The Righteousness of God
Sermon by Missionary Joanna Pae on January 20, 2019 during Shiloh 3rd Service
The Declaration of Righteousness
The word “righteousness” means to declare that someone is “right” and in Hebrew terms it actually refers more to relationships. When God declares someone is “right,” He is saying “you are in the right relationship with Me.” Therefore, the word “righteousness” is used to define when a relationship is right with someone. However, more specifically, it is referring to the relationship with God Himself. In other words, we are put “right” with God. That’s what righteousness means. In our main text in Romans 1:17, it speaks of our “justification.” When somebody is declared “right” in relationship with God, we say that person is “justified.”
God’s righteousness revealed
God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith. This means depending on the level of faith the righteousness is revealed differently. Therefore, how the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith is most well demonstrated in the life of our father of faith, Abraham. When we look at his life, we will see how God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith. There are three stages of faith or justifications in the Bible where God credited righteousness to Abraham.
First, at the age of 84 God took Abraham outside and showed him all the stars and said, “So shall your descendants be.” Abraham believed and God credited to him as righteousness (Gen 15:6). Secondly, when Abraham was one-hundred years old, the promised son Isaac was born and it was at this time God reckoned and credited Abraham to be righteous (Rom 4:18-22). And thirdly, when Abraham was between 125-136 years of age, God credited Abraham to be righteous after he offered up Isaac as a burnt offering (James 2:21-24). Thus God’s righteousness is revealed from faith, to faith, to faith.
Justifications of faith
The Hebrew word for “credited” is hasab, meaning "to reckon," "think," and "plan." Thus, you reckon or consider somebody for something. This word “credit,” or hasab, involves trust and has a very personal and emotional value. In the first justification in regards to Abraham’s descendants, because Abraham believed, God credited Abraham’s faith as righteousness meaning that Abraham is not yet perfect but the righteousness was given to him because God trusted and believed in Abraham that “he will be” (Gen 15:5-6). The second justification of righteousness was credited to Abraham at the birth of Isaac when he was one-hundred years old (Rom 4:18-22). The Scriptures says, “In hope against hope Abraham believed” (Rom 4:18). This means that although Abraham had this great despair in his heart over the fact that he did not have an heir; yet, he believed! Abraham did not waver in belief but grew strong in faith and gave glory to God. Abraham experienced a period of thirteen years of silence from God. One year later, God intervened and Isaac was born. It was here for the first time, God introduces Himself as “I Am” (El Shaddai), meaning “Almighty God” for “I am able in all things” (Gen 17:1). God commands Abraham to “Walk before Me, and be blameless.” Here, God defines “blameless” as “I am El Shaddai,” meaning “nothing is impossible for Me and I’m able to perform all of My promises; therefore, walk before Me and be blameless despite your weakness.” Therefore, in God’s equation, being blameless equals walking with God.
Thirdly, the third justification of righteousness was credited to Abraham when he offered up Isaac as a burnt offering when he was between 125-136 years old (James 2:21-24). Abraham’s faith and actions were working together; not the faith alone, but his works as well. Thus, his faith was made complete by his works. We learn of Abraham’s walk of faith and how he was made righteous for our sake because we too will also be credited with righteousness by God because “we” are those who believe in God whom raised Jesus our Lord from the dead (Rom 4:23-25). In James 2:23, it says that the “Scripture was fulfilled” when Abraham believed. This means in the previous “justifications,” it was God who declared that Abraham is going to be righteous by crediting righteousness to Abraham. Now in the third justification, Abraham comes to truly trust and believe in God by offering his son. Thus, the Scripture was actually fulfilled. This means that Abraham’s faith peaked and now Abraham reckoned God as able whereas previously, God credited Abraham.
The Substitution Sacrifice
When Abraham believed that God is able to raise even his son Isaac from the dead, a great miracle happened—Isaac was returned to him (Heb 11:17-19). In place of Isaac there was a substitution sacrifice, the ram. Abraham named this place “The Lord Will Provide” (Gen 22:13-14). This was a testimony that God puts us “right” with Him, meaning righteous. This place where Abraham offered up Isaac is “Moriah,” which means revelation. Two thousand years before Jesus Christ actually came, God was foreshadowing how the Lord will die in our place to make us righteous. God had already predestined this from long ages ago to make us righteous.
Conclusion: God promised Abraham that his descendants will be as numerous as the “Stars of Heaven.” It is God who names these stars that are billions of years old. He remembers every single one of them and calls them by name (Isa 40:26). Therefore, how far more will God not remember your name when He died for you on the cross? So let us remember the “righteousness” and the great gift that we have received. Let us not give up and trust in Him for all the work that He has done.