Active Obedience…Christ our Righteousness

I know this short post is not the end all ‘proof’ of the discussion at hand. I also know that I don’t have time to interact with all of Terry’s points. Suffice it to say, however, that I understand his points and know where he is coming from. I held the same positions up until about three years ago. The only point that I want to make right now is concerning these two verses (and their surrounding context) from Galatians.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Gal 4:4-5)

Looking at these verses we can discern four aspects of Christ’s work of redemption.

  1. In the fullness of time, Christ came to redeem us.
  2. God sent forth His Son to redeem us.
  3. Christ was born of a woman to redeem us.
  4. Christ was born under the law to redeem us.

I think we all agree that the timing of Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection was providential. God sent His Son at the right moment in history to redeem fallen humanity.

We also agree that Jesus was God’s own Son, and that any lesser being could never offer the perfect and complete sacrifice for our redemption.

We further agree that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, and as such, He was both fully God and fully human and that apart from His humanity his sacrifice could not benefit fallen humanity.

We also agree that Christ’s life under the law meant something for our redemption. For Terry, simply put, the life of Christ under the law was for the benefit of demonstrating His own inherent righteousness. I agree completely with that assessment. But I think that the way that these verses are phrased and in the complete context of chapters three and four of Galatians that Paul means something more.

You see, Christ came to redeem. He became human to redeem. Those are necessities for our redemption. He was also necessarily born under the law for our redemption. In other words, Paul is describing different aspects of Christ’s actions that are necessary for our redemption. He had to come to earth. He had to be human. He had to be made under the law. (For our redemption.)

If we accept that the only reason that He was born under the law was for the purpose of demonstrating His own inherent righteousness, then it is obvious that His being born under the law is not a necessity, and therefore contradictory to what Paul has written. Instead, we find that there was a necessity to Christ’s life under the law. It was to redeem those who were under the law, in order that they might be able to receive adoption as sons of God.

In order to redeem those under the law from the penalty of the law, Christ must accomplish two things. First, He must do away with the penalty of the law. The way He does this is by taking the penalty (curse) of the law, that is, death, in His own sinless body on the Cross. So far Terry agrees. 🙂 Second, He must gain the reward (blessing) of the law, that is, life, by obeying completely and perfectly the demands of God in the law. Of course, this is no problem for Him, since He is the author of the law. If He does not obey the law completely and perfectly, then He will not redeem anyone by taking the penalty of the law, since He is deserving of that penalty. If He does not obey the law completely and perfectly, then He does not rise again because He has not earned the blessing of the law. If He has not risen then we are still dead in our trespasses and sins and under the penalty of the law. If He has risen, then He has dealt witht the penalty of the law, and we are no longer subject to that penalty. But if His obedience of the law is not credited to our account, then we do not have the promised blessing (life) that He has earned for Himself.

This is an important distinction because….????

This is imporatant because what we have summarized as life being the reward of obedience to the law is actually something much more. It is life in God’s presence, enjoying God’s favor, with God’s people, throughout God’s eternity. That is what Christ has gained for us.

Was Christ always righteous? Yes. Will He always be righteous? Yes. But we were not. We had disobeyed God’s righteous commands and could not remedy the situation. So God did it for us. He did it by becoming man, living His life in substitution for our lives, and then giving His life in substitution for our lives.

  • My hope is built on nothing less
  • Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
  • I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
  • But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.
  • When He shall come with trumpet sound,
  • Oh may I then in Him be found.
  • Dressed in His righteousness alone,
  • Faultless to stand before the throne.
  • On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
  • All other ground is sinking sand;
  • All other ground is sinking sand.
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6 Comments

Filed under justification, Theology

6 responses to “Active Obedience…Christ our Righteousness

  1. Jeremy,

    I would suggest two problems with the case you make, each regarding the core meaning of two Biblical words:

    1. The first word is Redemption (Gk. exagorazo. Redemption has nothing to do specifically with Jesus’ obedience to the Law. The concept of Redemption is one of *purchasing* or *buying out* something. In this case, Jesus redeemed us (purchased us) by paying a price with His blood or death on the Cross.

    Gal. 4:4,5 isn’t saying that Jesus HAD to be born under the Law in order to pay the price of His life and blood. It merely points out that He WAS born under the Law.

    I didn’t say that His obedience was ONLY to demonstrate His righteousness, but also to demonstrate or authenticate that He was the promised Messiah. This is just one of many reasons He was born “under the Law” or under the Old Covenant. A big reason was to “fulfill the Law”, to meet its requirements, but again, this is not what was imputed to us. What was imputed to us was His righteousness, which brings me to…

    2. The second word is Justification (Gk. dikaiosis. The simple meaning of this word is “declared righteous”, or “made righteous”. Or, from another Biblical angle, for man to be given the *gift* of Christ’s righteousness.

    Since you agree that Christ was always righteous (the only view that honors Him, in my opinion), why is it such a stretch to realize that the gift of this righteousness, which He always had, was given to us by grace?

    One final point:

    Although there are verses (quoted by Peter in a previous post) indicating reward for obeying the Law, there are no verses that indicate that Jesus had to “gain the reward” of the Law.

    What could there possibly be for Him to gain?

    You wrote, “He must gain the reward (blessing) of the law, that is, life…”

    Life? He is Life! How can you say that He Who is Life had to earn life? And even if one said such a thing, how long would He have to obey the Law to earn Life? 1 month? 5 years? 33 years?

    The answer is, the Scriptures don’t teach that Jesus had to earn life, any more than they teach that His obedience to the Law was imputed to us. Again, what was imputed to us was His righteousness, which you agree He always had.

    Blessings,
    Terry

  2. Terry,

    Would you agree or disagree with these three statements;

    “Part of the purchase price for fallen humanity is a perfect life.”

    “The price Christ paid was a righteous life (in His sacrifice) that goes over and above the law, but it most certainly cannot be less than that law.”

    “What we have summarized as ‘life’ being the reward of obedience to the law is actually something much more. It is life in God’s presence (under His rule), enjoying God’s favor, with God’s people, throughout God’s eternity.” (This last statement was copied and edited from my post.)

  3. 1. “Part of the purchase price for fallen humanity is a perfect life.”

    No. The purchase price is the DEATH of a perfect ONE, who DEMONSTRATED His perfection by a perfectly lived life.

    2. The price Christ paid was a righteous life (in His sacrifice) that goes over and above the law, but it most certainly cannot be less than the law.”

    No. The price Christ paid was His DEATH and separation from the Father, as a perfect Man who DEMONSTRATED His perfection by a perfectly lived life. The Law was satified by His obedience to it, but no Scripture says that that obedience is what was imputed to us. His inherent righteousness was imputed to us.

    3. What we have summarized as “life” being the reward of obedience to the law is actually somthing much more. It is life in God’s presence (under His rule), enjoying God’s favor, with God’s people, throughout God’s eternity.

    No. In pressing this convoluted point, you are again sidestepping the simple Biblical meaning of the words Redemption and Justification, as pointed out in my last comment.

    Surely you’re not stretching the Active Obedience Imputation error even further by suggesting that what was imputed to us was “life in God’s presence (under His rule), enjoying God’s favor, with God’s people, throughout God’s eternity”.?

    I remain utterly convinced that the simple Biblical truth is that God imputed to us Christ’s INHERENT RIGHTEOUSNESS, which we agree He always had, and THAT opened the door for all the present and future blessings you mention.

    A final picture may be helpful:

    The Last Adam was born Righteous. Though He certainly obeyed the Law perfectly, He didn’t have to attain or earn Righteousness. He was born Righteous. Since, unlike the First Adam, He never sinned, He remained Righteous, and was qualified to give that Righteousness as a gift through substitution, as the always-perfect Lamb of God. He didn’t give His obedience as a gift. He gave His Righteousness, which He never didn’t have.

    Blessings,
    Terry

  4. Thank you, Terry.

    You have missed the point entirely. I suggest you re-read your answers and think logically about what you are saying.
    I will give you a hint…It’s not about whether or not Christ is inherently righteous. It’s about the fact that we are not righteous. He doesn’t earn righteousness for Himself. He earns it for us. The life He lived was lived as a substitute for us so that the death that He died might also be on our behalf.

    You get the final word and then we’re done with this topic for a while.

  5. He doesn’t earn righteousness for Himself, he earns it for us.

    This is perhaps the core of the issue. I contend there is NO Scripture that indicates that He EARNED righteousness for anyone.

    Why?

    Because He always had it. And He “fulfilled” that righteousness, that is, demonstrated it, by His Active Obedience to the Law, and His so-called Passive Obedience at the Cross.

    Jeremy, Peter, etc.,

    Thanks for the iron sharpening (and the final word 🙂 )

    Blessings,
    Terry

  6. Terry: What makes you think you got the last word? 🙂

    Jeremy: I know I’m too old for this but W00T! J3r3m¥ ¥0µ rµ£3!

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