The subject for this article of The Persuader is "Righteousness." I will deal with this subject by using the following outline:
1. Required to Enter Heaven
The Lord Jesus said in Mat. 5:20, "That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." The scribes and Pharisees had self-righteousness, but not God's righteousness; therefore, they were unable to enter the kingdom of heaven. Their standard of self-righteousness was very rigid. Today most would not even come close to their standard of living. If they were not saved then it stands to reason that no man today will be saved by self-righteousness for the scripture says in Romans 3:10; "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one."
2. Resounded in Every Generation
II Peter 2:5 refers to Noah as a "preacher of righteousness." In every generation God has had His man heralding forth the righteousness of God as the only way to enter heaven.
3. Read in the Scriptures
Rom. 3:21 states, "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets." The phrases "the law and the prophets" refers to the OT Scriptures which witnessed (testified; to give a first hand detailed account of) the righteousness of God without the law. This does not mean that men in OT times were justified by the law because the law was not given to justify man as Rom 3:20 states plainly, "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." Man has always been justified by the righteousness of God. This is not a new doctrine because it was witnessed by a two-fold witness, the law and the prophets--OT Scripture.
4. Revealed in the Gospel of Christ
Paul said in Rom. 1:16-17, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith." "Therein" of verse 17 refers to the gospel of Christ in verse 16 which Paul defined in I Cor. 15:3-4 as the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ according to the Scripture, referring to the OT Scripture. Isa. 53:4-11 bears out that God will not put His stamp of approval on our self-righteousness but was satisfied with the finished work on Calvary which reveals, manifests, or makes clear and plain the righteousness of God.
5. Reproved by the Spirit
When Jesus was about to go to the cross He promised He would send another (one of the same kind as Himself) Comforter (the Holy Spirit) whom He said in John 16:8-11, "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged." The word reprove means to convict and convince. The Holy Spirit convicts of the sin of unbelief (verse 9) and judgment which is hell, the punishment for sin. (verse 11) He also convinces one of his need of the righteousness of God as God's requirement for justification. No man will be saved until this work of reproval is complete of all three, sin, righteousness, and judgment. Many have been convicted of sins yet not of the sin of unbelief, thus they are not saved. Many have been convicted of judgment (hell) but the Lord does not save you to keep you out of hell. He saves you for His glory; therefore, you must be convinced of the righteousness of God before you will ever be justified, and this is a work of the Spirit.
6. Really Jesus
I Cor. 1:30 states plainly that God made Christ Jesus to be our righteousness. "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." The language of John 16:10 reveals clearly that Jesus is the righteousness one needs to be convinced of. When He walked with His disciples they were convinced He was the righteousness of God but after He ascended man needs the Holy Spirit to convince him that Jesus is God's righteousness which is required to be justified. I John 5:12 states plainly one must have the Son to be saved. "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." The Son is Jesus who is God's righteousness.
7. Real Problem is Submission
Submission to the righteousness of God was Israel's problem as Rom. 10:3 states, "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." Israel as a nation would not submit to Jesus as the Christ (Messiah) and their Lord; therefore, they were not saved. Jesus said to the Jews in John 5:39-40, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." Jesus must be submitted to as Lord before one can be saved. He will not be Saviour until He is Lord. Romans 10:13 does not say whosoever shall call on the Saviour shall be saved. Instead it says, "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." I Cor. 12:3 says, "no man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." This is the work of reproval of John 16:8 that we previously dealt with. One must be convinced that Jesus is the righteousness he needs and submit to Him as Lord to be justified. By the way, this is true in every dispensation. God granted Abraham righteousness in Gen. 15:6 because he was convinced the seed, singular, was more then just Isaac. John 8:56 states, "Abraham saw Jesus' day and was glad."
8. Received by Saving Faith
Rom. 3:22: "Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference." Rom. 3:25: "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God." Rom. 4:3: "For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness."
It is clear from these Scriptures that righteousness is only "upon", "counted", or imputed to one's account by faith in the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The faith required for this is "saving" faith. I use this term because we are living in a day when many say just believe and you will be saved.
But Jesus declares plainly that those of John 2:23-25 and John 8:30-44 were not saved yet they believed. They had an "intellectual" faith or "seeking" faith but not "saving" faith; therefore, they did not receive the righteousness of God. On the other hand Abraham received the righteousness of God in Gen 15:6 but that was 9 years after entering Canaan. Even though Heb. 11:8 says he left Ur of Chaldees by faith he did not have "saving" faith until years later. He had only "intellectual" faith that led to "seeking" faith and finally brought him to "saving" faith through which he was able to received the righteousness of God. (See a complete article of this subject in the June-July, 1996 issue of The Persuader.)
The results or outcome of imputed righteousness is described in Isa. 32:17 as peace, quietness, and assurance. "And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever." Rom. 5:1 states, "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." The assurance which comes from the Holy Spirit and not from man is described as "much" in I Thess. 1:5, "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance. . ." Also the result is righteous living in this present world as the Holy Spirit guides the justified to practice as Titus 2:12 states, "Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world."
Self righteousness causes man to clean up the outside by doing certain things or abstaining from certain things while God's righteousness cleans up the inside first and continues to clean up the outside. Jesus made this very clear to the Pharisees in Mat. 23:25-26, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also."
Do you have self-righteousness or God's righteousness? Do you have the Son? If you do not, you will never make heaven. Get honest, junk tradition, and allow the Holy Spirit to work a complete work convincing you that the Lord Jesus is the righteousness of God which you need and submit to Him as your Lord with repentance and "saving" faith, all of which is His work because salvation is of the Lord. Then you will have Him, the righteousness of God, which is God's requirement to enter the pearly gate.
THE PERSUADER - August-September, 1996