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userimgOn to Article III, the Righteousness of Faith before God. At first, it seems this controversy involves an issue that no Christian in her or his right mind would care to argue - that is, is the righteousness of Christ that we receive by faith according to His divine nature only, or is it according to His human nature only? But what's at stake here really is how one understands justification (it *always* comes back to justification.... ::grin::). Essentially, those who were arguing that our righteousness comes from Christ's divine nature alone were setting the table to be able to argue that Christ, in His divine nature, comes to dwell in the believer by faith, and that divine indwelling is what infuses the believer with love so that she or he can be just in God's sight. Those who were arguing for our righteousness to be a matter of Christ's human nature alone were setting the table to argue that the believer by faith then imitates Christ so that his or her justification is a matter of the good works that are done by faith in Christ. To which the reformers said, politely, "bull-feathers." We shall come back to the issue of the divine and human in Christ, but for now let us simply say this: you cannot separate the divine and the human in the one person of Jesus Christ. Nothing is done *only* according to the divine or the human, but each nature contributes to Christ's work according to its attributes. Secondly, Christ's righteousness is imputed to us - it is not a matter of infusion or imitation - it a gift accounted to us by God's grace and mercy. Now, in faith should we come to love others with Christ's love? Of course we should. And in faith, ought we seek to imitate what we find in Christ? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. But neither our imitation nor our love is our righteousness before God. Christ is. Period. Here, read this: 2. Accordingly, we believe, teach, and confess that our righteousness before God is (this very thing], that God forgives us our sins out of pure grace, without any work, merit, or worthiness of ours preceding, present, or following, that He presents and imputes to us the righteousness of Christ's obedience, on account of which righteousness we are received into grace by God, and regarded as righteous. 3. We believe, teach, and confess that faith alone is the means and instrument whereby we lay hold of Christ, and thus in Christ of that righteousness which avails before God, for whose sake this faith is imputed to us for righteousness, Rom. 4:5. 4. We believe, teach, and confess that this faith is not a bare knowledge of the history of Christ, but such a gift of God by which we come to the right knowledge of Christ as our Redeemer in the Word of the Gospel, and trust in Him that for the sake of His obedience alone we have, by grace, the forgiveness of sins, are regarded as holy and righteous before God the Father, and eternally saved. 5. We believe, teach, and confess that according to the usage of Holy Scripture the word justify means in this article, to absolve, that is, to declare free from sins. Prov. 17:15: He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the righteous, even they both are abomination to the Lord. Also Rom. 8:33: Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 8] And when, in place of this, the words regeneratio and vivificatio, that is, regeneration and vivification, are employed, as in the Apology, this is done in the same sense..... 6. We believe, teach, and confess also that notwithstanding the fact that many weaknesses and defects cling to the true believers and truly regenerate, even to the grave, still they must not on that account doubt either their righteousness which has been imputed to them by faith, or the salvation of their souls, but must regard it as certain that for Christ's sake, according to the promise and [immovable] Word of the holy Gospel, they have a gracious God. (Epitome, III.4-9) Here is the comfort: our justification is not about a change in us, but about our absolution, the forgiveness we receive on Christ's account. And because it is about Christ and not us, we need never doubt our righteousness before God in Christ, no matter how weak, sinful, and otherwise defective we remain in the flesh. If you believe, you are forgiven and righteous in Christ. So, rejoice.....