Charles E Whisnant
I am the Pastor/Teacher of Rivers of Joy Baptist Church in Minford, Ohio since August 2008. I am married to Charity since June 14, 1969. I have four grown children. Having served in the local church for over forty years as Pastor/Teacher, Asso., Youth Pastor, Minister of Education, Building Upkeep, Camp Director, Sunday School Teacher, etc. Also I have worked in the public place for as many years as I have preached. Charity and her sister are co owner of Union Mills Conf. (Bakery) in West Portsmouth Ohio
It was God's grace which provided this righteousness for us. Hence it is called "the righteousness of God" (Rom. 1:17; 3:21; 10:3; Phil. 3:9). Christ lived it. So it is called "the righteousness of . . . Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:1). The gospel declares its saving properties. So it is what we might appropriately call "gospel righteousness." In the preaching of the gospel the Holy Spirit is present to create faith in this righteousness. Hence it is called "the righteousness of faith" (Rom. 1: 17; 3:22; 4:11; 9:30; Phil. 3:9).
The righteousness of faith is not a quality seen by us or felt by us. It is not to be confused with the Spirit's work of regeneration and sanctification in our hearts. The righteousness which is of faith is nothing but the righteous deeds of incarnate God. It is called "the righteousness of faith" because faith embraces it, saying, "Mine are Christ's living, doing, and speaking, His suffering and dying; mine as much as if I had lived, done, spoken, and suffered, and died as He did. . . .
Therefore, everything that Christ has is ours, graciously bestowed on us unworthy men out of God's sheer mercy, although we have rather deserved wrath and condemnation, and hell also. . . . This is an infinite righteousness and one that swallows up all sins in a moment, for it is impossible that sin should exist in Christ. On the contrary, he who trusts in Christ exists in Christ; he is one with Christ, having the same righteousness as He." — Martin Luther, Luther's Works, Vol.31, pp.349-358.
This righteousness of Christ which justifies and saves the believing sinner unto life eternal always remains with and in the Person of Christ.
. . . the righteousness is still "in Him"; not "in us," even then when we are made partakers of the benefit of it, even as the wing and feathers still abide in the hen when the chickens are covered, kept, and warmed thereby. —John Bunyan, Justification by an Imputed Righteousness (Swengel, Penn.: Reiner Publications).
Again Bunyan says:
The righteousness by which we stand just before God from the curse was performed by the person of Christ. . . . This righteousness is inherent only in Him. —Ibid.
Indeed this is one of the greatest mysteries in the world—namely, that a righteousness that resides with a person in heaven should justify me, a sinner, on earth. —Ibid.
Once we grasp that the saving righteousness of Jesus consists in the works and deeds of Jesus which were performed for us 2,000 years ago, it becomes plain why Paul teaches that the righteousness which is of faith is imputed (see Rom. 4). Says Buchanan:
This righteousness, — being the merit of a work, and not a mere quality of character, — may become ours by being imputed to us, but cannot be communicated by being infused; and must ever continue to belong primarily and, in one important respect, exclusively to Him by Whom alone that work was accomplished . . . The merit of one may be reckoned, or put down to the account of another; but how can the merit of any work be infused, as a personal property, as holiness may unquestionably be? —James Buchanan, The Doctrine of Justification, pp.334-335.
There is, through the work of the Holy Spirit, an impartation of "essential righteousness" — that is, the attributes of God's character. The believer thereby becomes progressively more and more like Christ in character. Yet this inwrought holiness must not be confused with "the righteousness of faith." Paul can exhort believers to perfect holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1), but nowhere does he exhort them to perfect the righteousness which is theirs by faith. This righteousness is already infinitely perfect. It is a garment already woven and ready to be worn by all who will submit to it.