Wednesday, November 10, 2010

RIGHTEOUSNESS: Unbreaking a law & Uncracking a bowl.

My family used to have an antiques shop. I recall one particular purchase of art pottery that was exceedingly rare. It was two highly sought-after hand-painted bowls in a rare color from a well known artist and they were in pristine condition. The pieces were about a hundred years old at the time and were one-of a kind pieces. Each piece was hand made and unique. To have two of these pieces together was amazing. Together they were worth around $5000. Anyway, we purchased them and to shorten a long story there was an accident. One of the pieces was chipped and the other was cracked. You could barely see the damage but the small chip and crack that was hardly noticeable reduced the value of the bowls to next to nothing. Perfection is rare. And to ruin it is sad, sickening, and irreversible.

God is perfect. His Law is perfect. He commands us to be perfect and the Bible says if we've broken one of His commandments we've broken them all. THAT'S why the righteousness of Jesus, the perfect man (God himself in human flesh) must be APPLIED, IMPUTED or CREDITED TO OUR ACCOUNT. We didn't just chip or even crack God's perfect Law once or twice... we handled it carelessly, purposefully trampled it, shattered it, and destroyed it, over and over again.

But even if we were really "good", lived a nearly perfect life and our only sin was telling one little "white lie", we still broke His Law and ruined our chance at the perfection God demands. We must be counted as "perfect" to be saved but we've got no hope for that.

Even if you don't know the big words, can't clearly defend the points, or are not sure what the Bible says on the subject, or where it says it, a right understanding of our justification by faith and imputed righteousness is a necessary prerequisite to salvation.

To God, our "Righteousness" is the rich and satisfactory perfection of Jesus applied to our bankrupt account.

One simply can not be saved unless he understands that (a) because of his personal, purposeful sin, he is not only not right with God, but he is God's enemy, that (b) in order to be saved he must be "made right" with God, that (c) he can bring nothing to the table to help his case and (d) Jesus is his only hope for righteousness, life and salvation. God graciously has built a guilty conscience into all of us. We are commanded to hear the truth and to turn in a repentance of godly sorrow toward the Holy Spirit drawing us to salvation.

No doubt about it, God demands PERFECTION from us, or we WILL NOT be saved!

Phil Johnson says:

"...if you affirm the principle of imputed righteousness, then you are almost certainly going to affirm the deity of Christ. Because the imputation of righteousness requires a perfect Substitute, with perfect righteousness—as perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect. The only Substitute who qualifies is a Christ who is also God. So the necessity of Christ's deity is practically built right into a sound understanding of justification by faith."~

Horatius Bonar said:
"We are treated by God as if (Jesus' perfection, sinlessness and righteousness) were actually (ours). In (Jesus') name we carry on all our transactions with God, and obtain all that we need by simply using it as our plea. The things that (Jesus) did not do were laid to His charge, and He was treated as if He had done them all; so the things that He did do are put to our account, and we are treated by God as if we had done them all. This is the scriptural meaning of reckoning or imputing, both in the Old Testament and the New.

For instance:
Genesis 15:6: "It was imputed to him for righteousness;" (i.e. it was so reckoned to him, that in virtue of it he was treated as being what he was not.) 

Genesis 31:15: "Are we not counted of him strangers?" Are we not treated by him as if we were strangers, not children?

Leviticus 7:18: "Neither shall it be imputed unto him that offereth it." (The excellence of the peace-offering shall not be counted to him.)

Numbers 18:27: "Your heave-offering shall be reckoned unto you as though it were the corn of the threshing-floor." (It shall be accepted by God as if it were the whole harvest, and ye shall be treated by Him accordingly.)

Romans 4:3: "It was counted to him for righteousness."

Romans 4:5: "His faith is counted for righteousness" (i.e., not as the righteousness, or as the substitution for it, but as bringing him into righteousness."

Romans 4:6: "Unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works."

Romans 4:8: "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin."

Romans 4:11: "That righteousness might be imputed to them also."

Romans 4:24: "To whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him whom raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead."

2 Corinthians 5:19: "Not imputing their trespasses unto them."

Galatians 3:6: "It was accounted to him for righteousness."

Thus the idea of reckoning to one what does not belong to him, and treating him as if he really possessed all that is reckoned to him, comes out very clearly. This is God's way of lifting man out of the horrible pit and the miry clay; of giving him a standing and a privilege and a hope far beyond that which mere pardon gives...

"It is God that justifies"; and He does so by imputing to us a righteousness which warrants Him as the Judge to justify the unrighteous freely. It is not simply because of this righteousness that Jehovah justifies; but by legally transferring it to us, so that we can use it, and plead it, and appear before God in it, just as if it were wholly our own. ~

Jesus never broke the Law. We did. Jesus didn't deserve the crucifixion. We did. Jesus submitted Himself to the Law but remained perfect... he never broke any part of it. Once we break it, we can't un-break any of God's commandments any more than we could un-crack a bowl!

Salvation is simply trusting that Jesus' perfection (when applied to us) is enough to satisfy the demands of our perfect, righteous, just & loving God that a PERFECT sacrifice must be made for our ongoing sins. Jesus sits (his work is finished) at the right hand of the father as proof that God was satisfied. We, too, should be satisfied. Jesus never "cracked". When He said "It is finished"... that was all we needed to now be able to rest knowing His perfection is satisfactorily applied to our account!

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