THE GLORY OF GOD IN IMPUTATION
We have examined the truth about God’s sovereignty. We have also examined God’s sovereign purpose in history. God has predestined all things according to the counsel of His will to the praise of His glory. We have discussed this truth in general terms, but now it is time to be more specific.
Luke 24:25-27 “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Luke 24:44-48 “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
1 Peter 1:10-11 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.
Acts 26:22-23 I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass; that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, He would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.
From cover to cover every book of the Bible joins together with one voice to declare the plan God established from eternity to the praise of His glory. This plan was to send His Son to suffer and die for the purpose of redeeming a people whom He had unconditionally chosen from eternity to love and to save.
Romans 3:21-26 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins. It was to show His righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
We discussed election in the previous chapter. Let us now discuss it a little more.
God determined from eternity to glorify Himself by sending His Son to suffer and die for the purpose of redeeming a people whom He had unconditionally chosen from eternity to love and to save. He also determined to glorify Himself by condemning a different group of people whom He had not chosen to love and to save.
As is the case with evil, where evil must be made to exist in order for God to glorify Himself by destroying it, so too those people whom He had chosen for salvation had to be placed into a position where they required salvation. And so, having determined to glorify Himself by sending His son to suffer and die for the purpose of redeeming a people whom He had unconditionally chosen from eternity to love and to save, God also determined that all mankind shall fall into sin. This He accomplished by creating the serpent, who, as Scripture tells us, was the craftiest of all the creatures the Lord God had made.
But how was God’s determination that all men shall fall into sin accomplished through the disobedience of one man? If you will recall, we asked a question very much like this earlier in the first chapter. We asked, why should every human being die just because Adam sinned? After all, wasn’t it merely the first man who had disobeyed? If that be the case, why then should everyone else be forced to follow in the footsteps of one man? Why should I be held accountable for something I didn’t do?
It is now time to address this question.
The first step on our journey to the cross of Christ begins with an examination of imputation. How does God apply the redemptive benefits of Christ’s work to those He had chosen for salvation? He does it the same way He brings men into condemnation. That is, by imputation.
Imputation means “to credit, to reckon, to transfer.” It means to charge to one’s account. For instance, once a month every month, I stroll into my local bank to make a cash deposit to my landlord’s bank account. The bank “imputes” my deposit to my landlord’s account. In similar fashion, though without computers or paperwork, God imputes the guilt which Adam earned by his disobedience to every human being’s account, so that every human being is held accountable to God for Adam’s sin. Theologians call this “original sin.”
12 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—13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.14 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.
Notice the text tells us sin is not charged where there is no law. That is, if there is no law to break, then there can be no guilt had for lawbreaking. Yet even so, even though we are speaking of that period in time before God gave the ten commandments to Moses, God still nevertheless counted people guilty for breaking His law. How can that be? There can only be one way. He counted people guilty for breaking His law, because there was indeed a law in effect. What law might that have been? Search the scriptures thoroughly and you will find there was only one law in operation in that period of time between Adam and Moses. “In the day you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, dying you shall die.”
But how can God do this and remain just? How can He be just to hold someone accountable for something they did not do? After all, I was not alive during this time, so how can He count me guilty for something I did not personally do? He can do it the same way we do it. .
Consider, for example, we use phrases like “First Lady” and “First Family”. We use these terms in reference to the President’s wife and the President’s family, but what exactly do we mean by them? We mean the President and his family represent every citizen of the United States. Where the President goes, so we too go. What the President does, so we too do. What the President says, so we too say. He speaks, acts and behaves as our representative.
Consider astronaut Neil Armstrong. American astronaut Neil Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969. Not one of us was present with him. Not one of us planted a toe on the moon with him. Some of us were not even born yet! And yet at the same time, every American can rightfully say, we went to the moon.
Just recently the new football season began. Every football enthusiast in the city is already talking about what we did on the football field.
God treated Adam as the representative of the entire human race. In the Hebrew, the word “man” is adam. In English, we treat “adam” as a name, but in Hebrew it is the word for “man.” Throughout the first three chapters of Genesis we find God referring not to Adam, but rather to Man.
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them.
The first man, whom we will call Adam for clarity’s sake, was humanity’s representative. What happens to him happens to us. When he disobeyed, his disobedience was credited to us. We are counted as having disobeyed.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother
God looks down from heaven
on the children of man
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.
They have all fallen away;
together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one.
God imputes the guilt of Adam’s disobedience to every human at conception, so that every human is conceived in and born guilty of Adam’s sin. Let us be sure, every man certainly goes on to add to this guilt, but the days of his guilt begin at his conception.
We are in a terrible situation. God’s justice demands satisfaction. God said in the day you eat of the tree you shall die. Adam ate of the tree. Adam must now die. Still more, God credited Adam’s disobedience to our account. God said in the day you eat of the tree you shall die. Acting as our representative, Adam ate of the tree. We must now die.
This disobedience is not something God can overlook. Were He to simply shrug and then let the act of disobedience pass by unpunished, then He would prove Himself unrighteous, dishonest and unjust. He must punish us with death for the offense if He is to prove He is just. His demand for justice must be satisfied.
The self-righteous man believes he can pave over God’s demand for justice by promising to never disobey again. But promising to never disobey again cannot remove the guilt of having already disobeyed. The issue is not one of promising to be good from now on. Rather, the issue is one of guilt. God said, if you break My law, you must die. We broke His law. If the lawbreaker does not die, then God is shown to be a liar! He cannot ignore this. His justice must be satisfied. We must die.
How is God going to save His elect, while also remaining true to His demand for justice? What is God going to do to solve this seemingly impossible situation? Enter the cross of Jesus Christ.
Do you see now how God’s plan is fulfilled in Christ? God had determined from eternity to send His Son to suffer and die for the purpose of redeeming a people whom He unconditionally chose from eternity to love and to save. Having imputed Adam’s guilt to the entirety of the human race, God’s chosen elect now stand guilty and in need of saving.
But who is this Jesus Christ anyway?
He is the only begotten Son of God. Eternal in nature; begotten, not made, fully God of God. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity. The Word of God. In possession of two natures; both fully God and also fully a man. The very glory of God in human form.
In the beginning was the Word, and Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
God the Son took the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. Conceived by the Spirit and born of a virgin, He thereby entered the human race unstained by the guilt of Adam’s disobedience. He was not conceived by one of Adam’s race, therefore Adam is not His representative. Instead, He is the first of a new race. He is Himself the new representative.
God the Son lived and moved in perfect obedience to His law. In not one instance did He disobey. Rather, in every way He remained perfect and obedient. Yet even so, even though death was the punishment for disobedience, God the Father yet instructed Jesus to go to the cross. Why?
Because again, this has been God’s plan eternity; that the Son shall glorify God by suffering and dying for a people whom He had chosen from eternity to love and to save.
Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces[
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
In obedience to the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous servant, went obediently to the cross. He who had never sinned went obediently to His own death.
Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.
What happened at the cross, and why is it so important?
At the cross, God imputed all the sins of His elect to Christ. In the same way He had charged all humanity with the guilt of Adam’s disobedience, so now He charged Christ with all the guilt of His elect. At the cross, Christ stood guilty with the guilt of all His chosen people.
I am now going to state the obvious, so prepare yourself. In light of what we have learned concerning election, let it be known now and forever that Jesus Christ did NOT die for everyone.
Jesus Christ did not die for everyone.
I say again, Jesus Christ did not die for all sinners.
This is undoubtedly the greatest shock to the system of American Churchianity. Jesus Christ did not die for everyone. Jesus Himself made this clear.
John 10:11 I am the great shepherd. The shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
John 10:26 You do not believe, because you are not My sheep.
Jesus did not say you are not My sheep, because you do not believe. He said you do not believe, because you are not My sheep. That is, because you are not Mine, it is therefore impossible for you to believe. I lay down My life only for those who are Mine. You are not Mine. Hence, I do not lay down My life for you, therefore, you do not believe.
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.
American Churcianity presents us with a Jesus who died for everyone, but still somehow everyone is not saved. This leaves us with a salvation that is not entirely accomplished by Christ’s death alone. Rather, it leaves us with a death which needs something in addition to the cross in order to make it work. The glory is not God’s alone in this scenario. The glory is shared instead with he or she who adds whatever needs to be added to the cross to make it work. American Churchianity tells us that by “making a decision for Jesus”, or by raising our hand with “every head bowed and every eye closed”, or by getting baptized, or by reciting a sinner’s prayer, or by making your way up to an altar in order to confess your sins, or any number of a hundred different things, that we can make Jesus’ death count for us. Understand, this is not Christianity. This is self righteous paganism and God hates it!
In authentic Christianity, Christ’s death fully accomplished all that it was designed to accomplish.
For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, He said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for Me;
6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings
You have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God,
as it is written of Me in the scroll of the book.’”
When He said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then He added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until His enemies should be made a footstool for His feet. For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
“This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
then He adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
In other words, if there were anything we could do to make ourselves acceptable to God, then we would only need to do that thing one time, because that one thing, having sufficed to make us acceptable once, would by its very nature have sufficed to make us acceptable forever. The fact that we continuously pray, read the Bible, attend church, etc, etc, etc, means none of these things can make us acceptable to God. If they could have made us acceptable, then they would have ceased to be offered. The fact they have not ceased proves they can accomplish nothing insofar as righteousness goes.
Christ’s death, on the other hand, was a single sacrifice made one time, and shall never again be repeated. His death alone, made on behalf of His elect, is the only thing that makes a man acceptable to God.
At the cross God imputed His people’s sins to Jesus, and at the cross, Jesus endured the death which God demanded from His people as punishment for their guilt. And when I say guilt, I mean all their guilt, even the guilt of sins they have not sinned yet. After all, Jesus died 2000 years ago. All my sins, even my past sins, were future sins.
God the Son, eternal in nature, fully and forever satisfied God’s eternal demand for justice which stood against His elect for their sins. At the cross, God poured out His eternal wrath upon His own Son. But the work was not yet finished, for three days later, having been buried in a tomb purchased by a wealthy disciple, God raised His Son from the dead.
We hear this word bandied about a great deal nowadays in various video games and movies and comic books. The writers of these games and movies treat resurrection as though it simply means coming back to life again. No, that is not resurrection. That is resuscitation. Lazarus was resuscitated. He died again. I do not know when, but he did die again. That is why he is not still walking around in Jerusalem today. Jesus did not simply resuscitate though. He was resurrected. That is, He conquered death. He went into death, swallowed up death, and then came out of death unable to ever die again. That is resurrection.
The Bible tells us Christ’s resurrection is the evidence that Christ’s sacrifice was a righteous offering to God, an offering that He accepted as full payment for His people’s guilt.
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord
In other words, if Christ still had some work to do to satisfy God’s justice for His people, then He would have remained dead while God set about to complete the work in some other fashion. But He did not remain dead. He was raised instead, precisely because His work was finished. He even stated this while upon the cross.
John 19:30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished,” and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.
A perfect salvation. God chose from before the foundation of the world to show the glory of His grace and kindness by choosing to create some people whom He would save by sending His Son to die on the cross for their sins. To ensure they would indeed need saving, He fell them in their representative Adam. In the fullness of time, He then sent His Son, born of a virgin, to die on a cross for their sins. He imputed their sins to His Sons account, and at the cross, the Son paid the full penalty for their sins by dying in their stead. God then raised His Son from the dead, thereby showing His people the Son had succeeded in saving them from the penalty for their sins.