Asking the Right Question

Discussions on social media can really get ‘interesting’, especially when they begin with a question. The questioner invariably thinks he/she asked something that would be clearly understood and thoughtfully discussed. That’s not always the case.Here’s a question that appeared in a social media feed just a couple of days ago.

Is imputation an essential doctrine to believe, that our sin is imputed to Christ and His righteousness imputed to us.?

Discuss.

The responses were more interesting than the question, Some were well educated, and others not so much. When I read the question my first reaction was “Believe for what?” I didn’t think the question was clear enough to elicit an immediate answer.  I did however want to offer a reply and a reason for my answer, which I connected to the subject of personal evangelism. Here it is. Feel free to comment.

Depends on what you mean by “essential doctrine to believe.”. Is it necessary to understand the term ‘imputation’ in order to be saved? In my opinion, no.

On the other hand, if, when an unbeliever, I understand that I am a sinner and Christ took my place on the Cross, I understand the atonement (even if I have not heard the word ‘atonement’) as well as something about imputation. When I believe that, with a God opened heart, I am saved.

Understanding all that imputation means comes later, as we grow in faith, as will other doctrines taught in the Bible that we don’t fully understand when we first believe in Christ for salvation. The Bible teaches the doctrine, and if the Bible teaches it, so will the Holy Spirit indwelling the believer. In fact, understanding biblical doctrines serves to enrich our newfound faith! It is certainly possible to arrive at death’s door having never understood the doctrine of imputation in it’s fullness,

Having said that, It brings up a related question concerning personal evangelism. Do we need to, or might have the occasion to teach doctrines such as ‘imputation’ by their theological terms when sharing the good news of Christ with others who have yet to believe in Him for the forgiveness of their sin and salvation? To that, I can only answer “It depends.” Let me explain.

Sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with lost sinners is a process of sorts, but it’s not a complicated one. God saves sinners by opening hearts to hear the gospel and by sending a messenger to apply the gospel message to a heart that He himself has opened to ‘hear’ it. Read the story of Lydia in Acts 16. While we don’t know the exact words Paul (the messenger) said to Lydia, we know that Paul defined the gospel as Christ’s death for the sins of his people (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Back to our gospel encounter. Let’s say it began with a conversation about a recent story in the news about a terrible crime that had recently been committed, something so inhumane that anyone hearing of it would be horrified. The question “Why would anyone do such a thing?” comes up, providing the perfect opportunity to take the conversation to the problem of sin in the human heart. The problem of sin leads to God’s answer to the problem, Christ’s death on the cross for the sins of men, which naturally leads to explaining the substitutionary atonement of Christ. ‘Imputation’ has just been covered, but without the term even being used.

What all this is leading to is the need for us who share Christ with others to understand underlying doctrines and be able to explain them in a loving and understanding manner. We are not to try and impress anyone with our knowledge of doctrine, but we can communicate our heartfelt desire that our hearers understand the message we bring.

Merely sharing the ‘Romans Road’ and pressing in for a decision just doesn’t cut it, although I have no doubt that sinners have been truly saved in that manner, but because God has prepared a heart for just that moment!

Most of all dear friends, remember that it is God, and God alone who saves sinners. At the same time know that the God who saves sinners has chosen other sinners (us) as his gospel messengers! And that, brothers and sisters, is the greatest privilege God has given his children!

Be blessed!

8 responses to “Asking the Right Question

  1. I love your response to the initial question. I thought the same thing. It wasn’t clear.

    But you’re follow up question and post have got me thinking…

    “What is the absolute minimum a person must believe to be born again?”

    I’ll be thinking about this one all day.

    Like

  2. I do gotta say, You guys really make salvation so complicated.

    Our example of FAITH is Abraham, before the law of Moses. All Abraham did was BELIEVE GOD, and it was accounted to him for RIGHTEOUSNESS.

    Only the righteous gets to heaven.

    But what was it that Abraham believed? He believed in the PROMISED SEED.

    He believed in the PROMISED LAND.

    That was the INHERITANCE that he believed in, in which God promised. That is what faith is all about.

    To break it down:

    Hebrews 11:1 (KJV) FAITH IS:
    Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

    Let’s break that down to the LOWEST common denominator, shall we:

    Let’s look at “substance”, “hope”, and “not seen”.

    Substance:
    Strong’s Concordance Greek Ref #5287: Assurance
    Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition defines assurance as: Pledge, Guarantee

    Romans 8:24-25
    For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

    Hoped, Hope:
    Strong’s Concordance Greek Ref #’s1679, 1680: Expectation or confidence
    Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition defines hope as:
    to expect with confidence; Expectation is defined as: Anticipation; Anticipation is defined as: The act of looking forward, and, visualization of a future event or state.

    Hebrews 11:1
    Now FAITH IS: The guarantee of things (substance/assurance) expected (hoped/waiting for).

    Not Seen:

    2 Corinthians 4:18
    While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are NOT SEEN: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are NOT SEEN are ETERNAL.

    Hebrews 11:1
    Now FAITH IS: The guarantee of ETERNAL things (substance/assurance) expected (hoped/waiting for).

    Faith: Strong’s Concordance Greek Ref #4102:
    Persuasion, i.e. credence. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition defines credence as: mental acceptance as true or real.

    In short, KNOWLEDGE is required to be given before once can be persuaded by it, and you accept the word given as true or real.

    Faith is not infused into you in order for you to believe. Faith IS believing.

    Romans 4:3
    For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

    Galatians 3:6
    Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

    James 2:23
    And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

    Final note:
    Faith is not imputed…RIGHTEOUSNESS IS. Notice the word IMPUTED above?

    And I see the ole “OPEN HEART” thing, as in the mentioned of a JEWISH WOMAN, named Lydia. Jews are the only ones needing an “OPEN HEART”, because they are blinded by God, whereas Gentiles are not:

    Jews:
    Deuteronomy 29:4
    Yet the Lord hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.

    Gentiles:
    Romans 15:21
    But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.

    And there is a reason for the two differences, but you guys only counter that with “For there is no difference…”

    That “for there is no difference” has a context not related to the conversation, because it is for the already saved (IN CHRIST) that there is no difference.

    There also is no difference in that “for all have sinned”, too. But to whom is sin “IMPUTED”? Only to those UNDER THE LAW OF MOSES or…those who don’t believe (no faith).

    Romans 5:13
    (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

    SO, before Moses penned anything about The Ten, or 613 commandments, people sinned…but…but what? Sin is not imputed to those who have no idea of what sin is. For all have sinned, but…but what?

    Notice the words “NOT IMPUTED”?

    Many wish to ignore those two words…on purpose. But I can’t.

    There is only two types of people that gets to heaven:

    1. Caleb and Joshua
    2. Those who have NO KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL.

    References:
    Deuteronomy Chapter 1 Verses…

    21 Behold, the Lord thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.

    22 And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come.

    23 And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men of you, one of a tribe:

    24 And they turned and went up into the mountain, and came unto the valley of Eshcol, and searched it out.

    25 And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the Lord our God doth give us.

    26 Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the Lord your God:

    27 And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the Lord hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.

    28 Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.

    29 Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them.

    30 The Lord your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes;

    31 And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.

    32 Yet in this thing ye did not believe the Lord your God,

    33 Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day.

    34 And the Lord heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying,

    35 Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers.

    36 Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the Lord.

    37 Also the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither.

    38 But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.

    39 Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.

    40 But as for you, turn you, and take your journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.

    41 Then ye answered and said unto me, We have sinned against the Lord, we will go up and fight, according to all that the Lord our God commanded us. And when ye had girded on every man his weapons of war, ye were ready to go up into the hill.

    42 And the Lord said unto me, Say unto them. Go not up, neither fight; for I am not among you; lest ye be smitten before your enemies.

    43 So I spake unto you; and ye would not hear, but rebelled against the commandment of the Lord, and went presumptuously up into the hill.

    44 And the Amorites, which dwelt in that mountain, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah.

    45 And ye returned and wept before the Lord; but the Lord would not hearken to your voice, nor give ear unto you.

    NOTE: That is a SPIRITUAL STORY if anyone is interested in something different than expository.

    By spiritual, I am discussing THE LAND (PROMISED LAND, AKA INHERITANCE) as a type or shadow of HEAVEN.

    Caleb and Joshua are the type and shadow of FAITH

    The children who have no knowledge of good and evil are those who are IGNORANT (and since they are Jews, their age of KNOWLEDGE of Good and Evil is 13 for males, 12 for females (Bar/Bat Mitzvah)…which means that if babies die, they go to heaven, and why? Because they have no knowledge of good and evil.

    But you guys want to discuss David sinning in the womb? No, David was CONCEIVED in iniquity…but ya gotta go to a Jewish source for the info. David’s mother was the one IN SIN, by deceiving her ESTRANGED HUSBAND, and due to that, David was mocked by the whole family EXCEPT his mother. You do realize that David was not well liked by his family, right? And that is who God chose to be King of Israel. No, David was not sinning from the womb.

    Actually, God is FORMED David in the womb, just as He does all of us.

    My point in all of this, there is only two things IMPUTED to us. Sin…OR…Righteousness, not faith. But also, sin is NOT imputed to everyone, and there is a reason. KNOWLEDGE must be given before a decision is made to believe, or not to believe, and if beleived, THAT is faith. And if you believe, you MUST live that belief, hence Abraham being TESTED of his faith (sacrificing Isaac). IF Abraham believed God, in that his seed of Isaac would inherit the land, Abraham had no problem…being “obedient” of sacrificing Isaac, because he knew that in order for God to make good on his promise, God would have to resurrect Isaac from the dead (another type/shadow of Jesus resurrecting from the dead).

    But again, you guys make this whole thing so complicated. It’s simple math, not trig.

    Ed Chapman

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    • In short…

      What did Abraham believe? The minimum? INHERITANCE (Promised Land, Promised Seed)

      Spiritualize that and you get ETERNAL LIFE IN HEAVEN and JESUS.

      Galatians 3:18
      For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

      Hebrews 9:15
      And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first (OLD) testament, they which are called (JEWS) might receive the PROMISE of ETERNAL inheritance.

      1 Peter 1:4
      To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

      Hebrews 11:16
      But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

      If you believe in the PROMISE’S OF THE INHERITANCE (Heaven and Jesus), and LIVE IT (James Chapter 2, faith without works (Abraham going to sacrifice Isaac)), THEN you are RIGHTEOUS.

      *******Abraham did NOT have to wait for Jesus to shed his blood for him to be declared righteous.

      Even tho “FOR ALL HAVE SINNED”, he didn’t have any sin IMPUTED to him, and it’s all because there was no law of Moses…the law is not of faith, but by works only (EARNING). But the wages of THE LAW OF MOSES is death, for all have sinned (not obeyed the law of Moses).

      Gentiles were never under the law of Moses…keep that in mind.

      Why was the law given to the Jews? Romans 5:20 explains…to INCREASE sin…not to decrease sin. But why? So that grace would have substantial, SUBSTANTIAL meaning, WHEN THEIR SIN IS ERASED (Romans 11 – MERCY), due to their BLINDNESS.

      John 9:39-41
      39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.

      40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?

      41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

      Ed Chapman

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        • I am. Consistent, aren’t I? Lol. Calvinism doesn’t make any common sense. Hebrews 11:1 dictates what faith is. Abraham was righteous long before Jesus was born. So how does that reconcile with Romans 3:10?

          Think about it.

          Ed

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          • Calvinism has nothing to do with the original post. At the same time, a really good Arminian friend told me once that scripture weighs heavily in favor of sovereign grace doctrine, but for some reason he is still an Arminian. I think he conflates free choice with free will.

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            • I’m pro free will, and free choice. Romans 9-11 has nothing to do with gentiles in general. But, the Pharoah, he was USED by God for a purpose, and that was about Prophesy of Jesus. Moses is the redeemer to free those in bondage. The Pharoah doesn’t want to LET MY PEOPLE GO. Put that in a spiritual sense, and it’s prophesy of Jesus and Satan. Nothing more. Jesus saves people from the bondage of sin, whereas satan doesn’t want anyone turning to christ. And due to the Pharoah being USED as a rag doll, Roman’s 9 shows us that God gave the Pharoah mercy. It’s so simple. The blindness that is meant for the Jews only, you make it into a doctrine for all mankind. But getting back to abraham… he was righteous long before the birth of jesus. How does that reconcile with “there is no one righteous, no not one”, when in fact, there were many, including abraham, Abel, Enoch, Noah, etc.?

              Like

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