Imputation for Spurgeon | Tom Nettles

by | Mar 1, 2022 | Church History


Three biblical aspects of imputation in God’s covenant of redemption include Adam’s guilt and
condemnation as ours by imputation, our sin, and condemnation placed on Jesus Christ by imputation,
and Christ’s completely meritorious work as worthy of eternal life considered ours by imputation.
Involved in these aspects of imputation are the doctrines of “original sin,” Substitutionary atonement,”
and “justification by faith.” Charles Spurgeon’s preaching consistently and profoundly gave exposition to
these central features of God’s saving work. This brief article will probe Spurgeon’s focus on
substitutionary atonement as the connecting link between the other aspects of imputation.

Among many clear explanations of imputation, Spurgeon’s sermon on “Peace: A Fact and a
Feeling,” probes the meaning of imputation as the foundation for the state of peace enjoyed by the
believer. Peace is established objectively by “the abounding mercy of God, who in order to our peace,
finds a substitute to bear our penalty, and reveals to us this gracious fact.” Sin has been laid on Christ
and he has carried it away. Faith accepts his death as a substitute for ours. He was just but died, and we
are unjust but live because the one who died under the curse now lives. By imputation of Adam’s sin,
we are conceived in condemnation before any voluntary act on our part; so that by the payment of
another we can be absolved of the punishment of guilt through no voluntary righteousness of our own.

When God devised the “plan of substitution the full penalty demanded of the guiltless surety”
brought exemption from punishment for the guilty. “That Jesus should suffer vicariously and yet those
for whom he paid the quittance in drops of blood should obtain no acquittal could not be.” He has
obeyed the law in their stead, has suffered the penalty of the law in their stead, so they must be
declared perfectly righteous and free from any susceptibility of punishment. “According to the infinite
purpose and will of God, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer.” The sinner now is
“covered with the mantle of his Redeemer’s righteousness.”

Peace may come to the heart for the believing sinner may say with perfect verity in light of an
objective historical reality, “Soul, thou art free from sin, for Christ has borne thy sin in his own body on
the tree. Soul, thou art righteous before God, for the righteousness of Christ is thine by imputation.” The
payment of “quittance in drops of blood” meant that the sinner “has borne the utmost penalty of the
law by his Substitute, which penalty God himself has accepted.”

How was such justice served through a substitute? “He took our sin, but he has our sin no
longer, for on the cross he discharged and annihilated it all so that it ceased to be, and he has gone into
the glory as the representative and the substitute of his people, cleared from their imputed
liabilities—clean delivered from anything that could be brought against him on their account.” Christ is
the manifestation of the Father’s eternal love and is thus, the “object of divine complacency.” Also, he is
loved for he has fully accomplished the Father’s will. United with him by faith, therefore, we receive that
love with which Christ was loved before the foundation of the world, and, because also embraced in the
love of a fully accomplished righteousness, “Sin is forgiven. What is more, righteousness is imputed.” ((SEE 10: 107-110. “Peace: A Fact and a Feeling.” SEE refers to Spurgeon’s Expository Encyclopedia, 15 vols. (Grand
Rapids: Baker Book House, 1977). This publication contains sermons by Spurgeon on 118 topics over the course of
over 600 sermons and close to 150 expositions.))

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