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Hebrews 7:4-10 by Robert Dean
Series:Hebrews (2005)
Duration:53 mins 14 secs

Hebrews Lesson 90    May 31, 2007 


NKJ Isaiah 40:7 The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.


We are continuing our study in Hebrews 7. However, we have had to take some digressions. The reason is because of the last two verses of Hebrews 7.  Hebrews 7:9-10 are verses that are used in two really tough theological debates or issues having to do with the origin of the soul, the transmission of the soul, and the transmission of the sin nature. What is important is that these ideas are fundamental to understanding the whole concept of justification - but not just justification, the preceding concept of condemnation and the transmission of Adam's original sin onto the human race. So the question we addressed earlier in the first part of this digression had to do with how is each human being's soul created after the original creation and how is it passed on? How does it go from one generation to another? We concluded that the soul is created individually by God and given to each individual at the time of birth. 


The next question is, if that soul comes from God and it is created perfect because when God creates He always creates perfect – perfection. If He creates the soul perfect, then how does it become corrupt and under condemnation? How does it receive the guilt of Adam's original sin? So that question is answered in the next study.


This is related to the origin of the soul. In the origin of the soul we saw that there were two ways theologians have come to understand how the soul originates and is passed on. The first is called Traducianism, which means that the soul is passed on physically through the act of procreation. The other way is creationism. God immediately creates and imparts each individual's soul. There are different views as to when it is imparted. Some would have it at conception; others would have it as I taught, at the time of birth. 


Now related to that is the issue of the transmission of original sin. So you again have two views. One view is called seminalism. As you can tell from the name seminal or seed that would be the one that would be closely related to traducianism because it has to do with a more physical passing on not only of the soul but also of human sin and the guilt of sin. The other view is known as federalism. Federalism has to do with the fact that Adam is the federal head of the human race, the representative of the human race. Because he was there in our place, in our stead as our representative, his guilt becomes our guilt. Now both of these are important to understand - the transmission of the sin nature. But they also become very important in understanding the dynamics of Christ's work on the cross. You always run into these verses like I Corinthians 15:22.


NKJ 1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.


These concepts of "in Adam" and "in Christ" are fundamentally based in how we understand these other doctrines. In fact I have looked through some systematic theologies and they aren't even discussed. I have looked at others where they are discussed, but they say that it is so abstract or difficult to understand.


"Let's just get to the important and practical stuff of how we get saved."


Well, we are trying to understand how we get saved – understand that God's plan of salvation is not just some simple waiving of the magic wand, but just as we have seen in our studies on Sunday morning and other times that the effect of sin is so devastating and widespread and so universal that the solution to sin has to also has to be very complex, widespread and universal. It has to deal with all of these things so we are just breaking it down in very fundamental categories.


We didn't get very far last time. We just introduced the issue talking about Adam's original sin. This is the starting point that Adam's sin, being the first act of willful disobedience to God by a human being in the Garden of Eden committed by Adam. It could not have been committed by Eve because he is the designated head. He is the designated head of the family. He is the head of the marriage. He is the head of the human race in the garden. So it was his decision that was foundational and fundamental, not her decision even though hers is the first sin. When we look in passages like I Timothy 2:8-12 that talk about why women are not to have authority or to teach men the Scriptures, it ultimately goes back to what happens in the garden and that Eve was deceived. That is the reason. Paul doesn't come from some sort of Greek reason. He doesn't come from a cultural reason. He doesn't argue from the culture of Rome or even the Judaistic culture of the Pharisees. He argues from the order of creation and what happens at the fall. It just isn't coincidental. So we looked at Adam's original sin. How is this passed on, transmitted to every one of us? How did we receive the guilt of Adam's sin? 


Some people say (and they have said this many times in history), "That just doesn't seem fair that God would send us to hell because Adam messed up." 


There is a word there that I just used and we have to be very careful with this word. That is the word fair. What does the word fair mean? I can't tell you how many times in church and over the years I have heard people talk about God is fair. In a certain frame of reference, using the term fair to describe God's justice had legitimacy, but it doesn't have legitimacy in a post-modern non-absolute culture any more. Fair is now defined as people having everything in equality. It is a very communistic idea of fairness. It isn't fair that one person works hard and makes millions of dollars and another person also works hard, but they aren't very well educated and aren't very well trained and they only make $40,000 to $50,000. That just doesn't seem fair. As soon as you use that word fair, what you have done is you have imported a concept of value and absolute standards. 


So when people often say, "That doesn't seem fair"; what they are really saying is, "I have a concept of how God ought to operate."


What you have just explained doesn't fit my concept of egalitarian fairness. So because your concept of God doesn't fit my concept of egalitarian fairness and socialistic equality of assets and everything, then your God is a horrible evil God.


It is better to always use biblical terminology and talk about the justice of God and the righteousness of God to avoid getting sucked inadvertently to somebody's post-modern concept of fairness and equality. Adam's original sin is our sin because Adam as our representative (that is a federalistic idea). He is designated our head. He is designated our representative so that his decision is our decision. But he can be our representative because physically he is also related to us.


The way I am going to teach this and explain this is to show that both of these concepts are true. Unfortunately in theology too often people end up saying that it is either this or that. I am going to list all of my passages to substantiate my position of federal headship.


 Then the guy on the other side comes along and says, "Okay, I have my passages to support seminalism." 


Well, they are both true because man is composed of two aspects. He has a material and an immaterial aspect. He has a physical body. In that physical body there is a transmission of the corruption of sin that entered into the flesh. That is why we have these very physical terms used to describe the sin nature - the body of sin in Romans 6, the flesh throughout the New Testament. These are physical terms. So there is a corruption that occurs that is in the flesh. So there is a physical transmission of something. But, there is also a spiritual or a non-material imputation of something. 


We need to take some time and talk about imputation. To even go into the subject of Adam's original sin you start to open a can of wombs because you can't just stop and briefly explain it. You have to make sure that people understand what Adam's original sin was, how it is transmitted, how it affects the human race, how it is imputed. Now you are into the doctrine of imputation. You can't talk about imputation without talking about Romans 5:12-21.  Romans 5:12-21 is a mare's nest of problems theologically and exegetically. So we have to work our way through that. Somewhere when we come out at the other end in July or early August and we will have a better understanding of this whole doctrine of justification by faith because that is based on imputation and that was the foundation of the reformation. That is what makes Protestants historically Protestants – historically not in terms of contemporary culture because contemporary culture is a mess. Most denominations have fallen into 19th century subjective liberalism. 


So we started with Adam's original sin. I went through a few points last time and I want to summarize this in 16 points. We didn't get very far last time.


  1. Adam's original sin occurred when he violated God's mandate in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 2:17 he was told …


NKJ Genesis 2:17 "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."


That Hebrew there isn't "dying you will die". That doesn't make sense if you think about it in English. It doesn't make sense in Hebrew. You have a qal imperfect in conjunction with a qal infinitive absolute. It is a Hebrew idiom meaning that something is certain. It is boldface, italics, underlined in upper case. It is a statement of absolute certainty that something is going to immediately happen. 

  1. This sin of disobedience resulted in Adam's immediate spiritual death - not something that happens 930 years later, but something that happened immediately. If you eat some spoiled shrimp, you will get immediately sick. Right? You aren't going to wait 20 years and then get sick from that shrimp. That wouldn't make sense. But people often make the mistake of saying that the penalty for sin in physical death. Physical death is a consequence of spiritual death. It is a consequence of the act of spiritual rebellion. So the sin resulted in Adam's immediate spiritual death and the formation of a sin nature. When you go through seminary (and Ike is going to find this out if he hasn't discovered it already) and you get in theology classes, everybody gets all wrapped around the axel over - what does nature mean? Is this something you can put under a microscope and observe? What does nature mean? You go through all kinds of discussions. It basically means a capacity for disobedience and autonomy from God and it is something that is inherited genetically. There is certainly a corporeal dimension to it, to the sin nature, the capacity for disobedience and rebellion against God. 
  2. The sin nature is a corruption of the image of God. Now let me just stop there. That is the first clause in this point. The third point is that the sin nature is a corruption of the image of God. If we go back to Genesis 1:26-27 (and we have spent a lot of time in those verses so I don't think we need to spend a lot of time there), God says, "Let us create man in our image and in our likeness." Too often in evangelicalism and in Christianity "image" and "likeness" have been restricted to simply the soul, simply the immaterial part of man. As I pointed out time and time again, we can't do that. You can't limit it to only the immaterial part of man. He is talking about "Let us make the human race in our image and after our likeness." It is a term that involves not only the incorporeal part of man, immaterial part of man but also the corporeal part of man. It is the totality of man that represents this imageness. The body is just as much important as the immaterial soul. So there is a physical dimension to being in the image of God. Not that God looks like man, but that man is to be the representative. In that case he represents God as His image. So if the sin nature corrupts the image of God, if the image of God is only immaterial, then the corruption is only immaterial. But if the image is both material and immaterial, then the image is corrupted and there is a physical and an immaterial dimension to that corruption. That is the point that I am making. It is not that it means that all of a sudden man looked worse, but that physical aspect certainly began to impact things so that man lost health. He physically died. He was subject to illness. Eventually he becomes subject to all kinds of physical diseases because of the physical corruption of the image of God. So the third point is that the sin nature is the corruption of the image of God which distorts the individual's orientation to God. That is in the spiritual realm – in that non-material realm because in spiritual death the human spirit is lost. The human spirit is that immaterial aspect of man's makeup that enables his soul to be properly oriented to God to understand the things of God, to communicate with God, and to have relationship with God. When that dimension – whatever you want to call it (We call it a human spirit) is gone - then the human soul in its self consciousness, in its mentality, in its volition, in its consciousness tries to orient itself to what? A material universe because it has no anchor, no knowledge, no connection to the true spiritual dimension which is God. Jesus says is John 4, 


NKJ John 4:24 "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."


God is a spirit. So in spiritual death man has no capacity to orient toward God. So his thinking is automatically oriented and attracted to a material, physical universe. There is an affinity there. As a result he can't understand the things of the spirit of God and many other factors.  So point number 3 is that the sin nature is a corruption of the image of God which distorts the individual's orientation to God and supplies a capacity and orientation to rebellion toward God. In Roman Catholic theology they use the term privation which means you lose something. Something is no longer there. They view sin as simply the loss of righteousness or holiness. That is an anemic view of what happens in the fall because it is the loss of original righteousness. It is not the acquisition of a nature that is corrupt and corrupting. So there is not a tangible gaining of that which is evil. That is what the Scripture teaches. We become corrupt. You don't just lose something. We also acquire this orientation to God that is hostile.

  1. At the core of this sinful capacity we have two aspects. I think whatever we do when we talk about the sin nature there are two poles around which all of the activities of the sin nature orient themselves. The first is the autonomy of man. I will use a little alliteration here so that we can remember this – autonomy and antagonism. In autonomy man is arrogant toward God. He is filled with himself. Autonomy means self-law. Autos – nomos is self-law. Man is going to be a law unto himself. He is going to look to himself for absolutes. He is going to determine what is right and wrong. That is what Eve started to do when the serpent said, "Did God really say this? Is that really true?" He has put her in a position where she has to judge the veracity of God. As soon as she began to judge whether or not God's command was fair or not, then she was already flying down that slippery slope into failure. So the first aspect of the sin nature is autonomy or independence, rebelliousness. Man is going to rule things on his own apart from God. The second is antagonism towards God. He wants to put himself first. He is also hostile to God. He is hostile to divine revelation. He is hostile to divine truth. Man's basic orientation is to be hostile to the divine institutions and establishment truth.
  2. The sin nature renders the individual separated from God and depraved or corrupted in all aspects of his nature. That is what the reformers meant when they used the phrase "total depravity". They didn't mean that you were as bad as you could be. They meant that every aspect of your being was affected and corrupted by sin. Your consciousness, your mentality, your volition, your thought – everything is corrupted and affected by sin. There is no element of man's makeup that is free-floating like it was before Adam's sin. So the sin nature renders the individual separated from God and depraved and corrupted in all aspects of his nature. Therefore man is unable to do anything that pleases God or gains God's approval. Now man can do relative-good things. Jesus said to His disciples, "You being evil" - clear recognition of their depravity. Modern man doesn't like to think that we are evil - that those cute little babies that are born are evil. They are just as evil. All it is, is a sin nature wrapped up in flesh. You know what the Bible says about the flesh. That little baby is just as evil as he can be – just as evil as anybody else. That little baby is as evil as Adolph Hitler. He just hasn't acted on it yet. But, that is his capacity. Man can't do anything to please God. Jesus said to His disciples "You being evil know how to give good gifts to your children." See he is capable of relative good. He is capable of all sorts of altruism. He is capable of all kinds of helpfulness. He is capable of all manner of kindnesses. Man can do many wonderful, wonderful things as a fallen creature apart from the enablement of God. But it is all tainted by a root that is corrupted by sin. So man can't do anything to merit God's approval. He is incapable of knowing God or responding in any way that includes something meritorious. That leads us to the 6th point.
  3. The sin nature – this capacity, this corrupted aspect – can produce both sin in terms of active disobedience to God – active disobedience to revealed mandates. That would be a definition of personal sin- direct disobedience of God and His character. Sin can also produce that which is relative good. It can produce morality. Not long ago I was talking with a minister in a denomination. I made the point that unbelievers can be incredibly moral, but that doesn't mean that they are good in God's eyes. He didn't know quite what to do with that. What is typical today is morality is often used as a synonym for spirituality. But Jesus recognizes that unbelievers can be moral. The Pharisees were very moral. We come at the text looking at it through the grid of the Holy Spirit's interpretation and we see the Pharisees as the antagonists to Jesus, and therefore they are always bad. But, until Jesus came on the scene the Jewish culture thought that the Pharisees were the epitome of moral rectitude and correctness and righteousness. They were always going to the temple. They were always praying. They were always visible. They were always studying. They knew their Scriptures. How could anybody be more righteous than they? That is why Jesus came along in the Sermon on the Mount and said, "Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and the Pharisees, you can't see the kingdom of God." They are good. He recognized right there that they produced a level, a superior level, of righteousness. But, that wasn't going to be good enough. So the sin nature produces both active disobedience to God, but it also produces that which is moral and that which is relative good, but it has nothing in it that gains God's approval. So point 6 is that Adam thus corrupted the imago dei -- the Latin phrase for the image of God. The original sin thus corrupted the Latin phrase for the image of God, but it doesn't eradicate. Some people come along and they say, "Well, the image of God was eradicated by sin." It wasn't. Man is still in the image of God. Go to Genesis 9 when God is defining the reason for capital punishment. It is because of the fact that someone has killed someone else in God's image.  Even though it has been corrupted, that is the basis for capital punishment. It is not because it is a deterrent. It is not because you want to set an example. It is not for any of those reasons. It is because somebody has reached the point where their soul is so corrupt that they have so little respect for a divine image bearer. Then to take the life of a divine image bearer is an act of blasphemy against God. To kill one who bears His image is an act against the one whose image he bears. The reason you are to take the life of anyone who commits certain crimes is because they are viewed as an act against God because it is an act against one who bears His image. So the image isn't eradicated; it is corrupted.
  4. The question then is – does Adam's sin affect only Adam or does Adam's sin affect his descendents as well? Now that is an important question. Some of you may be aware that today when we usually talk about issues related to sovereignty and free will related to election related to the extent of the atonement and some of these other things the things we usually talk about in terms of a debate that came out of the Reformation known as the Calvinist-Arminian debate. Calvinists are those who are in the tradition of John Calvin coming out of Geneva, Switzerland. The Arminians being the followers generally of James Arminius who was a Dutch theologian who taught in Holland. The fact is that where their followers were by 1615-1616 is not where either Calvin or Arminius were to begin with. Those are the terms that we use. This debate didn't just pop up in the early 17th century or late16th century. It was the same basic debate that had begun back in the 3rd century, 4th century between Augustine who was the bishop of Hippo and a British monk by the name of Pelagius. Pelagius taught that every person was born as Adam was created - no corruption, no sin nature, perfectly free volition, each person made their own decision as to whether they were fallen. So according to Pelagius people could live their entire life without ever sinning and they would automatically go to heaven. That was known as Pelagianism. So that created the initial debate. This has been an ongoing debate for numerous years. Point #7 is does Adam's sin affect only Adam or his descendents? 
  5. If it affects his descendents, how does it affect his descendents? How is it passed from one generation to another? That leads to the two terms that we briefly introduced - seminalism and federalism.
  6. Let's get our definition. In seminalism the entire human race, body and soul, was genetically present in Adam. The entire human race, body and soul, material and immaterial are present in Adam. This view is usually connected to a Traducianist view of the transmission of the soul. This is seminalism. Everything is passed on through procreation, through secondary causes, both the soul and the body. The second view is called federalism. This is the view that Adam stood as the head and representative of the human race. Adam's decisions were on behalf of all humanity. This view is most consistently linked to the creationist view of the origin and transmission of the soul. So those are the two positions. 
  7. We are going to look at the biblical support for the seminalist position and that is our passage. That is the one passage they always go to in Hebrews 7:9-10.


NKJ Hebrews 7:9 Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak,


Levi, not personally, but indirectly through his descendents….


We saw that the Greek there was really "in the manner of speaking." 


NKJ Hebrews 7:10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.


We have done the exegesis of this verse. This concept that he was in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him is a figure of speech. That is what the Greek says. But historically this was taken to mean that Levi personally, actually, truly, genuinely paid tithes to Melchizedek because he is seminally present - body and soul - in Abraham, three generation back. That is the only verse, the primary verse that they go to. 

  1. Point number 11 gives the biblical support for the federal position. This is found in Romans 5:15-19 and I Corinthians 15:22. 


NKJ Romans 5:15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.


That is the free gift of salvation or justification. 


NKJ Romans 5:16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.


Now how did that judgment on Adam that came from one offense resulting in condemnation of the whole human race? You see Paul is making this comparison between the way condemnation goes to the entire human race and the free gift of justification goes to the entire human race. That is why I come back and say that both. There is truth in both sides of this because Jesus Christ is our representative on the cross. What qualifies Him in one sense to be there is because He is a true human and is genetically linked to the entire human race. So there is truth on both sides. You have to understand what elements apply to each side. 


NKJ Romans 5:17 For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)


That is Adam's original sin.


It is talking about the offense and the judgment. 


Now let me pause there a minute. In fact I had the question-discussion with a pastor about this last week. The question comes up – is physical death in the animal kingdom a result of man's sin? Why is that important? Because some people will come along and say, "Well, there was death before Adam. It is in the fossils." If you try to put any kind of life between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 then you can have (which is what the old Earth gap view did  and other views – progressive evolution view, threshold evolution view some of these other assimilationist views) will try to get an old earth position. You will have millions or billions of years before Adam and then finally Adam pops up on the scene. You just have spiritual death. That is all that this is talking about – is spiritual death. So you can have animals die. Now there is a difference between animals and plants because the Hebrew word for animals' life is nephesh hajah and that is not the same to apply to the life of plants. So Adam could eat corn and he is not killing it.  I have read some people who tried to argue that. "See those plant died when they ate it. There was death." Different words! You have to pay attention to the Hebrew text. Death is a principle. 


NKJ 1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.


We will look at that in a minute. 


NKJ 1 Corinthians 15:21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.


Death came by Adam. Death there is talking about physical death. It is an anarthrous noun indicating death as an entity – not just the physical death of man. This is death as an entity comes into creation as a result Adam's sin. Then of course we see the other elements of the curse that apply to the animals as well.


NKJ Romans 5:17 For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)


See he is not talking about animals per se here because why? It is not the subject. His subject is talking about Christ's death bringing salvation. So he is talking about man. But the death that he is probably talking about here is not physical; it is spiritual because he is talking about the penalty, the condemnation. Now you have to be careful in some of the creationists' literature. I have read a lot from guys in ICR, guys in Answers in Genesis and they don't get this straight on the difference between physical death and spiritual death. They want to make physical death the penalty for sin. So you have to be careful there and don't get caught by that trap.


NKJ Romans 5:18 Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.


That is Adam's disobedience to God.


So our question is how did this happen?


NKJ Romans 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous.


That is the verse for the federal position talking about Adam as our representative just as Christ is our representative.

12.  As with many theological positions, these are often presented as either –or when it may best be understood as a both-and. There are elements of both that are true. Some aspects of man are physically and seminally present in Adam. There is a physical connection that links us to Adam, but is also a physical connection that connects links us to Christ. If you breakdown that physical connection then you lose the physical connection to Christ and it messes up salvation. But, there is also a spiritual dimension, an immaterial dimension that relates to imputation of sin and imputation of righteousness. 

13.  So in other ways man is represented by both Adam and Christ. So both are true. 

14.  This allows for Adam's sin to be legally and actually our sin. It means that a physical dimension related to sin is passed on genetically to every member of the human race except for Christ because of the virgin birth.

15.  It also allows for Christ's death to be for the entire human race because He is related genetically to the entire human race. It also allows for Him to represent us on the cross. So both sides are true. There is physical connection and a federal representation. 


Now what underlies these last 6 or 7 points is the doctrine of imputation. So before we can go any further we have to make sure we understand the whole doctrine of imputation. These 15 points that I gave you are simply a summary of where we are going with all of this. We have to go through the passages related to this. The first thing we have to do is understand imputations. There are 6 imputations in the Scripture. That is twice as many as Lewis Sperry Chafer saw. 


What is interesting is some of you heard 7 imputations or you were taught 6 imputations or different kinds of imputations - real imputations and judicial imputations. That terminology as far as I can see came out of Lewis Sperry Chafer. Chafer had only three imputations though. He clearly talked about judicial imputations and real imputations. The reason I discovered was when I went up to Preston City Bible Church back some 9 years ago and I received their doctrinal questionnaire. They asked on the questionnaire to explain the difference between real and judicial imputations. That terminology is not unfamiliar to most of you and most of you can probably answer that question. But they had thrown away somewhere between 60 and 100 doctrinal questionnaires returned to them from seminary graduates who couldn't even answer that question. And part of that reason is that there is no other systematic theology other than Lewis Sperry Chafer that makes a distinction between judicial and real imputations. It is a very important distinction. But now that most seminaries don't - or Dallas Seminary doesn't specifically require students to read Chaffer's Systematic Theology – nobody that graduates from Dallas can answer that question unless they have been under the teaching of a few people who still understand these important distinctions. 


There are two different kinds of imputations – real and judicial.  Before we get to that we have to understand what an imputation is.


Definition:  Impute means to attribute something to someone, to ascribe something to someone. It seems to involve the attribution or reckoning of something intangible or abstract rather than concrete and substantive. 


In other words if I reached into my pocket and pulled out a $20 bill and gave you a $20 bill, that is a substantive transaction. But if I were to impute that to your account, then that would be more along the lines of – let's say you go get a mortgage account. You want to buy a house. You don't have credit. You don't have the money in the bank to do that so you are going to ask somebody to cosign for the loan. So the bank is going to look at their credit and how much money is in their account. Their credit is imputed to you. Do you receive anything substantive? No! That is why impute isn't a good word for the transmission, creation, and impartation of human life because imputation means to reckon something to someone. Reckon is an English word that we don't use a whole lot unless you are from the Ozarks or maybe Appalachia or East Texas and you "reckon" something is true. Some of you know what I mean because you have been to those parts of the country. Reckon means to calculate. It means to be of the opinion, or it means to regard something in a specified way. This is an abstract concept. It isn't something concrete. It's not the giving of something concrete to someone else. At life we are given something – a soul. So that is not an imputation; it is an impartation. 


Impute simply means to credit something, ascribe something or attribute something to someone that they do not already have. 


The word is used in a financial sense in Philemon 1:17-18 where Paul is talking to Philemon about Onesimus and says…


NKJ Philemon 1:17 If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me.


NKJ Philemon 1:18 But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account.


"I will pay his debt."


So it is used there as an accounting term which is its origin. There are two different Greek words used for imputing in the New Testament. 


It is from the Greek word ellogeo meaning to charge with a financial obligation or to charge something to the account of someone. It is used in Romans 5:13, the passage context we read earlier. 


The other word is logizomai. Logizomai is a word used 41 times in the New Testament. It has to do with thinking. It is from the root noun logos. It has to do with reasoning or logic. It has to do with counting. It was an accounting term as well - to count something up mentally, to occupy yourself with reckonings or calculations or to determine by a mathematical process, to reckon or calculate, to give careful thought to a matter, to think, to consider, or to ponder. It has the ideal of thinking about somebody in a certain way. So when God imputes righteousness to you, He thinks of you now as righteous. That is what that means. You have been credited with that in an accounting term so that you now have a positive balance on the ledger instead of a negative balance. The problem is your account is still empty. God is looking at Christ's bank account. That is enough to give you that positive balance. That is where we get this idea of imputation. So we have two judicial imputations. 


Now a judicial imputation takes place when there is no affinity or attraction between what is imputed and the person to whom it is imputed. What is being imputed is not antecedently possessed by the person who is receiving the imputation. For example, when our personal sins are imputed to Christ on the cross, that is a judicial imputation because Christ knew no sin. He had never sinned. He had not committed any personal sins. He did not receive a sin nature from Adam. He didn't receive the imputation of any sin until that time period on the cross when He was judicially judged for our sins. We see this in II Corinthians 5:21. 


NKJ 2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.


Jesus does not become sin for us in the same way that you and I become sinful because it is not a decision on His part. He just receives the punishment. He is given the judicial punishment for the sin that we have committed. That is the first type of judicial imputation. 


The second type of judicial imputation is the imputation of Christ's perfect righteousness to us. We have the righteousness and justice of God in heaven looking at us in our negative righteousness.


NKJ Isaiah 64:6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.


At the cross Christ is perfectly righteous; but our unrighteousness, our sin is imputed to Him. When we trust Christ, His perfect righteousness is then imputed to us. Now we still have our lousy righteousness. You are still immoral. You still commit sin. You are still a sinner. You aren't any better 5 minutes after you were saved than you were 5 minutes before you were saved. But legally, forensically you are now righteous because you have been covered with the righteousness of Christ. That is that picture in Zechariah 3 when Satan comes and judges Joshua the High Priest because he is unworthy to be high priest and so God has him strip off his clothes and He clothes him with a white robe. That is that picture of putting on perfect righteousness. 


So we are saved not because of anything we have ever done, but because we possess that perfect righteousness of Christ. That is what makes the difference between a Catholic and a Protestant. Catholics think that justification is a process like sanctification. The only way you can know if you are justified is if you are doing enough good deeds to receive enough merit from the treasury of Christ so that when you die you don't end up in purgatory. But you can end up in heaven. The question is – how much is enough? 


"Well, we don't know."


So you can never know if you are saved. It is a process. It sounds like lordship salvation, doesn't it? Gee!


So we are declared righteous. That is called forensic justification. 


That is what Luther stood his ground on at the Council of Worms when he said, "Here I stand. I can do no other." 


That was it. That was the benchmark of the Protestant Reformation.


So we have two judicial imputations – personal sins to Christ on the cross and perfect righteousness of Christ to the believer at the point of salvation. 


But, there are four real imputations. This has to do with that which is imputed is in agreement, has affinity with or is in harmony with the target of the imputation. 


We are about out of time. I will cover them very briefly. 


The first is Adam's original sin transmitted to the sin nature. Adam's original sin is imputed to the physically transmitted corrupt nature at the point of birth. That renders us guilty of Adam's original sin. You see the sin nature is transmitted physically. That is seminalism. Adam's original sin is imputed to us. That is federalism. 


Second eternal life is imputed to the human spirit, to the soul, at the instant of faith alone in Christ alone. At that instant we receive God's life and we have eternal life. 


Third our blessings in time are imputed to us because of our perfect righteousness. Because we possess perfect righteousness, God is free to bless us. So, blessings in time are imputed to perfect righteousness.


Fourth blessings in eternity are ours also because we possess that perfect righteousness, not ever because of what we do. It is not because you pray - you read your Bible, memorize Scripture, or witness to 20 people every week. That is not why God blesses you. You do those things as a result of spiritual growth. As a result of spiritual growth God will distribute blessings He has already decided to give you. If you don't grow, He is not going to distribute the blessings because you don't have the capacity to handle the blessing. So don't get in the trap of thinking God blessed me this week because I went to church or I studied my Bible. That is not the cause-effect. That is works. Okay?


That takes us through our basic introduction. Now when I come back from Israel we will go a few steps further in this and take some time in Romans 5 to sort of parse that out and see how federalism and seminalism work together.


Let's bow our heads in closing prayer.