But what exactly are we relying on Jesus for?  To put it simply, we are relying on him to secure for us a righteous verdict from God the Judge, rather than a guilty one.  (75)

The Bible speaks in polarities when it describes the state of human beings.  We are either a part of the kingdom of darkness or the kingdom of light.  We are either being saved or perishing.  We are either righteous or condemned concerning God’s judgement.  So, how do we secure a righteous verdict?

The Bible tells us plainly that it won’t be by asking God to look at our own lives.  No, that would be a fool’s move.  If God is ever to count us righteous, he will have to do it on the basis of something other than our own sinful record.  He’ll have to do it on the basis of someone else’s record, someone who is standing as a substitute for us.  That’s where faith in Jesus comes in.  When we put our faith in Jesus, we are relying on him to stand as our substitute before God, in both his perfect life and his penalty-paying death for us on the cross.  In other words, we are trusting that God will substitute Jesus’ record for ours, and therefore declare us righteous (Rom. 3:22).

This is what Paul means when he writes in Romans 4 that God “counts righteousness” to us apart from our own works, and that our sins are “covered” (vv. 5,7).  Most importantly, it’s what Paul means when he says, shockingly, that God “justifies the ungodly” (v. 5)!  God does not declare us righteous because we are ourselves righteous…No, God declares us righteous because by faith, we are clothed with Christ’s righteousness life.  God saves us by pure grace, not because of anything we have done, but solely because of what Jesus has done for us.  (76-7, bold is my emphasis)

Gilbert has just explained the doctrine of “imputed” or “alien” righteousness.  If you have a moment, read Zechariah 3:1-5.  The Holy Spirit, speaking through the prophet Zechariah, gives us a beautiful image of one being clothed in an “imputed” or “alien” righteousness.  So, whose clothes are you wearing?

Next post will deal with his treatment of repentance concerning the Gospel.