Forensic Friday (night): Hodge on Paul on the Gospel

The apostle, in unfolding the plan of redemption proceeds on the assumption that men are under a law or covenant which demands perfect obedience, and which threatens death in case of transgression. He then shows that no man, whether Jew or Gentile, can fulfill the conditions of that covenant, or so obey the law as to claim justification on the ground of his own righteousness. Still, as this law is perfectly righteous, it cannot be arbitrarily set aside. What then was to be done? What hope can there be for the salvation of sinners? The apostle answers by saying, that what the law could not do (that is, save men), God has accomplished by the mission of the Son. But how does the Son save us? This is the very question before us. It relates to the nature of the work of Christ . . . . Paul’s answer to that question is, that Christ saves us by being made under the law and fulfilling all its demands. He fulfilled all righteousness, he knew no sin, he was holy, harmless, and separate from sinners. He bore our sins in his own body on the tree, and thus endured the death which the law threatened against sin. He has thus redeemed us from the law; that, is, we are no longer under obligation to satisfy, in our own person, its demands, in order to our justification, the perfect righteousness of Christ is offered as the ground of justification, and all who accept of that righteousness by faith, have it so imputed to them , that they can plead it as their own, and God has promised to accept it to their salvation. We can hardly persuade ourselves that any ordinary reader of the Bible can deny that this is a correct representation of the manner in which Paul preached the gospel. (Charles Hodge, “Beman on the Atonement,” Essays and Reviews, pp., 155-56)

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