Friday, June 24, 2011

Big God, Big Words: Imputation

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. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 15:12-21, ESV)
For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:21-22, HCSB)
He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21, HCSB)

Imputation is
Attribution or reckoning of guilt or righteousness on the basis of a prior, extrinsic event or person. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer who is justified on that basis, just as the original sin of Adam was imputed to all later generations who were condemned on that basis. This doctrine is central to Protestant theology in contrast to Roman Catholic theology in which the believer is justified on the basis of infused or imparted righteousness, intrinsic to a person. (352)

So why is this important? Why is it central? Imputation is closely connected to the doctrines of original sin, atonement, and justification. A right understanding of all of these is important to the faith. There are three imputations we need to know to understand the Christian faith.

1. Imputation of Adam's Sin to His Posterity (aka, Original Sin)
2. Imputation of the Sins of His People to Christ (Atonement)
3. Imputation of the Righteousness of Christ to His People (Justification)

Do you believe that all of humanity fell with Adam and Eve? That we are all born with a sin nature? That is original sin. That Adam's "fall" in the Garden of Eden led to death. Physical death and spiritual death. ("For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23 and "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23) Do you believe that Jesus bore your sin on the cross? Do you believe that he took your sins upon himself on the cross? Do you believe that the wrath God meant for you was turned towards his only Son? That is atonement. Do you believe that God has not only wiped away your sins--cleansed you of your unrighteousness, your filth--but has clothed you with the righteousness of His Son? Do you believe that Jesus' righteousness has become your own? Christ's perfect life of obedience and righteousness has been reckoned to you and is the basis for God's justification. Can you grasp that? That is the precious truth of justification. Rejoice in the truth of that...

"You Are My King" (written by Billy James Foote)
I'm forgiven because You were forsaken
I'm accepted, You were condemned
I'm alive and well, Your Spirit is within me
Because you died and rose again

Amazing love, how can it be
That You, my King, should die for me?
Amazing love, I know it's true
It's my joy to honor You
In all I do to honor You

You are my King
You are my King
Jesus, You are my King
You are my King

Today's definition comes Nelson's Dictionary of Christianity: The Authoritative Resource On the Christian World. George Thomas Kurian, Editor. 2005.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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