Tuesday 2 February 2021

The Master’s Seminary Journal 32, 1 (2021)

The latest Master’s Seminary Journal has been posted online. The essays are centred around the topic of justification by faith, and especially imputation, as John MacArthur makes clear in the editorial: ‘Just as justification by faith is the centerpiece of soteriology and the very marrow of the gospel, the principle of imputed righteousness is the necessary center and soul of the doctrine of justification’.

A pdf of the issue can be downloaded here.

John MacArthur


J.V. Fesko

Imputed Righteousness: The Apostle Paul and Isaiah

The Heidelberg Catechism asks the question: “How can man be righteous before God?” To answer this question, most would refer to New Testament passages, likely in Romans or other Pauline epistles. But the New Testament writers developed their understanding of justification by reading their sacred texts – what is now referred to as the Old Testament. While the doctrine of imputation can be found throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, there are few texts as clear and rich as Isaiah 53 – the song of a coming Servant, “the righteous one” who would “make many to be accounted righteous” (53:11). This article contends that when Paul was writing critical New Testament passages on the doctrine of imputation, he was likely doing so while pouring over Isaiah 53.

Tom J. Nettles

Imputation and Its Images in the Preaching of Charles Haddon Spurgeon

The cross was ever at the center of the preaching of Charles Spurgeon. He was fixated upon the reality that “as the Lord looked upon Christ as though he had been a sinner, though he was no sinner, and dealt with him as such, so now the Lord looks upon the believing sinner as though he were righteous, though indeed he has no righteousness of his own.” And as a result of that dark day upon the cross, God sees the one in whose place Christ stood and “he loves him, and delights in his perfect comeliness, regarding him as covered with the mantle of his Redeemer’s righteousness, and as having neither spot nor wrinkle nor any such thing.” This is the beauty of the doctrine of imputation. And it pervades the thinking and preaching of Charles Spurgeon, as will be demonstrated in this article.

Peter Sammons

In My Place Obedient He Lived: Imputed Righteousness in Romans 5:18–19

The overwhelming majority of Christians would readily affirm the doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. But when pressed as to the substance of this righteousness, many would point to the transmission or imputation of an attribute of God or merely the forgiveness of sins alone with no positive imputation. These are misguided responses which produce a truncated gospel. At the center of this question is the person of Christ, who claimed to have come to “fulfill all righteousness” (Matt 3:15). This article will contend that the righteousness that is imputed to believers is Christ’s human righteousness – which is His lived-out, practical law obedience. This reality is captured in the words of Isaac Watts when he wrote: “Come naked, and adorn your souls / In robes prepared by God, / Wrought by the labors of his Son, / And dyed in his own blood.”

James M. Renihan

God Freely Justifieth…  by Imputing Christ’s Active… and Passive Obedience

This article traces seventeenth century debates surrounding the doctrine of justification. The united testimony of Reformed writers, the common consent of the English Puritan confessions, and even the startling testimony of a most important Roman apologist together provide a powerful argument: justification comes solely from the work of Christ the mediator. These debates helped to produce the beautiful words of the Second London Confession: “Christ by his obedience, and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are justified; and did by the sacrifice of himself, in the blood of his cross, undergoing in their stead, the penalty due unto them: make a proper, real and full satisfaction to God’s justice in their behalf: yet inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them, and his Obedience and Satisfaction accepted in their stead, and both freely, not for anything in them; their Justification is only of Free Grace, that both the exact justice and rich Grace of God, might be

glorified in the Justification of sinners.”

Nathan Busenitz

The Substance of Sola Fide: Justification Defended from Scripture

in the Writings of the Reformers

The doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone (sola fide) stood at the center of theological controversy during the Protestant Reformation. Men such as Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, and Chemnitz were willing to lose their lives over the doctrine of justification, for to misunderstand this doctrine was to misunderstand the very essence of the gospel. The Protestant church appreciates these men and their convictions, but many may wonder what sola fide actually means. This article seeks to express three core components to the doctrine of sola fide: (1) that justification is forensic, not formative; (2) that justification is distinct from sanctification; and (3) that the basis for justification is the imputed righteousness of Christ. These men were convinced that it was upon these articulations that the church stood or fell, and the church today would do well to remember the urgency of this doctrine.

Tom Hicks

Benjamin Keach’s Doctrine of Justification

Many Christians would recognize the name of the pastor and author Richard Baxter. Likely fewer would recognize the name of the seventeenth-century Baptist pastor Benjamin Keach. This article follows the thinking and articulation of Keach as he defends the orthodox, Reformed position of the doctrine of justification and imputed righteousness against the errant views of Richard Baxter. This article is a window into the necessity to defend this doctrine that rests at the center of the Christian faith.

Sam Waldron

Paul’s Use of Genesis 15:6 in Romans 4:3

This essay examines (1) the relevant uses of Genesis 15:6 and references to Abraham in a large group of ancient Jewish sources; (2) the immediate context of Romans 4:3; (3) the analysis of the Old Testament context of Genesis 15:6; and (4) the way in which Paul interprets and utilizes Genesis 15:6 in Romans 4:3. Paul’s use of the text is a reaffirmation of themes original to Genesis 15:6 in its OT context, and his careful use of the OT contrasts with contemporary Judaic tendencies to read the OT as supporting a soteriology of human achievement or “the works of the law.” This conclusion undermines the central premise of the New Perspective on Paul, while supporting the traditional doctrine of justification, sola fide.

E.D. Burns

Contending for Doctrinal Language in Missions: Why Imputation and Sola Fide Are Good News for Karma-Background Christians

The frontlines of missions are where theological error has a tendency to fester. New missional movements draw distinctions between the helpfulness of the Bible and theology, affirming the former and disregarding the latter. The mission field has become a place of embarrassment regarding many of the doctrines that the church fathers lived and died over. Specifically, the doctrine of imputation has been practically neglected amongst many of the frontline missional efforts. And the consequences are and will continue to be devastating. This article is a call for missionaries to reach the unreached with the beautiful and historic doctrines of the Christian faith.


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