Where oh where is righteousness found?

When we read the book of Romans we come to a great passage of scripture.  Paul lets the reader know that the gospel is God’s power first to the Jews then the gentile for salvation.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.[1]

To be more specific it is the gospel of Christ and Christ alone that Paul is describing as the gospel that is the power of God to save men.  Speaking of this gospel of Christ, Paul lets us know that in this gospel a righteousness of God is revealed. 

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.[2]

We would tend to think of this gospel of Christ in context to our New Testament writings and conclude, of course.  Paul however would not have our perspective of the gospel.  He did not have a New Testament to preach from.  Scripture never records any writers of the New Testament as preaching the gospel from any document, parchment, scrap piece of paper or rough draft of our New Testament.  But instead we have recorded for us where oh where these men of God found a righteousness revealed apart from the Law that is the power of God to save men. 

Paul testifies to the truth when he says a righteousness apart from the Law is revealed in our Gospel.  But did you know that Paul preaches a righteousness apart from the Law from the Law.  Confusing?  Paul taught from the Law, the very thing we can not be counted righteous before God by following, a righteousness apart from the Law.  The Law testifies against itself in that it shows Jews and Gentiles a righteousness from God not found in observing the Law.

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;[3]

The gospel that Paul brags is the power of God unto salvation is the gospel the Law and prophets witness to.

We see this consistency when we compare the book of Romans, where we find this teaching, to what he preached when he finally made it to Rome.  In the last chapter of Acts we find Paul teaching not from the rough draft of our New Testament as his gospel, but the same old boring Law of Moses and the prophets.  Exactly where he told the Romans to find a righteousness apart from the Law, there he still preaches from when he late in his life preaches in Rome.

Paul considered the gospel revealed in the Law and the prophets the testimony of Jesus.  When he preached from these he was preaching Jesus.  Again we have no testimony that Paul or any other New Testament persons considered the gospel to be anything other than where we find a righteousness revealed that is apart from the Law.  This being the Law and the prophets.

And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.[4]

Our New Testament is so consistent is this understanding that the Law of Moses and the prophets revealed a righteousness from God that the writer of Hebrews considered those at Mt. Sinai to have received the gospel he preaches in his letter.  In the context of those who received the Law, he lets the reader know that this gospel did them no good because they did not believe.

For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.[5]

This is why Paul, speaking of the Jews, teaches they tried to do exactly the opposite of the gospel found in the Law of Moses and the prophets.  They rejected the righteousness of God apart from the Law, which was witnessed by the Law.  Instead they chose to find righteousness by observing the Law.

But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousnes  Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;[6]

They in their ignorance of the witness of the Law of Moses and the prophets concerning a righteousness apart from observing the Law, sought to establish their own.  They did not submit to the righteousness of God.

For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.[7]

Next time you read, say or hear someone quote Romans 1:16 take note, Paul has no concept of any other gospel than what was witnessed by the Law of Moses and the prophets where a righteousness from God is revealed in the gospel of Christ.

This is why here at The Gospel According to the Gospel I spend time writing about this gospel found in the wittings of our New Testament and its impact on our understanding of our own gospel.  Reading through my post will reveal this gospel that Paul and others recognized and left for us in their writings.  The implications of this gospel they preached has become the gospel the church refuses to believe.

[1] Romans 1:16

[2] Romans 1:17

[3] Romans 3:21

[4] Acts 28:23

[5] Hebrews 4:2

[6] Romans 9:31-32

[7] Romans 10:3

2 thoughts on “Where oh where is righteousness found?

  1. Hmmm. Explaining ‘righteousness.’ That’s a hard one. Hmm. Abel ‘believed’God and obeyed in offering the ‘blood’ sacrifice (possibly not even understanding that it represented the sacrificial Lamb of God who would come generations later). Therefore, Abel was ‘righteous’ because He ‘believed’ and obeyed God through performing that ‘belief.’ So Abel’s ‘righteousness’ was accomplished because he was in agreement with God. Agreement with God is Faith. Faith TRUSTS God. It was Abel’s ‘belief’ and ‘faith’ which caused him to offer the sacrifice ordered by God. He could have offered the sacrifice without the ‘belief’ and ‘faith’….and it would only be for the sake of the work. Therefore…in the absence of ‘belief’ and ‘faith’….there is no righteousness. Works apart from ‘belief’ and ‘faith’ in God…are only works. But the same works born out of ‘belief’ and ‘faith’ become ‘reighteous works.’ Abraham ‘believed’ God. And it was counted ‘righteous.’

    Then there was Cain. Cain did NOT ‘believe’ God. So Cain carries his beautiful basket of fruits and veggies. God was grieved at Cain’s ‘unbelief.’ Cain could have chose to go back with the blood sacrifice…even in ‘unbelief’….but it would only have been works apart from faith. Only works born out of faith…is righteousness.

    So, indeed, as you explained …keeping of the Law apart from ‘trusting’ God is not righteousness….and is rejected by God. But keeping the Law of God out of ‘belief’…’trust’…and faith in the love and justice of God….is RIGHTEOUSNESS. And I agree totally that the Gospel has been in effect from the minute God set man on the earth and enlighten him to both Good and Evil. The Gospel is the continued revelation of Good to man and a continued warning of the consequences of not ‘believing’ God.

    ‘Righteousness’……deep subject.


  2. Pingback: Changing the debate « The Gospel According to the Gospel

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