As we saw in Part 1, the prophet Jeremiah predicted that one of the special names of Jesus Christ would be, “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jer. 23:6). The New Testament also proclaims “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ” (Rom. 3:22).
An examination of any good concordance will demonstrate that the word “righteousness” appears many times in both the Old and New Testaments. In this Bible study series we will seek to establish the following:
- What “righteousness” is exactly
- How much of it we have naturally
- It’s role in the plan of salvation
- How it is centered in Jesus Christ
- How it can be ours “through faith”
- How this will affect our lives
E. J. Waggoner, author of the book, Christ and His Righteousness (1890), wrote another little tract entitled, Living by Faith (both are available from White Horse Media). On p. 10 Waggoner wrote, “One of the greatest causes of the failure of many people to understand the book of Romans, and indeed, any other portion of Scripture, is a failure to hold to first principles and Bible definitions. Men attempt to define some terms according to their theological training, and find it hard work to make them fit. Then if they at one time accept the Bible definition of a term, they do not adhere to it, but give some other meaning the next time they meet with it. This can lead to nothing but confusion.”
How right he is. One key to understanding, wrote Waggoner, is to “accept the Bible definition of a term.” So, what is “the Bible definition” of “righteousness”? Instead of offering my own opinion, Ill let the Bible itself give the answer. Look closely at these verses and notice how the Bible connects “righteousness” with God’s “commandments” and “law.”
David wrote: “All your commandments are righteousness” (Ps. 119:172).
God said through Isaiah: “Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, You people in whose heart is My law” (Isa. 51:7).
In the book of Romans, Paul referred to “the righteousness of the law” (Rom. 8:4).
In the same book he stated plainly that one cause of Israel’s failure was that “Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. ” (Romans 9:31, 32).
Thus David, Isaiah, and Paul all agree that God’s “commandments” are “righteousness” (Ps. 119:172), that when His law is in human hearts, those people “know righteousness” (Isa. 51:7), and that God’s law is “the law of righteousness” (Romans 11:31). Therefore if we stick to “the Bible definitions” we can be assured that God’s law not only demonstrates “righteousness,” but also is in itself a definition of “righteousness.”
To summarize so far:
- Righteousness is defined by God’s Law.
- Israel pursued “the law of righteousness,” but missed it.
- The reason was “Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. ” (Romans 9:32).
All of this is absolutely vital in order to understand the wondrous message about how Jesus Christ Himself is “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
As we will see, He is “that stumbling stone.” Remember, righteousness is centered in Him.