Understanding Christ’s Righteousness

“By his passive righteousness is meant his expiatory sufferings, by which he satisfied the claims of justice, and by his active righteousness is meant his obedience to the law as a rule of life and conduct. It was contended by those who made this distinction, that the purpose of Christ as the vicarious substitute was to meet the entire demands of the law for the sinner. But the law requires present and perfect obedience, as well as satisfaction for past disobedience. The law is not completely fulfilled by the endurance of penalty only. It must also be obeyed. Christ both endured the penalty due to man for disobedience, and perfectly obeyed the law for him; so that he was a vicarious substitute in reference to both the precept and the penalty of the law. By his active obedience he obeyed the law, and by his passive obedience he endured the penalty. In this way his vicarious work is complete.”

William Shedd, History of Christian Doctrine, Vol. 2 (New York, T. & T. Clark, 1863), p. 341.

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