Book Image

Counted Righteous in Christ

Should We Abandon the Imputation of Christ's Righteousness?


Are Christians merely forgiven, or do they possess the righteousness of Christ? Recently the time-honored understanding of the doctrine of justification has come under attack. Many question how-or if-we receive the full righteousness of Christ.

Martin Luther said that if we understand justification “we are in the clearest light; if we do not know it, we dwell in the densest darkness.” And now, in this new and important book, John Piper accepts Luther's challenge. He points out that we need to see ourselves as having been recipients of the imputation of Christ's righteousness and therefore enjoy full acceptance with God and the everlasting inheritance of life and joy.

Piper writes as both a pastor and a scholar. His pastor's heart is shown in his zeal for the welfare of the church. His careful scholarship is evident in each explanation and undergirds each conclusion.


  • While evangelicals sleep, people we once trusted have been sowing seeds of false doctrine in the church. Responding to the latest departure from the faith, John Piper challenges those who have abandoned the pivotal doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. What is at stake here is nothing less than the integrity of the Gospel. Ronald H. Nash
  • In this exegetical study John Piper carefully demonstrates the importance and the biblical basis of the doctrine of imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the believer. This is important reading in light of recent challenges to the traditional understanding of justification. Millard J. Erickson, Truett Seminary, Baylor University
  • While the biblical doctrine of justification is about more than imputation, it does not involve less. John Piper has written a vigorous and timely book on this neglected and yet critically important theme. From the historic Protestant perspective, the doctrine of imputation underscores the radical character of divine grace, and John makes this point with clarity, passion, and insight. Timothy George, Dean, Beeson Divinity School
  • John Piper’s defense of the Reformation’s traditional interpretation of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness deserves to be taken very seriously. Expert biblical scholars must, in the end, judge the details of his exegesis, but all careful readers should be able to see that he has presented a telling account of the practical spiritual value of the doctrine, its centrality in the church’s most enduring hymnody, and its critical importance in the theology of the New Testament. Mark Noll, Professor, University of Notre Dame
  • Largely a result of the emergence in recent decades of the “new perspective” on Paul is the growing denial today that the apostle teaches the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to believers. Counted Righteous in Christ is such an important book because it con- fronts this denial head-on and counters the charge that the heart of the Reformation doctrine of justification rests on a misunderstanding of Scripture. Written in the author’s typically spirited and winsome fashion, it provides what is most urgently needed in the face of this charge: a clear and convincing exegetical case for the gospel truth affirmed in its title. The broader church is deeply indebted to John Piper for what it has been given to him to produce in the midst of the already overly full demands of a busy pastorate. Richard B. Gaffin, Professor Emeritus, Westminster Theological Seminary
  • With the heart of a pastor and the skill of an accomplished exegete, John Piper offers refreshing insight into the practical as well as theoretical importance of the doctrine of justification. It’s essential reading at a time when this marvelous gospel is under increasing attack. Michael Horton, Professor, Westminster Seminary California
  • I share the concern of John Piper as he not only sounds the alarm but also rushes to the rescue of all who are tempted to abandon a truly biblical perspective on the issue of imputation. Alistair Begg, Pastor, Chagrin Falls, Ohio
  • Although I have been a Christian for a long time, I became aware of the doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s active righteousness only fairly recently. Yet in the years since I have become aware of the “Blessed Exchange”—my sin for Christ’s righteousness—I doubt that a day has gone by without my feasting on this core truth of biblical faith. Consequently, I am deeply grateful to John Piper for his careful articulation and defense of this, the “leading edge” of Christianity’s Good News. Piper also shows how our faithfully embracing this liberating truth should radically affect our daily Christian lives. As Augustine heard the child chant, “Take and read.” Mark Talbot, Professor, Wheaton College
  • This is a superb work, wonderful in its clarity, remarkable for its faithful, thorough treatment of the biblical texts, and powerful in the force of its argument. Dr. Piper’s simple, potent answer to the recent attacks on the historic Protestant understanding of justification by faith will cure a host of theological ills. This is surely one of the finest and most important books to be published in many years. John MacArthur, Pastor, Sun Valley, California
  • John Piper’s book on Christ’s imputed righteousness is exactly what the current debate over this issue needs. Dr. Piper demonstrates through a precise and persuasive exegesis of the relevant passages that this doctrine is both biblical and important. He argues passionately that understanding the doctrine is spiritually edifying and pastorally helpful. He does all this, moreover, in a charitable, irenic tone suitable for a teaching that is such good news. Frank Thielman, Professor, Beeson Divinity School
  • Now I know something of the shock Augustine must have felt when he initially read Pelagius. My heart is pained that the cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith is called nonsense and passé by friends. Without imputed righteousness Christianity is not Christian, divine justice is made a folly, and sin is requited by mere human sincerity. It is too much to surrender the wonderfully comforting, biblically clear truth that we stand before a holy God clothed and complete in the righteousness of His Son. I thank God that someone has spoken out! John D. Hannah, Professor, Dallas Theological Seminary
  • This is certainly the most solid defense of the imputed righteousness of Christ since the work of John Murray fifty years ago. I’m delighted that Dr. Piper has established that important doctrine, not as a mere article from the confessional tradition, but on the solid foundation of God’s Word. John Frame, Professor, Reformed Theological Seminary
  • Does Christ’s lifelong record of perfect obedience to God get “credited” to your account when you trust in Christ and are “justified” by God? This has been the historic Protestant understanding of the “imputation of Christ’s righteousness,” but John Piper warns that we are in danger of losing this doctrine today because of attacks by scholars within the evangelical camp. In response, Piper shows, in careful treatment of passage after passage, that the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to believers is clearly the teaching of the Bible, and if we abandon this doctrine we will also lose justification by faith alone. I am thankful to God for John Piper’s defense of this crucial doctrine. Wayne Grudem, Professor, Phoenix Seminary
  • With John Piper, I think that as the doctrine of justification by faith alone is a vital means to the church’s health, so the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ is a vital element in stating that doctrine. Therefore I gladly welcome Dr. Piper’s carefully argued reassertion of it. J.I. Packer, Professor, Regent College
  • This book may be short, but it is clear, to the point, and illuminating on the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to sinners, without which there is no biblical doctrine of justification and without which the church would certainly fall. David Wells, Professor, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
  • The Gospel must be defended in every generation. Today, as in the sixteenth century, the central issue is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. John Piper clearly and powerfully proves this is the view of the Bible and not merely of orthodox Protestant theology. The church must say “No!” to those who declare that imputation is passé. If imputation is passé, then so is the Gospel. R.C. Sproul, Founder, Ligonier Ministries
  • I am thankful for John Piper’s zeal for the glory of Christ and the good of the church, and for his careful exegesis of the relevant texts. For myself 2 Corinthians 5:21 is enough, affirming the glorious exchange that the sinless Christ was made sin (by imputation) with our sins, in order that in Christ we might become righteous (by imputation) with his righteousness. In consequence Christ has no sin but ours, and we have no righteousness but his. John Stott, Founder, Langham Partnership
  • With a mind deeply saturated in God’s word, a heart longing for the church’s purity and confidence, and a passion that Christ be honored in all and above all, John Piper writes Counted Righteous in Christ to guide a new generation of Christians into the glo- rious truth of our justification by faith alone, in Christ alone. One cannot help but mar- vel at and rejoice in the care with which Piper treats relevant passages. Often countering popular and novel proposals, he gives clear and compelling reasons for seeing justifica- tion as, centrally, the crediting of Christ’s very own and perfect righteousness to the one who trusts in God alone for his salvation. No doctrine is more basic to God’s salvation plan and hence more central in understanding the Christian’s new identity; yet today these truths are widely ignored or misunderstood. Believer, I commend you to read this book with justified hopes of entering more fully into the liberating freedom of your full and certain righteous standing before the God who justifies the ungodly (marvel!) through faith in the merits of his Son’s righteous life and substitutionary death. Bruce Ware, Professor, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • This is a timely and important work. Four times in the past four days I have been shocked to read of well-known evangelicals challenging some aspect of the historic, Reformation view of justification. As an eroding tide of evangelical opinion rises against it, may the Lord use John’s book to reinforce the theological retaining wall around the lighthouse doctrine of justification. Don Whitney, Professor, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • The unraveling of evangelical commitment seems always to have a new chapter. In Counted Righteous in Christ, Dr. John Piper has isolated the newest retreat on the doc- trine of the imputed righteousness of Christ. This book restates in powerful terms the necessity of Christ’s righteousness becoming our own. Paige Patterson, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Dr. Piper writes not only with his customary verve and enthusiasm but also with the courtesy and charity we have come to expect of him, as he robustly defends the tradi- tional doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. Those who think that this teaching is neither biblical nor essential to the Christian faith, and can therefore be quietly dropped, will need to weigh Dr. Piper’s arguments carefully, particularly his exposition of the Pauline teaching on righteousness and justification. Peter T. O’Brien, Professor Emeritus, Moore Theological College
  • Piper provides a passionate, well-informed, and convincing exposition of the centrality of the imputed righteousness of Christ for the justification of sinners. In response to a growing number of scholars and church leaders who have questioned the traditional Protestant understanding of justification, Piper offers a lucid and compelling examina- tion of the biblical evidence in support of that understanding. His many fresh insights and practical applications will challenge the complacent, comfort the afflicted, and inspire lives of grateful praise on the part of those who are the beneficiaries of Christ’s redeeming work. Gordon P. Hugenberger, Professor, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary