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When we teach that our right standing with God is attained through the imputation of Christ’s obedience to our account (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 4:6, 11; 10:3), does this imply that the work of Christ on the cross—his final suffering and death—is insufficient for our justification?

This question arises in part because of texts that connect the cause of justification specifically to the cross of Christ. For example:

  • Romans 3:24-25: “[They] are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood.”
  • Romans 4:25: “[He] was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”
  • Romans 5:9: “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”
  • Galatians 2:21: “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

To see the answer, we might ask a similar question concerning the forgiveness of sins. In other words, let us ask: Does the insistence upon Jesus’ sinless life imply that the work of Christ as the spotless Lamb of God on the cross is insufficient for the canceling of the debt of our sins?

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John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.