The Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness Denies God as Father
One of the most popular truisms in our day is the often-heard “righteousness of Christ” mantra. “We have the righteousness of Christ,” “The imputation of Christ’s righteousness,” etc. The mantra is indicative of the rampant last-day’s false gospel propagated by the institutional church.
The Bible never states that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us or covers us, but rather states that we have the righteousness of God. Why is this seemingly technical difference all-important? Because the notion distorts the identity of the Trinity. God is no longer a father, and Christ is no longer our brother.
Have you ever wondered why God is called the Father? Because a father is able to give life—the same kind of life that makes up his own essence; in this case, righteousness. Because we are fathered by God through the Holy Spirit via the new birth, we are not merely declared righteous, we are MADE righteous. Therefore, the Reformation’s forensic justification gospel denies the Trinity and the new birth.
The idea that we can’t really be righteous and are only declared righteous further denies that God is a true father. How? It denies that we are truly born of God because we fall short of keeping the law perfectly. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul argues that this replaces the seed of God with the law and actually makes the law a life-giving seed. Paul states that only one seed was promised to Abraham and his offspring (Christ), not two, and “God is one.”
The primary point of Galatians 3:10-20 is that God the Father is the only one who gives life, He is the one seed. “The promise” spoken of is the promise of the new birth through the one seed. If you note the passage carefully, “the promise” was made to Abraham and Christ. No law can give life, nor can an “intermediary” (verse 20) which probably speaks to Moses or the angels or both.
Christ’s role was/is that of Brother.
“Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters” (NIV).
“For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers” (ESV).
The “one source” is God the Father, and because of Him, Christ is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters. Christ died for us, and God’s promise to Abraham and Christ was that many would be raised to glory with Christ. The impartation of righteousness was not Christ’s role in salvation—His role was to pay the penalty for our sins and establish the new birth through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Notice in the aforementioned citations from Hebrews 2:11 that we are “made” holy and “are” holy. If that is negated by an inability to keep the law perfectly, that makes the law a co-life-giver with God the Father. But there is only one God and only one seed.
What makes a believer holy is the regeneration of the heart through the new birth. The saved person is literally born of God’s seed (1John 3:9). Because of our mortal state, this results in a change of direction, not perfection. The Bible describes it as a reversal of slavery and freedom (Romans 6:20). But at any rate, Christ came to end the law for judging our holiness (Romans 10:4). If it wasn’t for the weakness of our mortal bodies, we would not sin and therefore we long for resurrection (Romans 7:23-25), viz, the redemption of the body.
The idea that Christ kept the law perfectly so His righteousness can be imputed to us makes the law a co-life-giver with God, makes Christ both father and brother, denies that the Holy Spirit raised Christ from the dead per “the promise,” and makes the law part of the Trinity.
It’s a really, really bad idea and an egregious false gospel. God is one, not many. There is only one life-giver, and that’s why we call Him “Father.”