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Posts Tagged ‘Imputation’

Reading through Pilgrim’s Progress, I found this exchange worthy of particular note. Christian is enquiring with Ignorance as to the state of his soul. And upon hearing that all man’s righteousness is as filthy rags before God, Ignorance responds:

Ignorance: Do you think that I am such a fool as to think God can see no further than I; or that I would come to God in the best of my performances?

Christian: Why, how dost thou think in this matter?

Ignorance: Why, to be short, I think I must believe in Christ for justification.

Christian: How! think thou must believe in Christ, when thou seest not they need of Him! Thou neither seest thy original nor actual infirmities; but has such an opinion of theyself, and of what thou doest, as plainly renders thee to be one that did never see a necessity of Christ’s personal righteousness to justify thee before God. How, then, dost thou say, I believe in Christ?

Ignorance:  I believe well enough for all that.

Christian: How does thou believe?

Ignorance: I believe that Christ died for sinners; and that I shall be justified before God from the curse, though His gracious acceptance of my obedience to His law. Or thus, Christ makes my duties, that are religious, acceptable to His Father by virtue of His merits, and so shall I be justified.

Christian: Let me give an answer to this confession of thy faith:
1. Thou believest with a fantastical faith; for this faith is nowhere described in the word.
2.  Thou believest with a false faith; because it taketh justification from the personal righteousness of Christ, and applies it to thy own.
3. This faith maketh not Christ a justifier of thy person, but of thy actions; and of thy person for thy actions’ sake, which is false.
4. Therefore this faith is deceitful, even such as will leave thee under wrath in the day of God Almighty: for trut justifying faith puts the soul, as sensible of its lost condition my the law, upon flying for refuge unto Christ’s righteousness (which righteousness of His is not an act of grace by which He maketh, for justification, thy obedience accepted with God, but His personal obedience to the law, in doing and suffering for us what that required at our hands); this righteousness, I say, true faith accepteth; under the skirt of which the soul being shrouded, and by it presented as spotless before God, it is accepted, and acquit from condemnation.

Ignorance: What! would you have us trust to what Christ in His own person has done without us? This conceit would loosen the reins of our lust, and tolerate us to live as we list: for what matter how we live, if we may be justified by Christ’s personal righteousness from all when we believe it?

Christian: Ignorance is thy name, and as thy name is, so art thou: even this thy answer demonstrateh what I say. Ignorant thou art of what justifying righteousness is, and as ignorant how to secure thy soul through the faith of it, from the heavy wrath of God. Yea, thou also art ignorant of the true effects of saving faith in this righteousness of Christ, which is to bow and win over the hearts to God in Christ, to love His name, His word, ways, and people, and not as thou ignorantly imaginest.

Taken from Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan (published by Fleming H. Revell: 1999) pp. 138-140.

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John Calvin comments on the Parable of the publican and the need to continue to remember our inborn and ingrown sin and how far we are from the righteousness that God requires. Should this leave us feeling like miserable wretches? No, but this reminds us of the importance of the righteousness of Christ. It is only then that we can value the perfect active obedience of Jesus Christ that’s imputed to us by faith. Indeed, there’s no nope without it.

“…whatever proficiency any man may have made in the worship of God and in true holiness, yet if he consider how far he is still deficient, there is no other form of prayer which he can properly use than to begin with the acknowledgment of guilt; for though some are more, and others less, yet all are universally guilty. We cannot doubt, therefore, that Christ now lays down a rule for all to this effect, that God will not be pacified towards us, unless we distrust works, and pray that we may be freely reconciled.” – Commentary on Luke 14:18

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