We celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ each Easter. It certainly is a moving story of the sinless Son of God who is brutally beaten and then murdered by nailing him to a cross and then allowing him to slowly suffocate as he struggles to breath, all the time feeling the pain of those iron spikes, all that is holding his body up.
We know the story of Peter denying that he even knew Jesus, of the diciples running away, of the ladies going early Sunday morning to anoint the body of Jesus, only to find the great stone rolled away and the body missing. We know that the angels said to the women “why do you look for the living among the dead?”, and then how Jesus appears to Mary and then the disciples. We know the story of doubting Thomas and how when Jesus said “Put your finger here and see my hands, and Thomas said “My Lord and My God!
We know the story of the disciples walking on the road to Emmaus, and how they did not recognize the stranger who joined them. When they stopped to eat, and the stranger broke bread, they knew He was Jesus. We also know that after 40 days Jesus was with his disciples one last time. The last thing the disciples said to Jesus was: “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:6-11 (ESV)
That is the Power Point Version of the story of Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
I don’t want to focus on the story of Easter. You have heard that story many times before. I want to focus on the Revelation of Easter – specifically, what did the Resurrection Reveal?
We have been looking at Romans, with the intent of taking a Journey through the cross. In our Journey so far we have seen that the Power of God is this Gospel, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This Gospel Alone is the Power of God unto salvation.
- refused to honor God as His God,
- refused to allow God into his life by giving Him thanks,
- man has become vain or self-centered in his thinking.
As a result, man has been given over to the lusts that lurk in his naturally wicked heart, he has become corrupt in his emotions and behavior, and he has become upside down in his thinking. Bottom line, man is a messed up sinner.
Furthermore, we see from chapter two, that no matter how good man thinks he is, it is not good enough for God. God has declared that we are unrighteous. We are not “right”. Even the Jews, who are blessed by God, Paul writes:
What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Romans 3:9-12 (ESV)
The problem with God’s creation, with man, is that the one thing God made in His own image, you and me, mankind, has become worthless because of sin, because of our disobedience. You may sit there thinking, “I’ve never been one of those ‘corrupt’ sinners. Please realize as Charles Hodge wrote:
“If we have never loved Him supremely, if we have never made it our purpose to do His will, if we have never made His glory the end of our actions, then our lives have been an unbroken series of transgressions. Our sins are not to be numbered by the conscious violations of duty; they are as numerous as the moments of our existence.” Hodge
The Truth is, that ever since Adam and Eve, this world has not been RIGHT! God’s Righteous Creation was corrupted by three things:
If God is to set this world RIGHT, Someone must deal with these three corruptors!
The Revelation of Easter
As we will read in a moment, when Jesus stepped through that doorway of his tomb, when he looked up and saw the the sunlight breaking over the horizon, it was more than a miracle, it was more than a triumphal moment for the Son of God. In that moment God revealed something to all of mankind for all of eternity. God revealed His righteousness!
You may say that that is no big deal. If I were to ask each of you, you would tell me you believe in the Righteousness of God. Yet, many of you really have doubts.
We equate righteousness with being right, and many times in our lives we have experienced things or seen things that we feel in our heart are not right, not just, or just not fair. And that causes us to question this God who is supposed to be righteous, supposed to be loving
When you experience the death of an infant or a child, when you are in a horrible auto accident, or perhaps another kind of accident; when we hear of the tragedies other Christians are experiencing such as torture, rape, and even death, we think “why God”? Is that how you show your righteousness?
When greed is allowed to multiply, when corruption grows, when terrorists do what terrorists do and seem to get away with it, we wonder about the righteousness of God. We even wonder about His power in this world.
Sure, we have heard about His mighty miracles in the past, but why isn’t He doing this in my life? Why is He allowing this torment in my life? Why won’t He set this situation right? After all, you’ve been good, you say your prayers, even read your Bible.
Once there was a man who experienced all sort of tragedies, the death of his children, the theft of everything he owned, the loss of his health. Even his friends turned on him. He questioned the righteousness of God in a huge way. He even pleaded with God for a chance to confront Him, and plead his case that God was wrong. Finally, God appears
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:5-6 (ESV)
Instead of pleading and questioning, he repented, he was silent, he was in awe!
We can question God all we want. We can ignore God all we want. But the truth is that God is Righteous, and today we celebrate how He revealed His righteousness – in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Ps 71:15: “My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge.”
Whatever your questions and doubts about God and what He has done inyour life, one day you will know that He is and has always dealt with you in His righteousness:
Rev 15:4: “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
Have You Experienced the Righteousness of God?
The question I want each of us to answer is this: Have you experienced the Righteousness of God?
In Job 9:2, Job asked: “How should a man be right before God?”
His answer concluded that because God is the kind of God He is, there was no way he could ever approach Him? How can I ever be right with Him? How can I ever get an audience with Him? How can I ever have a relationship with such a God… so mighty, so holy, so powerful? That’s the question. Can a man be right with a God like that? Can a man have a right relationship with that holy, infinite, mighty God? And that is the question answered by our text and the answer is – yes, yes, yes!
Paul makes plain the Revelation of the Resurrection in Romans 3:21-26
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:21-26 (ESV)
What does the Righteousness of God Mean?
Dikaiosúnē, righteousness, meanss conformity to the claims of a higher authority and stands in opposition to anomía, lawlessness. Righteousness describes the character and the quality of God Himself. His character, his conduct, his actions his word, everything that God does, thinks, allows is according to who He is-righteous. His creation, his design,is all consistent with who He is-righteous.
Righteous is a state of being that cannot do wrong, cannot do that which is not righteous.
“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 Jn. 1:5).
Righteousness is God. God is the Definition of Righteousness
But what makes the Resurrection so Powerful, is that while it Revealed to us the Righteousness of God, that revelation was not just for show, it was to reveal something even more awesome than coming back from the dead, it revealed that the Righteousness of God can be ours! We can be Righteous!!!!
When Job asked “How can any man be righteous before God? God answers back – behold the Resurrection!
If you desire, as Job did, an audience with God, if you desire to spend your eternity with God, then you must be as Righteous as God is, otherwise He considers you to be “NOT RIGHT” and lawless!
So the question is not whether you have experienced the Righteousness of God, but is actually Are You as Righteous as God?
If not, then you will not spend eternity with Him. You will continue to be corrupted by Death and Satan for all eternity!
God demands our righteousness if we are to have a relationship of “worth” with Him. God himself is our standard of righteousness, so if we are to be righteous, we must share the very righteousness that belongs to God!
You ask, Can I Really be Righteous? Ephesians declares that we are to “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness”. Ephesians 4:24 (ESV) God says that it is indeed possible to experience His righteousness. Indeed, we can even “put on” a new self, created in true righteousness and holiness based upon God Himself!
So when Jesus tells us in John 6:33 to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” he is telling us that we can indeed experience the righteousness of God!
There are Four Truth’s about becoming Righteous:
verse 21 says, it’s apart from the law. And here Paul uses the word “law” to refer to legalism, legal effort, law keeping on a human level. It is a part from any works of man. It is apart from any goodness of man, any religiosity, any spiritual ritual, any innate quality of man. It’s apart from any legalism in the sense that you on your own can live up to the law of God and satisfy God.
Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. Galatians 3:21 (ESV)
2. It Comes By Revelation
God reveals it to you. It is witnessed by the Old Testament. The whole Old Testament was to show men that they couldn’t be righteous on their own. Even Jesus when he preached reaffirmed that God’s Standard is righteousness. He even made it harder showing that lust, lieing, stealin is not just an outward act, but it is an inward thing to. Even Jesus wanted His disciples to know that in themselves they could not be righteous.
Jesus wanted them to see that God would bring His righteousness to them. So the way to respond to the Sermon on the Mount is to cry out, I’m unclean, I can’t keep those commands, I need you, I need the power of Your Resurrection in my life.
3. It Comes By Faith
Verse 22: “This righteousness of God is by faith.” In other words, it doesn’t come by works, it comes by faith. And those two are distinct. Works is something you do, it is an effort that you do embark on. Faith is something God does and you believe it, you accept it, you trust in it. It is done by Him and you accept that He did it and you don’t have to add anything to it.
On the cross Jesus said it is finished. He had accomplished the work of salvation, it was done. And the Bible simply says if you believe, you’re redeemed…. if you believe that He finished the work, if you believe in the significance of what He did, who He was and dying on the cross and rising from the dead, that’s all that’s necessary. He did it all, you need only believe it. It is acquired by faith. “If thou shalt confess Jesus as Lord and believe in thine heart that God has raised Him from the dead,” Romans 10:9 and10, “thou shalt be saved, for with the heart man believeth unto salvation.”
Isaiah 61:10 “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord and my soul shall be joyful in my God, for He hath clothedme with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.”
God makes us Righteous, ONLY GOD!
The Righteousness of God was revealed to us in the Resurrection, it is totally apart from our works, it is built upon revelation, it is acquired by simple faith. The final amazing thing is:
4. It is a Gift Available to All
Verse 22 says: “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ, unto all them, who are believing.” The provision is made for anyone who believes.
DO I REALLY NEED THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD? Is it important that we are made righteous like God? It is eternally important:
because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:31 (ESV)
The Resurrection is the Revelation that We can be Righteous!
By raising Christ from the dead, God not only revealed His righteousness to you and me, but He also assured us that we will one day be judged as to whether we were righteous or not! The Resurrection demonstrated to the world that the ONLY righteousness that God will accept is His righteousnesss. And He manifested that Righteousness in the Resurrection of His Son.
How Does the Resurrection Reveal God’s Righteousness to ME?
Paul in just a few short verses uses three distinct pictures to reveal exactly what the Resurrection means to you and me. There are three words that picture what the Resurrection represents to you and me.
The words are Justified or Justification, Redemption and Propitiation. Volumes have been written to define these words, but simply put they picture three things. These three pictures explain how the Righteousness of God can be revealed to your life.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Romans 3:23-24 (ESV)
Picture a courtroom where a man who has committed a heinous crime is about to have his verdict read. The gallery is thinking this is a slam dunk. The devil was the Prosecuting Attorney. He is the one bringing the charges. He believes he has a claim on this man’s soul! The verdict seems simple.There was no evidence offered in his defense. Even his own widowed mother testified that he was a horrible person. The devil had witness after witness that testified to his horrible crimes. The devil is laughing with delight, for he believes another soul is in his grasp!
The judge, even after hearing all the horrible testimonies, announced to the courtroom: NOT GUILTY! You are free to go!
But the judge goes beyond the simple Not Guilty. The Judge declares him to be righteous. He doesn’t simply ignore the evidence, he erases it.
When God justifies us, he doesn’t close His eyes and pretend we are righteous. He makes us righteous. It is a transformation.
The devil immediately stands up and cries “This is a travesty. He has killed, he has stolen, he has lied” How can you say you are righteous and declare that this lowlife is righteous like you?
At that point, the courtroom shakes, a huge stone is rolled away, and out steps the Resurrected Jesus Christ!
He walks up to the man, embraces him, and says, “He has my righteousness! He is my brother, he simply put his life in my hands”
The devil shuts up, he has no other accusations. The man walks out, in the arms of His Savior!
The Resurrection brings God’s Righteousness to our hearts simply by our faith in the truth of Jesus Christ. By faith, God makes us righteous. We are no longer condemned men and women. We are actually made righteous. We are transformed into new creations.
If we believe that God is just saying we are righteous when we’re not, then conversion isn’t a transformation it’s just God sort of fooling Himself. But being born again is a true “making righteous”. We are made right with God… an actual acquittal, an actual imputation of righteous nature granted to us. And it is all a gift freely given.
For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (ASV)
JUSTIFY MEANS TO PRONOUNCE AND TREAT AS RIGHTEOUS. It is vastly more than being pardoned; it is a thousand times more than forgiveness. You may wrong me and then come to me; and I may say, “I forgive you.” But I have not justified you. I cannot justify you. But when God justifies a man, He says, “I pronounce you a righteous man. Henceforth I am going to treat you as if you have never committed any sin.” Justification means sin is all past and gone — wiped out — not merely forgiven, not merely pardoned; it means clearing the slate and setting the sinner before God as a righteous man, as if he had never sinned, as if he were as righteous as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Dr. Alva McClain in “Romans, the Gospel of God’s Grace, p. 107
The Resurrection reveals that our Justification and our Rightousness must be totally by Jesus Christ. We cannot stand on anything that we have done, for it is all sin, it is all as filthy rags. We are made righteous only when we place our faith and trust in the Righteous One-Jesus Christ. We are clothed in His righteousness.
The Resurrected Christ has made us Right by transforming us into His Righteousness and freeing us from the claims of Satan
A SLAVE MARKET
and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Romans 3:24 (ESV)
Imagine you had been kidnapped, held in a dungeon. You are being held by none other than Satan himself. He sends for you and declares you to be his slave, on the basis of God’s Word!
“Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” (Jn 8:34)
You are a sinner, and because you are a sinner, the wages of your sin are death by becoming his slave for all eternity. As you stand there, bound in the chains of your sins, suddenly the gates of hell are shaken, a huge stone is rolled away, and out steps the Resurrected Jesus Christ.
He points his finger at that old Devil and says Stop! He must go free! Immediately the chains fall off and evaporate into thin air.
The Old Devil Reaches out to Grab you, but Jesus says STOP!
I have paid the price for his sins! Here look at my hands, look at my feet! I have taken his place on the Cruel Cross and I have paid the price of his sins with my own Blood. He has trusted in me with his heart and soul, and he has been redeemed!
That old devil throws a fit, but Jesus takes your hand and together you rise to heaven!
- Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— Galatians 3:13 (ESV)
- You were bought with a Price! (I Cor 6:20)
- who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:14 (NIV)
- “To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:5).
- “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).
- “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Tim. 2:5-6).
A dignified looking lady once approached the great preacher Dr. G. Campbell Morgan and said,
“Dr. Morgan, I don’t like to hear about the blood. It is repulsive to me and offends my esthetic nature.”
Dr. Morgan replied, “I agree with you that it is repulsive, but the only thing repulsive about it is your sin and mine.”
It is repulsive to man, but it is through His blood that we have redemption. The Resurrected Christ has made us right by freeing us from the chains of sin.
Verse 25 & 26: God has appointed him as the means of propitiation, a propitiation accomplished by the shedding of his blood, to be received and made effective in ourselves by faith. God has done this to demonstrate his righteousness both by the wiping out of the sins of the past (the time when he withheld his hand), and by showing in the present time that he is a just God and that he justifies every man who has faith in Jesus Christ. Romans 3:25-26 (Phillips NT)
The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23)
Most of us have seen a movie with the natives believing some god is angry with them. They believe the only way to appease their god is to offer a human sacrifice.
God hates sin. It is not right. It is not righteous. God cannot tolerate anyone who has even one sin. He requires death, he requires a sacrifice. God loves us, but His righteousness means he cannot tolerate sin, in fact, he must prosecute sinners, he must judge them.
That is why he set out a system of sacrifices for the Jewish people. His righteousness demanded a covering of their sin. The Law spelled out in great detail the method of atoning for the sins of Israel. Atoning is a word similar to propitiation.
Jesus became our sacrifice, our propitiation.
He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 1John 2:2
Jesus himself become the satisfaction, that’s the word hilasterion, the propitiation. It means “a place where sins are blotted out.” It means that God’s righteous requirements are satisfied because your sins are blotted out.
It was used to refer to the Mercy Seat, when the priest went in the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, and sprinkled the blood on the Mercy Seat, that was the place where sins were blotted out … and Christ became the place where sins are blotted out. He became the kapporeth, the Mercy Seat. He, by His blood, provided satisfaction. And so we are redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, a lamb without spot and without blemish.
So picture yourself before God Almighty. You sins have made you wretched before him and His righteousness demands your death. A death that will last for all eternity in Hell. But just before you are to be carried away into eternal torment, an earthquake is felt, the huge stone is rolled away and Jesus Christ appears. He instantly goes to you and takes you in his arms and looks back at God and says, He is mine, his sins are blotted out. God immediately smiles. Instead of the stench of your sins filling his nostrils, there is the aroma of His Son. Where there was rotting sin, there is cleanness, righteousness. He is pleased He can be loving, He can take you to heaven. His righteous demands have been satisfied, because the Blood of Jesus has satisfied the righteous demands of God upon your life.
- The Resurrected Christ has made us right by freeing us from the wrath of God that demanded our death
- The Righteousness of God becomes our righteousness because of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Resurrection is the Proof that Jesus Finished the Job. It is Finished because I have Conquered!
Jesus Christ set everything RIGHT! He satisfied the Righteous Demands of Holy God. He empowered all those who believe to possess the righteousness of God. He covered our sins, satisfying God’s demands, He purchased us from the devil, from death and from sin by His Blood, and He became our righteousness, enabling us to partake of the righteousness of God!
Jesus Made Everything Right so He Could Reveal the Righteousness of God
When Jesus stepped forth from that Tomb, He declared to God and the world that He had set things right again.
- He is our Propitiation and through His sacrifice made us right with Death.
- He is our Redeemer and through His blood made us right with Sin
- He is our Justifier and by His Righteousness becoming ours, he has made us right with Satan.
- His resurrection revealed the Righteousness of the Father, and freed us from sin, from death and from Satan!
HAVE YOU BEEN MADE RIGHT WITH GOD BY FAITH?
- In verse 22 we see a little word mentioned: This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, Romans 3:22 (NIV)
- In verse 25 we see that same little word: whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.
- In verse 26 we see that little word again: “It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
The Reason the Resurrection can transform you from a sinner bound for Hell into a Righteous Saint bound for heaven is by faith in what Jesus Christ did for you on the Cross. When Jesus said “It is finished” by faith you say “AMEN”
Faith is rest, not toil. It Is Not Your Faith That Saves You. It means you turn away from all you think you need to do to gain God and simply rest in what Jesus did for you.
- He freed you from the devil’s condemnation in the court room,
- He freed you from slavery to sin,
- He freed you from the wrath of death in hell.
There is nothing more you can do to be righteous before God.
An orphaned boy was living with his grandmother when their house caught fire. The grandmother, trying to get upstairs to rescue the boy, perished in the flames. The boy’s cries for help were finally answered by a man who climbed an iron drainpipe and came back down with the boy hanging tightly to his neck.
Several weeks later, a public hearing was held to determine who would receive custody of the child. A farmer, a teacher, and the town’s wealthiest citizen all gave the reasons they felt they should be chosen to give the boy a home. But as they talked, the lad’s eyes remained focused on the floor. Then a stranger walked to the front and slowly took his hands from his pockets, revealing severe scars on them. As the crowd gasped, the boy cried out in recognition. This was the man who had saved his life. His hands had been burned when he climbed the hot pipe. With a leap the boy threw his arms around the man’s neck and held on for dear life. The other men silently walked away, leaving the boy and his rescuer alone. Those marred hands had settled the issue.
Many voices are calling for our attention. Among them is the One whose nail-pierced hands remind us that He has rescued us from sin and its deadly consequences. To Him belongs our love and devotion. -D. C. Egner (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
What do you think of the Resurrection? Is it just a story?
Are you ready to place your life in the nail-scarred hands of Jesus Christ?