By John Metcalfe
A Review Article
by The John Metcalfe Publishing Trust, price £9.25
Salvation is a subject which is at the heart of the Gospel of Christ. It is the very reason for which Christ Jesus came into this world – to save sinners. As Matthew declares:-
"...Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21
Yet, many remain ignorant of just what salvation really entails; just what
we are saved from. Few works go into the full subject in depth. So it is
to be appreciated that John Metcalfe has provided such an excellent
treatment of the subject in this work. In a thorough, scholarly, doctrinal
and Spirit-led exegesis of scripture covering more than 400 pages the author
opens up the vital matter of Salvation in a fresh, in-depth, urgent and
uplifting manner. The work poses the important questions of "What is
salvation?", "What are we saved unto?" and most importantly, "What are we
saved from?" In answering the final question the following matters are
dealt with in-depth:
This work leaves no stone unturned. The author is plain, forthright and clear in his language - blunt at times even, yet uncompromisingly faithful to the scriptures. Here he opens up the glorious truths of God’s great salvation of sinners in a most revealing and uplifting manner. The work of God in Christ is exalted throughout and the reader is left in no doubt of just what enemies he has set against him and yet how sure and certain salvation is in Christ - a salvation nevertheless wrought at such a cost to the Saviour.
highly recommend obtaining this edifying new addition to John Metcalfe's
"Apostolic Foundation of the Christian Church" series, of which this is
volume X. May the Lord bless His people as they learn of Him and His great
There are many chapters and passages in this book which I could comment on but perhaps the following will be more helpful than my own comments. To provide a flavour of how in-depth and thorough this book is in its treatment of the apostolic teaching regarding salvation I provide an extract below from the chapter on ‘Salvation from Sin’. This chapter deals not just with sins (those deeds which we as sinners do) and the need for sins to be remitted but also with sin itself – the fallen, depraved, sinful nature which we have inherited from our father Adam. As much as we need our sins washed by the blood of the Lamb of God we also need deliverance from the very nature of sin which we have in our fallen flesh. This salvation from sin was wrought by God in Christ at the cross as He died as the Substitute for His people. In what Luther called ‘The Great Exchange’ Christ exchanged places with His people being made sin for them, that they might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). This extract expounds this vital teaching. Please consult the book itself for the full exposition in its overall context in this excellent work.
An extract from ‘Salvation from Sin’, pages 75-82 in 'SALVATION' by John Metcalfe
“So great is the deliverance from sin wrought of God through the Saviour, that the apostle, transported, cries out with joy at the blessing, declaring, 'Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin', Romans 4:8.
And why not shout for joy? For 'the sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law', I Corinthians 15:56. Then what, alas, can we do? Nothing. God has done everything. 'Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ', I Corinthians 15:57.
For though the scripture hath concluded all under sin - for Paul had before proved, Romans 3:9, boths Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin - yet what was it, but that 'the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe', Galatians 3:22. What promise? Why, of the blessing, Romans 4:8.
Hence it is written, I John 1:7, 'But if we walk in the light' - this light, which lightens the nature of inbred sin, the Saviour from it, and the deliverance wrought by him - 'we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.' This is at once the promise and the blessing.
For, ‘if Christ be in you, the body is dead’ – counted as dead; reckoned in the sight of God to be dead – ‘because of sin’ – for, on our behalf, God condemned sin in the body of Jesus on the cross: it is this that is reckoned to us; hence – ‘the Spirit is life because of righteousness’, Romans 8:10.
Blessing indeed, for, helplessly enslaved, inextricably bound, wholly ensnared in the body of sin: how could we be saved?
The wisdom of God in Christ,
moved by everlasting love, found the way. Inbred sin could never be
forgiven: it was impossible in time, much less in eternity, that the
holiness of God could abide such abomination in his sight, much less
Then how could we, bound to it and by it, sold under it, ever be free of it, that we might come unto God?
Only by its being judged in another, a Saviour, who, having been made sin for us at the cross – O the breadth, length, depth, and height of the love of Christ, which passes knowledge – inbred sin then being condemned in his body, we should be free from sin.
Hence, ‘Once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself’, Hebrews .
So momentous was his coming, that it is counted before God as ‘the end of the world’. The whole world is – as it were – brought to a conclusion in the sight of God by the finality of his sacrificing himself for us in the place of judgment for sin.
That is, judgment at the hand of God, who, first, in a mystery, made him to be sin, so that, it should be condemned in his own body on the tree.
‘For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might become the righteousness of God in him’ , II Corinthians .
And this was prefigured from
the ancient ages of
This is that of which the Holy Ghost speaks, saying, ‘For he’ – that is, God – ‘hath made him’ – that is, the Son, in his manhood – ‘to be sin for us, who knew no sin.’
He was without sin; he did no sin; he knew no sin: no inbred sin, common to all mankind in Adam. Thus, he was the only, the perfect, the impeccable substitute.
Inbred sin, as has been shown, passed by conception and natural generation from Adam to all his posterity. But it did not pass to the unique humanity of Jesus, born of Mary. For his peerless humanity was ‘without sin’. He ‘knew no sin’.
Then he, and he alone, could be found acceptable, in the union of his deity with the perfection of his humanity, to offer himself a sacrifice acceptable to God in the place of sin. Because he knew no sin. Whereas all mankind without exception was born in sin, sold under sin, and condemned for sin.
As has been shown, the word ‘sin’ refers to the state by birth common to all mankind. It is the condition by natural generation of all humanity from the Fall. Now, it was that – declares II Corinthians 5:21 – which Christ was made, and, if so, on the cross.
Being ‘made’ – from the Greek poieo, to make, produce, create, cause – clearly does not refer to a reckoning objectively. The Greek indicates a state subjectively.
Did that state – which, as the sacrifice for sin at Golgotha – he was made, created, formed to be by the mysterious work of God, in order that he should put away sin by the sacrifice of himself; I repeat, Did that state cause his death?
It caused him untold anguish
There was but one way. The divine substitution of the sinless one in place of those born in sin, so as really and actually to exchange places with them. Then, in a mystery, to be ‘created’, ‘made’ in that state, that it might be condemned in judgment once and for all.
If but the prospect brought him to such strong crying and tears, to fall prostrate on the ground in an agony of prayer those three times, to sweat as it were great drops of blood: Then, submitting to his Father’s will, what of the untold, unimaginable anguish of the experience itself?
Unbearable; yet borne. Intolerable; yet suffered.
Suffered: since he had been made sin. Made sin, till it was finished. Till the wrath of a holy God, and the judgment of that purest divine righteousness subsisting in unapproachable light, utterly consumed the sacrifice, condemned it till neither sin nor condemnation remained for time or eternity.
Thus our sin was borne away. And thus ‘he gave up the ghost’.
‘He was made sin.’ By exchanging places – in context, katallasso, to exchange; katallage, the exchange – where kata indicates ‘from top to bottom’, or, in context, ‘thoroughly’.
And if of sin inwardly. Allasso signifying to exchange; but if from ‘without sin’ to being ‘made sin’, the divine, spiritual, inward exchange. Now, the added preposition kata, indicates from top to bottom. The thorough exchange.
Utterly, from top to bottom, thoroughly, not just to take our place under the judgment we deserved but – exchanging places thoroughly, from the uttermost to the innermost, first and last – that this might be so, made in our state.
Otherwise, why does the Holy Ghost use the word poieo, to create, make? Because that word, and nothing less than that word, is chosen of God to convey the truth.
Of God he was made, created in our state, in a mystery, at the cross: ‘For he’ – God – ‘hath made him’ – Christ – ‘to be sin for us.’ Made to be sin. So that he might bear justly the condemnation for what God had made him to be for us, and for our deliverance.
‘Made sin’: Incorrigible, unforgivable, irredeemable as it was, that he might thus be in justice – being made actually in our state – brought under the judgment of both the law and the righteousness of God against that state.
To what end? That sin might be ‘condemned’ – not forgiven; condemned – ‘in the flesh’ – his flesh - ‘that we might become the righteousness of God in him.’
This is the thorough exchange of places. As it was with the carcase of the sin offering, the blood having been brought by the high priest into the holiest, the body was carried outside the camp to be burned by fire utterly to destruction, till all that was left was a cone of ashes.
Equal in his spotless humanity, unblemished substance, and impeccable soul to take the place of any one of his people, in the mystery of his divinity, the infinity of his being, and the absoluteness of his ability undergirding that humanity, at Golgotha he took the place of countless myriads in one substitutionary sacrifice, offered up for sin, to bear its judgment once and for all.
Notwithstanding, through sickening pseudo-religious and sanctimonious ‘piety’, hypocritical theological philosophers, supplanting the mystery of Christ, and revelation of the Spirit of God, have shunned the truth that Christ was made sin, and that he bore sin.
Oh, no: to these whited sepulchres, he must be shielded from such a death, even the death of the cross. It was not for their ‘Christ’ to suffer such humiliation and degradation. Then how do they hope to be saved?
For as plain as plain words can be, the Holy Ghost declares what we have repeated from the mystery of Christ in the apostolic doctrine.
But these latter-day Pharisees, like their forbears, invent a tradition that is altogether without a basis in the evangel of Christ, being void of the witness of the Holy Ghost, in which they make the word of God of none effect by their traditions, and rob lost sinners of their salvation.
Such whitewashed deceivers – making their blinded followers twofold more the children of hell than themselves, Matthew 23:15 – put on a ‘pious’ show, as if their refined souls cannot stand so much as the thought that the Saviour was made sin, or that he bore sin within his own body.
Then they have no Saviour. There is nothing to save their followers. And they know nothing of salvation. Neither do their adherents have any hope of being saved.
These false prophets and be-gowned priests, throwing up fairy-snow washed hands, cannot stand the thought of Christ’s bearing sin, or of his being made sin, allowing only that the Saviour bore the judgment for sin.
Oh? Judgment for what was not there?
Do they think God to be as unjust as themselves, to judge what was not there? In that day, they shall find that their invented ‘Saviour’, together with their tradition-devised ‘salvation’, is not there either.
Ah, but, they say, Sin was ‘imputed’ to him. Oh? Then, why did Christ and his apostles not say so?
The fact that righteousness is imputed to us is utterly beside the point. Such wording in relation to Christ’s bearing sin does not exist, nor is their notion of ‘imputation’ regarding sin-bearing so much as mentioned, no, not in the entire bible.
They contradict God, Christ himself, the Holy Ghost, the word of truth, the holy apostles, and the faith once delivered to the saints. ‘Imputed’?
Then why the deafening silence? And why do they think it actually says made? That is, poieo, created?
They are so fond of their titles, collars, gowns, and the like trappings of their acting before men, that reality clean escapes them. ‘Imputed’? Christ only suffered the judgment? Judgment for what? Whatever, it must be for what he actually became on the cross in reality, not theory.
If, unquestionably impeccable as when he was first crucified, he was then brought under judgment, judgment for what? Being impeccable? Judgment for a maths calculation, an algebraic equation, a paper imputation, in which he himself remained quite unaltered? Is that ‘thorough substitution’?
Made unaltered, is it? Or made sin? Judgment on impeccability – even if some such objective mathematical calculation existed – could have imputed nothing but injustice to the Judge.
Christ was judged for what he had become for his people’s salvation. Not for his impeccable qualification to become it. Having become sin, by the mysterious work of God, in thorough exchange in the place of the sinful, being of God made sin, then it was that reality which was justly judged.
In no other way could sin have been judged and put away with justice.
Otherwise, no real condition existed in him to be judged. But God made, created that real condition in him – for us – that it might be judged, and we delivered.
If not, if – contrary to the scripture – no actual condition existed in him – of course by the work of God – demanding of condemnation, such a condemnation would be utterly unjust, and void of saving consequences.
For it would have been impossible justly and in righteousness for him to suffer the punishment for deliverance from what – they say – did not exist in him at the cross.
The ‘Christ’ of these sanctimonious hypocrites being thought by them to be too ‘holy’ to submit to all that to which from the hand of God he did submit, then, God could not have been glorified, Christ could not have been a Saviour, and we could never have been saved.
Not by their scheme. No, by their imputation we are yet in our sins, like unto them.
But to the contrary, we have not so learned Christ. We witness that he was without sin. We confess that God made him to be sin for us. We do confess the Saviour. We do believe in his salvation. We are delivered from sin. And we are become the righteousness of God in him.
Withal… we are set at liberty in Christ, rejoicing with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
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