13 March 2011

The Ground of Justification and the Imputation of Christ's Active Obedience

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is from "Justification and Glory," a sermon Spurgeon delivered on Sunday morning, 30 April 1865, at The Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.

ustification has for its matter and means the righteousness of Jesus Christ, set forth in his vicarious obedience, both in life and death.

Certain modern heretics, who ought to have known better, have denied this, and there were some in older times who, by reason of ignorance, said that there was no such thing as the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. He who denies this, perhaps unconsciously, cuts at the root of the gospel system.

I believe that this doctrine is involved in the whole system of substitution and satisfaction; and we all know that substitution and a vicarious sacrifice are the very marrow of the gospel of Christ. The law, like the God from whom it came, is absolutely immutable, and can be satisfied by nothing else than a complete and perfect righteousness, at once suffering the penalty for guilt incurred already, and working out obedience to the precept which still binds those upon whom penalty has passed. This was rendered by the Lord Jesus as the representative of his chosen, and is the sole legal ground for the justification of the elect.

As for me, I can never doubt that Christ's righteousness is mine, when I find that Christ himself and all that he has belongs to me; if I find that he gives me everything, surely he gives me his righteousness among the rest. And what am I to do with that if not to wear it? Am I to lay it by in a wardrobe and not put it on? Well, sirs, let others wear what they will; my soul rejoices in the royal apparel.

For me, the term "the Lord our righteousness" is significant and has a weight of meaning. Jesus Christ shall be my righteousness so long as I read the language of the apostle, "he is made of God unto us wisdom and righteousness, sanctification, and redemption."

My dear brethren, do not doubt the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, whatever cavillers may say. Remember that you must have a righteousness. It is this which the law requires. I do not read that the law made with our first parents required suffering; it did demand it as a penalty after its breach; but the righteousness of the law required not suffering, but obedience. Suffering would not release us from the duty of obeying. Lost souls in hell are still under the law, and their woes and pangs if completely endured would never justify them. Obedience, and obedience alone, can justify, and where can we have it but in Jesus our Substitute? Christ comes to magnify the law: how does he do it but by obedience?

If I am to enter into life by the keeping of the commandments, as the Lord tells me in the nineteenth chapter of Matthew, and the seventeenth verse, how can I except by Christ having kept them? and how can he have kept the law except by obedience to its commands? The promises in the Word of God are not made to suffering; they are made to obedience: consequently Christ's sufferings, though they may remove the penalty, do not alone make me the inheritor of the promise. "If thou wilt enter into life," said Christ, "keep the commandments."

It is only Christ's keeping the commandments that entitles me to enter life. "The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honorable." I do not enter into life by virtue of his sufferings—those deliver me from death, those purge me from filthiness, but, entering the enjoyments of the life eternal must be the result of obedience; and as it cannot be the result of mine, it is the result of his which is imputed to me.

We find the apostle Paul putting Christ's obedience in contrast to the disobedience of Adam: "As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many he made righteous." Now this is not Christ's death merely, but Christ's active obedience, which is here meant, and it is by this that we are made righteous. . . .

Despite all the outcry of modern times against that doctrine, it is written in heaven and is a sure and precious truth to be received by all the faithful, that we are justified by faith through the righteousness of Christ Jesus imputed to us. See what Christ has done in his living and in his dying, his acts becoming our acts and his righteousness being imputed to us, so that we are rewarded as if we were righteous, while he was punished as though he had been guilty.

C. H. Spurgeon


Steve Berven said...

Wait, wait, wait. Are you saying that the only righteousness I have is that which I receive from Christ? That anything I do is less than meaningless in the eyes of God if it is done apart from His will?!

Sounds kind of radical, dare I even say, extremist.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Steve, it's pretty radical. That is why so many (yet Christians) fight against it.

For them. it is only a launching pad to their own religious project. Their own "growth project". Their own "spirituality project".

Christ is our begining, and our end.

donsands said...

Superb words from Charles Spurgeon.

Romans 4:7-8

"“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

My eyes become moist when I hear these words sang within the Church almost every time.

"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh," Hebrews 10:19

takin said...