Salvation by Christ’s Works

Everybody, sing along. You know the tune.

Yes, that’s the righteousness for me.
I stand alone on the merit of Christ.

The BIAOC. What in this world and the world to come is that?

Well, for starters, it’s usually just the IAOC, but I needed an extra letter for the song’s rhythm. It means the blessed imputation of the active obedience of Christ. As much as it makes a classical Protestant such as myself cringe to say that salvation is by works, this is a way of saying that salvation is by works, more specifically the works of Christ, because I’m incapable of producing the righteous works that God’s law requires of me. And this is a particularly Reformed understanding of the matter.

Protestants confess that our righteousness in God’s eyes is a foreign righteousness, that of Christ, and that Christ’s righteousness is made ours by the imputation (reckoning or accounting) of God and received by the open and empty hand of our faith in his Son.

But in what does that righteousness consist? It’s not merely the non-sinfulness of God the Son incarnate as virgin-born Man. It’s the faultless law-keeping of God the Son as the Second Adam. Jesus came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it. The Messiah as the righteous suffering servant of the Lord by his discernment of the law justified many.

Christ’s active obedience is his perfect keeping of the law. The person and benefits of God’s Son which we receive and enjoy by faith includes his faultless obedience to the law. His perfect law-keeping is reckoned as our own. And thanks be to God for that!