October 18, 2017

Imputed Righteousness: Examining the Arguments (1)

By Mike Willis

Those who believe in the imputation of the perfect obedience of Jesus to the account of the believer have used a number of arguments to prove their doctrine. Any treatment of this subject must examine those arguments in order to give a thorough examination of the material. Hence, I would like to consider some of the material used to prove the imputation of the perfect obedience of Jesus to the account of the believer.

The Greek Word: Logizomai

The Greek word logizomai is the Greek word cited in the dictionaries and encyclopedias as the word from which the English word "impute" is translated. The word occurs slightly over forty times in the New Testament and bears the following meanings:

1. Think, believe, be of the opinion. The passages in which logizomai bears this meaning are as follows: Rom. 2:3; 3:28; 8:18; 14:14; 2 Cor. 11:5; Phil. 3:13; and 1 Pet. 5:12. None of these passages have any relevance to the doctrine of imputation inasmuch as the word bears a different definition in these contexts.

2. Think (about), consider, ponder, let one's mind dwell on. Again, this definition has no bearing on the subject of imputation but the passages in which logizomai bears this meaning are the following: Lk. 24:1; Jn. 11:50; 1 Cor. 13:11; 2 Cor. 3:5; 10:2, 7, 11; Phil. 4:8; Heb. 11:19.

3. Reckon, calculate. If any usage of logizomai is going to support the doctrine of imputation, this usage must be it. Consequently, we must give this usage a more thorough examination than we have given the other two usages. This definition is broken down into two categories in Arndt and Gingrich's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. (I have relied on Arndt and Gingrich throughout this examination of the word logizomai.)

a. Count, take into account. Let us rather carefully consider the usages where logizomai bears this meaning:

(1) 1 Cor. 13:5. "Love... does not take into account a wrong suffered." Obviously, this verse makes no reference to imputation in the theological sense and, therefore, has no bearing on the study.

(2) 2 Cor. 5:19. "Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation" (vs. 18-19). This is one of the verses which some think support the idea of imputation as taught by the Calvinists. However, the trespasses of sinners are not counted against them because Christ became sin for us. There is no mention of imputing the perfect obedience of Christ to the believer's account in this passage. Sinners become the "righteousness of God." "God's righteousness, in brief, is tire quality that is stamped upon us by God himself when in heaven, on his judgment seat, he renders the judicial verdict that acquits us of all sin and guilt .... The instant that verdict is pronounced he is dikaios, `righteous' " (R.C.H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul's First and Second Epistles to the Corinthians, p. 1054).

(3) Rom. 4:8. "Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account." Sin is not taken into account when it is forgiven. Nothing is said about the imputation of Christ's perfect obedience to the account of the believer.

(4) 2 Tim. 4:16. "At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them." Obviously, this is Paul's request that God not lay sin to the charge of some who sinned against him and, therefore, has no bearing on the subject of imputed righteousness.

(5) Rom. 4:4. "Now to the one who works, his wage is not reckoned as a favor but as what is due." This is discussing the difference between salvation by works (perfect obedience) and salvation by grace. Commenting on that difference, this passage says nothing about the subject of imputing the perfect obedience of Christ to the believer's account.

(6) Rom. 4:6. "Just as David also speaks of the blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works: Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered." Salvation comes to man apart from works; it comes through grace. But notice that this grace is reckoned, not on the basis of Christ's perfect obedience being imputed to the believer's account, but on the basis of God forgiving man of his sins! This says nothing about imputing Christ's perfect obedience to the believer's account!

(7) Rom. 4:11. ". . . and he (Abraham) received the sign, of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness which he had while uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be reckoned to him." Inasmuch as this is talking about Abraham, it can hardly be discussing the imputation of the perfect obedience of Christ to his account. Notice that righteousness is reckoned to him. This righteousness is not the imputation of Christ's perfect obedience to the life of a Christian but the divine acquittal-forgiveness of sins! The context discusses "those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered" but it says absolutely nothing about imputing Christ's perfect obedience to the believer's account!

(8) Rom. 4:3. "For what does the Scripture say? `And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness." This passage mentions that Abraham's faith was imputed to him for righteousness but says absolutely nothing about Christ's perfect obedience being imputed to him.

(9) Rom. 4:5. "But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness." This passage again mentions that faith is reckoned as righteousness but says nothing about the imputation of Christ's perfect obedience to the believer's account.

(10) Rom. 4:9. "Is this blessing upon the circumcised, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say,`Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness." This passage again mentions that faith is reckoned as righteousness but says nothing about the imputation of Christ's perfect obedience to the believer's account.

(11) Rom. 4:22. "Therefore also it was reckoned to him as righteousness." Gal. 3:6. "Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness." Jas. 2:23. ". . . and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, `And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,' and he was called the friend of God." All of these three passages pertain to the one case of Abraham. They all teach that Abraham's faith was imputed for righteousness; not one of them mentions that Christ's perfect obedience was imputed to Abraham!

(12) Rom. 4:10. "How then was it reckoned? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised." In showing that Abraham was justified by faith and not by works, Paul asked whether Abraham was justified before or after circumcision. Again, this passage offers no support for those who teach that Christ's perfect obedience is reckoned to the account of the believer.

(13) Rom. 4:23-25. "Now not for his sake only was it written, that `it was reckoned to him,' but for our sake also, to whom it will be reckoned, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, Him who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification." Again, this passage considers the idea of justification by faith; it distinctly mentions that Jesus was delivered up as our sin offering but mentions nothing about His perfect obedience being imputed to the believer's account. The reference in v. 25 to "raised because of our justification" cannot be twisted to teach the believer's account.

(14) 2 Cor. 12:6. "For if I do wish to boast I shall not be foolish, for I shall be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one may credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me." This is not even discussing the subject of justification much less the imputing of Christ's righteousness to the believer's account.

b. As a result of a calculation, evaluate, estimate, look upon as, consider. The usages of this definition have no relationship to the subject although here are the passages in which the word logizomai appears: Acts 19:27; Mk. 15:28; Lk. 22:37; Rom. 2:26; 6:11; 8:36; 9:8; 1 Cor. 4:1; 2 Cor. 10:2.

Conclusion

Whatever support might be given to the doctrine of the imputation of Christ's perfect obedience to the believer's account is going to have to come from some source other than the definition and usage of the word logizomai. There is nothing in the word's usage which would ever have suggested the idea that Christ's perfect obedience was credited to the believer's account so that God saw Christ's perfect obedience rather than the believer's sins. In our next article, we shall consider some other arguments used in defense of this Calvinistic doctrine.

Truth Magazine XXII: 4, pp. 67-69
January 26, 1978

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