Sunday, January 31, 2010

A.W. Pink: The Atonement makes salvation certain for all who believe and for whom Christ died

Speaking generally, only two views or interpretations of the Cross have received much favor among the professed people of God: the one which affirmed that the Atonement was effected to make certain the salvation of all who believe; the other which supposed that atonement was made in order to make possible the salvation of all men. The former is the strict Calvinist view; the latter, the Arminian. Even here, the difference was not merely one of terms, but of truth over against error. The one is definite and explicit; the other indefinite and intangible. The one affirms an Atonement which actually atones (i. e. fully satisfied God for those on whose behalf it was made); the other predicates an Atonement which was a sorry failure, inasmuch as the majority of those on whose behalf it was supposed to be offered, perish notwithstanding. The logical and inevitable corollary of the one is a satisfied, because triumphant Savior; the other (if true) would lead, unavoidably, to a disappointed, because defeated Savior. The former interpretation was taught by such men as Wickcliff, Calvin, Latimer, Tyndale, Bunyan, Owen, Dodderidge, Jonathan Edwards, Toplady, Whitefield, Spurgeon, etc. The latter by men who, as theologians, were not worthy to unloose their shoes.

… . If ALL the sins of ALL men were laid upon Christ, then the sin of unbelief was too. That unbelief is a sin is clear from the fact that in 1 John 3:23 we read, "And this is His commandment, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ." Refusal to believe in Christ is, therefore, an act of flagrant disobedience, rebellion against the Most High. But if all the sins of all men were laid upon Christ (as it is now asserted), then He also endured the penalty for the Christ-rejector's unbelief. If this be so, then Universalism is true. But it is not so. The very advocates of the view we are now refuting would not affirm it. And therein may be seen the inconsistency and untenableness of their teaching. For if unbelief is a sin and Christ did not suffer the penalty of it, then all sin was not laid upon Christ. Thus there are only two alternatives: a strictly limited Atonement, availing only for believers; or an unlimited Atonement which effectually secures the salvation of the entire human race.

… The fact that Holy Writ does declare that the wicked shall yet be judged "according to their works" is incontestable evidence that they will have more to answer for, and will suffer for something more than their rejection of Christ.

… If Christ be the propitiation for those that are lost equally as much as for those that are saved, then what assurance have we that believers too may not be lost? If Christ be the propitiation for those now in hell, what guarantee have I that I may not end in hell? The blood-shedding of the incarnate Son of God is the only thing which can keep any one out of hell, and if many for whom that precious blood made propitiation are now in the awful place of the damned, then may not that blood prove inefficacious for me! Away with such a God-dishonoring thought. (A.W. Pink, The Atonement

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bahnsen: The Atonement Must be Limited in Extent

If it be said that before creation the Father singled out in election those whom He destined to save and that the Spirit's activity of bringing men to repentance and faith is operative (to that extent) only in the lives of God's elect and yet that Christ offered up His life for the purpose of saving every single individual, then the unity of the Trinity has been forsaken. For in such a case Christ clearly sets out to accomplish what God the Father and Spirit do not intend to do; Christ here would be out of harmony with the will and purpose of the other two persons of the Trinity. Hence anyone who expounds "four-point Calvinism" has inadvertently destroyed the doctrine of the Trinity (by dissolving its unity) and is logically committed to a polytheistic position.

It should also be noted that the doctrine of particular redemption is necessary to the orthodox view of Christ's substitutionary atonement; the only alternatives to it are universal salvation or salvation by works (both are unbiblical). If Christ atoned for the sins of all men then all men will be saved, for a righteous God cannot condemn a man twice; if the man's sins have been atoned, he cannot be sent to Hell on the basis of them. Scripture makes it abundantly clear that Christ through his sacrifice made a full and actual (no potential) redemption; "who gave himself to us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a peculiar (chosen) people" (Titus 2:14); "he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21; "he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking ... his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption" (Hebrews 9:12).

It is clear that Christ presented an actual and not potential redemption on the cross; the gospel is good news, not good advice, it tells us what has been accomplished, not what might come about. Upon the cross Christ cried out "It is finished"; nothing was left to be done, for full atonement had been made. Hence, if Christ (as it is suggested) died for every man, all men shall be saved without exception; yet scripture clearly does not teach universal salvation. And if (contrary to scripture) it is responded that Christ's redemption is only potential, to be made actual when the sinner believes, then salvation is said to depend finally on something the sinner does. And that is tantamount to salvation by works (as well as being based on an erroneous view of Christ's atonement.

... Particular redemption is the only triune, monotheistic, substitutionary, personal, effectual, and biblical (hence, orthodox) doctrine of Christ's atonement; all else (including fundamentalism's redemption for every individual) are doctrines pleasing to men but unsatisfactory in their Theology, anthropology, and soteriology. Sola Scriptura! (Greg Bahnsen, Limited Atonement)

The Bible knows no other kind of atonement but a sutstitutionary atonement; it is a ransom payment in exchange for the sinner’s life and freedom. Christ was delivered for our offenses (Rom. 4:25) and gave Himself for our sins (Gal. 1:4); that means that He died for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6) – those who are in bondage to sin (John 8:34) and dead in trespasses (Eph. 2:1). Christ gave Himself in order to redeem us from this iniquity and purify us unto good works (Titus 2:14). He went to the cross as a lamb without blemish (I Pet. 1:18-19), being the substitutionary sacrifice in the place of sinners (Eph. 5:2). As our passover sacrifice (I Cor. 5:7), Christ redeemed us by His blood (I Pet. 1:19). Apart from the shedding of blood there is no remission (Heb. 9:22), and thus Christ entered the holy place and through His blood “obtained eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12). By this redemption, He secured forgiveness for our sin (Col. 1:14), freedom from the power of Satanic bondage (Heb. 2:14-15), and newness of life (Rom. 6:4). The Savior has paid the price which actually obtains our full redemption; how great a salvation! Anything less than this would not be biblical atonement.

With this background in mind, it should be evident that if the atonement is universal, then every single man is in fact redeemed. None can be lost. Jesus, knowing His own, laid down His life for the sheep (John 10:14-15), and thereby gives them eternal life so that they shall never perish or be snatched from His hand (John 10:27-29). Those for whom Christ died are actually redeemed, not just potentially redeemed; eternal life has been secured for the objects of Christ’s atoning love. Thus if Christ laid down His life for every single individual, then every person shall be eternally saved – nothing being able to snatch them from Christ’s hand. Of course, that means that even the man who dies cursing God is saved; his response to the gospel call was not really needed in order for him to escape God’s wrath. Since the atonement is substitutionary and secures its effect, then even the unbeliever for whom Christ (allegedly) died would have to be saved – or else injustice is attributed to God for double indemnity (taking penal recourse for a man’s sins twice), but if unbelievers shall be saved, there is no need to evangelize them at all! Only the doctrine of particular atonement requires the proclaiming of the good news, for that doctrine teaches that only believers shall be saved (John 3:36). The extent of the atonement is restricted to those who will have saving faith in Christ, those to whom He gives eternal life, those whom He calls His “sheep.” Proclamation is God’s appointed way of gathering in all His elect, all those for whom Christ gave His life as a substitutionary ransom. However, if the atonement applies to every man, then proclamation is not required; since even unbelievers are under the Passover blood of Christ, God will pass over them in judgment even though they have heard and rejected, or never heard at all, the gospel message.

… If Christ’s atonement does not bring one completely to salvation, then it must be completed by man. The ground of one’s salvation is not restricted to Christ’s gracious work but now must encompass the contribution of the sinner – namely, his own work of faith. Here, faith is included in the basis for salvation rather than being seen as the instrument of God’s saving grace, but making man’s activity a contribution to his salvation is bad news. First, it undermines the wholly gracious nature of salvation. It turns faith into a work accomplished by man in order to make up what is lacking in Christ’s atonement. Instead the Bible presents faith (as every other blessing) as a result of Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension; it is, not man’s work, the gift of God (Eph. 2:8-9). The universalist says that the cross plus your faith save you; the particularist says that the work of Christ on the cross results in your saving faith. It makes all the difference in the world whether man’s faith is added to the atonement or flows from the atonement; it is just the difference between grace and self-salvation. Secondly, a universal atonement is bad news because it would prevent all men from being saved – since no man can bring himself to faith (John 3:3, 19 with I Cor. 1:18, 2:14). If you call men to finish their salvation by actualizing Christ’s potential atonement by their own faith, you ask them to do what they are unable to do; thus the atonement ends up applying to nobody. A universal atonement either deprives us of gracious salvation or makes salvation impossible; we no longer see “the praise of the glory of His grace wherein He has made us accepted in the beloved, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:6-7). (Greg Bahnsen, Limited Atonement)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

John Murray: "Limited atonement" is inescapable due to the nature of the atonement

In a word, the atonement is bound up with its efficacy in respect of obedience, expiation, propitiation, reconciliation, and redemption. When the Scripture speaks of Christ as dying for men, it is His vicarious death on their behalf that is in view and all the content which belongs to the atonement defines the significance of the formula "died for." Thus we may not say that He died for all men any more than that He made atonement for all men. (John Murray, The Atonement)

J. Gresham Machen on the Atonement (excerpts)

The one place where the word [atonement] occurs in the King James Version of the New Testament is Romans 5:11 … Here the word is used to translate a Greek word meaning ‘reconciliation.’ This usage seems to be very close to the etymological meaning of the word, for it does seem to be true that the English word ‘atonement’ means ‘atonement.’ It is, therefore, according to its derivation, a natural word to designate the state of reconciliation between two parties formerly at variance.

In the Old Testament, on the other hand, where the word occurs in the King James Version not once, but forty or fifty times, it has a different meaning; it has the meaning of ‘propitiation.’ [See Leviticus 1:4, 16:6, 16:15f.]

... In these passages the meaning of the word is clear. God has been offended because of the sins of the people or of individuals among His people. The priest kills the animal which is brought as a sacrifice. God is thereby propitiated, and those who have offended God are forgiven.

… All that I am saying is that that word in the Old Testament clearly conveys the notion of something that is done to satisfy God in order that the sins of men may be forgiven and their communion with God restored. … In our ordinary usage the word certainly conveys the idea of something like compensation for some wrong that has been done. … God is offended because of sin; satisfaction is made to Him in some way by the sacrifice; and so His favour is restored. … We mean by the word [atonement], when we thus use it in theology, not the reconciliation between God and man, not the ‘at-onement’ between God and man, but specifically the means by which that reconciliation is effected — namely, the death of Christ as something that was necessary in order that sinful man might be received into communion with God.

… However, there is another word which would in itself have been much better, and it is really a great pity that it has not come into more general use in this connection. That is the word ‘satisfaction.’ If we only had acquired the habit of saying that Christ made full satisfaction to God for man that would have conveyed a more adequate account of Christ’s priestly work as our Redeemer than the word ‘atonement’ can convey. It designates what the word ‘atonement’ — rightly understood — designates, and it also designates something more.

… You cannot possibly understand what the Bible says about salvation unless you understand what the Bible says about the thing from which we are saved.

If then we ask what is the Biblical doctrine of sin, we observe, in the first place, that according to the Bible all men are sinners. … Sin, [the Bible] tells us, is disobedience to the law of God, and the law of God is entirely irrevocable. … When the law of God says, ‘The soul that sinneth it shall die,’ that awful penalty of death is, indeed, imposed by God’s will; but God’s will is determined by God’s nature, and God’s nature being unchangeably holy the penalty must run its course. God would be untrue to Himself, in other words, if sin were not punished; and that God should be untrue to Himself is the most impossible thing that can possibly be conceived.

… How then can sinful men be saved? In one way only. Only if a substitute is provided who shall pay for them the just penalty of God’s law.

The Bible teaches that such a substitute has as a matter of fact been provided. The substitute is Jesus Christ. The law’s demands of penalty must be satisfied. There is no escaping that. But Jesus Christ satisfied those demands for us when He died instead of us on the cross.

… The law demanded that we should suffer eternal death because of our sin. Christ paid the penalty of the law in our stead. But for Him to suffer was not the same as for us to suffer. He is God, and not merely man. Therefore if He had suffered to all eternity as we should have suffered, that would not have been to pay the just penalty of the sin, but it would have been an unjust exaction of vastly more. In other words, we must get rid of merely quantitative notions in thinking of the sufferings of Christ. What He suffered on the cross was what the law of God truly demanded not of any person but of such a person as Himself when He became our substitute in paying the penalty of sin. He did therefore make full and not merely partial satisfaction for the claims of the law against us.

… No, God Himself paid the penalty of sin — God Himself in the Person of God the Son, who loved us and gave Himself for us, God Himself in the person of God the Father who so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son, God the Holy Spirit who applies to us the benefits of Christ’s death. God’s the cost and ours the marvellous gain! Who shall measure the depths of the love of God which was extended to us sinners when the Lord Jesus took our place and died in our stead upon the accursed tree? (Excerpts from: J. Gresham Machen, The Doctrine of the Atonement)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Excerpts from "Justification," by A.A. Hodge

The obedience which the law demands is called righteousness; and those who render that obedience are called righteous. To ascribe righteousness to anyone, or to pronounce him righteous, is the scriptural meaning of the word 'to justify.' The word never means, to make good in a moral sense, but always to pronounce just or righteous. Thus God says, 'I will not justify the wicked'(Ex.23.7). Judges are commanded to justify the righteous and to condemn the wicked (Deut. 25.1). Woe is pronounced on those who 'justify the wicked for reward' (Isa. 5.23). In the New Testament it is said, 'By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight' (Rom. 3.20) 'It is God that justifieth, Who is he that condemneth?' (Rom. 8.33,34). There is scarcely a word in the Bible the meaning of which is less open to doubt. There is no passage in the New Testament in which it is used out of its ordinary and obvious sense. When God justifies a man, he declares him to be righteous. To justify never means to render one holy. It is said to be sinful to justify the wicked; but it could never be sinful to render the wicked holy. And as the law demands righteousness, to impute or ascribe righteousness to anyone, is, in scriptural language, to justify. To make (or constitute) righteous, is another equivalent form of expression. Hence, to be righteous before God, and to be justified, mean the same thing: as in the following passage: ' Not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.'(Rom. 2.13) The attentive, and especially the anxious reader of the Bible cannot fail to observe, that these various expressions, to be righteous in the sight of God, to impute righteousness, to constitute righteous, to justify, and others of similar import, are so interchanged as to explain each other, and to make it clear that to justify a man is to ascribe or impute to him righteousness. The great question then is, How is this righteousness to be obtained? We have reason to be thankful that the answer which the Bible gives to this question is so perfectly plain.


If the law was satisfied by an imperfect obedience, or by a routine of external duties, or by any service which men are competent to render, then indeed justification would be by works. But since it demands perfect obedience, justification by works is, for sinners, absolutely impossible. It is thus the apostle reasons, 'As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them (Gal.3.10). As the law pronounces its curse upon every man who continues not to do all that it commands, and as no man can pretend to this perfect obedience, it follows that all who look to the law for justification must be condemned. To the same effect, in a following verse, he says, 'The law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.' That is, the law is not satisfied by any single grace, or imperfect obedience. It knows, and can know no other ground of justification than complete compliance with its demands. Hence, in the same chapter, Paul says, ' If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.' Could the law pronounce righteous, and thus give a title to the promised life to those who had broken its commands, there would have been no necessity of any other provision for the salvation of men; but as the law cannot thus lower its demands, justification by the law is impossible. The same truth is taught in a different form, when it is said, 'If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain (Gal. 2.21). There would have been no necessity for the death of Christ, if it had been possible to satisfy the law by the imperfect obedience which we can render. Paul therefore warns all those who look to works for justification, that they are debtors to do the whole law (Gal. 5.3). It knows no compromise; it cannot demand less than what is right, and perfect obedience is right, and therefore its only language is as before, ' Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them' (Gal. 3.10); and, 'The man which doeth those things shall live by them' (Rom. 10.5). Every man, therefore, who expects justification by works, must see to it, not that he is better than other men, or that he is very exact and does many things, or that he fasts twice in the week, and gives tithes of all he possesses, but that he is SINLESS.


Paul assumes that God demands perfect conformity to his will, that his wrath is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. With him, therefore, it is enough that men have sinned, to prove that they cannot be justified by works. It is not a question of degrees, more or less, for as to this point there is no difference, since ' all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God' (Rom. 3.23).


No human law is administered as men seem to hope the law of God will be. He who steals or murders, though it be but once, though he confesses and repents, though he does any number of acts of charity, is not less a thief or murderer. The law cannot take cognizance of his repentance and reformation. If he steals or murders, the law condemns him. Justification by the law is for him impossible. The law of God extends to the most secret exercises of the heart. It condemns whatever is in its nature evil. If a man violate this perfect rule of right, there is an end of justification by the law; he has failed to comply with its conditions; and the law can only condemn him. To justify him, would be to say that he had not transgressed. Men, however, think that they are not to be dealt with on the principles of strict law. Here is their fatal mistake. It is here that they are in most direct conflict with the Scriptures, which proceed upon the uniform assumption of our subjection to the law. Under the government of God, strict law is nothing but perfect excellence; it is the steady exercise of moral rectitude. Even conscience, when duly enlightened and roused, is as strict as the law of God. It refuses to be appeased by repentance, reformation, or penance. It enforces every command and every denunciation of our Supreme Ruler, and teaches, as plainly as do the Scriptures themselves, that justification by an imperfect obedience is impossible. As conscience, however, is fallible, no reliance on this subject is placed on her testimony. The appeal is to the word of God, which clearly teaches that it is impossible a sinner can be justified by works, because the law demands perfect obedience.


It need hardly be remarked, that, in this view, the whole Scriptures, from the beginning to the end, are crowded with condemnations of the doctrine of justification by works. Every penitent confession, every appeal to God's mercy, is a renunciation of all personal merit, a declaration that the penitent's hope was not founded on anything in himself. Such confessions and appeals are indeed often made by those who still rely upon their good works, or inherent righteousness, for acceptance with God. This, however, does not invalidate the apostle's argument. It only shows that such persons have a different view of what is necessary for justification, from that entertained by the apostle. They suppose that the demands of the law are so low, that although they are sinners and need to be forgiven, they can still do what the law demands. Whereas, Paul proceeds on the assumption that the law requires perfect obedience, and therefore every confession of sin, or appeal for mercy, involves a renunciation of justification by the law.


The two methods of acceptance with God, the one by works, the other by a propitiation for sin, are incompatible. And as the ancient Scriptures teach the latter method, they repudiate the former. But they moreover, in express terms, assert, that 'the just shall live by faith.' And the law knows nothing of faith; its language is, 'The man that doeth them shall live in them' (Gal. 3:11,12). The law knows nothing of anything but obedience as the ground of acceptance. If the Scriptures say we are accepted through faith, they thereby say that we are not accepted on the ground of obedience.


He assumes that the law demands perfect obedience, and as no man can render that obedience, he infers that no man can be justified by the law. He does not argue, that because the law is spiritual, it cannot be satisfied by mere ceremonies, or by works flowing from an impure motive. He nowhere says, that though we cannot be justified by external rites, or by works having the mere form of goodness, we are justified by our sincere, though imperfect, obedience. On the contrary, he constantly teaches, that since we are sinners, and since the law condemns all sin, it condemns us, and justification by the law is, therefore, impossible. This argument he applies to the Jews and the Gentiles without distinction, to the whole world, whether they knew anything of the Jewish Scriptures or not. It was the moral law, the law which he pronounced holy, just, and good, which says, 'Thou shalt not covet'; it is this law, however revealed, whether in the writings of Moses, or in the human heart, of which he constantly asserts that it cannot give life, or teach the way of acceptance with God.


All the inward excellence of the Christian and the fruit of the Spirit are the consequences, and not the causes of his reconciliation and acceptance with God. They are the robe of beauty, the white garment, with which Christ arrays those who come to him poor, and blind, and naked. It is, then, the plain doctrine of the word of God, that our justification is not founded upon our own obedience to the law. Nothing done by us or wrought in us can for a moment stand the test of a rule of righteousness, which pronounces a curse upon all those who continue not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.


WE have thus seen that the Scriptures teach, first, That all men are naturally under the law as prescribing the terms of their acceptance with God; and, secondly, That no obedience which sinners can render is sufficient to satisfy the demands of that law. It follows, then, that unless we are freed from the law, not as a rule of duty, but as prescribing the conditions of acceptance with God, justification is for us impossible.


It was to the law, as revealed in the books of Moses, that the fickle Galatians were disposed to look for justification. Their apostasy, however, consisted in going back to the law, no matter in what form revealed--to works, no matter of what kind, as the ground of justification. The apostle's arguments and denunciations, therefore, are so framed as to apply to the adoption of any form of legal obedience, instead of the work of Christ, as the ground of our confidence towards God. To suppose that all he says relates exclusively to a relapse into Judaism, is to suppose that we Gentiles have no part in the redemption of Christ. If it was only from the bondage of the Jewish economy that he redeemed his people, then those who were never subject to that bondage have no interest in his work. And of course Paul was strangely infatuated in preaching Christ crucified to the Gentiles. We find, however, that what he taught in the Epistle to the Galatians, in special reference to the law of Moses he teaches in the Epistle to the Romans in reference to that law which is holy, just, and good, and which condemns the most secret sins of the heart.

The nature of the apostle's doctrine is, if possible, even more clear from the manner in which he vindicates it, than from his direct assertions. 'What then?' he asks,'shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid' (Rom. 6.15). Had Paul taught that we are freed from the ceremonial in order to be subject to the moral law, there could have been no room for such an objection. But if he taught that the moral law itself could not give life, that we must be freed from its demands as the condition of acceptance with God, then, indeed, to the wise of this world, it might seem that he was loosing the bands of moral obligation, and opening the door to the greatest licentiousness. Hence the frequency and earnestness with which he repels the objection, and shows that, so far from legal bondage being necessary to holiness, it must cease before holiness can exist; that it is not until the curse of the law is removed, and the soul reconciled to God, that holy affections rise in the heart, and the fruits of holiness appear in the life, 'Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law' (Rom. 2.31).


It is not by the abrogation of the law, either as to its precepts or penalty; it is not by lowering its demands, and accommodating them to the altered capacities or inclinations of men. We have seen how constantly the apostle teaches that the law still demands perfect obedience, and that they are debtors to do the whole law who seek justification at its hands. He no less clearly teaches, that death is as much the wages of sin in our case, as it was in that of Adam. If it is neither by abrogation nor relaxation that we are freed from the demands of the law, how has this deliverance been effected! By the mystery of vicarious obedience and suffering. This is the gospel of the grace of God. This is what was a scandal to the Jews, and foolishness to the Greeks; but, to those that are called, the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1.23, 24).

The Scriptures teach us that the Son of God, the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person, who thought it not robbery to be equal with God, became flesh, and subjected himself to the very law to which we were bound; that he perfectly obeyed that law, and suffered its penalty, and thus, by satisfying its demands, delivered us from its bondage, and introduced us into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. It is thus that the doctrine of redemption is presented in the Scriptures. 'God,' says the apostle, 'sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law' (Gal. 4.4-5). Being made under the law, we know that he obeyed it perfectly, and brought in everlasting righteousness, and is therefore declared to be 'the Lord our righteousness,'(Jer. 23.6) since, by his obedience, many are constituted righteous (Rom. 5.19). He, therefore, is said to be made righteousness unto us (1 Cor. 1.30). And those who are in him are said to be righteous before God, not having their own righteousness, but that which is through the faith of Christ (Phil. 3.9).


The prophet says, 'The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.--My righteous servant shall justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.--He was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many' (Isa. 53.6, 11, 122). Language more explicit could not be used. This whole chapter is designed to teach one great truth, that our sins were to be laid on the Messiah, that we might be freed from the punishment which we deserved. It is therefore said, 'He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him.--For the transgression of my people was he stricken.' In the New Testament, the same doctrine is taught in the same terms. 'Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree' (1 Pet. 2.24). 'Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many' (Heb. 9.28). 'Ye know that he was manifested to take away' (to bare) 'our sins' (1 Jn. 3.5). According to all these representations, Christ saves us from the punishment due to our sins, by bearing the curse of the law in OUR stead.


The nature of these offerings [in the Older Testament] is further obvious from the effects attributed to them. They were commanded in order to make atonement, to propitiate, to make reconciliation, to secure the forgiveness of sins. And this effect they actually secured. In the case of every Jewish offender, some penalty connected with the theocratical constitution under which he lived, was removed by the presentation and acceptance of the appointed sacrifice. This was all the effect, in the way of securing pardon, that the blood of bulls and of goats could produce. Their efficacy was confined to the purifying of the flesh, and to securing, for those who offered them, the advantages of the external theocracy. Besides, however, this efficacy, which, by Divine appointment, belonged to them considered in themselves, they were intended to prefigure and predict the true atoning sacrifice which was to be offered when the fulness of time should come. Nothing, however, can more clearly illustrate the scriptural doctrine of sacrifices, than the expressions employed by the sacred writers to convey the same idea as that intended by the term sin offering. Thus, all that Isaiah taught by saying of the Messiah that the chastisement of our peace was upon him; that with his stripes we are healed; that he was stricken for the transgression of the people; that on him was laid the iniquity of us all, and that he bore the sins of many, he taught by saying, 'he made his soul an offering for sin.' And in the Epistle to the Hebrews it is said, He 'was once offered' (as a sacrifice) 'to bear the sins of many' (Heb. 9.28). The same idea, therefore, is expressed by saying, either he bore our sins, or he was made an offering for sin. But to bear the sins of anyone, means to bear the punishment of those sins; and, therefore, to be a sin offering conveys the same meaning.


In all the forms of expression mentioned--Christ was made a curse for us; he was made sin for us; he bore our sins, he was made a sin offering--there is the idea of substitution. Christ took our place, he suffered in our stead, he acted as our representative. But as the act of a substitute is in effect the act of the principal, all that Christ did and suffered in that character, every believer is regarded as having done and suffered. The attentive and pious reader of the Bible will recognize this idea in some of the most common forms of scriptural expression. Believers are those who are in Christ. This is their great distinction and most familiar designation. They are so united to him, that what he did in their behalf they are declared to have done. When he died, they died; when he rose, they rose; as he lives, they shall live also. The passages in which believers are said to have died in Christ are very numerous. 'If one died for all,' says the apostle, 'then all died' (not, 'were dead') (2 Cor. 5.14). He that died (with Christ) is justified from sin, that is, freed from its condemnation and power; and if we died with Christ, we believe, that we shall live with him (Rom. 6. 7, 8). As a woman is freed by death from her husband, so believers are freed from the law by the body (the death) of Christ, because his death is in effect their death (Rom. 7.4). And in the following verse, he says, having died (in Christ), we are freed from the law. Every believer, therefore, may say with Paul, I was crucified with Christ (Gal. 2.20). In like manner, the resurrection of Christ secures both the spiritual life and future resurrection of all his people. If we have been united to him in his death, we shall be in his resurrection, if we died with him, we shall live with him (Rom.6.5, 8). 'God,' says the apostle, 'hath quickened us together with Christ; and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus' (Eph.2.4-6). That is, God hath quickened, raised, and exalted us together with Christ. It is on this ground, also, that Paul says that Christ rose as the firstfruits of the dead; not merely the first in order, but the earnest and security of the resurrection of his people. 'For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive' (1 Cor. 15.20, 22). As our union with Adam secures our death, union with Christ secures our resurrection. Adam is a type of him that was to come--that is, Christ, inasmuch as the relation in which Adam stood to the whole race, is analogous to that in which Christ stands to his own people. As Adam was our natural head, the poison of sin flows in all our veins. As Christ is our spiritual Head, eternal life which is in him, descends to all his members. It is not they that live, but Christ that liveth in them (Gal. 2.20). This doctrine of the representative and vital union of Christ and believers pervades the New Testament. It is the source of the humility, the joy, the confidence which the sacred writers so often express. In themselves they were nothing, and deserved nothing, but in Him they possessed all things. Hence, they counted all things but loss that they might be found in Him. Hence, they determined to know nothing, to preach nothing, to glory in nothing, but Christ and him crucified.


'The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin' (1 Jn. 1.7). 'We have redemption through his blood' (Eph. 1.7). He has 'made peace through the blood of his cross' (Col. 1.20). 'Being now justified by his blood' (Rom. 5.9). Ye 'are made nigh by the blood of Christ' (Eph. 2.13). 'Ye are come--to the blood of sprinkling' (Heb. 12.22, 24). 'Elect--unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ' (1 Pet. 1.2). 'Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood' (Rev. 1.5). 'He hath redeemed us unto God by his blood' (Rev. 5.9) 'This cup,' said the Son of God himself, 'is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for many for the remission of sins' (Mt. 26.28). The sacrificial character of the death of Christ is taught in all these passages. Blood was the means of atonement, and without the shedding of blood there was no remission; and, therefore, when our salvation is so often ascribed to the blood of the Savior, it is declared that he died as a propitiation for our sins.


Seeing, then, that we owe everything to the expiatory sufferings of the blessed Savior, we cease to wonder that the cross is rendered so prominent in the exhibition of the plan of salvation. We are not surprised at Paul's anxiety lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect; or that he should call the preaching of the gospel the preaching of the cross; or that he should preach Christ crucified, both to Jews and Creeks, as the wisdom of God and the power of Cod; or that he should determine to glory in nothing save in the cross of Christ.


It was predicted, long before his advent, that the Messiah was to be a Priest. 'Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek,' was the declaration of the Holy Spirit by the mouth of David (Ps. 110.4). Zechariah predicted that he should sit as 'a priest upon his throne (Zech. 6.13). The apostle defines a priest to be a man 'ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins (Heb. 5.1). Jesus Christ is the only real Priest in the universe. All others were either pretenders, or the shadow of the great High priest of our profession. For this office he had every necessary qualification. He was a man. 'For inasmuch as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, he also took part of the same, in order that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest; one who can be touched with a sense of our infirmities, seeing that was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.' He was sinless. 'For such a High Priest became us, who was holy, harmless, and separate from sinners.' He was the Son of God. The law made men having infirmity, priests. But God declared his Son to be a Priest, who is consecrated for evermore (Heb. 7.28). The sense in which Christ is declared to be the Son of God, is explained in the first chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews. It is there said, that he is the express image of God; that he upholds all things by the word of his power; that all the angels are commanded to worship him; that his throne is an everlasting throne; that in the beginning he laid the foundations of the earth; that he is from everlasting and that his years fail not. It is from the dignity of his person, as possessing this Divine nature, that the apostle deduces the efficacy of his sacrifice (Heb. 9.14), the perpetuity of his priesthood (Heb. 7.16), and his ability to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him (Heb. 7.25). He was duly constituted a Priest. He glorified not himself to be made a High Priest; but he that said unto him, 'Thou art my Son,' said also, 'Thou art a Priest for ever.' He is the only real Priest, and therefore his advent superseded all others, and put an immediate end to all their lawful ministrations, by abolishing the typical dispensation with which they were connected. For the priesthood being changed, there was of necessity a change of the law. There was a disannulling of the former commandment for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof, and there was the introduction of a better hope (Heb. 7.12, 18, 19). He has an appropriate offering to present. As every high priest is appointed to offer sacrifices, it was necessary that this man should have somewhat to offer. This sacrifice was not the blood of goats or of calves, but his own blood; it was himself he offered unto God, to purge our conscience from dead works (Heb. 9.12, 14). He has 'put away sin by the sacrifice of himself,' which was accomplished when he was 'once offered to bear the sin of many (Heb. 9.26, 28). He has passed into the heavens. As the high priest was required to enter into the most holy place with the blood of atonement, so Christ has entered not into the holy places made with hands, 'but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us, (Heb. 9.24) and where 'he ever lives to make intercession for us (Heb. 7.25).


In scriptural language, condemnation is a sentence of death pronounced upon sin; justification is a sentence of life pronounced upon righteousness. As this righteousness is not our own, as we are sinners, ungodly, without works, it must be the righteousness of another, even of Him who is our righteousness. Hence we find so constantly the distinction between our own righteousness and that which God gives. The Jews, the apostle says, being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, would not submit themselves unto the righteousness of God (Rom. 10.3). This was the rock on which they split. They knew that justification required a righteousness; they insisted on urging their own, imperfect as it was, and would not accept of that which God had provided in the merits of his Son, who is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes. The same idea is presented in Rom. ix. 30-32, where Paul sums up the case of the rejection of the Jews and the acceptance of believers. The Gentiles have attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel hath not attained it. Why? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. The Jews would not receive and confide in the righteousness which God had provided, but endeavored, by works, to prepare a righteousness of their own. This was the cause of their ruin. In direct contrast to the course pursued by the majority of his kinsmen, we find Paul renouncing all dependence upon his own righteousness, and thankfully receiving that which God had provided; though he had every advantage and every temptation to trust in himself, that any man could have; for he was one of the favored people of God, circumcised on the eighth day, and touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless; yet all these things he counted but loss, that he might win Christ, and be found in him, not having his own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith (Phil. 3.4-9). Here the two righteousness are brought distinctly into view. The one was his own, consisting in obedience to the law; this Paul rejects as inadequate, and unworthy of acceptance. The other is of God, and received by faith; this Paul accepts and glories in as all-sufficient and as alone sufficient. This is the righteousness which the apostle says God imputes to those without works. Hence it is called a gift, a free gift, a gift by grace, and believers are described as those who receive this gift of righteousness (Rom. 5.17). Hence we are never said to be justified by anything done by us or wrought in us, but by what Christ has done for us. We are justified through the redemption that is in him (Rom. 3.24). We are justified by his blood (Rom. 5.9) We are justified by his obedience (Rom. 5.19). We are justified by him from all things (Acts 13.39). He is our righteousness (1 Cor. 1.30). We are made the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor. 5.21). We are justified in his name (1 Cor. 6.11). There is no condemnation to those who are in him (Rom. 8.1) Justification is, therefore, by faith in Christ, because faith is receiving and trusting to him as our Savior, as having done all that is required to secure our acceptance before God.

It is thus, then, the Scriptures answer the question, How can a man be just with God? When the soul is burdened with a sense of sin, when it sees how reasonable and holy is that law which demands perfect obedience, and which threatens death as the penalty of transgression, when it feels the absolute impossibility of ever satisfying these just demands by its own obedience and sufferings, it is then that the revelation of Jesus Christ as our righteousness is felt to be the wisdom and power of God unto salvation. Destitute of all righteousness in ourselves, we have our righteousness in him. What we could not do, he has done for us, The righteousness, therefore, on the ground of which the sentence of justification is passed upon the believing sinner, is not his own, but that of Jesus Christ.


They [sacred writers] declare it [the doctrine of justification] to be in the highest degree honorable to God, and beneficial to man. They assert that it is so arranged as to display the wisdom, justice, holiness, and love of God, while it secures the pardon, peace, and holiness of men. If it failed in either of these objects; if it were not suited to the Divine character, or to our nature and necessities, it could not answer the end for which it was designed.


Some men strangely imagine that the death of Christ procured for us the love of God; whereas it was the effect and not the cause of that love. Christ did not die that God might love us; but he died because God loved us. 'God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.' (Rom. 5.8). He 'so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life' (Jn. 3.16). 'In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins' (1 Jn. 4.9-10).


It cannot fail to occur to every reader, that unless he sincerely rejoices in this feature of the plan of redemption, unless he is glad that the whole glory of his salvation belongs to God, his heart cannot be in accordance with the gospel. If he believes that the ground of his acceptance is in himself, or even wishes that it were so, he is not prepared to join in those grateful songs of acknowledgment to Him, who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which it is the delight of the redeemed to offer unto him that loved them and gave himself for them. It is most obvious, that the sacred writers are abundant in the confession of their unworthiness in the sight of God. They acknowledged that they were unworthy absolutely, and unworthy comparatively. It was of grace that any man was saved; and it was of grace that they were saved rather than others. It is, therefore, all of grace, that God may be exalted and glorified in all them that believe.


The Scriptures, however, represent this great doctrine as not less suited to meet the necessities of man, than it is to promote the glory of God. If it exalts God, it humbles man. If it renders it manifest that he is a Being of infinite holiness, justice, and love, it makes us feel that we are destitute of all merit, nay, are most ill-deserving; that we are without strength; that our salvation is an undeserved favor. As nothing is more true than the guilt and helplessness of men, no plan of redemption which does not recognize these facts, could ever be in harmony with our inward experience, or command the full acquiescence of the penitent soul.


So long as men are under the condemnation of the law, and feel themselves bound by its demands of obedience as the condition and ground of their acceptance with God, they do and must feel that he is unreconciled, that his perfections are arrayed against them. Their whole object is to propitiate him by means which they know to be inadequate. Their spirit is servile, their religion a bondage, their God is a hard Master. To men in such a state, true love, true obedience, and real peace are alike impossible. But when they are brought to see that God, through his infinite love, has set forth Jesus Christ as a propitiation for our sins, that he might be just, and yet justify those that believe; that it is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saves us--they are emancipated from their former bondage and made the sons of God. God is no longer a hard Master, but a kind Father. Obedience is no longer a task to be done for a reward; it is the joyful expression of filial love. The whole relation of the soul to God is changed, and all our feelings and conduct change with it. Though we have no works to perform in order to justification, we have everything to do in order to manifest our gratitude and love. 'Do we then make void the law through faith! God forbid: yea, we establish the law' (Rom. 3.31). There is no such thing as real, acceptable obedience, until we are thus delivered from the bondage of the law as the rule of justification, and are reconciled to God by the death of his Son. Till then we are slaves and enemies, and have the feelings of slaves. When we have accepted the terms of reconciliation, we are the sons of God, and have the feelings of sons.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

John Murray on the necessity of Christ's righteousness and atonement

Salvation requires not only the forgiveness of sin but also justification. And justification, adequate to the situation in which lost mankind is, demands a righteousness such as belongs to no other than the incarnate Son of God, a righteousness undefiled and undefilable, a righteousness with divine property and quality (cf. Rom. 1:17; 3:21; 22; 10:3; II Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9). It is the righteousness of the obedience of Christ (Rom. 5:19). But only the Son of God. incarnate, fulfilling to the full extent the commitments of the Father's will, could have provided such a righteousness. A concept of salvation bereft of the justification which this righteousness imparts is an abstraction of which Scripture knows nothing. (John Murray, The Atonement)

Charles Hodge: Refutation of the "Moral Influence" theory of the atonement

The idea that there is no forgiveness with God; that by inexorable law He deals with his creatures according to their subjective state and character, and that therefore the only salvation necessary or possible is sanctification, is appalling. No man is in such an inward state, either during life or at death, that he can stand before God to be dealt with according to that state. His only hope is that God will, and does, deal with his people, not as they are in themselves, but as they are in Christ, and for his sake; that He loves and has fellowship with us although polluted and defiled, as a parent loves and delights in a misshapen and unattractive child. ... Anything that turns the sinner’s regard inward on himself as a ground of hope, instead of bidding him took to Christ, must plunge him into despair, and despair is the portal of eternal death. In any view, therefore, whether as bold rationalistic Deism, or as the most high-toned portraiture of divine love, the moral theory of the atonement presents no rational, because no Scriptural, ground for a sinner’s hope toward God. He must have a better righteousness than his own. He must have some one to appear before God in his stead to make expiation for sin, and to secure for him, independently of his own subjective state, the full pardon of all his offences, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, II:3:9:3, Soteriology: Theories of the Atonement: The Moral View)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Christ's atonement and righteousness guarantees salvation to all for whom He served as the Substitute, that God might be just

"The sin of Adam did not make the condemnation of all men merely possible; it was the ground of their actual condemnation. So the righteousness of Christ did not make the salvation of men merely possible, it secured the actual salvation of those for whom He wrought." -Charles Hodge

"If Christ has died for you, you can never be lost. God will not punish twice for one thing. If God punished Christ for your sins He will not punish you. 'Payment God’s justice cannot twice demand; first, at the bleeding Saviour’s hand, and then again at mine.' How can God be just if he punished Christ, the substitute, and then man himself afterwards?" -C.H. Spurgeon

(Both of these quotes are from Lorraine Boettner's Limited Atonement.)

These quotes regarding the atonement answer to the questions that the doctrine of justification seeks to answer: "How can a man be just with God?" and "How can God be just but yet justify the wicked?" Only personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience will suffice; we must be dressed in spotless raiment, untainted in any respect by the defilement of totally depraved flesh. In our case as sinners, in order to be judicially declared "righteous" before God, we must obtain pardon as well as acceptance through perfect, perpetual law-keeping, as well as an infinite sacrifice for our sins -- both of which are impossible for us to perform. Because Christ served as our substitute in His passive obedience -- taking the guilt, curse, and penalty for sin upon Himself through imputation -- God has justly punished sin once and for all for His elect. Christ has also purchased the eternal reward of glorified life for His elect by His active obedience, His lifetime of perfect and perpetual Law-keeping from start to finish -- fulfilling all righteousness -- that is imputed to us. The question now becomes: "How can God be just if He punishes a man, for whom Christ died, with an eternity of hell apart from glorified life with God?"

Christ died that God might be just and the justifier of those who believe in Jesus (Rom. 3:26). Those who, by the instrumentality of faith alone, receive and rest in the person and work of Christ alone -- His active and passive obedience -- are pardoned and accepted, declared righteous before God's throne, and will obtain the eternal reward of glorified life that Christ purchased. God would be unjust to twice punish sin, first in the person of Christ through imputation of man's guilt when Christ bore their sins upon the tree, and secondly in the punishment of the man himself for the same sin. Arminianism and all other deviant forms of soteriology make God out to be an unjust judge. Either God is supposed to pardon and accept men on grounds other than an infinite sacrifice to pay the penalty for sins, as well as perfect, perpetual, and personal Law-keeping in every word, thought, deed, and motive; or He is supposed to exact the penalty for sin both from Christ and from some of those for whom He was supposed to die.

Lorraine Boettner: Arminianism limits the atonement more severely than does Calvinism

"When the atonement is made universal its Inherent value is destroyed. If it is applied to all men, and if some are lost, the conclusion is that it makes salvation objectively possible for all but that it does not actually save anybody. According to the Arminian theory the atonement has simply made it possible for all men to co-operate with divine grace and thus save themselves — if they will. But tell us of one cured of disease and yet dying of cancer, and the story will be equally luminous with that of one eased of sin and yet perishing through unbelief. The nature of the atonement settles its extent. If it merely made salvation possible, it applied to all men. If it effectively secured salvation, it had reference only to the elect. As Dr. Warfield says, 'The things we have to choose between are an atonement of high value, or an atonement of wide extension. The two cannot go together.' The work of Christ can be universalized only by evaporating its substance.

"Let there be no misunderstanding at this point. The Arminian limits the atonement as certainly as does the Calvinist. The Calvinist limits the extent of it in that he says it does not apply to all persons (although as has already been shown, he believes that it is efficacious for the salvation of the large proportion of the human race); while the Arminian limits the power of it, for he says that in itself it does not actually save anybody. The Calvinist limits it quantitatively, but not qualitatively; the Arminian limits it qualitatively, but not quantitatively. For the Calvinist it is like a narrow bridge which goes all the way across the stream; for the Arminian it is like a great wide bridge which goes only half-way across. As a matter of fact, the Arminian places more severe limitations on the work of Christ than does the Calvinist." (Lorraine Boettner, Limited Atonement)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

John Robbins: Foolish anthropocentric religion thrives when man has no fear of God and is unapprised of his predicament

When we look at the current religious scene, there is little evidence that people are asking such theocentric (God-centered) questions. Instead, they are asking anthropocentric (man-centered) questions: How can God make me happy? How can Christ make my life run smoothly and joyously? How can I solve my problems and find fulfillment in life? Never has so much religious activity been so disinterested in the question of justification with God. Why? Because there is so little fear of God. People can wave their arms or jump up and down “in the Spirit.” But if the religious interest is not marked by a great fear of God, it is not the work of the Holy Spirit, for he is “the Spirit .†.†. of the fear of the Lord.” Again, why is there such an appalling disinterest in justification by faith? Because people are taking it for granted that God is gracious and forgiving. In fact, they feel that they are on such good terms with him that they talk to him as if he were (to use Luther’s complaint against the Enthusiasts) “a shoemaker’s apprentice.” How can justification be a concern when there is no marked fear of God?

Consider how these man-centered questions are patently foolish in the light of man’s predicament. Here is a wretched sinner, bound hand and foot and consigned to Hell for his great crimes against his maker. Standing on the threshold of eternal damnation, he presumes to ask, “How can God make me happy?” Such a question shows he has no understanding of his awful predicament. If the Spirit gives him any true enlightenment of his situation, he will cry out, “How can I be right with God?” (John Robbins, Ethics and Justification by Faith Alone)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Horatius Bonar: Not the quantity or quality of faith, but the object -- the person and work of Christ -- is our ground for righteousness before God

"The strength or kind of faith required is nowhere stated. The Holy Spirit has said nothing as to quantity or quality, on which so many dwell, and over which they stumble, remaining all their days in darkness and uncertainty. It is simply in believing -- feeble as our faith may be -- that we are invested with this righteousness. For faith is no work, nor merit, nor effort; but the cessation from all these, and the acceptance in place of them of what another has done -- done completely, and forever. The simplest, feeblest faith suffices; for it is not the excellence of our act of faith that does aught for us, but the excellence of Him who suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. His perfection suffices to cover not only that which is imperfect in our characters and lives, but that which is imperfect in our faith, when we believe on His name." (Horatius Bonar, The Everlasting Righteousness, p. 58)

1689 London Baptist Confession: Of Justification


Paragraph 1. Those whom God effectually calls, he also freely justifies,1 not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous;2 not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone;3 not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing Christ's active obedience unto the whole law, and passive obedience in his death for their whole and sole righteousness by faith,4 which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God.5

1 Rom. 3:24, 8:30
2 Rom. 4:5-8, Eph. 1:7
3 1 Cor. 1:30,31, Rom. 5:17-19
4 Phil. 3:8,9; Eph. 2:8-10
5 John 1:12, Rom. 5:17

Paragraph 2. Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification;6 yet is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but works by love.7

6 Rom. 3:28
7 Gal.5:6, James 2:17,22,26

Paragraph 3. Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those who are justified; and did, by the sacrifice of himself in the blood of his cross, undergoing in their stead the penalty due to them, make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice in their behalf;8 yet, in as much as he was given by the Father for them, and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead, and both freely, not for anything in them,9 their justification is only of free grace, that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.10

8 Heb. 10:14; 1 Pet. 1:18,19; Isa. 53:5,6
9 Rom. 8:32; 2 Cor. 5:21
10 Rom. 3:26; Eph. 1:6,7, 2:7

Paragraph 4. God did from all eternity decree to justify all the elect,11 and Christ did in the fullness of time die for their sins, and rise again for their justification;12 nevertheless, they are not justified personally, until the Holy Spirit in time does actually apply Christ to them.13

11 Gal. 3:8, 1 Pet. 1:2, 1 Tim. 2:6
12 Rom. 4:25
13 Col. 1:21,22, Titus 3:4-7

Paragraph 5. God continues to forgive the sins of those that are justified,14 and although they can never fall from the state of justification,15 yet they may, by their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure;16 and in that condition they usually do not have the light of his countenance restored to them, until they humble themselves, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.17

14 Matt. 6:12, 1 John 1:7,9
15 John 10:28
16 Ps. 89:31-33
17 Ps. 32:5, Ps. 51, Matt. 26:75

Paragraph 6. The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament.18

18 Gal. 3:9; Rom. 4:22-24

(From the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Edward Mote: Dressed in His righteousness alone

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

-from Edward Mote's My Hope is Built (On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand)

Augustus Toplady: Not the Labor of My Hands

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When my eye-strings break in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

-Augustus Toplady, Rock of Ages

Brian Schwertley: Faith alone but not a faith that is alone

The Reformed position is that saving faith is always accompanied by all the other saving graces. The faith which justifies the sinner is never alone. It is not a bare “intellectual assent.” Some of the reasons why believers must be holy are: (a) God is holy and thus commands us to be holy (Lev. 11:44-45; 1 Pet. 1:15-16). (b) Christians believe in and rest upon the whole Christ who is both Savior and Lord (Rom. 14:7-6; Ac. 16:31; 2 Cor. 4:5; Rom. 10:9). (c) The Bible contains many imperatives that require obedience in God’s people (Ex. 24:7; Gen. 17:1: Lev. 11:44; Rom. 15:18; 2 Cor. 2:9; 1 Cor. 7:19; 1Tim. 4:8; Eph. 2:10; 1 Pet. 1:1-2; 2 Tim. 2:19, 21; Heb. 12:14, etc). (d) The Bible clearly requires repentance (Lk. 3:7-9; Lk. 24:47; 13:5; Mt. 4:17; Mk. 1:14, 15; Ac. 17:30). Repentance is a change of mind, a turning away from sin unto God that leads to a change of behavior. (e) The Bible teaches that believers were bought with a price—the precious blood of Jesus. Therefore, they belong to Him. They are slaves of Christ whose lives are totally dedicated to serving and exalting Him (Rom. 6:16; 14:8; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; 1 Pet. 2:15-16). (e) The Scriptures teach that professing believers who habitually engage in wicked behavior are not Christians (1 Cor. 5:11; 6:9-11; 1 Jn. 2:3-4; 3:4,6,9; Ja. 2:20; Mt. 7:21). (g) The Bible teaches that everyone who is justified is also regenerated and sanctified (Rom. 6:1-18). Jesus saves from both the guilt and power of sin. Union with the Savior in his death and resurrection is not only the foundation of justification but also of sanctification as well. (h) The necessity and reality of sanctification is clearly exhibited in the covenant of grace (Jer. 31:33). The salvation achieved by Jesus Christ is comprehensive. While Reformed authors have taught the necessity of holiness, they also (unlike the Auburn Avenue theologians) have very carefully distinguished between justification by faith alone and all the other aspects of salvation in the broad sense that accompany justification. If this distinction is not carefully made, then we are no better than Romanists or Judaizers. (Brian Schwertley, A Refutation of the Auburn Avenue Theology’s Rejection of Justification by Faith Alone)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A.W. Pink: We are justified by His grace and not on account of anything within us

"What is grace? It is God’s unmerited and uninfluenced favour, shown unto the undeserving and hell-deserving: neither human worthiness, works or willingness, attracting it, nor the lack of them repelling or obstructing it. What could there be in me to win the favourable regard of Him who is of too pure eyes to behold evil, and move Him to justify me? Nothing whatever; nay, there was everything in me calculated to make Him abhor and destroy me—my very self-righteous efforts to earn a place in Heaven deserving only a lower place in Hell. If, then, I am ever to be 'justified' by God it must be by pure grace, and that alone.

"Grace is the very essence of the Gospel—the only hope for fallen men, the sole comfort of saints passing through much tribulation on their way to the kingdom of God. The Gospel is the announcement that God is prepared to deal with guilty rebels on the ground of free favour, of pure benignity; that God will blot out sin, cover the believing sinner with a robe of spotless righteousness, and receive him as an accepted son: not on account of anything he has done or ever will do, but of sovereign mercy, acting independently of the sinner’s own character and deservings of eternal punishment. Justification is perfectly gratuitous so far as we are concerned, nothing being required of us in order to it, either in the way of price and satisfaction or preparation and meetness. We have not the slightest degree of merit to offer as the ground of our acceptance, and therefore if God ever does accept us it must be out of unmingled grace.(A.W. Pink, The Doctrine of Justification: Its Source)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Horatius Bonar: Christ is Our Perfect Substitute

"To be entitled to use another's name when my own name is worthless, to be allowed to wear another's raiment because my own is torn and filthy, to appear before God in another's person––the person of the Beloved Son––this is the summit of all blessing. The sin-bearer and I have exchanged names, robes, and persons! I am now represented by him, my own personality having disappeared. He now appears in the presence of God for me (Hebrews 9:24). All that makes him precious and dear to the Father has been transferred to me. His excellency and glory are seen as if they were mine. I receive the love and the fellowship and the glory as if I had earned them all. So entirely one am I with the sin bearer that God treats me not merely as if I had not done the evil that I have done, but as if I had done all the good which I have not done, but which my substitute has done. In one sense I am still the poor sinner, once under wrath; in another I am altogether righteous and shall be so forever because of the perfect one in whose perfection I appear before God. Nor is this a false pretense or a hollow fiction which carries no results or blessings with it. It is an exchange which has been provided by the Judge and sanctioned by law; an exchange of which any sinner upon earth may avail himself and be blest." (Horatius Bonar, The Everlasting Righteousness, in "Not What My Hands Have Done," p. 42)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A.W. Pink: We are desparate as condemned sinners before God, based on our failure to uphold the Law in our every thought, word, deed, and motive

“The law demands personal, perfect, and perpetual conformity to its precepts, in heart and act, in motive and performance. God charges each one of us with having failed to meet those just demands, and declares we have violated His commandments in thought and word and deed. The law therefore pronounces upon us a sentence of condemnation, curses us, and demands the infliction of its penalty, which is death. The One before whose tribunal we stand is omniscient, and cannot be deceived or imposed upon; He is inflexibly just, and swayed by no sentimental considerations. We, the accused, are guilty, unable to refute the accusations of the law, unable to vindicate our sinful conduct, unable to offer any satisfaction or atonement for our crimes. Truly, our case is desperate to the last degree.” –A.W. Pink, “Justification” (ch. 3)

Spurgeon: Justification is forensic, an act of God's free grace alone

Now, what is the meaning of justification? Divines will puzzle you, if you ask them. I must try the best I can to make justification plain and simple, even to the comprehension of a child. There is not such a thing as justification to be had on earth for mortal men, except in one way. Justification, you know, is a forensic term; it is employed always in a legal sense. A prisoner is brought to the bar of justice to be tried. There is only one way whereby that prisoner can be justified; that is, he must be found not guilty; and if he is found not guilty, then he is justified—that is, he is proved to be a just man. If you find that man guilty, you cannot justify him. The Queen may pardon him, but she cannot justify him. The deed is not a justifiable one, if he were guilty concerning it; and he cannot be justified on account of it. He may be pardoned; but not royalty itself can ever wash that man's character. He is as much a real criminal when he is pardoned as before. There is no means among men of justifying a man of an accusation which is laid against him, except by his being proved not guilty. Now, the wonder of wonders is, that we are proved guilty, and yet we are justified: the verdict has been brought in against us, guilty; and yet, notwithstanding, we are justified. Can any earthly tribunal do that? No; it remained for the ransom of Christ to effect that which is an impossibility to any tribunal upon earth. We are all guilty. Read the 23rd verse, immediately preceding the text—"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." There the verdict of guilty is brought in, and yet we are immediately afterwards said to be justified freely by his grace.

Now, allow me to explain the way whereby God justifies a sinner. I am about to suppose an impossible case. A prisoner has been tried, and condemned to death. He is a guilty man; he cannot be justified, because he is guilty. But now, suppose for a moment that such a thing as this could happen—that some second party could be introduced, who could take all that man's guilt upon himself, who could change places with that man, and by some mysterious process, which of course is impossible with men, become that man; or take that man's character upon himself; he, the righteous man, putting the rebel in his place, and making the rebel a righteous man. We cannot do that in our courts. If I were to go before a judge, and he should agree that I should be committed for a year's imprisonment, instead of some wretch who was condemned yesterday to a year's imprisonment, I could not take his guilt. I might take his punishment, but not his guilt. Now, what flesh and blood cannot do, that Jesus Christ by his redemption did. Here I stand, the sinner. I mention myself as the representative of you all. I am condemned to die. God says, "I will condemn that man; I must, I will—I will punish him." Christ comes in, puts me aside, and stands himself in my stead. When the plea is demanded, Christ says, "Guilty;" takes my guilt to be his own guilt. When the punishment is to be executed, forth comes Christ. "Punish me," he says; "I have put my righteousness on that man, and I have taken that man's sins on me. Father, punish me, and consider that man to have been me. Let him reign in heaven; let me suffer misery. Let me endure his curse, and let him receive my blessing." This marvellous doctrine of the changing of places of Christ with poor sinners, is a doctrine of revelation, for it never could have been conceived by nature. Let me, lest I should have made a mistake, explain myself again. The way whereby God saves a sinner is not, as some say, by passing over the penalty. No; the penalty has been all paid. It is the putting of another person in the rebel's place. The rebel must die; God says he must. Christ says, "I will be substitute for the rebel. The rebel shall take my place; I will take his." God consents to it. No earthly monarch could have power to consent to such a change. But the God of heaven had a right to do as he pleased. In his infinite mercy he consented to the arrangement. "Son of my love," said he, "you must stand in the sinner's place; you must suffer what he ought to have suffered; you must be accounted guilty, just as he was accounted guilty; and then I will look upon the sinner in another light. I will look at him as if he were Christ; I will accept him as if he were my only-begotten Son, full of grace and truth. I will give him a crown in heaven, and I will take him to my heart for ever and ever." This is the way we are saved, "Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus." –C.H. Spurgon, Justification by Grace

John Owen: Licentiousness was charged against Paul's doctrine of justification, but Paul showed it was the grounds of our sanctification

“I know that the doctrine here pleaded for [namely, justification by faith through the imputation of the righteousness of Christ] is charged by many with an unfriendly aspect towards the necessity of personal holiness, good works, and all gospel obedience in general, yea, utterly to take it away. So it was at the first clear revelation of it by the apostle Paul, as he frequently declares. But it is sufficiently evinced by him to be the chief principle of, and motive unto, all that obedience which is accepted with God through Jesus Christ, as we shall manifest afterwards. However, it is acknowledged that the objective grace of the gospel, in the doctrine of it, is liable to abuse, where there is nothing of the subjective grace of it in the hearts of men; and the ways of its influence into the life of God are uncouth unto the seasonings of carnal minds. So was it charged by the Papists, at the first Reformation, and continues yet so to be. Yet, as it gave the first occasion unto the Reformation itself, so was it that whereby the souls of men, being set at liberty from their bondage unto innumerable superstitious fears and observances, utterly inconsistent with true gospel obedience, and directed into the ways of peace with God through Jesus Christ, were made fruitful in real holiness, and to abound in all those blessed effects of the life of God which were never found among their adversaries.” –John Owen, The doctrine of Justification by Faith, through the Imputation of the Righteousness of Christ; explained, confirmed, and vindicated

R.L. Dabney: God's acceptance of Christ's perfect obedience does not free us from God's Law as a rule of living, and there is no injustice in this

“Now, as God’s accepting the substitutionary righteousness at all was an act of mere grace, the extent to which He shall accept it depends on His mere will. And it can release us no farther than He graciously pleases to allow. Hence, if He tells us, as He does, that He does not so accept it, as to release us from the law as a rule of living, there is no injustice.” –R.L. Dabney, “Systematic Theology”

A.W. Pink: Christ purchased heaven for His people

The "righteousness of Christ" which is imputed to the believer consists of that perfect obedience which He rendered unto the precepts of God’s Law and that death which He died under the penalty of the law. … Should any one object to the idea of Christ "purchasing" Heaven for His people, he may at once be referred to Ephesians 1:14, where Heaven is expressly designated "the purchased possession." -A.W. Pink, Justification (ch. 5)

Charles Hodge: God, who is perfectly just, requires perfect righteousness in those whom He accepts

"The Apostle, having taught that God is just, i.e., that He demands the satisfaction of justice, and that men are sinners and can render no such satisfaction themselves, announces that such a righteousness has been provided, and is revealed in the Gospel. It is not our own righteousness, which is of the law, but the righteousness of Christ, and, therefore, the righteousness of God, in virtue of which, and on the ground of which, God can be just and yet justify the sinner who believes in Christ. As long as the Bible stands this must stand as a simple statement of what Paul teaches as to the method of salvation. Men may dispute as to what he means, but this is surely what he says." –Charles Hodge in “Systematic Theology,” vol. 3

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ: A rebuke for those who pharisaically trust in themselves that they are righteous

Jesus demonstrates that we can have faith or trust, but if we lodge this faith in the wrong object -- namely, ourselves and our own righteousness -- we miss the imputed righteousness of Christ. "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God" (Romans 10:3). Christ alone is our righteousness (see Jeremiah 23:6 and I Corinthians 1:30).

Luke 18:9-14 says, "And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: [10] Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. [11] The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. [12] I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. [13] And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. [14] I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."

True saving faith is self-renouncing, receiving and resting in Christ alone -- specifically, His passive or penal obedience in taking our sins upon Himself and becoming a curse for us; and His active or preceptive obedience in fulfilling all the just demands of the Law and purchasing the eternal reward of glorified life for us when we are clothed in His spotless, perfect garment of righteousness by God's forensic act of imputation.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

We cannot boast of our salvation because God saved us through faith in Christ, that it might be by grace, not our works or inherent righteousness

"Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." -Romans 3:27-28

"Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all." -Romans 4:16

"For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." -Romans 10:3-4

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." -Ephesians 2:8-10

"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." -Philippians 3:8-9

William Cunningham: Justification is not a legal fiction

“The righteousness of Christ, including the whole of His perfect and meritorious obedience to the law, as well as His suffering, was a great and infinitely important reality. It was intended to effect and secure the salvation of all those whom God had chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. It is in due time, and in accordance with the arrangements which God in His infinite wisdom has laid down, bestowed upon each of them, through his union to Christ by faith, not in any mere fiction of law, but in actual deed; and being thus really, and not merely putatively or by a fiction, bestowed upon them, it is, of course, held or reckoned as theirs, and thus becomes the ground - the full and adequate ground - on which God further bestows upon them the forgiveness of their sins, and a right to the heavenly inheritance, and to all the privileges of sonship.” (Cunningham, Historical Theology, vol. II, pp. 55-56; quoted by Lee Irons)

John Bunyan: The penalty for sin is paid and the reward for perfect righteousness is received through imputation

"Our sins when laid upon Christ were yet personally ours, not his; so his righteousness when put upon us is yet personally his, not ours. What is it, then? Why, 'he was made to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,' 2 Cor. 5:21." –John Bunyan

Augustine paraphrases and explains II Corinthians 5:21

"He was sin, that we might be righteousness; not our own, but the righteousness of God; not in ourselves, but in him; as he was sin, not his own, but ours,--not in himself, but in us." (Augustine, as quoted by John Owen)

"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (II Corinthians 5:21).

John Gill: Christ's Righteousness is the Wedding Garment

John Gill points to the righteousness of Christ as the garment for the wedding feast in Jesus' parable of Matthew 22:

[The wedding garment in Matthew 22:11 is] not good works, or a holy life and conversation, nor any particular grace of the Spirit, as faith, or charity, or humility, or repentance, or any other, nor the whole work of sanctification, nor the Holy Ghost, but the righteousness of Christ: for though good works are the outward conversation garments of believers, and these greatly become them and adorn the doctrine of Christ, yet they are imperfect, and have their spots, and need washing in the blood of Christ, and cannot in themselves recommend them to God; and though the Holy Spirit and his graces, his work of holiness upon the heart, make the saints all glorious within, yet not these, but the garment of Christ's righteousness, is their clothing of wrought gold, and raiment of needlework, in which they are brought into the king's presence: this, like a garment, is without them, and put upon them; and which covers and protects them, and beautifies and adorns them; and which may be called a wedding garment, because it is that, in which the elect of God were betrothed to Christ; in which they are made ready and prepared for him, as a bride adorned for her husband: and in which they will be introduced into his presence, and be by him presented, first to himself, and then to his Father, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. This man had not on this garment, this robe of righteousness; it was not imputed to him; he had no knowledge of it; or if he had any, it was only a speculative one; he had no true faith in it; he had never put on Christ, as the Lord his righteousness; he had got into a church state without it, though there is no entrance into the kingdom of heaven but by it. (John Gill, Commentary on Matthew 22:11)