Righteous

“Appetite” can be described as a strong desire or craving. We understand what it is like to have an appetite for food, but what about an appetite for God’s righteousness?

Self-righteousness

Many people have a certain religious hunger within them, but Jesus reminds us that desire for the feeling of righteousness or even religious human traditions is not necessarily the same as hungering and thirsting for righteousness. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone” (Matt. 23:23). And again, “In vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:9).

Concerning the zeal that some had for this self-made righteousness, the apostle Paul wrote, “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:2-3).

This is what happens when we set up our own standard of rules and behaviors in a vain attempt to be right without any real change; when we ignore the plain teachings of God’s word in favor of more abstract (read unscriptural) reasoning. We manifest this same character when we change the meaning of words and read into the Bible what we want it to say. When we declare ourselves to be right based on such standards, then we have established our own righteousness.

This is in essence what Jesus was referring to when He said in His sermon on the mount, “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20).

Righteousness that is from God

Righteousness that is from God is what we have when we rely on Him to make us right. We recognize that without Him we are as souls lost in a baron and desolate land unable to sustain ourselves. While many seek to satisfy their longings by their own devices (worldliness and/or self-righteousness), we must rely on the Lord to satisfy our hungering and thursting.

Consider, if we already feel full or satisfied in ourselves, then when we come to God what is left that He can fill? “Woe to you who are full, for you shall hunger” (Luke 6:25) If we empty ourselves and set our affections on Him, on His promises, and on the things that He says are good and right, then what craving is there that He cannot satisfy? “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matt. 5:6).

When we truly long for the righteousness that is of God, we will recognize that the gospel is our answer. “for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes… For in it the righteousness of God is revealed” (Rom. 1:16-17). That is, the gospel reveals how God makes men righteous. How does it do that?

“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (Rom. 6:3-6).

To obey the gospel by being baptized is to believe in the power of God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead. For one is “raised through faith the working of God” (Col. 2:12). Baptism is our appeal to God to make us righteous (1 Pet. 3:21). When we are raised with that faith, we are raised to “walk in newness of life.” That is the righteousness that comes from God.

Those who have joined Christ in the likeness of His burial and resurrection can call themselves Christians. To walk in this new life in Christ is to be transformed outwardly according to the inner change effected by God in Christ. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2).

The question we wish to leave the reader with is this. Do you hunger and thirst for a righteousness that is from God? If you do, will you obey the gospel?

 

Coming to Christ

To truly appreciate and respond to the gospel call, one must come to understand that God’s power to save is in Jesus Christ alone. To recognize and acknowledge that fact allows one the right to become a child of God (John 1:12), but Jesus and the New Testament writers remind us that our journey to Christ does not stop there.

James explains that faith (inward confidence and trust) that is not put into action is “dead”. To bring it to life one must act on that faith. Paul shows us that salvation is granted only after that faith comes to life through obedience (Rom. 6:17-18).

When we truly believe we recognize the nature and effects of sin in our life and turn away from it. Having confidence in the person and power of Jesus, we confess that He is the Christ, the Son of God (Rom. 10:10). Acting on that commitment, we give ourselves to Him by joining Him in the likeness of His death, burial and resurrection; we are “baptized into Christ” (Rom. 6:3).

At that point we are give a whole new life in which we may walk according to the will of God (Rom. 6:4). We can rejoice in the freedom of redemption from our sins.

In-as-much as many have tried to pioneer their own way to Christ, Paul reminds us that there is only one way, for there is only one gospel (Gal. 1:8-11).

The question is, have you come to Christ according to His gospel?

 

The Last Day-No One Knows But The Father

God has given assurance that Jesus Christ is coming again. For the righteous, He is coming with eternal life. For the ungodly, He is coming with eternal condemnation (John 5:28-29). Speculations abound concerning the timing, the nature, and the events of that day. Many prophecies have been given concerning the date of Christ’s return. All have failed. This should neither surprise us, nor should we heed any man who claims to know the day or hour of His coming. For as the scripture says, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matt. 24:36).

What About The “Signs Of The Times”?

When we talk about God’s judgment, many people fix their attention on the “signs” which Jesus discusses in Matthew chapter 24. Do these signs pertain to the last day, or to some other event? The discourse in this chapter took place during the last week before Jesus’ crucifixion. As He viewed the temple with His disciples, He foretold its utter ruin and destruction. “Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matt. 24:2). Later, as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples questioned Him on this, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3).

The “signs” Jesus presents in Matt. 24:4-35 are in answer to the disciples’ question. They pertain to the destruction of Jerusalem. He said to His disciples that they would “hear of wars and rumors of wars” (Matt. 24:6), but that they should not be troubled, “for such things must happen, but the end is not yet” (Mark 13:7). There would be great tribulation, earthquakes, pestilence and famine. Then would come the “abomination of desolation”, which refers to the destruction of the Jewish temple and the end of the sacrificial system (Dan. 9:27; 12:11). At that time people would flee into the mountains and there would be false reports of Christ’s return.

Are we still waiting for these things to happen? Should we expect to see “wars and rumors of wars,” and increased earthquakes, pestilence, and famine to signify that the end of the world is near? Jesus gives the timeframe for these signs. “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place” (Matt. 24:34). “This generation” refers to people living in that day. In other words, looking back from the 21st century, all of these “signs” have already happened. The great tribulation, the fleeing of the people, the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, all of it took place in the first century A.D.

No Signs for the Last Day

As Jesus continues His discourse, He goes on to describe another day that would be different from the destruction of Jerusalem. This would be a “day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, but My Father only” (vs. 36). Observe the abrupt change in language. Signs abounded for the judgment on Jerusalem. Now Jesus describes something that would take place at an unknown time and without warning. Read verses 35 and 36 together: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, but My Father only.” Having used the passing of heaven and earth as a comparison, Jesus now turns to that event—the last day.

For that day there will be no signs. No one will know when the end is about to come. There will nothing to tell us to get ready except the admonitions already provided in the Scriptures. There will be no fleeing. We should not expect any great tribulation or famines or pestilence beyond what is common in the world. All will seem normal. Jesus goes on to illustrate, “For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matt. 24:38-39).

When the Thessalonians had questions concerning the coming of Christ, Paul reminded them, “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night” (1 Thess. 5:1-2). Will a thief notify the master of a house that he is coming? Will he provide signs that his arrival is near? No. The nature of Jesus’ second coming will be like that of a thief in the night—when it is least expected and without warning. Thus, Paul continues, “For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape” (1 Thess. 5:3).

Jesus uses the analogy of a thief in the night to show the attitude we need to have concerning the last day. “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matt. 24:43-44, emph. mine DP).

Are You Ready?

Could Jesus come today? Yes. Could He come in ten years, fifty years, or one-hundred years? Yes. When He will actually come no one knows but the Father. Ours is not to second-guess what God is going to do or when He is going to do it, but to heed what He says and to make ourselves ready. “Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thess. 5:6). “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matt. 25:13).

Are you ready for that day? Are you watching? When the Master comes will you be caught by surprise, or will He find you ready and working?