Stunning

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Some Early Baptist Confessions of Faith Explicitly Disowned the "Openness" View

2007/07/29
Some Early Baptist Confessions of Faith Explicitly Disowned the "Openness" View
Category:
Author: tartanarmy (3:21 am)

Some Early Baptist Confessions of Faith Explicitly Disowned the "Openness" View
By John Piper

The Second London Confession of Baptists in 1677 (reissued in 1689), in Chapter II, "Of God and the Holy Trinity," paragraph 2, says:

"In [God's] sight all things are open and manifest, his knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the Creature, so as nothing is to him contingent, or uncertain."1

It is remarkable that three hundred years ago Baptists explicitly repudiated an essential tenet of contemporary "openness theology"; namely, that God's knowledge is indeed significantly "dependent upon the Creature." As Greg Boyd says, "God can't foreknow the good or bad decisions of the people He creates until He creates these people and they, in turn create their decisions."2 This "openness" view entails that for God many things are indeed "contingent or uncertain," which the Baptists of 1689 also reject in their statement of faith.

Why did a Baptist confession of faith in 1689 include such an explicit denial of these "openness" tenets? One reason is that "Socinian thought became predominant in many circles, both General Baptist and English Presbyterians being widely contaminated."3 But all orthodox branches of the church rejected this doctrinal aberration and affirmed God's exhaustive foreknowledge. Charles Hodge expresses this common knowledge, "The Church . . . in obedience to the Scriptures, has, almost with one voice, professed faith in God's foreknowledge of the free acts of his creatures."4 Greg Boyd acknowledges that "Until the time of the Socinians, the belief that God's omniscience included all future events was not generally questioned."5

But the Socinians, taking the name of Socinus (1539-1604), avowed a view of God's foreknowledge similar to the one being advanced by openness theology today.The Socinians . . . unable to reconcile this foreknowledge with human liberty, deny that free acts can be foreknown. As the omnipotence of God is his ability to do whatever is possible, so his omniscience is his knowledge of everything knowable. But as free acts are in their nature uncertain, as they may or may not be, they cannot be known before they occur. Such is the argument of Socinus.6

Therefore, the Baptists in 1689, when confronted with the spreading of this false teaching about the foreknowledge of God, were moved to take an explicit stand against it in their affirmation of faith.

The issue remained important enough for the next 60 years, so that when the Baptists in America chose their first affirmation of faith, they chose this same 1689 London Confession. They made some small additions relevant to their situation, but left the wording on foreknowledge exactly as it was in the 1689 Confession.

In 1707 the first Baptist association in America was organized at Philadelphia. As theological disputes arose among the Baptists of the New World, they appealed to "the Confession of Faith, set by the elders and brethren met in London in 1689, and owned by us," as their standard of doctrine. When the association gathered at Philadelphia on September 25, 1742, they ordered a new printing of this by then classic statement of faith which became known on this side of the Atlantic as the Philadelphia Confession of Faith.7

Thus, in this first American Baptist statement of faith, the explicit disavowal of limited foreknowledge was preserved in the same language. "In [God's] sight all things are open and manifest, his knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the Creature, so as nothing is to him contingent, or uncertain."8 We may infer several lessons from these observations:

1. The view of God's foreknowledge espoused today by openness theology is similar to that espoused by Socinianism, even though not all of the unorthodox views of Socinianism are embraced by openness theology.9

2. The limited view of God's foreknowledge was rejected by all orthodox bodies in the history of the church including our Baptist forefathers.

3. This doctrinal issue was regarded by seventeenth-century Baptists as important enough in their day to repudiate explicitly in their affirmation of faith.

4. It is not unbaptistic or narrow to do the same today.
1 William L. Lumkin, ed., Baptist Confessions of Faith (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1959), p. 253 (emphasis added). The fact that these early Baptists were Calvinistic in their orientation does not mean that the issue of foreknowledge was a uniquely Calvinisitc concern. Arminius himself rejected the notion that his view demanded God's uncertainty about future human choices. He affirmed, for example, "The fourth decree, to save certain particular persons and to damn others . . . rests upon the foreknowledge of God, by which he has known from eternity which persons should believe according to such an administration of the means serving to repentance and faith through his preceding grace and which should persevere through subsequent grace, and also who should not believe and persevere." Quoted in Carl Bangs, Arminius: A Study in the Dutch Reformation (Nashville: Abingdon, 1971), p. 352.

2Greg Boyd, Letters from A Skeptic (Colorado Springs: Chariot Victor Publishing, 1994), p. 30,

3 O. Ramond Johnston, "Socinianism," in: Everett Harrison, ed., Baker's Dictionary of Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1960), p. 490.

4 Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 1. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989, orig. 1871-1873), p. 400.

5Gregory A. Boyd, Trinity and Process: A Critical Evaluation and Reconstruction of Hartshorne's Di-Polar Theism Towards a Trinitarian Metaphysics (New York: Peter Long Publishing, Inc., 1992), p. 296.

6 Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 1., pp. 400- 401.

7 Timothy and Denise George, eds., Baptist Confessions, Covenant, and Catechisms (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1996), p. 10.

8 Ibid., Baptist Confessions, p. 60.

9 Nevertheless, we should hear the warning of Robert Strimple in response to openness theology: "A Socinian view of God leads inevitably to a Socinian view of salvation, which is not the good news of salvation by God's free grace - by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone - but rather a message of salvation by one's own efforts, a false gospel that is not good news at all. It is the gospel that is at stake in this debate." "What Does God Know?" in: The Coming Evangelical Crisis, John Armstrong, ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1996), p. 150.

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Mark

What are John Piper's views on God's foreknowledge and openness theology?

2007/07/29
What are John Piper's views on God's foreknowledge and openness theology?
Category:
Author: tartanarmy (3:16 am)

What are John Piper's views on God's foreknowledge and openness theology?
By DG Staff January 23, 2006

John Piper has written a significant number of articles dealing with specific texts and theological problems relating to the foreknowledge of God. For an in-depth look at the issue expounding his position with regard to the Baptist General Conference and openness theology, see the booklet entitled, Resolution on the Foreknowledge of God: Reasons & Rationale. This and other helpful articles can be found in the Foreknowledge section of the Online Library.

Bethlehem is also supportive of The Edgren Fellowship, an alliance of pastors and lay people in the Baptist General Conference who joyfully uphold and proclaim the vision of God and His work described in the BGC Affirmation of Faith. Specifically, they believe that this historic Biblical faith has always included the persuasion of John Alexis Edgren, the founder of Bethel Seminary, that, "God knows everything that ever was, everything that now is, and everything that is to be; all that is actual and all that is possible. Therefore God knows in advance all the free acts of all free creatures" (Fundamentals of Faith [Chicago: BGC Press, 1948], pp. 19-20).

For further reading, we highly recommend:

Bruce Ware, God's Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2000).

John Piper writes of this book:

Open theism, which denies that God can foreknow free human choices, dishonors God, distorts Scripture, damages faith, and would, if left unchecked, destroy churches and lives. Its errors are not peripheral but central. Therefore, I thank God for Bruce Ware's loving, informed, penetrating, devastating critique of this profoundly injurious teaching. I pray that God would use this book to sharpen the discernment of leaders and prepare the people of God to recognize toxic teaching when they taste it. O how precious is the truth of God's all-knowing, all-wise, all-powerful care over our fragile lives. For your name's sake, O Lord, and for the good of the suffering church who rest in your all-knowing providence, prosper the message of this beautiful book and shorten the ruinous life of open theism.

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Mark

How Open Theism Helps Us Conceal Our Hidden Idolatries

2007/07/29
How Open Theism Helps Us Conceal Our Hidden Idolatries
Category:
Author: tartanarmy (2:46 am)

How Open Theism Helps Us Conceal Our Hidden Idolatries
By John Piper




Open theism may help conceal deep idolatry in the soul. One of the great needs of our souls is to know if we treasure anything on earth more than we treasure Christ. Treasuring anyone or anything more than Christ is idolatry. Paul said in Colossians 3:5, "Put to death therefore what is earthly in you . . . covetousness, which is idolatry." If covetousness is idolatry, then desiring earthly things more than we desire God is idolatry. That means we must be more satisfied in Christ and his wisdom than we are in all our relationships and accomplishments and possessions on earth.

Now how does Open Theism help us conceal from ourselves the idolatries in our souls. It ascribes ultimate causality for many calamities and evils to Satan or the autonomous will of man, not finally to the all-disposing counsel and wisdom of God above and behind Satan. For example, Greg Boyd says:

When an individual inflicts pain on another individual, I do not think we can go looking for "the purpose of God" in the event. . . . I know Christians frequently speak about 'the purpose of God' in the midst of a tragedy caused by someone else. . . . But this I regard to simply be a piously confused way of thinking (Letters from a Skeptic [Colorado Springs: Chariot Victor Publishing, 1994], p. 47).

Similarly, John Sanders writes:

God does not have a specific divine purpose for each and every occurrence of evil. . . . When a two-month-old child contracts a painful, incurable bone cancer that means suffering and death, it is pointless evil. The Holocaust is pointless evil. The rape and dismemberment of a young girl is pointless evil. The accident that caused the death of my brother was a tragedy. God does not have a specific purpose in mind for these occurrences (The God Who Risks [Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998], p. 262).

If not "the purpose of God," what then is ultimate? Either man's will which is ultimately "self-determining" and can even surprise God (as Open Theists believe), or the will of an evil spirit which is also ultimately "self-determining." For example, after admitting that "God can sometimes use the evil wills of personal beings, human or divine, to his own ends," Boyd then says, "This by no means entails that there is a divine will behind every activity of an evil spirit" (God at War [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997], p. 154, cf. 57, 141). "A self-determining, supremely evil being rules the world" (p. 54). "The ultimate reason behind all evil in the world is found in Satan, not God" (p. 54, my italics).

How does this worldview help us conceal the idolatry of our soul? It works like this. Open Theism denies that God is the final, purposive disposer of all things (Job 2:10; Amos 3:6; Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:11). Therefore it asserts that God's wisdom does not hold final sway (Rom. 11:33-36), and thus God is not fulfilling a plan for our good in all our miseries (Jeremiah 29:11; 32:40). Open Theism implies, therefore, that we should not think about the wisdom of God's purpose in causing or permitting our calamities. In other words, Open Theism discourages us from asking what sanctifying purpose God may have in ordaining that our misery come about.

But in reality our pain and losses are always a test of how much we treasure the all-wise, all-governing God in comparison to what we have lost. We see this merciful testing of God throughout the Scriptures. For example, in Deuteronomy 8:3 Moses said, "And [God] humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." In other words, God ordains the hard times ("he . . . let you hunger") to see if good times are our god. Do we love bread, or do we love God? Do we treasure God and trust his good purposes in pain, or do we love his gifts more, and get angry when he takes them away?

We see this testing in Psalm 66:10-12, "For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water." And we see it in the life of Paul. When he prayed for his thorn in the flesh to be taken away Christ told him what the purpose of the pain was. "Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'" (2 Corinthians 12:8-9). The test for Paul was: Will you value the magnifying of Christ's power more than a pain-free life?

We see this testing in 1 Peter 1:6-7, "In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, as was necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." God ordains trials to refine our faith and prove that we really trust his wisdom and grace and power, when hard times come. Similarly in James 1:2-3, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. . . . Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him." Do we love God? That is the point of the test. Do we cherish him and the merciful wisdom of his painful purposes, more than we cherish pain-free lives? That is the point of God's testing.

Our trials reveal the measure of our affection for this earth – both its good things and bad things. Our troubles expose our latent idolatry.

For those who believe that God rules purposefully and wisely over all things, our response to loss is a signal of how much idolatry is in our souls. Do we really treasure what we have lost more than God and his wisdom? If we find ourselves excessively angry or resentful or bitter, it may well show that we love God less that what we lost. This is a very precious discovery, because it enables us to repent and seek to cherish Christ as we ought, rather than being deceived into thinking all is well.

But Open Theism denies that God always has a wise purpose in our calamities ("God does not have a specific divine purpose for each and every occurrence of evil"), and so it obscures the test of our idolatrous hearts. Open Theism does not encourage us to see or savor the merciful designs of God in our pain. It teaches that there is either no design or that the design of the evil done against us is ultimately owing to Satan or evil men ("The ultimate reason behind all evil in the world is found in Satan, not God").

Therefore, we may be so angry with Satan and with evil people (which is legitimate up to a point), that we fail to ask whether our anger reflects an excessive attachment to what we just lost. But if, contrary to Open Theism, we must reckon with the fact that God's wisdom is the ultimate reason we lost our treasure, then we will be forced to do the very valuable act of testing our hearts to see if we loved something on earth more than the wisdom of God.

All of life is meant to be lived to reflect the infinite value of Christ (Philippians 1:20). We show his infinite worth by treasuring him above all things and all persons. Believing in his all-ruling, all-wise sovereignty helps reveal our idolatries in times of pain and loss. Not believing that God has a wise purpose for every event helps conceal our idolatries. Thus Open Theism, against all its conscious designs, tends to undermine a means of grace that our deceptive hearts need.

Article here

Mark

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Scottish Humor!

2007/07/24
Scottish Humor!
Category:
Author: tartanarmy (4:03 am)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Romans 9 - A Response to Steve Gregg
Category:
Author: tartanarmy (2:15 am)

WOW!

That's all I can say to Dr White's presentation on Romans 9!


http://www.aomin.org/podcasts/20070719fta.mp3

Mark

Thursday, July 19, 2007

R.C Grins at his detractors.

2007/07/19
R.C Grins at his detractors.
Category:
Author: tartanarmy (2:42 am)



I don't know about you all, but when Dr White recently made mention of using some comments made by Steve Gregg on his Calvinism series, and in one of those Mr Gregg mocks Dr RC Sproul, I cannot but help feel it is all worth it, knowing I had a very little part in that.

The reason I mention it, is because when I first Heard Steve Gregg's comments about RC, I immediately saw in my mind a grin on the face of RC had he been aware of what Steve had said about him.(Mainly because Steve was misunderstanding what Sproul was saying!)

After petitioning Dr White a number of times to consider debating Mr Gregg, it was with some irony that in the course of providence, RC did come to have a grin upon his face in the exact same way I had many months ago imagined!

Anyway, the latest Dividing line talks about it and deals with the debate that is still well and truly on the table.
Even though I am no longer welcome over at Steve's board, I am yet still looking forward to the debate between him and Dr White.

click here for D/Line

Mark

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Needs to be repeated.

2007/07/13
Needs to be repeated.
Category:
Author: tartanarmy (12:19 pm)



A Follow Up: Is Your Preaching Wimpy?
by James White.

A couple of days ago I commented on an e-mail sent by someone who claimed they were becoming Roman Catholic because of me. I mentioned that I have seen this kind of e-mail from various groups, and in the few times I have been able to press the person for meaningful interaction, I have always found the claim less than compelling. I mentioned some of the reasons then.

I did not, however, wish to leave the impression that such things should be unusual. In fact, I would like to upset a few apple carts with the following comments. Please read them all, and if you are going to misquote me, I can't stop you--but I will be clear as to what I am saying.

When Paul spoke to the Ephesian elders in his final meeting with them, he said these words:


"Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. " (Acts 20:26-27)


The true preacher of the Word seeks to have this as his ambition as well. God is not honored when men think so little of Him and so highly of themselves that they edit the content of the proclamation for the fear of the face of men and so that they may be considered "successful" in some worldly sense. It is a fearful thing to be unfaithful to the task of preaching "the whole counsel of God."

Keeping this in mind, I would like to point out the fact that there are religious hypocrites in the church. There were even in the days of Paul, as he names some by name. But today one looks for the true believer as the oddity in evangelical churches filled with unregenerate men and women who have been fooled into thinking you can shake a man's hand, say some magical words that are not joined with any kind of repentance or understanding of the gospel itself, and you have your "ticket punched" and you are on your way to heaven. The result is that any time you would dare to preach the soul-searching passages of Scripture that expose sin and hypocrisy and false faith you will hear the howl of the religious hypocrite from front row to back. Which is why you can observe major "ministries" today that are completely focused upon avoiding any form of offense of the natural man, just so long as they are there on Sunday morning and drop a little something in the plate to help you pay for your massive sports arena.

But even the best church will have false professors in its midst, men and women who, for various reasons, may well play the religion game quite well for an amazingly long time. Some do it for family reasons, some just because they were raised that way, some for acceptance--but in any case, they attend services, may even be involved in ministry, but their hearts are unchanged, their faith in word only.

Now, given these two things, there follows inevitably a set of conclusions that I have found are troubling to many. Here is where I ask you to listen carefully. Sound, complete, consistently biblical preaching will offend the natural man. Not an overly controversial statement, right? However, what do offended hypocrites do? What do unregenerate men who have been playing at religion do when the full-orbed preaching of the Word finally breaks through their hardened shell and hits them where it counts? What happens when their false attachment to the proclamation of the truth is broken for any number of reasons? Do they simply walk away and become pagans, non-religious people, living the ways of the world and the full expression of their unregenerate nature? Some do, surely. But not all. Instead, let me be bold:

Speaking the truth will inevitably drive some to profess faith in false religions, having once professed faith in the truth.


There is the controversial statement, but it really should not be so controversial. A lost man is a lost man whether he is lost while sitting under the sound proclamation of the Word or lost while sitting in a pit of heresy. Unregenerate men will express their rebellion in many ways, and one natural way for such a rebel to show his disdain for God's truth is that, having professed it for a season, he denies it, even seeking to be seen as a great "convert" to some other, often directly contradictory, religious faith. Do we not see this often in the history of the faith? Do we not see it today as well? The "Paul on the road to Damascus" syndrome has been documented often in converts to Rome, or Salt Lake City, or Brooklyn--just think of Gerry Matatics, for example, or Scott Hahn.

So the question I have to ask of many who stand behind pulpits today is this: is your preaching so wimpy it would never trouble a religious hypocrite, and never result in such a person fleeing its proclamation so as to run to man's religions for refuge? Do you pull back on those elements of God's truth that are the most offensive to the natural man because you do not wish to see that disdainful look, that annoyed shaking of the head? Do you really distrust the ministry of the Spirit to make the Word of Christ to come alive in the hearts and minds of Christ's sheep, so that you do not need to worry about those who find offense at His truth?

Or have you embraced the spirit of the age which places man's fragile emotions upon the seat of prominence, and have bought into the idea that to be "loving" means to never give offense to anyone (well, except for God--it is fine to offend Him by thinking yourself so wise you can edit out what shouldn't be in the gospel in our day)?

Would your teaching and proclamation allow a religious hypocrite to remain safely and comfortably ensconced in the congregation for years on end, never offended, never convicted? Finally, if such a hypocrite does leave and make a show of embracing heresy just to spite you, do you sting with embarrassment, or rejoice that God's Word continues to work in the hearts of men and women, some to His glory in their salvation, and some to His glory in their damnation? Think about it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Modern scholarship in a Post Modern world.

2007/07/12
Modern scholarship in a Post Modern world.
Category:
Author: tartanarmy (2:32 pm)



I have been reading with some interest the trends within Evangelical land in the last decade pertaining to Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, and am deeply troubled.

I am one of those who came from a RC background, and know first hand the results, beliefs and way of Popery.
Even in my short time upon this earth I have seen with my own eyes the kind of abominations within this great religious system called Rome.

But, modern evangelicals are increasingly finding ways to join with this monstrous deadener of mens souls, and are doing so with increasing vigour.

High profile converts to Rome are becoming increasingly old news and very little is being said about it.
Everyone seems to be caught up in the post modern politically correct atmosphere of superficial niceties.

I for one am sick of it. I am tired of the fact that way too many evangelicals have not a strong word against Roman Catholicism.
Way too many are making nothing of the trend to move toward Rome and its dogma.

In fact, way too many are happy to pat those who jump over to Rome squarely on the back and offer the open arm of fellowship with them.
It is simply amazing.

Oh, I know I will be called all kinds of names, but let me just say this.
What has Rome to offer anyone?

Deception, that's what it offers. A false system of works righteousness hiding under the umbrella of grace! It is a sham and a mockery of true Biblical Christianity.

Has Rome changed?
Nope, nada, and it never will.

Even the New Pope has come out and re-established who the true Church is and has slapped egg on the faces of all those silly Evangelicals pursuing peace with this abomination.

I love Catholics and I want to see them saved. I have family caught up in its tentacles and it grieves me much to see them so much in bondage.

I have to greatly admire James White for his tenacious attitude in dealing with this beast.
It has been said well, "Talent is much more common than tenacity,
and yet it is tenacity that, by the Divine blessing, carries the day."
Thankfully men like Dr White have both of these attributes.

Please read and listen to his latest passionate response to movements happening within "friendly" evangelical circles.

http://aomin.org/index.php?itemid=2098

Monday, July 09, 2007

The imputation of our sins to Christ

2007/07/09
The imputation of our sins to Christ
Category:
Author: tartanarmy (6:15 am)


The gospel of Jesus Christ is under attack today in some very profound ways:

-the NPP (N.T. Wright);
-Open Theism (Boyd, Pinnock);
-the Emergent Church (McLaren, Jones, Burke, Miller, Ward, etc.);
-a new rise in Sabellianism (T.D. Jakes - Phillips, Craig and Dean);
-the self-esteem movement (Robert Schuller);
-the Prosperity Gospel (TBN, Crefflo Dollar, Copeland);
-and a revival among evangelicals to embrace Romanism (Francis Beckwith).


All of these skewed factions and their subsequent doctrines in some way undermine the nature of Christ, the character of the One-Triune God, and the gospel of sola fide.

But even within the more orthodox, narrower scope of evangelicalism, the gospel is under attack by some who deny the imputation of our sin to Christ on the cross; and by faith, the imputation of His perfect righteousness (by virtue of His active and passive obedience) in salvation.

I wholeheartedly agree with R.C. Sproul when he said a few years ago at the Founders breakfast in Nashville, "If we are going to stand for justification by faith alone, then we must also stand for imputation. We cannot talk of one without the other."

One of the most eloquent writers, pastors and theologians of all the Puritan divines, Stephen Charnock, has written an excellent article on this issue that I trust will galvanize even further your biblical constitution and resolve on this important concern of imputation.


by Stephen Charnock

Our sins were imputed to him as to a sacrifice. Christ the just is put in the place of the unjust, to suffer for them (1 Peter 3 :18). Christ is said to bear sin, as a sacrifice bears sin (Isaiah 53:10, 12). His soul was made an offering for it. But sin was so laid upon the victims, as that it was imputed to them in a judicial account [manner] according to the ceremonial law, and typically expiated by them. Christ had not [would not have] taken away our sins as Mediator, had he not borne the punishment of them. As a surety, 'He was made sin for us' (2 Corinthians 5:21), and he bare our sins, which is evident by the kind of death he suffered, not only sharp and shameful but accursed, having a sense of God's wrath linked to it.

(1) Imputation cannot be understood of the infection of sin.

The filth of our nature was not transmitted to him. Though he was made sin, yet he was not made a sinner by any infusion or transplantation of sin into his nature. It was impossible his holiness could be defiled with our filth.

(2) But our sin was the meritorious cause of his punishment.

All those phrases, that 'Christ died for our sins' (1 Corinthians 15:3) and was 'delivered to death for our offenses' (Romans 4:25) clearly import [mean] sin to be the meritorious cause of the punishment [which] Christ endured. Sin cannot be said to be the cause of punishment, but [except] by way of merit. If Christ had not been just, he had not been [would not have been] capable of suffering for us; had we not been unjust, we had not [would not have] merited any suffering for ourselves, much less for another. Our unrighteousness put us under a necessity of a sacrifice, and his righteousness made him fit to be one. What was the cause of the desert of suffering for ourselves was the meritorious cause of the sufferings of the Redeemer after he put himself in our place. The sin of the offerer merited the death of the sacrifice presented in his stead.

(3) Our sins were charged upon him in regard of their guilt.

Our sins are so imputed to him as that they are 'not imputed to us' (2 Corinthians 5:19), and not imputed to us because 'he was made a curse for us' (Galatians 3 :13). He bore our sins, as to the punishment, is granted. If he were an offering for them, they must in a judicial way be charged upon him. If by being made sin, be understood a sacrifice for sin (which indeed is the true intent of the word sometimes in scripture), sin was then legally transferred on the antitype, as it was on the types in the Jewish service by the ceremony of laying on of hands and confessing of sin, after which the thing so dedicated became accursed and though it was in itself innocent, yet was guilty in [the] sight of [the] law and as a substitute.

In the same manner was Christ accounted. So on the contrary, believers are personally guilty, but by virtue of the satisfaction of this sacrifice imputed to them, they are judicially counted innocent. Christ, who never sinned, is put in such a state as if he had; and we, who have always sinned, are put into such a state by him as if we never had. As we are made righteous in him, so he was made sin for us.

Now, as justifying righteousness is not inherent in us, but imputed to us; so our condemning sin was not inherent in Christ, but imputed to him. There would else [otherwise] be no consistency in the antithesis: 'He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin' (2 Corinthians 5:21).

He knew no sin, yet he became sin. It seems to carry it [the idea] further than only the bearing [of] the punishment of sin. He was by law charged in our stead with the guilt of sin. Our iniquities were laid upon him (Isaiah 53:6). The prophet had spoken (verse 5) of Christ bearing the chastisement of our peace, the punishment of our sin, and then seems to declare the ground of that, which consisted in God's imputation of sin to him in laying upon him the iniquities of us all.

What iniquities? Our goings astray, our turnings every one to his own way. He made him to be that sin which he knew not, but he knew the punishment of sin. The knowledge of that was the end of his coming. He came to lay down his life a ransom for many. He knew not sin by an experimental inherency [something in his own nature], but he knew it by judicial imputation.

He knew it not in regard of the spots, but he knew it in regard of the guilt following upon the judgment of God. He was righteous in his person, but not in the sight of the law pronounced righteous as our Surety till after his sacrifice, when he was 'taken from prison and from judgment' (Isaiah 53:8). Till he had paid the debt, he was accounted as a debtor to God.

The apostle distinguishes his second coming from his first by this, 'He shall appear the second time without sin unto salvation' (Hebrews 9:28). It is not meant of the filth of sin, for so he appeared at first without sin. But [he will appear] without the guilt of sin which he had at his first coming derived or taken upon Himself to satisfy for and remove from the sinner.

He shall appear without sin to be imputed, without punishment to be inflicted. At the time of His first coming he appeared with sin, with sin charged upon him, as our Surety arrested for our criminal debts. He pawned his life for the lives which we had forfeited. He suffered the penalty due by law that we might have a deliverance free by grace. In his first coming he represented our persons as an undertaker [proxy] for us. Our sins were therefore laid upon him. In his second coming he represents God as a deputy, and so no sin can be charged upon him.

He cannot well be supposed to suffer for our sins, if our sins in regard of their guilt be not supposed to be charged upon him. Had he not first had a relation to our sin, he could not in justice have undergone our punishment.

He must in the order of justice be [either] supposed a sinner really, or [else] by imputation. Since he was not a sinner really, he was so by imputation. How can we conceive [that] he should be made a curse for us, if that which made us accursed had not been first charged upon him? It is as much against divine justice to inflict punishment where there is no sin, as it is to spare an offender who has committed a crime or to 'clear the guilty. This God will by no means do' (Exodus 34:7). The consideration of a crime precedes the sentence, either upon an offender or his surety. We cannot conceive how divine justice should inflict the punishment, had it not first considered him under guilt.

Though the first designation of the Redeemer to a suretyship or sacrifice for us was an act of God's sovereignty, yet the inflicting punishment after that designation and our Savior's acceptation of it was an act of God's justice, and so declared to be, 'to declare his righteousness, that he might be just' (Romans 3:26), that he might declare his justice in justification, his justice to his law. Can this highest declaration of justice be founded upon an unjust act?

Would that have been justice or injustice to Christ, for God to lay his wrath upon the Son of his love, one whose person was always dear to him, always pleased him, had he not stood as a sinner regarded so by law in our stead, and suffered that sin, which was the ruin of mankind, to be cast with all the weight of it upon his innocent shoulders?

After, by his own act, he had engaged for [made himself responsible for] our debt, God injustice might demand of him every farthing, which without that undertaking and putting himself in our stead could not be done. This submission of his and compliance with it [readiness to suffer for it] is expressed twice, by his not opening his mouth (Isaiah 53:7); and no wrong is done to a voluntary undertaker [i.e. sufferer].

Add this too.

It is from his standing in our stead as guilty that the benefit of his death redounds to us. His death had had [would have had] no relation to us had not our sin been lawfully adjudged to be his; nor can we challenge an acquittance [plead for pardon] at the hands of God for our debts if they were not our debts that he paid on the cross.

'He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities' (Isaiah 53:5). The laying hands on the head of the sin-offering was necessary to make it a sacrifice for the offender; without which ceremony it might have been a slain but not a sacrificed beast.

The transferring our iniquities upon him must in some way precede his being bruised for them, which could not be any other way than by imputation whereby he was constituted by God a debtor in our stead to bear the punishment of our sin. Since he was made sin for us, our sin was in a sort [manner] made his; he was made sin without sin; he knew the guilt without knowing the filth; he felt the punishment without being touched with the pollution.

Since death was the wages of sin and passed as a penalty for a violated law (Romans 6:23) it could not righteously be inflicted on him, if sin had not first been imputed to him. In his own person he was in the arms of his Father's love; as he represented our sinful persons, he felt the strokes of his Father's wrath.