If Christ Were Made Sin Not Only By Imputation, by Flavel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The guilt of our sin was that which was imputed unto Christ. I know but two ways in the world by which one man’s sins can be imagined to become another’s. Either by imputation, which is legal, and what we affirm; or by essential transfusion from subject to subject. We have as good ground to believe the absurd doctrine of transubstantiation, as this wild notion of the essential transfusion of sin.

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

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

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

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

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

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5 Comments on “If Christ Were Made Sin Not Only By Imputation, by Flavel”

  1. MARK MCCULLEY Says:

    Torrance can say that Jesus believed for us, or repented for us, but he ends up denying that Jesus paid legal satisfaction for anybody (bear sins).

    Torrance sneers at, disapproves of penal satisfaction, as an external forensic thing. But he never shows that “made sin” in II Cor 5:21 means anything other than imputation.

  2. markmcculley Says:

    he thesis is that for Christ to identify with us in our fallen condition, it was necessary for him to have a fallen human nature. By assuming humanity in its fallenness he redeemed it from where it actually is, otherwise he could not have saved us in our actual state as fallen human beings. This is akin to the teachings of Edward Irving and Karl Barth, as well as Torrance.
    This argument is a protest against all tendencies to docetism. An unfallen nature, it is held, would mean his humanity was not a real one for it would be detached from the world in which we find ourselves. Rather, Christ acted in redeeming love from within our own nature, sanctifying it and offering it up to the Father. Like Irving, Barth, and Torrance, the authors defend Christ’s sinlessness vigorously (p. 121–22). Indeed, they argue that his triumph is magnified by his living a sinless life from out of the depths of our own fallen nature.
    There are a range of problems with the claim. At best, it entails a Nestorian separation of the human nature from the person of Christ. The eternal Son—the person who takes humanity into union—is absolutely free from sin but the assumed humanity is fallen. If that were to be avoided, another hazard lurks; since Christ’s humanity never exists by itself any attribution of fallenness to that nature is a statement about Christ, the eternal Son.
    The authors do not consider biblical passages that tell against their views. Romans 5:12–21, crucial for understanding Paul’s gospel, is not mentioned. If Christ had a fallen human nature it is unavoidable that he would be included in the sin of Adam and its consequences. In short, he could not have saved us since he would have needed atonement himself, if only for his inclusion in the sin of Adam.
    The authors state that Christ assumed flesh “corrupted by original sin in Adam” (p. 116, italics original). He took a humanity “ruined and wrecked by sin” (p. 119), “corrupted human nature bent decisively toward sin” (p. 121). He healed the nature he took from us (p. 117). In this they acknowledge that a sinful nature and original sin are inextricably linked and that Christ himself needed healing. Such a Christ cannot save us for he needed saving himself.
    Christ’s healing of human nature happened from the moment of conception (p. 121–22). He was without sin. Thankfully this obviates the problem mentioned in the previous paragraph but simultaneously it destroys the argument for it means Christ’s humanity was not entirely like ours after all. Indeed, a citation of John Webster follows, in which he emphasises that Christ does not identify with us to the extent of being a sinner, has “a peculiar distance” from our own performance, does not follow our path, and has an “estrangement from us” due to his obedience (p. 122–23).
    The book’s argument can be turned on its head. For it to be sustained Christ should have a complete identity with fallen human nature and be a sinner. In this case he really would have been just like us. This Clark and Johnson, quite rightly, find unacceptable. A line has to be drawn somewhere.
    Throughout, the authors oppose the idea that Christ took into union a nature like Adam’s before the fall. However, this is not the only alternative. Reformed theology has taught that Christ lived in a state of humiliation, sinless and righteous but with a nature bearing the consequences of the fall in its mortality, its vulnerability and its suffering—but not fallen. Furthermore, the NT witness is that the incarnation is a new creation, the start of the new humanity, not a re-pristinization of the old. Christ is the second Adam, not the first. In the position the book opposes I fail to recognize the classic Reformed Christology.
    The authors’ premise is that anything other than a fallen nature would diminish Christ’s identification with us in our humanity. However, a fallen nature is intrinsic to a fallen human being but it is not definitive of, but incidental to, a human being. http://themelios.thegospelcoalition.org/review/the-incarnation-of-god-mystery-of-gospel-foundation-of-evangelical-theology

    • markmcculley Says:

      F F Bruce The point at issue is simply this: whether Christ’s flesh had the grace of sinlessness and incorruption from its proper nature, or from the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. I say the latter. I assert, that in its proper nature it was as the flesh of His Mother, but, by virtue of the Holy Ghost’s quickening and inhabiting of it, it was preserved sinless and incorruptible.

      While B W Newton repudiated Irving’s view that Christ accordingly inherited a sinful nature, he suggested that it was because of His federal relationship to Adam that He inherited such side-effects of the fall as ‘hunger, thirst, weariness, sorrow, etc.’, together with ‘the being possessed of a mortal body’. Some years later he repudiated this view in favour of one which accounted for Christ’s suffering such ills as flesh is heir to ‘in virtue of His having been made of a woman’. He realized that the view he had previously expressed might be thought to imply the corollary that Adam’s sin was imputed to Christ j

      In other papers Newton gave further consideration to the subject of Christ’s sufferings during His life (‘non-atoning’ sufferings, as he reckoned them) by expounding some of the ‘individual laments’ in the Psalter in a christological sense

      J. N. Darby, who led the attack against Newton, ran into trouble himself twelve years later because of papers on ‘The Sufferings of Christ’ contributed to The Bible Treasury in 1858 and 1859.6 Here he distinguished, in addition to Christ’s ill-treatment at the hands of men and the atoning sufferings endured vicariously on men’s behalf (the ‘cup’ which His Father gave him to drink), a third category, endured under the ‘governmental’ dealing of God when He ‘entered in heart into the indignation and wrath that lay on Israel’

      One symptom of the docetic tendency appears in the description of our Lord’s manhood as ‘heavenly humanity’, found in the works of C. H. Mackintosh and others..

      Writing in 1901, W. B. Neatby said, ‘A year or two ago I heard an address from a Brother of the Open Section, who actually taught that Christ did not die from crucifixion, but by a mere miraculous act.

      C. F. Hogg’s pamphlet, The Traditions and the Deposit: ‘What He did not know, He knew that He did not know’

      http://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/ffb/humanity_bruce.pdf

  3. markmcculley Says:

    Balthasar argues that Christ must have suffered after death
    He rejects the idea of the limbo of the fathers, holding instead that Christ descended to the place (or state) of eternal punishment. Balthasar prefers to call this abode Sheol rather than hell, in part because he holds that Sheol is something worse than hell. There, Christ suffers the fate of unredeemed mankind: complete rejection by the Father. The Father’s rejection is just, since Christ is “literally ‘made sin’” in Sheol.

    Balthasar thinks that sin is something like a substantial reality due to the energy invested in it by the sinner. This idea has been criticized elsewhere for philosophical reasons, but merely to illustrate it here we might say that, by sinning, a person not only forfeits the good he might otherwise have become but also perverts that potentially positive part of his reality into something negative.

    Balthasar stresses that Sheol is not a place, however, but a condition and thus an intimate spiritual reality. Hence, just as a soul is united to God through the beatific vision , so likewise Christ does not merely “see” sin objectively outside himself but is subjectively united and conformed to it: He is “literally ‘made sin.’” Sin becomes embodied (technically, enhypostasized ) in the Son. The Father’s rejection of sin thus takes the form of his abandonment of the Son in Sheol .

    According to Balthasar, Christ descends not so much in his human soul united to his divine person but ultimately in his divinity alone: Christ’s humanity is “stretched” until “the whole superstructure of the Incarnation” is stripped away. . In Balthasar’s theology, Christ’s descent is expiatory rather than being the first application of the fruit of salvation. Humanity is redeemed by Christ’s cross insofar as the guilt of all sins is actually transferred to him there, but these sins remain to be expiated in Sheol through his suffering their punishment

    http://www.mbird.com/2017/04/between-death-and-resurrection-he-descended-into-hell/

    I’m told that some Eastern Orthodox Christians spit on the floor and stomp on it during their Holy Saturday observances. Lex orandi, lex credendi, the rule of prayer is the rule of faith. We often practice what we think should be preached. This curious liturgical practice makes sense if you hold to the traditional majority understanding of Holy Saturday. Here “he descended into hell” is actually understood in some sense to be a glorious ascent, as the newly enthroned Crucified King displays his regality by showing that he indeed is the one who holds “the keys of Death and Hades”. He preaches good news not to all the dead, but to the righteous dead, vindicating God’s promises to the Old Covenant faithful in the first inaugural act of his unfolding Easter reign.

    Calvin affirmed that Christ “descended into hell” but thought that a literal visit to the realm of the dead was childish mythology without real biblical foundations. How could Christ preach to the righteous dead in his descent? There are no righteous dead because all the dead Jew and Gentile alike are under the power of sin. (Rom 3:19-20) A passage like 1 Peter 3:19 can’t be taken literally according to Calvin. The proclamation to the spirits in prison is a symbolic one, indicating that the effects of Christ’s death penetrated even to the realm of the dead, emphasizing what was already true: God’s elect came to know that the grace which they only experienced in hope was manifest in the world, and the wicked came to know all the more clearly the nature of their lostness. The descent into hell means that Christ didn’t just die a physical death on the cross, but a spiritual one. He became sin for us and suffered the experience of death in God abandonment. The descent really happens when Christ bears the full weight of human sin at Calvary. Unlike the first view however, this understanding of the descent sees Christ’s victory not as the overcoming of death, but as taking place through his death.

    Von Balthasar affirms with the tradition a literal descent into hell on the day between his death and resurrection. However he doesn’t think it’s a victorious descent. With the tradition he assumes that the unassumed is the unhealed. With Calvin and Barth he affirms that Christ’s vicarious sacrifice must include not just the physical consequences of sin but the spiritual ones as well. He sees this as not just happening on the cross, but including a real suffering in perdition. In his descent Christ experiences the Godlessness of hell for us and our salvation. “And so it is really God who assumes what is radically contrary to the divine, what is eternally reprobated by God, in the form of supreme obedience of the Son towards the Father.” Holy Saturday involves a second death for Christ. On the cross Christ actively assumes the burden of human sin and God’s judgment on it. In hell, Christ passively embraces the same things, in solidarity with the dead’s passivity through accepting and sharing the absolute rejection of God.

    For von Balthasar hell is a Christological reality. We can only be certain that its population numbers one. On Holy Saturday we commemorate the Sheol of the Old Testament becoming the hell of the New one. Hell is a product of the redemptive work of Christ, “a product which henceforth must be ‘contemplated’ in its own ‘for itself’ by the Redeemer, so as to become, in its state of sheer reprobation that which exists ‘for him’: that over which, in his Resurrection, he receives the power and the keys.” Christ has power over death and hell because he suffered their fullness, and yet prevailed. As a result he defines hell, and in his risenness is Lord over it as well.

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Objective factual guilt can and is transferred legally but not as a “substance” , and so is righteousness (which is God’s value placed on Christ’s death and thus transferred legally not as a substance) Christ did not become corrupt in his humanity, as some Lutherans teach when they teach that all humanity is “objectively justified”

    Many say that only the punishment of our sins was transferred to Christ but not our guilt, some of them also say that justification is transferred to Christians but deny that objective righteousness is transferred to Christians because they say that “righteousness not a gas or a liquid or a solid or a thing”——-

    I quote one of them (john thomson)—–When we say Christ bore our ‘sins’ we do not mean that the guilt of sins as such were laid on Jesus, we believe that only the penalty for these sins is borne by him https://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2012/08/04/righteousness-is-not-an-objective-thing-out-there/


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