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Page 255


The justifying application of Christ's merits to a sinner takes place in the following two ways:

    1. By imputing - from God's side

    2. By receiving - from man's side

Imputing refers to God's gracious work of regeneration. In the moment of regeneration, the sinner undergoes a change of states he was guilty, but is now innocent; he was incorporated in Adam's guilt, but is now included in Christ's righteousness; he was condemnable due to his own sin, but is now righteous in Christ's sinlessness. The full righteousness of Christ is imputed to the saved sinner in the moment of regeneration, in his exchange of states. The inner may not be personally assured of this truth from his side, but from God's side the saved sinner is fully justified in Christ's substitutionary work being applied to his account.

Receiving speaks of the person's accepting, believing, embracing, trusting, or resting, by faith in Christ's justifying work. Saving faith is the sinner's receiving hand. God graciously plants saving faith in the hearts of those He justifies and regenerates. True faith is necessary as the required link, as the receiving hand, through which Christ and His righteousness are received and treasured. Faith, however, is not meriting, but receiving.

Imputing precedes receiving; receipt must follow imputation. A spiritually dead sinner cannot believe, accept, or receive Christ and is righteousness. God first graciously regenerates, planting new spiritual life in the soul of the sinner. This makes him a saved child of God, one to whom God graciously imputes the righteousness of Christ. This new life, planted and nurtured by the Holy Spirit, then produces a believing, accepting, and receiving of Christ and His righteousness by saving faith.

Arminianism or "free will" teaching reverses this order. It falsely teaches that sinners first must receive Christ by faith and then God will justify them. Arminianism denies man's total depravity. No spiritually dead sinner can nor will receive Christ before being personally born again by the Holy Spirit. The person's believing and receiving of Christ's righteousness is a result of his

 

He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.

Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

- Romans 8:32-34

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.

- Romans 5:12

But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name.

Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

- John 1:12-13

 

Re-read the story about the needy patient, life-giving blood, and connecting intravenous tubing in Chapter 15. Why is it proper to say that a person is saved or justified by faith, but not because of his faith?


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