One of the key doctrines generally rejected by adherents to Federal Vision theology, New Perspective on Paul, and various emergent types is the imputation of Christ's righteousness to believers. Dr. James McGoldrick of Greenville Presbyterian Seminary addresses the meaning and necessity of this doctrine in a recent article.
One of the most pressing questions ever asked comes from one of the ancient books of the Bible. Job asked, “How can a mortal [man] be righteous before God?” (Job 9:2). The apostle Paul found the answer in the gospel of Christ. After describing his impressive achievements as a rabbi, he related how he obtained the righteousness he needed. To his friends in the church at Philippi he wrote:
I consider them [my attainments] rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith (Philippians 3:8-9).
In the gospel Paul discovered alien righteousness, which means the righteousness of another—in this case, the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Son of God, is perfectly righteous. Of him God the Father said “This is my Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Jesus pleased the Father because of his sinless perfection—his flawless righteousness. By active obedience to God, Jesus met all the divine requirements. He therefore could dare his critics by asking, “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?” (John 8:46). The sinless character of Christ made it
appropriate for the apostle Peter to refer to him as a “lamb without spot or defect” (1 Peter 1:19).
The righteousness of Christ is his by nature. It becomes an alien righteousness when sinners admit their failure to meet God’s demands and trust in Christ alone for forgiveness and eternal salvation. At that point the righteous God imputes, or accounts, the righteousness of his Son to the credit of believing sinners. Like Paul, at that instant, those who trust in Christ obtain the righteousness “which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith” (Philippians 3:9).
Read the entire article HERE.