Justification, Imputation, and St. Paul

  Herman Bavinck said this around 100 years ago – it has to do with justification by faith alone and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.

“…It is said in Rom. 4:5 and 5:6 that God justifies the ungodly.  It is impossible…to use stronger language.  The opponents of imputed righteousness should not lodge their objection against Luther and Calvin but against Paul.”


The quote is found in Bavinck’s outstanding discussion of justification: Reformed Dogmatics IV.213.

shane lems

sunnyside, wa

5 thoughts on “Justification, Imputation, and St. Paul”

  1. I like the way Bavinck rightly stated an aspect of the relationship between repentance and Justification: “The penitent arrives at forgiveness of sins, not by making amends (satisfaction) and priestly absolution, but by trusting the word of God, by believing in God’s grace. It is not the sacrament but faith that justifies. … The forgiveness of sins, that is, justification, does not depend on repentance, which always remains incomplete, but rests in God’s promise and becomes ours by faith alone.” His RD is a must for a minister or student of theology.


  2. It seems Bavnik has not studied the Bible as carefully as he should have. In my study on this topic of imputed righteousness, the Greek term “logizomai” is the English term for “reckon/impute/credit/etc,” (all terms are basically equivalently used) and when I look up that term in a popular lexicon here is what it is defined as:


    QUOTE: “This word deals with reality. If I “logizomai” or reckon that my bank book has $25 in it, it has $25 in it. Otherwise I am deceiving myself. This word refers to facts not suppositions.”

    LINK: http://tinyurl.com/r92dch


    The lexicon states this term first and foremost refers to the actual status of something. So if Abraham’s faith is “logizomai as righteousness,” it must be an actually righteous act of faith, otherwise (as the Lexicon says) “I am deceiving myself.” This seems to rule out any notion of an alien righteousness, and instead points to a local/inherent righteousness.

    The Lexicon gives other examples where “logizomai” appears, here are some examples:


    Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude [logizomai] that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

    Rom 4:4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted [logizomai] as a gift but as his due.

    Rom 6:11 Likewise reckon [logizomai] ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Rom 8:18 For I reckon [logizomai] that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.


    Notice in these examples that “logizomai” means to consider the actual truth of an object. In 3:28 Paul ‘reckons’ faith saves while the Law does not, this is a fact, the Law never saves. In 4:4 the worker’s wages are ‘reckoned’ as a debt because the boss is in debt to the worker, not giving a gift to him. In 6:11 the Christian is ‘reckoned’ dead to sin because he is in fact dead to sin. In 8:18 Paul ‘reckons’ the present sufferings as having no comparison to Heavenly glory, and that is true because nothing compares to Heavenly glory.

    To use logizomai in the “alien status” way would mean in: (1) 3:28 faith doesn’t really save apart from works, but we are going to go ahead and say it does; (2) 4:4 the boss gives payment to the worker as a gift rather than obligation/debt; (3) 6:11 that we are not really dead to sin but are going to say we are; (4) 8:18 the present sufferings are comparable to Heaven’s glory.

    This cannot be right.

    So when the text plainly says “faith is logizomai as righteousness,” I must read that as ‘faith is reckoned as a truly righteous act’, and that is precisely how Paul explains that phrase in 4:18-22. That despite the doubts that could be raised in Abraham’s heart, his faith grew strong and convinced and “that is why his faith was credited as righteousness” (v4:22). This is also confirmed by noting the only other time “credited as righteousness” appears in Scripture, Psalm 106:30-31, where Phinehas’ righteous action was reckoned as such. This is confirmed even more when one compares another similar passage, Hebrews 11:4, where by faith Abel was commended as righteous.


  3. Hello Mike,

    I apologize for any ‘spam’, that was not my intent. Rather, I have a template I use because most Protestants are totally unaware of what the Bible says regarding Logizomai and since few Protestants are open to investigating what Scripture really says, it’s a burden for me to write out a new and unique response each time – particularly because none of their pastors or theologians want to address the term in an open and honest fashion, or are simply oblivious of the need to analyze it (e.g. like Piper, who merely mentions the word, but doesn’t study how Scripture uses it).

    When I scan blogs for people talking about Imputed Righteousness, I post my comments hoping a Protestant will take interest.

    Unfortunately, of the NUMEROUS blogs I encounter means I sometimes forget which ones I’ve told and which blogs I haven’t, so I accidentally end up posting my Logizomai comments on blogs who’ve heard and shown no interest. Thus it ends up looking like spam, though that was never my intent.

    Please delete my comments if they are taken as spam.


  4. Nick: i didnt call your canned comments Spam, nor am i the admin. of this fine site. I just wanted people to know what was up. i strongly disagree with you and urge you to turn from your errors, but any interaction is fine with me. kind regards.


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