Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Active Obedience of Christ

When J. Gresham Machen lay dying, he sent a telegram to John Murray that said:

"I'm so thankful for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it."

Rescuing Ambition, p. 52.


Nick said...

While I understand the logic behind Active Obedience, I don't see the Biblical warrant for it whatsoever. Key justification texts like Rom 3:25-26, Gal 2:21, 2 Cor 5:21, etc only speak of Christ's "Passive Obedience." And that's pretty "odd" if Active Obedience is such a critical and equally important component.

pastor justin said...

I'll agree that passive obedience is a clearer Biblical concept, but that certainly doesn't mean active obedience is not Biblical.

Read the gospel of John and ask the question: Why do Jesus and John emphasize the fact that Jesus fully obeyed the Father? Whenever Jesus is asked who He is, His reply is, "I'm the one who obeys the Father."

This is the entire foundation for imputation. If Jesus didn't obey in our place, we can't be counted righteous by God.

Nick said...


That Jesus' obedience is frequently attested to in John (and elsewhere), that's not the same as saying this obedience is a direct component of justification. Active Obedience is specifically that Jesus kept the Law in our place, and that's a specific notion which I see no warrant for.

Jesus was obedient so as to be a worthy Sacrifice, just as He had to eat and sleep to survive and be physically healthy.

The Bible frequently makes mention of Jesus eating and praying and such, but nobody would suggest this was done 'in our place'.