from time to time for sins you have done in the past, even long ago? How does the doctrine of justification help you deal with those feelings?

Wayne Grudem:
It is essential to the heart of the gospel to insist that God declares us to be just or righteous not on the basis of our actual condition of righteousness or holiness, but rather on the basis of Christ’s perfect righteousness, which God thinks of as belonging to us. This was the heart of the difference between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism at the Reformation. Protestantism since the time of Martin Luther has insisted that justification does not change us internally and it is not a declaration based in any way on any goodness that we have in ourselves.

If justification changed us internally and then declared us to be righteous based on how good we actually were, then (1) we could never be declared perfectly righteous in this life, because there is always sin that remains in our lives, and (2) there would be no provision for forgiveness of past sins (committed before we were changed internally), and therefore we could never have confidence that we are right before God. We would lose the confidence that Paul has when he says, “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). If we thought of justification as based on something that we are internally we would never have the confidence to say with Paul, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). We would have no assurance of forgiveness with God, no confidence to draw near to him “with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:22). We would not be able to speak of “the free gift of righteousness” (Rom 5:17), or say that “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). 8
(italics in original)

1 Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine, Zondervan 1999, p. 318.
2 Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine, Zondervan 1999, p. 321.
3 Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine, Zondervan 1999, p. 320.
4 Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine, Zondervan 1999, p. 320.
5 Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine, Zondervan 1999, p. 326.
6 Grudem explains: “The role that we play in sanctification is both a passive one in which we depend on God to sanctify us, and an active one in which we strive to obey God and take steps that will increase our sanctification…Yield…Rom 6:13...Present yourselves Rom 12:1..Put to death .. Rom 8:13...abstain from immorality.. 1The 4:3...purifies himself..1Jo 3:3..” Bible Doctrine, P 331-2.
7 Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine, Zondervan 1999, p. 324-5.
8 Wayne Grudem, Bible Doctrine, Zondervan 1999, p. 319.


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