“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Righteousness by faith by Jesus by specifics

“Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper.” (2Chron. 20:20).
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” (Matt. 7:15,16).

“The righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.” (Rom. 3:22). It’s also called “the righteousness of faith” (Rom. 4:13), obedience bundled in and inherent in faith, a holiness which is offered to the entire world and given to those who believe. The righteousness acceptable to God is all about unfeigned faith, you can’t have the one without the other; and faith is all about trusting Jesus. Trusting Jesus is all about knowing Him, and knowing Jesus is all about gathering His fruit.

It’s not enough to talk about Righteousness by Faith unless Jesus and His life are brought into the study. It’s not even enough to talk Righteousness by Faith by Jesus unless we get specific with His fruit—His acts, His words, and His mercy and grace that permeated it all.

To desire righteousness is a commendable vocation. But righteousness without Jesus’ fruits does not lead to righteousness. What we need is righteousness by faith by Jesus by specifics. The luscious fruits in His character and personality, His spirit, soul, and body.

Where can we go to see His delicious fruit? The gospels, of course; His life and His death. Where else? The Old Testament, in the way He dealt with ancient Israel and other nations. There is also ancient Israel’s sanctuary. David said, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple.” (Ps. 27:4). And where else? In His Law. The transcript of His character. Where else? In nature, through the beauty of His created works. Is there anywhere else? The New Testament Law—the revelation of His grace through the apostles.

Jesus said, “This is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (Jn. 6:40). So we need to see Him. Like the leper who came to Him because he was caught in the spell of Jesus’ disinterested love. The crowds around the Healer fled, but the horrifying leper was blind to it all. All he could see was Jesus.

Where there is no vision of Jesus and His love, the people perish. And all the studying of Righteousness by Faith becomes only mystical theory if not contexted by Jesus and His specifics. The Hebrew religion launched into a mystical approach to truth because of Babylonian and Egyptian influences. Without the rock-hard evidences given to us in the authoritative word of God, without the visual life of Christ in our meditations and thoughts, and the precious promises floating through our heads, all Christless debates on Righteousness by Faith will only lead to another Judaism—which was a new kind of paganism. It was pre-Catholicism, and was foretold by the Holy Spirit. (Dan. 8:23;11:36-38;Deut. 32:17).

Can a doctrine be a god? Can biblically sounding language take the place of the Author of truth? Can Satan speak his most influential lies through religious doctrine? Is this possible? Isn’t this is what Paul was fighting against in Judaism? And the life and death of the Son of God was the only weapon against this unsuspected, wily foe. Imagine it! Church doctrine taking God’s place! Worshipping the law instead of the Lawgiver! How ingenious of Satan! Let’s give him an “F” for effort! But “we are not ignorant of his devices.” (2Cor. 2:11).

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me.” (Jn. 5:39). To the Jewish rabbis the scriptures had become an idol, a substitute for Him who inspired them. No wonder the angel told Daniel that Satan’s agent would destroy wonderfully and prosper and practice. (Dan. 8:24). Who would have ever thought the scriptures could be a subterfuge, transferring worship from the Author of truth to worshipping the truth He spoke? When John saw it, he even “wondered with great admiration.” (Rev. 17:6).

We need both, the truth and Jesus—Jesus in the truth, Jesus defining the law and the law defining Jesus, the truth as it is in Jesus. But the law and truth—even the Sermon on the mount—have their limitations, due to our inherent rebellion. We need to see a friend, especially one who obeys the law. This Jesus did perfectly. Living the Law in the context of being a committed friend is a simple and easy and joyful thing for the Law-giver.

We need to see Jesus and we need to show Jesus and preach Jesus. His righteousness and peace, His life and death. Him, full of grace and truth. His goodness. Otherwise, we become devoted to words, even righteous words. And the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.
“And they bring unto Him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech Him to put His hand upon him.
And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers into his ears, and He spit, and touched his tongue;
And looking up to heaven, He sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.
And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.
And He charged them that they should tell no man: but the more He charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it;
And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: He maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.” (Mk. 7:32-37). After seeing Him, the people could only say, He does everything well. If we look we too will start saying the same thing. We need to be sanctified by our message. But sanctification can only happen if our message involves a Friend.

The evening before going to Gethesemane He told His disciples, “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.” (Lk. 22:15). He was already feeling a separation from His Father. He was sensing the first pangs of labor. The 27th Psalm gives us insight into Christ’s experience and was possibly part of His thoughts and prayers that night. Can you hear Him meditating?
“When Thou saidst, Seek Ye My face; My heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.
Hide not Thy face far from Me; put not Thy servant away in anger: Thou hast been My help; leave Me not, neither forsake Me, O God of My salvation.
When My Father and My mother forsake Me, then the Lord will take Me up.
Teach Me Thy way, O Lord, and lead Me in a plain path, because of Mine enemies.
Deliver Me not over unto the will of Mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against Me, and such as breathe out cruelty.
I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen Thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” (Vs. 8-14).

He wanted His disciples to know what He was about to do for them. He must suffer their damnation, in their place, but they must know about it or it wouldn’t lift them up and drive them to the ends of the earth with its message of salvation. With yearning desire He wanted them to awake from their temporal, carnal mentalities and to be one with Him in His suffering. Do you see Jesus that night? Do you see Him wrestling with His 12 closest companions, calling them friends, and working to diffuse their strife for supremacy? Do you see their love for Him constantly sidetracked by Judas who worked untiringly to undo every lesson Jesus tried to teach the other eleven? Do you see this driving Jesus deeper into His Father’s bosom in prayer? Can you feel the constant ache in the heart of the Son of God?

Their characters, their natures, everything about them was contrary Him, yet He loved them and they loved Him. They had not perfected themselves; they had not let the high aims of His lessons transform them entirely. It was painful to Christ to watch them and witness their errors and shortcomings. It grieved Him to see them offend and, even if unintentionally, to watch them hurt others who were trying to get to Him.

It was communion with God that kept Him encouraged. With His Father by Him He would not fail or be discouraged until He had set judgment in the earth.

By beholding we become changed—for better or for worse. “I said, Behold Me, behold Me, unto a nation that was not called by My name. I have spread out My hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts;” (Is. 65:1,2). “Are we better than they? No, in no wise.” (Rom. 3:9). Distant, yet in majesty, He could not keep the Israelite nation loyal to Him. But, those who had felt the despair of seeing their own sinfulness and had looked to God found Him. Only they had searched for Him with all their heart. They had trembled at His word with a contrite spirit. (Is. 66:2). They looked onto the law in dismay, but hope laid hold of a merciful Lawgiver/enforcer.

Likewise, God was manifest in the flesh and dwelt among us. Again, only those who came to Him had heard and responded to John’s preaching of the law and judgment, being baptized by him. They saw the humility of John despite his fervent sermons. Their faith rested in hope. Judas and the religious leaders and unbelieving multitudes never had the experience of resting in faith. They chose to follow the dictates of pride and to avoid John’s fiery dissertations. Yet, Christ would give them many more opportunities to reverse their bad decision, but their salvation was tentative. Some would repent and be gathered into His garner, but most would perish with the fall of Jerusalem.

“Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end.” (Jn. 13:1). More than 500 others were His faithful followers. But His small circle of 12 was His dearest, in whom He had invested the most, even Judas. Never impatient with them, yet at times provoking them to faith and love, He brought “them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4).

Not only Jesus in the gospels. Jesus in nature. Jesus in our life experiences. Jesus’ beautiful character indirectly described in the counsels to the churches by the apostles’ epistles. Jesus in the Old Testament, speaking to the prophets and revealing Himself through their lives. Jesus in the Law; Jesus in prophecy. Jesus, even in His adversary, the devil. Jesus in every verse of the word of God because He is the Word of God. He is in it all. Let’s give the people Jesus. And in the context of Him, let us give them the real Righteousness by Faith.


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