"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « Review: The Late Great Planet Church, Volume One, presented by | Main | Biblical Preaching is Spiritual in Its Essence »

    More Thoughts on Christ's Active Obedience and its Relation to The Imputation of Christ's Righteousness

    Active obedience: “Christ’s full obedience to all the prescriptions of the divine law…[making] available a perfect righteousness before the law that is imputed or reckoned to those who put their trust in him.

    Passive Obedience: “[Christ's] willing obedience in bearing all the sanctions imposed by that law against his people because of their transgression…[being] the ground of God’s justification of sinners (Rom. 5:9), by which divine act they are pardoned…” Dr. Robert L. Reymond

    By taking on the covenant obligations of the law as our representative we are made righteous in Him by His obedience. Romans 5:19 states: "For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous."

    Something important to consider related to this:

    God desires obedience, not sacrifice. God through history is looking for a man who would obey Him. He is not looking for someone who merely makes a perfect score on the test, but a human who is unfailingly devoted to Him as an image bearer - someone who mirrors his love, holiness, justice and truth. This is a constantly repeated theme throughout Scripture. Psalm 40, which Hebrews 10 quotes is one example:

    Psalm 40:6-8 (English Standard Version)

    6 In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. 7Then I said, "Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: 8 I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."

    Obedience is better than sacrifice - a Psalm which is refers to Christ. He is the one who has come to do God's will, to obey rather than simply provide another hypocritical sacrifice. IN fact, his sacrifice would be accepted because He did obey.

    Jesus himself descends providing in his own flesh faithful covenant obedience recapitulating the history of both Adam and Israel, picking up where they failed in order to lead those he represents into the Promised Land. A sample of this can be seen in each response Jesus gives to Satan in his temptation in the wilderness. Notice that he quotes directly from a response by Moses to Israel's failure in their wilderness. (Deut 8:3 in Matt 4:4 and so on). Jesus passes these ethical tests so that he can lead those united to Him in triumphal procession. In other words, even before his work on the cross, Jesus was already purchasing our redemption with his life. His active obedience is therefore just as crucial as his passive obedience --- they belong together as one act. Not by sacrifice alone but "by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous" (Rom 5:19)

    Hebrews is a letter that emphasized Christ's Priestly acts during His incarnation. It says, "in the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek." Heb 5:7-9

    In other words, in his incarnation, the time of his life on earth, Christ served as our federal head, Jesus' prayers, supplications and sinless obedience were the ground of his being heard by God. His being made perfect as a human being who fulfilled the law qualified him to be the once for all High Priest. Some might argue that He was God and perfect already. Yes, he was perfect in His essence, but in being our Savior He obligated himself to obey the Law that he might become the source of eternal salvation.

    The active obedience of Christ is concerned with the thirty three years Jesus spent in loving submission to God's will. The sacrifice could never replace a life of covenantal obedience and a loving relationship with God. So, the Text says, sacrifice and offering is not what God delights in most. obedience is what God delights in. Jesus placed himself under the law and was circumcised. Paul states that those who are circumcised are "obligated to obey the whole law" (Gal 5:3). Jesus therefore obligated himself to the whole law FOR US. He is David's greater Son. Thus his whole life is a self-offering that culminates in the cross. Christ's own life of obedience indeed corresponds to the sacrifice that He offers. Because Jesus was the only covenant keeper in history, he can claim his just reward in his high priestly prayer (John 17). The Psalmist, Hebrews and Jesus in John 17 are, therefore, appealing to His obedience the ground for life both for himself and all who the father has given him. His obedience for us as our federal head is therefore, not limited to his death but to his whole life. The forgiveness of the sin offering is good, but rendering loving obedience is better. So Jesus whole life up unto his death is part and parcel of his self-sacrifice for us.

    Recommended Book: The Law Is Not of Faith by Bryan D. Estelle, J.V. Fesko, and David VanDrunen (Editors)

    Posted by John on May 18, 2009 12:26 PM



    you wrote: "....Some might argue that He was God and perfect already. Yes, he was perfect in His essence, but in being our Savior He obligated himself to obey the Law that he might become the source of eternal salvation. "

    That point is so over"missed" it seems to me.

    Jesus could have refused, basis what Scripture reveals in His prayer to Our Heavenly Father, [cf. Mat. 26:36-39], to not go through with this death on a cross imposed upon Him by the hands of godless men. Where would that leave Him? He would be living in His body on earth forever, separated from both God and those He was sent to save! His High Priestly Life would never be inaugurated and there would be nothing standing between me and this enemy Death! Death would win over my life. It wouldn't over His Life but His Life would not be as it is now and will be once these present heavens and earth are destroyed.

    He would have been a "perfect" sinless human having been "obedient" to all of the "laws" of nature He was born under.

    He did achieve a life sinless up to that point in His history. He was sinless when He prayed "not My Will but Thy Will be done". What would not have been achieved was the Will of God to bring His Elect to Salvation!

    While achieving this obedience before the beast, the False Prophet, Satan, Death, Hades and those whose names are not found written in the Book of Life, because He is Eternal and Sinless, He would not be able to come into His High Priestly Life before God and come back to His Place in God's Glory to sit at God's Righteous Right Hand so that that Scripture points too, could be "effected".

    There is more to Jesus than living a sinless Life before God on Earth. He could have done that in and of Himself, seeing Who He is, the Eternal Son of God alone.

    God would not have the ability to do as He promised:::>

    Genesis 3 and Psalm 110:

    Gen 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

    Psa 110:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool."
    Psa 110:2 The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies!
    Psa 110:3 Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours.
    Psa 110:4 The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, "You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek."
    Psa 110:5 The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
    Psa 110:6 He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth.
    Psa 110:7 He will drink from the brook by the way; therefore he will lift up his head.

    What was achieved here was both a fact of Who He is anyway and by so fulfilling God's Word He by His own Work "effected" His Calling and Election before both God and man, that is, a place before God so that God could finish or complete the Prophecies spoken already; establish Eternal Rule, establish Eternal Kingship and establish the Sacrificial Atonement by becoming the High Priest forever. Without Christ's obedience in His sufferings, as the Sinless Lamb, He could not take His Place before God or man and God then could not fulfill His Will, that is to crush Satan, destroying Satan by the Works of Christ, nor could God crush the works of Satan, destroying those works that I and you and all of God's Chosen Elect have committed in obedience to our sinful nature.

    God the Father made the promises. God the Son achieved them for Him. God the Holy Ghost vindicated Him before both God the Father and mankind and now this Gospel of the Kingdom can be preached to every creature for a witness in our generation too!

    God Our Heavenly Father is Just and Justified in "making us alive with Christ" because of what Christ achieved:::>

    Col 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,
    Col 2:14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
    Col 2:15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

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