Posted tagged ‘Fortner’

All or Nothing, Christ’s Righteousness or Yours

August 8, 2012

A mystical experience guy writes: “It was not only imputed sin, because Christ then had to live out that sinfulness by bearing that sinfulness”

This focus on the “sinfulness” that Jesus is bearing sounds like some six hour mystical experience, and it distracts from the meaning of Christ being legally counted with the guilt of the elect.

First, I question the biblical basis for these mystical guys assuming that Christ was not imputed with sins until six hours before He died. Second, the wages of sin is death, and not some six hour experience. Third, the focus on “sinfulness” rather than imputed guilt calls into question what these guys think “imputation” means. Is it only a transfer of punishment and consequence, and not of guilt, as Andrew Fuller would have it?

I understand the practical point is that imputation has results. Of course I agree. Indeed, I am the one saying that the life of the new birth is a result of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. But mystical guys don’t like that. They like to talk about their new birth experience. And when they talk about results of the new birth, they don’t deny imputation and forgiveness of sins, they are looking for more “real” results than that. They think the new birth has given them a better more righteous “soul” than the next guy.

This shows up when they deny that the reign of grace through righteousness in Romans 5:21 is about Christ’s earned and imputed righteousness. These mystical guys are itching to get your Spirit-enabled “righteousness” into that verse, even though it doesn’t fit the context, either before or after.

And of course their idea that imputed righteousness is not enough shows up again when they talk about II Cor 5:15-21, when they insist that “new creation” is about them and their new birth, even though the entire context is about judgment, Christ’s death, non-imputing of sins. But still they think that “becoming the righteousness of God in Christ” is not (only) about imputation.

I am not picking on people because of a word or two. I am saying we need the only. We need the sola. Texts like II Peter 1:1, Romans 5, II Cor 5, are ONLY about a righteousness that Christ earned. The righteousness in those texts is not God’s attribute, and it’s not Christ’s person apart from that finished obedience to death. Every time these mystical guys say “not only”, they might as well say, not that.

Galatians 2: 21–” I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

Arminians and Roman Catholics look at that verse and say, see it’s not through the law, so why talk about Christ’s satisfaction of the law when it’s about Christ in me by grace enabling me to imperfectly keep the law, and grace does not demand perfection. They don’t think that Christ’s death and resurrection are enough. They don’t deny it. They just don’t think it’s enough.

But the point of Galatians 2:21 is that Christ died to completely satisfy the law’s demand, and there is no possibility of satisfying God’s law in any other way except Christ’s death. And to those who would say, well sure, we don’t deny that Christ’s death figures into the equation but don’t forget how grace now causes us to get circumcised, Galatians 2:21 goes all or nothing. ONLY Christ’s death for righteousness, because if not ONLY that, Christ died for nothing. Thus the antithesis.

When the mystical guys proclaim (they don’t explain) that it’s not only about the imputed righteousness, they are opening up a false way for some other kind of salvation. If there were indeed a future justification based on our works, then we who are justified by Christ’s obedience alone are without hope, and Christ died in vain. Only the non-elect and non-justified will be judged by the books. This is why we who have our names written in the book warn those who don’t believe the gospel of the judgment to come.

II Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.”

No, the imputation of righteousness is not a result of the new birth. But yes, imputation of righteousness has results. Result one, those imputed with Christ’s righteousness know and believe God’s only gospel, and repent of the false gospel that gets them into the equation. Result two, there is no condemnation for those imputed with Christ’s righteousness.

There is no being “in Christ” without being imputed with Christ’s righteousness. “No condemnation” is not a result to be minimized. And “no condemnation” is not a result to be put back in doubt based on the works of those who are already in Christ.

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

January 8, 2012

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.

Union is Not the Indwelling Nature, and “Made Sin” Was Never the Inward Nature

April 22, 2011

In Christ, there is true transfer, and this transfer is not by infusion or impartation. The elect transfer from a condemned state to a justified state by the legal transfer of imputation. They are no longer part of the “old man”; they are now part of the “new man”.

To get to the real question in the debate about impartation v imputation, we need to ask: what is transferred? Is guilt transferred to Christ, or is a corrupt “old nature” also transferred to Christ? (and if so, which comes first, and why does the second follow?)

I have answered this question in this blog many times. Our hope is not ultimately a “new nature” which still leaves us sinners, along with an “old nature”. Our hope as sinners is that we be counted righteous on the basis of imputation, and thus legally constituted (declared) as righteous, in a new legal state.

But we need to ask: what is transferred? The strict baptists (along with Ella and Fortner) who define “union” as the indwelling, need to be asked if the merit of Christ’s death is legally transferred to the elect. If so, what does that mean, and why does it matter, if the more basic question is not the transfer of guilt or merit? If Christ is “made sin” by “more than” guilt-transfer, then is it the indwelling and the new nature, and not the merits of Christ’s death, which finally matter?

We need get away from the idea that “union with Christ” is about regeneration. As long as our categories for judging saved and lost are “regenerate” and “unregenerate”, we will be assuming (even if we don’t define it at all) that “union” means regeneration and that union/regeneration precedes justification.

God’s imputation of Christ’s death to the elect justifies them. There is union by election from before the ages, but in our lifetimes, nothing is more fundamental than justification by God’s imputation of Christ’s righteousness.

1. We need to define what we mean by “regeneration”. Since the Bible word is “new birth”, we need to think about this new birth in terms of “effectual calling” by the power of the Holy Spirit with the word of the gospel. We need to get away from the idea that “regeneration” is a “change in substance or nature” and then a time gap between that and the hearing of the gospel.

2. We need to define “in Christ” in terms of justification. Although the Bible does teach that the sheep are always in Christ by election, Romans 16 teaches that some of the sheep are in Christ before other of the sheep. This change is not a first of all a change of regeneration or birth but legally a change of state before God. To be in Christ in this way is to be justified.

Union with Christ is legal solidarity with Christ and His work and His benefits. As a result of this legal change, the sheep are born again and believe the gospel, but “union” does not precede justification, except “union by election”.

3. God justifies the ungodly. God does not justify because of Christ’s indwelling (or the gift of faith). God does not justify because God knows that God is going to indwell and change the person. Christ indwells the person because God has justified the person.

A change from a belief in the false gospel to the true gospel is evidence of God’s imputation, but it is never the condition or the reason for God justifying.
Romans 6:17 “But thanks be to God, that you were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were called…”

Roman 6:20 “When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed?”

As long we define union as indwelling and judge saved and lost by regeneration, we will be tempted to ignore the gospel of justification and judge by morality and immorality.

Romans 6 describes two legal states, one of which is “free from righteousness”. We tend to judge people (even ourselves) to be saved on the evidence of morality. But God sees that morality as something to be ashamed of, when those moral people are still in their sins, still not yet justified.

Romans 6 defines the “in Christ” in terms of legally being placed into the death of Christ. Instead of a “sacrament” which makes you a participant in Christ ( understood by some as “participating” even in the deity of God!), our hope as the justified is that God has counted the death of Christ as our death.

I am not denying Christ’s indwelling or the absolute necessity for it. I am only saying that this indwelling is not “union with Christ”. This indwelling is not the “new man”. The “new creation” has to do with a change in legal state, and not first with a change of substance or nature so that Christ can indwell our hearts.

II Corinthians 5:14 “one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live would no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sakes died and was raised. From now on, we regard no one according to the flesh (judging by morality or immorality or by other non-gospel standards)….If anyone is in Christ, there is a NEW CREATION. The old has passed; the new has come.”

“Those who live” means first of all those who are justified. The category of “we died” is not about inwardness but about an imputed legal reality. So also the category of “those who live” is not about an inward change but about an imputed reality, legal life because of justification.

Christ is here indwelling, yes, but also, Christ is not here, not yet, and we believe and obey and hope, waiting for the day when Christ will be here. He is not now coming down from heaven as He will someday, and we are not now going to heaven.

So how then are we in Christ? We are in Christ legally. The old has passed. The legal verdict has already been declared. One day, our resurrection, will be the visible evidence of that verdict.

Is Imputation Only a “Legal Ceremonial Pasting On”?

April 4, 2011

Don Fortner: “I heard a man say, with regard to Christ being made sin for us. ‘It is a legal matter.’ When I heard that, I shook my head in disbelief. Is it possible for a person to see nothing mysterious, nothing wondrously mysterious about the Son of God being made sin for us? Immediately, I thought of our Savior’s words in Lamentations 1:12. — “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me,
wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.”

Fortner: “The fact is the word translated “made” in 2nd Corinthians 5:21 means precisely that — ‘mysteriously, wondrously made, made in a profoundly mysterious way that is beyond explanation. ‘ It is not a legal (forensic) word. Our Lord Jesus was wondrously, mysteriously, profoundly caused to be sin for us, that we might be made (in the experience of grace) the righteousness of God in him.

Fortner: “Traditionally, it is said that Christ was made sin by imputation. I have said that myself; but that is not really true. The Word of God never says that. Our Lord Jesus was not made sin by imputation. The Scriptures forbid the possibility of that (Proverbs 17:15). Our sins were imputed to him because he was made sin. There is no place in this Book of God where a legal (forensic) term is used with reference to Christ being made sin.”

Mark McCulley: Proverbs 17:15 says “he who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord.

Fortner: “It is certainly true that our sin was imputed to our Savior. Had it not been imputed to him, he could never have suffered the wrath of God for our sin. But he was not made sin by imputation.

Mark McCulley: Sin was imputed, Mr Fortner agrees. But according to Fortner, that was only later, and that didn’t make Christ a sinner. But something did, and when that something did, then Christ was wicked actually and really, and then because He was wicked actually and really, then God could and did condemn Christ as wicked….

Fortner:”Our sins were justly imputed to him because he was made sin for us! The Book of God does not say our sins were pasted on him in a legal, ceremonial way.

Mark McCulley: According to Fortner, imputing sin is only declaring that Christ is wicked after “somehow” Christ was made wicked. Though nobody defines imputation as “pasted on”, it’s more convenient for Fortner to describe it that way than to talk to a real person who believes in the imputation of sins. Though nobody equates “ceremonial” with “legal”, it serves Fortner’s purposes to make that equation instead of trying to defend his indefensible explanation to a real person.

Fortner: The Book says, “He hath made him sin for us!” The Scriptures do not say he was treated as though he were sin. The Book says, “He hath made him sin for us!” The Word of God does not say he was accounted a transgressor. The Book says, “He hath made him sin for us!” And the Holy Spirit does not here say that he was made a sin-offering. The Book of God says, “He hath made him sin for us!”

Mark McCulley: 1. The book did not say made or “become” either, because there is a need to translate into English and interpret. But Fortner assumes that words must mean what he thinks they mean. 2. I agree that II Cor 5:21 does not say that Christ was made a sin-offering. The sin-offering is a result of Christ being legally imputed with the sins of the elect.

But I don’t only agree. I have a reason (an argument for why) I think it’s not sin-offering. “Made sin” is parallel to “become the righteousness”. Christ was imputed with sins, and the elect are imputed with righteousness when they are justified. But of course Fortner does not allow this parallel, because he assumes that “made” is not legal and because he assumes that “become” is not legal.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me that Fortner’s hope is not Christ bearing away the guilt of the elect. To him that is not actual or real enough. That would only be ceremonial (legal). To be saved by imputation would be pasting on something, and not a real something inside you.

More Than Legal?–False Information, False Gospel

April 4, 2011

We have a group of preachers who go around repeating one-liners after each other. One of the things they like to say is: Christ was made sin somehow, but we don’t know how.

Right after they say this, these same preachers give you some false information about Christ being made sin. They say: this was not just legal. They say: this was more than legal. And then they say, people don’t like me saying this, but I am comfortable with the language of Scripture.

These preachers glory in their bad explanation of II Corinthians 5:21. They say that their false explanations are not explanations but proclamations that they hope God will “somehow” turn into the very words of Christ. In other words, if you disagree with them, you are supposedly disagreeing with Christ.

First, let me point out the obvious. II Corinthians 5:21 reads: “for our sakes he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we become the righteousness of God in Him.” II Corinthians 5:21 does not deny that “made sin” was legal, nor is it the very language of Scripture to say that “made sin” is “more than legal”. That is not what the Bible says; it’s what these preachers are saying about the Bible.

I have no objection to preachers saying things about the Bible. But I do object when they want to act like their bad explanations are the very language of Scripture. These preachers refuse to give information or arguments to support their explanations, and yet they want you to treat what they say as Christ’s gospel.

So, first, the Bible does not say what they say it says. Second, they do not explain what they mean by “legal”. Why is “legal” not real or actual? In order to understand that, we don’t need some mystical zap telling us that when a clergyman says it, it’s Christ saying it. We need to study the Bible, and especially what the Bible says about guilt and Christ bearing sins.

If “made sin” is “more than legal”, that implies that it IS legal. If “made sin” is first of all legal, what does that mean? I am still waiting for these preachers to tell us how imputation is legal. What is not real or actual about Christ transferring guilt (not only punishment) from one person to another?

In the case of the Lord Jesus, the legal transfer of the sins of the elect to Christ was so real that the result was that Christ died for those sins. Romans 6:9–“We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.”

Why did death once have dominion over Christ? It was the legal imputation of the sins of the elect that made it so. If this group of preachers denies the reality of legal transfer of guilt, let them say so. Let them say: Christ was not made sin legally. But they don’t say that. They say: Christ was not only made sin legally. That implies that Christ was made sin legally, and also something else.

But to teach that, they would need to explain first what is real and actual about Christ being made sin legally. If they don’t want to do that, they should stop being so sneaky and say: we don’t know how Christ was made sin, but we do know it wasn’t legally. We don’t explain, but we do explain that it was not legal.

Third, these preacher guys have a plus, a more. Christ’s activity, Christ’s legal righteousness is not enough for them. Their larger hope is a new nature they see in themselves, a new nature that does not keep them from sinning but at least wants not to sin, and wants not to sin for the right reasons.

These guys have a more. Legal bearing away of sins by Christ is not enough: that’s not sufficient they say. Christ was also made sin some OTHER way. And they themselves think that they themselves are made righteous in some OTHER way.

One of them “doctrinises”, “It was not enough that our sins were imputed to him. His suffering unto death on the cross was much, much more than a legal matter. The agony of His mind and His soul cannot be described and it cannot be explained to our finite minds.”

Yes, of course there is a difference between the legal imputation of sin (made sin) and the death of Christ which was a result of that. But what information do we find in the Bible to tell us about this supposed difference between a legal matter and something “real”?

In John 6:63, the Lord Jesus says, “The words that I HAVE SPOKEN UNTO YOU are spirit and life.” But the Lord Jesus had no words to tell us about this “more than legal”. These preachers have no great regard for information from the past; their hope is that their own words will be transubstantiated into life itself, and without argument or explanation.

These preachers are too impatient to attempt to transmit information. Where II Timothy 2:24 commands us to “correct opponents with meekness, because God may PERHAPS grant them repentance leading to a KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH”, these preachers don’t care about true information about the person and activity of Christ. If God is sovereign, they seem to think, God doesn’t need to give lost people any information.

And since the idea that Christ was made sin is not information, and since the explanation of these preachers that this was “more than legal” is not information, these preachers seem to think that if you disagree with them, you show yourself to be “Arminians on the inside”.

Mark is simply a negative person, a doctrinizer? Think of me as a questioner of distinctions ( like “more than”) than cannot be supported by what the Bible says. When God’s people are being comforted by half-truths and even contradictions of what the Bible says, I will not be quiet.

Is it not true that this legal matter, the imputation of the sins of the elect to Christ, is real, so real that Christ died for these sins? So where is there any BIBLE distinction between the legal and the real? And what can be more real than real? if legal imputation is a reality and not a fiction, and if the death of Jesus Christ is a real result of that, where is the “more”?

I suggest that we stop flying around the country with each other’s soundbites unless we are prepared to define them, defend them, and explain them by reference to Scripture.

Let’s not get all mystical and talk about some difference which is “more” real. Sin demands death, and the guilt of the elect imputed to Christ, demanded AS A LEGAL MATTER that Jesus “really” die. And He did. That’s what the Bible says, and we should not fuzzy it up with distinctions we cannot justify from Scripture.