The doctrine of imputation is one of the most under-taught teachings in the church today, and every Christian needs to know it. God credits to us the righteousness of Christ, and this comes through faith alone, which is also God’s gift to us in Christ. Additionally, our sin is credited to Christ, who, though he knew no sin, was punished for the sins of all who trust in him for salvation.
Here are 10 words every Christian should know—and be able to explain—in order to “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).
Saving faith is not, as is commonly believed, a blind faith. There are three aspects of saving faith:
knowledge of Christ and his salvific work;
agreement that the claims of Christianity are true;
hearty trust in Christ alone for our salvation.
Faith is the instrument through which, by God’s grace, Christ’s perfect righteousness and atoning sacrifice are credited to us. It is God’s gift, not a work of any kind (Eph. 2:8-9). For more on the definition of faith, please click here.
Grace is one of God’s attributes. According to theologian Louis Berkhof, the grace of God in our redemption in Christ
is God’s free, sovereign undeserved favor or love to man, in his state of sin and guilt, which manifests itself in the forgiveness of sin and deliverance from His justice. (Systematic Theology, p. 427).
There is nothing we have done or could ever do to merit God’s grace. We receive it by God’s sovereign choice alone (Rom. 11:5-6).
There are two aspects to peace—objective and subjective. Just as two countries have a status of peace with each other through official agreements, so Christians are declared at peace with God through Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1). This means that we still have the status of peace with God regardless of how we feel or how well we keep his commands at any given time.
It is normal for Christians to still feel anxious in this troubled world and to feel a lack of peace from the sin in their lives. These feelings should spur us on to trust in God, repent of our sins, and seek to live in such a manner that honors our Lord. Christians should always be exceedingly thankful and find unfathomable comfort in the fact that the blood of Christ sufficiently atones for all their guilt and sin.
God in his perfection must uphold all his attributes. We cannot separate God’s love from his holiness, or his mercy from his justice. God must be true to all his attributes, because to do otherwise would be to deny his own self.
As theologian Michael Horton so aptly states in his book The Christian Faith, “God would not be God if he did not possess all his attributes in the simplicity and perfection of his essence” (229). Jesus was born in the flesh so he could fulfill the whole law and be the perfect sacrifice on behalf of all who put their faith in him (Heb. 10:11-14).
At the cross Jesus offered up his life as the perfect, once-for-all sacrifice for all who trust in him for salvation (e.g. John 10:14, 15). According to Horton we observe, “the clearest evidence of the complete consistency between God’s goodness and his sovereignty, justice, wrath, and righteousness in Christ’s cross” (p. 266). At the cross we see God’s “righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26).
According to theologian R. C. Sproul, the law is like a mirror: it shows us our sin, but it can do nothing to save us. In fact, the law condemns everyone who is not in Christ. Jesus was born in the flesh in order to be the perfect Son whom God had promised since the fall of Adam in the garden (Gen. 3:15).
For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Rom. 8:3-4)
Jesus kept the law perfectly on behalf of all who trust in him for salvation, and they are counted righteous in God’s sight through faith alone by God’s grace alone.
The law also serves the purposes of restraining evil and showing us what is pleasing to God. Christians should also strive to keep God’s law in joyfully thanksgiving for all God has done for them in Christ, although they will do so imperfectly in this life. For more on the “three-fold use” of the law, click here.