The Powerful Decree: Righteous
Are Christians merely forgiven, or do they possess the righteousness of Christ? In his book Counted Righteous in Christ, John Piper argues for the doctrine of justification by faith—in particular, the imputation of Jesus’s righteousness to those who believe. This means that when sinners put their faith in Christ—when they are “found in Him”—His righteousness is counted as their own. The Father looks at believers in Jesus and speaks the powerful decree: righteous.
There are several New Testament texts that support this historic Reformation doctrine.
Among them is Philippians 3:9.
John Piper writes,
Philippians 3:9 speaks of a righteousness that Paul “has” … that is “not his own” … and that “comes from God” … because [he is] “in Christ.” . . . Notice that the righteousness Paul counts on having “from God” is pursued with a longing to “be found in Christ.” The righteousness that he has is his because he is “found in Christ.” This use of “in Christ” is positional. In Christ by faith is the place where God’s righteousness counts as our own. Thus “being found in Christ” is the way to “have a righteousness not my own.” (p. 81–82)
This same truth is found in other biblical texts such as Romans 5:12–19; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 1:30; and Romans 10:4. For a more in-depth treatment of these passages and their relevance, see John Piper, Counted Righteous in Christ and The Future of Justification.