Our Greatest Need: Met in Christ
I’m excited about teaching our students this evening. Although my topic is well known by most believers today, there was a time when it was almost completely lost to the church. This was tragic because it forms the beautiful centerpiece of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is also the foundation for the entire Christian life.
Here’s a summary of this evening's teaching:
The greatest need – the need every human shares – is to be right with God by being righteous before God. Obviously, our efforts to achieve righteousness do not succeed. We can’t keep our trivial New Year’s resolutions let alone God’s holy Law. So, what can be done for all of us who fall short of the glory of God?
God’s solution is to provide righteousness for us in his righteous Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He met God’s demands in his life and crucifixion and the merit of his achievements is credited to all who come to him to receive it. Our righteousness is not what we have done, but something far better – Christ himself. Theologians call this an alien righteousness because it is imputed to us, not done by us. It comes from outside of us. And it is enough - we have nothing to add to it.
Think about it this way: Because of Christ, I have a bank account in heaven. It’s not filled with money, it’s filled with righteousness. God put that righteousness in there. I did not earn it, but God credited it to my account as a gift. When he looks at me, he sees my account full of sufficient righteousness to satisfy his holy demands and he accepts me because of it.
The book of Romans talks about the results of this alien righteousness using the term “justified.” Justification is God’s declaration that we are counted righteous in his sight. Romans 3:23-24 states it this way: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
We are justified by God’s grace and gift, not our efforts.
We are justified in Christ, his person and work on our behalf.
This justification is a done deal the moment we believe and it is permanent because it is the gift of God, not the result of our performance. We get it all and we get it forever. When Martin Luther made this discovery of justification by the free gift of God alone, he stop hating God. He got off his treadmill of rite and ritual, self-denial and frantic works. He rested in Christ alone.
The entire eighth chapter of Romans is written to describe the benefits of justification. We have peace with God. We are restored to him. He’s not angry with us. He adopts us and does good to us. He gives us the Holy Spirit to help us, and he keeps us in his love all the way through life and into heaven.
The Christian life is lived in light of justification and its benefits. When we falter and fail, we do not lose our righteous standing with God. He is still at peace with us, loving and helping us. We don’t have to run and hide. We don’t have to frantically earn our way back into his approval. We go through life in his constant, capable care. I can’t think of anything better than that.
Encourage your kids to go to youth group. This is life-changing teaching.