I discovered the following quote by John Owen while spending some time tonight reading about justification and imputation. Dr. Owen made the following statement regarding the doctrine of justification in a chapter titled “Imputation, and the Nature of It.”
yet is it so fallen out in our days that nothing in religion is more maligned, more reproached, more despised, than the imputation of righteousness unto us, or an imputed righteousness.
The Doctrine of Justification by Faith Through the Imputation of the Righteousness of Christ Explained, Confirmed, and Vindicated
While that quote is very applicable to the times in which we live, it is actually from a book published in 1677. Here is a photo of that text from the Google Books edition of Volume 5 from the Complete Works of John Owen.
The notion that there is enough inherent goodness and righteousness in man to please God sounds very appealing to a pragmatic culture like ours – but it is not biblical. When people try to take credit, even partial credit, for the grounds of their salvation, they rob Christ of His glory and diminish His perfectly obedient life and atoning sacrificial death.
These were the closing remarks from John Piper’s presentation at T4G 2010 and they merit repeating:
Give Christ all his glory in the work of salvation, not just half of it. Half is the work of pardoning sin by becoming our wrath-absorbing punishment. But the other half is the work of providing our perfection by fulfilling everything that God required of us, and then imputing it to us.
Don’t rob the Lord of half his glory in bringing you to God. Christ is our pardon. Christ is our perfection. Therefore, knowing that Jesus and Paul preached the same gospel, let’s join Paul from the heart in saying:
I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.
We can sing with the great hymn write Edward Mote, who in 1834 wrote the following words:
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
Amen. Hallelujah, what a Savior!