God’s Active Imputation of the Sins of the Elect to Christ

I am not yet bored with the idea of Christ bearing the sins of the elect by imputation.

II Corinthians 5:21 21 For our sake God made Christ to be sin who knew no sin, in order that in Christ we would become the righteousness of God.

Leon Morris: “The verb is active and the subject is God. In this imputation both the Father and the Son are exceedingly active.” The Cross in the New Testament, p 220

As God legally constituted Christ not only to be the sin offering for the elect but also (and first) guilty of the guilt of the elect, even so God legally constitutes the elect not only to be justified before God but also (and first) makes that righteous relationship to be real by crediting the legal merit of Christ’s death to the elect.

Instead of counting the sins of the elect against them (see II Cor 5:19) God counted the sins of the elect against Christ. The identification by God of Christ with the sins of the elect was not a fiction but so real that it resulted in Christ’s death.

John Owen–“but it will be said that if our sins, as to the guilt of them, were imputed to Christ, then God must HATE Christ. But it is only inherent sin, not imputed sin which makes a person hateful to God. Christ being perfectly sinless and holy in Himself was glorious and lovely in the sight of God. Indeed Christ’s active taking upon Himself the guilt of the elect was high ACT OF OBEDIENCE to God.” The Doctrine of Justification, volume 5, p 203

Psalm 40:6-8
Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

John 10: 17 For this reason the Father loves me,because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

God’s active imputation of the sins of the elect to Christ is the only way that Christ took away those sins. if Christ never bore those sins Christ never took them away, but Christ did bear those sins, because the Son actively took those sins to Himself and God the Father made Him to be sin.

Isaiah 53:12
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Hebrews 9: 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to BEAR THE SINS of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

I Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, in order that we would die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

If Christ has not already taken away your sins, Christ will never bear your sins . If Christ ever bore your sins then those sins are already taken away. The elect sinners who do not know this about Christ’s sin-bearing are not yet justified, because God has not yet imputed to them Christ’s sin-bearing and taking away death

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6 Comments on “God’s Active Imputation of the Sins of the Elect to Christ”

  1. John Flavel—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, 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

    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.

    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.

    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.

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Tiessen is not merely for “incorporation, but against “imputation”


    Although Jesus “knew no sin,” in accordance with what Reformed theologians call the “covenant of redemption,” God “made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). Here we see the core of the doctrine of incorporatedguilt and incorporated righteousness.

    [Protestants have tended to speak of imputed guilt and righteousness, and our intent has been good, but I think the choice of terminology is unfortunate. It implies an externality which prompts people to question why one person should be accounted guilty for the sin of another {Adam}, or accounted righteous for the righteousness of another {Jesus}, as though some sort of external transfer was the mechanism at work in such accounting. But I believe that the more biblical way of speaking is incorporation

  3. markmcculley Says:

    Jesus wept for a person who was going to die more than one time. Of course, Lazarus was also going to be raised from the dead by God more than one time. Also, Christ only died the one time, only was raised the one time. Christ does not die again every time you die. But if you are elect, then God will in time impute Christ’s one time death to you. https://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2016/05/22/christ-offered-his-death-to-god-one-time-only/

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Philippians 3: 8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, in order that I gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is THROUGH FAITH in Christ—the righteousness FROM God

    among those of us who agree that there is a difference between the imputation of the righteousness and the righteousness, and who also agree that RIGHTEOUSNESS IS THE JUDICIAL BASIS FOR JUSTIFICATION, is there agreement about the nature of the righteousness?

    Does Christ have a righteousness of His own from His keeping the law?

    Or does the righteousness of Christ come from His death as satisfaction of the law?

    Or Both?

    so that the death only gets us forgiveness?

    so that the death only get us back to where Adam was before Adam was before Adam sinned?

    so that the death gets us back to only sinless but not righteous?

    but didn’t Adam before Adam sin have righteous fellowship with God?

    yes, God not only commanded Adam not to eat from the tree but also to “have dominion”, but did Adam need more than Adam to be righteous? Did Adam have to do something to stay righteous? Or did Adam have to NOT DO something to stay righteous?

    Genesis 2: 15 The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, 17 but you must not eat[m] from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.”

    Genesis 1: 28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.

    even though Christ’s death was successful , did it only “accomplish” getting our old clothes off and getting us clean

    so that Christ’s death does not give us new clothes?
    so that only Christ’s acts of resisting Satan’s three temptations are what give us the new clothes? or was it the physical circumcision and water baptism of Christ which gives us the new clothes?

    Christ’s death is not “obedience to the law”. Christ’s death is satisfaction of the law (the law requires obedience or death, the law does not say that death is obedience)

    Genesis 3: 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

    Genesis 3: 17 the ground is cursed because of you.

    Genesis 3: 21 The Lord God made clothing out of skins for Adam and his wife, and He clothed them.

    the gospel of Zechariah 3 Joshua the high priest standing …with Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. 2 The Lord[b] said to Satan: “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! May the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Isn’t this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”

    3 Now Joshua was dressed with clothes with shit on them as he stood before the Angel. 4 So the Angel of the Lord spoke to those standing before Him, “Take off his shitty clothes!” Then the Angel said to Joshua, “See, I have removed your guilt from you, AND I will clothe you with splendid robes.

    the law of Zechariah 3: 7 “This is what the Lord of Hosts says: IF YOU walk in My ways and keep My instructions, you will both rule My house and take care of My courts

    Isaiah 61 The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me,

    He has sent Me to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
    AND the day of our God’s vengeance (on them not you)
    to comfort all who mourn,
    to provide for those who mourn in Zion;
    to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
    and splendid clothes instead of despair.

  5. David Bishop Says:

    I think confusion is created by saying the legal merit of Christ’s death. That makes it sound like the death isn’t what gets imputed. It makes it sound like the merit instead is what gets imputed.

    • markmcculley Says:

      Those who confuse the death accomplished with the death necessarily also at the same time being applied or imputed are confusing Christ’s death as the righteousness with God imputing the righteousness and the elect receiving (by imputation) this obtained righteousness. But God’s imputation of the righteousness (Christ’s death) is before the elect are regenerated and given faith in the gospel. And this regeneration and faith in the gospel is before God’s justification.
      Thus it is true that God imputed the “merit of Christ’s death” to Abraham before Christ died. Justification, imputation, and the objective righteousness are different things.
      But we don’t need to say “merit”, because that probably leads us back to “acts of law-keeping”. Better to say “righteousness of the death”—-not just any righteousness, not the righteousness Adam had before, not the righteousness God had before, but the righteousness of Christ’s death

      The fact/ value distinction gets mis-used both ways–some say, only the fact not the meaning, in other words, as long as you believe that Jesus died no reason to say why or with what result (law, efficacy etc) Not only was Adam alive before his sin, Adam was righteous, but also Adam was on probation (one sin-death), so Adam did not have the righteousness which is Christ’s death The only assurance Adam has was in not sinning (which seems to be the assurance of many who profess to be Christian today)

      Hebrews 5: He offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to save Him from death—-why does Christ have to be resurrected (saved) from death? The gospel is that Christ’s new righteousness (perfection brought in) is by His suffering DEATH….learned obedience through what He suffered.—-both priest and sacrifice

      Hebrews 10: 14 For by one offering   (not many acts of obeying law) He has PERFECTED forever those who are sanctified…. where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.
      But it would be wrong to say that the death only gets forgiveness.Even though forgiveness is justification, justification is more than forgiveness. Justification is access to immortality and good works and worship…….since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way He has opened for us through the curtain (that is, HIS FLESH

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