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Home arrow Writers arrow J.H. Oliphant arrow Justification and Kindred Subjects: Chapter 11
Justification and Kindred Subjects: Chapter 11 PDF Print E-mail
Written by J.H. Oliphant   

The imputed righteousness of Christ furnishes the sure and eternal ground for our justification. The law being spiritual and holy, and our righteousness, at best defective, will not satisfy the pure and holy law of God.

I wish first to notice some objections to this view. The Doctrinal Tract, page 207, in speaking of the doctrine of imputed righteousness, says; "Wherever this doctrine is cordially received, it leaves no place for holiness. It demolishes it from top to bottom, it destroys both root and branch, it effectually tears up all desire of it and all endeavor after it. It forbids all exhortations as might excite those desires, or awaken those endeavors. Nay, it makes men afraid of personal holiness, of cherishing any thought of it or motion towards it, lest they should deny the faith," etc.

The enemies of this doctrine charge the above consequences on it. I could furnish pages of sharp criticism, of which the above is a sample. To which I reply:

1st. This same consequence was charged against the doctrine of the apostles. See Rom. iii. 8; "And not as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say, Let us do evil that good may come." Also Rom. vi. 1, "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid; how shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?" Also Rom. ix. 14, 19, and also many other places, the apostles met the same objection to their teaching, which is evidence that they taught the same sentiment, and the fact that this argument is urged against this point of doctrine is rather an evidence of its truth.

2nd. The words, "How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?" places our obedience on a higher ground than that of a condition of justification. We are by regeneration prepared to love God and his service, and so constituted that our highest pleasure is in his service, and although we know that our obedience is of no value in the matter of justification, yet we find other and good reasons for it. Our salvation is not only free from the claims of law, but from the love of sin, and it seems to me needless to press this fact on the mind of any Christian.

3rd. There is no man that renders perfect and continued obedience to God, and this the law requires. Even if men may become wholly sanctified, yet there is a period in life before they become so. So, if our own righteousness is to be considered as the ground of justification we would offer the obedience of only part of our life, whereas the law requires the whole of our life. "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all the things;" and who is it that has done this? We should CONTINUALLY love God with all the soul, mind, and strength. Now, if there be one who has done this from the cradle to the grave, we might, in his case, yield a tithe of our claim; but I am sure there is no such person in existence, and never has been one, "save Jesus only." I John, "If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." "If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." Chapter i. 8, 10. Now I maintain that if we have sinned ONCE, that one sin puts such a spot and blemish on our lives that our righteousness is insufficient to meet the claims of the law, since the law requires us to "continue in all" the law, and while we were engaged in that one sin, we were not CONTINUING in all the things, hence we are under the curse, unless we have a better righteousness than this. "Except your righteousness shall exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." ---Matt. v. 20. Again, we read (Eccl. vii. 20), "For there is not a just man upon the earth that doeth good and sinneth not." Prov. xx. 9, "Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sins?" Solomon in his prayer (1st Kings viii. 46) says, "For there is no man that sinneth not." Now, this being true, there is no man who has, or can produce, a spotless righteousness. The very best robe is moth-eaten and imperfect in places, and hence unfit to wear into the presence of Jehovah. It was a consideration of this fact that led Paul to say, "And he found in him not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God through faith." He here espouses the sentiment for which I plead.

4th. When we apprehend the fact that Christ in his atoning sacrifice did put away our sins, we should still remember that the law requires not only that our actual sins should be put away, but it also requires that we should have a positive righteousness, a web unbroken from first to last, and hence we need not only redemption from our positive sins, but we need also a positive righteousness, covering our whole history, Rev. xix. 8, "And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, white and clean, for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." This clothing of fine linen, clean and white, is not worn by mortal men, nor is its material, in whole or part, from our looms, but it is a fabric from the loom of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now the plain teaching of the Bible, in scores of places, is that the righteousness of the people of God is in some way from God; it is imputed to them, and statements are made about it, showing that their righteousness is wrought out for them, and revealed to them in the gospel, so that the law is met and honored by this righteousness in its infinite perfections. I will cite the following scriptures to sustain this position. Isa. liv. 17, "This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord." This text needs no comment. It affirms, in the fewest words possible, the sentiment for which I plead. Also Isa. lxi. 10, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall be joyful in my God, for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness." Our Saviour says, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness." The very fact that we are said to hunger after righteousness, argues that it is of God, and not of our producing. Rom. x. 3, "They being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness," etc "Who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness," etc. Scores of places prove the same thing. The above are sufficient to show that the righteousness upon which our hope of heaven depends is from God, and imputed to us and clothed upon us. It exceeds the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, and there is no need that the law of God should be relaxed a tithe, no need of suspension or relaxation, but let the law stand up in all its dignity, purity, and holiness; let Sinai be clothed in darkness, let the thunders of Sinai roar and its lightnings flash, here is a righteousness that protects, saves, and eternally justifies the Lord’s people and gives every farthing required by law. The doctrine of true and real justification glitters in the pages of sacred Scriptures and furnishes a true ground of hope to poor sinners. We read, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ * * * for therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith." We are unrighteous and utterly unworthy, and this every one who has been taught of the Lord knows, but the gospel reveals a righteousness as ours upon which God can be just and yet the justifier of poor, unworthy sinners. The great effort of Paul was "to declare * * * at this time his righteousness, that he might be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." God can accept us in this righteousness as just and holy, and yet maintain the honor of his law in all its native purity and holiness.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 12 September 2006 )
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