Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Bethany Bullet-Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Romans 3:21-28

“But now a righteousness from God has been made known.” If the first words you heard out of someone’s mouth were, “but now…” you would know that you were coming into a conversation midstream. Before the “but now” there had to be a “back then” or maybe a “before this.”

The midstream conversation we find Paul engaged in, in Romans 3, is about righteousness. There is a righteousness that “now…has been made known.” It stands to reason that there is another righteousness that was already known. This already known righteousness is the one that is innately known by us.

It is a righteousness that is…

  • Ingrained in us and a part of who we are
  • By which the world works and it is a good thing

It is a righteousness based upon…

  • Expectations and accomplishments
  • Requirements and merits
  • Abilities and elbow grease
  • Performance reviews and end results

This is the righteousness by which…

  • We elect a president and select a spouse
  • We gage an athlete, an employee, a company and perhaps a ministry

This is the way the world works, and for the most part it is a good thing.

Soon we will vote for president. That vote is going to be based upon . . .political righteousness. Now we might not agree on what forms that righteousness as the list has many options: legislative achievements, legislative record, platform, vision, articulation of position, emotional impact of speeches, how the candidate makes you feel about the candidate, yourself or the nation, and consistency in positions are but a few. Whichever you personally base your decision on, you base it on something that forms your understanding of political righteousness. You don’t close your eyes and put your finger on a ballot—do you? You don’t vote for the candidate who is lowest in the polls because you’re feeling sorry for them—do you? You cast a ballot based upon political righteousness. It is how the world works and it is a good thing.

Soon students will be graduating from 8th grade, High School, a University, or being promoted to the next level. The diploma or promotion was not granted because the teacher couldn’t stand the thought of one more year with that student in their classroom. It is usually based upon academic righteousness such as ones performance on tests, attendance in class, participation in discussion, compliance with direction, or completion of projects. Whether a scale or a curve sets grades such decisions are based upon academic righteousness not professorial mercy. It is how the world works and it is a good thing.

Obviously we could go on and on. It is the bases of how companies make decisions for raises or hires. It is how parents determine levels of freedom, responsibility and privileges. It is the wise and godly way to figure out whom a good spouse might be or how to determine a congregational plan and future – based upon actual actions and reasonably determined outcomes. It is how the world works and for the most part if is a good thing.

Unfortunately, one result of having a world that works this way is believing that we have a God who works this way i.e., “If I do, then He will” or “As I perform so He will respond.” This, however, is not how God works and it is a good thing.

Our beginning is equal, we are a handful of dirt animated by the breath of God; our ending is equal, to dust we shall return; and in the midsection we all stand in the same position, by nature sinful for we’ve fallen short of the glory of God. “BUT NOW. . .a righteousness of God has been made known!” It is a good thing!

The stand of God’s righteousness isn’t a curve or a scale. It is perfection. Divine Righteousness is the decisive factor, being holy, pure and blameless – not just occasionally but continually, not just externally but inwardly. And we’ve fallen short, by a long, long way.

Yet, in Christ God met His own standard. Jesus was perfect, pure, holy, and blameless not just some of the time but all of the time, not just in what was observable but that which was internal – his very heart and soul. He met the requirements of the law. He lived up to the standard of Divine Righteousness. Then in His sacrificial death He took our place in suffering and punishment now through faith in Him, it is made known that we are granted His righteousness.

The way the world works, is not the way our God works, and it is a good thing.


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