THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST (3) – THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD REVEALED
During the Sunday service Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh preached a sermon titled “The righteousness of God revealed”. Her main text was taken from the Books of Romans, Matthew and Mark. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith” (Rom 1:16, 17). “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Mt 5:6).
“Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So, Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.” And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. So, Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road” (Mk 10:46-52).
*Righteousness defined: Dictionaries define righteousness as “behavior that is morally justifiable or right.” A justifiable behavior means an action, an emotion, or an idea that is acceptable or correct because there is a good reason for it. Justifiable behavior can be defended as reasonable. God is totally Righteous. In the Old Testament the promised Savior was to be called “The Lord Our Righteousness’ (Jehovah Tsidkenu). “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS (Jehovah Tsidkenu)” (Jer 23:5,6). This promised Branch of Righteousness from the lineage of King David, is our Lord Jesus Christ! The Gospel brings the Good News from Heaven that our Lord died as a Sustitute for sinners who believe in Him. God justifies the sinner by His declaration in the court of heaven, because of the merit of Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is the Substitute and who died for the sinner. The sinner who has faith in the Lod Jesus Christ, becomes justified by God and before God. Justification means three things: forgiveness of sins, a new imputed righteousness of Christ (as a covering robe given to the sinner) and a new standing and relationship before God. To impute it means to credit another, to charge another for the payment of your debt. Righteousness applies to both character and behavior, especially in relationships with God and man. To be righteous it means to be right with God, and to behave in a way that is acceptable to God. Righteousness is both a standing and a behavior. This righteous behavior manifests towards God and man. God expects perfect righteousness. No sinner can come before God and live. The righteousness that God expects is total obedience to His Law. But no sinner is able to obey the Law. The only Man who ever obeyed God’s Law completely is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is totally Righteous. A sinner becomes justified, righteous before God, by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who has fulfilled the law” (Mt 5:17). By faith in the death and resurrection of our Lord, we become saved. We receive a righteousness that is even greater than that of the Pharisees, who were very religious and outwardly, without fault. But their heart, their spirit, was not right with God. The Lord said that: unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:20). This righteousness of Christ imputed on the sinner is the only way to become saved. This is a revelation!
*Righteousness is found in Christ alone. Because of the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, as our Substitute, God the Father declares the sinner justified. This is the doctrine of Justification by Grace alone, by Faith alone. Justification means forgiveness of sins, a new standing before God and a new righteousness given to the sinner, to cover him. This is called ‘the imputed righteousness of Christ’, the free gift of God! It is apart from the law. God gave man His laws. But man, being a sinner, is not able to obey the laws of God. By the obedience of God’s Law, no man can be righteous. So how can a man stand before God and be accepted by Him? “How then can man be righteous before God? Or how can he be pure who is born of a woman?” (Job 25:4). The answer to this old question is found at the Cross. This is the Gospel of Christ Crucified and Resurrected. “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor 5:20, 21).
*This righteousness of God in Christ is ‘revealed’. In Greek, the word ‘revealed’ means to remove the cover, to bring something to the light, to make a difficult truth to be plain and simple. It is purely the work of the Holy Spirit. It cannot be gained by man’s efforts, intelligence, or science. It does not come by the natural senses. It cannot be ‘borrowed’ from another. Man’s wisdom is expressed thru philosophy. The natural man, the philosophers do not believe in miracles or in revelation. Their ideas are the product of man’s wisdom, who rejects the wisdom of God. Many preachers now are religious philosophers. They do not believe in revelation, in the work of the Holy Spirit. Their sermons are based on human logic. They lack the power to convict of sin, to save the souls of men. The preaching of the Gospel is the power of God because it is the work of the Holy Spirit! Revelation is in another realm. It is spiritual. It is the direct unique work of the Holy Spirit upon the soul of man. Like a man who sleeps, in the morning, he wakes up… Like a man born blind, he suddenly sees… His life will never be the same again…And best of all, a dead man rises to life again. These are all symbols of what is called ‘revelation’. The things he has experienced cannot be learned from books or from other people. He knows that he was blind, but now, he can see. He knows that he was dead, but now he is alive. The Gospel of Christ Crucified and Resurrected is preached. The Holy Spirit uses the Word to reveal Christ and His righteousness to the soul of man. The instrument for this revelation is faith in God and in Christ crucified. This is how a man becomes saved, born again, by the Spirit of God. He believes that Christ died for him, and God has now justified him by His grace alone. This man can never boast of His faith, or of his own righteousness. He knows it is by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, that God has done a deep work in him. The Word of God becomes alive in him. There is no Christianity apart from this revelation!
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Mt 5:6)
How can you know this righteousness? By strongly desiring it! In Greek, the word ‘blessed’ means to be happy, to be congratulated. To be filled it means to be full to overflow, to be satisfied, to have more than enough. The word ‘righteousness’ means to be right with God and man. It is a word that describes moral character and right relationships. The world’s greatest need is for more righteous men and women. “Righteousness [moral and spiritual integrity and virtuous character] exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (PV 14:34; AMP). Righteousness is a spiritual gain to any nation. It is not a political achievement. It rises its level of living, peace, and security. Sin does the opposite. It lowers the level of living, peace, and security. That is why, the preaching of the Gospel of Christ Crucified is the greatest blessing and investment you can contribute to the blessing of any nation. Preaching the Gospel may look like a long, indirect road to bless a person, a family, or a nation. But it is the only sure way approved by God! “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Mt 6:33). The study and the search to know our Lord, His Kingdom and His righteousness, has great benefits. By focusing on this, God will supply all that you need even without you laboring much. This is His promise! Oh, that you believe it!
The first thing we should observe is that as a child of God, you should not seek after blessedness, after happiness. The world seeks after happiness. They think that wealth or entertainment will help them achieve that. But God’s law is that happiness is not what you seek directly. If you do that, you will never find it. That is why all worldly people, as they get older, they get frustrated, bitter, and depressed. They are disappointed at life, at God. The correct way is to desire righteousness, to be right with God. Finding that, you will become happy! This is the Gospel! Apostle Paul sometimes uses the word ‘righteousness’ to mean ‘Justification’. But in this verse, the word ‘righteousness’ means justification and sanctification. It describes the personal righteousness, the testimony of a changed character of a child of God. Many people dream and desire to be beautiful, famous, or wealthy. The child of God should desire to experience and manifest the righteousness of Christ; to be like Jesus in this world. When you study our Lord, you are impressed with His wisdom, patience with difficult people, compassion with the needy, strength to overcome trials, His joy in His fellowship with the Father. Don’t you want to be like Jesus?
To be hungry and thirsty for this righteousness it means that you hate sin, in all its forms. You know that sin separates you from God. You know that sin offends and grieves God. You hate it the way God hates it. The Holy Spirit convicts you of sin. You become more sensitive to sin. You repent quickly. This is a blessed contrite heart that God blesses. Do you want to offer a sacrifice to God that He will not refuse? “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.” (Ps 51:17). Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and quickly repent of any revealed sin, big or small. That makes God happy!
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Ps 42:1, 2). This was King David’s cry. It should be ours too. To hunger and thirst for something, is to desire that thing until the point of desperation, of pain. Hunger for food, or thirst for water is not satisfied with mere words. In the same way, seeking God in Christ, is not easily satisfied with religious empty words. Until you find food to eat and water to drink, you remain restless, and desperate. In the same way, you must desire to be free from sin, to be holy like Jesus! Nothing else will satisfy! This is a deep need, a deep longing, to be free from the guilt, power, and the pollution of sin! Do you hate sin? If you have been in love with somebody, then you know the longing and the power of such a thirst. In seeking Jesus and His righteousness, your heart will become desperate, almost to the point of death. The Holy Spirit leads and monitors this spiritual seeking.
What is the end of this desperate road? The Holy Spirit has promised to come and by His direct revelation, He will fill you with Himself. He will satisfy your soul. Christ will now dwell in your heart. You will be thirsty for the devil poisoned water no more. You will be hungry for the world’s deceptive riches no more. You will be happy, fulfilled, beyond words can say. Filled with God’s righteousness means that you now have new fulfilling relationships with God and man. A righteous man is not only a true worshipper but the best brother and friend. Imagine a marriage or a relationship where both are filled with the Holy Spirit! That is a taste of heaven on earth! This filling, this experience happens immediately. It is purely by the revelation of God the Holy Spirit. But its impact will continue all your life. The holy seeds of righteousness will bloom and produce fruits in your heart for as long as you live. Your life will be ‘spoiled for the ordinary’. You will never be satisfied with just a little religion. You will forever long for to be in the heavenly places! You are now seated with Jesus, reigning in His name! Glory to God! This is the price to pay for revival! Worship the Lord!
This is the story of the miracle Jesus did, to give sight to a blind man called Bartimaeus. His name means ‘Son of Timaeus’. His father’s name, Timaeus means defiled, rejected or blind. He was a blind man; the son of a blind man. He was seated along the road, begging for food or money. He cannot see but he can hear. His hearing compensated for his lack of sight. He is dressed in a special robe given to the members of the ‘association of beggars.’ Every day he listens to men’s voices. Some are rude, many are angry. He knows them all. One day, in the midst of men’s voices, he heard a different sound. It was a voice that came with authority, compassion, and love. He was told that this man is called Jesus! Immediately he heard His name, something started stirring deep in his heart. This was the promised Messiah, the Son of David, The Lord our Righteousness… he thought to himself. He suddenly knew that Jesus alone has the answer to his need. He started shouting His prophetic name: “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Angry men tried to quench his hope, his faith, his voice. But he knew that this may be the opportunity of a lifetime. He shouted even more, above the voices of men. Suddenly, the crowd stopped. He felt the tension of silence. Then the Man Jesus said: Call him! The same man who pushed him aside in the morning, suddenly become kind and said: ‘Be of good cheer! The Teacher is calling you! Get up!’ That is all he needed to hear. He threw his garment of begging, of sin, poverty, and hopelessness. Standing on his feet, naked and vulnerable, Bartimaeus slowly came to his Lord. Jesus asked: What do you want me to do for you? Many ideas started running in his mind… ‘I know that Jesus is able to give me anything. I believe… I can ask for money, then I will never beg again. I will be a blind millionaire… I can ask for a wife and children… that is good, but I will not see them… I know what I will ask… I will ask for something only God can give… No man can give to me…’ Faith rises in his soul… Faith is wise… Faith is power! He said: ‘Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.’ Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” Suddenly, his eyes opened, and he saw Jesus! He saw the people! The miracle of life and sight was granted to him! He started to follow Jesus along the road, praising His holy name! What a story! Whoever believes, and not doubt, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, shall not be disappointed! Oh, blessed holy faith! The power of the Gospel! Worship the Lord!