Monday, April 24, 2006

Christ's Active Righteousness

Bobby Grow has posted an interesting article asking about the Mosaic Law and its relationship to Christ righteousness which is imputed for our salvation. I find this quite fascinating as it relates to the dispensational and covenantal views on the Mosaic Law. The first question that arises is did Christ have to actively keep a law in order to save us? And second was it the Mosaic Law?

It seems to me that the idea of Christ active obedience to some kind of moral standard was required in order for him to be our Savior. He had to be a lamb without blemish. If he had sinned He would have had to die for His own sins not ours. A Christ who committed adultery would be no Christ at all. Maybe there is some view that would deny this, and if you hold to one I would be interested in hearing about it. But with that being said it seems that active righteousness was needed for our salvation.

But this does not answer the question of which law Christ had to fulfill. Was it the Mosaic Law or some other law? Do we make a distinction here between the moral law of God and the Mosaic Law?

To dig a bit deeper into this question it would be helpful to ask what law did Abraham and Jacob have to live by before the Mosaic Law. The reformed view seems to believe that it was God’s Moral Law which stems from His nature. Since God nature is unchanging so is His moral law. The reformed view tends to believe that the Mosaic Law is the clearest expression of His moral law, but the Mosaic Law has more in it than moral laws. It has judicial law, and ceremonial law. In fact, many in the reformed camp actually see the ceremonial laws as Gospel, because they paint a picture of the redeemer and the Lord never actually had to give this part of the law to us. So in one sense the Mosaic Law contains Grace. The New Testament does not seem to distinguish between these different aspects of the Mosaic Law. It tends to treat it all like one big sheet of glass. If you break one aspect of it, moral, judicial, or ceremonial, you are guilty of all of it. In other words you have shattered the entire pane of glass.

So this leaves us with the question, was Christ’s active obedience based on keeping the entire Mosaic Law or just the moral aspect of it? I’m still working through this at this point but I would say it at least dealt with the moral aspect of it, and most likely all of it.

Scripture tells us,

Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

I have always understood this to mean that He did what we could not, He kept the Mosaic Law.

Any thoughts?



At Monday, April 24, 2006 11:34:00 PM, Anonymous bobby grow said...

I would say, given the definitions you provide, Doug--that Christ reflected the moral law (denotative sense) in His actions. Again only a reflection of His divine person. II Cor 3 sets a clear distinction between the Old Cov. and New Cov. I would argue that the Mos. Cov. was never intended to bring eternal salvation--but to provide a framework of consecration unto YHWH for the theocracy of Israel to experience "relationship with Yahweh".

You know what really becomes difficult, I would think, is to argue for "Reformed soteriology" within a dispensational framework as MacArthurites must do--I don't envy that approach ;)!

At Monday, April 24, 2006 11:45:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...


I think we are in agreement.


PS. Regarding MacArtur's dispensationalism, I think I agree with you but would be interested in hearing more about why you think that. As you know I am just now trying to dig into a good understanding progressive dispensatonalism.

At Tuesday, April 25, 2006 12:19:00 AM, Anonymous bobby grow said...

Hey Doug click Here for a very short article I wrote on the difference between Classic and Prog disp. It's very introductory, but should shed a little more light a primary difference between the two. Maybe I'll come back later and talk more about my little assertion on MacArthurism and Dispensationalism.

In Christ,


At Tuesday, April 25, 2006 12:33:00 AM, Blogger Doug E. said...


Thanks, That's very helpful, I look forward to reading it.


At Tuesday, April 25, 2006 3:30:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would agree with your final statement. Jesus kept the Mosaic law.
There are probably a lot of other things to look into, but it seems that that is going to be the final answer.

At Tuesday, April 25, 2006 6:47:00 AM, Blogger jazzycat said...

As Galatians says, the purpose of the law was to lead us to Christ. No one was saved by keeping it. Jesus kept it and remained righteous for our benefit which we get by faith.

At Tuesday, April 25, 2006 2:07:00 PM, Blogger Gordon Cloud said...

Got a good discussion going here, Doug. I have been tied up for a few days and now must play catch-up.

It would seem to me that the moral law is the character of God that was inferred by Abraham and others through their interaction with God. If this is true, then Christ, by His very nature expressed and fulfilled the moral law--He was God.

On the other hand, the Mosaic law was given to define rightousness (though of course it could never produce it). Christ of course was not made righteous by His obedience to the law, but He did demonstrate to us that He IS righteous. Thus the law becomes the schoolmaster that brings us to Christ, showing us what we can become in grace.

At Tuesday, April 25, 2006 10:06:00 PM, Blogger Modern Day Magi said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Tuesday, April 25, 2006 10:07:00 PM, Blogger Modern Day Magi said...

The Law could never have provided salvation as the Law could never create righteousness but rather "The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more" - Rom 5:20
Thankfully though "Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God." - 1 Peter 3:18

The Law did not provide salvation, but it is the measure by which Jesus is perfectly righteous and thus allows Him to provide salvation.



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