Through the abundance of grace I have needed and received, I have come to believe that the gift of righteousness is God’s real instrument of change. I was forgiven but forgiveness was just the beginning, forgiveness did not change me. Forgiveness put me in touch with Righteousness. Forgiveness, made it possible for me to change.
“…much more, those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness, they shall reign in life through Christ Jesus.” (Romans 5:17 NAS)
Righteousness is the hyper-positive power of God. He is the Creator of the Universe. If He says you are…then you are! If I immerse myself in His loving descriptive words of righteousness, I will become what He says. As I become what He says, I am no longer what I was. His Word is becoming flesh, as I am becoming His Word!
The Lord spoke to my heart several years ago, while in Pskov, Russia on a mission (teaching) trip. It was cold and snowing. We all had settled in for the night, going to our rooms early because we got up at 5:30 AM to go teach in the Bible College. To me, our early evening retreat meant “Word time.”
I really wanted to serve something fresh in a sermon I was going to preach the next Sunday, at a distant satellite church. Alexe’, the young pastor, was a previous graduate of the college where we were teaching. The service was to be held in their church. How cool. It was a former missile factory. Church was in the (Communist) political auditorium!
This particular night, as I sought inspiration, the Lord took me back to Romans 5:17, a favorite verse of mine. The core of the verse says, “much more those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness shall reign in life through Christ Jesus.” I paused for a moment, God was getting my attention.
A realization came to me. Success in life and in eternity is dependent upon receiving BOTH the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness. I know what you are thinking. I was too. “We all receive His righteousness.” Do we or is it a separate item on God’s agenda? It is separate in the verse. It was only a moment later, as I contemplated this dual approach, that God spoke to my heart and said something very simple but to me profound. He said, “You are saved by grace but you are changed by the gift of righteousness.” Another thought came. “…those who receive…(will let)…the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness REIGN in life through Christ Jesus.”
Addressing the first inspiration I thought, many confessing Christians never seem to get far in the changing of their lives. They continue in struggles that are tied to their old man, they are not changing the way they had hoped they would, the way they were told they would. With sincere determination they go to church, believing for something to change, but with little or less than apparent results. The second thought explained why.
In that distant wonderful place, in the cold of night, with the windows frosted over and the wind whispering a high C through the cracks in the 1950’s wooden window frame, I was ensconced in an old armchair, my used and abused bible in my lap. I was joined by Catherine the Great, as she looked down from her picture on the wall. Maybe she was there to observe this pilgrim, a stranger in a strange land. Along with her kind but reserved gaze, I was warmed by the soft yellowish red glow of the simple shaded lamp by my side, but that was not all that warmed me.
That night, His presence by distraction or miracle had robbed the dark, blustery, cold and snowy Russian winter of its chill, warming my heart by the grace of His inspiration.
Understanding had come to me. God had answered my prayer. It was His wisdom that, when shared with His anointing, would offer amazing opportunity for change to many Followers.
“…much more those who receive…”
It now seemed clear to me why Christians all over the world were not changing, why some were to varying extent and why some were not at all. Many had only received grace, one half of what was required for their lives to truly change and that grace only on a limited scale. Neither grace nor righteousness were reigning in their lives…or mine?
We read “You are saved by grace through faith…” (Ephesians 2:8 NAS) Paul makes no mention of righteousness? Could it be because grace must have its way with us first, that righteousness comes as a result of grace?
“That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:21 NAS) In many cases we have received grace but we have not granted grace, creating the problem of unrighteousness, fearfully common but unrealized by many of us.
We receive what we give. The Beatitudes, given at the Sermon on the Mount, confirm this in Matthew 5 and Luke 6. Knowing this, God plants the seed of grace freely, in reconciling forgiveness, with the intent that we will grant it freely, thereby bearing fruit, presenting His Way to others.
Consider this. “For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.” (Matthew 13:23 NAS) Now we can understand this verse in light of grace. God, the Master, expects a return on His investment, even more, a duplication of His Son! For the grace He entrusted to us, He expects us to multiply it to many, many others, planting the seed of grace in their hearts with the hope of resulting righteousness, saving them as He saved us. In return we never lack grace abundant! Our salvation is sure by this Way.
We want to go to heaven but we do not understand the nature and the power of the gifts of Grace and Righteousness here in this life. Here prepares us for there! We were to have received both and they were to reign in our lives abundantly!
Do they reign?
As a Follower of Christ, please share this. The coming times will demand our understanding. Preparing ourselves and others now is paramount.
This post, is a quote from chapter 7.1 of Exit Strategy We initiate the return of Christ.
In the guardianship of Christ,
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