Pristine Grace

What Does Made Sin Actually Mean?
Part 3 of 4
by Brandan Kraft

August 15, 2019

What Does Made Sin Actually Mean?

    Part one and part two of this series of articles on the made sin controversy were published not too long ago.  I've received comments, and most of them have been positive.  But there has been some mild criticism/objections, which I expected.  I'm a big boy, so send your comments my way, I want to hear what you have to say.  My feelings aren't gonna be hurt, I can tell you that.

    I have not heard from anyone from the "made sin" camp, only those in the imputation camp.  Some dear brothers that I have agreement with in the imputation only camp have said essentially (summarized) , "Brandan, please listen to these clips.  These preachers are preaching false doctrine.   Please take a listen."  One brother even said that folks in this camp have apostatized.  Another asked, why was I compromising?  Another said there are fence straddlers that are even "idolizing" the "made sin" preachers.   Pretty harsh rhetoric.   In my twenties, I would have maybe jumped on the bandwagon, donned a black helmet, whipped out a light saber and even started slashing away (metaphorically speaking of course!)  I hate anti-gospel doctrine, and I hate even more to hear it from a free grace pulpit.   But as I've aged into my mid-forties, the Lord has put on my heart to actually take more time to listen!

     So that's what I did.  I listened.  I've included these clips in this article and have taken the time to transcribe the controversial bits for some quick consumption.   But I do advise you take the time to listen to both sermons in their totality.  Context is important as well.  But for the sake of this article, I will only be displaying the controversial parts and providing my commentary on them.  Additionally, I also sent these clips to my trusted  friend Greg to gauge his reaction as well - asking him to hold off on his comments until I could listen.  I wanted to be completely fair and objective as possible.  It turns out our opinion was pretty much the same.  

    Also, please keep in mind that the men whose words I am criticizing are not available to comment back on any critique I might add.  I certainly do welcome them to provide their commentary, and I'm willing to engage anyone and everyone as long as they are willing to talk reasonably without name calling and self-righteous finger pointing.  I believe both of these men are probably of the same mentality.  

    The first clip that was pointed out to me was one from Daniel "Moose" Parks.  It was preached this year at one of my recommended churches in Seqoyah, North Carolina.  This is a church pastored by one of my favorite Gospel preachers of all time, Tim James.  Keep in mind, there isn't a single preacher I've ever listened to that I agree with 100% of the time.  If you become a seasoned believer, you too may find yourself in the same shoes.  You too may find that every preacher that you admire and love will say things that you disagree with.  But with these disagreements, I usually just ignore them and move on, as long as these things do not directly affect the Gospel message.  

    The infusion of sin into Christ would be a doctrine that I could not ignore.  Mark Daniel's infamous sermon in 2005 actually did go there, stating that Christ became a sinner and sinful in His very person.   I'm not really sure what would lead someone to actually go there in their doctrine.  But I think it's probably because of a misunderstanding of imputation.  I really don't know though because I don't actually know anyone who believes Christ was a sinner.

Daniel Parks - The Christian's Crown - June 2, 2019

The controversial bits begin at the 28:20 Mark.  I've transcribed them for ease of reading.

"The purest gold typifies Christ in being refined in a crucible.  In the melting pot.  Why would you have to refine gold?  It's full of dross.  It's full of impurities.  Christ had to be refined.  Christ had to be purified.  You may say, wait, but whoah whoah whoah preacher.  Wait a minute preacher.  He had no sin.  He did no sin.  He knew no sin.  That's true.  That's true.  Well then WHY DID HE NEED TO BE PURIFIED?  Well ask Him.  When He's on His way to Jerusalem they say do you not know that they're looking for you?  That your adversaries are gonna catch you there?  He says, "yes, and you tell them that I must be perfected on the third day. "

"I must be perfected."

Christ, are you saying you are imperfect?  

No, I'm not saying that.  

But you just said you had to be perfected.  

Yes, that's what I said.   

Well why must you be perfected?   

I must be purified like gold.  I must be put into the crucible.  I must be made pure.  

Made pure what?

I can tell you what it was.  He was made sin for me.  My sin was laid on Him.  The sin of all God's people, Christ is the purest gold.  in and of Himself, no dross, no impurity, no uncleanness.  But oh, when He was put on Calvary, He was put into a crucible.  A melting pot on Calvary.  Because not only was my sin and the sin of all God's people laid on Him, He BECAME Sin.  He was MADE SIN.  And He had to be perfected.  And there for three hours.  From high noon to 3 PM.  God plunged the world into midnight at high noon.  No one is gonna see what's goin' on.  And God dealt with my sin.  God turned on the heat in the crucible.  The metal must be melted.  For three hours, Jesus Christ suffered the flame and wrath of hell that all God's elect deserve.  For three hours, TURN UP THE HEAT!  It was seven times hotter than Nebuchadnezzar's furnace.  Heated 7 times hotter than any furnace ever had been heated.  The heat was turned on Christ.  He's there in the crucible.  He's being perfected.  The sins and the dross are being removed.    When one purifies gold, he puts it in the crucible.  The gold melts the dross begins to rise.  And the refiner sits with his ladle and scoops it all up and throws the dross away.  And here comes more, he stirs up that melted gold and removes the dross and throws the dross away.  And finally, he looks and he sees there is no more dross on top.  The refiner knows that the gold is pure.   He can look in and see his own perfect reflection.  And God looked down from heaven in the crucible on Calvary.  The crucible in which His son was being perfected.  And God saw Himself.  His own perfect reflection.

Jesus said I must be perfected.  The verb is the very same verb He used when He said it is finished.  It is perfect (yelling!).  I am perfected.  And He was, my sins were purged.  He has cleansed all my sons.  He was now the purest gold.  Perfected , refined, and purified in the crucible there on calvary.  And that was the gold in which my crown is made.  

    OK, there was a lot to take in right there.  And right away, I see the complaints.  It is true that Christ had to be perfected / made perfect.  He was made perfect through His appointed suffering.  But this doesn't mean he was "refined."  When the Scriptures talk about refinement, gold, and dross, I don't recall this ever referring to Christ.  This usually refers to Christ's people.  But I leave that for another article to discuss!  Staying on topic, here are the verses that deal with Christ being "perfected." 

Heb 2:10, (KJV), For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

Heb 5:8-9, (KJV), Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

Heb 7:28, (KJV), For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.  

    The KJV in Hebrews 7:28 uses the word "consecrated" to describe what Christ had to become.  He had to be consecrated.  Other translations use the phrase, "made perfect" in Heb 7:28.   According to my handy dandy e-sword software, a quick lookup on the greek word teleioō tells me this word consecrated means to to bring to an end, to complete, perfect: — accomplish (2), accomplished (1), finish (1), fulfill (1), full number (1), made perfect (4), made...perfect (1), make...perfect (1), make perfect (1), perfect (2), perfected (7), reach...goal (1), spending the full number (1).

    So Christ was consecrated!  Christ did not have to be purified!  That type of language should never be used to describe what Christ did on behalf of His people.  And I say that because it implies that Christ was impure.  But Parks does say that Christ was without sin.  It sounds like he is contradicting himself.  If I were to hear this spoken live, I probably would have walked up to  Mr. Parks after the sermon and kindly asked him to explain what he meant.  I'm sure he would.  But after listening to this, transcribing it, and thinking about it, I have to conclude that Daniel Parks was very ambiguous at best.  At worst, he's preaching rank heresy.  But I'm not going to conclude that about him.  That would be very unfair.  

    Gospel preachers are very imperfect men.  They are sinners saved by grace, like me!  But I believe they are to be held to a higher standard within the community of God.  It is very serious business to get up in front of a congregation and preach the Gospel.  Special care must be taken to ensure that there is little ambiguity and that the message is clear.  Contradictory language should be avoided at all costs.  There are all types of believers that are listening usually.  Young believers, old believers, new believers, experienced and very knowledgeable believers.  Even unbelievers are probably listening.  This is a something that should not be done lightly, but should be a very solemn thing to do, and it should be done with special care and reverence.  Additionally, opportunity should be granted to the listeners to question and converse with the preacher, preferably publicly.   So many times folks will just sit there and not say anything.  It's easy to sit in a church week after week and not have anything to say.  But I fear some of us, myself included, grow too comfortable with the practice.  How is a preacher supposed to improve with his delivery of the Gospel without feedback or follow-up questioning?  Is a Gospel preacher above questioning?  Is a Gospel preacher above criticism?  Not at all.  And I believe that some of the best preachers are those that welcome feedback in the form of questions and comments.  I'm not so sure they enjoy giving a sermon and not hearing anything in response.  Maybe some do, but were I in the shoes of a Gospel preacher, I think I would want that.  Give me the good with the bad!  

Todd Nibert, The Doing of Righteousness, September 6, 2017

     Next up for analysis and commentary is Todd Nibert of Todd's Road Grace Church in Lexington Kentucky.  Recently I have been driving past Lexington on my way to hear the Pristine Gospel preached by Jim Byrd in Ashland Kentucky.  I haven't stopped by to hear Todd speak.  Around 2004, I heard Todd preach one of the best sermons on the doctrine of Justification from Eternity at a conference in Louisville.  It brought much joy to my soul to hear the Gospel of Free Grace so boldly spoken.  Bob Higby was with me and I remember him telling me he had never heard something like that ever preached before!  It was at this conference that I met Moose and Don Fortner as well.  Sadly that was the last time I saw them.  After the Mark Daniel blowout, the churches split and most folks rallied around one of two camps.  I was in the imputation only camp, and I didn't want anything to do with anybody that defended Daniel.  The Fortner camp rallied behind the words "made sin" and that was enough for me to part ways.  Besides, there was plenty of clear Gospel preaching to be heard elsewhere.  Ya just have to travel all over for it!

    The sermon that was pointed out to me by Mr. Nibert was titled "The Doing of Righteousness."  You can check it out on Sermon Audio.  The controversial bits start at the 10:40 mark.  Again, I've taken the time to transcribe for your reading pleasure, but I do recommend that you take time to listen to the entire sermon so you can hear it in context.

If you believe that Christ was the innocent being punished in the guilty's place.  If you believe Christ was the innocent being punished that the guilty might go free.... Now let me stop there and explain what I'm talking about.  Christ never sinned.  Christ never sinned.  But when my sin became His sin, it became His sin so that He was guilty of that sin.   And when He was dying, it's hard to say this but it is so... When He was dying, He was dying not for Todd's sins, but His own sins.  And only that is just.  Matt if I'm punished for your sins is there anything just about that?  Nothing.  Nothing.  My sins so truly became His sin that He was being punished for His sin.  That is what righteousness is.  God is absolutely righteous.  And not many people have any understanding or belief at all that God is really righteous, or they wouldn't believe the things they do.  If you know that He is righteous, and I know this, if you know that He is righteous, the only righteousness you have is Jesus Christ.  Amen?  That's the only righteousness you have.  And if you have anything other than that, if you have anything other than Christ alone, you don't understand the righteousness of God.  But if you know that He is righteous, look what He says next.  If you know that He is righteous and before we go on what is meant by being righteous?  What is this word righteousness?  How would God's word define that word?  Righteous or Righteousness?  Righteousness is sinlessness.  That's the best definition of righteousness there is.  Righteousness is sinlessness.  If you're righteous, that means you're sinless.  Psalm 11:5, the righteous lord loveth righteousness.  Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity.  Deu 32:4, He is the rock, His word is perfect, all His ways are judgment, a God of truth and without iniquity , just and right is He!  Now when your'e talking about righteousness that can only describe God!  Yes.  Absolutely.  That's what David said in Psalm 71:16, I will make mention of thy righteousness, even thine, what's the next word?  only.

His righteousness is sinlessness, is the only righteousness there is.  And if you and I are righteous people, it will be because his righteousness has been imputed to us.    Now before I go on, what does imputation mean?  Now this is one of the benefits I got from being around Clay (Curtis Clay) this week.  He gave me this definition and I think this is the best definition I believe I've ever heard.  Imputation is the imputing to a man what he has been made by a prior act.  

Now that's really sinful.  If you're sinful, I don't just up and arbitrarily say, you're not sinful anymore.  I'm going to impute righteousness to you.  Doesn't work that way.  God doesn't work that way.  If you're righteous, God doesn't just say I'm going to impute sin to you even though you are really righteous.   No, imputation is imputing to a man what he has been made by a prior act.  When God imputes righteousness to me, it's because I was made righteous, and he says you're righteous.  He counts me righteous.  He imputes me righteous.  He doesn't just arbitrarily do it.  He makes me righteous, and then He imputes righteousness to me.  

You know when sin was imputed to Christ, for one thing the bible never says that.  It says He was made sin.  And God imputed sin to Him because that's what was there.  He was made that by a prior act.  Now that helps me in understanding this thing of imputation.  It's not "you're not sinful any more, I'm going to count you as righteous."  No it doesn't work that way at all.  Your sin is paid for, there is nothing to impute sin... if you're righteous, it's because you're perfect in God's sight as well as you're sinless.  It's because you don't have any sin to be imputed to you.  It's because Christ bore it and put it away.  That's how a sinner is made righteous.  That's the glory of the Gospel.

    This is definitely not your typical sermon.  But I want to comment on this!  First of all, what happened to Todd's preaching!?!?!  This isn't the same Todd Nibert I remember.  What you read above is a very confusing statement.  I don't think this is teaching "infusion of sin" into the very being of God.  It is true that the sins of the elect became the sins of Christ on the cross - but that is only by imputation.   And through this imputation, Christ bore the guilt and shame of those sins.  In no way was He polluted with them though.  And I don't think Todd really goes there with this statement.  But to be quite frank with you, I find it to be really ambiguous and contradictory double-talk.  It's like he wants to have his cake and eat it too.  This is not the pure clean simple Gospel that a child can understand.  I'm sorry, but Todd, please go back and re-study imputation - not from Clay Curtis, but somebody like John Brine.  His booklet, The Doctrine of Imputation of Sin to Christ : And The Imputation of Righteousness To His People is available right here on this website, and I hope it will help get your mind right. You would have been much better off quoting one of the esteemed Gospel preachers of the past rather than standing up there and preaching that ambiguous double-talk.  

Final Thoughts

    Dear reader, please read this snippet by John Brine, and hopefully it will help cleanse your mind of the paradoxical nonsense you just read: 

The Act of making him to be Sin: Or how he was made Sin for us, is to be considered. I would do this negatively, and positively.

(1) Negatively. It was not inherently: That was absolutely impossible. For, that would have been contrary to the infinite Purity of God, and ruinous to his Design of our Salvation by Christ. Besides, as has been before shewn, the miraculous Conception of our Lord, and the Super-addition of the Gifts and Graces of the Holy Spirit unto the Purity of his Nature, and the Subsistence of his human Nature, in his divine Person, rendered it impossible that any moral Taint, or Impurity, should ever take Place in him. This Act, therefore, of making him to be Sin, effected no internal Change in  him. His Nature remained pure and spotless notwithstanding. And all his Actions corresponded with the sinless Perfection of his Nature.

(2) I am to shew in a positive Sense, how Christ was made Sin. And He was made Sin in the same manner, as we are made the Righteousness of God in Him. Which is imputatively. Blessed is the Man to whom the Lord imputeth Righteousness without Works. Imputation is, reckoning accounting or placing to Account, and esteeming thereupon. The Act of Imputation, therefore, whether, of Sin, or Righteousness, makes no internal Change in the Object of the Act. For it is not a transient Act; but it is an inward Act of the Mind, which cannot produce a physical Change, in the Object upon whom it passes. And, consequently, the Imputation of Sin to Christ, was not, nor could be productive of any internal Change in him. Notwithstanding the placing to his Account, in the divine Mind, our Guilt, or criminal Actions, he remained, innocent, pure, and spotless, in himself. This one thing being duly attended unto, will enable us to answer various of the trifling Objections, which are raised against the Doctrine of the Imputation of our Sins to him, beyond any solid Reply. Some have objected, that if Sin itself was imputed to Christ, he must have been defiled by it. But that is a great Mistake: For Sin, as imputed, defiles not. If it did, the Imputation of it, would be impossible with God, not only with respect to Christ; but also, Sinners themselves; because infinite Purity, cannot put forth any Act which would render the Object of that Act morally impure. If the Imputation of Sin to the guilty Creature does not pollute him, which is a certain Truth: How should the Imputation of it to the Holy Jesus, defile him: Imputation is not Transfusion. In the latter a Person become the Subject of that which is transfused. But in the former, no one becomes the Subject of that which is imputed, by the Act of Imputation. And therefore, though the Transfusion of Sin, if that could be, which it cannot, would necessarily defile: The Imputation of it, does not pollute the Object of that Act. And, consequently, the Imputation of Sin to the Blessed Jesus did not, nor could pollute his holy Nature. 

    So what do I think of Todd Nibert?  Is he a heretic?  Has he apostatized?  Well I'm not compromising on what I believe.  And I think Todd is very unclear in his preaching.  But no, he's not a heretic.  (BTW, I really hate the abuse of that word!)  He is very unclear and contradicting in this sermon.  I haven't listened to his other sermons though to really be sure.  And you know what?  I don't have to!  I'm not going to.  I've heard enough.  I'll keep on driving by Lexington on my way to Ashland, and pray that God brings clarity to the Gospel message in Lexington, KY.  I'd advise Todd to join me at his old church at 13th street and sit under Jim Byrd's teaching for a while, and maybe he'll get his mind right too!

    I really do hope the folks that sit under these preachers don't take everything they hear a preacher say as truth.  Actually, I really hope that's the case of all believers sitting under preachers everywhere.  Don't just sit and listen to a sermon and swallow it all down without thinking.  Don't think just because your pastor is up there preaching that he is right about everything.  The truth is, he isn't!  And I'm not either.  There isn't a man alive today that can get up and preach everything perfectly and without error.  As Henry Mahan used to say, I'm only a sinner saved by Grace.  And that's what we are.  We're imperfect people saved by the Grace of God.

    There are other preachers out there that have a good understanding of imputation that I believe are close friends with these preachers.  I do hope that they take the time to talk to them about the errors they've heard from the pulpit.  Sometimes, folks best receive correction from close friends, and not internet critics like me.  If I were in these preachers shoes, I probably wouldn't respond well to facebook or internet critics like me.  They have no relationship with me.  We are very loosely connected through Gospel associations.  There is no accountability to me.  And neither would I expect for them to even reasonably respond to me.  I may be just another nameless know-it-all to them.  If they are reading this, I would hope that they know that I do care about the truth, and that ultimately I desire for folks to have unity based on a clear understanding of the Gospel.  Also, I would have them to know that this "made sin" language really didn't get started until fairly recently.  Go back and read Don Fortner's material from the 80s and 90s.  You won't find any of this ambiguous language.  You won't find this in Henry Mahan's material.  The truth of the matter is, the doctrine of imputation is what bonded all these folks together.  And people changed.  Their teaching changed.  Their clarity changed.  And that along with personality alliances and mini-kingdoms is what is truly driving the division we see today. For the sake of unity and truth, I urge them to take a second look, to stop being stubborn, and to embrace the clear simple Gospel of imputation.  At the very least, I would ask that they please clarify for their listeners that Christ did not change on the cross - that He was not polluted with the rebellion of His people, that He in no way knew sin or became a sinner.  It's one thing to say that the phrase, "made sin" refers to the whole atonement of Christ including imputation.  But it's crossing the line when one says that Christ became sinful in His very person.

    I hope that this article has helped to make sense of the current controversy.  I hope and pray for unity in the simple Gospel of Christ.  Thanks for reading!

    Grace and Peace,

Note: My final article on this, part 4 can be read now.