This month’s quote of the week (!) is from Geerhardus Vos, my favorite theologian of all time. It is located in volume 4 of his Reformed Dogmatics, which just became available. Volume 4 covers soteriology, and this quotation comes from the chapter on justification (p. 173):
33. What should we answer when someone says that in justification, declaring us to be righteous, God does not act according to truth, since in ourselves we are still full of sin and unrighteousness?
a) God’s judgment pronounced in justification does not mean that we possess a perfect inherent righteousness. If God said that, he would be making an untrue declaration. But He does not do that.
b) God’s judgment would likewise be untrue if He imputed to us an imperfect righteousness of the Mediator as if it were perfect. This would be ex injuira (by injustice). But this, too, is not the case. Nothing at all is lacking from the righteousness of Christ.
c) God’s judgment would be precisely untrue if He declared us righteous on the basis of our persistently imperfect subjective righteousness. On Rome’s position, a justification according to truth during this life is impossible.
d) The truthfulness of God’s judgment rests on the truthfulness of imputation. This is no fiction. In reality, God ascribes the merits of Christ to our account. To deny that this is a reality is also to deny the reality of the atonement, in which, conversely, our sins are imputed to Christ. If the mediator can occupy our legal position without that detracting from the truthfulness of God, so also we can occupy the legal position of the Mediator, and God’s judgment concerning that can be fully according to truth.