Owen Defended The Imputation Of Christ’s Active Obedience Against Richard Baxter

After the Westminster Assembly, John Owen defended the imputation of active obedience against Piscator, turning to Christ’s active obedience as a source of encouragement and consolation for the Christian. According to Owen, Christ had to provide active obedience because Adam was under the law (“ do this and live”). The life promised to him “is not to be obtained unless all be done that the law requires.” By analogy, just as our first federal head, Adam, actively disobeyed God, so Christ our surety necessarily provided active obedience in our place. If he provided only remission of sins, then we still owe active obedience ourselves for justification. In other words, for Owen, either Jesus is a compete Savior or he is not.

R. Scott Clark, “‘Do This And Live:’ Christ’s Active Obedience As the Ground of Justification” in R. Scott Clark, ed. Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2007), 236.

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  1. Thankful for a complete Savior! Reminiscent of J Gresham Machen: “Thank God for the active obedience of Christ; no hope without it!”

    • That’s the key! Jesus is our complete saviour. What should we then say to those who want to insist that we must also do our part, so that our works are part of our saving faith, and that we will be judged by it on the last day, on that basis?

  2. Dr. Clark,

    Is “Piscator” Richard Baxter?
    Can you provide some Baxter quotes showing his errent view of justification?

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