Love, Righteousness & Salvation: Foundational Christianity

Introduction

Greetings! After doing deep dives over the past 35 years into the subjects of  biblical love, righteousness, and salvation it has become plain to me how important this understanding is to the ministry of the Church that Jesus founded.

Hebrews 6:1-3 tells us which teachings are Foundational. It seems to me they are being neglected in the Church. Four of the six include: “repentance from dead works (which is turning from a life that produces spiritual death), faithfulness to God, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgement.” This study lays that foundation, and more.

love, righteousness, salvation in png

This study was originally produced to aid brothers in prison ministry in Kenya but by the time I finished I realized the importance of this teaching for any and all churches and ministries, and how well suited it is for evangelism and church planting.

There has been much confusion in the churches regarding these topics. My aim is that the scriptures I quote will speak for themselves, though I have added some commentary and inserted words in square brackets [like this] to make things clearer when needed. I’ve also made the words of Jesus, the Author & Finisher of our Faith, in red letters. You might also notice I’ve replaced the word “faith” with “faithfulness” in most cases. This is intentional because the Greek word carries that idea more often than Protestant translators would like to entertain. And I’ve generally added “[of righteousness]” after the word “truth” because that word does not mean “doctrinal truth,” it means “true living”.

This study quotes over 600 scriptures, enough to provide a fairly comprehensive overview of themes that many Christians are unaware of, even though these themes are everywhere in the scriptures.

Every once in awhile I will ask perfect strangers a question, usually after eavesdropping on their conversations at Starbucks Coffee and finding that they are Christians. I ask them if they were the same person they are today but weren’t Christians, for whatever reason, would God consider them to be righteous. Almost to the person the answer is, “No, a person is only considered righteous, and thus saved, if he believes in Jesus Christ.”  If you’re up on theology, you might recognize that as the legacy of Martin Luther who instigated the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago.  As we get into this study, I hope that early on you will come to different conclusions than Luther and the folks at Starbucks.

By Kirby Hopper, October 2023

What’s In This Study?

Chapter 1 – Just How Important to God is Love?

  1. Love is One of the Weightier Matters of the Law of Moses
  2. Love is the Summation and Fulfilling of the Old Testament
  3. God is Love
  4. We are Called to be Like God
  5. For our Muslim Friends: Doing Good to Others is Commanded in the Qur’an
  6. God Commanded Muslims to Compete With Christians in Doing Righteousness
  7. Loving Others is How We Love God
  8. Love is How We and the World will Know We are Jesus’ Disciples
  9. Love is the Greatest of God’s Commandments
  10. Understanding the Old Testament Depends on Understanding and Living a Life of Love for God and Others
  11. Everyone Who Loves is Born of God and Knows God
  12. Knowing God Means Doing Good
  13. Lack of Love is the Root of All Evil
  14. Lack of Love is the Cause of Your Problems
  15. It’s Impossible to be Wicked if you Love Your Neighbors
  16. Love Others to Receive Eternal Life

 

Chapter 2 – What is Agape Love?

  1. Agape is not Unconditional Love
  2. Agape is not Divine Love Because:
  3. Agape is not an Emotion
  4. Agape is not Exclusive to Christians
  5. The Root Meaning of Agape is “Esteem” or “Value”
  6. At Another Level, Agape Means to Value the Esteemed so as to Act for the Physical, Spiritual, and Emotional Benefit or Well-Being of the Esteemed
  7. The Greatest Love: Sacrificing One’s Own Welfare for the Welfare of the Esteemed
  8. Phileo Love is Esteem Born out of Familiarity
  9. The “Strength” of Agape is Seen in Action, not Emotion
  10. Emotion – Evidence of Agape; Action – Proof of Agape
  11. Selfishness, not Hate, is the Opposite of Agape

 

Chapter 3 – For God so Loved the World

  1. God Thinks Highly of His Human Creation
  2. God Loves Us to Make Us Children of God
  3. The Children of God are the Ones Who Are Righteous
  4. God’s Justice is not at Odds with His Love – It’s an Expression of His Love and Mercy
  5. God’s Justice is not Punishment, it is Setting Things Right Again, which Christ Came to Do Through Mercy and Compassion
  6. God’s Love Has Been Poured Into Us
  7. Knowing the Love of Christ Fills Us with God

 

Chapter 4 – Christ Our Example

  1. Jesus is Our Example of How to Live Righteously
  2. We are to Follow Jesus’ Example
  3. Jesus’ Sacrifice of Himself Was a Supreme Example to be Followed

 

Chapter 5 – Let’s Get Practical                                   

  1. The Love Chapter – 1 Corinthians 13
  2. Love One Another, Fulfilling the Law of God
  3. The Love One Another Commands

 

Chapter 6 – Why Righteousness Matters

  1. God is Pleased with Righteous People and is Not Pleased with the Unrighteous
  2. We are the Temple of God if we are Righteous
  3. New Covenant Scriptures Teach a Resurrection of the Righteous and the Unrighteous
  4. The Jewish Hope since Old Testament Times has been for the Resurrection of the Righteous
  5. That Jewish Hope for a Resurrection of the Righteous was Confirmed in the New Testament
  6. Righteousness Saves from Troubles in this Life
  7. Righteousness Saves from God’s Judgement in this Life
  8. Righteousness Saves from God’s Judgement in the Afterlife
  9. God’s Judgement in the Afterlife is Eternal, but it is not Eternal Suffering

 

Chapter 7 – What Does Righteous” Mean?      

  1. A Righteous Person is the One Who Does Right, Not the One Who Does Evil (a Wicked Person)
  2. The Old Testament Word for Righteous
  3. The New Testament Word for Righteous
  4. All Wickedness is Sin, but not all Sin is Wickedness
  5. There is a Penalty for Wickedness, but no Penalty for sin
  6. Righteousness is Contrasted with Wickedness
  7. Unrighteousness is Equated with Wickedness
  8. The Following are Associated with Righteousness: Gracious Giving, Wisdom, Justice, Truth, Being Humane, and Faithfulness
  9. A Common Theme in Scriptures is that the Wicked People are the Violent Ones and will be Judged
  10. The Righteous are Contrasted with People who are: Fools, Perverting Justice, Treacherous, Deceivers, Cruel, Sinners, Greedy, Unjust, Lazy and won’t Work, Murderers, Committing Abominations, Adulterers, Shameless, Hypocrites and Lawless, Spiritually Sick, Fraudulent, Living in Darkness, and Corrupt
  11. Righteousness is not Impossible nor Even an Elite Status but Rather Describes the Average Joe
  12. Being Stiff-necked and Obstinate Toward God is Unrighteous
  13. The New Covenant Instituted by Jesus is About Knowing God
  14. Knowing God Means Doing Righteousness and Justice

 

Chapter 8 – When is a Person Considered Righteous?

  1. When a Righteous Man Does Something Righteous it is Credited (Imputed) to Him for Righteousness
  2. “Imputed Righteousness” Rightly Understood, Means a Person is “Considered” Righteous Because He Actually > IS < Righteous
  3. Righteousness is Something that is to be Pursued through Faithfulness
  4. If You are Wicked (Unrighteous) You Can’t be Considered or Imputed to be Righteous Because:
    1. God will not justify the wicked.
    2. Righteousness is not “on/off”. It’s quantitative.
    3. Righteousness is administered.
    4. Righteousness is pursued, not conferred.

 

Chapter 9 – Benefits of Righteousness

  1. Righteousness Produces the Following: Peace, Blessings, Lack of Trouble, Prospering, Things Going Well, Solidness, Exaltation, Safety, Generational Blessings, Life and Honor, Light, Healing, Protection, God Hearing our Prayers, Freedom from the Bondage of Sin, Being Set Apart from the World, Generosity, Good Days and Love for Life, and Being Like God Because God is Righteous.
  2. God is Delighted with Righteous People and Will Deal Justly with Us
  3. The Righteous and People who Lead Others to Righteousness are Like Lights in the Dark
  4. Righteousness Prepares the People for Salvation
  5. Sin Produces Spiritual Death, Righteousness Produces Spiritual Life
  6. Righteousness Equips the Saints
  7. Because God is Righteous, He Brings About:
    1. Relief from Oppression and Terror
    2. Compassion on the Poor
    3. Forgiveness and Cleansing from Unrighteousness

 

Chapter 10 – How Righteousness Saves Eternally 

  1. People are Born Righteous and thus Saved, but not all Stay that Way
  2. Repentance Saves Because:
    1. God Takes no Pleasure in the Death of the Wicked
    2. God does not Want any to Perish
    3. God is Gracious, Compassionate, and Full of Love
    4. There is Joy in Heaven when an Unrighteous Person Repents
    5. Forgiveness and Life Come Through Repentance
  3. Wicked Behavior, not Belief, is the Basis for Judgement
  4. The Romans Road to Salvation Shows Conduct to be the Basis for Judgement
  5. Righteous People are not in Danger of Hellfire and do not Need to Repent
  6. That is Why Jesus did not Come for the Spiritually Healthy, the Righteous, and Those who are not Lost, but he Came for Sinners, the Sick, and the Lost

 

Chapter 11 – What is Salvation?                      

  1. Salvation is Deliverance from Danger and Oppression
  2. Salvation is Deliverance from the Bondage of Sin
  3. Salvation is Restoration to Wholeness

 

Chapter 12 – The Big Picture Narrative  – The Following Were Given to Bring About Righteousness and Therefore Salvation: the Law, Prophets, Captivity, Jesus’ Teaching, Example, Crucifixion and Resurrection, the Law of Christ, Repentance, the Covenants, the Gospel, the Kingdom of God, the Holy Spirit, Ministers, and the Body of Christ

  1. The Law was Given to Bring About Righteousness and Life
    1. Israel Could Have Become Righteous at Any Time by Following Torah [The Law of Moses] but they were a Stiff-Necked People
    2. At Times the Nation of Israel was Considered Righteous
    3. At Other Times the Nation of Israel was Considered Unrighteous
  2. Sacrificing Lambs was not Given to Bring About Righteousness
  3. The Prophets were Given to Bring About Righteousness
  4. Captivity was Designed to Bring About Righteousness
  5. Though Torah [The Law of Moses] Produced Righteousness in Some Individuals, it Failed to Consistently Produce Righteousness on a National Scale, Thus the Need for a Different “Method” to Bring that About – Jesus the Messiah
    1. Jesus is the Righteous One of God
    2. Good People Accepted Jesus and His Teaching
    3. Jesus Provided Teaching and Example of Righteousness
    4. The Law of Christ, Not a Belief or a Different Belief System, Replaced the Law of Moses
    5. Jesus Was Sent to Preach Repentance for Life for Those Lost in Iniquity
    6. God Raised Jesus from the Dead to Validate His Words so the Jews would Listen to Him
    7. Being Faithful to Jesus Produces Righteousness
    8. Relationship with Jesus Provides Access to God and His Grace, Divine Assistance, and Participation in the Divine Nature – To Make Us Better
    9. What Did it Mean to “Believe in Jesus” Before He Died and Rose Again?
    10. What Did it Mean to “Believe in Jesus” After He Died and Rose Again?
    11. To “Believe in Jesus” Means to Die to Self and Obey Jesus
    12. Good People who Love their Neighbors as Themselves Live in the Light and are Saved
    13. Obeying Jesus Invites the Power of God for Transformation
  6. Jesus Died on the Cross to Make us Better
    1. Jesus Did Not Die on the Cross as a Human Sacrifice
    2. The Law Forbids Human Sacrifice
    3. Jesus Did Not Die on the Cross in the Place of Others – A Person’s Own Righteousness will be what Saves Him
    4. Jesus Died on the Cross to Show His and God’s Love for Us
    5. Jesus Died on the Cross to Draw People to God to Bring About Actual, not Legal, Righteousness
    6. Jesus Died on the Cross to Draw People to God so They Would Repent so They Could be Forgiven
    7. Jesus Died on the Cross to Purify Us from our Sin to Make Us Better People
    8. Jesus Died on the Cross so we will have Victory over Sin in our Lives
  7. The Gospel (Good Message) of Jesus was Given to Bring About Righteousness
    1. The Gospel is the Blessing of Repentance from Evil
    2. The Gospel is to be Obeyed, not Just Believed
  8. The Kingdom of God was Given to Bring about Righteousness
    1. The Jews were Promised David’s Kingdom would be Restored
    2. The Kingdom was for the Jews but it was Taken from them and Given to those who would be Faithful to God
    3. The Nature of the Kingdom Changed from Political to Spiritual
    4. The Kingdom of Heaven is on Earth – Now!
    5. There is no One-Time Event called the “Coming” of the Kingdom
    6. There is also a Kingdom in Heaven – which is inherited by Being Good
    7. We need to be Worthy of the Kingdom of God
    8. The Kingdom of God is Characterized by Righteous People and Righteous Leadership – The Unrighteous Need not Apply
    9. The Kingdom is Designed to Grow and Make Society more Righteous
  9. The Holy Spirit was Given to Bring About Righteousness
    1. Righteousness is the Fruit of the Spirit and Relationship with God
    2. Righteousness Invites the Spirit of God
    3. Listen to the Holy Spirit
  10. Ministers Today are Given to Bring About Righteousness
  11. The Body of Christ was Given to Us to Bring About Righteousness

 

Chapter 13 – How to Become Righteous If You Aren’t

  1. Justification is the Process of Being Made Experientially Righteous
  2. God’s Law is in the Heart of the Righteous, Even Those Who do not Know the Law
  3. The Righteous Serve God by Being Righteous
  4. Baby Christians are not Accustomed to the Words of Righteousness
  5. Anger Does Not Produce Righteousness
  6. People who are Righteous and Love Their Neighbors are Born of God; Wicked People are born from Below
  7. Righteous People Welcome Preachers of Righteousness. Wicked People Don’t
  8. Truth is not Doctrine or Theological Understanding – Truth is Right Living
  9. Jesus’ Promise to Us: We Will Know the Truth and the Truth will Set Us Free
  10. We Should Know if we are Righteous
    1. David Knew he was Righteous
    2. Solomon Knew he was Righteous
    3. Isaiah’s People Knew if they were Righteous
    4. We should Know when we are Following God’s Instruction
  11. Others will Know if You are Righteous
  12. The Book of Life Lists the Ones who are Righteous
  13. Pursue Righteousness and you will be Rewarded
  14. The Best Way to Become Righteous is to Do What Jesus Said: “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself”

 

Chapter 14 – Righteousness that Works – Not Works Righteousness:     

  1. Neither Jesus nor Paul took a Dim View of the Law of Moses
  2. People can Fake Being Righteous
  3. Trusting in Your own Righteousness Means Trusting in Things that don’t Actually Make you Righteous, Such as doing the Uniquely Jewish Parts of the Law while Ignoring the Righteous Requirements of the Law.
  4. The Self-Righteous in the Bible are the Unrighteous People of Faith Who Thought they Were Righteous Because they Followed the Uniquely Jewish Laws
  5. Paul the Unrighteous Pharisee
  6. Yet at the Time Paul Thought he was Righteous Because he was Jewish and did what Jews Do
  7. God’s Heart: Restoration to Righteousness and Wholeness

 

Chapter 15 – Righteous Leadership   

  1. Judges and Officials in the Old Testament were Required to be Righteous so God would Bless the People
  2. When God Wants to Bless a Nation He Gives them Righteous Laws and a Righteous King
  3. Righteousness is Expected of all Kings and Judges
  4. Elders in the Church Should be Examples of Righteousness

 

Chapter 16 – Scriptures Frequently Misunderstood  

  1. Understanding Comes from Harmonizing Apparent Contradictions
    1. Read the Verse in Context
    2. Understand the Vocabulary Being Used
    3. Determine the Audience Relevance
    4. Determine whether it’s Universal and Eternal or Cultural and Temporal
    5. Determine Whether it’s Law or Principle
    6. Determine Whether it’s Literal or a Figure of Speech
    7. Understand Logical Fallacies
  2. Difficult Scriptures Explained:
    1. “There are none righteous, no, not one.”
    2. “All our righteousness is as filthy rags.”
    3. “Whoever does not believe stands condemned already.”
    4. “If you believe not that I am, you shall die in your sins.”
    5. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father but by me.”
    6. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

 

Chapter 1 – Just How Important to God is Love?

1. Love is One of the Weightier Matters of the Law of Moses

Leviticus 19:18  You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

Matthew 23:23  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others.

NOTE: As we shall see later, love includes doing justice and mercy, and being faithful.

2. Love is the Summation and the Fulfilling of the Old Testament

Romans 13:8-10  Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.

Galatians 5:14  So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

3. God is Love

1 John 4:7-12  Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

4. We are Called to be Like God

Ephesians 5:1-2  Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

5. For our Muslim Friends: Doing Good to Others is Commanded in the Qur’an

Qur’an 4:36  Serve God and join not any partners with Him; and do good – to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer you meet, and what your right hands possess.

6. God Commanded Muslims to Compete with Christians in Doing Righteousness

Qur’an 5:48  Had God willed, He could have made you [Muslims and Christians] one congregation. But He thus puts you to the test through the revelations He has given each of you. You shall compete in righteousness. To God is your final destiny – all of you – then He will inform you of everything about which you had disputed.

7. Loving Others is How We Love God

1 John 2:4-6  If any man says, “I know him” and does not obey his laws, he is telling a lie. He does not know what is true. But if any man obeys his word, he really loves God. Here is the way that we may be sure that we belong to him. If any man says he belongs to him, he must live in the same way Christ lived.

8. Love is How We and the World will Know We are Jesus’ Disciples

John 13:34-35  I give you a new law. That law is, “Love each other.” As I have loved you, so you also love each other. This is how all people will know that you are my disciples.

9. Love is the Greatest of God’s Commandments

Matthew 22:36-40  Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart. Love him with all your soul and love him with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest law. The second law of God is like it. ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ All that is written in the books of the Law and the books of the prophets is about these two laws.

10. Understanding the Old Testament Depends on Understanding and Living a Life of Love for God and Others

Matthew 22:36-40  Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart. Love him with all your soul and love him with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest law. The second law of God is like it. ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ All that is written in the books of the Law and the books of the prophets is about these two laws.

11. Everyone Who Loves is Born of God and Knows God

1 John 4:7-8  Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

12. Knowing God Means Doing Good

Jeremiah 22:16-17 [King Josiah] did what was right and just, so all went well with him. He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the Lord. “But your eyes and your heart are set only on dishonest gain, on shedding innocent blood and on oppression and extortion.”

13. Lack of Love is the Root of All Evil

1 Timothy 6:10  For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

NOTE: Love for money over love for people causes people to do wicked things, which would not be done if the person did not lack for love for people.

James 3:16  Where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is also disorder and every kind of evil.

14. Lack of Love is the Cause of Your Problems

Proverbs 15:6  Great wealth is in the house of the righteous, but trouble is in the income of the wicked.

15. It’s Impossible to be Wicked if you Love Your Neighbors

Romans 13:10  Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.

16. Love Others to Receive Eternal Life

Luke 10:25-28  A man who taught God’s law stood up and asked Jesus a question to try him out. “Teacher,” he said. “What must I do so that I will live forever?” Jesus said to him, “What does the law say? What do you read there?” The man answered, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart. Love him with all your soul. Love him with all your power and love him with all your mind. And you must love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Jesus said, “That is the right answer. Do that and you will live forever.

 

Chapter 2 – What is Agape Love

In the Christian New Testament scriptures, which were written in Greek, the Greek word translated as “love” in English is almost always AGAPE. Everywhere we see the word “love” in this study it’s a translation of “agape”, unless otherwise noted.

1. Agape is not Unconditional Love

In the following it can be seen that agape can be conditional love:

Luke 6:32  If you love those who love you, what good is there in that? Even bad people love those who love them.

1 John 4:19  We love others because God first loved us.

Luke 7:41-43  Jesus said, “There was a man who used to lend money to people. Two people owed him money. One man owed him five hundred pieces of silver money. The other owed him fifty pieces. They could not pay the money, so he set them both free. Now which one of them will love him more?” Peter answered, “I would say the one he let off the most.” Jesus said, “You are right.

2. Agape is not Divine Love Because:

  • The heathen love the heathen. Luke 6:32
  • We can wrongly love the things of this world. 1 John 2:15
  • The Pharisees loved the chief seats in the synagogue. Luke 11:43
  • Sinners love darkness. John 3:19
  • The Chief rulers loved the praise of men. John 12:42
  • Balaam loved the wages of unrighteousness. 2 Peter 2:15

3. Agape is not an Emotion

We are commanded to love our enemies. (Luke 6:27) We are to do that no matter how we feel about them. Agape love is a choice, not a feeling.

4. Agape is not Exclusive to Christians

Luke 6:32  If you love those who love you, what good is there in that? Even the heathen love those who love them.

5. The Root Meaning of Agape is “Esteem”, or “Value”

The root of the Greek word agape is “much” or “to make large”. It’s the idea that something larger has more value, as when a child thinks a nickel is worth more than a dime because it is larger. Wigram’s Analytical Greek Lexicon of the New Testament defines agape as:

“to love, value, esteem, feel or manifest generous concern for, be faithful towards, to delight in, to set store upon [that is, to consider something to be of a particular degree of importance or value.]”

This definition of agape as “esteem” or “value” can be seen in the following:

  • The chief rulers love the praise of men. John 12:42
  • The Pharisees loved the uppermost seats in the synagogues and greetings in the markets. Luke 11:43
  • People received not the love of the truth. 2 Thessalonians 2:10
  • Give extraordinary consideration in love to those who lead among you. 1 Thessalonians 5:13
  • Some will love the appearing of Jesus Christ. 2 Timothy 4:8
  • Love not the world or the things in the world. 1 John 2:15
  • Men love darkness rather than light. John 3:19
  • Jesus loved righteousness and hated iniquity. Hebrews 1:9
  • Some loved not their lives even in the face of death. Revelation 12:11

NOTE: At this level the opposite of agape is hatred because when you hate something you place a lower value on it.

6. At Another Level, Agape Means to Value the Esteemed so as to Act for the Physical, Spiritual, and Emotional Benefit or Well-Being of the Esteemed:

  • Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Luke 6:27
  • Love your enemy as yourself. Matthew 19:19
  • If you love me, keep my commandments. John 14:15
  • Love works no ill toward his neighbor. Romans 13:10
  • Use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. Galatians 5:13
  • But speaking the truth in love, let us grow up into him in all things. Ephesians 4:15
  • Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. Mark 12:30
  • Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:18
  • He has loved our nation and has built us a synagogue. Luke 7:5
  • Love has longness of spirit and is kind, is not jealous, does not brag, is not being puffed up, does not behave itself indecently, does not look for its own interest, does not become provoked, does not keep account of bad things, rejoices not over iniquity but rejoices in the truth [of righteousness], conceals all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

NOTE: At this level the opposite of agape is selfishness to the point of harming others to get what one sees as having value. The opposite of loving others is loving self at the expense of or to the detriment of others.

7. The Greatest Love: Sacrificing One’s Own Welfare for the Welfare of the Esteemed

  • Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
  • Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ did love the church and gave himself for it. Ephesians 5:24
  • By this we have come to know love, because that one surrendered his soul for us; and we are under obligation to surrender our souls for our brothers. 1 John 3:16
  • Walk in love as Christ also did love us and has given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor. Ephesians 5:2
  • We became gentle in the midst of you, as when a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, having a tender affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not only the good news of God, but also our won souls, because you became to us as one to love. 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8
  • If possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and have given them to me. Galatians 4:15
  • I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsman according to the flesh. Romans 9:3
  • For the work of Christ, he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me. Philippians 2:30
  • Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s. 1 Corinthians 10:24
  • Even as I please all in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. 1 Corinthians 10:33
  • Let nothing be done through strife and vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each consider the other better than themselves. Philippians 2:3
  • Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification, for even Christ pleased not himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you [God] fell on me.” Romans 15:2-3
  • For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might be rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9

8. Phileo Love is Esteem Born out of Familiarity

The Greek word “phileo” from which the English word “love” is translated a few times in the New Testament “denotes more the idea of personal attachment and is a matter of sentiment or feeling, while agape is wider and embraces especially the judgement and deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety.” (Strong) As well as translating phileo as “love”, it can also be translated as: to hold dear, be fond of, be a friend to, or have affection for.

Phileo is the Greek word translated as “love” in these scriptures:

John 11:3  So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

John 15:19  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

John 16:27  The Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

Revelation 3:19  Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.

Revelation 22:15  Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

9. The “Strength” of Agape is Seen in Action, not Emotion

John 15:13  Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

10. Emotion – Evidence of Agape; Action – Proof of Agape

2 Corinthians 2:4  For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.

If one’s disposition or nature is such that he earnestly desires the benefit and well-being of the esteemed, then there will be an emotional reaction if that well-being is not fulfilled.

2 Corinthians 8:8-9  I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

Verse 24  Therefor show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that the churches can see it.

Paul wanted to see the proof of their love which would have been for the Corinthians to support the needs of the draught-stricken brethren in Macedonia.

11. Selfishness, not Hate, is the Opposite of Agape

Philippians 2:1-4  If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5  Love suffers long and is kind; love … does not seek its own.

 

Chapter 3 – For God so Loved the World

When you see the word “love” regarding the love of God for mankind think of how much value we have in his eyes. Contrast that with any popular theologies that say, in essence, that God does not approve of his human creation unless they have faith.

John 3:16  God so loved the world that he gave his uniquely begotten Son that whoever would be submitted to him would not perish.

Romans 5:6-8  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1. God Thinks Highly of His Human Creation

Psalm 139:14  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well.

Ecclesiastes 7:29  Truly this only I have found that God made man upright, but they have gone in search of many schemes.

NOTE: The Hebrew word translated here as “upright” is translated here in other translations and elsewhere in the Old Testament as “righteous.” It is also equivalent to the Greek word which is usually translated as “righteous”. For information about this Hebrew word please see what Vine’s Expository Dictionary has to say here.

2. God Loves Us to Make Us Children of God

1 John 3:1-3  See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him [that is, were not submitted to him]. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made manifest. But we know that when Christ is made manifest, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

3. The Children of God are the Ones Who Are Righteous

John 1:12-13  To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name [submitted to him], he gave the right to become children of God, children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

John 8:41-47  Jesus said, “You are doing the works of your own father.” “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth [of righteousness], for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.

Romans 8:14  For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

Matthew 5:9  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Galatians 3:26  So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faithfulness, for all of you who were immersed into [the life and teaching of] Christ have clothed yourselves with [the nature of] Christ.

Philippians 2:14–16  Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.

1 John 3:10  This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.

See also: Luke 20:36, 1 John 5:2

4. God’s Justice is not at Odds with His Love – It’s an Expression of His Love and Mercy

Isaiah 1:17  Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.

Jeremiah 21:12  This is what the LORD says: “Administer justice every morning; rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed.”

Zechariah 7:9  This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Administer true justice: show mercy and compassion to one another.”

Isaiah 30:18  Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice.

5. God’s Justice is not Punishment, it is Setting Things Right Again, which Christ Came to Do Through Mercy and Compassion

Matthew 12:18-21  I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations… A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory.

Luke 4:18-19  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

6. God’s Love Has Been Poured into Us

Romans 5:5  God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

7. Knowing the Love of Christ Fills Us with God

Ephesians 3:16–19  That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faithfulness; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

 

Chapter 4 – Christ Our Example

1. Jesus is Our Example of How to Live Righteously

Hebrews 12:1-3  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

NOTE: The word “author” has the idea of one who experienced something so he can tell others about it. Jesus, as a man, lived life just like we do and defeated sin. His submission to God to overcome sin shows us how it is to be done in our lives. He did it, so he can tell us how to do it.  We “fix our eyes on Jesus” by making it our life’s goal to be like him, trusting in God to get us there.

2. We are to Follow Jesus’ Example

John 13:14-17 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

1 Corinthians 11:1  Be imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ.

1 John 2:6  He that says he abides in him ought himself also to walk even as he walked.

3. Jesus’ Sacrifice of Himself Was a Supreme Example to be Followed

Ephesians 5:1-2  Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Philippians 2:5  Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus [who used what God gave him not for his own advantage but humbled himself on the cross to be a servant].

1 Peter 2:20-25  But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Romans 15:1-3  Now we that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each one of us please his neighbor for that which is good, unto edifying. For Christ also pleased not himself [but allowed himself to be crucified].

 

Chapter 5 – Let’s Get Practical

1. The Love Chapter – 1 Corinthians 13

1 Corinthians 13:4-8  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

NOTE: This isn’t a definition of agape, but it is what someone who has agape love does or doesn’t do. Remember the definition of agape: “To act for the benefit of the esteemed, including sacrificing one’s own benefit for the benefit of the other.” 1 Corinthians 13 is a practical teaching on “Love your neighbor as yourself.” You can see how much of this description by Paul has to do with how we like to be treated. This is how we want to be treated, so this is how we are called to treat others. It’s another way of saying The Golden Rule which is: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

2. Love One Another, Fulfilling the Law of God

Matthew 5:17-18  Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore, anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Romans 13:8-10  Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.

NOTE – Did Paul contradict Jesus? Some would say he did, but notice that Jesus said that nothing would disappear from the Law of Moses UNTIL everything is accomplished. When he was hanging on the cross Jesus said, “It is finished”, because everything he was sent to do was accomplished. From that point on the only required Law was the Law of Jesus, which was, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” which Jesus had confirmed was part of the summation of the Law of Moses. It’s really what much of the Law was about.

Also note that it wasn’t just Paul who was not following the specifics of the Law of Moses, but all the Apostles, Elders, and the whole church had decided at the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 that it would not be required for Gentile (non-Jewish) Christians to follow the Jewish Law of Moses.

One could also say that “fulfilling” the Law of Moses by loving others so as not to do them harm was following the Law even better, even by those who never heard of the Law.

3. The Love One Another Commands:

  • Be at peace with one another. Mark 9:50
  • Don’t grumble among one another. John 6:43
  • Don’t bite, devour, and consume one another. Galatians 5:15
  • Don’t boastfully challenge or envy one another.  Galatians 5:26
  • Gently, patiently tolerate one another in love. Ephesians 4:2
  • Be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving to one another. Ephesians 4:32
  • Bear with and forgive one another. Colossians 3:13
  • Seek good for one another, and don’t repay evil for evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:15
  • Don’t complain against one another. James 4:11, 5:9
  • Love one another. John 13:34, 15:12, 17; Romans 13:8; 1 Thessalonians 3:12, 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11, 4:7, 11; 2 John 5
  • Husbands and wives: don’t deprive one another of physical intimacy. 1 Corinthians 7:5
  • Bear one another’s burdens. Galatians 6:2
  • Don’t lie to one another. Colossians 3:9
  • Be hospitable to one another. 1 Peter 4:9

All of the above were spoken or written to Christians in fellowship with one another. The fellowship of the believers provides opportunities to do these “one anothers” more than would be possible without fellowship. Sitting together in church as spectators in a service is not fellowship:

  • Be of the same mind with one another. Romans 12:16, 15:5
  • Accept one another. Romans 15:7
  • Wait for one another before beginning Communion. 1 Corinthians 11:33
  • Confess sins to one another. James 5:16
  • Through love, serve one another. Galatians 5:13
  • Be devoted to one another in love. Romans 12:10
  • Give preference to one another in honor. Romans 12:10
  • Regard one another as more important than yourselves. Philippians 2:3
  • Wash one another’s feet. John 13:14
  • Don’t be haughty: be of the same mind. Romans 12:16
  • Be subject to one another. Ephesians 5:21
  • Clothe yourselves in humility toward one another. 1 Peter 5:5
  • Do not judge one another, and don’t put a stumbling block in a brother’s way. Romans 14:13
  • Speak truth to one another. Ephesians 4:25
  • Comfort one another concerning the resurrection. 1 Thessalonians 4:18
  • Encourage and build up one another. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
  • Stimulate one another to love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24
  • Pray for one another. James 5:16

 

Chapter 6 – Why Righteousness Matters

1. God is Pleased with Righteous People and is Not Pleased with the Unrighteous:

Psalm 11:5,7  The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked. He hates those who love violence. For the Lord is righteous, he loves righteousness. The upright will behold His face.

Proverbs 15:9  The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but He loves the one who pursues righteousness.

Psalm 15  Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart; He who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised. But he honors those who fear the Lord; He who swears to his own hurt and does not change. He who does not put out his money at usury, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.

See also:  Jeremiah 9:24

2. We are the Temple of God if we are Righteous:

Israel’s Tabernacle, also called the Tent of Meeting, and later their Temple on the Holy Hill, hosted the presence of God. That temple represents us today:

1 Corinthians 3:16  Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

1 Corinthians 6:19-20  Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Ezekiel 37:24, 26-28  David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them… Moreover, I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them. I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them. Indeed, I will be their God, and they shall be My people. The nations also will know that I, the LORD, sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.

2 Corinthians 6:16  You are the temple of the living God. As God has said [in Ezekiel 37:27]: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

Ephesians 2:19-22  Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

3. New Covenant Scriptures Teach a Resurrection of the Righteous and the Unrighteous:

John 5:28-29  Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Matthew 13:37-43  The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Matthew 25:41-46  Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger, and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.” They also will answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?” He will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

Acts 24:15  …having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.

4. The Jewish Hope since Old Testament Times has been for the Resurrection of the Righteous:

Deuteronomy 31:16  And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold you shall sleep with your fathers; and this people will rise up”

Isaiah 26:19  But your dead will live, Lord; their bodies will rise. Let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.

Other scriptures alluding to a hope for the resurrection of the righteous:

Psalm 17:15  As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.

Proverbs 10:2  Ill-gotten gains do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death.

Proverbs 10:25  When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous has an everlasting foundation.

Proverbs 11:4  Riches will not provide security in the day of wrath and judgment, but righteousness rescues from death.

Proverbs 11:19  As righteousness leads to life, so he who pursues evil pursues it to his own death.

See also: Deuteronomy 30:19, Psalm 49

5. That Jewish Hope for a Resurrection of the Righteous was Confirmed in the New Testament:

Luke 14:14  And you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

Galatians 5:5  For we through the Spirit, by faithfulness, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.

1 John 2:17  The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

See also Hebrews 6, 12:1-2

6. Righteousness Saves from Troubles in this Life:

Psalm 37:16-17  Better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord sustains the righteous.

Psalm 37:25  I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging for bread.

Proverbs 11:6  The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the treacherous will be caught by their own greed.

Proverbs 10:3  The Lord will not allow the righteous to hunger, but He will reject the craving of the wicked.

Proverbs 12:13  An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, but the righteous will escape from trouble.

Proverbs 13:21  Adversity pursues sinners, but the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity.

Proverbs 15:6  Great wealth is in the house of the righteous, but trouble is in the income of the wicked.

See also 2 Samuel 22:21, 25, Psalm 34:17, 19-22, 37:16-17, 39, 118:15, Proverbs 10:16, 11:18, 19, 21, 12:7, 21, 28, 13:25, 24:15-16, Ezekiel 14:14, 2 Peter 2:7-9

NOTE: The vast majority of troubles an unrighteous person has are from their own unrighteousness, yet we tend to blame anything and everybody else for our troubles. If our lives are characterized by failed relationships, failed marriages, and failed businesses, we should be taking an honest look at whether we are walking righteously or not.

7. Righteousness Saves from God’s Judgement in this Life:

Genesis 18:26  So the Lord said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account.”

1 Kings 8:32  Then hear in heaven and act and judge Your servants, condemning the wicked by bringing his way on his own head and justifying the righteous by giving him according to his righteousness.

Psalm 5:12  For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord, You surround him with favor as with a shield.

Psalm 7:8  The Lord judges the peoples. Vindicate me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me.

Ezekiel 18:21-23  But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die. None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them. Because of the righteous things they have done, they will live. Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? See also 18:27-28

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is [spiritual] death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

See also Proverbs 3:33, 11:31, Ezekiel 13:32, 18:5-9, Zephaniah 2:3 , Jonah 3:8-10, Hebrews 11:7

8. Righteousness Saves from God’s Judgement in the Afterlife:

Psalm 1:5  The wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Proverbs 14:32  The wicked is thrust down by his wrongdoing, but the righteous has a refuge when he dies.

Romans 2:6-9  For [God] will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth [of righteousness] and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

Hebrews 5:8-9  Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

See also: Psalm 34:15-16, 75:10, Proverbs 10:2, 25, 11:4, 23, 13:9, Matthew 9:12-13, Luke 19:5-10, 1 Timothy 4:16, James 1:21-22, 2 Peter 3:9, 1 John 2:17

9. God’s Judgement in the Afterlife is Eternal, but it’s not Eternal Suffering:

Proverbs 14:32  The wicked is thrust down by his wrongdoing, but the righteous has a refuge when he dies.

When the wicked are “thrust down,” they are not sent to suffer eternally, which is what is called Eternal Conscious Torment (ECT). They are thrust down to be destroyed and thus die eternally, what we call Annihilation.

Matthew 10:28  Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in the grave.

In the Bible this is called “eternal judgement”:

Hebrews 6:2  …of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

The period of judging or judgment is limited in duration, but the verdict will never be reversed, so the judgment is eternal.

Matthew 25:46  And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into everlasting life.

Resurrection to life happens “in a twinkling of an eye,” but the effect is eternal. Execution is an event completed only by death, and it has not occurred unless death results, but it is an eternal punishment because it is irreversible.

The idea of Eternal Conscious Torment is completely opposite of the truth that God is love, just, holy, and compassionate.

 

Chapter 7 – What Does “Righteous” Mean?

1. A Righteous Person is the One Who Does Right, Not the One Who Does Evil (a Wicked Person).

A person’s actions and intentions, not his beliefs, determines if he is righteous or not:

1 John 3:7  Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous.

Matthew 5:20  For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

The Pharisees and other leaders of the Jews were a murderous lot because they wanted to kill Jesus. Their intentions made them unrighteous. This can be seen in: Matthew 12:1-14, 21:33-46, Mark 2:23-3:6, 11:15-18, 12-1-12, Luke 6:1-11, 19:45-48, 20:9-19, John 5:1-18, 8:48-59, 10:31-39, 11:45-57. Being more righteous than the Pharisees was not a particularly high bar to jump over.

Matthew 25:37-40  Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Verse 46  Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

The exhortation of Jesus is to do the right thing and that will provide eternal salvation.

2. The Old Testament Word for Righteous

Defining the Hebrew word for “righteousness” W.E. Vine’s An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words says:

“The basic meaning of sadaq [the verb form] is “to be righteous.” It is a legal term which involves the whole process of justice.”

“The case [of Job] presented may be characterized as a just cause in that all facts indicate that the person [Job] is to be cleared of all charges [because the charges were false].”

“Sadaq may also be used to signify the outcome of the verdict, when a man is pronounced “just” and is judicially cleared of all charges.”

“…the meaning of the verb brings out more clearly the sense of a judicial pronouncement of innocence: “If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgement, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify [sadaq] the righteous [sadiq], and condemn the wicked” (Deuteronomy 25:1). The Israelites were charged with upholding righteousness in all areas of life. When the court system failed because of corruption, the wicked were falsely “justified” and the poor were robbed of justice because of the trumped-up charges.”

This use of “righteous”  as a pronouncement of not guilty when the person is in fact not guilty can be seen in the following scriptures about good and bad judges:

Proverbs 17:15  [A judge] who justifies the wicked and [a judge] who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.

Proverbs 17:26  It is also not good to fine the righteous, nor to strike the noble for their uprightness.

Proverbs 18:5  To show partiality to the wicked is not good, nor to thrust aside the righteous in judgment.

One way to say “righteous” is to say, “non-criminal”. Another way to say it is to say, “one who as a way of life does not do harm to others to get what one selfishly desires.” As we go along you should be able to see a common theme of SELFISHNESS in all the scriptures that include “wicked” and “unrighteous.”

The vast majority of man’s problems come from our untamed selfish natures. God loves his creation and desired for these problems to go away by making people experientially righteous by turning selfishness into agape love in action.

3. The New Testament Word for Righteous

Liddell and Scott define the Greek word δίκαιος (dikaios), as used in the New Testament, as:

“Observant of custom and social rule, well-ordered, civilized”

This definition can be seen in the following:

1 Timothy 1:9  The law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers…

The idea Paul is getting across is that laws are made for the people in a society who need them. Righteous people don’t need laws because they do what is right without being forced to by the state.

SIDE NOTE: Many religions are famous (or infamous) for creating a ton of specific rules so the people can follow the ambiguous laws of their texts because the religious leaders can’t stand having people use personal discretion in following their text. This includes the ancient Pharisees and modern-day Rabbis of the Jewish faith, the army of Islamic “scholars” determining what is haram (forbidden) for Muslims, and Christian pastors who have their own rules of how to dress, among other things. This is what is called “legalism”.

The goal of the Christian faith is to become righteous so that no rules are needed. You just live the way God wants you to live, without all the rules, because your nature is righteous. The Christian faith is about changing our character into righteousness and Christlikeness, not about learning rules to govern every aspect of life, though they can be helpful at times and are more helpful for the immature and carnal believer.

4. All Wickedness is Sin, but not all Sin is Wickedness

The Greek word for “sin” is hamartia, which literally means, “missing the mark.” The mark is God’s will, so sin is not doing God’s will, no matter how trivial.

“Wickedness,” on the other hand, is doing harm to others. It is going beyond trivial sins. Everyone sins, but not all are wicked.

5. There is a Penalty for Wickedness, but no Penalty for Sin

“The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) describes the wages of sin, not a penalty for sin. It’s what you “earn” for your sin. It is not eternal death, as is commonly believed, but is spiritual death, which we earn on a daily basis, just as Adam and Eve earned spiritual death the same day they sinned for the first time.

Regarding Jesus saying that he came to give life, “and that more abundantly,” (John 10:10) we believe that is for the hear and now, not just for the afterlife. It is the same with spiritual death. We experience that in our lives as a consequence of our sin.

The scriptures are replete with verses telling us there is judgement for wickedness, but none regarding judgement for any and all sin.

6. Righteousness is Contrasted with Wickedness

Genesis 18:25  “Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”

Psalm 45:7  [A prophecy about Jesus] You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of joy above Your fellows.

Proverbs 10:20  The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver, the heart of the wicked is worth little.

See also: Deuteronomy 25:1-3, Psalm 7:9, 37:12, 16, 58:1-2, 125:3, Proverbs 11:10, Ecclesiastes 3:16

7. Unrighteousness is Equated with Wickedness

Isaiah 55:7  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

8. The Following are Associated With Righteousness:

Gracious Giving: The wicked borrows and does not pay back, but the righteous is gracious and gives. Psalm 37:21

Wisdom and Justice:  The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. Psalm 37:30

Truth:  The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous ordinances is everlasting. Psalm 119:160

Being Humane:  A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, but even the compassion of the wicked is cruel. Proverbs 12:10

Faithfulness:  Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him, but the righteous will live by his faithfulness. Habakkuk 2:4

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faithfulness to faithfulness. As it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faithfulness.”  Romans 1:17

9. A Common Theme in Scriptures is that the Wicked People are the Violent Ones and will be Judged

Psalm 11:5  The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and the one who loves violence His soul hates.

Proverbs 10:11  The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

Ezekiel 45:9  “Thus says the Lord GOD, “Enough, you princes of Israel; put away violence and destruction, and practice justice and righteousness.”

See also 1 Samuel 24:17, 2 Samuel 4:11, Psalm 37:32, Proverbs 10:6, 24:1-2

10. The Righteous are also Contrasted with People who are:

Fools: The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of understanding. Proverbs 10:21

Perverting Justice: Therefore the law is ignored and justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous, therefore justice comes out perverted. Habakkuk 1:4

Treacherous: [guilty of or involving betrayal or deception] The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the treacherous will be caught by their own greed. Proverbs 11:6

Deceivers: The thoughts of the righteous are just, but the counsels of the wicked are deceitful. Proverbs 12:5

Cruel: A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, but even the compassion of the wicked is cruel.  Proverbs 12:10

Sinners:  I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.Luke 5:32

NOTE: The Greek word for “sinner” does not mean “one who sins” as does the English word “sinner.” It means one given over to wickedness.

Greedy:  The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the treacherous will be caught by their own greed. Proverbs 11:6

Unjust:  An unjust man is abominable to the righteous, and he who is upright in the way is abominable to the wicked. Proverbs 29:27

Lazy and Won’t Work: The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to work.  All day long he is craving, while the righteous gives and does not hold back. Proverbs 21:25-26

Murderers: How the faithful city has become a harlot, she who was full of justice! Righteousness once lodged in her, but now murderers. Isaiah 1:21

Committing Abominations: Furthermore, Samaria did not commit half of your sins, for you have multiplied your abominations more than they. Thus, you have made your sisters [in Samaria] appear righteous by all your abominations which you have committed. Ezekiel 16:51

Adulterers: But they, righteous men, will judge them with the judgment of adulteresses and with the judgment of women who shed blood, because they are adulteresses and blood is on their hands. Ezekiel 23:45

Shameless: The Lord is righteous within her; He will do no injustice. Every morning He brings His justice to light. He does not fail. But the unjust knows no shame. Zephaniah 3:5

Hypocrites and Lawless: So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23:28

Spiritually Sick: And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.Mark 2:17

Fraudulent: You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? Acts 13:10

Living in Darkness: Do not be bound together with the unfaithful, for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14

Corrupt: Therefor the law is ignored, and justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous, therefore justice comes out perverted. Habakkuk 1:4

11. Righteousness is not Impossible nor Even an Elite Status but Rather Describes the Average Joe

The wicked are a particularly evil people who are not your average Joes.

When reading these scriptures, ask yourself, “How hard is it to be righteous?” These scriptures portray righteousness as what most people will do and unrighteousness as what most people will not do:

Deuteronomy 24:10-13  When you lend your brother anything, you shall not go into his house to get his pledge. You shall stand outside, and the man to whom you lend shall bring the pledge out to you. And if the man is poor, you shall not keep his pledge overnight. You shall in any case return the pledge to him again when the sun goes down, that he may sleep in his own garment and bless you; and it shall be righteousness to you before the Lord your God.

Deuteronomy 25:1  If there is a dispute between men and they go to court, and the judges decide their case, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked…

Psalm 15  Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart; He who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honors those who fear the Lord. He who swears to his own hurt and does not change. He does not put out his money at usury, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.

Proverbs 13:5  A righteous man hates falsehood, but a wicked man acts disgustingly and shamefully.

Proverbs 15:28  The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.

Proverbs 21:15  The exercise of justice is joy for the righteous, but is terror to the workers of iniquity.

Proverbs 21:25-26  The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to work.  All day long he is craving, while the righteous gives and does not hold back.

Proverbs 29:7  The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor, the wicked does not understand such concern.

See also: Proverbs 12:26, 13:25, 28:12, Jeremiah 22:3, Ezekiel 18:5-9, 33:14-16, Daniel 4:27, Matthew 1:19

12. Being Stiff-necked and Obstinate Toward God is Unrighteous

Isaiah 48:1,4,18 Listen to this, you descendants of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel and come from the line of Judah, you who take oaths in the name of the Lord and invoke the God of Israel, but not in truth or righteousness. For I knew how stubborn you were. Your neck muscles were iron, your forehead was bronze. If only you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your well-being would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.

Romans 2:5  But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.

2 Peter 2:21  For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.

NOTE: When measuring one’s righteousness by his response to God, we must be careful and keep in mind what Jesus said, “To whom much is given much is required.” (Luke 12:48) God is righteous and just and does not expect as much from those who have been given little. For example, a person who looks at nature and sees God will be judged if they worship the creation instead of the creator. (Romans 1:25) An atheist who looks at nature and doesn’t see a creation of God but sees Darwinian Evolution has not been given as much and so God does not expect his worship. God will have compassion and mercy on him as long as he responds favorably to what he has been given, which is a conscience designed to keep him from being a wicked person. He will be saved by the grace of God if he keeps himself from being wicked.

13. The New Covenant Instituted by Jesus is About Knowing God

Jeremiah 31:31-34  “Look, the days are coming”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. This one will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors on the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt—my covenant that they broke even though I am their master”,—the Lord’s declaration. “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days”—the Lord’s declaration. “I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will one teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know me, from the least to the greatest of them”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “For I will forgive their iniquity and never again remember their sin.”

14. Knowing God Means Doing Justice and Righteousness

Jeremiah 22:15-17 “Does it make you a king to have more and more cedar? Did not your father [King Josiah] have food and drink? He did what was right and just, so all went well with him. He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the Lord. “But your eyes and your heart are set only on dishonest gain, on shedding innocent blood and on oppression and extortion.”

Jeremiah 9:3 “They make ready their tongue like a bow, to shoot lies; it is not by truth that they triumph in the land. They go from one sin to another; they do not know me,” declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 9:6  “You [Jeremiah] live in the midst of deception. In their deceit they refuse to know me,” declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 9:24  “But let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.

1 John 2:4-6  If any man says, “I know him” and does not obey his laws, he is telling a lie. He does not know what is true. But if any man obeys his word, he really loves God. Here is the way that we may be sure that we belong to him. If any man says he belongs to him, he must live in the same way Christ lived.

1 John 4:12  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Therefore, the New Covenant is, as was the Old Covenant before it, about being righteous and doing justice, not about just having a relationship with God. Relationship with God serves the goals of righteousness and justice. It’s not an end in and of itself.

Chapter 8 – When is a Person Considered Righteous?

The Christian brothers I talked to at Starbucks Coffee that I mentioned in the Introduction thought that God would consider a person righteous only if he “believes in Jesus”. This a common understanding in Protestant Christianity. It comes from a surface interpretation of poorly translated scriptures such as Romans 4:3 which says, “For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him as righteousness.'” Other translations use the terms: credited, counted, accounted, considered, or reckoned to him for righteousness.

Imputed Righteousness is a signature doctrine of the Protestant Reformation but it has created much confusion. The term was invented by Erasmus, a contemporary of Martin Luther, in the 16th century. It was not part of the faith that was “once and for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3) in the 1st Century. In his translation of the Bible Erasmus rendered the Greek logizomai (reckon) as “imputat” (imputes) all eleven times it appears in Romans chapter four. The Latin Vulgate Bible that Erasmus intended to “correct” usually rendered it “reputat” (considers). Erasmus was at this time famous and Luther almost unknown, but later Luther incorporated this idea that salvation happens at the moment of faith into his doctrine of Sola Fide, otherwise known as Faith Alone. He did this to counter the Catholic idea that a person needs to work their way into heaven.

Much of the problem for Luther was retaining the Catholic ideas developed in the 5th Century by Augustine which are called Original Sin. He believed human nature made it impossible for people to be in right standing with God by their own efforts and abilities.

1. When a Righteous Man Does Something Righteous it is Credited (Imputed) to Him for Righteousness:

Imputed righteousness, correctly understood, does not mean that a person has just become righteous because he believes God or believes in Jesus. It means he is being considered righteous because of an act stemming from the righteousness that he already has. For example, Abraham was already righteous as evidenced by him obeying God to take his family out of his homeland to a place that God would show him. This is mentioned in Genesis 15:6 which Paul quotes in Romans 4:3.

What people miss when reading Romans 4 is that James says that Abraham was considered to be righteous – AGAIN – when he was willing to sacrifice his son many years later. Here are those scriptures, please notice the several year time period between both times when Abraham’s actions were “imputed (or credited) to him for righteousness”:

Genesis 15:6  And [Abraham] was faithful [in his heart] to the Lord [about God’s promise he would have many descendants], and He credited it to him for righteousness.

Romans 4:3  For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham was faithful to God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

James 2:21-23  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faithfulness was working together with his works, and by works faithfulness was made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which says, “and Abraham was faithful to God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God.

See also the rest of Romans 4.

Abraham did not lose his righteousness after he was persuaded by God about having numerous descendants and then get it back when he obeyed God to sacrifice Isaac. He was righteous before all that and all along the way, as evidenced by his actions.

That’s the whole point of Genesis 15, Romans 4, and James 2. Abraham was righteous the whole time, before there was any Law of Moses to follow.

“Credited” is a good translation. Think of a landlord who gives you rent credit for doing work on rental property you are staying in. If you do work for him on the rental property and provide him with a photo as proof then he should “credit it to your account.” The photo you provide doesn’t mean you just did the work, it’s just the evidence that you have already done the work.

2. “Imputed Righteousness,” Rightly Understood, Means a Person is “Considered” Righteous Because He Already >IS< Righteous:

It does not mean a person becomes righteous just because he believes. It means his actions demonstrate that he is already righteous.

Here are other scriptures that speak of “imputed righteousness”:

Ezekiel 18:19-20  Yet you ask, “Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?” Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited [imputed] to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against [imputed to] them.

Deuteronomy 6:25  It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the Lord our God, just as He commanded us.

Deuteronomy 24:13  When the sun goes down you shall surely return the pledge to him, that he may sleep in his cloak and bless you; and it will be righteousness for you before the Lord your God.

Psalm 106:28-31  They joined themselves also to Baal of Peor, and ate sacrifices made to the dead. Thus, they provoked Him to anger with their deeds, and the plague broke out among them. Then Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was stopped. And that was accounted [imputed] to him for righteousness to all Generations forevermore.

Hebrews 11:4  By faithfulness Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faithfulness, though he is dead, he still speaks.

3. Righteousness is Something that is to be Pursued through Faithfulness:

It is not confered or transferred from Christ because of his belief or ours.

Zephaniah 2:3  Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth who have carried out His ordinances. Seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger.

Matthew 5:6  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Matthew 6:33  Seek first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

Ephesians 6:14  Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness…

1 Timothy 6:11  But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faithfulness, love, perseverance and gentleness.

4. If You Are Wicked (Unrighteous) You Can’t be Considered or Imputed to be Righteous:

In other words, we can’t say, as many Christians do, that all humans are naturally unrighteous and the only way a human can become righteous, and thus saved, is because he has faith in Jesus Christ. This is because:

  1. God will not justify the wicked:

I will not justify the wicked.  Exodus 23:7

2. Righteousness is not “on/off”. It’s quantitative:

The Lord will return his blood on his own head, because he fell upon two men more righteous and better than he and killed them with the sword.  1 Kings 2:32

For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 5:20

3. Righteousness is administered:

So David reigned over all Israel; and he administered justice and righteousness for all his people.  1 Chronicles 18:14

4. Righteousness is pursued, not conferred: See above.

The above scriptures would not make any sense if righteousness could be declared, transferred, or conferred the instant someone exercises faith in Christ. Abraham was experientially righteous before he was declared to be righteous, and so are we.

 

Chapter 9 – Benefits of Righteousness

1. Righteousness Produces the Following:

Peace:  All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.  Hebrews 12:11

Blessings: What the wicked fears will come upon him, but the desire of the righteous will be granted.  Proverbs 10:24

Lack of Trouble: The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way, but the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.  Proverbs 11:5

Prospering:  He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like the green leaf. Proverbs 11:28

Things Going Well: Say to the righteous that it will go well with them, for they will eat the fruit of their actions. Isaiah 3:10

Solidness:  A man will not be established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous will not be moved. Proverbs 12:3

Exaltation:  Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.  Proverbs 14:34

Safety:  The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous runs into it and is safe. Proverbs 18:10

Generational Blessings:  A righteous man who walks in his integrity—How blessed are his sons after him. Proverbs 20:7

Life and Honor:  He who pursues righteousness and loyalty finds life, righteousness, and honor. Proverbs 21:21

Light, Healing, Protection, and God Hearing your Prayers:  Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, “Here I am.” Isaiah 58:6-9

The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.  Proverbs 15:29

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  James 2:16

Freedom from the Bondage of Sin:  Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?  Romans 6:16

You will know the truth [of righteousness], and the truth will set you free. If the Son sets you free, you really will be free. John 8:32,36

Being Set Apart from the World:  For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification [being set apart].  Romans 6:19

Generosity: Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. 2 Corinthians 9:10-11

Good Days and Love for Life: For the one who wants to love life and to see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit, and let him turn away from evil and do what is good. Let him seek peace and pursue it, because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do what is evil. 1 Peter 3:10-12

Being Like God Because God is Righteous:  “The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just. A God of faithfulness and without injustice; righteous and upright is He. Deuteronomy 32:4

2. God is Delighted with Righteous People and will Deal Justly with Us

Genesis 18:25  “Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”

Proverbs 21:3  To do righteousness and justice is desired by the Lord more than sacrifice.

Isaiah 33:15-16 Those who walk righteously and speak what is right, who reject gain from extortion and keep their hands from accepting bribes, who stop their ears against plots of murder and shut their eyes against contemplating evil—they are the ones who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. Their bread will be supplied, and water will not fail them.

Matthew 13:40-43  As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.

See also: Psalm 14:5, 18:20, 24, 37:29, Proverbs 16:13

3. The Righteous and People who Lead Others to Righteousness are Like Lights in the Dark

Daniel 12:3  Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Matthew 13:43  Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

4. Righteousness Prepares the People for Salvation

Isaiah 56:1  Thus says the Lord, “Preserve justice and do righteousness. For My salvation is about to come and My righteousness to be revealed.”

Luke 1:17  “It is [John the Baptist] who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

At evangelistic crusades by Billy Graham and others they would sing Come as You Are during the altar call. That’s not what the prophets preached. They preached Get Your Act Together so You Will Receive Jesus and His Salvation.

5. Sin Produces Spiritual Death, Righteousness Produces Spiritual Life

Genesis 3:3   “But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden,” God said, “You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.”

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death, but the graciousness of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:10  If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.

6. Righteousness Equips the Saints

2 Corinthians  6:7  …in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left…

Ephesians 6:13-17  Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faithfulness with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

7. Because God is Righteous, He Brings About:

  1. Relief from Oppression and Terror:

You will be established on a foundation of righteousness. You will be far from oppression, you will certainly not be afraid; you will be far from terror, it will certainly not come near you. Isaiah 54:14

2. Compassion on the Poor:

God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, “He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor. His righteousness endures forever.” 2 Corinthians 9:8-9

3. Forgiveness and Cleansing from Unrighteousness:

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

 

Chapter 10 – How Righteousness Saves Eternally

1. People are Born Righteous and thus Saved, but not all Stay that Way

Genesis 1:26,30  Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”

That was before the Fall, before Adam and Eve first sinned. What does God say about man after the Fall? Writing about the ruthless King of Tyre, Ezekiel says:

Ezekiel 28:18  You were blameless in your ways, from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you.

After a long life of observing mankind Solomon said:

Ecclesiastes 7:29  See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.

Solomon also equates repenting from wickedness with “returning to one’s heart”:

1 Kings 8:46-47  When they sin against you— for there is no one who does not sin— and you are angry with them and hand them over to the enemy, and their captors deport them to the enemy’s country, whether distant or nearby, and when they come to their senses [literally “return to their hearts”] in the land where they were deported and repent and petition you in their captors’ land: “We have sinned and done wrong; we have been wicked.”

Paul tells us that there are people who naturally do good, and their goodness will be rewarded with eternal life, while others who choose to do evil will be judged:

Romans 2:13-15  When Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their heart.

Romans 2:6-9  For [God] will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth [of righteousness] and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

It’s safe to conclude that though we are sinners God has high regard for how he has made us, as long as we live according to the way he has made us rather than living unrighteously, self-seeking, and seeking out schemes to harm others.

2. Repentance Saves Because:

  1. God Takes no Pleasure in the Death of the Wicked:

Tell them, “As I live—this is the declaration of the Lord God—I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked person should turn from his way and live. Repent, repent of your evil ways! Why will you die, house of Israel?” Ezekiel 33:11  See also 33:14-15

2. God does not Want any to Perish:

The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.  2 Peter 3:9

3. God is Gracious, Compassionate, and Full of Love:

[The king of Nineveh said] “Let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish. When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it. But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, “Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore, in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.” Jonah 3:8-4:2

The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at Jonah’s preaching; and look—something greater than Jonah is here.  Matthew 12:41

4. There is Joy in Heaven when an Unrighteous Person Repents:

I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who don’t need repentance. Luke 15:7

5. Forgiveness and Life Come Through Repentance

Ezekiel 18:27  If a wicked man turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will save his life.

Acts 3:19  But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Therefore, repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.

Acts 5:31  God exalted this man [Jesus] to his right hand as ruler and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

Acts 11:18  When they heard this, they became silent. And they glorified God, saying, “So then, God has given repentance resulting in life even to the Gentiles.”

Acts 26:20  I [Paul] preached to those in Damascus first, and to those in Jerusalem and in all the region of Judea, and to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works worthy of repentance.

2 Corinthians 7:10  For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, but worldly grief produces death.

James 5:20  Consider this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death, and cover over a multitude of sins.

Acts 2:38  Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

NOTE: Repentance saves, but water baptism doesn’t. Baptism was a Jewish tradition, a messianic initiation rite. Nothing more, nothing less. When someone was baptized into the name of a messiah, and there were several others besides Christ, they were pledging to follow that messiah and his teachings. Being baptized into the name of Jesus meant you were pledging your life to follow and obey him. Later on, Paul saw some beautiful symbolism in water baptism and incorporated them into his teaching about baptism, but he never said it saves, and neither does Peter in Acts 2:38.

3. Wicked Behavior, not Lack of Belief, is the Basis for Judgement

John 3:19  (The Amplified Bible – square brackets supplied by that translation)  “This is the judgment [that is, the cause for indictment, the test by which people are judged, the basis for the sentence]: the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.

Other translations say:

This is the basis for judgement…” (ISV, NET Bible, NWT)

This is why people are condemned…” (GOD’S WORD Translation)

John. 5:28-29  Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Matthew 7:22-23  Many will say to me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? And in your name have cast out devils? And in your name done many wonderful works?”  And then will I profess unto them, “I never knew you. Depart from me, you that work iniquity.”

Hebrews 6:8  But that which bears thorns and briers [evil works] is rejected and is close to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.

4. The Romans Road to Salvation Shows Conduct to be the Basis for Judgement

Romans 1:18  The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth [of righteousness] by their wickedness.

Romans 2:6-9  For [God] will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth [of righteousness] and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

Romans 2:13-15  For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.  Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts.

NOTE: None of the Gentiles of which Paul is writing about did all of the things of the Law. Paul is talking about keeping the moral requirements, which can be summed up in Do No Harm to Others, or, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Paul is saying Gentiles did that from their own hearts.

Romans 2:26  If those who are not circumcised keep the law’s [moral] requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised?

5. Righteous People are not in Danger of Hellfire and do not Need to Repent

Luke 15:7  I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

1 Peter 3:12  For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and his ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.

6. That is Why Jesus did not Come for the Spiritually Healthy, the Righteous, and Those who are not Lost, but he Came for Sinners, the Sick, and the Lost

Matthew 9:13  Go and learn what this means: “I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,” for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

Mark 2:17  Hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

Luke 5:32  I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.

Luke 19:10  The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Matthew 10:5-6  These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the Lost Sheep of the house of Israel.

Matthew 15:24 I was not sent to anyone but the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel.

 

Chapter 11 – What is Salvation?

1. Salvation is Deliverance from Danger and Oppression

John 12:27  Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour [of crucifixion]”? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.

2. Salvation is Deliverance from the Bondage of Sin

Matthew 1:21  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus [which means God is Savior], because he will save his people from their sins.

Romans 6:16-18  Do you not know that when you offer yourselves as obedient slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey, whether you are slaves to sin leading to death, or to obedience leading to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you once were slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were committed. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

John 8:31-32  To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth [of righteousness], and the truth will set you free.”

1 Timothy 4:16  Watch your life and teaching closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

James 1:21   Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

3. Salvation is Restoration to Wholeness

Mark 5:34   Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

NOTE: The Greek word for “healed” in this verse is the same word translated as “saved” in other places.

ALSO: When you read the word “salvation” in the Bible or when you have discussions with others about salvation you should be clear about what kind of salvation is meant. Rarely does the Bible mention say anything about eternal salvation yet we often assume that’s what it’s talking about when we see the word.

Eternal salvation falls under the category of #1 above which is “deliverance from danger and oppression” because it is deliverance from the danger of eternal death in the grave, otherwise known as “Hell”.

 

 

Chapter 12 – The Big Picture Narrative – The Following were Given to Bring About Righteousness Resulting in Salvation: the Law, Prophets, Captivity, Jesus’ Teaching, Example, Crucifixion and Resurrection, the Law of Christ, Repentance, the Covenants, the Gospel, the Kingdom of God, the Holy Spirit, Ministers, and the Body of Christ.

1. The Law was Given to Bring About Righteousness and Life

Deuteronomy 6:25  It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the Lord our God, just as He commanded us.

Deuteronomy 30:19  I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore, choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.

Isaiah 48:18  If only you had paid attention to My commandments! Then your well-being would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.

Romans 7:12  So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

2 Timothy 3:16  All [Old Testament] scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

1. Israel Could Have Become Righteous at Any Time by Following Torah [The Law of Moses] but they were a Stiff-Necked People

Deuteronomy 9:6  Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people.

2. At Times the Nation of Israel was Considered Righteous

Psalm 24:3-6  Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face.

Isaiah 58:2  Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know My ways, as a nation that has done righteousness and has not forsaken the ordinance of their God. They ask Me for just decisions, they delight in the nearness of God.

3. At Other Times the Nation of Israel was Considered Unrighteous

Isaiah 5:7  For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel and the men of Judah His delightful plant. Thus, He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed. For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.

Isaiah 64:6  For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Jeremiah 9:2 Oh, that I had in the desert a lodging place for travelers, so that I might leave my people and go away from them; for they are all adulterers, a crowd of unfaithful people.

Psalm 14:1-4  The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is no one who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; There is no one who does good, no, not one. Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call on the Lord?

NOTE: In Romans 3 Paul quotes this passage as well as ones from four other Psalms and a passage from Isaiah to highlight Israel’s depravity at this particular time to show that the Israelites are no better than the Gentiles and have no reason to think of themselves as superior even though they are the Chosen People. Many Christians use Romans 3:10 which says, “there is none righteous, not even one,” and Isaiah 64:6 which says, “all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment,” as universal condemnation of all humans by God while the authors never intended it to be so.

See also: Isaiah 1:21, 30:15, 59:4, 9, 14, Daniel 9:7

2. Sacrificing Lambs was NOT Given to Bring About Righteousness

Hosea 6:6  For I desire faithful love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

Matthew 9:13  Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice.

NOTE: The lamb sacrifices of the ancient Jews were done for devotional purposes, not as a means to receive salvation. If the sacrifices rather than good conduct saved the Jews then Hosea and Jesus would not have said what they said above in Hosea and Matthew. Also consider the following:

  • Sacrifices are not offered today because there is no Temple and there hasn’t been one since 70 AD.
  • Jews don’t believe they lost a means of salvation in 70 AD when the Temple was destroyed.
  • Sacrifices were offered at the temple as a way of getting closer to God, not as a way to “get right” with God.
  • Sacrifices served the same purposes as prayer today, including providing an avenue for praise and thanksgiving.
  • Forgiveness was obtained through repentance, prayer, and good deeds, with or without sacrifices.
  • The purposes for bringing sacrifices were very similar to the purposes for prayer. It’s a devotional act, not a salvation ritual.
  • In Judaism, sacrifice was never the exclusive means of obtaining forgiveness, was not in and of itself sufficient to obtain forgiveness, and in certain circumstances was not even effective to obtain forgiveness.

3. The Prophets were Given to Bring About Righteousness

2 Chronicles 20:20  Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established. Believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.

2 Chronicles 36:15  The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place.

Ezekiel 3:16-21  At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me. When I say to the wicked, “You will surely die,” and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself. Again, when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I place an obstacle before him, he will die; since you have not warned him, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. However, if you have warned the righteous man that the righteous should not sin and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; and you have delivered yourself.

4. Captivity was Designed to Bring About Righteousness

Jeremiah 29:10-14  This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years [of exile] are completed in Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

5. Though Torah [The Law of Moses] Produced Righteousness in Some Individuals, it Failed to Consistently Produce Righteousness on a National Scale, Thus the Need for a Different “Method” to Bring that About – Jesus the Messiah

Acts 13:38-39  Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who is faithful is set free from every sin, a justification you [as a nation] were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.

Hebrews 8:7-12  For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion for a second one. But finding fault with his people, he says: “See, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not like the covenant that I made with their ancestors on the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. I showed no concern for them, says the Lord, because they did not continue in my covenant. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And each person will not teach his fellow citizen, and each his brother or sister, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least to the greatest of them. For I will forgive their wrongdoing, and I will never again remember their sins.”

NOTE – According to Jeremiah 22:15-17 “knowing God” is defined as doing righteousness and justice: “He did what was right and just, so all went well with him. He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the Lord. “But your eyes and your heart are set only on dishonest gain, on shedding innocent blood and on oppression and extortion.”

John 1:16-17  For we all received from his fullness, even grace for grace, because the Law came by Moses, but grace and truth through Jesus Christ.

Galatians 2:21  I do not nullify the graciousness of God, for if [national] righteousness happens through the Law [on a consistent basis], then Christ died needlessly.

Galatians 3:11  Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faithfulness.”

Galatians 3:21  Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to [consistently] impart life [on a national scale], then righteousness [for the nation] would indeed have been through the law.

Philippians 3:9  …and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from Law, but that which is through faithfulness to Christ, the righteousness from God on the basis of faithfulness.

1 Peter 1:18-19  For you know that it was not with perishable things like silver or gold that you have been ransomed from the worthless way of life handed down to you by your ancestors, but with the precious blood of the Messiah, like that of a lamb without blemish or defect.

1. Jesus is the Righteous One of God

Isaiah 53:11  As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied. By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.

Acts 7:52  Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become.

Hebrews 10:38  But my righteous one shall live by faithfulness, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.

See also: Acts 3:14, 22:14, 1 John 2:1

2. Good People Accepted Jesus and His Teaching

John 7:16-17  “My teaching is not My own,” Jesus replied. “It comes from Him who sent Me. If anyone desires to do His will, he will know whether My teaching is from God or whether I speak on My own.”

John 18:37  For this reason I was born and have come into the world, to testify to the truth [of righteousness]. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to My voice.

See also: John 12:42-43

3. Jesus Provided Teaching and Example of Righteousness

John 13:12-17  When Jesus had washed their feet and put on his outer clothing, he reclined again and said to them, “Do you know what I have done for you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are speaking rightly, since that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you. Truly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his master, and a messenger is not greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”

John 13:34-35  A new commandment I give to you: “Love one another.” As I have loved you, you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.

Hebrews 12:2  Looking unto Jesus the Author [one who has already lived it] and Finisher of our faith.

4. The Law of Christ, Not a Belief or a Different Belief System, Replaced the Law of Moses

John 1:16-17  For we all received from his fullness, even grace for grace, because the Law came by Moses, but grace and truth through Jesus Christ.

John 13:34-35  A new commandment I give to you: “Love one another.” As I have loved you, you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.

James 2:8  If, however, you are fulfilling the Royal Law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.

Galatians 6:2  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the Law of Christ.

1 Corinthians 9:19-21  For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law.

5. Jesus Was Sent to Preach Repentance for Life for Those Lost in Iniquity

Luke 5:31-32  Jesus answered, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

Acts 3:25-26  He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed. When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

Acts 5:30-31  The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins.

6. God Raised Jesus from the Dead to Validate His Words so the Jews would Listen to Him

John 8:28-29  When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing on My own, but speak exactly what the Father has taught Me. He who sent Me is with Me. He has not left Me alone, because I always do what pleases Him.

Acts 17:18, 30-31  They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection… Now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.

Romans 1:4  [Jesus was] declared to be the Son of God with power . . . by the resurrection from the dead.

See also John 2:22, 6:27, 12:27-28, Acts 2:22

7. Being Faithful to Jesus Produces Righteousness

John 12:46  I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who is faithful to me should stay in darkness.

Romans 1:17  For in [the good message of Christ] the righteousness of God is revealed from faithfulness to faithfulness; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faithfulness [to Jesus].”

Romans 5:1-2  Therefore being justified by faithfulness, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access by faithfulness into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

See also Ephesians 5:8–14, Philippians 1:11

8. Relationship with Jesus Provides Access to God and His Grace, Divine Assistance, and Participation in the Divine Nature – To Make Us Better

Ephesians 2:17-19  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.

Ephesians 3:10  To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faithfulness of him.

2 Peter 1:4  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

Hebrews 2:18  Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

See also: Romans 5:15-16, 8:32

9. What Did it Mean to “Believe in Jesus” Before He Died and Rose Again?

In the following scriptures people “believed in Jesus”, or literally, “were persuaded into Jesus,” long before he was crucified and rose again. To “believe in Jesus” cannot mean to believe a particular theological thing about Jesus, such as, “Jesus died for my sins and rose again so I can be saved.” How could it?

Acts 19:4  Paul said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people that they should believe in the one who would come after him, that is, in Jesus.”

John 4:39  Now many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of what the woman said when she testified, “He told me everything I ever did.”

John 12:11  …because he was the reason many of the Jews were deserting them and believing in Jesus.

See also: John 8:30, 12:37

10. What Did it Mean to “Believe in Jesus” After He Died and Rose Again?

Acts 10:43  All the prophets testify about him that through his name everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins.

Acts 20:21  I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and believing in our Lord Jesus.

Since the Greek root for “believe” is “to be persuaded” and is most often used in the sense of “being faithful”, and is often translated as such, and is always used in conjunction with the preposition “into” the one to be believed, it speaks not of mere mental assent to a “faith proposition”, but rather being convinced about the veracity of the person speaking for God so as to submit to what he says to do.

The same term is also used in the Old Testament regarding “believing God and the prophets” in 2 Chronicles 20:20 – “Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established. Believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.” It means the same thing there. There is certainly more to it than mere mental assent.

SUBMISSION was the difference between those who “believed in” Jesus and those who rejected him. The only way to actually reject Jesus is to not do what he says to do, which is ”love your neighbor as yourself.” To follow what he said to do, one doesn’t even need to know what he said or even know or believe that he existed, just like I can move to another country and be submitted to its laws without knowing what they are or the ones who made them. If I don’t steal because it’s not in my nature to steal, I am submitted to them. That is sufficient for the government leaders to welcome me into their land. If I start stealing, I am not submitting to their laws and the people who made those laws, and they will send me back to where I came from.

Since those in the Bible who rejected Jesus rejected him after hearing him or hearing about him they of course were not submitting to Jesus or his Father and so were “unbelievers”. That’s the context of those scriptures.

Jesus took great pains to establish his authority. The reason he did this is so his Jewish brethren would follow his teaching. This is because it is submission to him, doing what he said, that saves a person, not just believing something. Increase faith in Jesus in the people and you will increase their obedience. Without obedience, they won’t “have faith in Jesus” or “believe in Jesus”.

11. To “Believe in Jesus” Means to Die to Self and Obey Jesus

John 8:30-32  As Jesus spoke these things, many believed in Him. So, He said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples. Then you will know the truth [of righteousness], and the truth will set you free [from the bondage of sin].”

John. 12:46  I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in Me [is faithful to me] should remain in the darkness [of wicked conduct].

John 12:47-48  As for anyone who hears My words and does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I have not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects Me and does not receive My words: The word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.

John 14:15  If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

John 14:23-24  If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words. The word that you hear is not My own, but it is from the Father who sent Me.

John 15:10  If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.

Mark 8:34-38  Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.

Luke 14:27  Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

12. Good People who Love their Neighbors as Themselves Live in the Light and are Saved

John 8:51  Truly, truly, I tell you, if anyone keeps My word, he will never see death.

John 14:21  Whoever has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me [is doing what is best for me]. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him.

1 John 2:9-10  Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister [to do evil against them] is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister [to act for their benefit] lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.

1 John 4:7  Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

13. Obeying Jesus Invites the Power of God for Transformation

John 3:3  Jesus replied [to Nicodemus, a Pharisee], “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again [literally – born from above].”

The Pharisees were infamous for being a wicked lot. After Jesus explained himself, any Jew would understand this statement by Jesus to mean that in order to see the Kingdom of God, which Jesus said was already amongst them (Luke 17:21), they would need to start a new life, giving up their old ways. They would also understand that a person being “from above” meant he was a moral person, while a person being “from below” meant he is an immoral, wicked person. This is how Jesus used the terms when he said:

“You [Pharisees] are from below,” he told them, “I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.”

“You are of your father the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Who among you can convict me of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? The one who is from God listens to God’s words. This is why you don’t listen, because you are not from God.”  John 8:23, 44-47

As we saw earlier, John picks up this same theme in his first letter:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7

The call to Nicodemus and to people like him was to repent and follow Jesus in order to gain access to the powers of the Kingdom of God.  It wasn’t to believe some theological proposition about an event that was 3 years down the road.

6. Jesus Died on the Cross to Make us Better

1. Jesus Did Not Die on the Cross as a Human Sacrifice

Psalm 40:6  Sacrifice and offering you do not desire…burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.”

Hosea 6:6  [God desires] steadfast love and not sacrifice.

Hebrews 10:5–9  Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God.’”

First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second.

Jesus wasn’t slain by a priest or offered on an altar. He was murdered on a Cross. The psalmists, the prophets and the writer of Hebrews came to understand that God abolishes primitive ritual sacrifice in order to establish actually doing God’s will. This is what we see in the life of Jesus.

Jesus did not shed his blood to pay off God or buy God’s forgiveness in the form of a ritual sacrifice. Jesus shed his blood in faithful obedience to his Father’s will, demonstrating his and his father’s love for us! As Jesus told the sacrificed-obsessed Pharisees, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice!’” (Matthew 9:13)

2. The Law Forbids Human Sacrifice

Deuteronomy 12:31  You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.

NOTE: The pagans sacrificed humans to their gods in order to elicit a favorable response from them, and that is a detestable thing. God sacrificing his Son in order for Him to be able to see sinners as saints would also be detestable. God didn’t sacrifice Jesus for that purpose. He sacrificed him to show his love and to effect a change in the unrighteous, to bring them to repentance and righteous living, as we shall see later in this section.

3. Jesus Did Not Die on the Cross in the Place of Others – A Person’s Own Righteousness will be what Saves Him

Proverbs 11:31  If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner?

Ezekiel 18:20  The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.

1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

See also the section on Repentance Saves Because in Chapter 10.

4. Jesus Died on the Cross to Show His and God’s Love for Us

John 3:16  For this is how God loved the world: He gave his uniquely begotten Son so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life.

Romans 5:6-11  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been made righteous by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!  For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!  Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

1 John 4:9-10  This is how God’s love was revealed among us: God sent his uniquely begotten Son into the world so that we might live through him. This is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Given what the scriptures say about Jesus NOT being a sacrifice like the Old Testament lamb sacrifices, what John means by “atoning sacrifice” must mean something entirely different than what the sacrifices meant to the Jews before Jesus. Here is what the scriptures say:

5. Jesus Died on the Cross to Draw People to God to Bring About Actual, not Legal, Righteousness

John 12:32  If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.

Romans 5:19  For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man [to die on the cross] the many will be made righteous [experientially, not legally].

Ephesians 5:25  Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy… so that she may be holy and [experientially] without blemish.

Colossians 1:21-22  You who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled through his fleshly body’s death [because you repented, that is, stopped], so as to present you holy and [experientially] blameless and irreproachable before him.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15  He died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.

1 Peter 3:18  For the Messiah also suffered for sins once for all, an innocent person for the guilty, so that he could bring you to God.

See also: Romans 8:29, 14:7-9, Hebrews 13:11-12

6. Jesus Died on the Cross to Draw People to God so They Would Repent so They Could be Forgiven

Luke 24:45-47  Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

See also Matthew 26:26-28, 1 Thessalonians 5:10

7. Jesus Died on the Cross to Purify Us from our Sin to Make Us Better People

Titus 2:14  Jesus gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous of good deeds.

Hebrews 9:12-14  Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood he went into the Most Holy Place once for all and secured our eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are unclean purifies them physically, how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead actions so that we may serve the living God!

Hebrews 9:26-28  But now, at the end of the ages, he has appeared once for all to remove sin by his sacrifice. Indeed, just as people are destined to die once and after that to be judged, so the Messiah was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people.

Hebrews 10:10-14  By God’s will we have been set apart once and for all through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus, the Messiah… For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being set apart.

Hebrews 10:16-18  This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord. I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

1 John 1:7-9  But if we live in the light—just as he is in the light—then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from every sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and there is no truth in us. But if we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right: he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing.

Revelation 7:14  Then he told me, “These are the people who are coming out of the terrible suffering. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb.”

Revelation 19:8  Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)

8. Jesus Died on the Cross so We will Have Victory Over Sin in our Lives

John 8:34  Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”

Galatians 1:4  Jesus gave himself for our sinfulness to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.

Galatians 2:20  I no longer live, but the Messiah lives in me, and the life that I am now living in this body I live by the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Colossians 1:13-14  God has rescued us from the power of darkness and has brought us into the Kingdom of the Son whom he loves, through whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 2:15  And when he had disarmed the rulers and the authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in the cross.

1 Peter 2:24  He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Hebrews 2:14-15  Therefore, since the children have flesh and blood, he himself also shared the same things, so that by his death he might destroy the one who has the power of death (that is, the Devil) and might free those who were slaves all their lives because they were terrified by death.

1 John 3:8  The person who practices sin belongs to the evil one, because the Devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason that the Son of God was revealed was to destroy what the Devil has been doing.

Revelation 1:5-6  Jesus freed us from our sinfulness by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father.

Revelation 12:10-11  Now the salvation, the power, the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah have come. For the one who accuses our brothers, who accuses them day and night in the presence of our God, has been thrown out. Our brothers conquered him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony.

See also: Ephesians 3:16-19, Titus 3:4-5, Hebrews 10:18

7. The Gospel (Good Message) of Jesus was Given to Bring About Righteousness

Romans 1:16-17  For I am not ashamed of the Gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who is faithful; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faithfulness unto faithfulness: as it is written, “But the righteous shall live by faithfulness.”

1. The Gospel is the Blessing of Repentance from Evil

Galatians 3:8–9  And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify [make righteous] the Gentiles by faithfulness, preached the Gospel beforehand unto Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then they that are of faithfulness are blessed with faithful Abraham.

Luke 24:45-47  Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: ‘The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.’”

Acts 3:17-20  And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But in this way God has fulfilled what He foretold through all the prophets, saying that His Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped away, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.

Acts 3:24-26  [Peter said] “Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have proclaimed these days.  And you are sons of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers when He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all the families of the earth will be blessed.’ When God raised up His Servant, He sent Him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

Acts 26:20  First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I [Paul] preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.

2. The Gospel is to be Obeyed, not Just Believed

Romans 1:16-17  For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who is faithful: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faithfulness from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faithfulness.”

Romans 16:25–26  Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ… so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faithfulness

2 Thessalonians 1:8  He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the Good Message of our Lord Jesus.

1 Peter 4:17  For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the Good Message of God?

Hebrews 5:8-9  Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

8. The Kingdom of God was Given to Bring about Righteousness

1. The Jews were Promised that David’s Kingdom would be Restored

Isaiah 9:6-7  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name is called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the growth of his government and peace there will be no end. He will rule over his kingdom, sitting on the throne of David, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of the Heavenly Armies will accomplish this.

Ezekiel 37:24  David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them.

Luke 1:32-33  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.  And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Mark 11:10  How blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!

Mark 15:43  Joseph of Arimathea, a highly respected member of the Council, who was waiting for the Kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.

Acts 1:6  Then they gathered around [Jesus] and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

2. This Kingdom was for the Jews but it was Taken from them and Given to those who would be Faithful to God

Matthew 21:33-45  Listen to another parable. “There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a wall around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and went abroad. When harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenant farmers to collect his produce. But the farmers took his servants and beat one, killed another, and attacked another with stones. Again, he sent other servants to them, a greater number than the first, but the tenant farmers treated them the same way. Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenant farmers saw his son, they told one another, ‘This is the heir. Come on, let’s kill him and get his inheritance!’ So they grabbed him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard returns, what will he do to those farmers?” They told him, “He will put those horrible men to a horrible death. Then he will lease the vineyard to other farmers who will give him his produce at harvest time.” Jesus asked them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes.’? That is why I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce fruit for it. The person who falls over this stone will be broken to pieces, but it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” When the high priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew that he was talking about them.

Matthew 8:10-13  When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.

3. The Nature of the Kingdom Changed from Political to Spiritual

Luke 17:20-21  Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

Matthew 18:3  And [Jesus] said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Hebrews 12:28-29  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”

.4 The Kingdom of Heaven is on the Earth – Now!

Mark 1:14-15  Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God,  and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Matthew 11:11-12  Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it.

Luke 10:8-9  When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”

Luke 11:20  But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Luke 12:29-32  So stop concerning yourselves about what you will eat or what you will drink, and stop being distressed, because it is the unbelievers who are concerned about all these things. Surely your Father knows that you need them! Instead, be concerned about his kingdom, and these things will be provided for you as well. Stop being afraid, little flock, because your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom.

Mark 9:1  And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”

Romans 14:17  For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Colossians 1:13-14  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

John 18:36  Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my Kingdom is not from here.”

NOTE: The Kingdom not being from here or of this world doesn’t mean it’s not here. It means the source is not the world. It’s source is God himself.

See also:  Matthew 10:5-8, Mark 12:32-34, Luke 10:1, 8-15, 12:28-32, 1 Corinthians 4:20, Colossians 4:11.

5. There is no One-Time Event called the “Coming” of the Kingdom

When we pray, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven,” we are not praying for a singular future event to happen in the future. We are praying for this to happen – today!

In the following, salvation, power, the Kingdom, and the authority of Christ, had all been manifest numerous times before this declaration in Revelation decades after Jesus’ ministry:

Revelation 12:10  Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.”

Whenever the spiritual Kingdom of God “shows up” in a greater way than it had the day before, the scriptures use the term “coming” to describe what happens.

ALSO: The Kingdom is also in heaven. Though the language used seems to indicate that the Kingdom will either leave heaven and “come” to earth or it will expand from heaven to earth at a later time, that interpretation is not warranted. It makes more sense to view the Kingdom “coming” in terms of a greater manifestation.

6. There is also a Kingdom in Heaven – which is Inherited by Being Good

Matthew 20:31-36  When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Luke 10:25-28  On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” [Jesus] replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and, love your neighbor as yourself.” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

2 Peter 1:5-11  For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

7. We Need to be Worthy of the Kingdom of God

John 3:3  Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born from above [have a life of righteous living].”

1 Thessalonians 2:10-12  You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

2 Thessalonians 1:5  This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering.

8. The Kingdom of God is Characterized by Righteous People and Righteous Leadership – The Unrighteous Need not Apply.

Isaiah 9:7  There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.

Jeremiah 33:15  In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall produce justice and righteousness on the earth.

John 3:3  Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born from above [the source of their morality is from God, not the devil].”

Romans 14:17  The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:7-9  The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?

Galatians 5:18-25  If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Ephesians 5:5-7  For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore, do not be partners with them.

See also: Isaiah 16:15, 33:5, Jeremiah 23:5, Matthew 5:3, 10, 19-20, 6:33, 7:21-23, 8:10-12, 13:22-23, 33, 37-43, 47-50, 18:2-3, 21-23, 32-34, 19:14, 23, 20:1-2, 12-14, 21:43-44, 22:2, 11-14, 23:13, Mark 4:11, 9:47-50, 10:21-24, Luke 6:20, 9:59-62, 13:23-30, 44, 45 18:16-17, Hebrews 1:8, James 2:5

9. The Kingdom is Designed to Grow and Make Society More Righteous

Isaiah 9:6-8  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

Matthew 13:31-32  [Jesus] presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom from heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in his field. Although it is the smallest of all seeds, when it is fully grown it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, and the birds in the sky come and nest in its branches.”

Matthew 13:33  [Jesus] told them another parable: “The kingdom from heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

9. The Holy Spirit was Given to Bring About Righteousness

  1. Righteousness is the Fruit of the Spirit and Relationship with God

Isaiah 32:15-17 Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is counted as a forest. Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness will remain in the fruitful field. The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness, and assurance forever.

Isaiah 61:3  To grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So, they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

Hosea 10:12  Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance with kindness; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes to rain righteousness on you.

Romans 5:21  …so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Philippians 1:11  …having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

See also: Isaiah 60:19-21, 61:10, 11, Romans 5:17-19, Philippians 3:9

2. Righteousness Invites the Spirit of God

Hebrews 1:9, quoting Psalm 45:7  You [Jesus] have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness, therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your companions.

Ezekiel 18:30-31  Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed and get a new heart and a new spirit.

Galatians 3:13-14  Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faithfulness.

Ephesians 1:13  …in whom you also, having heard the word of the truth [of righteousness], the gospel of your salvation,—in whom, having also been faithful, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.

3. Listen to the Holy Spirit

John 16:8  And [the Holy Spirit], when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.

Galatians 5:5  For we through the Spirit, by faithfulness, are waiting for the hope of righteousness [which is the resurrection of the righteous].

1 John 2:24-27  As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—eternal life.  I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing [of the Holy Spirit] you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

10. Ministers Today are Given to Bring About Righteousness

Romans 15:15–16  But I write the more boldly unto you in some measure, as putting you again in remembrance, because of the grace that was given to me by God, that I should be a minister of Christ Jesus unto the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be made acceptable, being sanctified [set apart for change] by the Holy Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:6  He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

2 Corinthians 3:9  For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory.

Ephesians 4:10-13 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe. So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastor teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

See also 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

11. The Body of Christ was Given to Us to Bring About Righteousness

Proverbs 27:17  As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

John 13:35  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Matthew 28:19-20  Go and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

Hebrews 10:24-25  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.

Ephesians 4:11-13  Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service [or, do the ministry], so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Ephesians 4:15-16  Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

NOTE: Notice how in Ephesians ministers weren’t given to “do the ministry”. They were given to help all Christians to be able to do the ministry, and the goal of it all is Christian maturity being formed in the believers. This happens through the ministry of every Christian, not just a select few.

See also Jude 22-23

 

Chapter 13 – How to Become Righteous if You Aren’t

1. Justification is the Process of Being Made Experientially Righteous

Acts 13:39  Through him everyone who is faithful is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.

Romans 3:26  God presented him to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so that he would be just and justify the one who is faithful to Jesus.

2. God’s Law is in the Heart of the Righteous, Even Those Who do not Know the Law

Isaiah 51:7  “Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, a people in whose heart is My law. Do not fear the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings.

Romans 2:13-15  For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts.

3. The Righteous Serve God by Being Righteous

Malachi 3:18  So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.

Matthew 25:37-40  Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

4. Baby Christians are not Accustomed to the Words of Righteousness

Hebrews 5:13  For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.

5. Anger does not Produce Righteousness

James 1:20  The anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

6. People who are Righteous and Love Their Neighbors are Born of God; Wicked People are born from Below

1 John 2:29  If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.

1 John 3:10  By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

1 John 3:12  …not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.

7. Righteous People Welcome Preachers of Righteousness, Wicked People Don’t

Luke 1:17  And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Romans 9:31-33  But Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faithfulness [to God], but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense,  and whoever is faithful to Him will not be put to shame.”

8. Truth is not Doctrine or Theological Understanding – Truth is Right Living

Isaiah 59:14  Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away. For truth has stumbled in the street, and uprightness cannot enter.

John 8:23  You are of your father the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.

Romans 1:18  The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth [of righteousness] by their wickedness.

Romans 2:6-9  For [God] will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth [of righteousness] and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

1 Corinthians 13:6  [Love] does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.

9. Jesus’ Promise to Us: We Will Know the Truth and the Truth will Set Us Free

John 1:16-17  For we all received from his fullness, even grace for grace, because the Law came by Moses, but grace and truth through Jesus Christ.

John 8:32,36  You will know the truth [of righteousness], and the truth will set you free. If the Son sets you free, you really will be free.

Romans 6:16   Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?

10. We Should Know if we are Righteous

  1. David Knew he was Righteous:

2 Samuel 22:21  The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness. According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me.

Psalm 7:8  The Lord judges the peoples. Vindicate me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me.

See also: 1 Samuel 26:23, Psalm 23:3, 32:11, 37:16, 17, 55:22, 58:11, 64:10, 97:12

2. Solomon Knew he was Righteous:

Proverbs 8:8  All the utterances of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing crooked or perverted in them.

Proverbs 28:1  The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, but the righteous are bold as a lion.

See also Proverbs 8:20, 10:3, 24, 11:19

3. Isaiah’s People Knew if they were Righteous:

Isaiah 3:10  Say to the righteous that it will go well with them, for they will eat the fruit of their actions.

4. We should Know when we are Following God’s Instruction:

Titus 2:12  …instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.

11. Others will Know if You are Righteous

Isaiah 62:2  The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory, and you will be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord will designate.

12. The Book of Life Lists the Ones who are Righteous

Psalm 69:28  May they be blotted out of the book of life and may they not be recorded with the righteous.

Revelation 20:12-15  I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

13. Pursue Righteousness and you will be Rewarded

Proverbs 21:21  He who pursues righteousness and loyalty finds life, righteousness and honor.

Matthew 5:6  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Matthew 6:33  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

2 Timothy 4:8  In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

See also: Zephaniah 2:3, Proverbs 15:9, Romans 6:13, Ephesians 4:24, 6:14, Philippians 1:11, 1 Timothy 6:11, 2 Timothy 2:22, Titus 2:12, James 3:18, 1 Peter 3:12, Revelation 19:8

14. The Best Way to Become Righteous is to Do What Jesus Said: “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself”

Romans 13:8-10  Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.

NOTE: A wicked person does harm to others, a righteous person doesn’t. Love does no harm to a neighbor, therefore love makes you righteous, which is what the Law was for.

 

Chapter 14 – Righteousness that Works – Not Works Righteousness

1. Neither Jesus nor Paul took a Dim View of the Law of Moses

Matthew 5:17-18  Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore, anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Romans 3:31  Do we then nullify the Law through faithfulness? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.

Romans 7:7  What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be!

Romans 7:12  So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

1 Timothy 1:8  We know that the Law is good.

2. People can Fake Being Righteous

Matthew 23:28  So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

2 Corinthians 11:15  Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.

3. Trusting in Your own Righteousness Means Trusting in Things that don’t Actually Make you Righteous, Such as doing the Uniquely Jewish Parts of the Law, while Ignoring the Righteous Requirements of the Law.

Romans 9:31-32  But Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faithfulness, but as it were, by the works of the law.

Romans 10:3, 21  For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. But to Israel [Isaiah] said, “All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and contrary people.”

See also: Luke 18:9-14

4. The Self-Righteous in the Bible are the Unrighteous People of Faith Who Thought they Were Righteous Because they Followed the Uniquely Jewish Laws

To put it another way, they believed in Salvation by Being Jewish at the expense of the moral uprightness that would actually save them. They traded the actual, experiential righteousness of doing life the way people are supposed to do it for doing life the way people aren’t supposed to do it, thinking they could get away with it because they were fastidious about obeying parts of the Law.

Matthew 23:13  Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of Hell as you are.

Matthew 23:23  Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices– mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice (fairness), mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

Rom. 2:17-25  Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth– you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised.

5. Paul the Unrighteous Pharisee

1 Timothy 1:13  [Paul was a] prideful, insolent man who abusively railed against others, speaking evil and slander against them, persecuting them with shameful acts of wrongdoing.

Galatians 1:13  You have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.

Galatians 1:21-23  Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ. But they were hearing only, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.”

Acts 22:4-5  I [Paul] persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as also the high priest and all the Council can testify. I even obtained letters from them to their brothers in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.

6. Yet at the Time Paul Thought he was Righteous Because he was Jewish and did what Jews Do

Philippians 3:6  …as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, [I was] found blameless.

Paul is preaching about his former self here:

Romans 10:3  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own [self] righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

In other words, Paul the former Pharisee was like the ones who Jesus said, “neglected the weightier matters of the Law: justice, mercy, and faithfulness to God.”  Matthew 23:23

And yet he THOUGHT that he lived the righteousness that was in the Law. He was deceived. Today Christians THINK they live the righteousness that they THINK comes from “believing in Jesus”, but if they don’t follow the Royal Law which is “love their neighbors as yourselves” (James 2:8) they are also deceived.

7. God’s Heart: Restoration to Righteousness and Wholeness

Being a Pharisee, Paul knew these Old Testament scriptures and no doubt saw hope for his own restoration after meeting Jesus:

Hosea 10:12  Sow with a view to righteousness. Reap in accordance with kindness. Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord Until He comes to rain righteousness on you.

Psalm 23:3  He restores my soul; he guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake

Psalm 51:1-4  Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.

Psalm 51:7-13  Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.

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Chapter 15 – Righteous Leadership

1. Judges and Officials in the Old Testament were Required to be Righteous so God would Bless the People

Deuteronomy 16:18-20  You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the Lord your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment. You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

2. When God Wants to Bless a Nation He Gives them Righteous Laws and a Righteous King:

1 Kings 10:9  [Queen of Sheba speaking] Blessed be the LORD your God who delighted in you [Solomon] to set you on the throne of Israel; because the LORD loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness.

See also Deuteronomy 4:8, Psalm 119:62

3. Righteousness is Expected of all Kings and Judges:

Proverbs 16:12  It is an abomination for kings to commit wicked acts, for a throne is established on righteousness.

Proverbs 17:15  He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.

See also: Proverbs 20:28, 24:23-25, 25:5, 29:2, 16, 31:9

4. Elders in the Church Should be Examples of Righteousness

Titus 1:5-9  An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children are faithful and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound teaching and refute those who oppose it.

 

Chapter 16 – Scriptures Frequently Misunderstood

1. Understanding Comes from Harmonizing Apparent Contradictions

Harmonizing means to interpret all of the scriptures that appear to contradict each other in a way so that they no long contradict each other.  Apparent contradictions can usually be resolved by doing one or more of the following:

  1. Read the Verse in Context. Immediate Context includes discerning the issue being addressed by the speaker or author, which isn’t always obvious, understanding the line of reasoning being presented, and understanding the history and culture of the time. General Context includes understanding the type of literature being used as well as everything else the scriptures have to say about whatever is being said.
  1. Understand the Vocabulary Being Used. Words in the original language do not always have an exact equivalent in English or any other target language. Also, words in the original language may have a broad range of meanings and it’s up to the translators to pick which one they believe is the best word to use. That is usually done according to the translator’s own theological understanding and bias.
  1. Determine the Audience Relevance. How would the original audience most likely understand what was being said and how it relates to their lives in their culture?
  1. Determine whether it’s Universal and Eternal or Cultural and Temporal. Is what’s being said meant to be universal for all humans for all time or is it meant for some people at a specific time?
  1. Determining Whether it’s Law or Principle. Is the “command” a general principle such as “Love your neighbor” or a specific way to follow the principle, such as, “forgive one another”? We should first determine the general principle and then apply that to our lives, which may mean that we come up with a different “rule” for ourselves than what is in the Bible.
  1. Determining Whether it’s Literal or a Figure of Speech. We tend to assume a literal interpretation when it wasn’t necessarily intended to be taken that way. 
  1. Understand Logical Fallacies. Logical fallacies are common errors people make in trying to understand what can or can’t be a reasonable conclusion from whatever someone else has said or has written.

2. Difficult Scriptures Explained: 

  1. “There are none righteous, no, not one.”  Romans 3:10
  • Paul is not making a statement condemning the whole human race. He’s quoting Psalms to show that the Jews are no better than the Gentiles. See verse 9.
  • It’s a description of only those who are “under the Law”. See verse 19.
  • It can’t apply to the whole human race because the same passage says, “Their feet are swift to shed blood.” See verse 15
  • At other times in Israel’s history, they received a better report, saying the opposite of this passage. See the section in Chapter 12 about the times when Israel was considered righteous.
  • Applying this verse to the whole human race would contradict the numerous other scriptures extolling the righteousness of numerous people, some of which are mentioned in this study.

2. “All our righteousness is as filthy rags.”  Isaiah 64:6

  • Like Romans 3:10 above, this is another scripture which describes Israel in one of her particularly bad periods of spirituality.
  • It does not describe all humans for all time. It should not be applied to all humans.

3. Jesus said, “Whoever does not believe stands condemned already.” John 3:18

  • The word “believe” is not mere mental assent to a proposition such as, “I am a sinner condemned to Hell and Jesus died for my sins and rose again.” The Greek word for “believe” generally means (and is sometimes translated as) “faithfulness”. Jesus is saying those who are not faithful to what he said, which is, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” would be condemned.
  • To “be faithful” to Jesus means to do what he said to do, which is, “Love your neighbor as you would love yourself.” See the section in Chapter 12 regarding what it means to “believe in Jesus” for a more complete explanation.
  • The next verse tells us what the basis for judgement is. It is people doing wicked deeds. It’s how they live, not what they believe. Jesus said, “This is the judgment [that is, the cause for indictment, the test by which people are judged, the basis for the sentence]: the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19 – The Amplified Bible) See also the section in Chapter 10 regarding wicked behavior rather than belief being the basis for judgement.

4. Jesus said, “If you believe not that I am, you shall die in your sins.”  John 8:24

  • This is part of a running dialogue Jesus is having with the wicked Pharisees. He told them what it was they should believe about him just 12 verses earlier in verse 12: Once again, Jesus spoke to the people and said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.”
  • The Pharisees were evil and did not want to come into the light to have their deeds exposed, according to John 3:20-21, “Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come into the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever practices the truth [of righteousness] comes into the Light, so that it may be seen clearly that what he has done has been accomplished in God.”
  • Because the Pharisees were wicked and did not want to change their ways, they did not believe Jesus was the Light. If they were to believe Jesus was the Light then they would follow the Light and not walk in the darkness of their evil deeds. Jesus is telling them the consequences of remaining wicked.
  • To apply this verse to people who are not believers in Jesus and are not wicked is taking the verse out of context and missing the point of Jesus’ statement.

5. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father but by me.” John 14:6

  • Just like John 8:24 above this is part of a running conversation Jesus is having with the Pharisees.
  • For them, and people like them, they must follow the Way which Jesus taught them which was to live life for others rather than for their own selfish pursuits. They must live according to the Truth of righteousness, and experience the Life of righteousness rather than the death of wickedness.
  • As we’ve seen in this study it is certainly possible to be righteous and experience the Way, the Truth, and the Life apart from any knowledge of Jesus, but Jesus was talking to people who heard him and rejected him and his message of righteousness and so remained in their wicked ways without repenting.
  • They must come to God by acknowledging his message of righteousness and live it by turning from their wicked ways.
  • This applies to people today who are living wicked lives. They must turn from their way and live the way, truth, and life as Jesus modeled it, whether they know of Jesus or believe any thing about him or not. The issue is conduct, not belief.

6. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

  • Many would-be messiahs came to Israel before and after Christ promising deliverance from their bondage to the Roman Empire. The people were always looking for the Messiah who would save them from bondage to Rome.
  • Peter is saying, in essence, that they can stop looking because Jesus is the one.
  • Jesus’ mission was to save them from bondage to their own sins rather than to save them from Rome.
  • Peter is telling the Jews who the Messiah is they were looking for. He is not saying all people need to be saved from this bondage in order to receive eternal life since many were already righteous and did not need to repent.

To learn more about restoring an apostolic and 1st Century biblical view of salvation I recommend starting here:

Salvation by Being Good – Table of Contents

Introduction to Salvation by Being Good

Salvation by Being Good

If Being Good Can Not Save a Soul

Scriptures That Teach All Men Will Be Judged by Their Conduct, Not Their Belief

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