Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Justification: Basis on Imputation not Union...

Louis Berkhof:
“It is sometimes said that the merits of Christ cannot be imputed to us as long as we are not in Christ, since it is only on the basis of our oneness with Him that such an imputation could be reasonable. But this view fails to distinguish between our legal unity with Christ and our spiritual oneness with Him, and is a falsification of the fundamental element in the doctrine of redemption, namely, of the doctrine of justification. Justification is always a declaration of God, not on the basis of an existing (or future) condition, but on that of a gracious imputation–a declaration which is not in harmony with the existing condition of the sinner.” (systematic, p 452)

63 comments:

  1. I would say there are three declarations involved here:

    1. Forgiveness (the end of wrath)
    2. Remission of (payment for) the debt owed to hell on account of our sins
    3. Imputation of His righteousness

    While the first two of these pertain only to justification, the last of these is more commonly associated with sanctification for the reason, as you say, that they think it refers to a spiritual transaction that happens after the legal transactions. In fact, it is a legal transaction (a declaration), so they are wrong on that count, but they are right in that the imputation of His righteousness can happen only AFTER we are forgiven and our debt is paid. Christ died and only three days LATER did He rise again. So it is with us, that if we die with Christ, so shall we rise with Him as well.

    I don't agree with Berkhof that the imputation of Christ's righteousness pertains to justification rather than sanctification, but if you were to say that sanctification is another legal reality resulting from the Cross, then I would agree. Imputation and sanctification are the same thing, accomplished in His resurrection.

    Sanctification is NOT a process whereby the Christian improves as a result of spiritual oneness with Christ, but rather it is the reasonable expression of the righteousness of Christ, imputed to the Christian once and for all such that he has full ownership of his inheritance from the point of his adoption, and he retains it until he should take possession of it when he dies, and nobody can decrease or increase that inheritance in the meantime. Our assurance, which comes from this imputation/sanctification is based on the laws of inheritance and not on the laws of merit. Sanctification causes us to live as His sons, and not as His hirelings.

    ReplyDelete
  2. There is another problem here, which comes as a result of associating justification with the imputation of Christ's righteousness.

    One hears it from the best of Reformed teachers (eg. R.C. Sproul), and that is that "double imputation" includes the imputation of our sins to Christ. This is NOT what the expression means. The first part of imputation refers rather to Adam's sin.

    The word "imputation" refers to a transaction in which ownership changes from one party to the other as a result of inheritance. Let's get one thing straight, Jesus does not EVER own or inherit our sin, but rather He bears the penalty (the wrath) for it, remits the debt and buries it so that it can never be used against us.

    The unregenerate man does however own Adam's sin and his inheritance in hell, because Adam imputed it to us. By the same token, we own the inheritance of Jesus in Heaven, because of the imputation of righteousness. This is the only authentic meaning of "double imputation."

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hudson,
    Romans 3:21-27
    21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
    22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
    23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
    24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
    25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
    26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

    Romans 4:3-8...
    3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
    4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
    5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

    6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
    7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
    8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

    WCF CHAPTER 11
    Of Justification

    1. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness, by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

    WSC Q. 33. What is justification?
    A. Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

    WLC Q. 70. What is justification?
    A. Justification is an act of God's free grace unto sinners, in which he pardoneth all their sins, accepteth and accounteth their persons righteous in his sight; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them, and received by faith alone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. None of these present any difficulty for me. Again, I don't see why you would think otherwise.

      The doctrine taught by Sproul concerning the imputation of our sin to Christ still is upsetting to me. Christ does NOT inherit our sins (by imputation). Rather, He remits them (pays the debt that binds us to Adam) and He forgives them (substitutionary atonement).

      As for the Berkhof contention that the imputation of Christ's righteousness pertains to justification rather than sanctification, I refer you to the WLC which you yourself quoted, to wit, the imputation of Christ's righteousness, though inextricably connected to justification, differs in very specific ways. It is an inheritance which belongs to us from the moment of our rebirth, yet it is not ours to possess until we die. Even though we do not yet possess it, it has profound effects in our lives, for such knowledge (which we know by faith) produces in us an attitudinal adjustment whereby we being to live as sons and stop living as slaves.

      Delete
  4. WLC Q. 77. Wherein do justification and sanctification differ?
    A. Although sanctification be inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ, in that God in justification imputeth the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification his Spirit infuseth grace, and enableth to the exercise thereof; in the former, sin is pardoned; in the other, it is subdued: the one doth equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation; the other is neither equal in all, nor in this life perfect in any, but growing up to perfection.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think this one probably expresses the essence of my point. Imputation of Christ's righteousness is inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ. Is this not what I said before?

      Delete
  5. "I don't agree with Berkhof that the imputation of Christ's righteousness pertains to justification rather than sanctification" - Hudson.

    Do you agree with Cranmer and Hooker? Not to mention Calvin...

    Art. XI. Of Justification - We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort; as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.

    From Homily of the Salvation of Man:
    "And this justification or righteousness which we so receive of God’s mercy and Christ’s merits embraced by faith is taken, accepted, and allowed of God for our perfect and full justification...."

    "This is that justification or righteousness which St. Paul speaketh of when he saith, “No man is justified by the works of the law, but freely by faith in Jesus Christ,” and again he saith, “We believe in Jesus Christ that we be justified freely by the faith of Christ and not by the works of the law, because that no man shall be justified by the works of the Law” (Galatians 2.16)..."

    "So that in our justification there is not only God’s mercy and grace, but also his justice which the apostle calleth the righteousness of God and it consisteth in paying our ransom and fulfilling of the law. And so the grace of God doth not shut out the justice of God in our justification but only shutteth out the righteousness of man, that is to say, the righteousness of our works as to be merits of deserving our justification...."

    "our justification doth come freely by the mere mercy of God. And of so great and free a mercy, that whereas all the world was not able of themselves to pay any part towards their ransom, it pleased our heavenly Father of his infinite mercy without any our desert or deserving to prepare for us the most precious jewels of Christ’s body and blood whereby our ransom might be fully paid, the law fulfilled, and his justice fully satisfied so that Christ is now the Righteousness of all them that truly do believe in him. He for them paid their ransom by his death. He for them fulfilled the law in his life. So that now in him and by him every true Christian man may be called a fulfiller of the law. Forasmuch as that which their infirmity lacked, Christ’s righteousness hath supplied."

    Richard Hooker -
    "We have already showed that there are two kinds of Christian righteousness: the one without us, which we have by imputation; the other in us, which consisteth of faith, hope, charity, and other Christian virtues; and St. James doth prove that Abraham had not only the one, because the thing he believed was imputed unto him for righteousness, but also the other, because he offered up his son. God giveth us both the one justice [righteousness] and the other: the one by accepting us for righteous in Christ; the other by working Christian righteousness in us...

    "Yet since no man is justified except he believe, and no man believeth except he have faith, and no man hath faith unless he have received the Spirit of adoption, forasmuch as these do necessarily infer justification, but justification doth of necessity presuppose them; we must needs hold that imputed righteousness, in dignity being the chiefest..."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I most certainly do NOT agree with Hooker, who says that there is righteousness "in us." As for the Cranmer and Calvin quotations, there is nothing here that I disagree with. I don't really understand why you would think otherwise.

      Delete
  6. Hudson: Christ's righteousness is inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ. Is this not what I said before?

    mark: I think the basic problem here is different definitions of "sanctification". I certainly agree that "sanctification" is positional (either we are or we are not), and a result of legal imputation with Christ's righteousness. Hebrews 10 teaches being set apart by the blood, by the death of Christ.

    But it's a very odd idea that Christ's righteousness is not yet imputed. Perhaps I am misunderstanding what Barton is saying. 1. Christ's righteousness is not something other than Christ's death as a satisfaction to the law for sins. Whatever else you say or don't say about vicarious law-keeping, Christ's death must be included in Christ's righteousness, brought in after His incarnation, earned, accomplished by His death. 2. But this righteousness is not the same thing as God's imputation of the righteousness. Even though a righteousness has been earned for all the elect, none of the elect is justified by God until God imputes to them this righteousness. 3. If the righteousness of Christ has not yet been imputed to anybody, nobody is justified yet. 4. Since Hudson denies the error of Osiander, that the righteousness is in us, then we need to agree that Christ's righteousness is imputed, not imparted nor infused. 5. So the problem must be that Hudson is denying the imputation of sins, either from Adam to us, or by God from the elect to Christ? The crucial question should be--when did God impute the sins of the elect to Christ, but if Hudson denies that this imputation ever takes place, he does not have a Reformed view of the atonement.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Mark. You have imputed (pun intended) to me alternatives that I never proposed. I don't know how you got the idea that I'm thinking that God's righteousness, for the believer, can be either imputed or not imputed.... or even more oddly that Adam's sin can be either imputed or not imputed (not universal). Of course it is imputed, always imputed and cannot be not imputed. That's the nature of inheritance.

    Just as there can be no resurrection from the dead without dying, there can be no sanctification without justification. Christ cannot give (impute) His gift of righteousness to men apart from having died on the Cross. Christ died for the remission of sin and the end of wrath. So also did He rise again in righteousness, an inheritance for the adopted Elect. There are multiple aspects to salvation, and they are inseparable, but to conflate them is a serious mistake. Anybody who is in the habit of reciting the Nicene Creed knows how to make the distinction between crucifixion and resurrection, and so also does the reader of Paul know how to distinguish death to the old man from new life in Christ.

    With all due respect, you have a basic misunderstanding of the vocabulary of salvation. Imputation is the process of inheritance. Christ did NOT receive an imputation (inheritance) of our sin (or of Adam's sin). Rather, He paid for it/them (remission as per the Nicene Creed) and God forgave the sinner, which is to say that the wrath of God is removed. He receives our sin, but not as an inheritance (an imputation). Rather it is an exchange; a redemption. He redeems our souls by the remittance of Himself to hell.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hudson, Sorry I haven't responded sooner. For some reason I haven't been receiving comment notifications. My citing Hooker was simply to show his affirmation of justification being the imputation of Christ's righteousness to the sinner. His use of the term "infused righteousness" is dodgy but he is not using it (Mark) as in the Osiander error. Many use that term to speak of the internal changes wrought (new heart and new 'right-willed' obedience) by the Holy Spirit. I don't like the phrase as it is confusing. But Hooker, though he linked regeneration with baptism held firmly to the doctrine of justification based on the imputation of Christ's righteousness to the sinner received through faith.

    Where is imputation defined by any reformers as "the process of inheritance?"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Adam's sins are imputed to us. Do you not agree? Is that not an inheritance from which we cannot escape?

      Delete
    2. Imputation is not inheritance. As the federal head of the human race, the guilt of the first Adam's sin is imputed to us and thus we were put under the same sentence of death. And we as his physical ancestors also inherit, as it were, the actual corruption of sin. So that we ourselves actually commit sins worthy of death. In a word. - Rom. 5 -

      15 But not as the trespass, so also is the free gift. For if by the trespass of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God, and the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound unto the many.
      16 And not as through one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment came of one unto condemnation, but the free gift came of many trespasses unto justification.
      17 For if, by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; much more shall they that receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, even Jesus Christ.
      18 So then as through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to condemnation; even so through one act of righteousness the free gift came unto all men to justification of life.
      19 For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one shall the many be made righteous.

      Delete
  9. Fesko on the imputation of Christ's righteousness:

    The Reformed tradition bases the doctrine of the imputed righteousness of Christ, even his active obedience, on such passages as Romans 5:12-21 (WCF 6.3, 11.1; cf. Heidelberg Catechism, Q/A 60). Why, for example, does Paul contrast the disobedience of Adam with the obedience of Christ? Paul writes, "For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous" (Rom. 5:19). As John Murray explains, "The parallel to the imputation of Adam's sin is the imputation of Christ's righteousness. Or to use Paul's own terms, being 'constituted sinners' through the disobedience of Adam is parallel to being 'constituted righteous' through the obedience of Christ." Clearly, Romans 5:19 restates what Paul has stated in the previous verse: "Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all" (Rom. 5:18).

    There is no mistaking the parallel between Christ's obedience, which is righteousness, and the imputation of this righteousness to the believer. Commenting on the abiding significance of Genesis 15:6 and the imputation of righteousness, Paul writes: "That is why his faith was 'counted to him as righteousness.' But the words 'it was counted to him' were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 4:22-24). Note here the English Standard Version translates the Greek word logizomai as "counted," which the King James Version translates as "imputed." Here Paul taps into the ancient stream of the special revelation of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, to argue for the imputed righteousness of Christ, and arguably also has other passages such as Isaiah 53 in mind when writing these things: "Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities" (Isa. 53:11; cf. 2 Cor. 5:19-21).

    We should also note, however, that in all of Paul's argumentation for his doctrine of justification and especially the imputed active obedience of Christ, he can write everything that we have surveyed, and at the same time also write without qualification or wincing: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1). If condemnation is the antonym for justification, then we can also reword Romans 8:1 to say, "There is therefore now justification for those who are in Christ Jesus" (emphasis added). In other words, a robust doctrine of justification that includes the imputed active and passive obedience of Christ is not antithetical to our union with Christ, nor is it superfluous. Rather, it is the legal aspect of our union with Christ. As A. A. Hodge explains, our union with Christ has a federal and representative character. Once again, what God has joined together, let man not separate. This brings us to one last element to consider, namely that justification is the ground of our sanctification.
    http://modernreformation.org/default.php?page=printfriendly&var1=Print&var2=7

    ReplyDelete
  10. Imputation "is used to designate any action or word or thing as reckoned to a person. Thus in doctrinal language (1) the sin of Adam is imputed to all his descendants, i.e., it is reckoned as theirs, and they are dealt with therefore as guilty; (2) the righteousness of Christ is imputed to them that believe in him, or so attributed to them as to be considered their own; and (3) our sins are imputed to Christ, i.e., he assumed our 'law-place,' undertook to answer the demands of justice for our sins. In all these cases the nature of imputation is the same (Rom. 5:12-19; comp. Philemon 1:18, 19)." [1]
    http://www.theopedia.com/Imputation

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No. Christ does not inherit our sins. Neither does He reckon sin as righteousness. He remits a redemption payment for sin, and then disposes of it where it can not ever come back to hurt us on the Day of Judgement. Please stop conflating the meaning of these terms.

      Delete
    2. Imputation is not 'inheriting' sin. It is legally taking the guilt of sin. No reformer, let alone Berkof, claims that Jesus actually became a sinner via imputation of our sins to him.

      All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. - Isa. 53:6

      The guilt of our sin was laid on Christ which he bore on the cross before the law of God. Our sin was accounted (imputed) to him and as our surety and federal head (the second Adam) his penalty paying and perfect obedience was accounted (imputed) to us as our justification. Like the old hymn:

      He paid a debt He did not owe;
      I owed a debt I could not pay;
      I needed someone to wash my sins away.
      And, now, I sing a brand new song,
      “Amazing Grace.”
      Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay.

      He paid that debt at Calvary.
      He cleansed my soul and set me free.
      I'm glad that Jesus did all my sins erase.
      I, now, can sing a brand new song,
      “Amazing Grace.”
      Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay.

      Delete
    3. No. Imputation is when Adam legally gives us his sin and when Christ legally gives us his righteousness. Imputation is not taking something away, but rather only giving. It is inextricable from inheritance. Yes, "the guilt of our sin was laid on Christ", but this is not imputation. I challenge you to do a word study.

      Delete
    4. Hudson, where did I say that imputation is "taking something away?"

      Me as per above:
      Our sin was accounted (imputed) to him and as our surety and federal head (the second Adam) his penalty paying and perfect obedience was accounted (imputed) to us as our justification. - and...

      As the federal head of the human race, the guilt of the first Adam's sin is imputed to us and thus we were put under the same sentence of death.

      Delete
    5. Help me here... Where does any reformed theologian define imputation as inheritance?

      Delete
    6. Calvin's Institutes 2.16.6:
      But that which was represented figuratively in the Mosaic sacrifices is exhibited in Christ the archetype. Wherefore, in order to accomplish a full expiation, he made his soul to 'asham, i.e., a propitiatory victim for sin, (as the prophet says, Isaiah 53:5, 10) on which the guilt and penalty being in a manner laid, ceases to be imputed to us. The Apostle declares this more plainly when he says, that "he made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him," (2 Corinthians 5:21.) For the Son of God, though spotlessly pure, took upon him the disgrace and ignominy of our iniquities, and in return clothed us with his purity. To the same thing he seems to refer, when he says, that he "condemned sin in the flesh," (Romans 8:3) the Father having destroyed the power of sin when it was transferred to the flesh of Christ. This term, therefore, indicates that Christ, in his death, was offered to the Father as a propitiatory victim; that, expiation being made by his sacrifice, we might cease to tremble at the divine wrath. It is now clear what the prophet means when he says, that "the Lord has laid upon him the iniquity of us all," (Isaiah 53:6;) namely, that as he was to wash away the pollution of sins, they were transferred to him by imputation.

      Delete
    7. Hudson, you wrote: " Imputation is when Adam legally gives us his sin and when Christ legally gives us his righteousness."

      I totally agree. And what I wrote above is in agreement. But I would add to your statement that it is also when the guilt of our sin is imputed to Christ.

      Delete
    8. Just look it up yourself.... in the Bible. Imputation ALWAYS refers to giving of an inheritance by a person that owns the thing to be given and who has the legal right to give it. As such, the sinner can not give his sin by inheritance because he has no power to do anything with it. It is a debt that must be taken away from him. Inheritances are given, not taken. The removal of sin is not a process of inheritance (imputation) but rather of redemption/remission/forgiveness. Not that I want you to avoid doing the word study, but you might also look it up in WCF 11 where .1, .2, .3, and .4 are all separate paragraphs. The WCF does not make the error of conflating these terms.

      Delete
    9. Can you not see that "the Lord has laid upon him the iniquity of us all" is a process of redemption, not of imputation? Imputation ≠ Redemption. They are all part of what Christ did, but they are different things.

      Delete
    10. Forget the word 'inheritance' for a moment as it's not used. Indeed, sinners didn't impute their sins to Christ. God did that according to the covenant of redemption which Isa. 53:6 attests to. God laid the sins (imputed) of the elect on the sin-bearer, Jesus Christ. And justification includes the remission/forgiveness of sins as well as Christ's perfect obedience (read 'righteousness') being imputed to the elect. His penalty paying, i.e. satisfaction for sin, and his perfect obedience, i.e. righteousness, are imputed to the elect for their justification.

      WCF 11.1 - Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness, by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

      "Imputing the... 'satisfaction of Christ'" refers to Jesus paying the penalty for our sins on the cross. That penalty paying satisfied the law's requirement for death to the those who sinned (us). That satisfaction of the which Christ provided in his death is imputed to the elect as part of their justification. The law now sees the elect sinners as having paid for the penalty of their sins in Christ.

      Delete
  11. "But I would add to your statement that it is also when the guilt of our sin is imputed to Christ." No, Jack, you have no legal right to get rid of your sin. Sin is an IOU payable to the Devil and it is your's until Judgement Day unless the Redeemer should "remit" it. At this point, I'm out of this conversation until you do that word study, and to tell the truth, I can't take these endless routines to prove I'm not a robot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hudson, sheesh... You're the one who said Berkof is wrong and now that I'm wrong as is Calvin and any number of reformed theologians. If you're gonna get that way let me then ask, "can you read?" You wrote: "No, Jack, you have no legal right to get rid of your sin." I have made no such assertion.

      I wrote: "Indeed, sinners didn't impute their sins to Christ. God did that according to the covenant of redemption which Isa. 53:6 attests to."

      And Calvin: "It is now clear what the prophet means when he says, that "the Lord has laid upon him the iniquity of us all," (Isaiah 53:6;) namely, that as he was to wash away the pollution of sins, they were transferred to him by imputation."

      If you're so sure your view is not unique surely you can show support of it from other reformed writers. To say "do a word search in the Bible" just turns into a battle of dueling verses. If you're correct in your view then it should be widely supported and echoed throughout reformed writings.

      Delete
    2. You can't make the word "imputation" to mean anything you want. It cannot mean both to grant righteousness and to take away sin. They are not the same process. Moreover, the word "impute" (or ascribe) is NEVER used by Scripture to describe the process by which Christ takes our sin. Doing a word study in really not that hard and the results in this case are totally clear. You will find that it always is used to describe something that is passed onto a descendant by an order of a king

      Yes, I see that Calvin's Institutes uses the word "imputation" in a way that does not comport with my view. Could it be the translation from french; "attributution" or "ascription"? I don't know, but it's not there in Scripture, and neither is it there in the WCF or any other Reformed Confession (I say that recalling my study of the matter a long time ago). You're welcome to try proving me wrong with respect to the confessions, but I'm totally sure of where it stands in Scripture. In any case, Calvin is explaining Isaiah 53:5-6 and in the same paragraph he says that Christ is "a propitiatory victim for sin, on which the guilt and penalty being in a manner laid, ceases to be imputed to us." This I believe puts the other incidence into context, but on the off chance that I might be wrong, I checked Calvin's interpretation of these verses in both the Geneva Bible notes and in his commentaries; neither one uses the word "impute" or "imputation". Beli eve it or not, Calvin was occasionally inconsistent.

      I'm sure you have heard that the covenant made with Adam was also with his "seed". Specifically that inheritance is the curse of sin and the means of transmittal is imputation. Similarly, the covenants with Abraham and with Christ are also made with his "seed". Here the inheritance is the blessing of righteousness and the means of transmittal again is imputation. This is why it says that Abraham's faith was imputed to him as righteousness and not just for him but also for his seed as an everlasting covenant.

      Delete
  12. Correction for a comment above:

    Hudson, you wrote: " Imputation is when Adam legally gives us his sin and when Christ legally gives us his righteousness."

    I agree, not totally, but inasmuch as it is God who does the imputing. Adam doesn't impute. Jesus doesn't impute. And what I wrote above is in agreement. But I would add to your statement that it is also when the guilt of our sin is imputed to Christ.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OK. I accept that. It is God that does the imputing. But He does so when there is legal ownership to what is being imputed, whether Adam's sin or Jesus's righteousness.

      Delete
  13. When we say "imputation", who do we think is the one who imputes? Not us. God is the imputer. When did God impute the sins of the elect to Christ? When does God count the death of Christ as the death of the elect?

    Neo-Calvinists often tell us that “God wants us to exchange our self-righteousness for Christ’s righteousness.” As the old slogan has it–all you contribute is your sins. But it is not so. God has already (or not) made the exchange. For some, that is for all elect sinners, God has already imputed their sins to Christ. In time, it is God (not these sinners) who will impute Christ’s death (His righteousness) to the sinners.

    But why be picky about this? Because the gospel of Jesus Christ is about God’s sovereign JUSTICE. The gospel is about the salvation of the elect which God owes the elect, not because of any exchange the elect make, but because God has already atttributed all the sins of all the elect to Christ. Since Christ has already died for all those sins, it would be unjust for God not to save those sinners.

    Now, some liberals (Socinians) don’t like that idea of retributive justice. If it’s strict justice, they complain, then it can’t be forgiveness. And if it’s forgiveness, then no justice was absolutely or strictly necessary. (Some of them think a governmental display of “absorbing sins” would be good for apologetic order.)

    And the neo-Calvinists who still want to be “evangelicals” (Arminians also) also have a problem with the idea that what Christ did entitles Christ to the salvation of His specific individuals. So they don’t talk about election, or about the elect having already been given to Christ, but instead they talk about “the covenant” or “those who believe” (what?).

    RC Sproul in his book on the Holiness of God (p 111) explains it this way: “Mercy is not justice, but also is not injustice. We may see non-justice in God, which is mercy, but we never see injustice in God.” But this is not the way the Bible explains the righteousness of Christ.

    Romans 5: 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also would reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Grace reigns through justice, and all for whom Christ did His obedience unto death will one day be constituted righteous. Christ did not die for Judas. Judas never sinned against God’s grace or Christ’s love, because Christ never loved Judas. But it would be injustice for a person for whom Christ died to not be forgiven because they had failed “to make the exchange” or “to accept the exchange” .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why be picky? Because if "double imputation" includes the imputation of sin to Christ at the expense of the imputation of sin from Adam, then you have denied Original Sin. You have probably also denied the nature of Christ's propitiatary, substitutionary atonement; a remission of sin (Nicene Creed) and a forgiveness of sin (Apostles' Creed).

      Delete
    2. Nobody here is denying the imputation of sin from Adam to all humans, Why would you think anybody is? Jack and I do believe that God imputed the sins of the elect to Christ, that Christ bore those specific sins, that specific guilt. One, why is it that you deny that sins were legally counted to Christ? Two, why would you think an imputation of sins to Christ in any way denies or "is at the expense of" the imputation of Adam's first sin? Three, you need to make some arguments, and give some definitions, not only your conclusions. Are you defining "original sin" as nothing but corruption, as not about guilt? I thought you were at least with us on the imputation of Adam's guilt, but your rejection of the double is confusing to me. I believe in three "imputations".

      1. God counts the sin of Adam as the sin of all humans, Christ excepted.
      2. God counts the sins of the elect to Christ.
      3. God then counts the death of Christ to the elect when God "baptises them into the death" (Romans 6). This is when the elect "receive the reconciliation" (Romans 5:11, 17, by imputation, not by faith in these two contexts). Another way to say this is "God counts the righteousness of Christ to the elect. The righteousness of Christ is the death of Christ. Do you disagree with the death of Christ as being any part of the righteousness Christ obtained after His incarnation?

      Romans 4---David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

      7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
      and whose sins are covered;
      8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

      Romans 5:18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also shall reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

      Delete
  14. Isaiah 53:

    10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
    when his blood makes an offering for guilt,
    he SHALL see his offspring; he SHALL prolong his days;
    the will of the Lord SHALL prosper in his hand.
    11 Out of the anguish of his soul’s death he SHALL see and be satisfied;
    by his knowledge SHALL the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be counted righteous,
    and he SHALL bear their iniquities.
    12 THREFORE I WILL divide him a portion with the many,
    and he SHALL divide the spoil with the strong,
    because he poured out his soul to death
    and was numbered with the transgressors;
    yet he bore the sin of many,
    and makes intercession for the transgressors.

    If we sing about having ourselves put Christ on the cross, we do not yet understand what the gospel teaches about the transfer of guilt. We are not the imputers. We do not get to decide when and if we put our sins on Christ. We do not get the opportunity to contribute our sins so that then Christ contributes His righteousness. Neither election nor non-election is conditioned on our sins. Although those who believe the gospel are commanded to reckon what God has already reckoned, we can never be the original reckoners.

    Yes, those specific lawless men who put Christ on the cross were guilty of what they did. But the cross is not what condemns. The non-elect do not sin against God’s grace. The gospel is good news for the elect, and the gospel is not what condemns the non-elect. Rejecting the cross is not what condemns the non-elect, because we are all already condemned in Adam . The false gospel which says that Jesus Christ died for every sinner is not gospel. The false gospel turns a supposedly universal death into guilt for those who don’t meet the conditions which supposedly make that death effective.

    ReplyDelete
  15. The Bible sometimes has imputation without transfer. For example, Psalm 106: 30-31 tells us that “Phinehas stood up and intervened and the plague was stayed and that was counted to him as righteousness.” Nobody replaced Phinehas or did his killing work for him, nor is the idea that something not really righteous got counted as righteous. God counted Phinehas killing the two people as righteousness because it was righteousness, not to justify him but as sufficient cause to stop the plague against Israel. The story of Phinehas is not gospel, because it has no transfer to or from Jesus Christ. But God is righteous always and God imputes righteousness for what ii is.

    The Bible also has imputation, and transfer, and still no gospel. When the sin of Adam is transferred to every human person (not when they are teenagers but when they are born), this transfer of guilt is not good news. God does not transfer the guilt of Adam to us because we are united to Adam in sharing the same nature. United to Adam by his guilt transferred to us, we share Adam’s nature. To make the union something prior to the guilt keeps begging several questions. Unless we know that a transfer of guilt is unjust, we have no reason to define our union with Adam in speculative or metaphysical terms about the organic essence of the one and the many. Transfer of guilt is union, and results in depravity and death. This depravity is not for the elect alone, because the guilt of Adam is not for the elect alone.

    Not a transfer of depravity

    The gospel has a glorious transfer , but It is not a transfer of depravity. Christ was not imputed with the depravity of the elect, but with their guilt. Even though depravity is part of the punishment for imputed guilt, Christ was not imputed with depravity but with guilt. The entire human race is now born guilty and depraved in nature. Christ was born truly human but not depraved. He did not have to be depraved to be human. Nor did He have to be guilty to be human. This means that Christ can be and was imputed with the guilt of the elect alone, and not with the guilt of the non-elect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with your interpretation of Psalm 106: 30-31: “Phinehas stood up and intervened and the plague was stayed and that was counted to him as righteousness.” This is an imputation, not a transfer. Abraham's faith was imputed to him as righteousness, but this also was not a transfer. "Imputation" is done by Christ because He, as King, has the power and right to grant such an inheritance to anyone he wishes... not arbitrarily or in payment for services rendered but rather because the grant is made "before all worlds."

      I also agree with you that the inheritance of sin is not a transfer, but is rather an imputation; God has allowed the mark of Adam and the guilt therefrom to be placed upon every one of his descendants, and that this is done "before all worlds."

      Therefore it is consistent to say that we cannot use the word "impute" to describe the TRANSFER of sins to Christ. We must describe this transfer with terms such as a payment (a remission) for sin, and the guilt therefrom, or a propitiation, or an expiation, or an atonement. To use "imputation" is just to muddy the water.

      Delete
  16. II Corinthians 5:21. Christ was not only made to be a sin offering. Christ was made to be sin. Christ was made to be a sin offering only because Christ was first made to be sin. Guilt was transferred to Christ. As the justified become the righteousness because of the transfer of righteousness, Christ was condemned because of the transfer of the guilt of sin. The parallel is not between become the sacrificial sin-offering and become the righteousness. The parallel is between becoming guilty and becoming justified. When guilt was transferred to Christ, He was then guilty. When righteousness is transferred to the elect, then the elect become the righteousness. Then, and only then, are they called by His name (Jeremiah 23:6) The elect alone will be called, “The Lord our Righteousness.” (Jeremiah 33:16)

    Even the scapegoat (Leviticus 16) dies out in the wilderness, but to understand this picture of Christ’s death, we need to see that it’s not everybody’s guilt which is transferred to the scapegoat. Nor is it the guilt of those who accept an offer or sing about having crucified Jesus. The transfer of guilt is not conditioned on faith. Faith in the gospel is a result of having been elect so that Christ bore the elect’s guilt while they were ungodly. The transfer of guilt is not conditioned on union by new birth. Union by justification is a result of Christ having died for His elect people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. None of what you say here is about "imputation". You are describing a transfer, and the Biblical terminology is "atonement", "expiation", "remission".

      Delete
  17. If the gospel is about what the clergyman (and the Holy Spirit) do with it, there was no need for Christ to have died. Those who worry about law having the last word need to see that the gospel is about Christ having satisfied the law. If Christ’s death is anything other than that, Christ died to no purpose. (Galatians 2:21). If atonement were by means of preaching, justification is not by the bloody death of Christ. When the Bible denies that salvation is by the law, that denial is that salvation is by the Holy Spirit enabling us to keep the law. It is not being denied that the sins of the elect were imputed to Christ and that Christ died to satisfy the law.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "It is not being denied that the sins of the elect were imputed to Christ and that Christ died to satisfy the law" No. You are using the word in a way that the Bible does not. We say that Christ took our sins because He had paid for them (remitted), a ransom for the debt which had formerly been imputed to us on account of Adam.

      Delete
  18. Thanks, Mark. This is helpful...

    ReplyDelete
  19. HudsonL Abraham's faith was imputed to him as righteousness, but this also was not a transfer.

    mark. 1. it was the object of faith, not his faith, which was imputed to Abraham. And this was a transfer, a legal counting which took into account not what Abraham did (not like the one with Phinehas, which is about what he did) but what the seed of Abraham is going to do. The merits of Christ's (Abraham's seed) were at that time transferred and imputed to Abraham.
    Neither of us is entitled to our own private language, where we simply stipulate how we are going to use a word, and then expect the other to use the word the way we do.

    My concern is not specific words or translations, but to get to the ideas, the concepts, and the reason we disagree. Imputation is always a counting. But sometimes imputation counts the sins of Adam in, and sometimes it does not. And sometimes imputation counts the death (the merits, the righteousness) of Christ in, and sometimes it does not.

    If we are going to communicate, Hudson, you are going to need to tell me why you have a dogmatic refusal of God being just by means of "transfer" in God's imputation. Are you a Socinian so that you think that justification of the ungodly cannot include God being just at the same time (forgiveness is gift therefore not justice, the Socinians argued). I hope not. I am not accusing you of denying penal substitution. I am trying to figure out why you have such a problem with "legal sharing". Do you think any giving or sharing that God does must be "not legal"? I am asking. I don't understand your objection.


    Hudson: "Imputation" is done by Christ because He, as King, has the power and right to grant such an inheritance to anyone he wishes... not arbitrarily or in payment for services rendered but rather because the grant is made "before all worlds."

    mark: I am not saying that God elected the elect in Christ because of the cross. But election in Christ does mean that justice has to go out of the equation. election in Christ is first! The death of Christ is not the cause
    of God’s election in love. God’s election in love is the cause of the
    death of Christ. Jesus Christ is first. Jesus, the incarnate, the
    eternal Son of God in the flesh, is the foundation of election by being Himself the object of election. “All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things.”


    Hudson: Therefore it is consistent to say that we cannot use the word "impute" to describe the TRANSFER of sins to Christ. We must describe this transfer with terms such as a payment (a remission) for sin, and the guilt therefrom, or a propitiation, or an expiation, or an atonement. To use "imputation" is just to muddy the water.

    mark: I disagree. I don't get your "therefore" at all. This is where you sound to me like you have a "private language". Romans 4 uses the word impute, but the idea is also there in Romans 5 and in II Cor 5:21.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mark. First let's admit that we are not accusing each other of heresy. I think we agree on the content of the Gospel. We're only arguing about the words we use to describe it. Just thought we should make that clear.

      But the words are still important. We agree that our sins are "transferred" to Christ. You maintain that they are transferred by means of imputation which is a dependent on the laws of inheritance. I maintain that the transfer is by means of payment or remission, and as such is dependent on the laws of commerce (if you will).

      We are clothed in His righteousness because He (as King or as the the 2nd Adam) gives/imputes to us His righteousness. Yes, you can say that this is a transfer of righteousness, and you can also say that there is a transfer of sin, but you cannot say that both transfers are by means of imputation. This transfer of sin is by means of a purchase/redemption/remission. There are several words to describe it, but imputation is NOT one of them. Romans 4 does NOT say that our sin is "imputed" to Christ.

      Delete
    2. Hudson,
      Please consider: imputation isn't an inheritance term. It is a legal accounting term. And that is how the Bible uses it.

      A simple, though not perfect, analogy: I am a debtor. I owe a debt and it is long overdue. I can't pay it and wish only that someone would pay it for me. Someone steps forward and and offers to incur my debt by putting it in his name. The Law Court agrees and imputes my debt to him. He now owes the debt. He is not a debtor and didn't incur the debt but he now owes it and I don't. The Law court legally considers him to be the debtor even though I am the one who went into debt. He pays the debt along with all penalties, I go free because before the law my debt is paid. My Surety goes free because the debt is paid. He is not a debtor and never was. The Law has no interest in me nor my Surety.

      Delete
  20. Read Flavel----
    They tell us, (1.) That the righteousness of Christ is subjectively and inherently in us, in the same fulness and perfection as it is in Christ; grant that, and then it will follow indeed, That Christ himself is not more righteous than the believer is. (2.) That not only the guilt of sin was laid on Christ by way of imputation: but sinfulness itself, was transferred from the elect to Christ: and that by God’s laying it on him, the sinfulness or fault itself was essentially transfused into him.

    First, we thankfully acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ to be the Surety of the New Testament, Heb. 7.22, and that as such, all the guilt of our sins were laid upon him, Isa. 53.5,6. That is, God imputed, and he bare it in our room and stead. God the Father, as supreme Lawgiver and Judge of all, upon the transgression of the law, admitted the surety-ship of Christ, to answer for the sins of men, Heb. 10.5,6,7. And for this very end he was made under the law, Gal. 4.4,5. A

    God by imputing the guilt of our sins to Christ, thereby our sins became legally his; as the debt is legally the surety’s debt, though he never borrowed any of it: Thus Christ took our sins upon him, though in him was no sin, 2 Cor. 5.21, “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin.”

    We thankfully acknowledge, that Christ hath so fully satisfied the law for the sins of all that are his, that the debts of believers are fully discharged. His payment is full, and so therefore is our discharge and acquittal, Rom. 8.1,31. The guilt of believers is so perfectly abolished, that it shall never more bring him under condemnation, John 5.24. And so in Christ they are without fault before God.

    As the guilt of our sins was by God’s imputation laid upon Christ, so the righteousness of Christ is by God imputed to believers, by virtue of their legal union with Christ; and becomes thereby truly theirs, for the justification of their particular persons before God, as if they themselves had in their own persons fulfilled all that the law requires, or suffered all that is threatened.

    No inherent righteousness in our own persons, is, or can be more truly our own, for this end and purpose, than Christ’s imputed righteousness is our own. He is the Lord our righteousness, Jeremiah 23.6, We are made the righteousness of God in him, 1 Cor. 5.21. Yea, the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in them that believe, Rom. 8.4.

    But notwithstanding all this, we cannot say, that over and above the guilt of sin, that Christ became as completely sinful as we are. He that transgresses the precepts, sins: and the personal sin of one, cannot be in this respect, the personal sin of another. There is no transfusion of the transgression of the precept from one subject to another: this is utterly impossible; even Adam’s personal sins, considered in his single private capacity, are not infused to his posterity.

    The guilt of our sin was that which was imputed unto Christ, but the very transgression of the law itself could never be transfused from us unto him. I know but two ways in the world by which one man’s sins can be imagined to become another’s. Either by imputation, which is legal, and what we affirm; or by essential transfusion from subject to subject. We have as good ground to believe the absurd doctrine of transubstantiation, as this wild notion of the essential transfusion of sin.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Flavel--If we should once imagine, that the very acts and habits of sin, with the odious deformity thereof, should pass from our persons to Christ and subjectively to inhere in him, as they do in us; then it would follow that our salvation would thereby be rendered utterly impossible. For such an inhesion of sin in the person of Christ is absolutely inconsistent with the hypostatical union, which union is the very foundation of his satisfaction, and our salvation. Though the Divine nature can, and doth dwell in union with the pure and sinless human nature of Christ, yet it cannot dwell in union with sin.

    This supposition would render the blood of the cross altogether unable to satisfy for us. He could not have been the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world, if he had not been perfectly pure and spotless, 1 Pet. 1.19.

    If the way of making our sins Christ’s by imputation, be thus rejected and derided; and Christ asserted by SOME OTHER WAY to become as completely sinful as we; then I cannot see which way to avoid it, but that the very same acts and habits of sin must inhere both in Christ and in believers also. For I suppose our adversaries will not deny, that notwithstanding God’s laying the sins of believers upon Christ, there remain in all believers after their justification, sinful inclinations and aversations; a law of sin in their members, a body of sin and death.


    Did this indwelling sin pass from them to Christ? Why do they complain and groan of indwelling sin (as in Romans 7) if indwelling sin itself be so transferred from them to Christ? Sure, unless men will dare to say, the same acts and habits of sin which they feel in themselves, are as truly in Christ as in themselves, they have no ground to say, that by God’s laying their iniquities upon Christ, that Christ became as completely sinful as they are; and if they should so affirm, that affirmation would undermine the very foundation of their own salvation.

    Nothing which Christ did or suffered, nothing that he undertook, or underwent, did, or could constitute him subjectively, inherently, and thereupon personally a sinner, or guilty of any sin of his own. To bear the guilt or blame of other men’s faults makes no man a sinner. So then this proposition, that by God’s laying our sins upon Christ (in some OTHER WAY THAN BY IMPUTATION of guilt) he became as completely sinful as we, will not, ought not to be received as the sound doctrine of the gospel

    ReplyDelete
  22. I have got to go for now, but please keep trying to communicate with me. I want to be instructed, not only about the nature of our disagreement, but also about what I don't know yet, and what I know which is not correct.

    If only we could say what we mean, then perhaps we could mean what we say.

    http://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/union-is-not-the-indwelling-nature-and-made-sin-was-never-the-inward-nature/

    ReplyDelete
  23. WLC Q. 77. Wherein do justification and sanctification differ?
    A. Although sanctification be inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ, in that God in justification imputeth the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification his Spirit infuseth grace, and enableth to the exercise thereof; in the former, sin is pardoned; in the other, it is subdued: the one doth equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation; the other is neither equal in all, nor in this life perfect in any, but growing up to perfection.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Justification is defined in this Q/A 77 as God imputing the righteousness of Christ to the believer which is then defined as "sin is pardoned." Wouldn't you then have to agree that included within imputation is a righteousness that involves not only being clothed with Christ's perfect obedience but also the pardon or forgiveness of our sins which was accomplished by Jesus taking the death penalty of the law for sin upon himself in his death and resurrection?

      Delete
    2. "Q. 72. What is justifying faith?
      A. Justifying faith is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and Word of God, whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition, not only assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receiveth and resteth upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation."

      So you can readily see that there are two things going on, both of legal consequence. First there is "recovering him out of his lost condition", which is a legal matter pertaining to debt. The second, "accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation" is a legal matter pertaining to inheritance. The believer is not only a freed slave, but he is also an adopted son with an inheritance that the Bible describes as the clothing of righteousness... and the expression used here is "imputation of righteousness." Christ describes himself in several ways: redeemer, scapegoat, advocate, mediator, friend... and king with the power to both bequeath and adorn them that are invited to His banquet in the clothes of righteousness. We must not confuse or conflate these roles.

      Moreover, we must not add to the catechism an expression that it does not offer, namely that our sin is "imputed" to Christ. This is not the language of the WCF or of the WLC. While I won't go so far as to call it heresy, I must say that such language is unregulated and in error.

      Delete
    3. Hudson,
      Let me refer to WCF 1.6: "The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture..."

      Isn't that the logic that allows us to know the doctrine of the Trinity even though the word 'Trinity' is nowhere mentioned in Scripture? It's the same logic that follows on the Divines use of the term 'surety' as pertaining to Christ -

      WCF 8.3-4: "... he might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a mediator, and surety. Which office he took not unto himself, but was thereunto called by his Father... This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake; which that he might discharge, he was made under the law, and did perfectly fulfill it..."

      Surety is defined as: someone who agrees to be legally responsible if another person fails to pay a debt or to perform a duty.

      Christ before the Law legally took upon himself our debt, i.e. sin. - "forgive us our debts" or trespasses as in the Lord's Prayer.

      Christ took upon himself the office of surety for us sinners to discharge all requirements of demanded of the Law relating both to penalties (and in the day you eat of it you shall surely die) and as to meeting its requirements. In other words, our debt or guilt of sin was imputed (a law word) to Christ and he became legally responsible for it as our Surety. He discharged that debt of sin both by dying in our place and living perfectly before the law.

      "And you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did he make alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and he hath taken it out that way, nailing it to the cross (Col. 2:13-14) [law phrase emphasized]

      This Jesus did as our legal Surety. And none of this excludes the truth that we were also adopted in love, made sons and daughters of God, co-heirs of Christ. Rather, it is Jesus performing fully the office of Surety that clears all charges in order that justice and holiness are served as the just basis for all other blessings of salvation given to us. To have a just foundation as regards God's holiness allowing God to be the just and justifier...

      You say this is error. With that statement you include just about any reformed theologian past and present. J.I. Packer teaches imputation of our sins to Christ:

      "So that now the righteousness of Christ is ours not only objectively (as they term it) but formally also”—that is, it is not only an ontological reality, “there” for our benefit in some general sense, but actually imparts to us the “form,” i.e., the characteristic, of being righteous in God’s sight.9 Our sins were reckoned (imputed) to Christ, so that he bore God’s judgment on them, and in virtue of this his righteousness is reckoned ours, so that we are pardoned, accepted, and given a righteous man’s status for his sake.So that now the righteousness of Christ is ours not only objectively (as they term it) but formally also”—that is, it is not only an ontological reality, “there” for our benefit in some general sense, but actually imparts to us the “form,” i.e., the characteristic, of being righteous in God’s sight.9 Our sins were reckoned (imputed) to Christ, so that he bore God’s judgment on them, and in virtue of this his righteousness is reckoned ours, so that we are pardoned, accepted, and given a righteous man’s status for his sake."
      http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/sola-fide-the-reformed-doctrine-of-justification/

      It is mainstream soteriological doctrine. Again, what reformed theologians past or present denies this?

      blessings, bro...

      Delete
    4. God forgives our debts against his holy Law because Jesus our Savior, born under the Law and taking our place before the Law, paid our debts... Thus we are no longer under law but under grace.

      Delete
    5. "The negative aspect of justification may receive due expression in the recognition of Christ's bearing the penalty of the sin of his people and so securing forgiveness for them." - Of Works and Grace, M.G. Kline

      Delete
    6. A final thought... Our sins being imputed to Christ is a strictly legal matter before the law. It doesn't effect at all the sinless nature of Christ. In fact, it was absolutely necessary that Christ without blemish - sinless - be offered to take away the sins of the world. His sinless life of infinite value was sufficient to pay for the guilt of the elect's sins that he took upon himself. Once he died, the law was satisfied in that the wages of sin, i.e. death, had been paid as required by the Law. But because Christ was in himself sinless and not a sinner, death could not hold him, a righteous man. And thus by the Spirit of God he rose from the dead for our justification. So, imputation of sin to Christ is akin to the type in Leviticus with the two-fold offering for sin:

      "A twofold mode of expiation is here presented to us; for one of the two goats was offered in sacrifice according to the provisions of the Law, the other was sent away to be an outcast, or offscouring (katharma vel peripsema [242] ) The fulfillment of both figures, however, was manifested in Christ, since He was both the Lamb of God, whose offering blotted out the sins of the world, and, that He might be as an offscouring, (katharma,) His comeliness was destroyed, and He was rejected of men." Calvin Commentary Leviticus.

      Lev. 16: 18 And he shall go out unto the altar that is before Jehovah, and make atonement for it, and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about.
      19 And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleannesses of the children of Israel.
      20 And when he hath made an end of atoning for the holy place, and the tent of meeting, and the altar, he shall present the live goat:
      21 and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, even all their sins; and he shall put them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a man that is in readiness into the wilderness:
      22 and the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a solitary land: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.

      Again:
      "the goat which departed alive and free, was an atonement, [243] that by its departure and flight the people might be assured that their sins were put away and vanished. This was the only expiatory sacrifice in the Law without blood; nor does this contradict the statement of the Apostle, for since two goats were offered together, it was enough that the death of one should take place, and that its blood should be shed for expiation; for the lot was not cast   until both goats had been brought to the door of the tabernacle; and thus although the priest presented one of them alive "to make an atonement with him," as Moses expressly says, yet God was not propitiated without blood, since the efficacy of the expiation depended on the sacrifice of the other goat." Calvin Commentary Leviticus.

      Jack: A type of Christ's death on the cross: a spotless goat sacrificed as a perfect sacrifice for sins and a second goat upon which the sins of the people are laid (imputed) and put outside the camp, removed far from the people.

      Delete
    7. So it's settled. You have been unable to find in the Bible or any Reformed confession any reference to the expression "imputation of sins" to Christ, but rather only the "imputation of sins" from Adam and the "imputation of righteousness" to the man of faith. Yes, you've found plenty of other words to describe the transfer of our sins to Christ; expiation, redemption, propitiation, atonement, remission, etc, but that's not the same thing.

      The only thing you have found to support your assertion is from folks whom we might call Reformed fathers; Hodge, Berkhof, Sproul, Packer, and a few others who have failed (in this rare instance) to be regulated by Scripture and the confessions. What we are seeing is a game of "whisper down the lane", possibly beginning with a mistranslation of Calvin's french. I don't have a copy of the Institutes in french, so I can't verify that one way or the other, but I do know that if Calvin made this mistake, he didn't repeat it.

      Delete
    8. I read that piece you posted from Owen. http://biblicalsoteriology.blogspot.com/2009/12/john-owen-imputation-of-believers-sins.html For all his many words, he never once quotes any Scripture that says our sins are "imputed" to Christ. He only provides documentation that says God prevents Adam's sin from being imputed to us, and that Christ's righteousness is imputed to us, and of course that God's wrath, our sins and the debt of sin are removed by means of remission, expiation, atonement, redemption, propitiation, each of which has a specific meaning not synonymous with "imputation."

      Delete
    9. Hudson, I have to chuckle that you are hanging your hat on the use (and lack thereof) of the word 'imputation' all the while it's meaning is present in the sources - yes the WCF. As Mark said, one cannot have their own definitions. And as I wrote above, by your logic no one should teach the doctrine of the Trinity since the Trinity is not mentioned in Scripture. But you would say that the teaching that we put under the name Trinity is indeed in Scripture, and so it is. So too with imputation regarding the guilt of our sin and Christ who "bore our sins in his body on the tree that we might die to sin and live to righteousness" (1 Peter 2:24)

      "might call" Reformed?"... as in stalwart reformed past and present: Calvin, Owen, Berkof, Packer, Sproul, Smeaton, Hodge, Pink, Fesko, Baugh, Horton, and on and on? By the way, Calvin apparently does "repeat this mistake." He not only teaches imputation (transfer or laying on) of the guilt of our sin to Christ in the Institutes but also in his Antitdote to Trent as well as his commentaries on Lev. 16, Isa. 53, Romans 5, 2 Cor. 5, and Gal. 3.

      Delete
    10. Here is Calvin's teaching from Gal. 3.

      Galatians 3:13
      13. Christ hath redeemed us. The apostle had made all who are under the law subject to the curse; from which arose this great difficulty, that the Jews could not free themselves from the curse of the law. Having stated this difficulty, he meets it, by shewing that Christ hath made us free, which still farther aids his purpose. If we are saved, because we have been freed from the curse of the law, then righteousness is not by the law. He next points out the manner in which we are made free.

      It is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree. Now, Christ hung upon the cross, therefore he fell under that curse. But it is certain that he did not suffer that punishment on his own account. It follows, therefore, either that he was crucified in vain, or that our curse was laid upon him, in order that we might be delivered from it. Now, he does not say that Christ was cursed, but, which is still more, that he was a curse, -- intimating, that the curse "of all men [59] was laid upon him" (Isaiah 53:6.) If any man think this language harsh, let him be ashamed of the cross of Christ, in the confession of which we glory. It was not unknown to God what death his own Son would die, when he pronounced the law, "He that is hanged is accursed of God." (Deuteronomy 21:23.)

      But how does it happen, it will be asked, that a beloved Son is cursed by his Father? We reply, there are two things which must be considered, not only in the person of Christ, but even in his human nature. The one is, that he was the unspotted Lamb of God, full of blessing and of grace; the other is, that he placed himself in our room, and thus became a sinner, and subject to the curse, not in himself indeed, but in us, yet in such a manner, that it became necessary for him to occupy our place. He could not cease to be the object of his Father's love, and yet he endured his wrath. For how could he reconcile the Father to us, if he had incurred his hatred and displeasure? We conclude, that he "did always those things that pleased" (John 8:29) his Father. Again, how would he have freed us from the wrath of God, if he had not transferred it from us to himself? Thus, "he was wounded for our transgressions," (Isaiah 53:5,) and had to deal with God as an angry judge. This is the foolishness of the cross, (1 Corinthians 1:18,) and the admiration of angels, (1 Peter 1:12,) which not only exceeds, but swallows up, all the wisdom of the world.


      If you agree with the above then we're are agreed on doctrine as to related to our sin and Christ.

      And we will apparently differ on the definition of impute, i.e. to lay the responsibility or blame for often falsely or unjustly, apply, ascribe, assign, attach, attribute, attribute vicariously, blame, charge to, transfer, charge upon, credit, fix the burden of, fix the responsibility for, fix upon, place the blame on, place the responsibility for.

      cheers...

      Delete
    11. If it is in the WCF, then please point it out. As for Calvin's teaching from Gal. 3, I have no problem with it, and the reason is that he does NOT say anything resembling "imputation of our sins to Christ." If Calvin wanted to describe the removal of our sin to Christ with the word imputation, don't you think that in all his writing it would be explicit and repeated? As it is, it's one instance that may well be a mistranslation.

      Don't you see that the definition of "impute" you are using is actually many definitions, and that they are not synonymous to each other?

      Delete
  24. Calvin: "or that our curse was laid upon him, in order that we might be delivered from it.'
    Isa. 53:6 -

    Using the Merriam-Webster synonyms for impute:

    The Father laid the responsibility or blame for our sins upon Christ.
    The Father applied the guilt of our sins to Christ.
    The Father ascribed the guilt of our sins to Christ.
    The Father assigned the guilt of our sins to Christ.
    The Father attributed to Christ the guilt of our sins.
    The Father put the blame of our sins on Christ.
    The Father charged to Christ the guilt of our sins.
    The Father charged upon Christ the guilt of our sins.
    The Father transferred the guilt of our sin to Christ.
    The Father fixed the burden of our sins upon Christ.
    The Father fixed the responsibility for guilt of our sins to Christ.
    The Father fixed upon Christ the guilt of our sins.
    The Father placed the blame of our sins to Christ.
    The Father placed the responsibility for the guilt of our sins to Christ.
    God transferred to Christ the wrath that was due our sins.

    Calvin: "We conclude, that he "did always those things that pleased" (John 8:29) his Father. Again, how would he have freed us from the wrath of God, if he had not transferred it from us to himself?"

    Beside assigning a negative, imputation can assign a positive:

    God credits faith in Christ as righteousness.
    God imputes righteousness through faith without works.

    Or as the KJV puts it: Rom. 4:6 - Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works; 22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness

    Or - NASB - Rom. 4:6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works; 22 Therefore it was also credited to him as righteousness.

    ReplyDelete
  25. That's what I always say, when the Bible won't give you the words and definitions that you need, go to Merriam-Webster. As for the quotations you offer from the Bible, no problem, especially when it is said that God imputes righteousness. No problem with the quote from Calvin either, for the word "transfer" is not objectionable. But note Calvin does not say here that the type of transfer is imputation.

    I'm still waiting for you to show me from the Bible or from any of the Reformed confessions a statement using the word "imputation" in regard to the transfer of sin from us to Christ.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hudson, you're using a straw man argument. The Bible doesn't define words. It' not a dictionary. But nonetheless I will ask you, where does the Bible give a definition to the word 'impute?' Where does it say "impute means such and such?" Words are used in the Bible by human writers using their language-words with meanings that are common to their communication with others.

    How can you miss that in Scripture the word impute in rendered in various translations of the Greek as counted, credited, reckoned, accounts, attributes, ascribeth (Tyndale's Bible). All those words mean the same thing as impute, as well as the other synonyms which could be used because they mean the same thing. These several words are used in reformed writings to describe our guilt of sin being laid upon or put on Christ.

    As I wrote before, which you didn't respond to, by your logic there is no doctrine of the Trinity because there is nowhere in the Bible that say "the Trinity is..." This much is clear, the Bible and the confessions teach that the guilt of our sins was laid upon or transferred to our Surety, Jesus Christ, and he bore them on the cross.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'm not going to respond to your taunt regarding the Trinity.

    You are wanting to use words other than in the way they are found in Scripture. Since the word "impute" is used only in only one context (to describe two specific events), that should define what it means (vis-a-vis Scripture), and nobody should use it in another context when discussing Scripture. If you will admit to this basic principle, then perhaps we can further discuss what the word means.... from the context, and why it cannot be used to describe events other than the imputation of sins from Adam and the imputation of righteousness from Christ.

    The words in your list are not synonyms. As for your last sentence about what is clear, I agree.

    ReplyDelete