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Is the Christian righteous or unrighteous? A simplistic yes or no answer is misleading. This is a tricky question that calls for theological care, and it’s a question from Jason. “Pastor John, I have recently been listening to your old sermon ‘Our Hope: Righteousness.’ In it you mention that ‘full and perfect righteousness lies in the future. It is our hope, not our possession.’ This is in reference to Galatians 5:5: ‘For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait for the hope of righteousness.’ Can you clarify for me what it means to be righteous? I thought it meant right standing. In placing my faith in Jesus, does that make me righteous at the time of profession? Or does ‘righteous’ mean ‘perfect,’ and that’s why we’re not righteous now? Can you clarify for me the various stages of righteousness in the history of a believer?”
Oh, I will love to try, because this is just so close to the heart of what the gospel is and who Christ is to us. Getting this distinction is right at the heart of the gospel and right at the heart of Reformation discoveries five hundred years ago. So here we go. Let’s try.
Passages - Righteousness - Meaning - Picture - New
Even though there are particular passages about righteousness that are unclear to me, frankly, as to their precise meaning, the overall picture in the New Testament is clear. Just to keep matters as simple as possible without distorting the reality, I would love to say there are two basic uses of the word righteousness in this regard.
One is reckoned to us — counted to us, imputed to us; pick your word — through faith, which comes from God as a gift in the moment that you receive it by faith. That would be because Jesus has done that righteousness. He has performed...
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