Bill Blogsmith

Q. What is the chief end of man? A. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever. Q. What is thy only comfort in life and death? A. That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ

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I write and illustrate, live in Oregon, love God and my family, and that's about all anyone really needs to know.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Righteousness of God

This is a transcript of a talk by Geoffrey Paxton from 1974.  It is the finest and most complete and excellent examination of basic justification by faith I've ever read.  It is reproduced here by permission of Geoffrey Paxton.
We want to commence tonight by asking a fairly fundamental question. Really it’s an understatement to call it a fairly fundamental question because we believe that you could hardly ask a more fundamental question of anyone at any time and the question is this. Note it carefully because we chose the words carefully. First, the question: “On what basis is a person accepted by God?” Look at the question carefully. It’s a simple question. There’s not meant to be any fiendish trick in it. It's meant to be quite straightforward but the wording is chosen carefully. On what basis is a person accepted by God? It’s a merciful exam. I’ve given you a multiple choice. First of all,
  1. A life of obedience to the law which I present God 
  2. Faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ 
  3. Some other way.
Although you can’t make up your own question, you might at least provide your own answer. You might say, “I’m not happy with number one or number two so I’ll provide my own creation, as it were, in number three.” On what basis is a person accepted by God? A life of obedience to the law which I present to God; Faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ; Some other way.
Now at this point we really don’t know what we ought to do because we’ve got into some very embarrassing situations at times. We’ve been in various seminaries, as you know from the advertisement literature, and we’ve given this little exam—simple, basic, fundamental thing and we’ve had a show of hands and sometimes the professors of the college give the wrong answer. Now that becomes embarrassing because we don’t want to embarrass professors and certainly not before their students. I’m not really of the mind whether we should have a show of hands or not. Perhaps—well—it doesn’t matter, does it, really? The glorious thing about the gospel is that you’re accepted even though you’re wrong. Isn’t it really? That’s why I embrace it. It’s the only thing that I could qualify for.
Those who say number one? My goodness! Did you not hear? Number l…I think we’ve got 100% dissent. Number 2…Now don’t be like those people that are bringing the airplanes in. Either yea or nay. I’ll give you another chance. Some people, they like this. Number 2…All right, thank you. Number 3…A few original people. All right, thank you. Well, that’s interesting. Unequivocally everyone turned down Number 1. 90%, I’d say, perhaps 80% chose number 2. 10% chose number 3 and there’s another 10% that’s not choosing anything. They’re playing it safe.
Well, friends, we want to start our forum with this question because we said it’s the most basic question, the most fundamental question that can be asked of any person at any time. We believe that despite the assertions to the contrary, this is still the fundamental, cardinal question that men and women have to be asked and about which men and women have to be clear in their own minds. You’ll get this particular writer in theology who will say that the issue today is not the same as it was in the Reformation. It’s rather this and so we’ll have a proposition about New Being and this sort of thing. But we believe—it’s a simple conviction—but we believe that this is still the fundamental question that plagues the human heart. We believe that this is the fundamental question that is at the root of all else in our society today.
Having said that, let me say this—that we believe in The Australian Forum that the only correct answer to this question is number l. The only basis on which a man, a person, a woman, is accepted with God is a life of obedience to the law, which I present to God. Now, methinks that notwithstanding all the good reasons why it may be the case, we are in a minority. In this meeting tonight, anyway. But of course, you will want to say it’s because of this or it’s because of that. All right. Well, we’ll talk about it.
I’ll tell you why I think you chose number 2 or number 3. Perhaps you chose number 2 and number 3. But I’ll tell you why I think you didn’t choose number l and that is because you did not want to appear to be a legalist. Is that not true? You did not want to appear to think that we are acceptable to God on the basis of the fulfillment of the law. Most folk, we find, in our discussions choose number 2 because they think that number 2 is really against legalism. It’s legalistic to say a man or woman is accepted with God by the keeping of the law. But listen friends, number 2 is really the legalistic answer. Now, notwithstanding the reasons why….you say, “I’m confused.” And, like that university student we saw up in Minnesota with a big “K” on his back---I said, “What’s that?” He said, “I’m confused.” I said, “Confused! You don’t spell confused with a K.” He said, “You don’t know how confused I am.”
Now, you may be saying that. You may be saying, “I’m confused. You tricked us. This will be the last time I’m going to come to your forum.” Let us reason together. Let’s be quiet and think about it. You see, number 2 is really the legalistic answer and not only is it legalistic, but it is what we call antinomianism, against-the-lawism. Because, you see--what is the word for basis? This word that I underlined in your exam papers in bold black type or italics. Now what is another word for basis? Can anyone give me another word for basis? Foundation, all right, thank you. We’ll put that here. That’s a good word. Anything else? Ground, who said ground? Excellent. That’s a good synonym. Basis, foundation, ground. Right. We do not know of any interpreter of the Bible worthy of the name, of any of the great Reformers who would have ever called faith the basis or ground or the foundation on which a man or woman is accepted by God. Faith is glorious! There’s no doubt about that. Faith stands right towards the top in the thinking of Biblical Reformation Theology. There’s no doubt about it. Faith is glorious! It's rich! It's a gift of God! It’s the prince of virtues so to speak. There’s no doubt about that, but irrespective of the princely nature of faith, irrespective of how elated a position it has in the economy of God, it never has the position of the foundation or ground or the basis on which a man is accepted by God. Never! And it’s one of the great perils of the modern religious scene that we are believing and we are thinking and we are behaving upon the conviction that it’s the fact that I believe or it’s the fact that I’m born again, it’s the fact that I put my trust in Jesus that God accepts me.
I say it’s legalistic because it still offers to God or it seeks to offer to God something that is within me. Irrespective of whether we believe it was given by God or not (we’ll talk about that in a moment) but it’s something nevertheless that I do--something that’s in me--on the basis of which God accepts me. You see, some people—you may have felt this way—some people say, “Well, I chose number 2 but I want to qualify it. I want to qualify number 2 by what comes before it. You see, number 2, faith, now I don’t mean faith,” you say. “I don’t think faith is my work. I don’t think that faith is a thing that I contribute to God. Number l says a life of obedience to the law which I offer to God. Now I’m not saying that. Faith is not something I give to God. It’s not a contribution that I make. Faith is the gift of God,” you say. “In other words, faith is the result of grace.” And some people want to qualify it on that basis. But the thing is this, friends, we grant that. That faith is the gift of God “not of works lest any man should boast”. Faith is not my works. Faith is not something I give to God. But irrespective of whether faith proceeds from grace or not, faith is still not the ground on which God accepts me. Faith is still not the foundation on which God accepts me. Belief in Jesus Christ is not the foundation on which God accepts me and so you see, people say, “Well, I want to qualify it on what follows, not by what precedes it and undergirds it and gives it life, namely grace, but it’s the object, you see.” We’ve had some professors say, “Ah, if you had just put faith, I would have never taken it but because you put faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ, that’s different. Faith takes its value from its object, you see, and it’s because of the object of faith.” But listen, no Reformer and no interpreter of the Bible would ever suggest—no interpreter of the Bible worthy of the great Reformation tradition—would ever suggest that faith is the ground of acceptance with God. Faith is not the foundation on which God accepts me.

This morning we had a fairly long plane ride from San Antonio to Portland. It’s a fair step. It really is. I took the trouble again to pull out a book on the creeds out of my briefcase and to read again the teaching of the Council of Trent. Number 2 is the classical Roman Catholic teaching on how a man or a woman is accepted by God. If you take the trouble to look in the teaching of the Council of Trent on justification, following its article on original sin, you will find that number 2 is the classical Roman Catholic answer and the Reformers stood against it. Calvin’s antidote to the Council of Trent stood against it. It's not the Biblical way. Look with me, please, will you at Romans chapter 2. Turn to Romans chapter 2 verse 12 following. Paul says all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. Please note verse 13: “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but—what? What does it say there? Let’s hear it please. “The doers of the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law.”
Friends, the Bible is unequivocal that it’s not those who hear the law that are accepted by God. It’s those who do the law and God has never changed His mind. God has never changed His purpose and His claim! It is only those who do the law that are acceptable to God and this is the great tragedy today in so much of our conservative evangelical teaching. Faith has come to mean a smart way of skirting around the law. Faith has come to mean a clever trick whereby we can jump over the law straight into the presence of God on a basis less demanding than what it used to be. And sometimes people will say, very scholarly like, “But listen, brother, if you read in the New Testament and particularly in Romans 4, say, and in Galatians you will find Paul contrasts faith and works.” That is not true. As it stands, it’s not true. Paul doesn’t contrast faith and works. Paul contrasts faith and your works, faith and my works. Paul doesn’t use faith to be contrasted with works or to show that salvation now is not by works. Paul uses faith, Paul argues in terms of faith, to show that it’s not by your works and it’s not by my works that we’re accepted with God.
You see, in actual fact as Paul rightly said in Romans 3:31—although that’s very kind of me to say so, isn’t it—that faith does not negate the law of God. What’s the question in Romans 3:31? “Does this faith nullify the law of God?” What is the answer he gave? Let’s hear it. “God forbid, faith establishes the law.” Faith is not the negation of the law of God. Faith is the establishment of the law of God. Faith is that which acknowledges that it’s only on the basis of number 1, now and ever, that God will ever accept a man. You see, in the early chapters of Romans, Paul seeks to show the perilous predicament of man. He deals with the Gentiles. Remember that sort of back alley demonstration of human iniquity that he talks about in Romans 1:18-32? Then some scholars think he turns to the intelligentsia of the pagan world. Some suggest that. But whether we accept that division or not, the thing is this, in Romans 1:13-3:20 Paul seeks to show the perilous predicament of man.
Now what is the perilous predicament of man as far as the Apostle Paul is concerned in 1:18 to 3:20? The perilous predicament of man is nothing other than this, that man has not and is not and cannot meet the holy standard of God which is shown clearly and unequivocally in the law of God. That is the predicament of man. It’s to rectify that situation that Paul talks as he does in chapter 3:21 about Jesus Christ and the righteousness of God. Is that not correct? But what we’ve done is, you see, we start in chapter 3 and we read Romans, we interrupt Romans, we preach and teach Romans often time from 3:20 onward. We completely neglect, except for a formal passing, reference to the terrible pride of man but let’s remember this, that in 1:18 to 3:20 Paul seeks to hammer home with unsurpassed clarity and inspired force that the whole human race is in a terrible predicament and that terrible predicament is that man has not been able to give God what is God’s due and that is nothing less than perfect conformity to God’s law. The Christian gospel honors the law of God. Faith honors the law of God. In fact, true faith, Biblical faith, strong faith, would always gravitate to number 1. You see, if it is true that faith feeds off its object, and it is—if it is true that faith takes its value from its object, and it is—if its true that faith is always object oriented, and it is—then faith would always say number 1.
Have a look at Romans 3:21. Paul says, “But now” and isn’t ‘but’ the biggest little word in the Bible? It was the biggest little word in my childhood, too. My father would pull me aside and he’d say, “Son, your mother has told me that you’ve been a very naughty boy.” Now I always wanted to ascertain that he had the right one—there were seven of us—and I’d say as a little child, “Daddy, you’re sure you’ve got the right one—Geoffrey?” He’d say, “I’m perfectly sure. Your mother has spelled out your description immaculately.” And then he would say—now listen—“I ought to wallop you” and oh, I could feel it already! I don’t know if you have applied psychology in this country, but my dad was pretty good at it. He’d say, “You have been a mischievous little rascal and I ought to thrash you. You deserve it and you know it.” And I knew it. And he’d build up to a terrific climax and I’d lose about two pounds through the perspiration. And then every now and then he would say, “But—but—I want you to know what grace is. Just this time I’m going to let you off.” Whew!! But’s the biggest little word in the Bible, isn’t it? And here you have it—“but now the righteousness of God….”
Now ladies and gentlemen and boys and girls, the righteousness of God was that around which and out of which the Reformation exploded. It was this phrase, “The righteousness of God”. First of all, notice what is meant by the righteousness of God. First of all the righteousness of God can mean nothing else than—it may mean more than this or may be explained differently—what I’m saying is that at least it must mean this. The righteousness—are you listening? The righteousness of God is to be measured by the character of God himself. The righteousness of God is nothing other than that righteousness that is commensurate with the holy character of God. In other words, this righteousness has God as its measure. That’s the righteousness of God, the righteousness that is God himself—his holy unblemished, spotless, divine character. That’s the righteousness of God.
The second thing about this righteousness of God--listen to this--this righteousness of God is the demand of God of every man and every woman. You realize that’s what that’s saying? This righteousness of God, the righteousness that is commensurate with God’s being himself, is the demand of God of you and of me. It is what God demands of you and of me. It is what God always has demanded of us and it is what God always will demand because he can never demand anything less than his own perfect being. Can you see that? And that was the thing that troubled Luther, was it not? That is the thing over which he wrestled. The righteousness of God is the demand of God and you know what Luther began by doing, ladies and gentlemen? Luther began by doing this. He started to read the gospel as law. He did. Paul says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel…for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes” etc. etc. “For therein,” he says, “is revealed the righteousness of God.” And Luther despaired! He said, “Who is able for this? Who is able to meet this requirement? Who is able to give to God what God demands, a righteousness commensurate with his own being and not one bit less. Who is able?” And you know the story as well as I do. He worked and he prayed and he toiled. He put all the aesthetic principles that he knew into practice and he tried with every part of his being, remember, to give to God what God required. But still, his conscience gave him no rest. “Have I done enough? If I’ve done enough contemplatively, have I done what I’ve done to the standards that God requires and how do I know that? How is it possible to get rest?”
And that is the thing that nearly made Luther demented. And you know what, ladies and gentlemen, it is one of the fundamental convictions of The Australian Forum that because that is not making men and women nearly demented today, the gospel is virtually unknown. Because the gospel of God, and this is our third thing about the righteousness of God, the gospel of God only makes sense against that backdrop. It only makes sense, it’s only good news for the man and the woman who realizes that the righteousness of God is God’s character. The righteousness of God is that which God demands of every man and every woman and the righteousness of God, and only the righteousness of God is the ground upon which a man is accepted by God. It's only when that is clear, it’s only when men and women are tormented by not being able to meet that requirement, that demand, that the gospel makes any sense. You see, this is the great tragedy of so much of our religiosity today, and we must say—not that we mean to be harsh or critical, but we must be factual—of so much conservative evangelical theology.
You see, the fundamental question that is being asked today is this, “How can God make me happy? How can God satiate a well-nigh insatiable worldling like me?” That is the fundamental question that’s on men and women’s minds and that’s the fundamental question that is addressed in the pulpit. But the fundamental question of the Bible and the fundamental question Luther faced was, “How can I please God? How can I make God happy?” And it’s only when that is realized that the third thing about the righteousness of God makes any sense, and that is this and don’t miss it. Not only is the righteousness of God that which is commensurate with God’s holy character; not only is the righteousness of God the demand that God makes of you and of me—don’t think not—of you and of me, but thirdly, it’s that which God himself provides. And when Luther discovered that the Reformation was born and so was his heart. Or his heart was born and so was the Reformation. When Luther discovered that, joy of joy, he rose out of himself, remember? He said, “I felt that I was born again,” and oh, that more men and women would be born again through that preaching! He said, “When I discovered this, that the righteousness of God is truly God’s demand, but it is also that which God provides!” That’s good news! That’s glorious! That’s like being in a very stuffy dungeon and opening the window and having a beautiful breeze come and kiss your face. Is it not? That’s enough to make you tickled red hot, not just pink. You see, that’s the mystery of Jesus, the mysterium Christi. He is both the demand of God and God’s provision. In other words, you want to see the life that God demands of you and of me? You want to see the demand of God of you and me? Look at Jesus Christ in his spotless, holy, immaculate existence as truly man, very humble. But don’t turn Jesus into a greater Moses, because Jesus is the righteousness of God in that he is the provision of God. You see, Jesus came to this earth to be born a birth that no one else has been born since Adam fell. Jesus came to this earth to live a life that no one else has lived since Adam fell. In fact, when you stand back and look at the total spectrum of human history from the fall of Adam to the last day this is almost unbelievable, but it’s true, you can see only 33 years of human life that God endorses. Only 33 years of it. He came to live the life that no one has lived since Adam fell. He came to die the death that no one could ever die because no one had ever lived as He lived. He came to give the perfect sacrifice, the anti lustrum, the substitutionary ransom for the failure of men and women to live acceptably before God. And that’s not where it stops. He rose from the tomb and He ascended to the right hand of God so at 17 minutes past 8, or at this moment, Jesus is in Heaven as perfect man on behalf of all those who trust him.
You see, Jesus came and lived a life of perfect conformity to the law. Jesus came and lived a life that was commensurate with the holiness of God. It matched the holiness of God at every point. What the holiness of God demanded, Jesus provided. That’s the mystery of the gospel, you see. What the holiness of God demanded, God provided. Have you never read De Incarnatione Verbi Dei of Athanasius concerning the incarnation of the Word of God? Have you never read Cur Deus Homo by Anselm? We ought to read this stuff today instead of this candy fluff literature that floats about. These men grappled with the question. You see God had to become man in his own being, his own self-consistency, to provide that which his holiness required and which you and I could never provide. Now you see, friends, that is a life of obedience to the law. But you say, “I’ll tell you what tricked me there.” Oh yes, I’m sorry, sir. Really I am. I’m heart-stricken. Don’t look it? I wanted you to be wrong in order that I may affirm what you affirm in your heart by the Spirit of God. Sometimes we never realize we’re right so much as when we find out we’re wrong. Is that not true?
Take the parable of the Pharisee and the publican. Come on, you’ve got to respond to this. You know that man who beat his breast and said, “God I think Thee that I am not as Methodists are, or Presbyterians, or Baptist?” [Note: Paxton is an Anglican—in American, an Episcopalian] Remember the poor Episcopalian publican stood afar off and beat his breast and said, “God be merciful to me a poor Episcopalian?” Tell me this, honestly now, spontaneously, with whom do we identify immediately in that parable? Do we identify with the Pharisee or do we identify with the publican? Number 1 or number 2? Number 2, of course we do. And you know what? When we identify with number 2 we show ourselves no more clearly to be number 1. Wasn’t that what the Pharisee was doing? He was identifying with the really good people. It’s only those who say, “There I am in that Pharisee, God be merciful to me” who are number 2. Those who say, “I’m number 2. I thank God I’m not as the Pharisee is….” You know, ladies and gentlemen, Luther said correctly that legalism runs in our bones like an oil. And we’ve got to be dehydrated, or deoilized, or whatever you like. We’ve got to be delegalized. Talk about demythologized! Delegalized, that would be more important! It's in our bones, isn’t it? We’re born legalists.
Now you see, what about “which I present to God”? We’ve said, a life of obedience to the law, which I present to God. “Now that’s the point on which you tricked me,” you ‘re saying. “That’s the point over which I stumbled.” But listen to this, friend. Let’s just imagine that Jesus Christ came to earth and did all that I said and he did that—but much more than I could feebly explain it. Is that, as such, going to help up? Is it? Is that going to help me as such? All we find there is a personalized expression of the Law of Moses. That’s not going to help you, is it? And that’s not going to help me. In other words, don’t you agree, somehow or other, that has to become yours. Don’t you believe that? That has to become mine. That’s needed for you and that’s needed for me. It’s glorious that the holy Son of God did it. We thank God and praise his name, but that’s no good if that’s where it stops. You need that. God requires of you and God requires of me, God requires of all of us that each and every one of us, mention your own name, Geoffrey Paxton, Bob Brinsmead, Pastor Larson I see up there. He’s a Lutheran, but God still requires it of him. Professor Radmacher’s here, the President of this seminary. God requires it of him. God requires it of you, and you, John, and of you, Jim. You’ve got to give that to God. You’ve got to say, “Here it is, Father.” Now how does that come about? It comes about through, through, not because of, through the princely channel of faith. You see, as you and I fall on our knees, as it were, and say, “God be merciful to me a sinner. God be merciful to me, Romans 1:18 to 3:20, there I am, the most accurate picture I’ve ever seen taken, God. God be merciful to me. I am that. I have not given a life commensurate to your holiness. I have not met your demands. I can’t do that. I haven’t done that, but you yourself have done it for me.”
Look, have we grown too accustomed to these holy things? Don’t they thrill our hearts any more? Is there not another day when they will burn in our hearts and cause us to be born again like it was in Luther’s heart? God, you have done it for me! Thank you! We reach out our beggarly hands and we say mine is Jesus’ birth, mine is Jesus’ life, mine is Jesus’ death, mine is Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and mine is Jesus’ intercessory ministry at God’s right hand as perfect man. “Mine is Christ risen, mine is Christ dying,” said Luther. That’s the language of faith. You see, through faith we reach out and we grasp the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ. Through faith. Listen to this, through faith we are able to present that to God as mine. You see, this is another important thing, now. It’s point four about the righteousness of God. I’ve got point five, but that’s a point four. The righteousness of God is my righteousness through faith. Of course, often times we have the Charismatics come up and they say, “Brother, have you made the exciting discovery of the Spirit-filled life?” And the tragedy is that many Christians look spiritually nude and embarrassed. The only answer to that of a man or a woman of faith is, “Yes, what a life! Why, do you know I was born perfectly? Do you know I’ve lived commensurate with the holiness of God himself?” When you start talking about that Spirit-filled life, it makes every other Spirit-filled life so small it could sit on a cent piece and dangle its legs! You see, our trouble is we haven’t outbragged the Charismatics. That’s our problem. And it’s very easy to outbrag the Charismatics when you can present a life, a Spirit-filled life, that will make every other Spirit-filled life dwarfed in its light. You see, that’s the fourth thing—the righteousness of God is my righteousness through faith.
But I hasten quickly to add the fifth point and that is this. The righteousness of God is mine through faith and this righteousness of God is in Jesus Christ and not in me. You see, it’s not in my heart. There’s not one person here tonight who has a drop of it in his heart. It's in Jesus Christ and if you look at verse 22, verse 24 and verse 26 of Romans 3, you will see that this is constantly the emphasis, through faith in Christ Jesus, through faith in Christ Jesus and verse 25 finishes up through faith in Jesus. Point 4: The righteousness of God is mine through faith in Jesus Christ; I can present it to God through faith. But point 5: The righteousness of God, which is mine through faith in Jesus Christ, never leaves Jesus Christ. It's in Jesus Christ at God’s right hand. As Paul said to the Colossians, “If you’ve been raised together with Christ, seek those things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things of the earth. You died and your life is hidden with Christ in glory.” Don’t get caught up in the wrong life. Your life of sanctification, which of necessity follows justification, is a shadow of the true life. It’s the exhaust as it were and just as the exhaust is necessarily a consequence of the real machine--if you want to put it in those terms--so sanctification is necessarily the consequence of justification. I like the way Calvin put it and this will go for those who are on this “once saved, always savedism” as though you’re born—“faith for a minute gives life for eternity”—we’ve had some people say in this country. Listen, this is what Calvin said, “God justifies no one that he doesn’t sanctify”. And that’s true. So this is in Christ Jesus.
Now friends, let me finish by saying this. You see, a life of obedience to the law, that is to say a life that is commensurate to the character of God, that which God demands has been performed by doing and by dying, positively and negatively by Jesus Christ. I am able to present it to God through faith but it’s not me presenting to God through faith the righteousness that I have in myself. It’s me presenting to God, through faith, the righteousness that is Jesus Christ. You see, Cardinal Bellarmine had it correctly. He said the whole issue of the Reformation was an inherent righteousness or not. Luther referred to the alien righteousness of Christ. That righteousness is safe. It’s reserved in Heaven. For people who live among thieves, that’s a safe place for it to be. Isn’t it? But this is the point, you see, and I want to finish on this point. Don’t you and I imagine at times that God’s mercy can run out? Now be honest. You’ve said to yourself, “God is merciful, the Pastor says that. God is merciful, the Professor teaches that and I believe he’s merciful. The Pastor doesn’t know my heart, and bless the Professor’s heart, as brilliant a man as he is he doesn’t know me either. Is God’s mercy really commensurate with that sinful thought?” Honestly now, have you ever thought like that? Indeed we do.
But let me ask you this. Have you ever thought it possible that God could cease to be just? Have you? No! In fact, that’s why you and I think His mercy runs out, because we know how just He is. Isn’t that right? But now listen, this is a glorious message, which is not preached and taught as much as it should be today. You know what Paul teaches in Romans 3:25 and 26? Listen to it, friends. You know what Paul teaches? The gospel is God’s declaration of God’s justice. In other words, God has saved you and God has saved me in a way that affirms that he is just. He has not skirted around the law. He has not been inconsistent. That doesn’t mean the law is up there and God is a slave to the law. That’s primitive theology. When we talk about the law we are talking about the transcript of the self-consistency of God. The law is God’s self-consistency transcribed for you and for me to see. And when we talk about God not skirting the law, God obeying the law, God meeting the law, we’re saying this—that God has been self-consistent in saving you and saving me through Jesus Christ. And I’ll tell you on every ounce of authority that the Bible gives me, before God will reject a man who trusts in Jesus Christ, before God will turn you down if you put your trust in that righteousness of God, He first must become unjust. Because His acceptance of you in and through Christ is a demonstration of His own self-consistency. Look how Paul puts it in verse 26. It was to prove at the present time that God himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus. Your righteousness and my righteousness not only consists of the holy character of God, it is grounded and based upon it as our security.
So you see, God has never changed His mind. God has always required perfect doing of His law. God has always demanded of you and of me a life that is commensurate with his holy character and not one iota missing. And when God looked out on a world sighing in utter desperation, the glorious good news of God is he came himself. God in a donkey’s food box. God sucking at the breasts of a Palestinian maiden and God allowing the Palestinian sun to go through his clothes as He fulfilled His own law in Jesus Christ on your behalf and on mine, and as He went to the cross and as Luther said, “God forsaken of God—‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani’—God forsaken of God.” Who can understand it?
So the only answer is a life of obedience to the law which I present to God, through faith. Never on the ground of faith. You see, as princely as faith is it’s the mere instrument. It’s the empty vessel. As princely as it is, in fact, its princeliness consists in its constant gravitation towards Jesus Christ. Faith says not me, not mine—Him! His! Faith acknowledges the law. That is why it acknowledges Jesus Christ because he acknowledged the law. Faith acknowledges Jesus Christ and that is why it acknowledges the law, because Jesus acknowledged the law.


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