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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Belief unto Righteousness

          Is our belief unto righteousness? Martha told Jesus she knew Lazarus would rise on the last day in the resurrection of the dead. She knew Lazarus believed the prophets foretelling and believed Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah. Jesus told her He was the resurrection and the life (John 11:25 New American Standard Bible). He is the means to have eternal life and fullness of life devoted to God. Jesus meant He would give her eternal life and a full life because it would be devoted to God. Jesus asked her if she believed this. She did not answer that question, but she heard and believed within herself that He is the resurrection and the life. The answer she gave showed she believed He is the one who came from God as a gift to the world. Her answer did not show she believed He had power over life, death, and resurrection (vs. 27). Jesus said no one who believes in Him would ever die (vs.26). Martha said she believed He was the Messiah. She believed about a person, not about what the person, Jesus, could offer and do. 

In verse 40, Jesus confronted Martha’s belief. Jesus asked her, “Did I not say to you if you believe, you will see the glory of God” (NASB)? He said He is the resurrection and the life. He came to show the power of God over life and death by His own death and resurrection. This is what He asked Martha and Mary to believe, that He is not only the Messiah but also the way to eternal life with God. “You will see the glory of God” if you believe Jesus is the Messiah, the fulfiller of God’s power to take away sin and death, to bring life. This is why He says He is the resurrection and life. He is not just the Promised One, but He is also the power of God to salvation. He is not the teacher, but the fulfiller. 
Jesus thanked the Father (Yahweh) in the hearing of the people so those around Him would believe the Father sent Him to the world (vv.41-42). The Father sent Jesus Christ into the world for the salvation of humanity. Just by believing Jesus is the Messiah does not save you. The Jews had heard a Messiah was coming. The demons recognized Messiah, but did not receive salvation by that knowledge. People received salvation because of their belief: 1) God sent Him to be Messiah; 2) God’s Messiah is the atonement for our sins; and 3) atonement through Jesus’ sacrifice is received by admitting they are sinners, believing Jesus is the Son of God, asking forgiveness for their sins, and receiving forgiveness. This atonement removes our sin so we can stand before God. 
This belief in Jesus Christ, the power He has as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and, the power over death into eternal life, brings righteousness. We receive Christ's righteousness when we become His followers. So how do we receive this righteousness for ourselves? We believe Jesus is the Son of God who came to earth to fulfill the Law and to take away the sins of the world through His death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven, where He sits at the right hand of the Father. Romans 3 says,  
There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none
 who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless: there
 is none who does good, there is not even one…There is no fear of God before their
 eyes…But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested,
 being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God
through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction, all
 have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:10-12, 18, 21-23 NASB)

Abraham believed and his belief was “reckoned to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6 and Romans 4:3). Nothing we do will give us righteousness or eternal life except believing Jesus is God’s Son and following after Him. His death and resurrection removed our sins so we can have eternal life in heaven with Him. Prophets foretold of Jesus, the Messiah’s, coming and His fulfilling the Jewish Law. Jesus is the only sacrifice necessary to remove the sins of the world. Whoever believes in Him and accepts His gift of love and grace will live in His power and will be with Him forever in heaven upon their death on earth. What is your faith like; is it big enough to accept Jesus and His gift of sacrifice and love for your sins? Is your faith big enough to be credited to you like Abraham’s righteousness? You can never get the law 100% right; you sin. Only through Jesus can you receive forgiveness of sin and the power to avoid temptation in this earthly life. Only through Jesus can you receive eternal life with God in heaven. Think about it: righteousness comes through belief and belief is a gift of God. Do you believe or want to believe?