Monday, December 28, 2009

William Hendricksen on the purpose of God's Law: To Show Man His Inability

William Hendricksen asserts that the Law was given to set forth God's unchanging, perfect requirements that must be fulfilled in exhaustive detail -- ultimately, to demonstrate to man his total inability and his absolute need to rely upon Christ and His righteousness alone for right standing before God:

Now what was really the purpose of God’s law? God gave his law in order that man, by nature a child of wrath, and thus lying under the curse (Gal. 3:13), as definitely declared in Deut. 27:26; John 3:36; Eph. 3:2, might be reminded not only of his unchanged obligation to live in perfect harmony with this law (Lev. 19:2), but also of his total inability to fulfill this obligation (Rom. 7:24). Thus this law would serve as a custodian to conduct the sinner to Christ (Gal. 3:24; cf. Rom. 7:25), in order that, having been saved by grace, he might, in principle, live the life of gratitude. That life is one of freedom in harmony with God’s law (Gal. 5:13, 14). However, the Judaizers were perverting this true purpose of the law. They were relying on law-works as a means of salvation. On that basis they would fail forever, and Deut. 27:26, when interpreted in that framework, pronounced God’s heavy and unmitigated curse upon them; yes, curse, not blessing. The law condemns, works wrath (Rom. 4:15; 5:16, 18). (William Hendricksen, Galatians and Ephesians (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1967, 68), 1:126-127; quoted by Brian Schwertley in his refutation of the Auburn Avenue theology).

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