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.
- In the fullness of time, Christ came to redeem us.
- God sent forth His Son to redeem us.
- Christ was born of a woman to redeem us.
- 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.