Nine Strong Consolations - by Rev. Thomas Brooks (1608-1680)Articles on Justification by Faith Alone
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1. First, let all believers know for their comfort that in this imputed righteousness of Christ there is enough to satisfy the justice of God to the uttermost farthing and to take off all His judicial anger and fury. The mediatory righteousness of Christ is so perfect, so full, so exact, so complete, and so fully satisfactory to the justice of God that divine justice cries out, “I have enough, and I require no more! I have found a ransom, and I am fully pacified towards you!” (Eze. 16:61-63; Hebrews. 10:10-12, 14; Isaiah 53:4-6). It is certain that Christ was truly and properly a sacrifice for sin. And it is as certain that our sins were the meritorious cause of His sufferings. He did put Himself into poor sinners’ stead; He took their guilt upon Him and did undergo that punishment which they should have undergone. He did die and shed His blood, that He might thereby atone God and expiate sin (Romans. 5:6-12). Therefore we may safely and boldly conclude that Jesus Christ hath satisfied the justice of God to the uttermost so that now the believing sinner may rejoice and triumph in the justice as well as in the mercy of God (Hebrews 7:25); for doubtless the mediatory righteousness of Christ was infinitely more satisfactory and pleasing to God than all the sins of believers could be displeasing to Him. God took more pleasure and delight in the bruising of His Son, in the humiliation of His Son, and He smelled a sweeter savor in His sacrifice, than all our sins could possibly offend Him or provoke Him (Isaiah 53:10).
When a believer casts his eyes upon his many thousand sinful commissions and omissions, no wonder that he fears and trembles. But then, when he looks upon Christ’s satisfaction, he may see himself acquitted and rejoice. For if there be no charge, no accusation against the Lord Jesus, there can be none against the believer (Romans. 8:33-37). Christ’s expiatory sacrifice hath fully satisfied divine justice. And upon that very ground every believer hath cause to triumph in Christ Jesus, and in that righteousness of His by which he stands justified before the throne of God (2 Cor. 2:14; Revelation 14:4, 5).
Christ is a person of infinite, transcendent worth and excellency. And it makes highly for His honor to justify believers in the most ample and glorious way imaginable. And what way is that, but by working out for them, and then investing them with a righteousness adequate to the Law of God, a righteousness that should be every way commensurate to the miserable estate of fallen man and to the holy design of the glorious God. It is the high honor of the second Adam that He hath restored to fallen man a more glorious righteousness than that he lost in the first Adam. And it would be high blasphemy in the eyes of angels and men for any mortal to assert that the second Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ, was less powerful to save than the first Adam was to destroy! The second Adam is “able to save to the uttermost all such as come to God through him” (Hebrews. 7:25). He is able to save to the uttermost obligation of the Law—preceptive as well as penal—and to bring in perfect righteousness as well as perfect innocency. He is able to save to the uttermost demand of divine justice by that perfect satisfaction that He has given to divine justice. Christ is “mighty to save” (Isaiah 63:1); and as He is mighty to save, so He loves to save poor sinners in such a way wherein He may most magnify His own might. And therefore He will purchase their pardon with His blood (1 Peter 1:18, 19) and make reparation to divine justice for all the wrongs and injuries which fallen man had done to his Creator and His royal Law; and bestow upon him a better righteousness than that which Adam lost; and bring him into a more safe, high, honorable, and durable estate than that which Adam fell from when he was in his created perfection.
All the attributes of God do acquiesce in the imputed righteousness of Christ, so that a believer may look upon the holiness, justice, and righteousness of God and rejoice and lay himself down in peace (Psalm 4:8). Christ has put His coat, His robe of righteousness, upon every believer (Isaiah 61:10), upon which account all the judicial anger, wrath, and fury of God towards believers ceaseth. But,
2. Secondly, know for your comfort that this imputed, this mediatory righteousness of Christ takes away all your unrighteousness. It cancels every bond; it takes away all iniquity and answers for all your sins (Isaiah 53:5-7; Colossians 2:12-15). “Lord, here are my sins of omission, and here are my sins of commission”; but the righteousness of Christ hath answered for them all. “Here are my sins against the Law, and here are my sins against the Gospel. And here are my sins against the offers of grace, the tenders of grace, the strivings of grace, the bowels of grace”; but the righteousness of Christ hath answered for them all.
O sirs! It would be high blasphemy for any to imagine that there should be more demerit in any sin, yea, in all sin to condemn a believer, than there is merit in Christ’s righteousness to absolve him, to justify him (Romans 8:1, 33-35). The righteousness of Christ was shadowed out by the glorious robes and apparel of the high priest (Exo 30). That attire in which the high priest appeared before God, what was it else but a type of Christ’s righteousness? The filthy garments of Joshua, who represented the Church, were not only taken off from him, thereby signifying the removal of our sins (Zec. 3:4, 5); but also a new, fair garment was put upon him to signify our being clothed with the wedding-garment of Christ’s righteousness. If any shall say, “How is it possible that a soul that is defiled with the worst of sins should be whiter than the snow, yea, beautiful and glorious in the eyes of God?” the answer is at hand: to whomsoever the Lord doth give the pardon of his sins, which is the first part of our justification, to them He doth also impute the righteousness of Christ, which is the second part of our justification before God.
Thus David describeth, saith the Apostle, the blessedness of the man to whom the Lord imputeth righteousness without works; saying, “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” (Romans 4:6, 7). Now to that man whose sins the Lord forgives, to him He doth impute righteousness also: “Take away the filthy garments from him,” saith the Lord of Joshua, “and he said unto him, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment” (Zec. 3:4). And what was that change of raiment? Surely the perfect obedience and righteousness of the Lord Jesus, which God doth impute unto us; in which respect also we are said by justifying faith to put on the Lord Jesus (Romans 13:14); and to be clothed with Him as with a garment (Galatians 3:27). And no marvel if, being so appareled, we appear beautiful and glorious in the sight of God: “To her,” that is, Christ’s bride, “was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Revelation 19:8). This perfect righteousness of Christ, which the Lord imputeth to us and wherewith as with a garment He clotheth us, is the only righteousness which the saints have to stand before God with. And having that robe of righteousness on, they may stand with great boldness and comfort before the judgment seat of God. But,
3. Thirdly, know for your comfort that this righteousness of Christ presents us perfectly righteous in the sight of God. He is made to us righteousness? (1 Cor. 1:30). The robe of innocency, like the veil of the temple, is rent asunder. Our righteousness is a ragged righteousness; our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:4). Look, as under rags the naked body is seen, so under the rags of our righteousnesses the body of death is seen. Christ is all in all in regard of righteousness: Christ is “the end of the law for righteousness to them that believe” (Romans 10:4). That is, through Christ we are as righteous as if we had satisfied the Law in our own persons. The end of the Law is to justify and save those which fulfill it. Christ subjected Himself thereto: He perfectly fulfilled it for us, and His perfect righteousness is imputed to us. Christ fulfilled the moral Law, not for Himself, but for us. Therefore Christ doing it for believers, they fulfill the Law in Christ. And so Christ by doing, and they believing in Him that doth it, do fulfill the Law.
Or Christ may be said to be the end of the Law because the end of the Law is perfect righteousness, that a man may be justified thereby, which end we cannot attain of ourselves through the frailty of our flesh. But by Christ we attain it, Who hath fulfilled the Law for us. Christ hath perfectly fulfilled the Decalogue for us and that three ways: (1.) in His pure conception; (2.) in His godly life; and (3.) in His holy and obedient sufferings and all for us. For whatsoever the Law required that we should be, do, or suffer, He hath performed in our behalf. We are discharged by Him before God. Christ in respect of the integrity and purity of His nature, being conceived without sin (Matthew 1:18); and in respect of His life and actions, being wholly conformed to the absolute righteousness of the Law (Luke 1:35); and in respect of the punishment which He suffered, to make satisfaction unto God’s justice for the breach of the Law (2 Cor. 5:21; Colossians 1:20)—in these respects Christ is the perfection of the Law and “the end of the law for righteousness to them that believe.”
The infinite wisdom and power of dear Jesus in reconciling the Law and the Gospel in this great mystery of justification is greatly to be magnified. This righteousness presents us in the sight of God as “all fair” (Song 4:7); as “complete” (Colossians 2:10); as “without spot or wrinkle” (Ephesians 5:27); as “without fault before the throne of God” (Revelation 14:5); as “holy, and unblameable, and unreproveable in his sight” (Colossians 1:22). Oh, the happiness and blessedness, the safety and glory, of those precious souls, who in the righteousness of Jesus Christ stand perfectly righteous in the sight of God! But,
4. Fourthly, know for your comfort that this imputed righteousness of Christ will answer to all the fears, doubts, and objections of your souls. How shall I look up to God? The answer is “in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.” How shall I have any communion with a holy God in this world? The answer is “in the righteousness of Christ.” How shall I find acceptance with God? The answer is “in the righteousness of Christ.” How shall I die? The answer is “in the righteousness of Christ.” How shall I stand before the judgment seat? The answer is “in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.” Your sure and only way, under all temptations, fears, conflicts, doubts, and disputes is by faith to remember Christ and the sufferings of Christ as your Mediator and Surety. Say, “O Christ, Thou art my sin in being made sin for me; and Thou art my curse being made a curse for me” (2 Cor. 5:21; Galatians 3:13); or rather, “I am Thy sin, and Thou art my righteousness; I am Thy curse, and Thou art my blessing; I am Thy death, and Thou art my life; I am the wrath of God to Thee, and Thou art the love of God to me; I am Thy hell, and Thou art my heaven.”
O sirs! If you think of your sins and of God’s wrath; if you think of your guiltiness and of God’s justice, your hearts will faint and fail. They will fear and tremble and sink into despair, if you do not think of Christ, if you do not stay and rest your souls upon the Mediator righteousness of Christ, the imputed righteousness of Christ. The imputed righteousness of Christ answers all cavils and objections though there were millions of them that can be made against the good estate of a believer. This is a precious truth—more worth than a world—that all our sins are pardoned, not only in a way of truth and mercy, but in a way of justice. But,
5. Fifthly, know for your comfort that the imputed righteousness of Christ is the best title that you have to show for “a kingdom that shakes not, for riches that corrupt not, for an inheritance that fadeth not away, and for an house not made with hands, but one eternal in the heavens” (Hebrews 12:28; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 2 Cor. 5:1-4). It is the fairest certificate that you have to show for all that happiness and blessedness that you look for in that other world. The righteousness of Christ is your life, your joy, your comfort, your crown, your confidence, your heaven, your all. Oh, that you were still so wise as to keep a fixed eye and an awakened heart upon the mediatory righteousness of Christ! For that is the righteousness by which you may safely and comfortably live and by which you may happily and quietly die.
Ah, that believers would dwell much upon this: they have a righteousness in Christ that is as full, perfect, and complete, as if they had fulfilled the Law . . . yea, the righteousness that believers have by Christ is in some respect better than that they should have had by Adam . . . the first Adam was a mere man; the second Adam is God and man . . . Adam was a mutable person. He lost his righteousness in one day, say some, and all that glory which his posterity should have possessed, if he had stood fast in innocency. But the righteousness of Christ cannot be lost. His righteousness is like Himself, from everlasting to everlasting. When once this white raiment is put upon a believer, it can never fall off; it can never be taken off. This splendid glorious righteousness of Jesus Christ is as really a believer’s as if he had wrought it himself (Revelation 19:8). A believer is no loser, but a gainer, by Adam’s fall. By the loss of Adam’s righteousness is brought to light a more glorious and durable righteousness than ever Adam’s was. And upon the account of an interest in this righteousness a believer may challenge all the glory of that upper world. But,
6. Sixthly, Know for your comfort that this imputed righteousness of Christ is the only true basis, bottom, and ground, for a believer to build his happiness upon, his joy and comfort upon, and the true peace and quiet of his conscience upon. What though Satan, or thy own heart, or the world condemn thee, yet in this thou mayest rejoice: God justifies thee. You see what a bold challenge Paul makes: “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth” (Romans 8:33). And if the judge acquit the prisoner at the bar, he cares not though the jailer or his fellow-prisoners condemn him. So here there are no accusers that a believer needs to fear, seeing that it is God Himself, Who is the Supreme Judge that absolves him as just. God absolves, and therefore it is to no purpose for Satan to accuse us (Revelation 12:10); nor for the Law of Moses to accuse us (John 5:45); nor for our own consciences to accuse us (Romans 2:25); nor for the world to accuse us. God is the highest Judge, and His tribunal-seat is the supreme judgment seat. Therefore from thence there is no appealing. As amongst men, persons accused or condemned may appeal till they come to the highest court. But if in the highest, they are absolved and discharged, then they are free and safe and well. Because the believer is absolved before God’s tribunal-seat, there are no further accusations to be feared, all appeals from thence being void and of no force. The consideration of which should arm us and comfort us and strengthen us against all terrors of conscience, guilt of sin, accusation of the Law, and cruelty of Satan; inasmuch as these either dare not appear before God to accuse us or charge us; or if they do, it is but lost labor.
Ah! What a strong cordial would this be to all the people of God, if they would but live in the power of this glorious truth! It is God that justifies them, and there lies no accusation in the court of heaven against them!
The great reason why many poor Christians are under so many dejections, despondencies, and perplexities is because they drink no more of this water of life: “It is God that justifieth.” Did Christians live more upon this breast, “It is God that justifieth,” they would be no more like Pharaoh’s lean kine, but would be fat and flourishing (Genesis 41:1-3).
The imputed righteousness of Christ is a real, sure, and solid foundation upon which a believer may safely build his peace, joy, and everlasting rest. Yea, it will help him to glory in tribulations and to triumph over all adversities . . . yea, you may be wonderfully cheered at this, and it is your greatest comfort that you have to deal with this just God, Who hath already received satisfaction for your sins.
Whilst Christians set up a righteousness of their own and build not upon the righteousness of Christ, how unsettled are they! (Romans 10:3) How miserably are they tossed up and down, sometimes fearing and sometimes hoping, sometimes supposing themselves in a good condition, and anon seeing themselves upon the very brink of hell! But now all is quiet and serene with that soul that builds upon the righteousness of Christ. For he being “justified by faith, hath peace with God” (Romans 5:1). Observe that noble description of Christ in Isaiah 32:2: “And a man,” that is, the man Christ Jesus, “shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” When a man is clothed with the righteousness of Christ, Who is God-man, it is neither wind nor tempest, it is neither drought nor weariness that can disturb the peace of his soul. For Christ and His righteousness will be a hiding-place, a covert, and rivers of water, and the shadow of a great rock unto him. Being at perfect peace with God, he may well say with the Psalmist, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LO R D, only makest me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:6-8). The peace and comfort of an awakened sinner can never stand firm and stable, but upon the basis of a positive righteousness.
When a sensible sinner casts his eye upon his own righteousness, holiness, fasting, prayers, tears, humbling, meltings, he can find no place for the sole of his foot to rest firmly upon by reason of the spots, and blots, and blemishes, that cleave both to his graces and duties. He knows that his prayers need pardon, and that his tears need washing in the blood of the Lamb, and that his very righteousness needs another’s righteousness to secure him from condemnation. “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” (Psalm 130:3; 1:5). That is, “stand” in judgment . . . the best man’s life is fuller of sins than the firmament is of stars or the furnace of sparks. Therefore who can stand in judgment and not fall under the weight of Thy just wrath, which burneth as low as hell itself? None can stand. Were the faults of the best man alive but written in his forehead, he was never able to stand in judgment. When a man comes to the Law for justification, it convinceth him of sin.
When he pleads his innocence, that he is not so great a sinner as others are, when he pleads his righteousness, his duties, his good meanings, and his good desires, the Law tells him that they are all weighed in the balance of the sanctuary and found too light (Daniel 5:27). The Law tells him that the best of his duties will not save him and that the least of his sins will damn him. The Law tells him that his own righteousnesses are as filthy rags, do but defile him, and that his best services do but witness against him. The Law looks for perfect and personal obedience, and because the sinner cannot come up to it, it pronounceth him accursed (Galatians 3:10). And though the sinner sues hard for mercy, yet the Law will show him none, no, though he seeks it carefully with tears (Hebrews 12:17). But now, when the believing sinner casts his eye upon the righteousness of Christ, he sees that righteousness to be a perfect and exact righteousness, as perfect and exact as that of the Law.
The saints of old have always placed their happiness, peace, and comfort in their perfect and complete justification, rather than in their imperfect and incomplete sanctification . . . that text is worthy to be written in letters of gold: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,” saith the sound believer, “my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). He hath imputed and given unto me the perfect holiness and obedience of my blessed Savior and made it mine. But,
7. Seventhly, then know for your comfort that you have the highest reason in the world to rejoice and triumph in Christ Jesus. “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:3; Galatians 6:14). We rejoice in the Person of Christ, and we rejoice in the righteousness of Christ: “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ” (2 Cor. 2:14). God’s grace was ever in Paul’s mouth, and ever in Austin’s mouth, and should be ever in a Christian’s mouth, when his eye is fixed upon the righteousness of Christ. Every believer is in a more blessed and happy estate by means of the righteousness of Christ than Adam was in innocency and that upon a threefold account, which are just and noble grounds for every Christian to rejoice and triumph in Christ Jesus.
(1.) That righteousness which Adam had was uncertain and such as it was possible for him to lose. Yea, he did lose it (Genesis 3), and that in a very short time (Psalm 8:5). God gave him power and freedom of will either to hold it or lose it. And we know soon after, upon choice, he proved a bankrupt. But the righteousness that we have by Jesus Christ is made more firm and sure to us. Adam sinned away his righteousness, but a believer cannot sin away the righteousness of Jesus Christ. It is not possible for the elect of God so to sin as to lose Christ or to strip themselves of that robe of righteousness which Christ hath put upon them (1 John 3:9; Romans 8:35, 39). The gates of hell shall never be able to prevail against that soul that is interested in Christ, that is clothed with the righteousness of Christ (Matthew 16:18). Now what higher ground of joy and triumph in Christ Jesus can there be than this? But,
(2.) The righteousness that Adam had was in his own keeping. The spring and root of it was founded in himself, and that was the cause why he lost it so soon. Adam, like the prodigal son (Luke 15:12, 13), had all his portion, his happiness, his holiness, his blessedness, his righteousness, in his own hands, in his own keeping, and so quickly lost stock and block, as some speak.
Oh, but now, that blessed righteousness that we have by Jesus Christ is not in our own keeping, but in our Father’s keeping. God the Father is the Lord Keeper, not only of our inherent righteousness, but also of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ unto us. “My sheep shall never perish,” saith our Savior, “neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28, 29). Though the saints may meet with many shakings and tossings in their various conditions in this world, yet their final perseverance till they come to full possession of eternal life is certain. God is so unchangeable in His purposes of love and so invincible in His power that neither Satan, nor the world, nor their own flesh shall ever be able to separate them from “a crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:7, 8); “a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10); “a crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4). The power of God is so far above all created opposition, that it will certainly maintain the saints in a state of grace. Now what a bottom and ground for rejoicing and triumphing in Christ Jesus is here! But,
(3.) Even if the righteousness that Adam had in his creation were unchangeable, and he could never have lost it; yet it had been but the righteousness of a man, of a mere creature. And what a poor, low righteousness would that have been, to that high and glorious righteousness that we have by Jesus Christ, which is the righteousness of such a Person as was God as well as man. Yea, that righteousness that we have by Jesus Christ is a higher righteousness and a more excellent, transcendent righteousness than that of the angels. Though the righteousness of the angels be perfect and complete in its kind, yet it is but the righteousness of mere creatures. But the righteousness of the saints in which they stand clothed before the throne of God is the righteousness of that Person which is both God and man.
Now what a well of salvation is here! What three noble grounds and what matchless bottoms are here for a Christian’s joy and triumph in Christ Jesus, who hath put so glorious a robe as His own righteousness upon them! Ah, Christians, let not the consolations of God be small in your eyes (Job 15:11). Why take you no more comfort and delight in Christ Jesus? Why rejoice you no more in Him? Not to rejoice in Christ Jesus is a plain breach of that gospel command, “Rejoice in the Lord alway,” that is, rejoice in Christ, “and again I say, rejoice,” saith the Apostle (Philippians 4:4). He doubleth the mandate to show the necessity and excellency of the duty.
That joy lasts forever, whose object remains forever. Such an object is our Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore the joy of the saints should still be exercised upon our Lord Jesus Christ. Shall the worldling rejoice in his barns, the rich man in his bags, the ambitious man in his honors, the voluptuous man in his pleasures, and the wanton in his Delilahs; and shall not a Christian rejoice in Christ Jesus and in that robe of righteousness with which Christ hath covered him? (Isaiah 61:10)
The joy of that Christian that keeps a fixed eye upon Christ and His righteousness cannot be expressed, it cannot be painted. No man can paint the sweetness of the honeycomb, or the sweetness of a cluster of Canaan, or the fragrance of the rose of Sharon. As the being of things cannot be painted, so the sweetness of things cannot be painted. The joy of the Holy Ghost cannot be painted, nor that joy that arises in a Christian’s heart, who keeps up a daily converse with Christ and His righteousness, cannot be painted; it cannot be expressed! Who can look upon the glorious body of our Lord Jesus Christ and seriously consider that even every vein of that blessed body did bleed to bring him to heaven, and not rejoice in Christ Jesus? Who can look upon the glorious righteousness of Christ imputed to him and not be filled with an exuberancy of spiritual joy in God his Savior? There is not the pardon of the least sin, nor the least degree of grace, nor the least drop of mercy, but cost Christ dear: for He must die, and He must be made a sacrifice, and He must be accursed, that pardon may be thine, and grace thine, and mercy thine! And oh, how should this draw out thy heart to rejoice and triumph in Christ Jesus! But,
8. Eighthly, The imputed righteousness of Christ may serve to comfort, support, and bear up the hearts of the people of God from fainting and sinking under the sense of the weakness and imperfection of their inherent righteousness. The church of old has lamentingly said, “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). When a Christian keeps a serious eye upon the spots, blots, blemishes, infirmities, and follies that cleave to his inherent righteousness, fears and tremblings arise to the saddening and sinking of his soul. But when he casts a fixed eye upon the righteousness of Christ imputed to him, then his comforts revive and his heart bears up. For though he hath no righteousness of his own by which his soul may stand accepted before God, yet he hath God’s righteousness, which infinitely transcends his own. In God’s account, it goes for his, as if he had exactly fulfilled the righteousness which the Law requires. According to the Apostle, “What shall we say then? the Gentiles which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith” (Romans 9:30).
Faith wraps itself in the righteousness of Christ and so justifieth us. The Gentiles sought righteousness, not in themselves but in Christ, which they apprehended by faith and were by it justified in the sight of God. The Jews, seeking it in themselves, and thinking by the goodness of their own works to attain to the righteousness of the Law, missed of it. Being in no man’s power perfectly to fulfill the Law, only Christ hath exactly fulfilled it for all that by faith close savingly with Him.
O sirs! None can be justified in the sight of God by a righteousness of their own making.
Now remember that this imputed righteousness of Christ procures acceptance for our inherent righteousness. When a sincere Christian casts his eye upon the weaknesses, infirmities, and imperfections that daily attend his best services, he sighs and mourns. But if he looks upward to the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, it shall bring forth his infirm, weak, and sinful performances perfect, spotless, and sinless, and approved according to the tenor of the gospel. They become spiritual sacrifices, and he cannot but rejoice (1 Peter 2:5). For as there is an imputation of righteousness to the persons of believers, so there is also an imputation to their services and actions . . . so the imperfect good works that are done by believers are accounted righteousness, or as Calvin speaks, “are accounted for righteousness, they being dipped in the blood of Christ.” They are accounted righteous actions; and so sincere Christians shall be judged according to their good works though not saved for them (Revelation 11:18; 20:12; Matthew 25:34-37).
And it is observable in that famous process of the last judgment (Matthew 25:34-37), that the supreme Judge makes mention of the bounty and liberality of the saints, and so bestows the crown of life and the eternal inheritance upon them. Though the Lord’s faithful ones have eminent cause to be humbled and afflicted for the many weaknesses that cleave to their best duties, yet on the other hand, they have wonderful cause to rejoice and triumph that they are made perfect through Jesus Christ, and that the Lord looks at them through the righteousness of Christ as fruits of His own Spirit (Hebrews 13:20, 21; 1 Cor. 6:11). The saints’ prayers being perfumed with Christ’s odors are highly accepted in heaven (Revelation 8:3, 4). Upon this bottom of imputed righteousness, believers may have exceeding strong consolation and good hope through grace, that both their persons and services do find singular acceptation with God as having no spot or blemish at all in them. Surely righteousness imputed must be the top of our happiness and blessedness! But,
9. Ninthly and lastly, know for your comfort that imputed righteousness will give you the greatest boldness before God’s judgment seat. There is an absolute and indispensable necessity of a perfect righteousness wherewith to appear before God. The holiness of God’s nature, the righteousness of His government, the severity of His Law, and the terror of wrath calls aloud upon the sinner for a complete righteousness without which there is no standing in judgment (Psalm 1:5). That righteousness only is able to justify us before God which is perfect, and that hath no defect or blemish in it, such as may abide the trial before His judgment seat, such as may fitly satisfy His justice and make our peace with Him. And consequently, by this the Law of God is fulfilled…such a righteousness as He requires, as will stand before Him, and satisfy His justice (Romans 10:3).
This is the crowning comfort to a sensible and understanding soul, that he stands righteous before a judgment seat in that full, exact, perfect, complete, matchless, spotless, peerless, and most acceptable righteousness of Christ imputed to him.
It is a complete and unspotted righteousness, an unblameable righteousness, and unblemished righteousness. And therefore God can neither in justice except nor object to it. In this righteousness the believer lives, in this righteousness the believer dies, and in this righteousness believers shall arise and appear before the judgment seat of Christ to the deep admiration of all the elect angels, to the transcendent terror and horror of all reprobates, and to the matchless joy and triumph of all on Christ’s right hand, who shall then shout and sing, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with jewels” (Isaiah 61:10).
Oh, how Christ in this great day will be admired and glorified in all His saints (2 Thes. 1:10), when every saint, wrapped up in this fine linen, in this white robe of Christ’s righteousness, shall shine more gloriously than ten thousand suns! In the great Day of the Lord, when the saints shall stand before the tribunal of God, clothed in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, they shall then stand, they shall then be pronounced righteous even in the court of divine justice, which sentence will fill their souls with comfort and the souls of sinners with astonishment (Revelation 20:12; 12:10).
Suppose we saw the believing sinner holding up his hand at God’s bar—the books opened, the accuser of the brethren present, the witnesses ready, and the Judge on the bench thus bespeaking the sinner at the bar (Romans 7:12, 14, 16; Galatians 3:10): “O sinner, sinner, thou standest here indicted before Me for many millions of sins of commission and for many millions of sins of omission. Thou hast broken My holy, just, and righteous Laws beyond all human conception or expression, and hereof thou art proved guilty. What hast thou now to say for thyself why thou shouldst not be eternally cast?” Upon this the sinner pleads guilty. But withal he earnestly desires that he may have time and liberty to plead for himself and to offer his reasons why that dreadful sentence “Go, you cursed…” should not be passed upon him (Matthew 25:41). The liberty desired being granted by the Judge, the sinner pleads that his Surety, Jesus Christ, hath by His blood and sufferings given full and complete satisfaction to divine justice and that He hath paid down upon the nail the whole debt at once, and that it can never stand with the holiness and unspotted justice of God to demand satisfaction twice (Hebrews 10:10, 14).
If the Judge shall further object, “Ay, but sinner, sinner, the Law requireth an exact and perfect righteousness in the personal fulfilling of it. Now, sinner, where is thy exact and perfect righteousness? (Galatians 3:10). Upon which the believing sinner very readily, cheerfully, humbly, and boldly replies, “My righteousness is upon the bench: ‘In the Lord have I righteousness’ (Isaiah 45:24). Christ, my Surety, hath fulfilled the Law on my behalf.”
His obeying the Law to the full, His perfect conforming to its commands, His doing, as well as His dying obedience is by grace made over and reckoned to me in order to my justification and salvation. And this is my plea, by which I will stand before the Judge of all the world. Upon this, the sinner’s plea is accepted as good in Law, and accordingly he is pronounced righteous and goes away glorying and rejoicing, triumphing and shouting it out, “Righteous, righteous, righteous, righteous!” “In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory” (Isaiah 45:25). And thus you see that there are nine springs of strong consolation that flow into your souls through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness unto you.
From “The Golden Key to Open Hidden Treasures” in The Works of Thomas Brooks, Vol 5, reprinted by Banner of Truth.