Friday, May 05, 2006

Christ's Active Righteousness (3) It's Necessity

At the end of the last post on this topic, we had come to an agreement that Jesus actively kept the Mosaic Law to be our savior. This is because if Jesus had sinned he could not have been our Savior. And at the time Christ was on the earth if he had broken the Mosaic Law He would have sinned. But does His active righteousness have anything to do with our salvation besides making Him fit to die for our sins?

One thing that is clear throughout scripture is that man is under a time of testing by God. In fact this is one of the main aspects of the dispensationalist’s seven (normally seven) dispensations and it is the main point of the covenant of works that is found in covenantal theology. Even in Adam and Eve’s time of innocence in the Garden they were under a test. As we know they failed this test when they ate of the tree, and because of it they died, but what if they had passed the test? It seems that because of the presence of the tree of life in the garden, that they would have been rewarded with eternal life if they had remained sinless for the length of the test. Genesis tells us…

Gen 3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden,

Nothing has really changed, even in the New Testament age, we are under a test from God, and there are still two ways you can obtain a righteousness that will make you worthy of heaven. You can either obey God perfectly, or since no one other than Christ can do that, you can partake in His righteousness by faith. Since we all fail the first option the second is mandatory for salvation.

In either case obedience is required to be accepted by God. If you do not have obedience to God, you do not truly have righteousness. Now some may say that Christ paid for the wrath of our sins but did not give us His active righteousness. In other words our sins were imputed to Him but His righteousness was not imputed to us. If this were the case then we would only be innocent as Adam and Eve were in the Garden, but they were never declared righteous. Righteousness is more than guiltlessness.

Christ, by His active obedience, earned something that He did not need, in order to give it to His bride. To reject the necessity of Christ’s active obedience is to reject that God must be obeyed perfectly for man to be declared inherently righteous. Since this cannot be the case, because there is no way to explain how a man could disobey God and still be righteous, we need Christ’s perfect obedience to be imputed to us.

Now I realize that the main objection to this may be that the law cannot actually give us righteousness. And with this I will agree in one sense. I cannot give righteousness to someone who is a sinner, but to someone who has the power to keep it and not sin, it can. Paul tells us this.

Rom 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

What was it that the law failed to do? It failed to give us righteousness because we are sinful, but through Christ the righteousness of the LAW is fulfilled, and it is imputed to us.

And in a more clear statement of the perfect obedience earning eternal life, we see…

Luk 10:25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

Had the lawyer fulfilled this, he would have eternal life, but he had not done this that is why he went on to attempt to justify himself.

Perfect obedience is necessary for eternal life. You can do it yourself (hypothetically) or you can have Christ’s imputed to you.

-Doug Eaton-

21 Comments:

At Friday, May 05, 2006 5:21:00 PM, Anonymous bobby grow said...

I never agreed that obedience to the Mosaic Cov. was the basis of Christ's imputed righteousness, Doug.

But I'll have to get back to you later on this since I'm at work right now!

If the Mosaic Cov. was never intended to justify, then how can you make this argument consistently?
In Christ,
Bobby

 
At Friday, May 05, 2006 8:52:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Bobby,

I'm not specifically talking about the Mosaic covenant. The covenant of works seems to have different aspects at different times.

Also when I say it can't justify, I mean it can't justify the already sinful.

Thanks for the questions hopefully we can sharpen each other. If you do comment I may not be able to get back to you right away since I am extremely busy with a paper on the emergent church I need to write.

God Bless,

Doug

Doug

 
At Friday, May 05, 2006 9:39:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...

P.S. I know you never agree that the Mosaic cov. was the basis of Christ's imputed righteousness, but we did agree he had to keep it perfectly in order not to sin. Sorry if that didn't come across clearly in my post.

Doug

 
At Saturday, May 06, 2006 1:11:00 AM, Anonymous bobby grow said...

Yes, but I also want to reiterate that His obedience to the Law, in my view, and scriptures ;-) (Rom. 10:4) served to fulfill, and to terminate (abrogate) the Law.

Doug you said:

"Christ, by His active obedience, earned something that He did not need, in order to give it to His bride. . . ."

This sounds very much like Roman Catholicism's idea on "treasury of merits" that Christ has stored up by His obedience to apply to the believers account. I don't believe this! I believe that Christ, apart from the Law, has imputed His righteousness to our accounts. The only thing I see Law doing is in the Bible is intensifying sin, pointing man somewhere other than self, and to Christ (Gal. 3--4). In the sermon on the Mount, Christ pointed out that the intent of the Law was much much deeper than the external code--God is concerned with the internal righteousness of the heart--something the Law could never penetrate.

We are having the same discussion. I still don't see the Law as necessarily providing any basis for our imputed righteousness--yet you still do!

It's late, I'll be back tomorrow (wait it is tomorrow 1am :))! I'll come back later today . . . to continue this discussion.

In Christ,

Bobby

 
At Saturday, May 06, 2006 5:54:00 AM, Blogger T A Blankenship said...

Doug,
I am sure grateful and praising the Lord for His imputed righteousness. Without it I would be lost.
Thanks for the posts.

 
At Saturday, May 06, 2006 9:16:00 AM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Bobby,

You have good reasoning in your comments but they are all based on the idea that we are not under a covenant of works. If this assumption is true then the rest of your points are most likely true.

But what is it that we are under when we come into this world? What is it that demands our obedience and promises reward if we do? And what is it that condems us? This is what we call the covenant of works. What do you call it?

God Bless,

Doug

 
At Saturday, May 06, 2006 10:59:00 AM, Anonymous bobby grow said...

Not the Covenant of Works ;-)!

To get clarification, do you think that the "Cov. of Works" is relative to the idea of obedience=reward and disobedience=condemnation in the sense that this is referring to the bema judgment seat (II Cor 5:10; I Cor 3:15; etc.)? Or are you referencing eternal loss in the sense of obedience=salvation, and disobedience=loss of salvation or "temporary faith"?

In Christ,

Bobby

 
At Saturday, May 06, 2006 11:46:00 AM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Bobby,

My use of it is very close to your statement that said,

"'eternal loss in the sense of obedience=salvation, and disobedience=loss of salvation."

Exept I would change it to obedience = rewarded with eternal life; and disobedience = eternal punishment. I changed the word 'salvation" because depending on the sense it could be confusing.

God Bless,

Doug

 
At Saturday, May 06, 2006 11:52:00 AM, Anonymous bobby grow said...

Thanks Doug!

And from your vantage point what is entailed in "obedience", i.e. the kind that would "merit" eternal life?

In Christ,

Bobby

BTW, I believe that your logic is "valid" as well--so this definitely becomes an issue of our variant hermeneutical frameworks (Disp. vs. Cov.).

 
At Saturday, May 06, 2006 12:14:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Bobby,

You asked..

"And from your vantage point what is entailed in "obedience", i.e. the kind that would "merit" eternal life?"

Good question by the way.

The specifics will be different at different period (ie. we are not under the cival laws of the mosaic cov.) But it deals with perfect obedience to the God's moral law, because that does not change.

God Bless,

Doug

P.S. You have not acknoweledge whether or not you believe we are under some kind of arrangment that demands perfect obedience when we come into this world. Do you agree to this?

 
At Saturday, May 06, 2006 1:07:00 PM, Anonymous bobby grow said...

I do believe we are born into a state of condemnation (Jn 3), which would pre-suppose a holy standard that we do not measure up to (Rom 3:23). But again this standard, God's Holy personal character, transcends the intent of the Mosaic Cov. (which was provided for the Jews who lived under Yahweh's theocracy).

I think Mt. 22:26-40 helps clarify my point, it says:

36. Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? 37. Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38. This is the first and greatest commandment. 39. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Now of course "Law" in this context is referencing the whole of the TaNaK--but is inclusive of the Mosaic Covenant. I think this frames the intent of the Law in its proper context; in the sense that it shifts emphasis from juridical obedience to a Law Code (i.e. behaviorism)--to a "relational obedience" motivated by an internal love for God (Ez. 36).

My ultimate problem with the Covenant system, is that it seems to shift us back to "juridical obedience" to the Law (i.e. Law and Gospel)--framed by an obselete "old" Covenant (Mosaic). I know that Covenant theology and the Covenant of Works is inclusive of other "covenants" in the TaNaK--but I also know that it sees the Mosaic Covenant (and its Suzerin conditionality)as the operating framework and touchstone for interpreting the rest of the successive covenants. In other words the Mosaic Covenant takes precedence--even in its interpretation and consequent continuity with the New Covenant.

Don't you see this emphasis, Doug?

 
At Saturday, May 06, 2006 2:00:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Bobby,

Your shift from juridical obedience to relational obedience is making an unnecessary (and impossible) separation. We can distinguish between them but we cannot separate them.

If you are commanded to have a certain "relational obedience" you are still under a juridical system. What you are doing is very Kierkegaardian.

Kierkegaard used to say that sin is not breaking a rule (juridical) it is betraying a relationship, but he missed the point that you cannot betray a relationship unless there are rules in how to maintain or break it. The two are inseparable. One may sound better to our ears but they are the same.

The law has always been juridical and it has always been spiritual. By spiritual I mean it judges the intents of the heart as well as the outward action. "Thou shalt not covet" is a judgment upon the heart.

To put my point in the form of a question I would ask, "what I must do to maintain a right 'relational obedience'?" In order to explain it you will have to start giving me juridical rules. The two are inseparable.

God Bless,

Doug

P.S. We are probably closer on this than we think. I too see some of your concern when people go to far with the mosaic law. But it is not a necessary consequence of the covenantal system.

 
At Saturday, May 06, 2006 2:41:00 PM, Anonymous bobby grow said...

I think you missed my point Doug, at my own mis-communication, I'm not going Kierkegaardian here; rather I'm emphasizing the relational aspect the TaNaK reflects--thus Mt. 22. I agree, there is structure and presupposed parameters any time relationship is established.

But this isn't what you're saying, at least from my POV, it seems that you're emphasizing what Covenant Theology emphasizes, and that is the Continuity between Law and Gospel; which I don't agree with, for reasons I've already stated and will elaborate on further--on my own blog when I get the chance :).

Doug said:

"To put my point in the form of a question I would ask, "what I must do to maintain a right 'relational obedience'?" In order to explain it you will have to start giving me juridical rules. The two are inseparable."

I don't think so! By way of analogy, we in the States have juridical rules we follow, which indeed are juridical in relationship to our governmental standards; but this is not what I'm not talking about. And I don't think this is what scripture talks about, in relationship, to God. In other words, we have certain "rules" and "standards" in our house-hold that we "generally" :) adhere to--and it serves as the basis of relationship between my wife, my kids, and myself. But this is unlike, "breaking the speed limit" (juridical); it's structure/rules framed inside a loving relationship.

I don't know if you've read my articles on Affective Theology, Doug, they're under my "Historical Theology" category. The framework provided by Affective Theology is the marital framework found in Eph. 5 and illustrated by Song of Songs. This is a different framework of "relationship" and leads to a different set of consequences, relative to relating to God, than that provided by Covenant Theology. And I believe Mt. 22, in relief, highlights this emphasis as well.

From my reading and interaction of Covenant Theology, the Mosaic Cov. serves as the framework for everything else that follows, progressively speaking, in the scriptures--it keeps the Mosaic Cov. in the forefront and in "continuation"; when Hebrews and Rom 10:4 argues that it is obselete and terminated.

So I think we are still, fundamentally, starting at two different points theologically, even if there might be some residual :) over-lap between what we're respectively saying.

In Christ,

Bobby

 
At Saturday, May 06, 2006 3:03:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Bobby,

I do see what you are saying but we seem to be missing each other a bit. Let me ask the question differently. Imagine you were born into this world without a sin nature (like Christ). What would you have to do or be to fulfill the requirements (holy standard) that are on all men to be perfectly obedient?

Answering this might help me see what you are trying to say.

God Bless,

Doug

PS. I'm going to have to wind it up soon due to time restraints.

 
At Saturday, May 06, 2006 3:49:00 PM, Anonymous bobby grow said...

Nothing, He already met the requirement ipso facto.

I don't necessarily follow recapitulation. The idea that Christ's Life is substitutionary in every aspect. I hold to substitutionary atonement--but this would be the only point of commonality that I have with Him; i.e. in His death and resurrection, not in Law-Keeping.

I see what you're getting at, Doug, but I'm probably not going to go for it! Christ is a different category than Adam. As you noted Christ was born w/o the capacity to sin, Adam wasn't! I say this to get back to the point that you're following one system, and I another.

I do believe there is a standard of holiness that we are all accountable to, and that is God's character and nature; insofar that the Mos. Cov. reflects this, amen! But as far as the Mos. Cov. being binding or in continuation through the works of Christ today--I would say NO!

How do you deal with Rom. 10:4? And the argument of Heb. that says the Mosaic Law could not save (i.e. the blood of bulls and goats)?

And if you don't have time to answer right now, that's fine, another day :-).

In Christ,

Bobby

p.s.

If you wouldn't mind, I would like to read your paper on the emergent church?

 
At Saturday, May 06, 2006 4:15:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Bobby,

Sorry if I wasn't clear but context was what would you have to do to be right with God if there was no Christ.

You can't answer "nothing". Because you would have to love God and your neighbor and all that entails. If you fail to this you fail in the requirements God has placed on all mankind. Thus forfeiting the rewards that come when you do it and deserving the eternal pushiment that this holy standard requires.

The law cannot justify the already sinful that's what those verses are talking about.

God Bless,

Doug

 
At Saturday, May 06, 2006 4:39:00 PM, Anonymous bobby grow said...

Yes, but Doug, you make Christ's righteousness contingent upon His obedience to the Mosaic Covenant--it's absolutely not! Is Christ righteous apart from meeting the reuquirments of the Mosaic Cov.? Yes! The righteousness reflected in the Mosaic Covenant is contingent upon Christ's righteousness, not vice versa. If the Mosaic Law, is removed, His righteousness still stands. And the Mosaic Covenant has been terminated (Rom. 10:4); it's not active; it's been abrogated in Christ's righteousness.

This is what I don't understand, you yourself said in your article #2, I believe, that it is not easy to parse the Law, as the scriptures seem to speak of them holistically. If this is true, then how can any part of the Mosaic Cov. be in continuation now? In other words the Bible says the Law is ended in Christ, yet your system says it continues--this seems to violate the "law" of non-contradiction.

I have no problem with finding "principles" in of holiness in the Mosaic Cov.--but this is different than what you're arguing. It seems like you're arguing that the whole Mosaic Cov. (Cov. of Works) is in continuation and is binding today.

The logical conclusion to Covenant Theology, IMO, is seen in Reconstructionism or Dominion Theology. They recognize, as you have, that it's impossible to artificially nuance the Law into moral, ceremonial, and civil--so what keeps you from slipping into this same conclusion?

Doug said:

"You can't answer "nothing". Because you would have to love God and your neighbor and all that entails. If you fail to this you fail in the requirements God has placed on all mankind. . . ."

Yes I can, because you've equivocated here, Doug!

You originally posed this hypothetical to me:

"Imagine you were born into this world without a sin nature (like Christ.)What would you have to do or be to fulfill the requirements (holy standard) that are on all men to be perfectly obedient?"

If I'm, by nature, part of the trinitarian relationship, as Christ was, then I have to do nothing to establish what already defines me. I say you equivocated here, because you seem to assume, hypothetically, I have Christ's nature--and then your point here assumes that I must keep a standard (i.e. love God and neighbor)to establish what I already have--which seems circular?

In Christ,

Bobby

 
At Saturday, May 06, 2006 11:26:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Bobby,

It seems we have come to an impasse. I will make this one final comment and you can feel free to conclude with one if you would like.

I will end with these few thoughts.

1. In almost all of my comments speaking about the covenant of works my focus was not on the Mosaic covenant. It was on the principles which we call God's moral law (the Holy Standard you mentioned). I too see the distinctions between the law then and now. I never said we were born under the Mosaic Cov. But we are under the covenant of works.

2. I agree that Christ is the end of the law for those who believe. But why is this? Did He arbitrarily decide to end it? Or did he do something that brought it to completion? My view is that He met all its requirements (positive and negative) for His people. I also find it interesting that it says He is the end of the law "for those who believe." But what about those who don't believe? Does this mean they are still under law? Is the law still binding? It seems they are still under the covenant of works, and this is what actually condemns them. I’ve not worked out the details of all this, but what is your view on “those who do not believe” and their relationship to the law?

3. As far as God’s laws flowing from His nature and not the other way around, I agree. But when we come into this world (even in Adam's innocent state). We are under God's moral law, and it does not flow from our nature.

In summary this is my position. All men are born into this world and required to meet a holy standard in righteous living. If we fulfill the requirement we will be given eternal life. If we fail we receive eternal punishment. Since the fall, there is not a man (save Christ) who can fulfill this righteous requirement. We likewise all face eternal punishment because we are sinners. This leaves us with a major problem in two parts. First, the arrangement we find ourselves under demands our punishment. And second to receive the reward of this arrangement our representative must do what we could not in our place. He must complete our task for us.

This is why Christ had to become a man. To place himself under the same Holy Standard (covenant of works), and as a man fulfill it perfectly to merit its rewards as a man, and pay for its punishment in our behalf.

The paying for guilt of our sins is needed to satisfy the justice of God, but that alone does not mean we are fit to receive the rewards promised to those who keep this holy standard perfectly. This is why Christ's active obedience (which flows from his inherent righteousness) is imputed to the believer.

I have enjoyed the discussion on this topic with you as you have caused me sharpen my understanding of this topic, and as I'm sure you agree this is not an issue that separates us as brothers in Christ. I look forward to more in the future.

God Bless,

Doug

 
At Sunday, May 07, 2006 3:12:00 PM, Anonymous bobby grow said...

I too have enjoyed this dialogue, and has indeed sharpened my own perspective on this point--thank you Doug! Separation? Never! I'm your brother for eternal-life ;-)!

Doug said:

"In almost all of my comments speaking about the covenant of works my focus was not on the Mosaic covenant. . . ."

1. My understanding of the covenant of works sees the Mosaic Covenant as the touchstone which provides framwork for the outworking of the covenant of works in salvation history--past and present (see Kaspar Olevianus--and the theological position which emphasizes Law AND Gospel).

Doug said:

"I agree that Christ is the end of the law for those who believe. But why is this? Did He arbitrarily decide to end it? Or did he do something that brought it to completion? My view is that He met all its requirements (positive and negative) for His people."

2. I agree, He did complete the Law. And no He did not arbitrarily decide to end it, but provided substance to something that was a mere shadow. In fulfilling the Law, He replaced what was provisional with the finality of His priesthood--which is based on a different priesthood, and better promises (argument of Hebrews). I'm not sure about those who don't believe, I'll have to think about that further.

Doug said:

"3. As far as God’s laws flowing from His nature and not the other way around, I agree. But when we come into this world (even in Adam's innocent state). We are under God's moral law, and it does not flow from our nature."

3. I agree, in general. But there is a difference between the "moral law" and the Covenant of Works (see my response to point #1).

In summary, this is my position: All humanity has been born into this world (infralapsarian/post-Fall)in a state of condemnation (because of Adam's failure). Man's condemnation is a result of not meeting God's holy standard; and thus the consequence, because of God's justice, is that man must pay eternal punishment. But because God is loving, He sent Jesus to pay the penalty, which is death, in man's stead. As a result, man has now been reconciled back to God through Christ's "active obedience" which directly correlates to His obedience at the cross alone (Phil. 2:5-8)--and established in His blood. Caveat: I do not believe that man was ever intended to fulfill a task (i.e. no such framework was provided--thus the only way left was to reap the consequence and logical conclusion of original sin--death--which Jesus fulfilled for all who will believe) which might provide for his own salvation (Is. 59).

I believe that there was nothing beyond the "finished work of Christ" (tetelestai--it is finished--paid in full) accomplished at the cross, necessary for salvation. In other words, Christ's "obedience to the Law" has no bearing on the "imputed righteousness" that has been credited to our account!

 
At Sunday, May 07, 2006 5:19:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Thanks Bobby!

God Bless,

Doug

 
At Sunday, May 07, 2006 5:49:00 PM, Anonymous bobby grow said...

Amen! I'll see you on future comment threads.

In Christ,

Bobby G.

 

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