Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ in the Westminster Standards, by Alan D. Strange. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage, 2019, xviii + 158 pages, $7.79, paper.
The doctrine of the imputation of the active obedience of Christ in the justification of believers is vital to Reformed pastoral care. It is the desire of my heart that every sheep in my flock come to the assurance “that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (WCF 18.1).
Active obedience, correctly understood, is a joy and comfort to the believer, assuring him of his right standing before God. God is righteous and requires that all who come before him be righteous. The good news of the gospel is that Christ has satisfied the demands of divine justice for all who believe. By bearing the wrath of God due to us for our sin (passive obedience) and by perfectly keeping the commandments of God for us (active obedience), Jesus has secured our salvation. Christ died and lived for us. The Sovereign Judge of all the world credits the righteousness of Jesus to the one who, by faith, receives and rests in Christ alone as he is offered in the gospel (WSC, 33 and 86).
In this small volume Alan D. Strange offers a spirited defense of the doctrine of Christ’s active obedience. He convincingly demonstrates that the Westminster Assembly affirmed this doctrine from the start and never wavered in its commitment.
Before turning to the Assembly and its work, he surveys earlier witnesses to the doctrine. Although neither fully developed nor its articulators numerous, the doctrine appears in seed form early in Christian history (for example, in Irenaeus from the second century and his “recapitulation theory”).