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Tobias Crisp's View of Christ Made Sin
by Anthony Lawson

What is all the fuss about?

 

In 2 Corinthians 5:21 the Scripture says that Christ was "made sin". A number of other passages state that sin was "laid" on Christ. What do these expressions mean? Historically and I believe Biblically these expressions refer to the imputation of the elect's sin to Christ on the Cross in that Great transaction of divine redemption where the elect's sin is exchanged for Christ's righteousness.

 

In modern times there are a number of individuals claiming to believe in sovereign grace, Calvinism, or the Doctrines of Grace that have espoused a view that Christ was "made sin" by something more than imputation. What this "more" is, is not always stated, sometimes it's referred to as mystery. But usually it's contrasted with an equally erroneous view of the "impartation" of Christ's righteousness.

 

Who are the players?

Eager Avenue Grace Church of Albany, Georgia (EAGC) not long ago called a man by the name of Mark Daniel to be their pastor. EAGC has a long history of standing for the truths of divine imputation: the sin of Adam to all mankind, the sin of the elect to Christ on the Cross, and of Christ's righteousness to the elect. Mr. Daniel began slowly to introduce in his sermons the doctrines of impartation/implantation of sin to Christ and of Christ's righteousness to the elect. The assembly over a period of several months began to realize that Mark was undermining the doctrine of imputation. This eventually led to him being dismissed as the pastor of the church.

 

Now switch to Danville, Kentucky. A preacher by the name of Don Fortner, who on several occasions, preached at EAGC has now come to the defense of Mr. Daniel in the doctrines that he was teaching. He went further and stated that the decision of EAGC to dismiss Mark as their pastor was "wicked" This has stirred up much controversy over these doctrines.

 

The controversy intensified when the discussion was brought to an online forum named 5solas (http://forums.5solas.org). A number of individuals came to Messrs. Fortner and Daniel's defense most notably were Ivor Thomas, Ian Potts of England (who hosts an internet website called Grace and Truth Online) and more recently someone taking the online screen name of Gideon523. These individuals have defended the doctrine of Christ being made sin as something more than imputation. Other defenders of this doctrine include Todd Nibert and Gary Shepard.

 

What is at stake?

 

Although many people would probably dismiss the whole discussion as merely academic or just semantics, this must not be done. There are fundamental issues at stake, mostly notably that if Christ took on the elect's sin by something more than imputation, then that something more has to be some form of infusion, implantation, or impartation (all essentially mean the same in this context) of sin to Christ's very nature. Such a view throws the entire structure of redemption out the window because it corrupts the spotless Lamb of God, leaving him a "mass of sin" in his very "nature." Documentation of this will be provided later.

 

What did Tobias Crisp actually believe?

 

It has been alleged that Tobias Crisp taught the same ideas regarding Christ being made sin as defended by Mark Daniel, Don Fortner and others. The principle reason for the publication of this paper is to examine this claim.

 

Don Fortner quotes a portion of Crisp in his message "He Hath Made Him Sin" based on 2 Corinthians 5:21 with the idea that Crisp taught the same doctrine that he did. More recently Gideon523 posted on the 5solas forum claiming that Crisp taught these doctrines and challenged others on the forum to judge Crisp.

 

Did Tobias Crisp teach that Christ was made sin by something "more" than imputation? It is the contention here that Crisp did not teach such error and that he has in fact been misused and misrepresented. We will be examining what Crisp actually taught and then looking at John Gill's comments on some of the statements made by Crisp and then reviewing what Samuel Crisp, the son of Tobias, has taught on the issue.

 

As a reference we will be using the electronic version of Tobias Crisp's sermons entitled Christ Alone Exalted, 2 volumes, published along with John Gill's writings made available by Baptist Standard Bearer.

 

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Tobias Crisp, Christ Alone Exalted, Volume 1

 

The following quotes are taken from Volume 1 of Christ Alone Exalted with some brief notes and discussion.

 

In one word, beloved, mistake me not, I am far from imagining any believer is freed from acts of sin; he is freed only from the charge of sin; that is, from being a subject to be charged with sin; all his sins are charged upon Christ, he being made sin for him; yet Christ is not an actual sinner; but Christ is all the sinners in the world by imputation; and through this imputation all our sins are so done away from us, that we stand as Christ's own person did stand, and doth stand in the sight of God (Colossians 2:10.). Now, had not Christ made a full satisfaction to the Father, he himself must have perished under those sins that he did bear; but in that he went through the thing, and paid the full price, as he carried them away from us, so he laid them down from himself. So that now Christ is freed from sin, and we are freed from sin in him; he was freed from sin imputed unto him and laid upon him, when he suffered; we were freed from sin as he takes it off from our shoulders, and hath carried it away; "Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden." That is, with sin. And what follows? "And I will give you rest." As long as the burthen is upon the shoulders, so long there is no rest. Therefore this doth necessarily import, that Christ must take away the burthen, that we may have rest. Christ Alone Exalted, Volume 1, page 56

 

This is one of the earliest statements by Dr. Crisp in this first volume and he here sets the stage for the rest of his sermons by stating emphatically Christ was made sin by imputation. That Christ had made a full satisfaction by sin being imputed to Him and that such frees the elect from their burden of sin.

 

You know that text in Isaiah 53:6, "He hath laid on him the iniquities of us all;" and you know that place in 2 Corinthians 5:21, "He was made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Now I ask this question, Whose are the sins that believers commit? When Christ became their sin, are they not his? and if they are his, are they any longer theirs, that did commit them? 2 Corinthians 5:19, shews plainly, that the Lord reckons them no longer theirs, when he hath made them once to be Christ's; "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;" as much as to say, I will never reckon them thine any more; I will never impute them to thee; all that I look for in respect of thy sins, I look for at the hands of Christ; "for he was made sin for us," saith the text. Christ Alone Exalted, Volume 1, page 206

 

Notice that Crisp uses the legal term "reckons" which means "imputation" to describe Christ being made sin. He quotes 2 Cor. 5:21 that God does not impute sins to the elect because they were imputed to Christ.

Christ's being a Saviour; and, whereas wounds and stripes are the just wages of sin, this sinfulness of the creature must some way be on Christ, or else he might not in justice be wounded; punitive justice must first find a crime upon a man, before it can smite him; as for Christ, he himself never committed any fault, ver. 9, "He did no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth," as the Lord himself says; therefore, it follows, that the sins of others must be charged to his account, and he must be responsible for them, before he can justly be wounded; hence, in my text, "The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all." Now (as in suretyship) our debt becoming his, the execution goes justly out against him, and so God can give a just account of wounding him; and he being thus wounded, that, is, bearing the full indignation and wrath our sins deserve, and so ending all the quarrel God had against us... Christ Alone Exalted, Volume 1, page 286

 

Crisp shows that Christ suffered the full wrath of God by having sins of the elect "charged" to his account. Again, this is imputation.

 

But some will say, there is that which is equivalent to it; for if sin be not imputed unto us, and righteousness is; as we partake of Christ's righteousness, so he partakes of our sin; we partake of his righteousness by imputation, therefore he partakes of our sin by imputation. Christ Alone Exalted, Volume 1, page 305

 

The whole transaction of divine redemption, of sin to Christ and of Christ's righteousness to the elect, is by imputation.

 

I cannot insist at large upon what I have formerly delivered; the sum is this, God made him to be sin, not only by way of supposition, but really; he bore the iniquities of many; he took away the sins of the believer; in all which there is a real act. And, whereas it is objected, that this word laying is expressed by the phrase of imputing, I answer, that it is not true; for, though the word impute is often used in reference to Christ; "Righteousness is imputed to us; our sins are not imputed unto us," saith the apostle; but, in all the scripture, you shall not find sin imputed unto Christ; and, if sin be imputed unto him, it is no more but God's determining and judging Christ to bear sin, as in deed and in truth he doth befit it. Christ Alone Exalted, Volume 1, page 309-310

 

Those who espouse Christ being made sin being more than imputation may take comfort is this passage saying "see Crisp rejects imputation." I do not think that is what he is getting at. First, a number of quotations have been made to show that Christ being made sin is understood by Crisp as referring to imputation. Second, Crisp is making the correct statement the Scripture does not specifically and explicitly use the term "impute" to refer to the elect's sin being transferred to Christ. Again, Crisp argues elsewhere that it is by imputation. It also can be seen that Crisp is against any view that does not see the elect's sin be laid on Christ as being real. Those of us who insist on imputation being the true and full meaning of Christ being "made sin" or of sin being "laid" on Christ are emphatic that imputation is real. That satisfaction was truly made and that God's wrath has really been appeased.

 

 

Tobias Crisp, Christ Alone Exalted, Volume 2

 

Let's now take a look at what Tobias Crisp taught in the second volume of his works.

 

The godhead, it is true, is incapable to bear iniquity, and the human nature is as incapable of bearing it to any purpose. Should iniquity be laid upon the human nature, and the divine nature not support it, it would have sunk under sin, as a mere human creature: "He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh;" in respect of flesh it was the same, in respect of sin he was like it: he did not sin, yet he bore it, by the imputation of it, upon him; what now could this mere creature, do? and how could it be strengthened enough to bear that weight that would crush a mere creature to dust and powder! But now, if the humanity bear sin, and the divinity bears it up in suffering, this gives such infinite validity to the obedience of Christ, both active and passive, that it becomes effectual to the purging away of sin Christ Alone Exalted, Volume 2, page 13

 

Crisp has gotten back to his theme of Christ taking on the elect's sin and doing a full satisfaction for it so that there is no sin chargeable to God's people. He again states it's by imputation.

EVERY word in this text, as I have often told you, hath special weight. It is iniquity that is laid on Christ, as well as the punishment of iniquity; "He was made sin for us." Sin is a debt, he is a surety; the debt of sin, as he is a surety, is as really his, though not his own contracted, as if he had really contracted it himself; his own by imputation; so far his own, that God "in him, hath reconciled the world to himself, and will not impute their trespasses unto them," 2 Corinthians 5:19. Christ Alone Exalted, Volume 2, page 20

 

The sin debt has been paid in full. Iniquity and its punishment has been laid on Christ and He has suffered God's wrath. Again Crisp states it's by imputation. But also notice that he says that Christ did not contract sin. We will show that Mark Daniel and others believe that Christ did in fact contract sin in his very nature! To contract sin by imputation is fundamentally different than contracting it by impartation in one's nature.

 

You, know, here is none in the world, nay, all the world together, is nothing so dear in the eyes of God, as his Son; and if it had been possible that sin could have been connived at, it would have been upon his Son, being his only by imputation: a fond father may possibly wink at a fault in a son, which he will not pass by in a slave; but when a father falls foul upon a dear child, upon whom a fault is found, and the fire of indignation restrains his affection, this argues the extremity of the rage of the father, and the heinousness of the crime that incenseth it. Christ Alone Exalted, Volume 2, page 33

 

The language of Dr. Crisp is unmistakable regarding the issue of imputation. I hate to weary the reader with further quotes but let's look at one more before moving on in the discussion.

 

Negatively; there is not any righteousness of a believer which he acts, which can possibly have any force in plea with the Father for his discharge that hath committed sin; I mention that righteousness which he acts, because the very righteousness of Christ itself, is indeed the righteousness of a believer; for he is, "The Lord our righteousness," as you have heard. As he was made sin by imputation, so we are made the righteousness of God in him; that is, Christ's righteousness is as much become our's, as our sins became Christ's: and as Christ bore the whole fruit of our sins, by being made sin for us, so we enjoy the whole fruit of Christ's righteousness Christ Alone Exalted, Volume 2, pages 201-202

 

Here Crisp shows the contrast between sin and righteousness: the sin of the elect in relation to Christ and of Christ's righteousness in relation to the elect. Both are by imputation. The fruit of sin imputed to Christ is the canceling of the sin debt and the non-imputation of sin to the elect, which is the imputation of Christ's righteousness to his blessed children.

 

John Gill notes to Crisp's Sermons

 

John Gill published an edition of Crisp's sermons and added numerous notes. Below are some statements by Crisp and Gill's explanation of them. The purpose here is to show that even Gill understood that Crisp had imputation in mind in all that he wrote regarding Christ being made sin. Gill's comments are self explanatory and I will reframe from commenting in this section.

 

2 Corinthians 5:21. you shall see the truth spoken more emphatically, the apostle runs in a mighty strain in this business; "He was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Both terms are expressed in the abstract; he was made. sin for us; here you see plainly, our sins are to be translated to Christ: that God reckons Christ the very sinner; nay, God reckons all our sins to be his, and makes him to be sin for us Christ Alone Exalted, volume 1, page 53

 

Gill's comment: "That is by imputation; not as the author and committer of sin; and, in the same way, God reckons our sins to be Christ's; not as committed by him, but as imputed to him."

 

I answer, Under favour, beloved, let me tell you, that in this place Christ being numbered with the transgressors, was spoken in respect of God's own accounting him among the number of transgressors; for he himself made him one at that time. Bear with the expression; for the apostle hath one higher than this, though it may seem harsh to you. Look into 2 Corinthians 5:21. There you shall see that God made him more than a transgressor; "He was made sin for us;" there is a great deal of difference between being made sin, and being made a sinner, with any that know how the expression in the abstract goes beyond that in the concrete: I know the word may be spoken hyperbolically; not that Christ simply could be made sin, or his essence be turned into sin; but the apostle's meaning was, that no transgressor in the world was such a one as Christ was. But still he was a transgressor, as our transgressions were laid upon him, not that he was the actor of any; and how could the Lord himself by his own act lay our transgressions upon him, and make him a. transgressor; nay, make him sin, and yet not number him among such as were transgressors? Christ Alone Exalted, volume 1, pages 290-291

 

Gill's comment: "This is true of Christ, not as the actor of transgression, as the Doctor immediately observes, but as he was made so by imputation, in which respect he was the greatest transgressor in the world; for let any man be ever so great a one, he has only his own sins on him: but Christ, though he had none of his own, yet being the surety of his people, and standing in their place, had all their sins upon him, which he calls his own, and were innumerable, Psalm 40:12, and so was, by imputation, what no sinner ever was, or could be."

 

2 Corinthians 5:21, "He was made sin for us, that knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Mark it well, Christ himself is not so completely righteous, but we are as righteous as he was; nor we so completely sinfull, but he became, being made sin, as completely sinful as we nay more, the righteousness that Christ hath with the Father, we are the same, for: "we are made the righteousness of God;" and that very sinfulness that we were, Christ is made before God; so that here is a direct change, Christ takes our persons and condition, and stands in our stead, we take his person and condition, and stand in his stead. Christ Alone Exalted, volume 1, pages 292-293

 

Gill's comment: "But by imputation: Christ having all the sins of his people laid upon him, must, in this sense, be reckoned as completely sinful as they; and they, having his righteousness put on them, must be as completely righteous as he; which is to be understood, not of his essential righteousness as God, nor of the righteousness of his office as mediator, and the faithful discharge of that for they are neither made gods nor mediators; but of that which he wrought out for them, in their room and stead, consisting of his active and passive obedience; of which, (says Witsius,) 'seeing all the elect equally partake, all must needs be perfectly righteous, through the same most perfect righteousness of Christ, aeque ac ipse Christus, equally as Christ himself; since the righteousness of the elect is the very righteousness of Christ itself, only with this difference, that it is Christ's, because performed by him; ours, because imputed to us.' Animadv, Irenic. c. 6. s. 9."

 

Against such reality of transacting sin upon Christ, there is one phrase of the apostle Paul, very much objected, and that is [imputing]; and hence, say some, God's laying of iniquity upon Christ, is nothing else but God's imputing sin to him. Now this word [imputation] in the common understanding of people ordinarily, seems to carry something different in it from the real act of transferring sin from a believer unto Christ; it seems to signify only a supposition or connivance. Give me leave to open this word [imputing] to you; I am confident it stumbles many a person, not understanding the true meaning of the Holy Ghost in it; and I shall endeavour to clear it to you out of scripture itself. First, That which I shall answer for the imputation of sin to Christ, is this; though I have searched the scripture as narrowly as possibly I may, yet, this I find, that throughout the whole there is not one passage of it that speaks of imputing our sins to Christ: in Romans 4. the word imputation, and that which is equivalent to it, accounting, and reckoning, are seven times mentioned; and, in chap. 5:13, it is mentioned again; but still where the Holy Ghost speaks of imputation, he speaks of sin not imputed, and of righteousness imputed to us; but not once of sin imputed unto Christ: so that if we put this objection off as not being the phrase of scripture, it might be a full answer. Christ Alone Exalted, volume 1, page 305

 

Gill's comment: "Not that the Doctor was against the imputation of sin to Christ, or thought it an unscriptural doctrine; for it is the very thing, under different phrases, he is all along, in these discourses, contending for; and he makes use of it himself, p. 16; but what he militates against is, as some people understood it, as if it was a thing imaginary, which was only supposed of Christ, and not real; which sense he sets aside, and is his view in producing the objections he does; and settles the true sense of it by reckoning and accounting, which illustrates the true nature of imputation, as he after observes; and in which sense he readily allows it, as not being opposite, to a real act of God in transferring sin to Christ; which is the thing his heart was set upon to prove, and to beat into the minds of men."

 

There can be no expectance of a smile from the face of God, upon any creature in the world, till it be all fair; and this cannot be, till all spots of sin be taken from them; and this taking away of the filthiness of the creature, is not a kind of supposed taking of it away, but is a real act of God; he makes Christ as very a sinner as the creature himself was: "He was made sin for us," 2 Corinthians 5:21. Christ Alone Exalted, volume 1, page 340

 

Gill's comment: "That is, by imputation, which is a real act of God, and by which all the sins of the sinner are put upon Christ, so that he, standing in his stead, is reckoned in the eye of justice as what the sinner himself is. See the notes on page 7 and 10."

 

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Samuel Crisp, Christ Made Sin

 

Samuel Crisp was one of the sons of Tobias. Samuel not only republished his father's sermons but also wrote a defense of him against his critics entitled Christ Made Sin. Below are quotations from that work along with some notes and comments.

 

(Mr. Perkins goes on) As Christ was made sin, so are we made the justice of God; but Christ was made our sin, not by any conveyance of corruption into his most holy heart, but by imputation; we therefore are made the justice of God by like imputation: and lest any man should yet surmise (saith he) that this justice is not imputed, but infused into us, Paul saith, "we are made the justice of God in him," that is, in Christ. Christ Made Sin, page 32

 

In the early part of his work Samuel quotes approvingly statements made by William Perkins regarding Christ being made sin by imputation. Perkins is emphatic that sin was not "infused" into Christ or that corruption was somehow conveyed into Christ himself. As we shall see later, this is in fact the view of Mark Daniel.

 

Writing against the Socinians Samuel Crisp says:

 

These transgressions were none of Christ's, say they: here comes in the great clamor against Christ's imputed righteousness to believers; for, say they, the sins of believers cannot in justice be imputed to Christ: but the apostle is peremptory against them, and clears the case, saying, "he bare the sins of many," and "he bare our sins in his body on the tree;" and "he was made sin for us," for that, "he was the surety of a better testament;" that he was "Christ our passover, who was sacrificed for us;" that "he loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood:" all glorious testimonies of the truth here cited: "he was wounded for our transgressions;" he himself bear the very wounds which were due to us for all our transgressions, he was so wounded for them, that he was wounded till he freed the sinner from them; for so the original is, he was wounded from our transgressions, all the wounds that came upon Christ's body and soul, they came from our transgressions... Christ Made Sin, page 54

 

Crisp not only believed that sins were truly and really transacted on Christ on the Cross but that it was by imputation. This was the consistent teaching of his father.

 

as it was possible for God the Word to be made flesh, as the apostle John asserts, (which I take to be the greatest expression, and the farthest from our comprehension in the bible) so it was possible, and accordingly accomplished for the salvation of the elect, for this God the Word, when made flesh, to be (as the apostle saith) "made sin;" not the committer of sin, but the made sin. He was the sin really by imputation of sin upon him, as this bullock in verse 21, was the sin typically, when by the priest it was offered for the sin of the congregation... Christ Made Sin, pages 69-70

 

Crisp argues that like the bullock in Lev. 4 Christ was "made sin" by imputation.

 

Here are two immutable witnesses from God that cannot lie, that the sin-offering is most holy, in ver. 18, and this 25th, but still it is called only sin, as Christ was made sin; but it is wonderful in our eyes, that God should condescend so much toward easing, acquitting, and quieting the sinner's conscience, as to call his offering his sin, as here he doth again in this 25th verse, "This is the law of the sin; in the place where the burnt-offering is killed, the sin shall be killed; holiness of holinesses it (is)." Our Jesus, we see here, was never the less holy because he was made sin, no more than his type here which, though called sin, and offered as sin, and for sin, being made sin, yet is it with the same breath called holiness of holinesses; as also is our blessed Jesus, "Holy, holy, holy Lord of hosts;" not only when he appeared to the prophet Isaiah, but when he was upon the cross, made sin for us, witness his crying out, "My God, my God and Father, into thine hands I commit my spirit;" which he could not have done, if he had not been most holy, notwithstanding his being made sin, which (though a stupendous mystery to be believed, though not comprehended) yet may have this said of it, He was most holy in his personal capacity, incapable of the least stain or sin in his soul or body, as the actor of any; yet he was made sin, as a common head of all the elect, that is, of all his members, who were in him in his sufferings; and he being charged with their sins, and they lying upon him, and he bearing them till he had done them away, he on that account is made sin for them, and yet still without sin in himself; which heaven alone will afford a full understanding of, together with the mystery of God the Word made flesh; but because we cannot comprehend how the most holy one Jesus, should be made sin, and yet be innocent; shall we therefore charge those that assert these gospel assertions with horrid names, as if they made Christ the actual sinner in his own person, and actual murderer, instead of David, whose sin and murder he bare, and acquitted David from? This God will not take well at their hands that do so, when they know, and may see in the writings of those they traduce, that those that insist most on Christ's being made sin for us, and so in that respect is their sin: they still look upon Christ, own Christ, declare Christ to be in his own person, as to any act, word, or thought of our Lord Christ to be perfectly free from sin. Christ Made Sin, pages 82-83

 

Crisp argues at length that Christ was "charged" with sin (a legal term equivalent to imputation) without in any way being guilty of actually sinning showing how Christ was holy and yet "made sin."

 

Jesus Christ, the righteous, the eternal Son of God, made man, and made sin, was, is, and will be, from everlasting to everlasting, most holy, harmless, pure, and spotless, even when he was upon the tree, made sin, and bare the sins of many. If all the sins of the world, not only of the elect that were laid on him, but of the non-elect or reprobate, and of all the fallen angels, the devils, if they also had been laid on his most holy body and soul, in the hypostatical or substantial union of the humanity to the eternal Word, the Son of God; all these sins could not defile, stain, or spot the pure nature of the Lord Jesus, no, not so much as spot his humanity, it being so united to the Deity. Christ Made Sin, page 92

 

Some, who allege that Christ was made sin by more than imputation, claim that he had sin imparted to his humanity but not his deity. Here Crisp rejects all such notions and shows that sin did not corrupt or defile the God-man in either sin humanity or his deity.

 

Now suppose a man should come into a refiner's cellar or melting house, and see a vast fire of two or three load of charcoal, all in a glowing heat, and in the midst of it a great cauldron or pot, holding some tons of gold, and this gold all boiling in the midst of this fire; and suppose this refiner takes one drop of the poison of asps, and casts it into the midst of this fire; and suppose this poison is not totally burnt up, or dissolved into air before it touches the gold; will any reasonable man think that the fire or the gold is ever the worse, or that it is at all polluted by this drop of poison cast into it? Sure I am, the poison of the asps is immediately lost in this vast fire, and it is not conceivable that the fire or gold is in the least corrupted by it: much less is the human nature of our Lord Jesus, which may be compared to the fire, or his divine nature, the gold, any ways polluted, defiled, or corrupted by his being made sin for us; that is, by having them laid on him, and by his taking them away; though we cannot touch pitch, but we shall be defiled, yet the blessed Jesus, though he was made sin, it was impossible he should be defiled. Christ Made Sin, page 92

 

Crisp expounds upon the truth stated earlier to show that Christ in no way was defiled or corrupted with sin when it was "laid" on him. This exposes any ideas that sin could somehow be transferred by something more than imputation into the "nature" of Christ.

 

Thus our blessed Lord sets off his tender mercy, his taking delight in shewing his mercy, and his passing by, or taking no notice of the transgression of his heritage, because he was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing to them their trespasses; but he imputed them somewhere, and that was on his beloved Son. Christ Made Sin, page 137

 

Crisp shows the correct understanding of 2 Cor. 5:21 when speaking of the non-imputation of sin to the elect showing that the sin was actually imputed to Christ.

 

There are innumerable more instances in the scripture to shew that Christ bare our very sin, and that though the sin be ours, in respect of the fact, yet the Lord Christ hath so done it away, that it is no longer a believer's, in respect of imputation... Christ Made Sin, page 139

 

Again, this shows that Samuel Crisp understood that Christ being made sin was by imputation.

 

there is God's actual imputing of Christ's righteousness to a sinner, and his sins to Christ, whereby a sinner becomes actually justified.Christ Made Sin, page 163.

 

Lastly, we see the same contrast of sin and righteousness that the elder Crisp taught: imputation of sin to Christ and of Christ's righteousness to the elect.

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What do the Purveyors of this Doctrine Actually Believe?

 

Let's now contrast what Tobias Crisp believed with those who teach that the sins of the elect were transferred to Christ by something more than imputation.

 

Mark Daniel

 

Since Mark Daniel created such a stir of controversy with Eager Avenue Grace Church over this issue we will examine him first. The quotations below are from Mr. Daniel's sermon entitled Absolute Substitution.

 

Paul using this very passage from Deuteronomy as his reference point for his statement in Galatians 3:13, is showing that one thing Christ became, that He was not before is that He became a sinner. He became a man in whom was sin!

 

The first thing to notice is that Mr. Daniel proposes that when sin was laid on Christ that He "became" something he was not before, that is, He became a sinner. It is one thing to say that Christ became a sinner by imputation which does not change anything in Christ and another to claim that He became a sinner by it changing Christ Himself. The only implication that can be drawn from this is that Christ took sin into His very being, His very nature which explains what Daniel means when he says that Christ was a man "in whom was sin."

 

Christ was not only sinful on the cross, something He had never been, but He was guilty!

 

This will be the sustained theme of Mr. Daniel, that Christ was sinful, a sinner, a mass of sin, not by imputation, but by becoming so in his being. Again, Daniel stresses that this change affected Christ in a way that he never was before.

 

It had to be a mirror image in order for Him to accomplish my salvation.  He wasn't just trying to please God because, 'Look, I'm you're Son!"  O, no! He had to be equally as sinful, equally as guilty and equally as accursed as me in order to take my place.

 

This is the crux of the problem. According to Daniel and others Christ had to be just as "sinful," "guilty" and "accursed" as the sinner is. A sinner is all these things as they are part of his nature, part of his being. Daniel states that in order for Christ to truly be a representative and substitute He had to take the sin and guilt of the sinner into his very nature and being. Thus Christ is no longer the spotless Lamb of God, but has been contaminated by sin.

 

He became sinful that I become righteous... He became the equal sinner that I am, he became the same sinner that I am before God.  He became exactly like me in terms of my sin before God.

 

Daniel again restates the same theme that Christ was made sin more than imputation, that He was made sin by impartation/infusion/implantation of sin and guilt into His very being.

 

What is sinful flesh?  It is flesh where sin is present.  Sinful flesh is flesh when it has sin in it.  Sinful flesh is flesh contaminated by sin.   Well, now Mark, I don't understand how He could be the Son of God, pure and holy, and yet be contaminated by sin?

 

Note the emphasis: Christ was contaminated by sin. That He was sinful in His flesh. Remember that Samuel Crisp denied that Christ was contaminated by sin in either His humanity or deity.

 

It's as incomprehensible for me to be a sinner and a saint, at the same time as He could be the Son of God, pure and holy, and be a sinner, just like me.    You see, those things are incomprehensible, but it's clearly like a weight, those weights of a balance.  Whatever's on one side of substitution is on the other side of substitution.

 

This is the foundation for the title of this sermon, Absolute Substitution, that in order for Christ to be a true substitute that he had to have the believer's sin implanted into His being just as it is a part of the being of the elect. On the flip side he also defends that Christ's righteousness also must be implanted/imparted into the believer at regeneration.

 

A righteous man could not die for my sin!  God would have never killed Him.  If He was a righteous man, no sin in Him, God would have been unjust to kill him.  He couldn't have done that.  God would have to cease to be God to kill His own Son.

 

Think of the implications being taught here by Daniel. Christ didn't die the spotless Lamb of God as the Scriptures say. He died a defiled, contaminated sinner.

 

All I'm trying to say is that God did not cut a deal with Christ, where they did role play.  It wasn't judicial role play.

 

This is where Daniel attempts to mock imputation. For him imputation is pretend: only make believe. This cannot be further from the truth. Imputation is real, very real. Tobias Crisp defended the reality of imputation throughout his sermons. Yes, there are Arminians, 7th Day Adventists and other groups that teach an ineffective doctrine of imputation, that imputation was for everyone and not just the elect. The biblical doctrine is that imputation is efficacious and to mock those of us who defend it is to both misrepresent us and to misrepresent the biblical teaching.

 

If Christ did not become as sinful as I in substitution, I have no hope of becoming as righteous as He in regeneration.

 

I hope by now that the reader can discern the errors being taught here. According to Daniel and others it's not about imputation at all, it's all about impartation: of sin to Christ and of righteousness to the elect. Imputation is seen as legal fiction. This is what Catholicism did to the Reformers during the Reformation, claiming that their insistence on imputation was only legal fiction compared to their doctrine of infusion and impartation.

 

You see, a judicial substitution is absolutely effective in satisfying God's justice in my behalf,   BUT IS INSUFFICIENT., (now understand me, I'm not putting down the judicial aspect.  As God, He gained me a righteous standing, but that righteous standing, through that part of His substitution was insufficient) to give me life and to give me liberty, to give me freedom from my sins.

 

The claim that imputation is insufficient is blatant heresy. Again, Catholicism made many of the same claims against the Reformers extolling their view of imparted sin and righteousness. The Gospel message is the sufficiency of Christ's atoning blood and righteousness established by imputation, of sin to Christ and of righteousness to the elect. Such notions being taught here take away the objectivity of the work of Christ and emphasize the subjective work of the Spirit.

 

On the cross, Christ actually became as sinful as I.   Something He had never been, could not have become, and did not want to happen, and prayed for that it might let it pass, and yet became a reality IN HIS VERY BEING.

 

Daniel finally shows his true colors and shows why he rejects imputation. Imputation does not transfer sin into the very "being" of Christ. This doctrine of impartation makes corrupting Christ's very nature and being a part and parcel of their gospel.

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Gary Shepard

 

Gary Shepard makes a couple of statements in his sermon, Christ the Savior of Sinners, which shows that he also holds to the doctrine of the impartation of sin to Christ.

 

To say that Christ's identifying with me the sinner was only legal and not actual would leave me only legally righteous and therefore not righteous so as to be able to enter God's heaven personally.

 

This is to misunderstand the doctrine of imputation and to both down play it and to imply that it is insufficient for the completion of the work of redemption. It is to assume that imputation is not real. Those of us who defend the imputation of sin to Christ and of His righteousness to the elect are emphatic that it is REAL.

 

What He suffered in His humanity did not alter His deity. Rather, He sacrificed His humanity on the altar of His deity. When He died, that death was the clearest evidence that He had been made sin for us.

 

There are a couple of issues here. First, the expression that Christ "sacrificed His humanity on the altar of His deity" has been used numerous times by these and other preachers over the years. Although it sounds good I would like someone to truthfully expound what it means. Secondly Crisp emphasized that Christ's humanity and deity could not be distinguished when dealing with Him being made sin.

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Ian Potts

 

Mr. Potts hosts the Grace and Truth Online website and is an occasional contributor to the 5solas.org forum. When these issues became a hot topic on the forum with Mr. Fortner being part of the focus of discussion, Ian stepped up to the plate to defend his friend. The following quotes are from posts to the 5solas forum site. Links to the specific posts are given for reference.

 

For Christ to be a true substitute for the sinner in death He had to truly become what they are, sin, in order to take it away by suffering under the wrath of God. That doesn't make Christ a sinner, but it did mean that He was made sin during those hours of darkness at the cross, until that hour at which He cried out 'It is finished!' when all that sin was GONE. Consumed, burnt up. Judged. Taken away. And Christ arose from the grave on the third day spotless, perfect, righteous. And us in Him. http://forums.5solas.org/showpost.php?p=32431&postcount=17

 

According to Potts Christ had to become everything the sinner was, i.e., sin in his nature. Interestingly Mark Daniel has no problem saying that Christ was a sinner while Potts says otherwise. Also note that Potts has no problem saying that Christ was not the spotless lamb on the cross. See below where he defends this idea.

 

Then what is he meaning? He is meaning that sin was imputed to Christ, accounted to him, as an obvious logical consequence of the fact that Christ was made sin at the cross. Nowhere does scripture say that sin was imputed to Christ, but 2 Corinthians 5:21 does teach that Christ was actually made sin, and if Christ was actually made sin then of course God would impute that sin to Him. That is obvious. http://forums.5solas.org/showpost.php?p=32529&postcount=57

 

Imputation here is made secondary and is only "logically" deduced. Potts, like Don Fortner, Mark Daniel and others says that no where does the Scripture speak of "imputation" of sin to Christ. But the very context of 1 Cor. 5:21 speaks of imputation. Verse 19 talks about the non-imputation of sin to the elect and verse 21 shows why this is so, because sin was imputed to Christ. Paul calls this imputation "made sin." At one time Fortner in some of his writings defended the idea that "made sin" was imputation, but now, agreeing with these other men, imputation no longer means "made sin" but only occurs as a result of Christ having sin imparted into His very nature.

 

What is under consideration here is the issue of Christ being made sin. You claim that is by imputation only, I say He was MADE SIN, as the scriptures declare plainly (with the logical inference that God imputed sin to Him because He was made sin). Imputation of sin to Christ alone is not enough to justify us as sin itself actually had to be taken away in the sacrifice. Christ was made sin and sin was burnt up just as typified in the sin offering which was burnt to ashes outside the camp (Hebrews 13). http://forums.5solas.org/showpost.php?p=32529&postcount=57

 

Potts calls imputation of sin to Christ a "logical inference" and then goes on to say that imputation is not enough to justify.

 

It can't be claimed that 'made sin' in 2 Cor 5:21 refers to a 'real', not just forensic, imputation of sin, because there is no foundation for such an idea. Imputation is real in Romans 4 because Christ was really made sin and took it away so righteousness can really be accounted to us. Imputation read into 2 Cor 5:21 by definition is 'accounting to be' and therefore Christ was never really made sin, and sin remains, hence imputation of righteousness becomes merely forensic. http://forums.5solas.org /showpost.php?p=32529&postcount=57[/quote]

 

The problem with what is stated here is that imputation is deduced as not being real. That in order for it to be real an impartation has to occur first. So, for Potts and others impartation is what's important, it's the foundation of the Gospel

 

This is the word used in 2 Cor. 5:21 and 'created' is the sense of it. God 'made him sin'. He caused him to become sin by a creative act no less powerful and real than that by which He created the world. God took the spotless, pure, perfect, sinless humanity of Christ (who knew no sin) and made him sin. In his humanity. http://forums.5solas.org/showpost.php?p=32676&postcount=86

 

Two things: First whether the word "made" in 2 Cor. 5:21 means "created" is open for dispute. But even if it means "create" this doesn't help Ian's case. Simply put, God created by His Word, a declaration: He declared let there be light" and there was light. God declared (imputation) Christ sin and He was sin. Second Potts divides the persons of Christ so that in His humanity sin is imparted to Him but not His deity. Samuel Crisp argues against such dividing of the humanity from the deity in the work of Christ when sin was imputed to Him.

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Don Fortner

 

Don Fortner pastors the Grace Baptist Church of Danville, Kentucky. He has preached for many years. Many of his articles and sermons are available online at his site called www.donfortner.com.

 

What a profound truth, what stupendous grace, what wondrous mystery these words contain I cannot tell you. "He," God the Father, "hath," in holy justice and infinite mercy, "made," to become, created, "Him," the Lord Jesus Christ, his infinite, well-beloved, only begotten, immaculate Son, "sin," an awful mass of iniquity, "for us," helpless, condemned, sinful rebels! He Hath Made Him Sin.

 

Mr. Fortner says that God the Father made His beloved Son a "mass of iniquity." I would have no real problem with this if it was stated within the context of imputation, but alas, the Lord of Glory is defined as mass of iniquity imparted into His very being. The spotless Lamb of God has a defiled nature; He is defiled in His nature.

 

 it must be pointed out that our Lord Jesus is not here said to have sin imputed to him. Sin was, indeed, imputed to our Substitute, it was laid to his charge, but that is because "He hath made him sin for us."

 

Again, Fortner writes:

 

 Yes, our sins were imputed to Christ when he was made sin for us,

 

Like Mr. Potts Don defends the idea that Christ only had sin imputed as a consequence of sin being imparted into Him. So impartation is the heart of the message of redemption and not imputation. Tobias Crisp would not have anything to do with such ideas.

 

Christ being made sin for us, was made exactly what we are - Sin! He was made sin for us that we might be made exactly what he is - Righteousness, the very righteousness of God. He was not made less than we are; and we are not made less than he is. The very sinfulness that we were, Christ was made before God; and the very righteousness that he is we are made before God. This is absolute substitution. That You Might be Made the Righteousness of God.

 

Let there be no mistake, there was a wondrous exchange of sin and righteousness: but it was not by impartation, implantation, or infusion. But all were done by imputation. This was the constant theme of Tobias Crisp's sermons.

 

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Conclusion

 

The purpose of this paper was to examine the beliefs of Tobias Crisp regarding his views of Christ being made sin, whether it was by imputation or something else. We looked first at what Crisp said in several of his sermons and then quoted a number of comments by John Gill on specific statements made by Crisp on the subject. Next we looked at what Tobias's son, Samuel Crisp, had to say on the issue at hand. Lastly, specific individuals who believe that Christ was made sin by something more than by imputation were examined.

 

At this point it should be very clear that what Crisp had taught and what these others teach are not the same.

 

Crisp, both father and son, believed the following:

  • Christ was "made sin" by imputation
  • Imputation of sin to Christ is the clear teaching of Scripture
  • Imputation was real and not merely general and ineffectual
  • Imputation is sufficient for the justification of God's elect
  • Sin did not corrupt or defile the nature of Christ, He was the spotless Lamb of God
  • Believers are made righteous by imputation
  • Christ being made sin did not affect His two natures

 

Those who misuse Crisp teach:

 

  • Christ was "made sin" by impartation, which is the basis of imputation
  • Imputation of sin to Christ is only a logical inference of Scripture
  • Imputation isn't real, it's merely "forensic"
  • Imputation is not sufficient in and of itself for the justification of God's elect, impartation is essential
  • Sin did corrupt and defile the nature of Christ so that he was not spotless while on the Cross
  • Believers are made righteous by imputation and impartation, both being equally important
  • Christ was made sin only in His humanity, thus disturbing the two natures

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