This Week's Gospel Sermons
Jackson Drive 2012 Fall Series
"Early Parables Of Jesus From Matthew"
Wednesday @ 7:00 PM
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September 23, 2012
Because of the Bible …
We Can Know Righteousness
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” (Romans 1:16-17)
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2Timothy 3:16-17)
What is “righteousness”?In our English language, the word was originally spelled “rightwiseness.” Seeing this spelling might make it a bit easier to grasp the meaning—being in the right state from being fully aware of what is right. It is also good to know exactly what the word “right” means. The word “right” comes from an Indo-European root meaning “adhering to or movement in a straight line.” That which is right is a straight line. Understanding this, notice the deeper meaning of Paul’s statement to Elymas, the magician: “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:10).
God IS righteousness. He has all authority to declare what is right. He is Creator. Everything belongs to Him. All He has done and does declares His power, glory, wisdom, and righteousness. “The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; Let the many islands be glad. Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne … The heavens declare His righteousness, And all the peoples have seen His glory … Light is sown like seed for the righteous And gladness for the upright in heart. Be glad in the LORD, you righteous ones, And give thanks to His holy name.” (Psalm 97).
People who are declared to be righteous are people who belong to God. They are people who walk with God. They are God’s people because they follow His straight line.
Think of Abraham. He was considered righteous because he did the works required of him by God (Genesis 15:6; James 2:20‑26). God also knew that Abraham would lead his descendants in that straight path (Genesis 18:19). Certainly, the children of Israel, Abraham’s descendants did understand what righteousness was: “It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the LORD our God, just as He commanded us.” (Deuteronomy 6:25). Even though the nation often strayed, the people still knew righteousness. King David recognized that he needed to live his life following God’s righteousness and he worked at ruling that way, too (1Samuel 26:23; 2Samuel 8:15; 1Chronicles 18:14).
God’s people from all periods are people that walk with Him. As we begin looking into the gospel according to Luke, we are introduced to the parents of John, Zacharias and Elizabeth. Notice how they are described: “They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.” (Luke 1:6). Luke also introduces us to another elderly man belonging to God, Simeon. “And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” (Luke 2:25).
God’s people from any nation are people that walk with Him. In writing the book of Acts, Luke also introduces us to another man who feared God, Cornelius. He was not a Jew, but he followed God. Hear how he is described to Peter: “Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, was divinely directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and hear a message from you.” (Acts 10:22). He continued in righteousness; upon hearing the message of Jesus the Christ, he responded by being baptized (Acts 10:48).
God declares what is right. We have noticed that He has also given man the ability to choose whether or not to take His straight path. Not only is God righteous, He is just. All need to understand God’s principle of justice. Job certainly understood: “Does God pervert justice? Or does the Almighty pervert what is right?” (Job 8:3). “Let Him weigh me with accurate scales, And let God know my integrity.” (Job 31:6). Abraham certainly understood, too. Notice how he responded to God when he was told that Sodom would be destroyed because of wickedness: “Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” (Genesis 18:25). Solomon likewise understood: “then hear in heaven and act and judge Your servants, condemning the wicked by bringing his way on his own head and justifying the righteous by giving him according to his righteousness.” (1Kings 8:32; 2Chronicles 6:23). Everyone, even those who may “look good” but serve Satan, will be judged by their deeds (2Corinthians 11:15).
God is also gracious. He did not have to provide any means for man to be brought back into the “right” relationship with Him after our sins. Christ came and paid our debt, but just as with all of His people of the past, He has declared what is “right” for us as well. Also, just as with His people of the past it is our duty to follow His “straight line.” We are required to listen to what He says, believe it, turn from our past way of life, confess Him before men, and have our sins washed away by the blood of Christ in baptism (Romans 10:17; James 2:20‑24; Acts 17:30; Romans 10:9; Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:26-27; 1Peter 3:20-21). Then we are required to continue to practice righteousness. “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.” (1John 3:10). If we do what is right, we belong to Him: “but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.” (Acts 10:35).
Belonging to God, we also have the duty to proclaim His “straight line” (Matthew 28:19-20). This has always been the case. “I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great congregation.” (Psalm 40:10). “My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness And of Your salvation all day long; For I do not know the sum of them.” (Psalm 71:15).
It is so important to know righteousness and God has blessed us by giving us His word. It is so important to live righteously—it makes an eternal difference. “Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy. Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.” (Revelation 22:11-15).
Do you know God’s righteousness? Do you practice righteousness?
—S. Scott Richardson Sr.