Through the Righteousness of God and Our Savior
2Peter 1:1-4 kjv
Of Righteous God and Savior
"Through the righteousness of" is a very important phrase to our considerations. It is not by our righteousness that any of the "like precious faith" is to come, it is by or through or as a result of our God and our Savior's righteousness. This is not how the typical modern faith approaches it.
There is an invasive notion among us that we are the ones generating our faith, that faith is ours, and we do with it what we want. Many of us believe ourselves to muster our faith together, re-purpose it, redirect it. That is not what the Apostle Peter is saying to us though; is it? He is saying that God and Savior give to us faith as if by lots as a result and effect of THEIR righteousness. It is a righteousness that we do not have in us without Christ. It is because of the effect of THEIR righteousness that we believe. It is in THEIR righteousness we believe. Even our belief is an act of THEIR righteousness. There are several ways to put it, almost every one of them however not the way the carnal self would prefer to see it.
God created the human soul with the awesome facility to believe; the righteous providence of God has seen to that. The human being, for the most part, believes what he or she is able to see; what is plain and evident right before their own eyes. Since the time of Adam and Eve, though, God's righteousness has not been plain and evident to us. Instead, this righteousness has become what we ourselves imagine it to be, what we make it out to be, much closer to what our wounded conscience feels it to be. It is no longer a righteous character and judgment that emanates from God, it is more like a self-justification we give ourselves that dictates our warped imagination of God. The actual image of God we are at enmity with. What then do we correctly know about God's righteousness?
Psalms 14:2-3 kjv
Thus, by the demands of HIS own righteousness, God set HIMSELF forward to correct this universal human state. That is where the necessity of HIS Christ comes into the picture. There is little doubt that the human being would not have come to this belief on his/her own without there being the intentional insertion of Christ's righteousness to draw our attentions from what other things we would attempt to justify ourselves with.
When it comes to righteousness, there are two opposite directions for our attentions to go towards: 1. our present direction towards what is right in our own eyes, or 2. our Christ altered direction towards what is right in God's own eye. What is right in God's own eye is HIS beloved Son's sweet-smelling atonement offering: our Savior Jesus Christ. Righteousness, for those called by lot to it, is now embodied in one specific person: Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 12:2 kjv
Simon Peter introduces us to what is better for us to believe about God and Savior's righteousness extended towards us:
- That it is to bring upon us an ever increasing grace and peace with God and our relationship to HIM in light of HIS own righteous being and character. (see: kjv@2Peter:1:2)
- That it is by HIS miraculous power HE provides all things to us pertaining to the spiritual life and godliness missing from our current state. (see: kjv@2Peter:1:3)
- That it calls us to an eternal glory and virtue. (see: kjv@2Peter:1:3)
- That it promises to us the ability (still by HIS divine power mind you) to partake (share in the benefit) of HIS Christ's nature, having thus provided the means of escape from the present world's corruption for us through the righteous actions of that same Christ. (see: kjv@2Peter:1:4)
To wrap our heads around the size and shape of God and Savior's righteousness, we first have to wrap our heads around the profundity of those four initial statements. I myself had to go back over them several times just to see straight. How better could the righteousness of God and Savior that causes our "like precious faith" be described?
And what is our part in any of this? In verse 2 and again in verse 3 Peter repeats the word 'epignosis', which we have already begun to talk about, meaning to recognize and acknowledge. There is nothing said here of our own righteousness. No, I fear rather that our own righteousness may have a good part to do with what Peter is calling the corruption of this world needing to be escaped. Know then that all of this spoken of by Peter is only through and because of Christ, even our recognition and acknowledgment.
Of Righteous Equity and Justification
The word for righteousness Peter uses is itself very interesting:
Quoted resource: strongs 'G1343'
Equity here means equal, fair, balanced, just. God and Savior are equal, balanced, just, both in character and in act. Justify in this sense means to make right with God; the New Testament puts it as a legal term. The defendant did not convince the court that he was in the right, the prosecution has now proven that he was not in the right, the case has now moved on to the sentencing stage. The convict now throws himself on the court's mercy. The judge, solely by the extension of his own mercy, declares the convict made right with the court. Again, the convict cannot make himself right. The judge's mercy has to proclaim the convict right. The court then treats him as if the sentence can no longer be carried forward. This the court does even though it is plain to all involved that the crime had been committed by the defendant.
This legal sense of justification is important because it helps describe God and Savior's equity/balance of character and action. Their equity suggests a balancing act of law and justice, truth and known evidence, consideration toward both the individual and collective, compassion and mercy. All these manifold elements of THEIR character are balanced and weighed before any divine action. This equity, along with this legal sense of being made right, is what we are fastening together into one word - the word righteousness. This faith stands on equal ground, righteous mercy given through Christ, with the faith of the first apostles.
In the court of God, who are we to judge what is fair and balanced? Isn't that essentially what we are all doing? found guilty without any remaining defense, and still defiant telling the judge what is best for HIM to do? Is God judge here or are we? Worse yet is the idea that mercy has somehow been earned or that mercy is entitled, that such a considerable debt could be repaid the court with such a pittance of bankrupt personal promissory notes.
No, only the judge can determine what is the fair and balanced sentence in each case and to whom then HIS mercy shall be given. HE must be able to do this without bias and equitably across the board for all men and women that plead for so great a mercy as well. For every sin there must be consequence. God's only bias is towards HIS Son, therefore HIS equitable mercy extends to those placed under the imputed righteousness of HIS most righteous and holy Son.
All Compassion Versus Equitable Character/Act
The biblical concept of equity of character and act is much different from the more popular modern nebulous view of an "all compassionate non-judgmental God". Their view strips away God's right to judge, God's right to convict and sentence, God's potential decision towards mercy and true compassion, God's right to do so to anybody at any time. This view does away with God's equity of character and act. Instead, the convict gets to decide, he is his own judge. It is not he that needs to be made right with God, it is God that needs to be made right to him. The idea of an all compassionate non-judgmental God suits the convict just fine.
I would counter that the all compassionate non-judgmental God has rather no compassion at all. What difference would there then be between a God of all compassion and a God who did not even exist? Compassion and say a stone flower pot? No, it is compassion because it does makes a distinction between right and wrong, attempts to redeem the irredeemable, vindicate the wronged, incentivize doing good and promise to punish evil. The means of compassion then are justified by the ends, what compassion leaves standing after all is said and done, after all is judged and sentenced, what is left remaining in the formidable light of God's prestigious and most equitable mercy, the sudden and complete transformation that such compassion then brings about.
God shows HIS compassion in that with deliberate intention in order to satisfy/balance the holy and just demands of all HIS good character, HE sent HIS Christ our Lord and Savior to all of fallen mankind to once and for all meet all the irreducible requirements of true righteousness. Where we could do none of this for ourselves, HE provided HIS Christ. HIS Christ has done this great and compassionate thing.
God, you see, is righteous. Righteousness is irreducible to explaining God. However, before Christ came what did we know of this righteousness? Before the seed of this understanding could sprout in us, our fallen form of righteousness had to be proven unrighteous. This is the storyline of the Old Testament.
Man had become like unto god's in their dead souls, determining for themselves what is good and what is evil. Not even the nation HE had built and provided for HIMSELF could keep themselves from this considerable unrighteousness. Generation after generation of man proves that man without the proper influence of God's righteousness, is desperately in need of God's mercy and the Savior's covering of righteousness. Having proven this, God moved to reveal HIS own righteous equity of character and act to us in the form of Christ HIS Son, the Lord our Savior.
Christ has brought us to the point of epinosis. Perhaps we do not yet know how to prove it to others in every challenging instance, we know now though that we can always allow God the presumption of righteousness. Though we know that it still doesn't affect us like it should, we know that we are getting more and more familiar with it, so much more thankful to rely upon it. It is the one thing in our lives that has become regenerative, transformative, liberating. One day we will know this righteousness of God in full, when we see HIM as He is. For now, we can and will recognize and acknowledge it, let its effect on us take its course, make us abundantly fruitful.
So now, as an exercise for all of us to run through I would like to take some verses that contain this word Dikaiosune (righteousness) and I would like to replace our word righteousness with the better understanding "equity of character and act toward justification".
Now, don't these verses take on a whole new light with our increased recognition and acknowledgement of what the Apostles mean for them to say?
Of Righteous Judgment - The Larger Picture
One further point I would like to add into Peter's outline here concerning God and Savior's righteousness. Most of this comes from Peter's fellow apostle John's BookOfRevelation and what his top down picture of prophecy presents. There he describes the final vanquishing of 'Mystery Babylon The Great' ( kjv@Revelation:17:2-5) - 'Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth'.
From man's vantage point God's righteousness is a judgment of individuals. From prophecy's vantage it is more so a judgment upon one particularly corrupt spiritual influence:
Revelation 17:2 kjv
Satan and 'MYSTERY BABYLON', his historic throne of influence, are well protected by the popular concept of the "non-judgmental all compassionate" God. With this concept it could be theorized that God has been compassionate and will ever be, even toward the primary cause of deep, dark, worldwide spiritual sickness. It says either that God is wanting this resultant death and disease to plague us, or else that HE powerless to do anything about it. That is what the very popular concept has to say about God's righteousness. How offensive must that view be to God.
We could be short-sighted concerning God's righteousness as well if we leave this only to the judgment of individuals and not the judgment of Satan and 'Mystery Babylon'. It is obvious that this is a very important matter to God as it consumes a great deal of focus in prophecy. It sure to consume a great deal of focus in God's eye towards righteousness.
Our God is compassionate, compassionate in a very righteous way. Our God can be judgmental, judging in a very righteous way. This same God can be merciful, showing mercy in a very righteous way. God can be all of these things toward us and more. HE can be these things at the same time, one thing need not subtract from the other. And HE can be equitable and just without ever once compromising. This is God and Savior's righteousness and it is irreducible to our further considerations because it is the very basis of the "like precious faith" of which Peter is describing.
Christ is the center point at which all the uncompromising demands of God's manifold righteousness meet together. At no other point in our universe does the meeting of these requirements completely converge or emanate. It is either found in Christ Jesus or nowhere else.
It is time for us who call ourselves Christians, who have perhaps known these things but have been stirred now into fuller remembrance, to recognize and acknowledge exactly these very things!