Thursday, May 04, 2006

Martin Luther, Justification by Faith, and Imputation

God works in mysterious ways. Martin Luther became a monk because of being afraid during a thunderstorm. As a monk he feared God. God's righteousness was a damning concept to him - reminding Martin of God's wrath and justice. He wanted a merciful God - a God he could love. He finally met this God through the pages of Scritpure - especially Romans. As I struggle to understand God's righteousness (the moral purity that God alone has - He is the eternally perfect standard of what is right) and our sin - and how a just God could save and love me - wow - it's crazy amazing. To think on righteousness I must think of its verb - justification - an act of God's free grace to sinners, in which He pardons all their sins, accepts and counts them righteous in His sight; not for anything in them or done by them, but only because of who Jesus is and what He has done. By faith, Christ's righteousness is placed upon them (Westminster Catechism - modifed by me).

Now I must consider Imputation - the act of attributing or reckoning or counting to someone something that was someone else's (my own definition). There is a two-fold imputation that takes place when we are saved.
1 Our sin is imputed to Christ - placed upon Him - he bears it for us
2 His righteousness is imputed to us - we are declared (not made or infused) to be righteous because of Christ - we are credited with Jesus' righteousness.

John Piper shows a very practical side of imputation. He is speaking of the marriage relationship but could have been speaking of any relationship.
"I will no longer think merely in terms of whether my expectations are met in practice. I will, for Christ's sake, regard you the way God regards me—complete and accepted in Christ— and thus to be helped and blessed and nurtured and cherished, even if, in practice, you fail."

Praise be to God that our just God is merciful - and so unfair. He pardons our sin (by imputing it to Christ's account) and declares us to be righteous (by imputing Christ's righteousness to our account).

I must agree with Paul when he writes in Romans 11:33-36

33Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
34"For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?"
35"Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?
36For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Theology is so practical - even when we don't have a pretty little application. It is practical because the better we know Jesus, the more we'll become like Him. May you be blown away by imputation - as Luther was.


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