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Mr. Andrew Giffen: “The Righteousness of God” (Romans 3)

June 27, 2007

From the good people of Jesmond Parish Church in the United Kingdom, we have a sermon by Mr. Andrew Giffen, titled The Righteousness of God. As you know I have a high regard for the preaching of this church, and this message, based on Romans 3, is no exception to their standard. Mr. Giffen makes three main points: 1) righteousness is from God; 2) righteousness is through Jesus, and 3) righteousness is by faith.

I particularly liked this portion of his second major point–particularly because it is so relevant to our time:

There has been some debate in recent times about whether Jesus really took on himself our sin – whether Jesus really died in our place to turn away God’s righteous wrath and judgement. Well Paul is making it very clear that it really was Jesus death, his shed blood, that paid the price for our sin and turned away God’s wrath from you and me. He was the substitute who died in our place, bearing our sin that we might be cleansed and forgiven. He atoned for us – it is in him that atonement happened.

The reason why it is so important to hold on to this doctrine is because, it is biblical, but also because if we don’t we are still left with the problem of sin. Sin has not been dealt with if we deny that Jesus carried it on the cross. Some people want to emphasise God’s love. They don’t like all this talk of sin and judgement, of God’s wrath, or of the need for a substitute to die in our place. But it completely diminishes the gospel and ironically reduces our sense of awe at God’s love. God provided for our sin by coming in the person of Jesus to die in our place. He who was without sin became sin for us. What wonderful love.

You might think that having our sin dealt with would be sufficient for the Christian – we could now be in God’s presence. But God did even more than that. The righteousness through Jesus that Paul is talking about involves God giving to you and me the righteousness of Christ. God’s very own righteousness is given to us as a free gift. It is like if Jesus took off his spotless shining robes and placed them over your head. Not only are you forgiven and clean, not only are you set free, not only has God’s wrath been turned away from you, but now God looks on you with favour because he sees you as having his own righteousness.

It might be that you are here this morning and you are a Christian, but you are not really sure about your status before God. You know that you have sinned this past week, there is a way in which you have let God down recently and you feel that you are cut off from God. Well sin does get in the way of our relationship with God, and there is a time to ask for forgiveness, and a time to repent of past failure, but there is also the immense good news that incredibly we still have the standing of a righteous person before God.

The sins of today and tomorrow do not affect the fact that God has declared us righteous. You and I as Christians can still stand before God with boldness. You can still approach him in prayer with confidence. Satan cannot accuse you. We have been forgiven and cleansed. We have been set free from sin. We are declared righteous through Jesus.

In a day when some would question our need for the atonement on the Cross, it is good to hear this message–that we have had this atonement provided for us, and that we can still approach the Throne of Grace, being forgiven. Thanks be to God.

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