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Definition

The doctrine of imputation teaches that while Adam’s sin is imputed to us because he is our natural federal head, God imputes or accredits the righteousness and suffering of Jesus to those who are in him and, conversely, imputes the sins of those redeemed to Christ.

Summary

The doctrine of imputation teaches that while Adam’s sin is imputed to us because he is our natural federal head, God imputes or accredits the righteousness and suffering of Jesus to those who are in him and, conversely, imputes the sins of those redeemed to Christ. Imputation is based on Old Testament sacrificial structures seen in places such as the Day of Atonement, where the sins of the people are transferred to a scapegoat. The prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah provide even clearer foundations for the doctrine, which the NT authors build on. The apostle Paul provides the bulk of the NT teaching on imputation, clarifying that there are three ways in which imputation functions: Adam’s sin imputed to all of humanity; Christian’s sin imputed to Christ; and Christ’s righteousness imputed to Christians. It is the latter two of these imputations that Martin Luther famously called the “glorious exchange,” our sin for Christ’s righteousness. Such truth is a balm to Christian who fears standing the presence of a holy God wearing nothing but sin-stained garments.

Articles

Book Reviews

Future of Justification 8: Imputation

Anyone who has done a cursory reading of John Piper and N.T. Wright knows that a major area of disagreement will come up regarding the “imputation of Christ’s righteousness.” I’ve already shown how Piper believes Wright’s definition of righteousness to be too minimal. Piper sees another major flaw in Wright’s set-up of the law-court scene where justification takes place: Wright fails to take into account the omniscience of the Judge (73). For Piper, God is unjust if he (knowing the guilt of the defendant) rules in the sinner’s favor (74) without something to uphold to the standard of justice. N.T. Wright treats “reckoning righteousness apart from...

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