Pastors for Nouthetic Ministry, Part 2

As I said previously, I had a wonderful time when 16 brothers (Baptist preachers and deacons) and I had a luncheon discussion together for several hours yesterday. We talked about counseling, and theology in general (not about Baptism, however) and preaching. It was great! In my declining years it is a joy for me to know that though I can no longer travel to speak, God has brought such people to me to fellowship with.

And, He has provided a fine Greek restaurant in our country area where they serve good food and don’t throw us out even though we might get a bit loud at times. What a blessing!

One of the topics that came up might be worthwhile mentioning and adding a few remarks about. The doctrine of the active obedience of Christ is one that is mentioned too infrequently. Yet, J. Gresham Machen—that stalwart of the faith—on his death bed said, “Thank God for the active obedience of Christ!” This truth had a tremendous impact upon the thinking of this great saint of God! It ought to do the same for us.

Why? Because it accomplished what the passive obedience of Christ could not in and of itself. The passive obedience of Christ was His substitutionary death on the cross. It takes away the believer’s sin. The active obedience of the Lord Jesus was His perfect life of obedience to God under the law. He was the only one who ever did so. It makes us perfect in God’s sight and on the books of heaven. Not only is it reckoned to every believer that Jesus suffered for his sins, it is also true that all Jesus did to fulfill God’s will is attributed to him by faith. Like Abraham, we are declared righteous by faith because His righteousness is attributed to us.

Being “in Christ” among other things, means being counted to have been circumcised with Him, crucified with Him, risen with Him, ascended with Him, seated in the heavenlies with Him. No wonder Machen thanked God for his active obedience of Christ! I’m grateful too—how about you?

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