Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lyrics: The spotless robe of Christ's righteousness

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in him, is mine!
Alive in him, my living head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown through Christ my own.

When he shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in him be found,
Dressed in his righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

We trust in you, O Captain of salvation—
In your dear name, all other names above:
Jesus our righteousness, our sure foundation,
Our prince of glory and our king of love.

Our load of sin and misery
Didst thou, the Sinless, bear?
Thy spotless robe of purity
Do we the sinners wear?

Thy righteousness, O Christ,
Alone can cover me:
No righteousness avails
Save that which is of thee.

Behold Him there, the Risen Lamb
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I am . . .

I will glory in my Redeemer
Who crushed the power of sin and death;
My only Savior before the holy Judge,
The Lamb Who is my righteousness.

Knowing you, Jesus,
Knowing you, there is no greater thing.
You’re my all, you’re the best,
You’re my joy, my righteousness
And I love you, Lord.

-Cited by John Piper, “Counted Righteous in Christ” (p. 36-37)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Jonathan Edwards on Sola Fide

A person is to be justified, when he is approved of God as free from the guilt of sin and its deserved punishment, and as having that righteousness belonging to him that entitles to the reward of life. That we should take the word in such a sense, and understand it as the judge’s accepting a person as having both a negative and positive righteousness belonging to him, and looking on him therefore as not only free from any obligation to punishment, but also as just and righteous and so entitled to a positive reward, is not only most agreeable to the etymology and natural import of the word, which signifies to pass one for righteous in judgment, but also manifestly agreeable to the force of the word as used in Scripture. … But certainly, in order to a person’s being looked on as standing right with respect to the rule in general, or in a state corresponding with the law of God, more is needful than not having the guilt of sin. For whatever that law is, whether a new or an old one, doubtless something positive is needed in order to its being answered. We are no more justified by the voice of the law, or of him that judges according to it, by a mere pardon of sin, than Adam, our first surety, was justified by the law, at the first point of his existence, before he had fulfilled the obedience of the law, or had so much as any trial whether he would fulfill it or no. If Adam had finished his course of perfect obedience, he would have been justified, and certainly his justification would have implied something more than what is merely negative. He would have been approved of, as having fulfilled the righteousness of the law, and accordingly would have been adjudged to the reward of it. So Christ, our second surety (in whose justification all whose surety he is, are virtually justified), was not justified till he had done the work the Father had appointed him, and kept the Father’s commandments through all trials, and then in his resurrection he was justified. When he had been put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit, 1 Pet. 3:18, then he that was manifest in the flesh was justified in the Spirit, 1 Tim. 3:16. –Jonathan Edwards, Justification by Faith Alone

J. Gresham Machen on active obedience

"If Christ had merely paid the penalty of sin for us and had done nothing more we should be at best back in the situation in which Adam found himself where God placed him under the covenant of works. In other words, if Christ only paid the penalty for our sins through his passive sufferings, then we are merely transported back to the Garden of Eden.

“That covenant of works was a probation. If Adam kept the law of God for a certain period, he was to have eternal life. If he disobeyed he was to have death. Well, he disobeyed and the penalty of death was inflicted on him and his posterity. Then Christ by His death on the cross paid that penalty for those whom God had chosen.

“Well and good. But if that were all that Christ did for us, do you not see that we should be back in just the situation in which Adam was before he sinned? The penalty of his sinning would have been removed from us because it had all been paid by Christ. But for the future the attainment of eternal life would have been dependent upon our perfect obedience to the law of God. We should simply have been back in the probation again.

“Here we begin to understand why Jesus' passive obedience is not enough - if divorced from his active obedience. The passive sufferings of Christ discharged the enormous debt we owe, due to our sins and the sin of Adam. In effect, Jesus' passive obedience alone would bring our account from hopelessly overdrawn back to a zero balance - our debt would be retired. But having our debt retired and our sins forgiven does not get us into heaven; it simply returns us to the starting point. More must be done if we are to gain heaven. Righteousness must be completely fulfilled, either by us or by a representative acting on our behalf.

"Moreover, we should have been back in that probation in a very much less hopeful way than that in which Adam was originally placed in it. Everything was in Adam's favour when he was placed in the probation. He had been created in knowledge, righteousness and holiness. He had been created positively good. Yet despite all that, he fell. How much more likely would we be to fall - nay, how certain to fall - if all that Christ had done for us were merely to remove from us the guilt of past sin, leaving it then to our own efforts to win the reward which God has pronounced upon perfect obedience.

"That is the reason why those who have been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ are in a far more blessed condition than was Adam before he fell. Adam before he fell was righteous in the sight of God, but he was still under the possibility of becoming unrighteous. Those who have been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ not only are righteous in the sight of God but they are beyond the possibility of becoming unrighteous. In their case, the probation is over. It is not over because they have stood it successfully. It is not over because they have themselves earned the reward of assured blessedness which God promised on condition of perfect obedience. But it is over because Christ has stood it for them; it is over because Christ has merited for them the reward by His perfect obedience to God's law.

“Do you see? Christ has passed the test. He has earned the reward. Heaven has been secured by his perfect obedience to God's law. And he did not do all this for himself as if he needed to earn heaven for himself. He did all this for his people - even for you, O believer! On your behalf, he actively obeyed, thereby saving you and placing you beyond the possibility of ever becoming unrighteous again. Your status is secured eternally - what a great hope!"

Dr. J. Gresham Machen

John Samson: We must be counted perfectly righteous to enter God's holy presence

DOUBLE IMPUTATION - If Christ had merely paid the penalty for our sins, our debt to God would have been cancelled, and no punishment would be due to us, thank God! But that is not nearly enough to gain an entry into heaven. That would simply remove the outstanding debt we owed to God and bring us to zero... and zero is simply not enough. Jesus said, "Unless your righteousness (positive) exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees you shall in no way enter the kingdom of God." (Matt. 5:20)

We as sinners not only need the removal of the negative (our sin) but the presence of the positive... full and complete righteousness to be able to stand before a holy God just in His sight. So not only were our sins imputed to Christ and He bore their full punishment for us on the cross, but positively, the righteousness of Christ was imputed to us. The punishment due to us because of our sin came upon Him, and the pleasure of God due to Jesus' complete obedience to every jot and tittle of the law, came upon us. The very righteousness of Jesus Christ is the righteousness imputed to us by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone. This righteousness is one that has perfectly fulfilled the entire demands of the law of God. –John Samson, "The Active Obedience of Christ - No Hope Without It!"

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

John Gill: Christ's active and passive obedience secure eternal life and an escape from the wrath to come

The complete justification of God's people, is brought about by the death of Christ: justification is sometimes ascribed to the obedience of Christ; by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous (Rom. 5:19), and sometimes to the blood of Christ, being now justified by his blood, verse 9. And both are concerned in justification: the one is what is commonly called his active obedience; the other his passive obedience; and both together, with the holiness of his nature; are imputed for justification: his righteousness entitles to life; and his blood, his sufferings, and death, secure from wrath to come; and; therefore, it may well be said, with a view to Christ's dying for his people, who is he that condemneth? (John Gill, Who Shall Lay Anything to the Charge of God's Elect?)

Theodore Beza: Christ has satisfied God's justice -- penal and preceptive -- once and for all, silencing the railings of the accuser

You say, Satan, that God is perfectly righteous and the Avenger of all iniquity. -- I confess it; but I add another property of His righteousness which you have left aside: since He is righteous, He is satisfied with having been paid once. You say next that I have infinite iniquities which deserve eternal death. -- I confess it; but I add what you have maliciously omitted: the iniquities which are in me have been very amply avenged and punished in Jesus Christ who has borne the judgment of God in my place (Rom 3:25; 1 Pet 2:24). That is why I come to a conclusion quite different from yours. Since God is righteous (Rom 3:26) and does not demand payment twice, since Jesus Christ, God and man (2 Cor. 5:19), has satisfied by infinite obedience (Rom 5:19; Phil 2:8) the infinite majesty of God (Rom 8:33), it follows that my iniquities can no longer bring me to ruin (Col. 2:14); they are already blotted out and washed out of my account by the blood of Jesus Christ who was made a curse for me (Gal 3:13), and who righteous, died for the unrighteous (1 Pet 2:24).

... Here is the second assault that Satan can raise against us on account of our unworthiness: It is not sufficient to have no sin, or to have satisfied for sins. But more is necessary; that man should fulfil all the Law, that is to say, that he love God perfectly and his neighbour as himself (Deut. 17:26; Gal 3:10-12; Matt 22:3740). Bring therefore this righteousness, Satan will say to our poor conscience, or know well that you cannot escape the wrath and curse of God.

Now, against this assault, what will all men profit us except Christ alone? For it is a question of perfect obedience which is never found in any save in Jesus Christ alone. Let us learn therefore here to appropriate to ourselves once more, by faith, another treasure of Jesus Christ: His righteousness. We know that it is He who has fulfilled all righteousness (Matt 3:15: Phil 2:8; Is 53:11). He has given a perfect obedience and love to God His Father, and has perfectly loved His enemies (Rom 5:6-10) as far as being made a curse for them, as St. Paul says (Gal 3:13); that is to say, as far as bearing, for them, the judgment of the wrath of God (Col. 1:22; 2 Cor. 5:21). Thus, being clothed with this perfect righteousness which is given to us through faith, as if it were properly our own (Eph. 1:7-8), we can be acceptable to God (John 1:12; Rom 8:17), as brothers and co-heirs of Jesus Christ.

On this point, Satan must of necessity close his mouth, provided we have the faith to receive Jesus Christ and all the benefits He possesses in order to communicate them to those who believe in Him (Rom 8:33).

(Theodore Beza, “Faith and Justification”)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spurgeon: Christ alone is our righteousness

MAN by the Fall sustained an infinite loss in the matter of righteousness. He suffered the loss of a righteous nature and then a two-fold loss of legal righteousness in the sight of God. Man sinned. He was therefore no longer innocent of transgression. Man did not keep the command. He therefore was guilty of the sin of omission. In that which he committed and in that which he omitted, his original character for uprightness was completely wrecked. Jesus Christ came to undo the mischief of the Fall for His people. So far as their sin concerned their breach of the command—He has removed by His precious blood.

His agony and bloody sweat have forever taken away the consequences of sin from believers, seeing Christ did by His one sacrifice bear the penalty of that sin in His flesh. He, His own self, bare our sins in His own body on the tree. Still it is not enough for a man to be pardoned. He, of course, is then in the eye of God without sin. But it was required of man that he should actually keep the command. It was not enough that he did not break it or that he is regarded through the blood as though he did not break it. He must keep it—he must continue in all things that are written in the Book of the Law to do them.

How is this necessity supplied? Man must have a righteousness or God cannot accept him. Man must have a perfect obedience or else God cannot reward him. Should He give Heaven to a soul that has not perfectly kept the Law? That were to give the reward where the service is not done and that before God would be an act which might impeach His justice. Where, then, is the righteousness with which the pardoned man shall be completely covered, so that God can regard him as having kept the Law and reward him for so doing? Surely, my Brethren, none of you are so drunk as to think that this righteousness can be worked out by yourselves.

... We, therefore, assert—believing that Scripture fully warrants us—that the life of Christ constitutes the righteousness in which His people are to be clothed. His death washed away their sins. His life covered them from head to foot. His death was the Sacrifice to God. His life was the gift to man by which man satisfies the demands of the Law. Herein the Law is honored and the soul is accepted. I find that many young Christians who are very clear about being saved by the merits of Christ’s death, do not seem to understand the merits of His life.

... He completed the work of obedience in His life and said to His Father, “I have finished the work which You gave me to do.” Then He completed the work of atonement in His death and knowing that all things were accomplished, He cried, “It is finished.”

... Christ in His life was so righteous that we may say of the life, taken as a whole, that it is righteousness itself. Christ is the Law incarnate. Understand me, He lived out the Law of God to the very full and while you see God’s precepts written in fire on Sinai’s brow, you see them written in flesh in the Person of Christ—

“My dear Redeemer and my Lord,
I read my duty in Your Word,
But in Your life the Law appears
Drawn out in living characters.”

... He carried out the Law, then, I say to the very letter. He spelt out its mystic syllables and verily He magnified it and made it honorable. He loved the Lord His God, with all His heart and soul and mind and He loved His neighbors as Himself. Jesus Christ was righteousness impersonated. “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” He might well say. One thousand eight hundred years have passed since then and blasphemy itself has not been able to charge Him with a fault.

... You will now observe that there is a most precious doctrine unfolded in this title of our Lord and Savior. I think we may take it thus—When we believe in Christ by faith we receive our justification. As the merit of His blood takes away our sin so the merit of His obedience is imputed to us for righteousness. We are considered, as soon as we believe, as though the works of Christ were our works.

-C.H.Spurgeon, “The Lord Our Righteousness

John L. Girardeau: Christ's righteousness, as our substitute, is perfectly spotless and provides infinite satisfaction before God for His elect

“The obedience which Christ, as the representative of his elect seed, rendered to the law is perfect; it is finished. The eye of justice, the scrutiny of Omniscience detect in it no blemish. It has been examined at the divine bar and judicially pronounced satisfactory. It cannot be invalidated; there is no contingency of failure in its results. But Christ’s seed representatively rendered that obedience in him. It therefore grounds, with absolute certainty, their everlasting holiness and happiness, their complete and indefectible life. The federal representative is in glory; the federal constituency must also be glorified. If not, the principle of representation is a figment, and the covenant of redemption breaks down amidst the jeers of hell.” (John L. Girardeau, "The Federal Theology: Its Import and Its Regulative Influence," with introduction by W. Duncan Rankin [Reformed Academic Press, 1994], pp. 45-46; quoted in a compilation by Lee Irons)

William Cunningham: Arminians and Romanists both deny the biblical doctrine of substitution and satisfaction by Christ

“Papists unite with Arminians in denying the necessity of a perfect righteousness, as the ground or basis of God’s act in accepting men’s persons, and giving them a right and title to heaven … As the Scriptures indicate that a perfect righteousness is necessary, as the ground or basis of our acceptance and admission to a right to life, as well as a full satisfaction as the ground or basis of our forgiveness or exemption from punishment, so they set before us such a perfect righteousness as available for us, and actually benefiting us, in the obedience which Christ, as our surety, rendered to all the requirements of the law.” (William Cunningham, "Historical Theology," vol. II, pp. 49, 51; quoted in a compilation by Lee Irons)