Friday, March 7, 2008

I am doing research for a paper proving exegetically that the righteousness of Christ is imputed (reckoned or credited) to believers at the moment of salvation. Here are some quotes from the great John Calvin that are pertinent to this topic (the numbers at the end correspond to the reference in his Institutes):

“It was superfluous, even absurd, for Christ to be burdened with a curse, unless it was to acquire righteousness for others by paying what they owed.” (1:532) – 2.17.4.

“Paul commends God’s grace in this respect: for God has given the price of redemption in the death of Christ [Rom 3:24]; then he bids us take refuge in Christ’s blood, that having acquired righteousness we may stand secure before God’s judgment (Rom 3:25)” (1:532)

** “For the righteousness found in Christ alone is reckoned as ours. Surely the only reason why Christ’s flesh is called “our food” [John 6:55] is that we find in him the substance of life” (1:533) 2.17.5.

**This is justification according to Calvin: “He who is both reckoned righteous in God’s judgment and has been accepted on account of his [Christ’s] righteousness” (1:726) 3.11.2.

** “Justified by faith is he who, excluded from the righteousness of works, grasps the righteousness of Christ through faith, and clothed in it, appears in God’s sight not as a sinner but as a righteous man” (1:726-27) 3.11.2

**We are justified before God solely by the intercession of Christ’s righteousness. This is equivalent to saying that man is not righteous in himself but because the righteousness of Christ is communicated to him by imputation” (1:753) 3.11.23.

He notes that the Apostle “most clearly asserts this [doctrine of imputation] when he writes… 2 Cor 5:21 (1:753).

“To declare that by him alone we are accounted righteous, what else is this but to lodge our righteousness in Christ’s obedience, because the obedience of Christ is reckoned to us as if it were our own?” (1:753) 3.11.23.

“And this is indeed the truth, for in order that we may appear before God’s face unto salvation we must smell sweetly with his odor, and our vices must be covered and buried by his perfection” (1:754) 3.11.23.

In referring to those objections to justification by faith… Calvin writes: “The father embraces us in Christ when he clothes us with the innocence of Christ and accepts it as ours that by the benefit of it he may hold us as holy, pure, and innocent. For Christ’s righteousness, which as it alone is perfect alone can bear the sight of God, must appear in court on our behalf, and stand surety in judgment.” (1:779) 3.14.12.

“To wipe out the guilt of the disobedience which had been committed in our flesh, he took that very flesh that in it, for our sake, and in our stead, he might achieve perfect obedience. Thus, he was conceived of the Holy Spirit in order that, in the flesh taken, fully imbued with the holiness of the Spirit, he might impart that holiness to us” (2:1341) 4.16.18

Concerning this wonderful exchange: Calvin writes: “This is the wonderful exchange which, out of his measureless benevolence, he has made with us; that, becoming Son of man with us, he has made us sons of God with him; that, by his descent to earth, he has prepared an ascent to heaven for us; that, by taking on our mortality, he has conferred his immortality upon us; that, accepting our weakness, he has strengthened us by his power; that, receiving our poverty unto himself, he has transferred his wealth to us; that, taking the weight of our iniquity upon himself (which oppressed us), he has clothed us with his righteousness.” (2:1362) 4.17.2. (emphasis added)!!!


Jeff Wright said...

Hey! Found your blog today. Good stuff. Just wanted to encourage you in your studies. I'm wrapping up at Dallas Seminary this year and I also wrote a paper on the imputation of Christ's righteousness to believers this semester (actually it was on NPP and imputation). Although I try to be very fair to new perspectives and avoid knee-jerk reactions against ideas that conflict with mine it does amaze me when my peers dismiss imputation out of hand. I'm willing to consider the idea that Paul did not teach the imputation of Christ's righteousness as we've understood it since the Reformation (I think that would be incorrect but I'm willing to consider arguments for that view) but it seems to me that it takes a certain amount of arrogance to dismiss such an important doctrine with such a strong heritage after merely learning a little Greek and reading up on competing ideas for a few weeks. Anyway, keep up the good work!

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