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Righteousness By Faith

   "Righteousness By Faith", a common sermon topic and much writing has been dedicated in explaining this concept. The phrase only appears once in the KJV but vaguely indicated in a few other verses. My curiosity brought me to do some research after hearing a variety of sermons on this topic, and the result of all their words was confusion beyond my tolerance level. As men attempted to explain all that is thought on this subject, which is similar throughout the Christian community, I was lost on shaky ground. Does it take a multitude of words to explain what is already written in God's word? Since it only appears once, let's have a look, "For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith." (Galatians 5:5, KJV), the J. P. Green Interlinear Bible translates the verse, "for we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness out of faith." A slight different attitude is portrayed in this translation, suggesting that righteousness is a hope that is received when we exercise our faith, "out of faith" as opposed to the suggestion portrayed in the KJV, that there is a hope of righteousness given "by faith". The Greek word translated as, "by" and "out of" is, #1537 ekek, denoting origin (the point whence motion or action proceeds), out of place, time, or cause; lit. or fig.; direct or remote):- after, among, x are, at, betwixt (-beyond), by (the means of)... both uses are listed.. The general theme from the sermons I've heard, stresses that the righteousness we are to receive, is Christ's righteousness, which He established for Himself to become the "Lamb of God". A tested and perfect human was needed for this special sacrifice to be accepted by Jehovah God, which Christ did establish during His first advent. It is preached in "Righteousness By Faith" that His righteousness is to cover all our unrighteousness because of our faith in Jesus. God will not see our sins, only Christ's righteousness and no distinction was mentioned as to repented sin or un-repented sin. I can't begin to explain all that these sermons and books related since it caused confusion for me, but I deem it necessary to explain what "righteousness by faith" means to me, by my understanding of God's word and using basic logic, since there is a difference from what I've heard and read by men and what is within God's word.

    What is righteousness according to God's word? "And it shall be righteousness for us when we are careful to do all this commandment before Jehovah our God, as He has commanded us." (Deuteronomy 6:25), "For judgment shall turn to righteousness; and all the upright in heart shall follow after it." (Psalm 94:15), "My tongue shall answer Your word; for all Your commands are righteousness." (Psalm 119:172). These verses show that righteousness is the law and the doing of them, which is contrary to what I've heard, since the sermons make no mention of us doing anything, except to have faith.

   The relevant points, from my perspective on this topic, are that faith is an important factor with our relationship with Almighty God and with His Son, because we have no tangible connection with either, the Father or the Son, except for the Bible that contains, in most situations, a good translation of God's word. It is imperative that we read, seeking understanding of God's word in order to have solid faith that withstands negative attacks from the world around us. We can't just say to our self that we trust in God without our feet firmly planted on the solid rock of His divine truth. In order to quench any doubts from unstable positions received from sermons and books about God's word, which are insufficient for stable grounding in the truth, we need His word only present in our head and our heart, to be grounded on the rock of truth, which is accurate and dependable. The pure source of truth is only in God's word, which Christ gave us in this Book through His inspiration to the host of Bible writers. This we can trust if we examine and find what is consistent throughout all of His words, which are direct from His Father, God Almighty, "I have given them Your word and the world hated them because they are not of the world, as I am not of the world." (John 17:14). Out faith needs solid ground.

   In their many words written and spoken about this topic, the law of God is pretty well left in the background, because most convey the impression that Christ's righteousness is our righteousness, which implies to me that righteousness is not a responsibility for each individual, because we have inherited the righteousness that Christ accomplished during His first advent because of our expressed faith in Jesus. The righteousness that qualified Him to be the perfect "Lamb of God", which made His personal sacrifice sufficient to substitute for our responsibility the needed blood price for our sins, our personal death for the wages of un-repented sins. His death means we can pass through the gates to the kingdom of God because we are listed in the Book of Life, the price of blood has been paid for us. According to "Righteousness By Faith" as it is taught, God sees Christ's righteousness when He looks at those listed in the Book of Life. To be in the Book of Life we need faith, faith in Jesus, hence "Righteousness" is accomplished by our "Faith" alone. According to my understanding of the way this has been taught and explained by men of many Christian denominations.

   However, there seems to be a few elements missing in this commonly presented message, both for Sunday worshipers and Sabbath keeping Christians. A big missing part from mans many word is that Christ has called us to repentance, "From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent! For the kingdom of Heaven has drawn near." (Matthew 4:17), this was not new to the Jews of that day, John the Baptist also spoke these same words. And Christ call, "But going learn what this is, I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I did not come to call righteous ones, but sinners to repentance." (Matthew 9:13), "and repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached on His name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem." (Luke 24:47). The Old Testament is filled with the Israelites transgressing God's laws, resulting in them being captured and enslaved over a dozen times, ending with Babylon. Paul understood that repentance was a call from Jesus, "but to those first in Damascus and Jerusalem, and to all the country of Judea, and to the nations, I announce the command to repent and to return to God, doing works worthy of repentance." (Acts 26:20). Christ continued to call all to repentance in Revelation, which God gave to Christ and Christ gave to John, "Repent! But if not, I will come to you quickly, and I will make war with them by the sword of My mouth." (Revelation 2:16). What do we have to repent from, beside our transgressions of God's commands? All the verses on repentance were not part of the sermons I heard, or contained in the articles I read on "Righteousness By Faith".

   The other element missing from all these sermons and books, is that Christ also calls for us to follow Him, "Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and let him bear his cross, and let him follow Me." (Matthew 16:24) and, "Then Jesus spoke to them, saying, I am the light of the world; he following Me in no way will walk in darkness, but will be the light of life." (John 8:12), "If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will also be. and if anyone serves me, the Father will honor him." (John 12:26), also, "For you were called to this, for even Christ suffered on our behalf, leaving behind an example for us, that you should follow His steps." (I Peter 2:21). Should we take these request, or more accurately, instructions lightly? Does it sound like Christ gives us His righteousness by faith alone? It seems more that His intentions for us is to follow Him in "doing" as He did and His righteousness will also be ours because we made every effort to do as He did during His earthly walk in His human state. Our following Christ requires us to repent of doing what is contrary to God's way. Following Christ and repentance go hand in hand because we have all sinned. But by our desire and our effort, plus Christ leading us and strengthening us, we can avoid continuing to sin. This would also avoid the innocent victims of our sins, which I'm sure God is concerned about, the pain and injuries inflicted on the host of recipients of our sins, whether physical or emotional, of our or someone else's disregard for God's law, including the pain and disappointment felt by God Himself.

   Christ's righteousness is to be an example for all to follow, not to borrow as a free pass, allowing us to live our life as we please. What seems to be lacking and misunderstood that we still need to acquire a righteous character, a cleansing of the heart, meaning that if righteousness is in our heart, then we will without much effort perform our hears desire, righteousness, and this change of heart enables God to accept us in His kingdom. The desire of our heart is what is the easiest for us to do. I make this sound easy, but it is not easy to change ones heart, the key for this is understanding the reasons righteousness is right, once we consider and reason why something is right then it becomes our desire. God's perfect environment is God's collection of righteousness because Jehovah has already reasoned everything in His design of righteousness.     

   Despite the common belief presented, Christ didn't make the walk for us, He showed us the way and He is to guide us and to strengthen us on our journey, hence, taking up our own cross, "And He said to all, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily. And let him follow Me." (Luke 9:23). By borrowing Christ's righteousness we neither follow Christ nor do we take up "our" cross. Satan and his following angel were cast out of Heaven because they followed the original siner; Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden because of their sin, therefore we need to cleanse ourselves to be allowed entrance into God's kingdom, no one can do this for us, but we can get help from Christ. The Israelites journey was a sample for us; their journey was physical and spiritual, a cleansing journey, where ours is totally a spiritual, character building transformation, but still a cleansing process from this world of sin to a purity, fit for the Godly kingdom. Christ gave us this Book of His Father's words and His inspired words to the many Bible writers, to instruct us as to how to accomplish cleansing of our heart to a righteous character, as Christ Himself accomplished this, showing us the way. After our day in God's court, we will all be secured as to God's judgment at that point, righteous or unrighteous, "The one acting unjustly, let him still act unjustly; and the filthy, let him still be filthy; and the righteous, let him still do righteousness; and the holy, let him still be holy." (Revelation 22:11). This indicates that our personal righteousness is a factor, according to God for His judgments of men. This does not imply that we earn our salvation, salvation is still a free gift, which we do not deserve, but how we perform in this life can certainly prevent salvation to be given to us; we are in control of our salvation "So then my beloved, even as you always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much rather in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling." (Philippians 2:12). We personally make the choices to be good or anything short of righteousness. Moses wasn't allowed to enter the promise land because he sinned once in his journey leading the Israelites forty years in the wilderness, at the rock of water.

   "Righteousness" is still the keeping of the Jehovah's laws, which will bless us with the joys of God's perfect system, to co-exist with our fellow righteous companions. Unrighteousness is still the transgression of God's unchangeable laws. The term "righteous by faith" is mentioned only once, but four other times it is represented in a sentence, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation, to everyone believing both the Jew first and the Greek; for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; even as it has been written "But the just shall live by faith." (Romans 1:16,17) plus Romans 3:22, Philippians 3:9 and Hebrew 11:7. This theme is indicated other times throughout the Bible. The faith we must have is of God and His Son, from our belief and trust, which is revealed in our actions, as it is mentioned in Hebrews 11:7, "Being warned by God about the things not yet having been seen, moved with fear, by faith Noah prepared an ark for the salvation of his house; through which he condemned the world, and became heir of righteousness according to faith." Noah revealed his faith by building the ark for God, without understanding the purpose. His faith was demonstrated by his actions in doing the will of God and we are to do the same, to demonstrate our faith, "Here is the patience of the saints; here are the ones keeping the commands of God and the faith of Jesus." (Revelation 14:12), by doing the will of God, as He has commanded us to do, to keep His Ten Commandments, not because this will give us salvation but because His commands are perfect, and we will to do them because they are within our heart by our understanding why they are right, and they will become a blessing to all who seek righteousness by our faith.