Pristine Grace

Christ was not a Sinner - Ever!
A Response to Mark Daniel
And Don Fortner
by Brandan Kraft

August 15, 2005

Christ was not a Sinner - Ever!

2019 Update:  I have written a follow-up article here: What Does Made Sin Actually Mean?

     On February 13th 2005 Mark Daniel, pastor of Eager Ave. Grace Church in Albany GA proclaimed to his congregation the most blasphemous statements one could make.   They are in my opinion heretical, and every Gospel believer must stand with me against this teaching.  This sermon can be downloaded here and listened to or read in its entirety:   Download mp3 | Download pdf

     Ken Wimer, was kind and diligent to transcribe this sermon so that these terrible things would be made public for the world to see.   Everything is out in the public now.  In the past, these things would be quieted by those in positions of pastoral authority; but God's people have been given the wonderful communication tool of the Internet.   Just like Luther and Gutenberg's printing press exposed the evil papacy, common everyday believers can now expose the lies and errors of those who would seek to suppress us! 

     Here are some excerpts from Mark's Sermon entitled "Absolute Substitution." 

Paul using this very passage from Deuteronomy as his reference point for his statement in Galatians 3:13, is showing that one thing Christ became, that He was not before is that He became a sinner. He became a man in whom was sin! 

He had to be equally as sinful, equally as guilty and equally as accursed as me in order to take my place.

He became sinful that I become righteous.

He became the equal sinner that I am, he became the same sinner that I am before God.

It's as incomprehensible for me to be a sinner and a saint, at the same time as He could be the Son of God, pure and holy, and be a sinner, just like me.

He had to be made the identical substitute for their sin. A righteous man could not die for my sin! God would have never killed Him. If He was a righteous man, no sin in Him, God would have been unjust to kill him.

It says, God somehow, took a being, who had never known sin before and actually made him to be sin.

On the cross, Christ actually became as sinful as I. Something He had never been, could not have become, and did not want to happen, and prayed for that it might let it pass, and yet became a reality IN HIS VERY BEING.

And somehow then, I'm made to understand, unthinkable thoughts, of how that his Son, purely, holy and righteous could be made as sinful as I.

You know, its no wonder that He prayed in the garden until His sweat literally became great clots, ugly clots of blood dripping to the ground. Because here was a being who had never known sin, he'd never thought a sinful thought, He never had a sinful desire, had never had an ill intention, had never had any sin come across His mind, His heart, His will, or His being. And yet He knew He was facing becoming just as sinful as His people. No wonder He prayed, ' Lord couldn't we do this some other way? Is there not some other arrangement that we can make (snicker)? I don't mind the dying part, but Lord is there not some way that I could escape being made like THESE people. He prayed until He couldn't pray anymore. He prayed until His sweat turned to blood because it was unfathomable to Him to think about becoming sinful in the place of His people

      How anyone could claim to be a believer of the Gospel and say these horrible things about the Lord Jesus Christ is beyond my comprehension.   Needless to say, these statements can stand on their own as doctrine which will divide churches.  In other words - heresy.  And I am very careful these days with how I use that word. 

      Sadly, however, many congregations I have thought of as Gospel churches have not condemned these words.   Instead, some preachers whom I have admired have condemned the fine folks at Eager Ave. church for firing Mark Daniel on the spot!   They are not to be scorned, but commended for their bravery in standing up for Gospel truth.

     For example, Don Fortner, a man whose preaching I have admired has this to say about Mark Daniel:  

One matter needs to be cleared regarding Mark Daniel. It is insignificant to me what is thought or said about me and/or my doctrine. But Bro. Lawson is totally in error about Mark Hiding anything from the Eager AV Church. Those men have known my doctrine for 20 years. It has not changed. They knew my association with Bro. Mark. They were not kept in the dark about anything. They simply called a pastor who would not buckle under to their intimidation. Mark is a faithful man. I have known him for a long time. And I was present in Albany at Eager AV Church for a meeting just a few days before the Church removed him from the pulpit specifically for saying what the Word of God clearly says, that " he who knew no sin was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." It is both unwise and contrary to everything taught in the Scriptures to make accusations against any man based upon the reports of others.  

     Mr. Fortner is correct that it is unwise to make accusations against a man based on the reports of others.   But now we have Mark Daniel's very own words and the testimonies of several godly men who witnessed this event.  

     Mr. Fortner goes even further and implies that if you don't agree with Mark Daniel, you don't believe the Gospel.  On June 19th, 2005, Mr. Fortner wrote the following in his church's weekly bulletin and posted it on the website.

Albany, GA - Recently, Bro. Mark Daniel was dismissed from the pulpit of the congregation in Albany, GA, that had called him as pastor just eight months earlier. He was dismissed for daring to assert, as the Scriptures clearly do, that Christ was " made sin for us" (2 Cor. 5:21). The wickedness of the men involved in that action resulted in the gathering of a group in Albany who desire to establish a gospel church. [comment: as if the "wicked" Eager Ave.  folks were not gospel believers] Pray for them as they seek God's direction in this new work.  2019 Comment by Brandan:  I was wrong to say that Don was saying that they were not believers.  I do not believe he was saying that now after re-reading this... I am guilty of eisogesis here in this comment of mine.

      Ian Potts, owner and editor of Grace and Truth Online thinks those who don't believe Christ became a sinner are not to be considered as Christians.  He wrote the following:

Reject the truth of Christ being made sin and you also reject the truth that Christ died. That is where your logic gets you. A complete denial of the Gospel.

     I don't deny that Christ was made sin.  But I do reject that being made sin means what Ian says it does!  But what does it mean to be made sin?   Mark Daniel has stated it means Christ became a sinner, that He became vile in his very being.  Ian Potts claims it was a "creative work" of sin principle in Christ Himself.  But what do the scriptures say?

      The same gr. word for "made" (4160 poieo) in Acts 2:36 is the same word for "made" in 2 Cor. 5:21

Acts 2:36, (KJV), Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. 

2 Cor 5:21, (KJV), For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

     Now if we want to hold to the position that Christ literally became a sinner on the cross, we must also hold to the position that Jesus became the Lord and Christ. Now I don't know of any Sovereign Grace believers that believe Jesus became the Lord.  Acts 2:36 is clearly teaching that Jesus was manifested or revealed by God to be Lord and Christ.

      So how are we to understand 2 Cor. 5:21?  All of scripture speaks of imputation.  Nowhere does it speak of sin being transfused or imparted to Christ.  Now you and I still sin, so that does not mean our sins were "in him" as if they were a physical thing or principle.  If they were destroyed "in Him" as "things" then we would not sin.  Therefore, we must understand that 2 Cor. 5:21 is referring to imputation.

      John Calvin commented on this passage in his commentaries:

He says, then, that Christ, while he was entirely exempt from sin, was made sin for us. It is commonly remarked, that sin here denotes an expiatory sacrifice for sin, and in the same way the Latin's term it, piaculum.  Paul, too, has in this, and other passages, borrowed this phrase from the Hebrews, among whom Msa (asham) denotes an expiatory sacrifice, as well as an offense or crime.  But the signification of this word, as well as the entire statement, will be better understood from a comparison of both parts of the antithesis. Sin is here contrasted with righteousness, when Paul teaches us, that we were made the righteousness of God, on the ground of Christ's having been made sin. Righteousness, here, is not taken to denote a quality or habit, but by way of imputation, on the ground of Christ's righteousness being reckoned to have been received by us. What, on the other hand, is denoted by sin? It is the guilt, on account of which we are arraigned at the bar of God. As, however, the curse of the individual was of old cast upon the victim, so Christ's condemnation was our absolution, and with his stripes we are healed.

     I find it absolutely ridiculous that I am even having this conversation with those who claim to love free and sovereign grace.  The roman catholic church states that the wine becomes the real blood of Christ in transubstantiation.  They build a whole doctrine on one statement by Christ.  Jesus put forth a cup of wine and proclaimed that it was the blood of the new covenant.  Now do we really believe it was his real blood?  No - absolutely not!  It was clearly wine.  Christ was using symbolic language.

     This teaching is easily refuted with one passage from Hebrews.  In it, the author writes that Christ offered Himself to God without spot.  The blood that atoned for God's people flowed from a righteous man, a man without spot or stain. It did not flow from a vile sinner as Mark Daniel boldly claims, but it was pristine and perfect, and how dare any man say that Christ was not righteous!

Heb 9:14, (KJV), How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

     I am saddened on one hand that this awful doctrine of Christ being made a sinner is being propagated, but I also am very angry on the other hand.  Pastors and "theologians", how dare you even write or state that the Sovereign Lord of Glory was a sinful man even if it was for a short period of time!   Mark Daniel spoke the some of the most terrible things I've ever heard about our Lord from a supposed free grace preacher.  He made up a fictional conversation between two persons of the Trinity.  Again, he put these blasphemous words in the mouth of my righteous Savior, "Lord couldn't we do this some other way? Is there not some other arrangement that we can make (snicker)? I don't mind the dying part, but Lord is there not some way that I could escape being made like THESE people." 

     Where is the outrage?  Does this statement upset you?  If Christ became a sinner, then the entire Gospel is undermined.  Who do we worship?  Do we worship the righteous and perfectly Holy God, or do we worship a vile sinner?  When Peter and John looked upon Christ on that cross, were they looking upon a vile man, or were they looking upon a righteous man?

     Many don't want to discuss this issue with us.  They claim that the truth is not debatable, that it isn't even up for discussion.   I spoke for about an hour on the phone with a pastor, Chris Cunningham, who wouldn't even take a firm position on this subject.  He says he just preaches the Gospel and doesn't denounce false doctrine including the lie of free will and universal atonement!  He also went on to say that it was wrong for me to have a forum on the internet where Christians from all over can get together and discuss this and other issues.  On the website, Mr. Cunningham comments:

The truth, to be defended, just needs to be declared.  Those who deny it are constantly defending their "position" and they belong on the defensive.  Error should be exposed, but this is done by declaring the Gospel, not being defensive about it.  There is a difference.

     Well Chris, I agree that the Gospel should be preached and it alone is sufficient to expose false doctrine.  But when heresy creeps into Gospel churches and pastors are proclaiming it and defending those who spread these lies, then a congregation has an obligation to start talking, to stand up, to put their foot down, and say NO MORE!  To say that we shouldn't be talking about this is to side with anti-christ - it is to side with Rome!  Martin Luther posted 95 theses for discussion on the door at Wittenberg and we all know how Rome responded to that! They thought it was awful that people would have the audacity to question the pope's teachings!  Those poor pew warmers who pay pastor salaries and building expenses - no sir, they have no authority to get together and discuss the Gospel or defend the truth and guard themselves against those who would seek to destroy them.  What are they good for Chris, should they just learn their place and shut up?  I surely hope that you don't think that!  

    I am calling upon Go Publications and New Focus Magazine to speak out against this lie, this notion that Christ became a sinner in His being at the cross.  I am calling upon webmasters like Ian Potts to repent of this blasphemy.  I am calling upon Gospel preachers and pastors like Don Fortner, Ken Wimer, Dan Parks, Todd Nibert, Scott Price, Bill Parker, Greg Elmquist, Don Bell, and Chris Cunningham to denounce this teaching and call those who teach it to repentance.   Some of them already have by God's Grace.  But most of all, I'm calling upon Gospel believers, my brothers and sisters in the Lord everywhere to stand up with me, to stand for the truth, to stand for Christ who was made to be sin by imputation for His people, but never a sinner!

Brandan Kraft
Editor, Pristine Grace