For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…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 NIV
The apostle Paul was not ashamed of proclaiming the gospel for one simple reason: because it reveals the righteousness of God. And this revelation of the righteousness of God is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.
Many Christians today are hesitant to share the gospel even with close friends and family. Often it’s because they feel that their lives don’t measure up to God’s expectations or people’s expectations of a Christian. Either in terms of their behaviour, or how blessed they are by God. Usually both. In other words, they don’t feel like they are righteous enough as a Christian and have the results to show for it.
But that’s not the essence nor the emphasis of the gospel.
The gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t to reveal the righteousness of man, or the lack of it. It is to reveal the righteousness of God.
When we try to make our performance worthy of or matching with the righteousness of God, it is simply looking back to the righteousness of man, i.e. our own righteousness.
How then does the gospel reveal the righteousness of God, if it doesn’t involve our performance?
Well, it reveals God righteously dealing with ALL our sins once for all by judging and punishing them upon His Son. It reveals God being righteous in seeing us permanently righteous once we receive the gift of His righteousness in Christ. It also reveals God being righteous in showing His unclouded favour to us who are righteous in Christ.
All these are righteous acts of a holy and righteous God. They are righteous because Jesus came as our representative, and lived and died as our representative.
As a perfect Man (God as Man), Jesus satisfied God fully in His life on earth. He also fully satisfied God as the perfect sacrifice at the cross, because His worth and payment was immeasurably greater than all our sins combined.
The gospel is all about God and His righteousness. Nothing whatsoever about our own righteousness. That’s why the Bible emphasises that “The righteous will live by faith”.
Because we have to believe we are righteous in Christ. And live believing we are righteous in Christ.
The gospel is bought by God’s priceless blood, but freely offered to and accepted by us as man. It sounds simple, but so many of us struggle with it. We keep reverting to the natural thinking that we have to prove ourselves and merit it, when the gospel has effectively done away with that system.
Jesus urged us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). And the kingdom of God is simply righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).
Because it is only when we receive the righteousness of God given to us as a gift that we experience lasting peace and joy within.
And the peace and joy of knowing we are forever made and seen righteous on a righteous foundation will have a powerful effect in our lives.
It will cause God’s blessings – health, healing, success – to flow into our lives and be added to us (Matthew 6:33). This testifies to the glory of His grace and the power of His gospel unto salvation in every area.
Plus, it will even make us start living morally and excellently – i.e. living out His righteousness in us – without even consciously trying. And that’s truly powerful indeed.
So don’t worry about how your life looks like right now. Start believing in the gospel that reveals and focuses on the righteousness of God.
And let Him show you what His righteousness can do for you.
Because when you encounter Jesus, you encounter grace.