Looking at mankind in the light of Divine inspiration, we may well ask the question, Where does goodness dwell? or Where is it to be found? One of our hymn writers says:--
We see this from Psalm 53:1-3, "Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good. God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. Every one of them is gone back; they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one." That which is good is not to be found among the fallen sons or daughters of Adam. Look at them in their persons. "The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores." (Isa. 1:5,6) Look at them in their thoughts! Every imagination of the thoughts of their heart is only evil continually." (Gen. 6:5) Look at them in whatever light we will, nothing good can possibly meet our view. But as I have said, comparative goodness can be found. We frequently admire and wonder at the exhibition of human goodness; but when we behold it in the light of infinite purity and Divine excellency, we are forced to the question, "Where is goodness to be found?" Our selfishness, even in Divine things, is sufficient to sink our souls to the depths of never-ending despair, if that blessed One who is goodness had not interposed on our behalf. Truth sprang out of the earth, the Lord gave that which was good, our land yielded its increase when Christ appeared upon earth. Now, no truth can spring from the earthly part of man, neither can good be produced in the ordinary course of generation. When truth sprang from the earth, it was according to the angel's testimony to Mary, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that Holy Thing"--here we have that which is good--"which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:35) Good was Jesus all His journey through. He was good in Himself, for in Him was no sin. (1 John 3:5) He was good in His acts, for He did no sin. (1 Pet. 2:22) He was good in His associations, for He was separate from sinners. (Heb. 7:26) He was holy, harmless, undefiled. That which is good is seen alone in the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
"Righteousness shall go before Him." Not a son or daughter of Adam can stand before God with acceptance on the ground of personal worth; therefore the Lord Jesus Christ came into this world perfectly good to present to His Father a righteousness perfectly good, in which His people should with confidence enter into the kingdom of God, and enjoy the blessedness of communion with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The Scriptures of truth form a glorious revelation of Christ as the righteousness of God, and the righteousness of His people. Patriarchs, priests, and prophets went before Him in Old Testament times proclaiming His approach. Types, sacrifices, and prophecies witnessed to the perfection of the righteousness of the coming One. Righteousness in the decrees of the Father, in His sovereign appointments, went before Him, proclaiming that a righteousness for God and for elect sinners would be found in His doing and dying. Yes, blessed be God, every step of His earthly pilgrimage, every sorrow of His heart, every pain of His body, every wound He received from friends and foes, all the agony and bloody sweat endured in Gethsemane, with all the darkness and desertion experienced by His sorrowing spirit amid the wild isolations of Calvary, contributed to bring forth that righteousness which had gone before Him in predestinating decree and prophetic declaration. But still further--
Righteousness went before Him in the person of the Holy Ghost. You see this in the portion I have before quoted. (Luke 1:35) The Spirit of the living God was the grand Operator in the production of the sacred and sinless humanity of our Lord. He went before Him to make a way for the bringing of a Clean Thing out of an unclean. Paul says, "Now that He ascended what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?" (Eph. 4:9) Where is that? My mind runs at once to that chaste, yet sublime, declaration in England's Te Deum, "When Thou tookest upon Thee to deliver man, Thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb." From the womb of a sinful woman a sinless man was brought forth. But the going before of the Holy Ghost He was so conceived that He could contact no defilement, receive no polluting taint, nor see corruption. From Him the righteousness of God and of God's elect was demanded. God's righteous law, His inexorable justice, His unsullied holiness, and unvarying truth, exact from all the election of grace an obedience without flaw, a righteousness without failure. Where is it to be found? In Christ. In a perfect, immaculate, impeccable body, which was not susceptible of any error or mistake. He had "a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting," in which, from the crib at Bethlehem to the cross on Calvary, He wrought out a glorious righteousness for His people. At the close of His life He could look up with confidence into His Father's face, and say, "I have glorified Thee on the earth; I have finished the word which Thou gavest me to do." (John 17:4) In glorifying His Father upon earth, and finishing His work of righteousness, the people of His choice were saved in Himself with an everlasting salvation.
Righteousness! What is it? It is right doing and right ceasing to do. It is working and ceasing from work at the right time. This was what Jesus the Surety ever did. Righteousness is set before us in God's blessed Word under a variety of forms. Sometimes it is called "The righteousness of God." Why? Because God the Father demanded and designed it, God the Son accomplished it in the perfect obedience He rendered to the Father's law, and God the Holy Ghost reveals, communicates, and applies it to the hearts of all interested therein. It is called "The righteousness of our God and Saviour," (2 Pet. 1:1) because in His perfect conformity to His Father's will this righteousness is fully displayed. It is called "The righteousness of the law," (Rom. 8:4) because the law demands it from every son and daughter of Adam, and will not be put off without it. It is called "The righteousness of faith," (Rom. 4:13) because faith apprehends it, faith enjoys it, faith delights in it, and stands before the presence of God completely wrapped and enveloped in it. But let us here inquire--Whose faith is this? Yours and mine? Yes; but not that which flows from our wretched fleshly free-will. It is ours, because communicated to us from our great and glorious Head. I love to dwell upon this revelation of precious faith to me, and I will tell you why. I do not wish to be egotistical, but when God shuts me up to a fact, I am compelled to notice and acknowledge it. Well, I must confess to seeing and hearing very little of a true exposition of what saving faith is in the experiences of God's children. Thousands are contending that righteousness and salvation are wholly in God's hands, but faith is wholly in the hands of the creature; and that God has bestowed His salvation upon us unconditionally, but our enjoyment and comfort depend upon our management and exercise of faith. Such an arrangement would secure the eternal damnation of all Adam's posterity. My anxious spirit yearns to apprehend the faith of a covenant God in Christ, and the faith of a precious Christ in God. This is the faith of the living Head which animates all the living members. It matters not how remote in feeling the member may be from the Head, "like precious faith" will be sure to reach it. This is the confidence of the heavenly Bridegroom inspiring His bride. When I am brought into the experimental possession of this faith, I glory in the fact that the Author of my faith is the Father of my righteousness, and that He is God, the All in All of my salvation. This is blessedly revealed to us throughout the Word of God. Turn with me to Romans 3:22, "Even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe." Is righteousness ours? Christ wrought it out. Is faith ours? Christ wrought it in. The whole election of grace must have both the one and the other.
A NEAR RIGHTEOUSNESS
IGNORANT OF GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS
| BILL PARKER|
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS
|J. K. POPHAM|
HE IS ALL RIGHTEOUSNESS