Part 3: http://thathappyexpectation.blogspot.com/2017/01/the-present-recipients-of-justification_57.html
Part 4: http://thathappyexpectation.blogspot.com/2017/01/the-present-recipients-of-justification_17.html
This four-part study is based on a thought-provoking discussion I had a while back with a believing friend of mine (who, for the sake of anonymity, I’ll be referring to as “Frank”). As this study further demonstrates and emphasizes the differences between the ministry/administration of those heralding the evangel of the Uncircumcision (e.g., Paul, Apollos and Timothy) and that of those heralding the evangel of the Circumcision (e.g., Peter, James and John), it can be seen as a continuation of my previous study on the two evangels. My discussion with Frank touched on a number of related topics, but the primary focus of our discussion was on the subject of “justification by faith without works,” and the identity of the recipients of this particular blessing.
Union with Christ
As we’ve seen, the “righteousness of God” that Paul had in mind in Romans 3:21 and elsewhere is the perfect righteousness of Christ, who lived and died without sin, and was never “wanting of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). It is this righteousness that is reckoned to the believer when he or she believes the evangel that Paul heralded among the nations, which Paul referred to variously as “the evangel of the grace of God,” (Acts 20:24), “the word of the cross” (1 Cor. 1:17-18), “the evangel of the glory of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4) and “the word of the conciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18-20). It is by believing this “word” or evangel that one becomes “God’s righteousness in [Christ]” (2 Cor. 5:21). But how can this absolute righteousness of God be justly “reckoned” by God to those who believe Paul’s evangel?
According to Paul, it is by believing in Christ Jesus (in accord with the truth of Paul’s evangel) that we are justified through and by the faith of Jesus Christ. The meritorious basis for our justification is thus not our own faith, but the faith of Christ. Since the “righteousness of God” that one receives when believing Paul’s evangel is based on Christ’s faith - i.e., the faith that Christ had when, in obedience to God, he laid down his life on the cross - it follows that the righteousness of God that is “reckoned” to those who believe Paul’s evangel is a perfect, absolute righteousness.