Saturday, January 4, 2014

"Righteousness ... the gift of God through faith in Jesus"

Day #8:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - January 5th

Scripture Reading:  Romans 3-4 ...

I asked the congregation last Sunday this question:  If you told someone that they needed to believe in Jesus and they asked you, "Why?" ... how would you answer them?  Why does anybody NEED to believe in Jesus?  People might answer that Jesus gives you hope, that believing in Him helps you through life, that Jesus lets you know that you are never alone, or a hundred other reasons, all very personal and most of them true according to the Scriptures.  People experience many positive things through believing in Jesus and the promise of eternal life is certainly something to be thankful for!

But other religions offer some of these things and promise life after death, too, so why Jesus?  The answer lies in Romans 3-4, as clearly as any other place in the entire Bible, and it has to do with the word, "righteousness."  Without going into a long theological dissertation, here is the gospel in brief:  There is not one person on the face of the earth who has ever lived, is living now or ever will live that is "good enough," "righteous" enough, to stand before God and claim a place in heaven.  "Oh, but God is love and He will certainly forgive people."  No, He won't.  He can't.  His standard is perfection and none of us have met that standard.  Paul explains that the law was given to show people their sin; "so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God" (3:19).  "There is no one righteous, not even one" (3:10).

Chapter 3, verse 21, is the beginning of Paul's presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ:  "But NOW a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known."  Verses 25-26 explain that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross satisfied God's justice for all who have faith in Jesus.  And then Paul goes on to explain that this removes any possible grounds for boasting because this righteousness is received "by faith, so that it may be by grace" (4:16).  "By grace you have been saved through faith (and that not of yourselves - it is the gift of God) not by works, so that no man can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Chapter 4 points to Abraham as an illustration that proves the point.  God made His covenant of grace with Abraham and with all who would believe through the work of His Spirit within them.  Over and over again in this chapter Paul points to Genesis 15:6: "Abram believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." "It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith" (4:13).  Paul had already spoken of this righteousness in Romans 1:16-17, when he said, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.  For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith.'"

You and I can never BE "righteous" through our own efforts, no matter how hard we try.  No amount of religious works or good deeds can make up for our sin before God's holiness.  But God sent Jesus to be our perfect "sin-offering," and God "credits" the righteousness of Jesus to the account of every person who trusts in Jesus, who believes that He suffered, died and rose again for THEM ... for YOU, for ME!!!  Do YOU believe in Jesus?  Do you rest in HIS righteousness and not your own?  Are you SURE you are saved from God's wrath by faith in Jesus?  THIS is why people need to believe in Jesus.  There is one way to enter God's presence:  through the righteousness that is yours through faith in Jesus.  Praise God for His marvelous gift!

"Father, I thank You for Your love and grace in sending Your Son to pay the penalty for my sin, and for the righteousness that is now mine by faith.  I confess my sin before you and rest in your grace for forgiveness and for strength to overcome the sin that remains.  Hallelujah!  I am free!! In the name of Jesus.   Amen"

No comments:

Post a Comment