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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Is Imputation a "Legal Fiction"?

Most evangelicals hold to the doctrine of imputation to explain how man is considered guilty for Adam's sin, how Christ is accounted guilty for man's sin, and how the believer is regarded as righteous in Christ. The doctrine of imputation is based on the Greek word λογίζομαι (logidzomai) which occurs 49 times in the Greek NT. The KJV translates it: to reckon, to count, to impute. It is a bookkeeping term used to refer to placing something on one's account. While the word is not used, the idea is found in Philemon 1:18, where Paul tells Philemon in regard to Onesimus (a runaway slave): If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account (ESV). So, as mentioned above, there are 3 elements to the doctrine of imputation in evangelical theology: 1)God put Adam's sin on his posterity's account; 2)God put man's sins on Jesus' account, (and Jesus paid the debit on the cross, i.e., penal substitution), 3) God puts Christ's righteousness (as a credit) on the believer's account. While there is some biblical basis for #3 in Romans 4, #'s 1 and 2 are based on theological inference not explicit biblical statements.

Romans 4:3-5 says: For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted (logidzomai) to him as righteousness." Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted(logidzomai) as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted (logidzomai) as righteousness (ESV).

This passage seems to teach that the believer's faith is considered or regarded (logidzomai) to be righteousness by God, thereby resulting in the believer being acceptable (i.e., justified) before God and not subject to his condemnation.

A question arises here as to whether the believer is truly righteous or just considered to be righteous by God. Some have argued that what we have here is a legal fiction. This was actually a major contention between the Reformers and the Catholics and remains today an essential difference in the soteriology (i.e., doctrine of salvation) of conservative Protestants (i.e, evangelicals) vs. the soteriology of conservative Roman Catholics. The Catholics maintain that the believer's justification is not an imputed righteousness which would be a legal fiction but is rather an infused righteousness, whereby the believer is in truth now righteous (or more accurately in the process of becoming righteous).

It has not only been the RCC that has seen this problem, however. John Nevin, a conservative Reformed theologian and perhaps the best student of Charles Hodge the noted Princeton theologian of the 19th century, argued that the doctrine of imputation as taught by the Reformers was in fact a legal fiction and could not therefore be a true doctrine. He wrote:
The judgment of God must ever be according to truth. He cannot reckon to anyone an attribute or quality that does not belong to him in fact. He cannot declare him to be in a relation or state that is not actually his own, but the position merely of another. A simply external imputation here, the pleasure and purpose of God to place to the account of one what has been done by another, will not answer. Nor is the case helped in the least by the hypothesis of what is called a legal federal union between the parties, in the case of whom such a transfer is supposed to be made; so long as the law is thought of in the same outward way, as a mere arbitrary arrangement or constitution for the accomplishment of the end in question. The law in this view would be itself a fiction only, and not the expression of a fact. But no such fiction, whether under the name of law or without it, can lie at the ground of a judgment entertained or pronounced by God. (The Mystical Presence and Other Writings on the Eucharist, pp. 190-91 cited in Real Union or Legal Fiction by Mark Horne).

I think Nevin is right. God cannot be considered just if he simply regards man as righteous without man in fact being righteous. Its a legal fiction and as Nevin says, the judgment of God must ever be according to truth.

How, then does Nevin resolve the problem without becoming a Roman Catholic? He believes that in the Eucharist, the believer mystically receives the body and blood of Christ, not the physical body and blood as the Roman Catholics teach (transubstantion), but the spiritual body of Christ. Nevin is following the Westminster Confession that in the Eucharist one partakes of Christ’s flesh and blood in a non-physical way.

The Westminster Confession (29.7) states:
Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements, in this sacrament, do then also, inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally but spiritually, receive, and feed upon, Christ crucified, and all benefits of His death: the body and blood of Christ being then, not corporally or carnally, in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet, as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward senses.

Thus, for Nevin, the imputation of righteousness is not a legal fiction but a spiritual reality. Interestingly enough, his renowned teacher, Charles Hodge was adamantly opposed to Nevin's teaching. He accused him of in fact resorting back to Roman Catholicism calling his doctrine, popish. The great majority of Reformed scholars today would agree with Hodge against Nevin. In addition, most evangelicals today, following the Baptist position, would see the eucharist (or as they prefer to call it, the Lord's Supper) as simply being a memorial and the elements as being purely symbolic. They would reject both the RCC doctrine of transubstantiation and the Reformed doctrine of the real presence.

I think Nevin was right, though, to see the problem of imputed righteousness being a legal fiction and therefore being impossible for a God whose nature is truth. Here is just another internal contradiction for evangelical theology.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This is all assuming Adam sinned in the first place.

    The way I read it, Adam and Eve did not yet possess the knowledge of "good and evil" which means they had no inkling of rebellion or mischievousness. Since to disobey God requires, first and foremost, a certain prerequisite of naughtiness.

    Only by means of a magical talking snake could Adam and Eve be compelled to do wrong.

    In which case they, having no knowledge, would still be guiltless because they would have been victims of having been deceived, let alone withheld a proper education to prevent them from talking to strangers, especially dubious talking snakes.

    Yet Christians tend to need to believe in the talking snake, because without it, then there is no such thing as "original sin." Therefore imputation would be erroneous.

    So Christians posit that the talking snake was a serpentine Satan in disguise. Imaginative speculation sure, but is purely conjecture since there is no reason to assume this, and scripture does not yield such a reading.

    But if you read it for what it is, a myth, it makes much of Christianity seem absurd. We can't have that now, so we'll consider it a myth to explain sin--but this begs the question of why God would create sin to begin with and why he made mankind sinners?

    Free will is the argument here, but I'm not convinced that free will has any direct correlation to sin per se. I mean, if we had the freedom to choose to do bad then surely we have the freedom to choose to do good. And so Christians must show how, if Adam and Eve had no inclination to do bad (not knowing good and evil) then how could they ever choose to do bad and disobey God's law? They couldn't have. It's impossible...

    Unless you believe in talking snakes that is.

  3. “This passage seems to teach that the believer's faith is considered or regarded (logidzomai) to be righteousness by God, thereby resulting in the believer being acceptable (i.e., justified) before God and not subject to his condemnation.”

    There is a problem with Paul quoting Genesis 15:6 in Romans 4:3-5 out of context. Abraham believes that the Almighty will give him a child through Sarah, even though she is well past childbearing years. But two sentences later Abraham doesn’t believe that the Almighty will be able to give him the land of Canaan as an inheritance. So the Almighty makes a covenant with Abraham - the covenant between the animal parts. Then a dreadful feeling comes over Abraham. The Almighty then tells him that his children will be aliens for 400 years and they will be oppressed, but then they will receive the land.

    The Almighty tells Isaac the full reason He is giving the Land of Canaan to the Children of Abraham in Genesis 26:5 - because Abraham obeyed My voice, and observed My safeguards, My commandments, My decrees, and My Torahs. The Stone Edition TANACH

    Can you tell me the definition of the word righteous (tzadi, dalet, kof) in Hebrew and the definition of the word righteous in Greek? I’ve always been uncertain what it means when I attended Christian bible study, although it might be because I was raised RC. I’m not clear on justified either.

    And I agree that the “doctrine of imputation” is legal fiction.

  4. Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements, in this sacrament, do then also, inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally but spiritually, receive, and feed upon, Christ crucified, and all benefits of His death

    Does this mean if I take a bite out of my cousin, I get access to his trust fund?

  5. That's hilarious cipher! Backslaps and high fives for all the atheists and agnostics. If I can come back and be permitted I can help you guys understand. At least you can hear what sin and justification by faith is all about from someone whom God has saved. You know... I mean a real Christian. If not I understand.

  6. Dammit, Ken! You haven't had one of these people here for weeks; I post a comment, and one immediately comes out of the woodwork. I seem to be a magnet.

  7. Witness,

    Have at it. I am not like the Pyromaniacs site where they make sure they ridicule a person, get the last word and then close off comments. I believe in free speech. Make your best argument.

  8. Hi Ken!

    I think you misunderstood me. I am not here to argue or convince. That would be an impossible task for me. You and some of your commenters here are fond of saying things and making points that have no basis in Scripture and come from a faulty (unsaved) understanding.

    Maybe I can help you guys move away from using strawmen and sharpen your atheistic/agnostic arguments! Anyway, not tonight as I am getting ready to go to church. We pray for each other there and spend some time studying the Scriptures. If I am welcome here I can come back tomorrow and maybe help Tristan with that whole sin thing.

    First, what do you think is the most important thing in all the universe is, as it is disclosed in the Bible?

  9. Oh, my. Ken, you really want to bother?

  10. Witness, it would be great if you could identify chapter and verse for us where the Bible says "This (X) is the most important thing in all the universe."

    Where exactly is that statement found?

  11. Witness,

    Before you waste a lot of your time, let me make it clear that I also was once "saved." Read my profile and also this entry. If you still think you have something you can teach us, have at it.

  12. Witness-

    I too was "saved in Christ." I was a born again devoted Christian for 3 decades. So I don't quite see your point.

    My atheist arguments are as sharp as they've ever been. That's why I have a whole blog dedicated to science, reason, and rationality.

    But I agree with Ken, as an open minded skeptic, I feel asking questions and keeping an open mind if vital in learning new perspectives. Feel free to share with us anything we may have missed.


  13. You know, my kids have a game they like to play. You probably have heard of it; it is called “The Game of Life”. And, to put it briefly, the object of the game is to end up with the most money. In the process near the end of the game you get to declare if you are a millionaire, or not. The rules are that you must have at least a million dollars to make this declaration.

    Now, I could get to the end of the game and make that declaration because I felt like I had earned the title, or at least in my eyes I felt like I had made it. But, none of that matters if I did not have what was necessary to set me apart from the rest of those who were in the game; which in this case was the accumulation of a million dollars.

    So let’s set this stake in the ground here so we can move, at least, in a positive direction from some identifiable point. Ron… Tristan… You were never “saved”, “saved in Christ”, or “Born Again”. Never. Your unbelief gives evidence to that, you know your words, actions, and attitudes. You do not believe.

    By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. ~1 John 4:13

    You never had what it takes to set you apart from the others in the game that defines the terms “saved, saved in Christ, and Born Again.” You never had God’s Spirit. Maybe instead of hitting sin first we should start with what the Bible teaches what salvation is but, that is up to you guys. I just want to be here to help you understand what the Bible teaches.

    Remember I am not here to convince you the Bible is true; I can’t do that. What do you guys want to talk about first? One last thing, I am not here to be combative. I just figured if you guys wanted to bash Christianity you should at least do it with a right understanding of what it is instead of what you think it is.

  14. Oh! Lee! Sorry I missed your question but, I asked you first :) I would really like to know what you think the Bible teaches is "the most important thing". Just give me your take.

  15. @witness: So let’s set this stake in the ground here so we can move, at least, in a positive direction from some identifiable point. Ron… Tristan… You were never “saved”, “saved in Christ”, or “Born Again”. Never. Your unbelief gives evidence to that, you know your words, actions, and attitudes. You do not believe.

    However, you then go on to say:

    Remember I am not here to convince you the Bible is true; I can’t do that.

    So what is the point? Why even bother engaging us? Your latter statement, plus the fact that you're chummy with the Pyromaniacs, indicate you're a Calvinist. You believe God decided to damn us from he beginning of time. Game over! Why are you even wasting your time here?

    I submit that this is an attempt to hone your apologetic skills, and, in so doing, to bolster your faith and stave off whatever doubts you may be experiencing.

  16. Witness,

    I think its very condescending of you to say that I was never really saved. You do not know me. I was as sincere as anyone could possibly be in my faith in Christ. If you had asked anyone who knew me at the time, I think they would tell you that I certainly appeared to be a faithful Christian.

    Now, I know where you are coming from because I said the same thing about apostates when I was a Christian. I remember in a class one time when a student asked me about Charles Templeton. Templeton was a protege of Billy Graham back in the early days of Graham's ministry. Some people claimed that Templeton was a much better preacher than Graham. Yet, sometime later in his life, Templeton lost his faith and became an atheist. He wrote a book entitled Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith.

    I told the student exactly what you just said. Templeton must never have been a true Christian because after all 1 John 2:19 says that anyone who leaves the church was not really one of us to begin with. I heard someone else say: A faith that fizzles at the finish had a fatal flaw at the first . This agreed with my Calvinistic theology and what I thought the Bible taught.

    I now realize that it is typical of any ideological group to criticize and even demonize those who change positions. Mormons do this; Scientologists do this; Democrats or Republicans do this; and evangelicals do it.

    Why? Because I think its a threat to their belief system. To acknowledge that someone used to believe just like they do but who came to the conclusion they were wrong and left is a difficult thing for some people to handle.

  17. Wow! Cipher! Hostility and mind reading! Ken I am not being condescending. I do not have to know you. You have declared that you do not believe, therefore you were never saved. See, you said your sincerity defined your "salvation". That is not what defines true salvation.

    Did you read my little analogy about "The Game of Life"? You never really had the million dollars it takes to declare yourself one, but you did anyway because you were sincere.
    Look, why are you guys already on the attack here? I am not demonizing anyone and I am not here to hone skills of any sort or bolster my failing faith.

    A long time ago I was stationed overseas in the Army and I was attached for time to a German battalion. I remember the first morning I went down to breakfast and when someone set in front of me a tray of meat, cheese and bread I dug in. After a few minutes the German squad I was attached to came down and sat beside me and watched. After I had eaten most of the food, one of them leaned over and asked if he could have some. I had just eaten what was supposed to be for all of us.

    That is a good example of my ignorance concerning breakfast with a German battalion and my foolish actions as a result. You guys just look like I did when you bash Christianity with your false notions and clouded perceptions. If you can’t even discuss these things without accusing me of something then your “QUEST FOR TRUTH” rings a little hollow.

    You know Ken, I am just trying to do the same thing you said you were doing over at Pyro. There was some mischaracterization going on and I came over here to see if I could at least give you an understanding about what the Bible teaches. I can go or stay and we can have a discussion that moves forward at least in understanding each other.

  18. BTW Ken, have you never read Matthew 7:21-23; 13:20-21? That is you by your own words.

  19. Witness,

    You are welcome to stay and straighten us out . You might begin with explaining why imputation is not a legal fiction which is the subject of this particular post. After you do that, then you can enlighten us on how penal substitution is not a) contrary to every known system of justice; b) inconsistent with the doctrine of the Trinity as well as the doctrine of the person of Christ and c) needed to propitiate the Son nor the Spirit but only the Father. I will be very anxious to hear your answers.

  20. Cipher you said this...

    You believe God decided to damn us from he beginning of time. Game over! Why are you even wasting your time here?

    I don't believe any such thing. I cannot know who God chooses to save and who He does not. I am here because you do not understand what the Bible teaches. I cannot convince you to believe it, I can only try to help you understand what it says. You know so you can at least bash it honestly.

  21. "Whoever does not believe stands condemned already"

  22. Ken I am not under any illusion to think I can straighten you out; I have no ability to do that. Besides you are way smarter than me. I have never even heard of the term "legal fiction" unitl I came here.

    If I have the definition right:

    A legal fiction is an assumption of a possible thing as a fact, which is not literally true, for the advancement of justice, and which the law will not allow to be disproved, as far as concerns the purpose for which the assumption is made.

    and understand your post correctly, you are questioning how a Christian can really be made, at least legally, not guilty and Christ be punished for it. Hence the "not literally true" part of the definition.

    I can't devote any more time today, but I will touch on your three elements of imputation and then show how, at least from a biblical standpoint, this statement of yours is wrong:

    I think Nevin was right, though, to see the problem of imputed righteousness being a legal fiction and therefore being impossible for a God whose nature is truth. Here is just another internal contradiction for evangelical theology.

    Is that fair?

  23. Cipher try to understand I am not that televangelist who threatened you with eternal damnation, but I really like you are at least reading and using Scripture.

    BTW, just because you do not believe now does not mean God damned you from the beginning of time. I'm just sayin... so ease up, who knows maybe we could be friends.

  24. Hey one last thing and then I really need to go. My name is David Kyle... nice to meet you folks!

  25. Witness, if he damned anyone from the beginning of time - or at any point thereafter - I'm really not interested in being involved with him. I'd rather stand in solidarity with the outcasts - you know, like someone else did.

  26. Hi Ken and all!

    The answer to your question is yes. Yes, imputation is a legal fiction, at least if the definition I found and used in one of my early comments is correct. But why is that impossible for God to do? You say that it is impossible for God if He is a God Whose nature is truth. First let’s look at those three elements you noticed about imputation.

    1) God put Adam’s sin on his posterity’s account. True. The Bible teaches that we inherit sin from Adam in two ways. We inherit guilt and a corrupt nature. Paul explains the inheriting guilt part quite well in the book of Romans, chapter 5…

    Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. ~Romans 5:12-14

    2) God put mans sin on Jesus account. True. That is really the good news! Jesus willing, in obedience to the Father, took upon Himself the guilt and punishment for the sins of those He came to save. In other words when Christ suffered and died on the cross our sin was imputed to Him. God looked at the guilt as belonging to Jesus.

    For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ~2 Corinthians 5:21

    3) God put Christ’s righteousness on the believer’s account. True. Wow the news just keeps getting better! Really our problem as fallen and sinful humanity is two sided. On the one side we have sin and the other side we need righteousness. And right about here I am just going to quote the same verse you did although there are more…

    For what does the Scripture say?“Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, ~Romans 4:3-5

    I just have to let Paul finish his thought when he quotes David from the Old Testament…

    just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” ~Romans 5:6-8

    Now, I need to go and will be back later to expound on why God can do that.

  27. Witness,

    Duh! I know the Bible teaches it but the question is it consistent with what else the Bible teaches and if the Bible is internally inconsistent can it really be the Word of God?

    You say yes imputation is a legal fiction. That means then that its not really true. God is supposed to be truth and one who cannot lie is then accepting a lie in order to save man? Can't you see the problem?

    I don't have a lot of patience so if you think that just by quoting Bible verse you have proven your point, you might as well move on. I know what the Bible teaches. Did you not read my profile?

  28. Witness - you, King David and Paul all agree that the Almighty will forgive sins if man truly repents.
    “just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” ~Romans 5:6-8"

    Psalm 32, part of which is quoted above, also says
    32:5 I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. KJV

    Psalm 32 and Psalm 103 are strange quotes to use if you want to prove that one needs to believe in the death/resurrection of Jesus to have their sins forgiven. This quote shows the way to forgiveness is repentance. No where does it say to bring an offering. There is no offering to bring for intentional sins. In fact, if you look closely, sin offerings were brought for unintentional sins only. Leviticus 4:1, 13, 22, 27, Leviticus 5:14, 17 Numbers 15:22, 26.

    The process for intentional sins is repentance. This is clearly stated in the Hebrew documents.

    King Solomon, at the inauguration of the Temple, the Temple where the offerings are to be brought, clearly states the case for sin, not unintentional sin - 1 Kings 8:46-50 "When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them...and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their fathers, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you, and cause their conquerors to show them mercy;

    The process is the same for the gentile nations too. Admit your sin, be truly sorry, and change your ways.

    1 Kings 8:41-43 "As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name- for men will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when he comes and prays toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.

    Job, a non Jew, repents. 42:6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes." NIV

    Jonah goes to the gentile city of Nineveh. The king and the people from great to small fast, wear sackcloth, and call out to the Almighty. 3:8-9 “Every man shall turn back from his evil way and from the robbery that is in their hands. He who knows shall repent and G-d will relent; He will turn away from His burning wrath so that we will not perish. The Stone Edition TANACH And the town is forgiven.

    As for Abraham, the full reason for the Almighty’s love for Abraham is given to Isaac in
    Ge 26:4-5 I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws." NIV

  29. Well Ken I know you know at least some of what the Bible teaches. I did read your profile which is why I said you are way smarter than I am DOCTOR but, DUHHH (if I can borrow that from you), did you not read what I wrote when I said...

    "Now, I need to go and will be back later to expound on why God can do that."

    So loosen up! I am in and out all day and will answer this as time permits. What ever happened to civil discourse? Why does every discussion about religion and politics have to be “fix bayonets?”

    So for now, because I have to go again, you’re right. It is true; according to the Bible I am not really righteous, at least not in an experiential sort of way. I am positionally (is that a word?) righteous. God sees or allows the righteousness of Christ to be mine. When I get back I will explain how and why biblically.

    Can you be at least mildly patient so that we can have civil discussion? If not, just tell me to go. I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t get along here.

  30. Emet, please forgive me because I don't get your point. I have read and reread your comment and don't get what you are trying to say. Sorry, I am not as bright as some folks; I don't even have a college degree.

    Could you spell it out for me? Thanks!

  31. Witness,

    It is now painfully obvious to me that I am not as bright as you. I don't think I can spell it out for you.

  32. Emet I was being forthright with you and asked a sincere question. Thanks for being understanding. Are all of you atheists and agnostics the kind to shoot first and ask questions later?

    Maybe you guys should try to get to know someone before... never mind.

  33. Hi again Ken,
    Ok, just to make it clear about the imputed righteousness of Christ, it is not experiential righteousness. IOW, The perfect, sinless, and God acceptable righteousness of Jesus Christ has been credited to me, a believer without me being carnally, corporally, or spiritually righteous in any way. Now the problem as you see it is… umm… God can’t do that, it is not right and would violate His nature (which is supposed to be truth).

    I would like to begin in Ephesians chapter 1 to answer your “internal contradiction” and then sort of walk you through it to show you what God has in mind for those whom He calls and saves. In verse 11 of chapter 1, Paul speaking of Christ writes…

    In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. ~Ephesians 1:11,12

    Let’s unpack that a bit. Notice that for the Christian there is an inheritance, something not now, but later we receive, and it is… wait for it… in Christ! There is something we do not have now, experientially speaking, but we have positionally (my spell check doesn’t like this word, but you know what I mean). As adopted sons and daughters of God we have an inheritance that we receive later.

    This inheritance was pre-planned and determined by God before He created anything (I can hear Cipher’s blood boiling already). And this predestined inheritance that God intends to bestow on His children has a purpose. Notice also that God does all this according to His will. God’s purpose for this inheritance is to bring Him glory, which by the way is the most important thing in all creation.

    Now look at verses 13 and 14…

    In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. ~Ephesians 1:13,14

    Note that after hearing, trusting, and believing the Gospel the Christian is sealed by the Holy Spirit, who is our guarantee of the inheritance. That word “guarantee” means down payment. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee of what Christ purchased on the cross! Part of that which Christ purchased for us is the resurrection of our bodies. However, our resurrected bodies will have a distinct difference from the ones we have now…

    Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~1 Corinthians 15:50-57

    Our experiential righteousness will come when our bodies are raised “incorruptible”! We will no longer have sin to deal with. So then, God forgives our current unrighteousness because of Christ’s willing and voluntary death for those whom He came to save and provides a real righteousness for us when He resurrects us. I know, I know, you’re thinking God can’t do that and be true to His nature. This comment is long already and I will finish the rest of it tomorrow.

  34. Hi Ken,
    I discovered recently that you had made reference in a previous post to my website and some of my comments concerning 'Pierced for our Transgressions'. Thank you for this. You may be interested in knowing that I have expanded my original book (pub. 2006) with four extra chapters and a section in the Addenda entitled: 'Penal Substitution - Answering the Advocates'. Since acquiring PFOT, I have offered some additional answers to key issues raised by the authors. You may find it interesting:

    One more thing - I have returned to the UK from China - I never claimed to have been supported in any missionary activity. I would prefer not to be called a missionary, although as a Christian, I feel it is always right to be engaged in mission in some way - wherever we are located.

    Thanks again. Blessings of the season!


  35. Norman,

    Thanks for your comments and I look forward to reading your additional material.

  36. Hi again Ken!

    I wanted to finish the point I was making about the imputation of Christ’s righteousness being imputed to those who believe. The imputation is fiction if we try to argue that we are in fact righteous when we are not. Believers are not righteous because we are accounted by God to have kept the Law personally, but because we are united by faith with the one Who kept it in a representative way for us. That is true, at least according to Scripture. And again from my last post, we are not now righteous in an experiential way, but will be made so in the resurrection.

    I would like to walk you through Romans 5, but you have already indicated you didn’t want a bunch of Bible verses.