Bad News and Good News

The bad news:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,  nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you.” – 1 Cor 6:9-11a

The good news:

“But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” – 1 Cor 6:11b

Those were the words of the Apostle Paul to believers in the church in Corinth. The ‘bad news’ list of certain kinds of people probably could have been much longer, but Paul was making it very personal (“and such were some of you’) and setting the scene for the ‘good news’:

“But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” – 1 Cor 6:11b

Paul also told a ‘bad news’ ‘good news’ story to the believers in Ephesus, and even kicked it up a notch:

The bad news:

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. – Eph 2:1-3

Our Corinthians passage speaks of unrighteousness in terms of specific sinful behavior patterns, but our Ephesians passage talks about our very nature as mortal, fallen human beings!

The good news:

 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—“ Eph 2:4-5

The message of the gospel doesn’t start with John 3:16, it ends with it.

Think about it………..especially if you have not received and believed the GOOD NEWS!

Justification and Our Peace

“Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Romans 5:1

Let me, in the last place, offer some counsel to all who have peace with God, and desire to keep up a lively sense of it.

It must never be forgotten that a believer’s sense of his own justification and acceptance with God admits of many degrees and variations. At one time it may be bright and clear; at another dull and dim. At one time it may be high and full, like the flood tide; at another low, like the ebb. Our justification is a fixed, changeless, immovable thing. But our sense of justification is liable to many changes.
What then are the best means of preserving in a believer’s heart that lively sense of justification which is so precious to the soul that knows it? I offer a few hints to believers. I lay no claim to infallibility in setting down these hints, for I am only a man. But such as they are I offer them.

(a) To keep up a lively sense of peace, there must be constant looking to Jesus. As the pilot keeps his eye on the mark by which he steers, so must we keep our eye on Christ.

(b) There must be constant communion with Jesus. We must use Him daily as our soul’s Physician, and High Priest. There must be daily conference, daily confession, and daily absolution.

(c) There must be constant watchfulness against the enemies of your soul. He who would have peace must be always prepared for war.

(d) There must be constant following after holiness in every relation of life—in our tempers, in our tongues, abroad and at home. A small speck on the lens of a telescope is enough to prevent our seeing distant objects clearly. A little dust will soon make a watch go incorrectly.

(e) There must be a constant laboring after humility. Pride goes before a fall. Self-confidence is often the mother of sloth, of hurried Bible-reading, and sleepy prayers. Peter first said he would never forsake his Lord, though all others did—then he slept when he should have prayed—then he denied Him three times, and only found wisdom after bitter weeping.

(f) There must be constant boldness in confessing our Lord before people. Those who honor Christ, Christ will honor with much of His company. When the disciples forsook our Lord they were wretched and miserable. When they confessed Him before the council, they were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

(g) There must be constant diligence about means of grace. Here are the ways in which Jesus loves to walk. No disciple must expect to see much of his Master, who does not delight in public worship, Bible-reading, and private prayer.

(h) Lastly, there must be constant jealousy over our own souls, and frequent self-examination. We must be careful to distinguish between justification and sanctification. We must beware that we do not make a Christ of holiness.

I lay these hints before all believing readers. I might easily add to them. But I am sure they are among the first things to be attended to by true Christian believers, if they wish to keep up a lively sense of their own justification and acceptance with God.

I conclude all by expressing my heart’s desire and prayer that all who read these pages may know what it is to have the peace of God which passes all understanding in their souls.

If you never had “peace” yet, may it be recorded in the book of God that this year you sought peace in Christ and found it!

If you have tasted “peace” already—may your sense of peace mightily increase!


Excerpted from a J.C. Ryle work that discusses our present and eternal justification before God and our peace (assurance) of it.



Imputation is one of the principle doctrines of Biblical Christianity. It means to write down in a record or ledger, and signifies setting to one’s account or reckoning something to someone. The verb "to impute" occurs frequently in the Old and New Testaments. The apostle Paul assumed the debt of Onesimus when he wrote, "if he owes you anything, charge it to my account" (Philemon18) "Charge it to my account" is used in the Bible with legal reference to our sin and salvation. God imputes or accredits the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ to the believing sinner while he is still in his sinning state. "God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21, NET).

God has manifested His righteousness apart from the Law “even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe” (Rom. 3:21-22). The reason for this judicial standing before a righteous God is because we have “all sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). The foundation upon which God can justify the believing sinner who is still in his sinning state is because this justification is “a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith” (Rom. 3:24-25).

From God’s perspective, righteousness or sin is charged to an individual’s personal account


Romans 5:12-21 teaches the imputing or charging of Adam’s sin to the entire human race. Because Adam sinned as the federal head of the human race, God considers all men as sinners. We are possessed of Adam’s nature (Rom. 5:12-14), and the sentence of death is imposed on us (Rom. 6:23). The effect of Adam’s fall is universal. We are all fallen sons and daughters of old Adam. We do not become sinful by sinning; we sin because we are sinful by nature. We sin because we are sinners. Adam’s disobedience was set to the account of every member of the human family. Every person participates in the guilt and penalty of Adam’s original sin.

The judgment of God rests upon all men outside of a saving relationship with Jesus Christ because of imputed sin, our inherited sin nature and our own personal sins. Human experience shows that Adam and Eve’s sin long ago have affected the entire human race.

The guilt and penalty of Adam’s sin was directly imputed to his descendents, so that all give way to the death (Romans 5:15, 18, 19; 6:23a). "In Adam all die" (1 Cor. 15:22). Adam’s original act of disobedience has been charged to the whole human race. We all stand guilty in Adam before God. Adam acted on behalf of all humanity.

We stand guilty before God and deserve the death penalty until we come to Christ alone for a right standing before God (Rom. 6:23).

Romans five affirms that just as Adam’s act of disobedience brought spiritual ruin for mankind, so Christ’s obedient submission to death on the cross brought righteousness and eternal life to all who believe on Him.


Moreover, in a similar way, the sin of man is imputed to the sinless Savior, Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). Jehovah, the LORD God, laid on His Son, the Lamb of God, the iniquities of us all (Isa. 53:5; John. 1:29; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18). There was a judicial transfer of the sins of man to Jesus Christ, God’s Sin-Bearer.

The sin and guilt of the human race was imputed to the spotless and pure Lamb of God, Jesus Christ when He became the sin offering for the whole world (2 Cor. 5:14-21; Heb. 2:9; 1 Jn. 2:2). He bore the penalty for sin. God imputed the guilt of our sins to Jesus Christ.

Let it be emphatically clear that Jesus Christ did not die for any personal sin that He had committed because He knew no personal sin in His entire life on this earth. He was the only person who ever lived on the earth who was sinless and pure. That qualified Him to die as a substitute for sinners.

The imputation of sin to Jesus Christ was typified in the Old Testament sacrificial system, where the sins of the offerer were symbolically transferred to the animal victim. The scapegoat of the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:20-22) graphically symbolized the transfer of human sin and guilt to the divine substitute. When the high priest laid his hands on the head of the goat and confessed the sins of the people he in effect transferred the sins of the people on to the animal (Lev. 16:22). The vicarious punishment implies the idea of the imputation of the guilt of our sins to Jesus Christ. He bore the punishment of our sin vicariously, its guilt having been imputed to Him.

Christ “was pierced through” for my transgressions. He was crushed for my iniquities. The chastening for my well-being fell upon Jesus Christ. By His scourging I am healed. “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isa. 53:4-6, 12; cf. 1 Pet. 2:24-25). Isaiah used the strongest words possible to describe a violent and agonizing death in v. 5. It was the divine stroke of judgment when Christ “was pierced through for our transgressions.”

Our sins were imputed to Jesus Christ, and He went to the cross and died as our substitute (Rom. 5:6-8). Christ on the cross bore the punishment due to the believer’s sins. God made Him to be sin who knew no sin (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 9:28).


Furthermore, God imputes the righteousness of Jesus Christ to the believing sinner while he is still in his sinning state. As a result of His atoning sacrifice, Christ’s righteousness is set to the believer’s account. The imputation of the righteousness of Christ to the sinner lies at the heart of the Biblical teaching on salvation. “The righteousness of God” is credited to the person who puts his trust in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This is what makes a person saved. This was true of Abraham (Gen. 15:6). It is true of every believer in Christ (Ps. 32:2; Rom. 3:22; 4:3, 8, 21-25; 2 Cor. 5:21). All of our sins were charged (imputed) to the account of Christ, and His righteous standing with the Father has been imputed (charged) to our account. There is a judicial transfer of the righteousness of God to the believer because there could be no other grounds of acceptance with a righteous God.

God is the author of this righteousness. It is the righteousness of the apostle Paul. "More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things – indeed, I regard them as dung! – that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness – a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ’s faithfulness" (Philippians 3:8-9, NET).

This is the righteousness which God imputes to the believer in Christ. Thus we "become the righteousness of God" in precisely the same sense in which Christ was "made to be sin" (2 Cor. 5:21). We become the righteousness of God in the same objective sense through the imputation to us of the righteousness of Christ. The guilt of our sin was imputed to Him so that He bore its penalty.

When the apostle Paul says "faith is reckoned for righteousness" (Rom. 4:5), the meaning is not that God accepted Abraham’s faith instead of perfect righteousness as the meritorious grounds for his justification. God accepted Abraham because he trusted in God rather than in anything that he could do. Saving faith is not a good work (Rom. 3:24). It is a free gift. The true Christian is saved by free, unmerited grace. Faith is simple trust in the grace of God manifest in Jesus Christ with no claims to merit. It is salvation by pure grace. The believer’s sin is covered, and he is counted righteous. Romans 4:6, says, "God credits righteousness apart from works." The logic of Paul’s argument here demands that "to impute righteousness" has the same force as the word "to justify."

The righteousness of God is imputed to all who believe on Christ so that they may stand before Him in all the perfection of Christ. It is true that the Christian is not yet perfectly holy or morally righteous; nevertheless, we are justified before the Law of God and are "clothed" with the imputed righteousness of Christ.

Every saved sinner has been “made” the righteousness of God (1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 5:21-23). This imputed righteousness is not something man does or earns. It is not "infused" righteousness. Justification and imputation are both forensic. This is a major theme of the apostle Paul (Rom. 3:21-5:21).

When a person accepts by faith the work of Christ in satisfying the righteous demands of God’s Law, God imputes or reckons to the believer this righteousness. Based on the merits of Christ, the sinner is granted a new legal standing; he is counted righteous even while a sinner.

It is all about God’s grace. Grace rules when God’s people are made right with Him. God imputes righteousness by faith. This imputed righteousness is the same as justification without works or personal merit. Grace triumphs when God imputes righteousness that leads to eternal life.

God sees the believer as abiding in His own Son. We have a new identification with Him by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We are members of His body (1 Cor. 12:13; Jn. 15:1, 5). God sees us “in Christ” and justifies us forever. He sees us clothed in the righteous garments of Christ (Isa. 61:10; Rev. 21:2). Therefore the disastrous effects of the fall are effectively reversed for those who believe on Christ. The imputation of human sin to Christ makes possible the imputation of His righteousness to every believer.

Therefore, God loves you and me as much as He loves His own Son (Jn. 17:23). He accepts us as He accepts Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:6; 1 Pet. 2:5). He sees us the same way He sees His own Son (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 3:22; 1 Cor. 1:30). Christ is the righteousness of God, and those who believe on Him are made the righteousness of God by being “in Christ.” We are complete in Christ (Col. 2:10); therefore, God the Father sees us perfected forever (Heb. 10:10, 14).

The imputation of Christ’s righteousness results in justification before God’s court of law. "So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men" (Romans 5:18, NASB95).

The basis of the acquittal of the believer by a holy God is the merit of the atoning death of Christ. God imputes objective righteousness through faith in Christ’s atoning Sacrifice. The merits of Christ’s suffering and obedience are imputed to the sinner as the ground of his justification. The believer is righteous only by God’s imputation of righteousness to him. The basis of justification is a reckoning to the sinner of an objective righteousness.

This justification is the believer’s eternal standing before God. In our daily life we are far from the perfect legal standing with God and must “grow in grace and knowledge of Christ.”

How then shall we live our lives? We are now bondslaves, not of our old Adamic nature, but of the righteousness of God. The Holy Spirit produces through us God’s righteousness. “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). The imputed righteousness becomes the basis for a righteousness imparted through us by the Holy Spirit.

Imputation is the firm foundation upon which we are justified by grace through faith.

Key Scriptures

2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 3:21-5:21; Isaiah 53:4-6, 12; 1 Peter 2:24-25; Leviticus 16:20-22

Abiding Principles and Practical Applications

1. The application of righteousness of Jesus Christ to the believing sinner is "imputation." The believer has the infinite riches of heaven at his disposal. God puts the moral capital of the Lord Jesus Christ into the empty, spiritual bankrupt account of the believer.

2. God offers to the sinner the perfect righteousness of Christ, apart from any religious works on our part. It is by grace and through faith in Christ Jesus.

3.  Jesus Christ is our perfect righteousness. His righteousness is placed in our account. It is His free gift to us.

4. Everything the Law demanded of the guilty sinner God has provided in the substitutionary death of Christ. We can now rest in the righteousness of Christ. We stand before God, not in our own self-righteousness, but clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ.

5.  As a result of the death of Christ, the righteousness of Christ is credited to the believer. "Abraham believed the Lord; and He [God] reckoned it to him as righteousness" (Genesis 15:6). God supplies His own righteousness to satisfy the holy demands of His own character (Isa. 45:24; 54:17; Hos. 10:12).

For Further Study

Justification by Faith and Imputed Righteousness
Charge it to My Account
Romans What Must I Do to be Saved
Clothed with Fig Leaves or Righteousness?

Message by Wil Pounds and all content on this page (c) 2005 by Wil Pounds. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author’s written consent. Scripture quotations from the New American Standard Bible (c) 1973, and 1995 Update by The Lockman Foundation.

Used by permission from an Online Source.

Grace Triumphant

Excerpted from “Above All Earthly Powers” by David F. Wells

From the time of the Reformation, justification  sola gratia, sola fide, has been considered the central, defining motif in the New Testament gospel. It was upon this doctrine, Luther declared, that the church either stood or fell. Without in any diminishing the importance of this teaching, it should be noted however, that justification is also interwoven with other motifs which together express the gospel. This is evident in the interlacing of language that we find. Paul, for example, associates reconciliation with with justification when he says that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them. . .” (II Cor 5:19). He associates redemption with justification when he says that we “are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (Rom 3:24). Propitiation belongs alongside justification (Rom 3:24-25). And justification is also the way in which the forces of Evil have been routed, for God not only “canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands”, but in doing so, “disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him” (Col 2:14-15). It is important to see that for Paul, these doctrines were not simply doctrines; they are each ways of understanding the eternal act of God in Christ, whose significance and consequences endure forever.

Justification is the indispensable center to the gospel but the New Testament authors also ransacked their vocabulary to fine other metaphors and images that capture the enormity, even the complexity , of what happened at the Cross. It is, therefore, quite fallacious to suppose…that because of the presence of these other metaphors of salvation, justification can be marginalized and penal substitution, which is at the heart, should be rejected. The truth is that these images – justification, reconciliation, redemption, conquest, and sacrifice – are not to be seen as unrelated, disparate ways of interpreting the Cross but are several sides of a fully compatible whole. And it is a whole which is fully compatible with justification. In selecting justification, with its framework of the law court, as a way of seeing how God’s future has broken into our spade-time world, therefore, I am not arguing that it is the only interpretive metaphor of the Cross. It is, however, the indispensable center to what we must understand.

By Faith "Alone"

The  Protestant term “by faith alone” is one that separates orthodox Protestantism from not only every other world religion outside of Christianity, but also from certain segments of Christianity. Strictly speaking, Protestants believe that human justification before a Holy God is by faith “alone”, apart from human works of any sort. 

Those who would add human works to faith sometimes use the argument that the word “alone” does not appear alongside “faith”, and therefore gives license to add imperfect human works to the perfect, finished work of Christ. Not only does adding that which is imperfect to that which is perfect sound a bit incongruous, it also falls a bit short in the sound logic department.

The argument from silence (also called argumentum ex silentio in Latin) is generally a conclusion based on silence or lack of contrary evidence. [i] In the field of classical studies, it often refers to the deduction from the lack of references to a subject in the available writings of an author to the conclusion that he was ignorant of it.[ii] When used as a logical proof in pure reasoning, the argument is classed among the fallacies, but an argument from silence can be a convincing form of abductive reasoning, a form of reasoning that allows one to insert a desired meaning into a certain text.

There are a couple of problems with that form of reasoning when it comes to the matter of man’s justification before a Holy God:

First, there are many things taught in Scripture that are not explicitly stated: common examples are the words “Trinity” and “monotheism” which are nowhere stated in Scripture. To argue that the absence of the specific term “faith alone” means that human works can be added to faith for justification, when the context of scripture (both OT and NT) clearly teaches otherwise, is pure nonsense.

Justification by faith alone is derived from the fact that 1) Scripture teaches that salvation is by simple faith or trust in Christ and 2) that Scripture absolutely affirms salvation cannot be by works. Therefore, if salvation is by simple faith, and cannot be by works, the phrase, “Salvation is by grace through faith alone,” cannot be considered anti-scriptural but a true presentation of what the Bible teaches.

Hear the familiar words of the Apostle Paul:

“For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” – Rom 3:28

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Eph 2:8-9

“But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” – Rom 11:6

These are not remote, isolated passages of scripture. They reflect the entire body of Paul’s teaching, to both Jews and Gentiles. Furthermore,the often used argument in the face of such clarity of the text, that Paul was only speaking of the Moasic law in passages such as Rom 3:28, is as as fallacious as arguing from silence.

[i] “argumentum e silentio noun phraseThe Oxford Essential Dictionary of Foreign Terms in English. Ed. Jennifer Speake. Berkley Books, 1999.

[ii] “silence, the argument from”. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Ed. E. A. Livingstone. Oxford University Press, 2006.

Summary of the Doctrine of Justification – Archibald Alexander (1772-1851)

The Scripture doctrine of justification may be briefly summed up in the following particulars.

1. It is God who justifies.

2. Justification is wholly gratuitous, without merit and without any works of our own, as its ground.

3. The merit of Christ, as Mediator, expressed in Scripture by his righteousness, his obedience, his blood, his death, his life, his sacrifice—is the true and only meritorious ground of a sinner’s pardon and acceptance.

4. The justification of the ungodly includes the remission of sins, by which often it is expressed in Scripture; but it also includes their acceptance as righteous, for the sake of Christ’s perfect righteousness reckoned to their account.

5. Justification is by faith, as the instrument of union to Christ, and the reception of his righteousness.

6. The faith which justifies is always a living, operative, fruitful faith. No one is justified by a faith which is alone, or unattended with good works.

7. Justification and sanctification, though inseparably connected, and equally necessary to salvation, are nevertheless distinct blessings of the new covenant; and the latter is the only certain evidence of the possession of the former.

8. Justification takes place at the moment of believing, and is as perfect at once as it can ever be, and there can be no place for a second justification in the sight of God, and in relation to his law; but there is a manifestation of the genuineness of our faith and sincerity of our profession, both in this world and at the day of judgment, which is also sometimes called justification.

9. No plan of justification which does not make a complete provision for the satisfaction of all the demands of law and justice, is honorable to God or agreeable to Scripture. By this single test may all erroneous theories of justification be tried and condemned.

The importance of the doctrine of a sinner’s justification before God, is not exceeded by that of any other in the whole circle of divine truth. Without justification it is evident that no man can be saved. It is then a vital subject. Eternal life is involved in it. For let it be considered, that there is here no middle ground. He who is not in a state of justification must be in a state of condemnation; and if he continues in that state, he must perish forever. One unpardoned sin will sink the soul to hell. What then must be the condition of sinners who are pressed down with the guilt of innumerable transgressions?

O reader, let me entreat you to apply this truth to your own case. You are, at this moment, either in a state of condemnation or justification. You are now either reconciled to God, and his adopted child, or his wrath abides on you. If the latter, how can you be at ease? How can you sleep quietly in your bed? How can you partake, with any pleasure, of your daily food? Alas, your condition is far more dangerous, far more deplorable, than any words are capable of describing. And now, while the moments pass, you are approaching nearer and nearer to the lake of fire!

And are you determined to take no warning, to listen to no advice? Will you shut your eyes against a danger so imminent and so dreadful? How will you regret this carelessness, when the day of mercy is ended. Those words of our Savior to Jerusalem are most touching: “O that you had known, even you, in this your day, the things which belong unto your peace; but now they are hidden from your eyes.” In a little time your eternal destiny will be immutably fixed. There is a limit beyond which the call of mercy and the strivings of the Spirit do not reach. When once the sinner has passed that awful boundary, his soul is completely lost; his hopes are extinguished; the blackness of darkness forever lies before him. His sins will cluster round him like so many ghosts, to torment him. The fire which can never be quenched already is enkindled, and the worm which never dies begins to gnaw his vitals. O wretched creature! how dearly did you buy a little mirth and ease in the world; how little profit have you now in all your worldly riches and honors! They cannot purchase for you one moment’s relief, one drop of water for your scorched tongue!

“Knowing the terrors of the Lord, we would persuade men.” If you were now actually beyond the reach of mercy, it would be no kindness to disturb you; but while there is life—there is hope. The sound of mercy is still heard, the door of hope is open, salvation is yet attainable. But there is no time to be lost. The least delay may be ruinous. Escape for your life! Flee from the coming wrath! Seek safety in the house of refuge! Press into the ark! Flee to the altar—and seize on its blood-sprinkled horns! This very day may be the accepted time, and the day of your salvation.


Archibald Alexander (April 17, 1772 – October 22, 1851) was an American Presbyterian theologian and professor at the Princeton Theological Seminary. He served for 27 years as that institution’s first principal from 1812 to 1840.