Before you go Doug (and others) maybe you could help with one last question. I am still trying to figure out FV’s rejection of the imputation of the active obedience of Christ (IAOC). The FV Statement on-line says that Christ is all in all and that his work is credited to us. It goes on to deny that the all-in-allness of Christ requires in any way the IAOC. I am perplexed by the relationship between the affirmation and the denial. I don’t understand why the denial follows from the affirmation.
Here’s one way of getting at my confusion. Machen (yes, I’m going to get sentimental Barlow) gave a talk about the active obedience of Christ that was very explicit about many of the issues that we have been discussing, the law, merit, justice, rewards and penalties. And yet I see no reason why Machen’s argument contradicts the affirmation of the FV statement, even if the FV document denies Machen’s construction.
Here is an excerpt, an imaginary dialogue between the law of God and a Christian:
“Man,” says the law of God, “have you obeyed all my commands?”
“No,” says the sinner saved by grace. “I have disobeyed them, not only in the person of my representative Adam in his first sin, but also in that I myself have sinned in thought, word and deed.”
“Well, then, sinner,” says the law of God, “have you paid the penalty which I pronounced upon disobedience?”
“No,” says the sinner, “I have not paid the penalty myself; but Christ has paid it for me. He was my representative when He died there on the cross. Hence, so far as the penalty is concerned, I am clear.”
“Well, then, sinner,” says the law of God, “how about the conditions which God has pronounced for the attainment of assured blessedness? Have you stood the test? Have you merited eternal life by perfect obedience druing the period of probation?”
“No,” says the sinner, “I have not merited eternal life by my own perfect obedience. God knows and my own conscience knows that even after I became a Christian I have sinned in thought, word and deed. But although I have not merited eternal life by any obedience of my own, Christ has merited it for me by his perfect obedience. He was not for himself subject to the law. No obedience was required of him for himself, since he was Lord of all. That obedience, then, which he rendered to the law when he was on earth was rendered by him as my representative. I have no righteousness of my own, but clad in Christ’s perfect righteousness, imputed to me and received by faith alone, I can glory in the fact that so far as I am concerned the probation has been kept and as God is true there awaits me the glorious reward which Christ thus earned for me.”
Now this may not be scintillating dialogue, but I wonder what FV folks think Machen has missed in this statement of the doctrine. So far I have received two answers — 1) it is not fully biblical; 2) to impose it on anyone is to engage in spiritual tyranny.
But my question goes farther. What does this miss about Christ’s work on our behalf? FV is clear in denying the IAOC. But I still don’t see what we gain from that denial. I don’t see a fuller account of Christ’s amazing allness, nor do I see in FV the sort of hope and comfort that I have received from the IAOC.
So before everyone signs off, I wonder if you could be kind enough to formulate the FV one more time.