This month's view finds me rejoicing with you who have received Christ as your righteousness, but sad for those who trust in their own good works, instead of Christ's finished work on the cross for their salvation. "God, our Savior, showed us His kindness and love. He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit."1
Awake, O Sleeper
Recently, a poll showed that only a small percentage of Christians read the Bible. Matter of fact, it showed that atheists and agnostics knew the Bible better than most. No wonder the apostle Paul paraphrased the prophet Isaish, saying: "Awake, O Sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light."2 It is the light of God's word that is a lamp to our feet, and a light to our path.3
A new convert, named Rick, arrived three months ago where I am at Mule Creek prison, having only read the Old Testament. He was reading the Bible, but he had not yet heard the word of righteousness that comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone. He believed in his good works for blessings from God, instead of believing that God declared him righteous by faith.4 He had walked away from God after a blessing he expected did not happen. He became defeated, depressed, diseased, and came to a point near death, until finally he accepted that righteousness is by faith in Jesus Christ. The glory of God is now all over his face.
Can you relate to Rick's story? You have read the Bible, but not yet realized the gift of being right in God's sight. You are still trying to appear right by your good works, and lack the peace of God that only comes from what Jesus Christ has done for you.5 The word says that spiritual babes are "unskilled in the word of righteousness,"6 but as you deny yourself, the kingdom of God prevails in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.7
Awake to Righteousness
My heart goes out to those I hear from who are drowning in their sin and addictions like my friend Rick was. Unbelief is the main cause. Folks believe in the Bible and even believe in Jesus, but don't believe their righteousness is only because of their faith in Him. I don't have a list of rules to make a person right. Jesus Christ made you right with God at the cross 2000 years ago. We share in His righteousness and the power of His resurrection. It is up to each of us to build ourselves up in faith.8 I suggest you pray, saying, "God, help my unbelief" and get a New Living Translation Bible (NLT) for easy understanding before you advance to other translations for study and meditation.
The New Covenant is all about God's love and grace. We awake to God's gift of righteousness by faith. Because of our freedom in Christ from sin and death, we experience the ability to stand with Jesus in God's presence without the sense of sin, fear, guilt, condemnation, and inferiority. For the first time, we know true peace, and what it is like to truly feel the love of God. For Rick, it was like being born-again all over. He doubted if he ever was saved in the first place. Like the apostle Paul, I beg you: "Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame."9
The Lord has an amazing, victorious life available for you. He awaits to give you the gift of His righteousness by faith in the finished work of the Cross. He has done everything to make you complete in Christ.10 He promises that all "...who receive His wonderful, gracious gift of righteousness will live in triumph over sin and death...God's wonderful kindness rules, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."11
The Power of Righteousness
Rick is a living testimony of the power of righteousness. He has committed the rest of his life to the ministry of faith righteousness. He has already shared his new-found revelation with those who live around him in prison, including a psychiatrist and officers. Those who know his past, can't help but be amazed at his changed life. I am proud to call him my brother in Christ. "What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!12
There is power in the righteousness of Christ. "Since Christ lives within you, even though your body will die because of sin, your spirit is alive because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you."13 After His resurrection, Jesus promised "...when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about Me everywhere--in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."14 I am privileged to be a part of this commission to spread the message of God's righteousness by faith around the word through this website.
I want the whole world to know that "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it [the gospel] is the power of God to salavation for everyone who believes. For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith.'"15 Only God's power is able to overcome our sinful nature and give us new life. And righteousness from God is completely on the basis of faith from beginning to end.
Confession of Salvation
Rick's awakening didn't take a sinner's prayer to receive Christ as his righteousness. He prayed a sinner's prayer two years previously, when he asked Jesus to come into his heart (though we're saved by faith, not by a prayer). Like most of us, Rick didn't understand the revelation of righteousness, which made such a major difference in his life. Rather than being a carnal Christian, he became a spiritual man.16 Have you awakened to Christ as your righteousness? [See my Study Chart Gallery, Natural, Carnal, and Spiritual Man.] (D3).
As far as your confession of salvation, listen to what the apostle Paul said:
"Salvation that comes from trusting in Christ--which is the message we preach--is already within easy reach. In fact, the Scripture says, 'The message is close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.' For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scripture tells us, 'Anyone who believes in Him will not be disappointed. Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They all have the same Lord who generously gives His riches to all who ask for them. For 'Anyone who calls on the name of the
Lord will be saved."17
This is what it comes down to regarding your salvation. When most of you prayed the sinner's prayer, you received Christ as your Savior. Others received Christ as their Savior and Lord of their life, but few of you understood Christ as your righteousness. Because of this, many of you were left partially trusting in your good works for your salvation.
Regardless, I trust you were saved by faith, but possibly like Rick, you lack the knowledge that 'God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."18 If you do lack knowledge, I pray that you will awaken to Christ as your righteousness, and experience the peace and joy that follows. At last, the pressure will be off to appear to be right. You will be the righteousness of God in Christ, sharing in everything that He died and rose again to give you as a free gift.
A Prayer For You ...
Heavenly Father, I pray that You reveal the righteousness of Christ in me through the finished work of the Cross. I am a new creation in Christ.19 I believe in the cleansing blood of Jesus for my righteousness, and not my good works or obedience to the law. I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that You raised Him from the dead. I believe I will not be disappointed "...for the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."20 I will yield to the righteousness of Christ that lives in me. Lord, I ask that you increase my faith so that I will be conscious continually of the revelation of my righteousness in Christ. Amen.
[For a life-changing book on the righteousness of Christ, named "Breaking the Cycle" by Dr. James B. Richards, go to www.impactministries.com. This book will help open your eyes to a brand new life in righteousness.]
1 Titus 3:5
2 Eph. 5:14b
3 Psa. 119:105
4 Gal. 3:6-14
5 Rom. 5:1
6 Heb. 5:13, 14
7 Rom. 14:17
8 Jude 20, 21
9 1 Cor. 15:34
10 Col. 2:10
11 Rom. 5:17-21
12 2 Cor. 5:17
13 Rom. 8:10, 11a
14 Acts 1:8
15 Rom. 1:16, 17
16 1 Cor. 2:14, 15
17 Rom. 10:8-13
18 2 Cor. 5:21
19 2 Cor. 5:17
20 Rom. 14:17
Acknowledgement: A special thanks to Sherry for transcribing this months view!