When I was a young man, we had a lot of pecan trees around our home and farm. Each year we would gather those pecans and put them in burlap bags (we called them croaker sacks). We would use the same ones year after year and occasionally they would develop holes or burst and the pecans would spill out. Then we would have to pick them up all over again.
There was a man who came around occasionally during the harvest season who would buy the pecans. He would carefully weigh the nuts and pour them into brand new (at least they appeared new compared to the ones we generally had) bags and then sew them up. I always marveled at the skill which he exhibited as he took a piece of twine and a large sewing needle and deftly and quickly closed the bags so that none of the nuts would fall out as they were loaded and piled high upon his truck. He paid the price for the nuts and then drove away, thus making them HIS own. Once that transaction was made, the nuts were his and none were left or ever spilled out. All that we had left were some old empty bags in which those nuts once resided.
In like fashion Job tells us that the LORD has sealed his transgression and iniquity in a bag. “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." (Psa 103:11-12) HE has not only paid the price which he determined but HE has become the SUBSTITUTE of HIS elect bride, making her sins HIS very own. “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.” (2Cor 5:21)
This is the glorious doctrine of imputation, which we see first demonstrated by the fact that all of mankind were made sinners, by the sin of our father Adam. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Rom 5:12) “For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Rom 5:19)
The exact payment which HE made for that sin (which HE made HIS own) was equal to that which HE determined must be paid by those who had actually committed that sin. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Eze 18:4) “For the wages of sin is death.” (Rom 6:23) Now if HE paid for that sin (which HE made HIS own) then HE has delivered those (whose sin it originally was) from any and all punishment which HIS law required of them. Nothing else can possibly be required of them since HE, by HIMSELF, has borne their iniquity and carried their sorrows. This truth is beautifully set forth by the hymn writer, Augustus Toplady, when he wrote:
Complete atonement thou hast made, And to the utmost farthing paid
Whate’er thy people owed; How then can wrath on me take place,
If sheltered in thy righteousness, And sprinkled with thy blood?
If thou hast my discharge procured, And freely in my room endured
The whole of wrath divine, Payment God cannot twice demand,
First at my bleeding Surety’s hand, And then again at mine.
(#227 Gadsby’s Hymns)
Multitudes of deceived “preachers” go about the countryside proclaiming that although CHRIST died for sinners, that there is yet another requirement or condition which must be met in order for that payment to be effectual or to actually obtain justification. They tell us that men by believing make HIS atonement for them effectual. Yet the scripture never indicates that anything is necessary for the redemption of sinners, but that which CHRIST has performed. “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” (Heb 9:12) Nor does it ever tell us that men are justified by an act of faith. Abraham is our example, he was not justified by his act of faith, but rather by the ONE who was the OBJECT of his faith. “For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Rom 4:3)
It is true that those for whom CHRIST died shall believe it, in HIS own time, because faith is the gift of GOD and is that by which the sons of GOD are made manifest. “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” (Act 13:48) “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13) They did not become the sons of GOD by believing but were shown to be the sons of GOD by manifesting the gift of faith which is given only to those who are born again by the SPIRIT of GOD. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:8-10)
Not only has HE “sealed our transgressions in a bag” with the needle of HIS grace and the thread of HIS blood but HE has prepared for us a garment with which we shall be clothed so that we might stand in HIS presence. “If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.” (2 Co 5:3) “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” (1 Cor 1:30) HE is our COVERING. “Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (Rom 4:7-8)
Therefore, HE has made the sins of HIS elect to be HIS own by imputation and by the same imputation has made HIS righteousness to be theirs. They have no other, nor might I add do they need any other, for HIS is a perfect righteousness. They are justified as a result of HIS work alone. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such a high priest became us, (i.e.; was exactly suited to our need) who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” (Heb 7:25-26)
Precious Jesus! we adore thee;
Thou hast conquered death and hell; We in wonder fall before thee;
Thy salvation suits us well; May we love thee,
And obey thy righteous will.
Here we raise our Ebenezer,
Monuments of grace divine; Thou art all our joy and treasure,
We are wholly, doubly thine; Loved for ever,
And redeemed with blood divine.
Give us faith to view thee sighing,
Under our tremendous load; Agonising, groaning, dying,
Overwhelmed in sweat and blood; Floods of vengeance
Covering our incarnate God.
By thy precious love constrainèd,
We are come to own thy name; Thou for us all shame disdainèd;
We for thee would do the same. Saviour, bless us
With a holy, solemn frame.
(#656 Gadsby’s Hymns by W. Gadsby)
“For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,---Behold I and the children which God hath given me” (Heb 2:10-13)