An Alphabetical Analysis
Volume 7 - Doctrinal Truth - Page 165 of 297
No proof is necessary to show that 3:5,25 and 26
speak of God's own righteousness.  The close connection between the declared
righteousness of 3:25 and 26 and the manifested righteousness of 3:21, and
the close association of this righteousness of God with the justification of
the believer ('that He might be just and the justifier') should surely cause
us to pause lest we be found putting the law where God puts the gospel, and
the righteousness of the law where Scripture puts the righteousness of God.
The witness of the law and the prophets
If the righteousness of God is the obedience of Christ to the law
imputed to the believer, Romans 3:21 tells us that we have witnesses for it,
independent of Paul's epistles, namely, in 'the law and the prophets'.  We
get such a passage as this from Psalm 98:2:
'The Lord hath made known His salvation: His righteousness hath He
openly shewed in the sight of the heathen (nations)'.
It would be a hopeless task to attempt to prove that this 'revealed
righteousness' was the obedience of Christ to the law.  The title 'The Lord
our righteousness' (Jer. 23:6; 33:16) likewise leaves the question entirely
untouched.  The apostle evidently had some passages of 'the law and prophets'
in mind when he wrote Romans 3:21.  Perhaps he himself has quoted some.  Let
us see.  In Romans 4 we have a quotation from 'the law' as a witness to this
righteousness of God:
'For what saith the Scripture?  Abraham believed God, and it was
counted unto him for righteousness' (Rom. 4:3).
Surely this first witness can have no possible reference to obedience
to the law.  In what way was Abraham connected with the law?  In what way was
the promise in which he believed connected with the law?  Not in any way:
'For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to
Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness
of faith' (Rom. 4:13).
When we read in Romans 4:3: 'it was counted to him for righteousness',
the 'it' refers to his faith in 'the promise' of God, and not either to his
own, or Christ's obedience to the law, for as we have seen, the law can have
nothing whatever to do with it.  Paul's next witness is David:
'Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom
God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they
whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.  Blessed is
the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin' (Rom. 4:6-8).
If Paul's great doctrine of justification was based upon the imputed
obedience of Christ, could he have quoted this thirty-second Psalm.  He goes
out of his way to quote a passage which speaks of the forgiveness of sins,
and the non-imputation of sin as a description of the blessedness of the
imputation of righteousness without works.  Who is right?  Paul or the
Puritans?  Another quotation from 'the law' is found in Romans 10.  There we
have the righteousness which is of the law and that which is of faith brought
together, and the witness of 'the law' is clear: