Clearing A Matter Up – Is the Remission Enough?

I have been receiving a lot of questions lately about some of the things I have written concerning the nature of the righteousness imputed to us, as well as my view concerning Christ’s law.  Judging by the questions, it appears to me there is still a great deal of confusion about where I stand on these subjects.

Christ’s death was the satisfaction of the law’s demand for disobedience.

Romans 3
21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 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. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

What does the text say shows God’s righteousness?  THE REDEMPTION THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS!


Who does the text say about this Christ?  HE IS THE ONE WHOM GOD PUT FORWARD AS A PROPITIATION (satisfaction of God’s wrath)!

And according to the text, how did He propitiate?  BY HIS BLOOD! Notice, it does not say by His law obedience.

Hebrews 10

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
    but a body have you prepared for me;
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. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

16 “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,”

17 then he adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

Where there is forgiveness (remission) of these . . .  What is the “these”?  The lawless deeds!  Guys, what does the Holy Spirit say results in no more offering of sin?  Does He say obeying the law results in no more offering for sin?  No!  He says the remission of sins results in no more offering for sin.  Duh.  Of course.  Because there are no more sins to remit.

But what is it that He says did the remitting?

10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

1For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Recently a few people who should have known better have nevertheless accused me of saying we do not need Christ’s righteousness, but rather only forgiveness.   This is ridiculous.  I have never said any such thing.

What I have said instead is what I just said above.   That where there is forgiveness (remission) of lawless deeds there is no longer any offering for sin, AND it was the death of Christ which accomplished this remission.  This death is what makes His people righteous, and it did it by removing their lawless deeds.

Romans 6
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Those who include Christ’s law obedience in with His righteousness are insisting that this remission is not enough to be set free from the punishment for sin. At least, those who are accusing me sure sound like they are saying this.

Let me conclude by reminding these folks that it wasn’t His law obedience that justified Christ.  Remember, God had imputed the sins of His elect to Christ.  Fat lot of good all that obedience did then, didn’t it.

No, what justified Christ was His resurrection.

Romans 1
concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 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


About David Bishop

Gospel of Grace Church
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8 Responses to Clearing A Matter Up – Is the Remission Enough?

  1. markmcculley says:

    no, the reason for the resurrection of Jesus Christ was the justification (past and future) of all His elect. In other words, it was the same righteousness that God used to justify all elect sinners that God used to justify Christ the first and unique elect.

    If we say that it’s the “active obedience” ( incarnation and vicaripus lawkeeping up until death) which is what justified God in raising Jesus from the dead, then we are saying that His death for sinners is not the righteousness which justifies Jesus. But why would we say that the death of Jesus cannot be imputed by God to both Jesus and to all the elect in Jesus? After justification, the elect are named “Christ our righteousness”. The righteousness of Jesus was obtained by Jesus by His death and that righteousness still belongs to Him and to justified sinners in legal solidarity with him. This is not a transfer or an exchange, in which the righteousness no longer does anything for Jesus Himself. Jesus died once for all time, and that means that Jesus Himself is no longer under the law, no longer made a sinner by guilt imputation. The guilt which was once imputed to Christ is now taken away, by the propitiation and expiation of Christ’s death.

    Romans 4:24, died because of our sins, raised because of our justification (even the justification of those not yet justified). so different choices—justified because of the righteousness, but what is the righteousness? 1. His death? 2. his creation law-keeping ? 3. his resurrection?. 4 his incarnation?. 5 his suffering infinitely before His death? (many teach that no human can really die, and since Jesus is human, they teach that Jesus did not really die so there was no real resurrection)

    Some would say, all of the above, and what does it matter? But I say 1–His death and I deny our justification because of His resurrection, because Romans 4:25 says He was raised because of our justification, but then we could go to I Timothy 3:16—-His resurrection is His justification, not one thing because of another thing, but the same thing. As in Roman s 1:4, the “declaration” is the justification. In this sense, resurrection is justification, which means that justification is not “because of resurrection”.

    1 Timothy 3:16 “By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated/ justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.”

    Does this mean that the Holy Spirit justified Jesus?

    Christ was justified by His death. Christ needed to be justified because Christ legally shared the guilt of His elect, and this guilt demanded His death. Christ’s resurrection was Christ’s justification, and that declaration was because of Christ’s death. Romans 6:9–“We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.”

    The word “imputed” is used in two ways, one which is legal sharing and the other is declaration after that sharing. . No righteousness was shared from somebody else to Christ, because Christ earned His own righteousness by His own death.

    The vindication of Christ is God’s declaration (in the resurrection) that Christ was just on the basis of what Christ did in His death.. Christ was imputed as righteous. Christ was justified. The justification of the elect sinner is different from the justification of Christ. The legal value and merit of Christ’s death (the righteousness!) is shared by God with the elect sinner, according to Romans 6 , when they are placed into that death.

    So only one righteousness. In Christ’s case, no legal sharing. In the case of the justified elect, that same one death is legally shared, and this one death is enough, because counted to them it completely satisfies the law for righteousness. Romans 6:7–“For one who has died has been justified from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.”

  2. markmcculley says:

    To be distracted from the truth that the atonement was only for the elect is also to be distracted from the truth that justification is not conditioned on faith as its preliminary cause.. To be distracted from the truth of Christ’s death only for the sins of the elect is to be attracted to the idea of Christ’s vicarious law-keeping being infinite and therefore enough for all sinners.

    The justification of the ungodly is more than the forgiveness and remission of sins, but it is not less. Justification is not only about the remission of past sins but also about the remission of all future sins. Justification is not only about the remission of sins of commission but also about the remission of sins of omission.

    Piscator could have agreed with the Westminster Confession of Faith XI.1 that says that God does not justify sinners “for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness.”

    Many still want to say that to have forgiveness of sins is not the same as being accounted righteous. They said that to have remission alone is to only be back where Adam began before sin. If Christ’s keeping law (which law, they don’t talk about so much, since there were commands for Christ which were never given to anybody else) is not accounted as our righteousness, then they folks don’t see how Christ can be our righteousness?

    Piscator—“Man’s justification consists in remission of all sins: and therefore not only of sins of committing,but also of sins of omitting.” Many refer to Christ’s death as “passive” obedience and then quickly explain that it was not passive but they continue to use the word passive, because they think of the death of Christ as either not really possible or as not enough by itself and so they teach that Christ also had to supply a POSITIVE righteousness to get us to a better place than Adam began in before Adam’s sin. Even though these people don’t teach that all of Adam’s
    sinning is imputed to sinners, they do teach that all of Christ’s obeying must be imputed to elect sinners in order for us to have anything more than continued life (like Adam did)

    But I agree with Piscator that, once Christ’s satisfactory death is imputed to us, we are in a state of having done everything required because our sins of omission are forgiven. Piscator emphasizes that our faith itself (which God gave us because of Christ’s death and in Christ’s death) is excluded as a part of our righteousness before God. Christ’s penal satisfaction by death imputed to us is the only source of our righteousness, because we are by nature unrighteous. Even the righteous acts that we do after grace and faith are excluded from our justification, which, according to Piscator, continues to rest solely in the death of Christ imputed to us..

    Piscator– “God speaks of works in genera being excluded from our justificaationl, whether they be done by the strength of free will or by grace, because Romans 4 speaks of Abraham’s works, those which he had done of grace and faith” What are the results of our justification? For Piscator, we are not only forgiven of our sins, but we also have a right to the lasting life of the age to come.

    When an elect sinner is justified, God “receives them into favor, and adopts them for sons and makes them heirs of eternal life.” The reason this happens is “that he to whom God forgives sins, is so accounted as if he had not only committed nothing which God has forbidden in his law, but also omitted nothing of that which he has commanded: and therefore, as if he had perfectly fulfilled the law of God.”

  3. markmcculley says:

    o you have to also believe in definite atonement in order to be “Reformed”, or is believing in vicarious obedience enough to be “Reformed”? Or do you need to believe both to be “Reformed”

    Are these people “reformed”?

    Myron S. Augsburger

    C. Fitzsimmons Allison

    Kay Arthur

    Bill Bright

    Tony Evans
    Jerry Falwell
    Billy Graham
    Stan N. Gundry

    Jack W. Hayford
    Paul Hiebert
    Ed Hindson
    Bill Hybels

    Woodrow Kroll
    Beverly LaHaye
    Tim LaHaye

    Bill McCartney
    Beth Moore

    Pat Robertson
    Adrian Rogers

    Ronald J. Sider

    Joseph Stowell

    Charles Swindoll

  4. markmcculley says:

    Spurgeon puts down the death of Christ in order to build up Christ’s law-keeping imputed.

    “The promises in the Word of God are not made to suffering; they are made to obedience. Consequently, Christ’s sufferings, though they may remove the penalty of sin, do not alone make me the inheritor of the promise. “If You will enter into life,” said Christ, “keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17). It is only Christ’s keeping the commandments that entitles me to enter life. “The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honorable” (Isaiah 42:21). I do not enter into life by virtue of His sufferings – those deliver me from death, those purge me from filthiness;

    Glenn Peoples—Yes, “it is finished” had to have been uttered before Jesus died. Jesus could not have said it after he was dead. But his declaration was based on the inevitable— He just about to die. John portrays Jesus saying these words virtually as he dies: “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” The gospel of John links the saying directly to the death of Christ. The atoning work of Jesus is finished when Jesus died.”

  5. markmcculley says:

    I Peter 1:11 tells us of the Spirit’s prediction of “the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.” I Peter 3:21 speaks of an “appeal for a good conscience, through the resurrection.”

    The gospel is not the death without the resurrection, or the resurrection without the death. The good news about one is good news about the other.

    Smeaton, Apostles Doctrine ,on Romans 4:25, p147—“The impetration of a righteousness which would be legally applied as the sole foundation of justification, was accepted on behalf of all to whom it WAS TO BE APPLIED, and this was the cause of Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

    I take Smeaton to mean
    1. righteousness is one thing, and justification another
    2. righteousness is the cause of justification
    3. the righteousness was accepted/ approved by God, even though not imputed to all the elect. God’s justice demands that this righteousness will be imputed to all for whom Christ.
    4. on this basis, Christ was raised (because of our justification)
    5. This does not mean we were justified when Jesus was raised
    6. This does mean atonement and justification are the same thing
    7. Christ’s death is His own justification and His own resurrection is a result of that….I am not saying we have to say it that way, but that is one Bible way to say it, not only becasue of the vindication of I Tim 3:16 or the “because you see him no more” of John 16, or Romans 1:3-4, IF it’s about the history of salvation

    But Lee Irons is maybe correct that Romans 1:3-4 is about Christ’s two natures, which is what everybody thought before Vos came alone

    lee irons

    Irons– Are we to say that his title of “Son of God” is one that only characterizes Christ from the resurrection onward? That he was not the Son of God during the time when he was the seed of David?

    Irons–Vos and Gaffin avoid this heretical implication by pointing out that it was at the resurrection that he was marked out as “Son of God in power” (taking “in power” attributively rather than adverbially). This saves them from flat-out heresy. But it begs the question, “Can you find any other place in the NT where this idea that Jesus became ‘the Son of God in power’ at the resurrection is taught?” I’m not aware of any.

    Irons–The NT clearly affirms that he is the powerful, miracle-working Son of God prior to the resurrection (e.g., Matt 3:17; 4:3, 6; 8:29; 11:27; 14:33; 16:16; 17:5; 21:37; 26:63; 27:40, 43, 54 – to quote only the first Gospel). I’m not aware of any NT passages that make a distinction between “Son of God in weakness” (before his resurrection) and “Son of God in power” (after his resurrection).

    Additionally, just open your Bible and read Matthew 1-4 and Luke 1-4 if you want evidence that both dimensions of Jesus’ identity – his royal-Messianic role as son of David and his ontological identity as Son of God – exist together from the virgin birth of Jesus onward. (Of course his ontological identity as Son of God actually predates his virgin birth.) The resurrection does not mark any change or development in these two identities. If anything, the resurrection simply confirms and demonstrates that both are true and continue to be true forever.

    Irons–The Vos-Gaffin interpretation relies on a questionable handling of the lexical data surrounding the word sarx (“flesh”). The word is used in Paul both in neutral senses and in morally pejorative senses, but it is only the morally pejorative usages that connect sarx with the present evil age under the headship of Adam. The usage of sarx in Rom 1:3 is certainly not morally pejorative, since it has to do with Christ (who is without sin) in his royal glory as the Messiah, the seed of David. As Warfield said, “To say, ‘of the seed of David’ is not to say weakness; it is to say majesty” (TCTPP, 81).

    Irons–The Vos-Gaffin interpretation exalts the phrases that are subordinate and demotes the phrases that are primary in Rom 1:3-4. In so doing, it creates an awkward tension that has to be mitigated by taking “in power” attributively with “Son of God,” creating a theological concept unattested in the NT, namely, his sonship in weakness and his sonship in power. And even if deemed successful, this mitigating effort does nothing to relieve the implication that the royal-Messianic identity of Jesus as “of the seed of David” ended at his resurrection. It is contrary to NT theology to bisect the life of Jesus with the mid-point of the resurrection and then to connect Jesus’ status as “seed of David” with the pre-resurrection phase and his status as “Son of God” with the post-resurrection phase. In fact, the NT is clear that Jesus remains “seed of David” even into his state of exaltation, just as he was “Son of God” (even “Son of God in power”) long beforehand.

  6. Freed Wretch says:

    John 7:19 (KJV) Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?

  7. markmcculley says:

    Luke 6: 7 The scribes and Pharisees were watching Him closely, to see if He would heal on the Sabbath, so that they could find a charge against Him. 8 But He knew their thoughts and told the man with the paralyzed hand, “Get up and stand here.”So he got up and stood there. 9 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do what is good or to do what is evil, to save life or to destroy it?” 10 After looking around at them all, He told him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was restored.11 They, however, were filled with rage and started discussing with one another what they might do to Jesus.

    Jesus Christ was not negotiating with these religious people about if the law needed to be more or less conservative. Jesus was telling them that He was God, that He has the prerogatives of God. Jesus can take up or not take up the Mosaic law. Jesus can take up or not take up a man’s paralyzed hand.

    Luke 6: 9 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do what is good or to do what is evil, to save life or to destroy it?”

    Jesus does not merely ask if it’s lawful to do what is good or save life on the Sabbath. Jesus also asks if it’s lawful to do what is evil or destroy life on the Sabbath. But what kind of question is that? Of course we are not permitted to do evil or destroy life. Or even to overcome evil with evil. But God by His Holy nature can and does do what we should not do. But God by His Sovereign nature can do what we cannot do. We cannot do miracles. We cannot forgive other sinners of their sins against God. By our death we cannot satisfy for the sins of other sinners.

    But Jesus is God. God’s sovereignty means that we cannot control God. Because these religious people could not control Jesus, they “were filled with rage” and started discussing with one another how to kill Jesus.

    iam Goligher—-“All future covenants will be variations of the covenant with Adam…. Adam was in a state of rectitude, perfectly capable of obeying this law, and this law is not a terribly restricting law…If Adam had obeyed, he would have presumably gone on to have children for many years and then presumably, at some point, Adam and his children would have been granted access to the tree of life and given transformed eternal glorious bodies….” God, Adam and You, Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, P and R, p 73-74

    Joel Beeke, p 148, God Adam and You, P and R, 2015—–“The work of the second Adam was not merely to die but to obey in all things.

    Jonathan Edwards–“What Christ did brought life, not ONLY as a sacrifice but it had the nature of meriting….Christ’s active obedience was JUST AS NECESSARY to satisfy the honor of God’s law as was His death.”

    After you first tell me that the passive was also the active, and then you tell me that we must not divide or separate the passive from the active, and then after you separate the passive from the active by saying it was not enough alone…..

    Did what Christ did in His death alone have the nature of meriting?

    the death only for remission, but justification by His obedience to the law of Moses???…/

    John Frame– A feature of the historia salutis method is that it sees salvation less in individual terms, more in corporate terms. The covenants are made through mediators with their families

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