|RIGHTEOUSNESS: Uses of the Doctrine
HIS GLORY REIGNS
Feb 27 2008 08:00 AM
Now the uses of this particular, the great motive of a sinner being made righteous by the righteousness of Christ, that is,
"the free grace of God," are these:
USE 1: This may persuade us to get a timely acquaintance with this righteousness of Christ made ours, in its fountain
and great motive, the free gift of God. Let us remember that here is its origin. Christians are strange-spirited Christians
till they are knowledgeable in this matter; therefore, acquaint yourselves well with free grace upon this account.
You will never sit fast, nor be in a steeled state, until then. It is true, comfort and rejoicing comes in upon the view of
your inherent grace and holy walking. "This is our rejoicing, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly
sincerity we have had our conversation in this world" (II Corinthians 1:12). And you may not only refresh yourselves by
your sincere and holy walking, but, to speak with reverence, you refresh God Himself. It is said by Moses, "God rested
on the seventh day, and was refreshed" (Exodus 31:17); the phrase is fitted to our condition, as that in the next verse
is, and many more of the like kind. Now as God is refreshed with His own holy day, so is He with the holy conversations
of His own people. Their humble and sincere walking cheers both God and man, both Him and their own consciences;
as the vine is said to do in that parabolic discourse in Judges 9. Enoch pleased God in walking with Him, and knew he
Aye, but though you may please God with this, yet you may not think to satisfy God with all this. He must have a bigger
price for you than you yourselves can give. He could abate nothing of the life and death of Jesus Christ.
And then, further, there are such imperfections in your own grace and holiness that you know you lose the comfort of
them many times by a temptation or two. Aye, but were you well acquainted with and versed in this righteousness of
Christ reputed yours by favor and free grace. You would now feel yourselves upon a stone that lies fast, and upon a
firmer rock than Mount Zion, which cannot be moved. Moved you may be, but not removed; your dependence is on an
everlasting righteousness. While your eyes fix on yourselves and your own righteousness within doors, you will be as in
a leaking vessel at sea, or as in those disciples' ship who cried, "Lord, save us, we perish." Christ must have the honor
of justifying you as well as of saving them: and therefore you must count all you own but loss for him, as Paul did.
Oh, give me that to justify me before God that I can boast of, and with which I may outbrave death and hell, as blessed
Paul did. Oh, spend your deep meditations on what is written in Isaiah 45:25: "In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be
justified and shall glory."
St. Paul dared not settle upon his own righteousness, even when at best: "I know nothing by myself, yet am I not hereby
justified" (I Corinthians 4:4). God can see that in you which you cannot see in yourselves. David owned this when he
asked God to search him, and begged that God would cleanse him from secret sins.
What is the reason that many Christians are so unfixed in their thoughts of themselves and their conditions, and are at
such ebbs and flows in their opinion of their estates, but because their eye is more upon what is in them and what is
done by them than what is in Christ and what He did for them; it is good to look at home, but not to rest here. Many men
would partner with Christ's righteousness and God's free grace for their peace and comfort, but this is to have one foot
on the firm ground and another in a boat, which is bad standing.
This spirit is too much like that mongrel righteousness of the Galatians, which they learned from false apostles. There
is a natural tendency in us all to self-righteousness; but it is prejudicial to solid comfort. Christ's righteousness founded
on free grace is the rock whereon we must build that peace which the rain and the winds cannot overturn. Free grace is
the primum mobile, the primary vehicle that carries about all the degrees of our eternal salvation from first to last.
Some of the papists themselves will own this when they come to die. Witness Bellarmine's final statement: "It is the
safest way to trust only to the merits of Christ for life and salvation." He said as much in a clause in his will. Cardinal
Poole rigorously contended at the council of Trent (though in vain) for justification to be determined by faith alone. The
theology in these mens' consciences was purer than that in their heads.
USE 2: Be well-versed in Christ's righteousness as founded in free grace, and it will be a good nurse to obedience and
a godly life. The taste of free grace makes a man free to serve Christ and suffer for Him. If you would enlarge a
straitened heart, get a taste of free grace. This brings all into tune in a Christians' spiritual motion. As Jonathan's
tasting that honey (I Samuel 14) quickened his sight, just so quickening will the taste of the free grace of God in Christ
be to your minds in those duties that are incumbent on you.
USE 3: This gives great sinners an invitation to come to Christ for His righteousness. There is no price or money to be
paid for it; it is of free grace; it's a free gift (Romans 5). And when such sinners have entertained it, the greater sinners
they once were, the greater saints now they will be, as Paul was. And where sin abounded, grace will much more
abound. As it has abounded to them, so it will abound in them.
USE 4: This tells us what a generation of men they are who drink in this divinity the worst. They are those who are
self-depending and self-ascribing; they are like him in Matthew 19:20: "All these have I kept from my youth", and whose
question to Christ was, "What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" They are like those self-boasting
preachers in the Church of Corinth, as Luther usually calls them; and like him who thus answered Paul's question in I
Corinthians 4:7 ("Who maketh thee to differ from another?"), "I myself make myself to differ."
This doctrine of Christ's righteousness laid on free grace is a doctrine that galls proud Christians and men of parts to
the heart; such as trade for their own reputations with their parts and duties. To count all loss for Christ is as hard for
them as it was to that rich man to lose all for Him.
But until a man can be content to be justified by a righteousness that is of free grace, he is not humbled enough in the
sense of sin. To close this particular, remember, when you are to deal with God in the point of righteousness and
justification, that you must leave all your own righteousness and duties, works and worth, at the foot of the mount, as
Abraham did his servants when he went up to offer his son Isaac.
Thus we have seen the great moving cause in Christ's righteousness made ours, the free grace of God. And indeed we
may say, Oh, what glorious grace is this! Were our justification put to sale upon our doing, then would we be in the tune
of those desperate Jews, whose cry was, "There is no hope." Happy are we that free grace is the Alpha and Omega of
all steps we take to eternal life. Election, redemption, justification, and all are pure donations.
The LORD Our Righteousness, by Obadiah Grew, Copyright 2005, Soli Deo Gloria Publications.
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