A few week ago, I gave a series in our prayer meetings, a short series, and our Pastor Gettys asked me to present one of those at our service here today. So, that is what we're going to do.
I would like to start by reading those very familiar words from John 14: 1-3. Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, Believe also in me.
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Yes, Jesus is preparing a place, and one day soon, He's going to come to take us home. What a wonderful day that is going to be.
You know, when I first accepted Christ and became a member of the church, one of the concerns that I had was: I wanted to know how I could know for sure that I was accepted of Jesus. Somehow, there was that longing to know for sure. I read in the Bible about being perfect and I wondered if I could ever be ready.
Notice what Peter says here in 2 Peter 3:13,14. Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for a new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved. seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
Notice, we're told that if we're going to be ready when Jesus comes to take us home, we're going to be without spot and blameless. You know, I read those words and I looked at my life and I wondered if I could ever be like that: Good enough for Him to receive me, good enough to be caught up to meet Him in the clouds when He comes to get His people.
You know, in Matthew 5:48, Jesus said, Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. "You must be perfect , even as your Father in heaven is perfect!" In Genesis 17: 1, God said to Abraham, ... walk before me, and be thou perfect. In Hebrews 6:1, we're told that we should ... go on unto perfection:... In Colossians 1:28 Paul wrote: ... present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Ephesians 4:12 we're told that the Spiritual gifts were given For the perfecting of the saints,. You see, dear friends, the Bible makes it clear that the condition of eternal life has always been and always will be perfect obedience to the Law of God. Perfect righteousness.
Now, If I should stop right here, and say that's it, and you and I take a good look at our lives, look very carefully, how would we feel? Well, might I suggest what might happen to some of us. Some of us might say, "Well now, if this is the condition for eternal life, if I have to have absolute perfection to receive eternal life the I will surely have to try harder or I'll never make it." Do some of you ever think that way?
Or, some of us might fool ourselves and think we are righteous when we are really not. What does perfect righteousness really involve? Have you ever thought about that? Never get the least impatient? Always perfectly patient under all circumstances? Loving your enemies with absolutely perfect love? Worshiping God with perfect praise and love? What about sins of omission? Do you always do everything just exactly when it should be done and do it exactly as it should be done, perfectly?
You see, perfect righteousness is the standard that we must meet. It is the standard of the judgment. We read it in the Bible in Acts 17:31: Because he has appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness... You know, that's the word that Martin Luther hated. Oh! He didn't like that word. He looked at his life and he couldn't stand that word.
James 2:12, ...as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. Now, what is that law of God really going to demand in the judgment when we stand before that law? Well, think for a moment. The law is God's character in written form. It is God. It is simply God in written form. And God is infinite. So wouldn't that make His law infinite? So, the demands of the law would be infinite. Infinite righteousness? What does infinite mean? I exhaustible, immeasurable, inconceivable, absolute perfection in righteousness. You see, the law deals more than with simple outward acts. The Sermon on the Mount makes the very clear. It deals with the very thoughts and intents of your heart. Just looking at a person with a little bit of lust is adultery. Having a little hatred against another is murder. You see, if we would study a little more about God's law, about the demands of the law in judgement we would have a better understanding of what the law demands.
And some of us might, you know, be thinking we're righteous when we're really not. Revelation 3:17 describes those people. It says, Because thou sayest, I'm rich and increased in goods and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. They are totally deceived about their spiritual condition. They think they're rich and need nothing, when in reality they're spiritually bankrupt. They are guilty of sins of self righteousness and arrogance. they live in a state of shameful spiritual nakedness, pitiful blindness, wretched poverty. They don't have either true faith or real love. And yet they think they do.
And then, thirdly, some of us might think of that condition of eternal life, absolute perfect righteousness, infinite righteousness, and we might say, "Well, there's no hope. There's not use trying. I might just as well give up. No use to try, I'll never make it."
Now, dear friends, I'm here this morning to tell you the good news. We don't have to doubt whether we're going to make it and say "I'll have to try harder." We don't have to fool ourselves into believing we're righteous when we're not. We don't have to get discouraged and say, "It's not use, I might just as well give up." Dear friends, we can have that perfect righteousness, this infinite righteousness because our wonderful, all sufficient Savior, Jesus Christ, has provided a way. There was One who met all the demands of the law. He lived a life of perfect righteousness. You see, the Bible calls Him the Sun, S, U, N, the Light of Righteousness. Luke 1:35 calls Him that holy thing The Son of God. His life reveals an infinitely perfect character, and dear friends, He offers to take my sin and give to me that infinitely perfect righteousness.
He said, "I am the Way." He said, "I am the Truth, the Life." He is the Way, the only way to eternal life. There's nothing that you can do to earn it. It is a gift that He gives to you.
You see, dear friends, He has met all the infinite demands of the law for you and me, and that righteousness is mine, it is yours. What is His name? The Lord, OUR righteousness, my righteousness, your righteousness, He is my substitute and my surety. And what does a substitute do? He takes your place. He takes my place. He not only died for you, He obeyed the law perfectly for you. And by His merits you are free from the condemnation of the law. And He clothes you with His robe of righteousness and presents you to God as though you had never sinned. And dear friends, if you come before God as though you had never sinned, then you are perfect aren't you? Don't you have that perfect infinite righteousness if you stand before God as though you had never sinned? You surely do.
This is your ticket to heaven. This is justification by faith. Romans 5:10. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Notice Romans 4:1-6. What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6). Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned" of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Your faith, dear friends, is counted for righteousness. What does that word, "account" mean? It's translated three ways here in Romans 4: verse 3, counted; verse 4, reckoned; verse 6, imputed. Impute in Greek, legidzomai, to reckon, to put down to a person's account.
That infinitely perfect righteous life that Jesus lived is written after my name in heaven, dear friends, and I have that infinite perfect righteousness in Him.
Romans 3:20. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Verse 24. Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Verse 28. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Oh well, Does this mean that we don't have to keep the law any more? Why, absolutely not. It makes it all the more imperative. What does Paul go on to say in Romans 3:31? Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
Jesus said in John 14:15, "If ye love me, keep my commandments. You see, when we accept Jesus as our Savior he comes into our hearts. Under the New Covenant He says (Hebrews 10:16), "I'll put my law in your mind, I'll write them in your hearts." And if His law is in your heart, it will certainly be seen in your life.
You see, God's law is love. "Love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself (Deuteronomy 6:4,5; Mark 12:29-31). God's law is God's character and when that character is written in your heart it becomes your character. Therefore you live that law in your daily life. You see, we keep the commandments because His love is in our hearts. His law becomes a part of you. And if we refuse, se are in rebellion against Him. And this is evidence that His love is not in our hearts. And when you are justified by faith His love is in your hearts. And if it's not there you're not keeping the commandments and you are not justified by faith.
But dear friend, we're not saved by keeping the commandments. Obedience is the fruit of justification. We keep the commandments because we are saved, not in order to be saved.
The perfect righteousness of Christ is the condition of eternal life, is given to us by our wonderful all-sufficient Savior, Jesus Christ. You see, we're told in Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.
I'd like to notice Luke 18:10-14. You know there is the story of those two men who went up to the Temple to pray. The publican beat on his chest and prayed, "God be merciful to me, a sinner." That Pharisee stood up and he prayed, "O, Lord, look what a wonderful man I am. I'm not like other men. I don't steal. I don't lie and do all these things that other people do." Think about that Pharisee for a moment. What kind of man was he? Well, he was highly moral. He was intellectually dedicated to doing right. In his prayer he thanked God he was not like other men. He wasn't an extorter, he wasn't unjust, he wasn't an adulterer. He was a lover and a protector of the Word of God. He was dedicated to God's Law. His primary concern was to make God's Law the supreme guide of his life. He even had fifteen hundred and twenty one laws about Sabbath keeping so he would be sure not to break the Sabbath. He was a strict tither, even separating every tenth leaf of his plants. He wouldn't even think of eating or touching unclean foods. He was a very zealous missionary. He'd scour land and sea to make one convert. And he was looking for the coming of the Messiah. He was a typical Jew, like Rabbi Simeon ben Jocko. He said, "If there were only two righteous men in the world it's me and my son. If there's only one, that's me."
But was the Pharisee really righteous? Romans 9:31 says, But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hat not attained to the law of righteousness. Oh yes, they kept the law, but they never attained to righteousness. What was their problem? Romans 10:3 says, For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, that infinite righteousness provided by Jesus Christ, they were ignorant of that, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. Romans 9:32. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. So, dear friends, our righteousness is righteousness by faith.
Paul tells us where we get this righteousness. Notice what he says in Philippians 3:9. Being found in him, (That is when Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven) not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. You know, in Deuteronomy 6:25 it says, And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us. If we do all the commandments, that's our eyes, and Paul says, "I don't want to have that. I want to have the righteousness provided before the Lord our God." He says, "But having the righteousness Christ gives to us, His infinite perfect righteousness. You see, all our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).
Now this is made clear in the sacrificial system. You see, when the people brought their lamb, brought their animals, brought their sacrifices, they had to put salt on every one of those sacrifices or they could not be accepted by God (Leviticus 3:13). Our righteousness must be covered by the salt of the righteousness of Christ to make it acceptable of God.
Over in Matthew 22(:2-14) we read the parable of the wedding feast. You remember how all the people that were invited to the wedding feast put on by the king. You remember the king provided a garment for every one of them. It was a gift from the king. Verse 11. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: The determining factor was not the worthiness of the guest but the generosity of the king. Anyone dressed in the king's garment could be a guest and go on in the wedding feast. Everyone was on the same level. They were all equally dependant on something the king provided as a gift. They all had the same opportunity. And you remember there was only one man who refused the garment. He wore something he had produced or acquired by his own means somewhere else. The robe was a gift from the king. You can't make it. It doesn't matter how good a tailor you are, God's law demands a robe that is infinitely righteous, dear friends, and only Christ can provide that robe. Because, you see, the life of Christ reveals an infinitely perfect character, and that character of Christ stand in place of your character and you are accepted before God just as though you had never sinned.
You know, we have a wonderful statement given unto us by the Lord, through God's servant. "When it is in the heart to obey God, when efforts are put forth to this end, Jesus accepts this position and effort as man's best service and He makes up for the deficiency that with His own divine merit for He is the source of every right impulse" (Oriental Watchman, Motives and Efforts, 1909, by EG White). You see, dear friends, He covers our insufficient righteousness with His own perfect infinite righteousness.
Well, when we accept Christ and are justified, this is our ticket to heaven, then we begin another process that we refer to as Sanctification. In other words, we begin to grow in grace. Sure, you should improve. You begin to grow, which is the fruit of your salvation, the fruit of your justification in Christ. And Christ gives us the strength to grow and overcome sin in our lives. You see, we are saved by faith, but the faith that does not produce good works does not justify the soul. And when you accept Christ as your Savior, then this process of growth begins. You should b closer, you should be living a better life a year from now, two years from now, than you are now. You are growing.
But dear friends, all the time you are growing, you are still covered with Christ's perfect righteousness and you have infinite righteousness where ever you are on the process of your growth. Suppose you accept Christ and you don't live but week after you are baptized and accept him. You don't have time to do much growing, do you. But if you die you still have that infinitely perfect righteousness because Christ has given it to you. Suppose you live two or three years. You have more time to grow in grace, and you die. You're still covered with Christ's infinitely perfect righteousness, and you have salvation. And so, dear friend, wherever you are, wherever you are in the process of sanctification, you are just as saved as you will ever be. Because in Jesus Christ, our wonderful all-sufficient Savior you are complete, as we read in Colossians 2:10. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.
Now, back to the Pharisee and the publican. The publican realized his great need. He realized that he wasn't perfectly righteous. He said, "Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner." He made no claim. He admitted that he wasn't righteous, and yet in Christ he was righteous. Covered by the righteous character of Christ, he was righteous. The Pharisee said he was righteous. "Look at me. Look at what I do. I'm righteous." But he wasn't righteous.
It is that infinitely perfect righteousness of our Savior, Jesus Christ, that gives us eternal life. Dear friends, His grace is sufficient. Shouldn't this make us happy? Shouldn't we rejoice? Dear friends, we don't have to doubt. We don't have to go around wondering, "Well, I wonder if I'll ever make it. I'll sure have to try harder or I'll never make it." We don't have to go around thinking we're perfectly righteous when we're not. We don't have to look at our lives and see the failings and get discouraged and say, "Well, I guess there's no use to try. I'll never make it." Dear friends, you have as wonderful Savior. You have an all sufficient Savior that provides that infinitely perfect righteousness and He holds it out and gives it to you if you are willing to accept it.
We can come to Him with full assurance. We can know, without any question or doubt that we are the sons and daughters of God. We can know that we have eternal life. We can know that we will be ready and be caught up to meet Him when He comes in the clouds of heaven. For, dear friends, He is our wonderful all-sufficient Savior, Jesus Christ, our Lord, our righteousness.
Opening Hymn: #7, The Lord in Zion Reigneth Scripture: John 1:12-13 Closing Hymn: #517, My Faith Looks Up to Thee 990814da.htm
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last updated 8/18/99 by Bob Beckett.