A friend asked me recently “Jason, what does imputed mean?”

No, she wasn’t a Christian. And no we weren’t studying the Bible. We were studying for an accounting exam at uni. The reason she asked is that one of our questions had a factor called “the imputed interest rate.”

“I can’t really think of how to explain it in accounting terms” I said, “but in theology, imputation is where the righteousness of Jesus Christ is credited to our account and our sin is credited to his account.”

“You’re a really strange person” she responded. Then she said she was joking and we all laughed.

It got me thinking and here are a few of my thoughts…

• You never know when you might get a chance to share some aspect of the gospel of Jesus Christ with someone.
• I’m glad I knew my theology better than I knew my accounting.
• How many believers would have had to say “I don’t know, let me look it up.”
• Why did I hesitate to bring up the theology of the gospel with this friend?
• You never know when theology will come in handy in an exam!

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About Jason Harris

Dr Jason Harris is a writer, pastor, and academic. He has authored multiple books, articles, and papers including his book Theological Meditations on the Gospel. Jason has a PhD from James Cook University as well as degrees in theology, music, accounting, and research. Jason has lived in Cairns, Australia since 2007 and serves as pastor at CrossPoint Church. You can contact Jason at jason@jasonharris.com.au.


  1. RoSeZ 29 October, 2009 at 9:41 pm - Reply

    Very interesting post!! Thanks for sharing… =)

  2. Nick 30 October, 2009 at 6:11 am - Reply

    In my study on this topic, the Greek term “logizomai” is the English term for “reckon/impute/credit/etc,” (all terms are basically equivalently used) and when I look up that term in a popular Protestant Lexicon here is what it is defined as:

    QUOTE: “This word deals with reality. If I “logizomai” or reckon that my bank book has $25 in it, it has $25 in it. Otherwise I am deceiving myself. This word refers to facts not suppositions.”

    The Protestant Lexicon states this term first and foremost refers to the actual status of something. So if Abraham’s faith is “logizomai as righteousness,” it must be an actually righteous act of faith, otherwise (as the Lexicon says) “I am deceiving myself.” This seems to rule out any notion of an alien righteousness, and instead points to a local/inherent righteousness.

    The Lexicon gives other examples where “logizomai” appears, here are 3 examples:

    Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude [logizomai] that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

    Rom 6:11 Likewise reckon [logizomai] ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Rom 8:18 For I reckon [logizomai] that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

    Notice in these examples that “logizomai” means to consider the actual truth of an object. In 3:28 Paul ‘reckons’ faith saves while the Law does not, this is a fact, the Law never saves. In 6:11 the Christian is ‘reckoned’ dead to sin because he is in fact dead to sin. In 8:18 Paul ‘reckons’ the present sufferings as having no comparison to Heavenly glory, and that is true because nothing compares to Heavenly glory.

    To use logizomai in the “alien status” way would mean in: (1) 3:28 faith doesn’t really save apart from works, but we are going to go ahead and say it does; (2) 6:11 that we are not really dead to sin but are going to say we are; (3) 8:18 the present sufferings are comparable to Heaven’s glory.
    This cannot be right.

    So when the text plainly says “faith is logizomai as righteousness,” I must read that as ‘faith is reckoned as a truly righteous act’, and that is precisely how Paul explains that phrase in 4:18-22. That despite the doubts that could be raised in Abraham’s heart, his faith grew strong and convinced and “that is why his faith was credited as righteousness” (v4:22). This is also confirmed by noting the only other time “credited as righteousness” appears in Scripture, Psalm 106:30-31, where Phinehas’ righteous action was reckoned as such.

  3. Jason Harris 30 October, 2009 at 11:45 am - Reply

    Thanks for your comment Nick.

    Even if faith were a righteous act, it could not save us. We are saved by having the righteousness of Christ imputed to us. That’s why Romans 8 can say “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Jesus Christ.”

  4. Arthur 20 July, 2012 at 1:35 pm - Reply

    Praise the Lord for your faithfullness!

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