For nearly two thousand years, the church has cherished the apostle Paul’s letter to the Christians at Rome. Righteousness, Justification, Grace, Salvation, Faith, Promise, Peace, Reconciliation, and Life in Christ are a few of the big ideas that have shaped how the Church has understood the gospel message and how it communicates that message to the world.
In one of the most famous verses from the book, the apostle Paul says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17).
Righteousness. The righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel, and righteousness is received by faith in Jesus Christ. We’re going to spend the next eight weeks focusing on the theme of Righteousness.
First, we’re going to begin where the apostle Paul begins – The Righteousness of God. God alone is righteous: supremely good and perfect in all his judgements & ways. But this means there’s a big problem because, as the apostle Paul says, No One is Righteous. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Sin creates a massive chasm that spans between God and us: He is righteous, but we are unrighteous. What’s our typical response to this problem? We search for a righteousness of our own, asking ourselves Where Does Righteousness Come From? Wisdom, Law, or Faith? But the apostle Paul quickly points out that having human wisdom and having God’s law are not sources of righteousness, but rather, sources of pride which only leads to further sinfulness. Righteousness comes only through having faith in Jesus Christ. But Righteousness is For Everyone! The Apostle Paul joyously proclaims that God’s plan of salvation includes both Jews and Gentiles because Abraham, the exemplar of faith in the Bible, received righteousness through his faith in the promises of God.
Because righteousness is received through faith in Jesus Christ, Paul encourages us to Be an Instrument of Righteousness! We died to sin but are alive to God and thus we are no longer servants to sin; rather, servants to righteousness, living a new kind of spiritual life. The Righteousness of the Spiritual Life means that we are helped along by God’s own Spirit to grow and become more like Jesus. But we’re not doing this alone; instead, we’re doing this together – Working Together for Righteousness’ Sake. There is one body in Christ, and each member is gifted to work together, strengthening the body. Finally, the apostle Paul encourages us to understand the times and; particularly, the fleeting nature of this lifetime – It’s Time to Get Up and Dress Yourself in Righteousness, doing the work of God’s kingdom, bringing glory to his name so that others might come to know him.