I would like to gain some insight and advice from the community. Particularly if you are a convert from the Reformed tradition. My brother-in-law is a fallen-away Catholic who is currently in a reformed community. We both have a monthly bible study group and we both try to attend each others group. This month his group his study is on a sermon by Charles Spurgeon titled: THE HEART OF THE GOSPEL. It’s based on the reformed understanding of 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
I’ve included a section of the sermon here. If you want to read it in it’s entirety you can here: The Heart of The Gospel by C. H. SPURGEON (Interestingly enough, the version he gave us to read is only part of the sermon from this link. I will be reading the entire sermon from the link)
FIRST, THEN, WITH AS MUCH BREVITY AS POSSIBLE, I WILL SPEAK UPON THE GREAT DOCTRINE. The great doctrine, the greatest of all, is this: God, seeing men to be lost by reason of their sin, hath taken that sin of theirs and laid it upon His only begotten Son, making Him to be sin for us, even Him Who knew no sin. In consequence of this transference of sin, he that believeth in Christ Jesus is made just and righteous, yea, is made to be the righteousness of God in Christ.
Christ was made sin that sinners might be made righteousness. That is the doctrine of the substitution of our Lord Jesus Christ on the behalf of guilty men.
Now consider, first, who was made sin for us? The description of our great Surety* here given is upon one point only, and it may more than suffice us for our present meditation. Our substitute was spotless, innocent, and pure. “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin.” Christ Jesus, the Son of God, became incarnate—made flesh—and dwelt here among men; but though He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, He knew no sin. Though upon Him sin was laid, yet not so as to make Him guilty. He was not, He could not be a sinner: He had no personal knowledge of sin. Throughout the whole of His life, He never committed an offense against the great Law of truth and right. The Law was in His heart. It was His nature to be holy. He could say to all the world, “Which of you convinceth me2 of sin?” (Joh 8:46). Even His vacillating3 judge enquired, “Why, what evil hath he done?” (Mat 27:23). When all Jerusalem was challenged and bribed to bear witness against Him, no witnesses could be found. It was necessary to misquote and wrest His words before a charge could be trumped up against Him by His bitterest enemies. His life brought Him in contact with both the Tables of the Law, but no single command had He transgressed. As the Jews examined the Paschal lamb4 before they slew it, so did scribes and Pharisees, and doctors of the Law, and rulers and princes examine the Lord Jesus without finding offense in Him. He was the Lamb of God, without blemish and without spot.
- Surety – one who assumes the responsibilities or debts of another.
I would like some advice on how to approach this. I have the understanding that Reformed theology on 2 Cor 5:21 is the following: Our sin was imputed to Christ, “making Him to be sin,” while on the other hand Christ’s perfect obedience was imputed to us, “making us the righteousness of God.” Given the option between Imputation and Infusion, we know that since Christ wasn’t literally made sin, we can certainly say sin wasn’t infused into Him, which thus makes imputation the only acceptable interpretation. Plus, in the immediate context Paul says God did not impute our sins to us (2 Cor. 5:19), indicating that God must have imputed our sins to somewhere else, namely to Christ’s account. Having established the framework of imputation in Paul’s lesson, we can say that just as Jesus “becomes sin” (by imputation), the parallel must also hold true, namely that we “become the righteousness of God” in the same way (by a second imputation, received by faith alone). Here, in one concise verse, Paul is clearly describing a “double-imputation” going on, or a “Great Exchange” as many Protestants fondly refer to it. This is the essence of the Reformation teaching on Justification by Faith Alone.
The problem is, this passage doesn’t really say that. First, the text does not suggest we become righteousness in the same way Jesus becomes sin, i.e. by a double imputation, because Paul uses two different Greek words here, “made [sin]” and “become [righteousness]”.
Also, the Bible never speaks of imputing sin from a sinner onto an innocent substitute, such that guilt is transferred from one person to another, so to say “made sin” refers to imputation has no Biblical basis whatsoever. Thus, Christ being “made sin” must be assumed to refer to something other than imputation.
(continued on next post)