The Special of the Day... From the Orange Moon Cafe...
"Acceptance With God: Achieved Or Received?"
Part 2 - Perfection Prescribed, Perfection Provided
Why must rightness and acceptability with God be received and not achieved? The answer primarily lies in our Lord Himself.
"As for God, His way is perfect" (II Samuel 22:31).
"Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness" (Psalm 119:42).
A perfect, eternally righteous God must by definition require the same of all others accountable to Him. The Lord alone is inherently righteous. Only He exists in perfection as the attribute of His own being and character. Thus, no achievement or attainment of righteousness by created beings is possible. "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). Rightness with God must rather be received. Adam and Eve turned away from this dependency when they responded to the devil's lie, "Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5). Israel proudly believed itself able to keep God's perfect law: "All that the Lord hath spoken, we will do" (Exodus 19:8). Moreover, every human being is born with the strain and stain of "be as gods" pride woven into our spiritual genetics, resulting in utter failure. "There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10). We therefore find ourselves in a seeming dilemma regarding acceptability with a perfect God. He necessarily requires a righteousness we cannot accomplish.
"But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets, 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: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:31-24).
"Justified freely" (or, made righteous freely. The Greek root words for righteousness and justification are the same). The Lord Jesus provides our hope for acceptability with God - "accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6). "Christ... is made unto us righteousness" (I Corinthians 1:30). Who does God receive as righeous? Those who wear the robe of His Son's righteousness, freely placed upon them by grace through faith. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). Those who God sees in Christ are received no less than Christ Himself. "We have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:2). A perfect Savior, who perfectly pleases His perfect Father, perfectly imputes His righteousness to all who receive the perfection of His perfectly completed work of salvation - "the hope of righteousness by faith" (Galatians 5:5). Indeed, perfection prescribed, perfection provided to all who "trust not in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the dead" (II Corinthians 1:9). "By one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified" (Hebrews 10:14).
Without oversimplifying the issue, only pride keeps sinners from becoming saints. The perfection God requires, He provides to all who humble themselves to trust in His Son. Of course, the perfection we consider refers to our relationship and standing with God. But what about righteousness and acceptability with Him regarding "the fruits of righeousness?" (Philippians 1:11). What about our works and how we live? Thank God, these also are "by Jesus Christ." We will address this matter in tomorrow's message. For now, however, consider the writer of Hebrews' plainly stated promise of a life acceptable to God: "Let us have grace, that we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear" (Hebrews 12:28). May the glory of such truth fill our hearts with wonder and joy. Indeed, the same grace that births us as righteous in Christ empowers us to mature and increasingly walk with God through Christ. We close with Paul's confirmation of such a gift, and again, we will develop the consideration of righteousness received resulting in righteousness realized in our next message...
"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him, rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving."
Part 3: Righteousness Received, Righeousness Realized
Weekly Memory Verse
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him, rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.