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The Biblical Doctrine of Imputation

    If you do not understand the biblical doctrine of imputation, or if you are among those who call it a “legal fiction” or “not real,” here is a great example for you. We have just heard that our president decided to eliminate student debt. I read this statement this morning:

“Just to be clear, there is no plan to eliminate student debt. There is a plan to transfer that debt to those that don’t owe it.”

    If you are an American taxpayer, that student debt has been transferred by imputation (charging, accounting that debt) to you even though you had nothing to do with incurring that debt. That debt is now LEGALLY your debt. That debt is now REALLY your debt, and you will pay it with your tax dollars.

    In the same way the sin-debt of everyone of God’s people was transferred by imputation to Christ even though He had nothing to do with incurring that debt. That sin-debt was made LEGALLY His debt. That sin-debt was made REALLY His debt, and He had to pay it with the price of His own blood.

    But there is a major difference between that student debt imputed to the American taxpayers and the sin-debt of God’s elect imputed to Christ. The student debt that was imputed to American taxpayers was enacted without their consent. The vast majority are UNWILLING participants in this transaction. But the sin-debt that God the Father imputed to His Son was done so with His full consent according to the terms of the everlasting covenant of grace. Christ was (and is) a WILLING participant in this transaction. He WILLINGLY agreed to pay that sin-debt with the price of His blood, and He WILLINGLY did so on the cross (John 10:11-18). Because of this great act of willingness on the part of Christ as our Surety, Substitute, and Redeemer, His righteousness has been imputed to us. No sin can be laid to the charge of God’s elect because of what our Savior WILLINGLY, LEGALLY, and REALLY did for us in His death. Because of His WILLINGNESS to accept that debt as His own and pay it in full, we have His righteousness as our own by the same LEGAL and REAL transaction – imputation (Rom. 4:6-8; 8:32-34). Also, because of His WILLINGNESS to accept that debt as His own and because He paid that debt in full, we have the assurance of spiritual and eternal life unto glory (Rom. 8:10).

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