Does receiving imputed righteousness qualify me for heaven?
Thank you for your inquiry. The starting point for us all must be the inherent dilemma of human existence: sin. We are all, by nature, ensnared in the mire of transgression and corruption. Isaiah writes, "We all, like sheep, have gone astray," and Paul solemnly declares, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:23). Given our sinfulness, can we, by our own merit, qualify for heaven? The The Bible resoundingly says, "No." Our righteousness, the prophet asserts, is as "filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). Our deeds, no matter how commendable, fall short of the purity and holiness that the throne room of heaven demands.
As for imputed righteousness. The term 'impute' derives from accounting terminology, indicating a crediting or a reckoning. In theological terms, it pertains to God counting or reckoning Christ's perfect righteousness to believers. The Apostle Paul explains this in his epistle to the Romans, saying that God "justifies the ungodly" and righteousness is "counted to him" (Romans 4:5).
But where does this righteousness come from? It is anchored in the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is His life, lived sinlessly, His death, a sacrificial offering, and His resurrection, a victory over sin and death, that together form the bedrock of this imputed righteousness. When a person, by grace, places their trust in Christ, there is a profound union with Him. The Westminster Larger Catechism affirms that believers are "made partakers of the righteousness of Christ" (Q&A 70). In this union, the sins of believers are transferred to Christ, and His righteousness is imputed or credited to them.
Yet, to ask whether this imputed righteousness qualifies one for heaven is to probe the heart of God's saving work. It is to reach into the soul to contemplation about what heaven is and who it is for. Heaven, in essence, is the dwelling place of God, where holiness, purity, and righteousness reign supreme. To be in the presence of the Holy One requires a holiness that mirrors His own. A person can no more enter God's presence than approach the sun without being burned. But thanks be to God, in Christ, through imputation, God does not merely declare us righteous in a legal sense, He sees us enveloped in the very righteousness of His beloved Son, making us fitting companions in His heavenly habitation.
Thus, it is not so much that imputed righteousness "qualifies" us for heaven in a transactional sense, as if one were presenting a ticket at the gates of paradise. Rather, in our union with Christ, we are remade, redefined, and reborn. We don’t just possess the righteousness; we are clothed in it, enveloped by it. As the Apostle Paul beautifully captures, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1).
Therefore, understand this: it is not the doctrine of imputed righteousness, in itself, that qualifies. It is Christ. He is the door, the way, the truth, and the life (John 10:9, 14:6). In receiving Him, we receive His righteousness. In clinging to Him, we are deemed holy in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. It is in this profound, ineffable union with Christ that the believer finds assurance, peace, and an eternal destiny in the kingdom of God. Let this truth dwell richly and reverently within, guiding you to a deeper life of faith and devotion.
May the Lord richly bless you