Thoughts on Resurrection Part 4: Righteousness

Part one of my article ended this way:

When we die with Christ, we put to death all of our usual sources of happiness and security: being accepted by our community, the need to be right, legalistic righteousness, and even sinless perfection. 

Instead, we understand that knowing Christ is more important than temporary relationships (Matthew 10:34-39), being known by God is better than knowing things about God (1 Corinthians 8:1-3), imputed righteousness is far superior than anything we think we can earn (Romans 4:1-8), and acknowledging that we make mistakes frees us from guilt associated with those mistakes (1 John 1:6-10).

Daniel Rogers (“Thoughts on Resurrection” 11-10-2020)

As I’m writing these articles, I am learning more and more about resurrection. I think after this short series, I want to write some articles on what resurrection is not. I believe there is a lot of confusion concerning Hades/ Sheol/ and the intermediate state that I would like to address as well as the situation between the Cross and the Parousia. Alright, let’s get to it.

To start, let’s notice three passages about righteousness and eschatology:

Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.

Daniel 9:24

But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

2 Peter 3:13

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

Matthew 6:33

Now, there is sort of a dual meaning to the word righteous. It cold be taken as fulfillment of the law while in other cases be discussing justice. But, when one considers that love of neighbor is the fulfillment of the law, the two are not as separate as one might think.

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Romans 13:10

So, when we speak of bringing in everlasting righteousness, a world in which righteousness dwells. and seeking first God’s kingdom and righteousness, we are talking about a world in which the fatherless and widows are taken care of, the oppressed have vindication, and love for God abounds

Imputed righteousness fits into this program because we love because He first loved us. That is, we love not because we are righteous/ just but because He counts His righteousness/ justice as our own. Or you could say that our acts of righteousness/ justice/ love are not transactional, that is, to earn God’s love, but are a response to His love.

Now, let’s get into what this has to do with resurrection.

Jesus said concerning the Devil,

You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

John 8:44

He was a murder from the beginning because of his lie; he killed them with his deception.

Here is the truth:

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Genesis 1:27

And here is the lie:

The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Genesis 3:4-5

Though Adam and Eve were made in the image of God, there was this desire for more. They felt inadequate, so they reached out, took, and ate of the fruit of the tree. As I mentioned earlier in this series, the minute we accept this lie, that reaching out for more won’t produce death (separation from God), we get stuck in an endless loop of depending upon our own righteousness.

Immediately, they saw something that they perceived as an inadequacy: they were naked.

Because once you turn to your own righteousness, you are exposed since nobody can maintain the image of God through their own abilities. It is maintained by simply accepting that it is true. Once we begin looking for reasons that we aren’t worthy, we find them, and they begin to stack up.

This led the people further and further East away from the presence of God. Or you could say, they went further and further into death. This resulted in the people wanting to make for themselves a name by building a tower that would reach into the heavens. Instead of trusting in God to make their name great, like Abraham, they rely on their own abilities. This leads to division based on language and ethnicity. That problem still exists today because we trust in our own righteousness for happiness.

When Abraham enters the picture, something revolutionary takes place that the world wouldn’t be able to accept for two thousand years, and it is something, two thousand years on this side of Christ, that many still can’t or won’t accept:

Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Genesis 15:6

Since the world didn’t grasp this concept, something needed to be done to further show the inadequacy of humans to approach God through merit. So, God gave the Law to bring the world, not just Israel, to Christ.

Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.

Galatians 3:24

It, like Pharaoh, worked the people night and day with its 613 commands. Though there were periods of rest and tastes of the age to come hidden between the lines, ultimately the Law was given to cause the offense of Adam to be seen more clearly. That is, to show the world the superiority of imputed righteousness: that state in the garden where, despite Adam and Eve’s nakedness, they enjoyed full fellowship with God. Paul explains,

The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 5:20–21

An example of how the Law did this can be seen in the temple. Starting with sacrifice, you can have the best lamb, bull, dove, or whatever, but regardless of how many you produce, year after year, there is still a need for more offering. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter how many sacrifices you offer or how many commandments you keep because, regardless of what you do, there is a place where God’s presence resides that you aren’t allowed to enter because you aren’t the right person/ gender/ family/ tribe/ or nation. Your righteousness cannot get you into the most holy place under this system.

And, so, the Law was a ministry of death, and it gave sin power (2 Corinthians 3:7; 1 Corinthians 15:56).

So, the power (dynamis) of sin is the Law, but the power (dynamis) of God is the gospel (Romans 1:16). The gospel, then, is freedom from the Law, which is freedom from the offense of Adam, which is freedom from death. So, Paul wrote,

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.

Romans 4:1-4

and

For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.

Romans 5:17-18

Notice again that righteousness is a gift that produces life. It is not our own righteousness, but Christ’s righteousness that is bestowed upon us. That’s the image God sees when He looks at us (Galatians 3:27). To have resurrection, we must reject the Devil’s lie of works-based salvation.

Just like in the garden,
God knows we are naked.
He knows we don’t have all knowledge.
He knows we aren’t perfect.
But He knows us.

And that is all that matters.

Before you go, reread this passage with this understanding of resurrection and imputed righteousness:

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Philippians 3:8-11

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