Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 28, 1952

Review Of "Faith Reckoned As Righteousness"

Robert A. Waller, Henderson, Texas

In the Gospel Guardian of December 20 there is an article entitled "Faith Reckoned As Righteousness" by brother C. D. Crouch. The denominational teaching that brother Crouch is seeking to combat is error, and should be exposed on every hand: but in attempting to expose this error brother Crouch shows, I think, a misunderstanding of several principles set forth in the book of Romans and is guilty of mistakes that should be pointed out.

First, brother Crouch does not recognize, in this article, the fact that there are three kinds of righteousness spoken of in the New Testament. There is the "righteousness which is in the law" that Paul mentions in Phil. 3:6. Paul tells us that touching that righteousness he was "blameless" yet at the same time he was a sinner. Therefore, one cannot be saved by that righteousness. Then, in Titus 3:6 Paul stated that, "he saved us — not by works of righteousness which we have done." Thus, man cannot be saved by his own righteousness. By what righteousness, then, can man be saved? In Romans 1:16, 17 Paul tells us that the Gospel is "the power of God unto salvation — for therein is the righteousness of God revealed." Man, then, cannot be saved by the righteousness of the law or by his own righteousness, but must be saved by the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel of Christ. The reason for this is that no person, who has sinned, can ever be absolutely righteous. The only righteousness that he can ever have is an "imputed righteousness."

Now, our question becomes, how can man obtain this righteousness? Since he can never earn or merit it, it must come as a result of grace. But, upon what condition? Here we observe another fact disregarded by brother Crouch in this article: that the word faith is used in, at least, two senses in the New Testament. It is used in a specific sense and when so used refers to a mental act. When used in this manner it is "a condition" of pardon. In Hebrews 11:6 we have an example of this use, "faith" must precede coming to God. But, the word faith is also used in a general sense and when so used comprehends the complete system that God has provided for man's salvation. When used in this sense it is not "a condition" of pardon, but is "the condition of pardon." In Romans, the fourth chapter, and in the fifth also, Paul uses the word faith in the general sense. Therefore, when brother Crouch writes of Rom. 4:3, 9, "Faith is one of the conditions requisite to righteousness. God set Abraham's faith to his credit as a condition thereunto," he misses the truth completely. Abraham's faith was not "a condition thereunto," but was the condition. It comprehends all that Abraham did. Paul uses this word in the same manner in Rom. 5:1, "Thereunto being justified by faith." If brother Crouch were correct and the word "faith" as used here was "a condition" or "one of the conditions of pardon," as he describes it later in the article, then Abraham was justified by a mental act only, and Paul taught the same in Rom. 5:1. We know better than that. Paul used the word faith in Rom. 5:1 to include all the plan of salvation, and in like manner, in Rom. 4:3, 9 the word faith includes all the plan God had for Abraham. Abraham became righteous when his obedient faith was reckoned for righteousness. The translation "reckoned as righteousness" is not incorrect.

Brother Crouch speaks of this as "playing like we are righteous." This shows a further misunderstanding and a lack of appreciation of the principles involved. He uses as an illustration the women washing clothes, which is not a parallel. When a woman washes clothes clean she merits the praise resulting from her accomplishment. They are clean as a result of her effort. But, such is not the case when one arises and is baptized to wash away his sins. He is clean, but through no merit of his own. The best man can ever say, after he has reached the state of accountability and has sinned, is, "I am redeemed by the blood of Christ. I have obeyed the gospel and my faith was reckoned unto me for righteousness." Many members of the church have the idea that when they obeyed the gospel they earned the remission of sins, and that when they render acts of worship and service they are earning further forgiveness and a home in heaven. This is incorrect. Paul wrote in Rom. 4:4, "Now to him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned of grace, but of debt." If our obedience earned forgiveness, righteousness, and a home in heaven it would not be of grace. Paul declares that we are saved by grace. (Eph. 2:8) Our obedience is a compliance with the terms of grace.

Then, brother Crouch speaks lightly of some that he describes as his "preaching brethren, who have never learned to think," who quote Ps. 119:172 in answer to the question, "What is righteousness?" Psalms 119:172, which he did not quote, reads, "Let me sing of thy word; for all thy commandments are righteousness." This verse would indicate error in brother Crouch's thinking, so he speaks disparagingly of those who use it to answer a question it answers.

The truth is this: when man transgresses God's law he becomes a sinner. Thereafter he can never be absolutely righteous. The only righteousness he can have is an imputed righteousness. David set forth this fact and Paul uses it when he writes of "the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness." (Rom. 4:6) That righteousness can be obtained only by an obedient faith: one that complies with the commandments of God for his "commandments are righteousness." It is on that basis that, "Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness." It is on the same basis that man may become righteous today. The faith spoken of is more than a mental act. The faith that saves is the faith that obeys: the faith that complies with the commandments of God.


Lindsay A. Allen, Box 385, Corinth, Miss., Feb. 25th: "In spite of serious internal trouble, the work at Foote Street Church seems to be moving steadily forward. All previous records of the church in Bible study attendance and contributions have been broken. Bible classes are being well attended and enthusiasm is growing. Already the church has doubled the amount contributed to mission work for last year and other work is being planned. Three grown people were baptized last Lords' day. Roy E. Cogdill and Kelly Doyle will be with the church in a meeting beginning June 12."