What did Jesus tells us about righteousness and salvation?
20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20 (NKJV)
Given that we can’t get in to heaven without a great deal of righteousness how do we acquire it? Where do we go to receive it? The obvious answer if we have been a believer for any length of time is that we get it from Jesus. I once said in a message, “Only one person is going to heaven.” That got people’s attention, to which I added, “Jesus, and those who are in Him.” Why is that? Jesus is the only one who met His Father’s standard of righteousness. We learn from 2 Corinthians 5:21 how this standard is met.
21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)
As a result of Jesus death and resurrection all those who repent and receive His free gift of salvation experience this divine exchange that Paul described – He gets our sin, we receive His righteousness. Now righteousness has two forms – imputed and imparted. Imputed righteousness is Jesus deeds being credited to our account. Many years ago my wife and I received our statement from the bank and it wasn’t good. When I went in to the branch to sort things out I discovered what had happened. Two branches had merged and a couple at the other branch had the same account number as us. In the merger they gave the other couple our funds and we acquired their debts. Thankfully they quickly reversed things once they discovered what they had done. This is what Jesus did. He received our debts and we had His funds (righteousness from His righteous acts) credited to our account. This is the ‘imputed’ part.
What is the benefit of imputed righteousness? The best summary is in Hebrews.
16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)
We can come boldly to the throne of grace because Jesus righteousness, that which far exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, is ours as a believer. This is our access pass. So make use of it, come boldly and often and before this throne present not only requests, pursue intimacy with the Father, Son and Spirit.
14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. 2 Corinthians 13:14 (NKJV)
Next post I will begin explicating how imputed and imparted righteousness relate and what it means for our walk with and identity in Jesus.