Tag Archives: imputed righteousness

The Way to Heaven? Get Married

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there won’t be any marriage in heaven, not really. In other words, if you’re married now, you and your spouse won’t be married to one another in heaven. But as a believer…you will be married to Christ…

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”– for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” Revelation 19:7-9 (ESV)

But what does it mean to be married to Jesus? Well, a lot of things, but one of the most wonderful is this: you get what He has. Because you have a legal union with Him, what’s His becomes yours.

You know what I’m talking about if you were poor when you married someone who was a lot wealthier than you. On the day that you were married, your debts were gone. Your money troubles were over. Your spouse’s riches became your riches. Did you deserve it? Well, now that’s a weird question, isn’t it? Because it’s not about deserving it, is it? It’s about being married. What was previously his, or hers…became yours.

Now, even better than material wealth, when we entered into a union with Christ by faith, all of His righteousness became ours. So it is granted to us to clothe ourselves in “fine linen, bright and pure.”  It is not that we earned it. We could never earn it – but we who have welcomed Jesus into our life by faith are now His, and what’s His…is now ours.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)


For Tuesday, December 29th: Revelation 20

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Posted by on December 28, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Here Comes the Bride…All Dressed in White

Beautiful bride standing back in her wedding dresssI’m a big fan of weddings, for a number of different reasons, but one stands out: like everyone else, I love it when the bride comes down the aisle toward her adoring groom in a beautiful gown of white.

Along these lines, Revelation chapter 7 is the white robe chapter of the Bible. Other portions of Scripture mention a white robe also, but these are always angelic beings. Only one other chapter mentions white robes for believers, and that only one time – Revelation chapter 6. But chapter 7 pictures believers in white robes in three different verses, the first time in verse 9…

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”  Revelation 7:9-10 (ESV)

What is the Significance of the White Robe?

It’s an incredible scene, isn’t it? An inestimable number of the faithful, all standing before the throne of God and all clothed in white robes. Glorious. But…what is the significance of this particular garment? Glad you wondered! One of the elders turns to the Apostle John and asks the same question…

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” Revelation 7:13 (ESV)

But the Apostle punts, turning the question back to the elder…

I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Revelation 7:14 (ESV)

The great question is, “How do I receive a white robe?” And the answer is clear – I must wash my filthy robe in the blood of the Lamb. Only His blood can cleanse my garment all soiled by sin.

Does She Deserve to Wear White?

Now, when it comes to weddings, the white, of course, is symbolic for the bride’s purity as she meets her groom. And I know that the cynical among us will say that many brides today do not deserve to wear white…but I will not join that unhappy throng. For the truth is this: no one on that Great Day before the throne will “deserve” their robe of white either.

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! Precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Robert Lowry (1876)

For Friday, December 11: Revelation 8

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Posted by on December 10, 2015 in Purity, sin, Uncategorized


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The Ultimate Reason We Must Weep

There is much weeping going on in our nation and in the world lately. There is pain all around. John the beloved Apostle wept too, but he wept for a reason that others don’t often consider…

And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Revelation 5:2-4 (ESV)

Why did John weep? The answers seems clear from the passage: John wept because no one was worthy. No one. No one on heaven or earth was found worthy to open the scroll.

But what does this mean?

Let me ask you, do you think John wept because he wondered what was in the scroll, and since no one was worthy he thought he might never find out? Hmmm. I don’t think so. He isn’t weeping over an inability to satisfy curiosity. Time and space are different here in Revelation – the scroll isn’t just a prophecy – apparently, the scroll needs to be opened for the plan of redemption to actually take place. And John knows it. So John is weeping because there is no one to accomplish redemption and the consummation of history. No one is worthy.

This is the repeated message of the Scriptures since Genesis 3: no one is worthy.

As Paul said in Romans 3:

For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”…For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:9-12; 23 (ESV)

Today, however, many people believe they are worthy to accomplish their own redemption. I run into these people all the time. When I ask them their plan for standing before God on Judgment Day – they tell me they have lived a good life. In other words, they are quite certain that they are worthy.

Jesus said that many would stand before Him on that day declaring their worthiness:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV)

“I’m worthy, Lord.”

“No…you’re not.”

In fact, there is only One Who is worthy…

And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” Revelation 5:5 (ESV)

So, you see, Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, is worthy. He is the only One. And if we hope to be found worthy on that day, our only hope is to trust in Him…

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)

This is our reason, not to weep…but to rejoice.

For Wednesday, December 9: Revelation 6


Posted by on December 8, 2015 in Uncategorized


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What Christianity is Really All About

Have you ever run into a Christian who is all about what you can or can’t do? The Christian life, in their humble opinion, is all about rules, where you can go, what you can eat or drink, what you should or shouldn’t say. Being around such people is tiring…and guilt-inducing.

Romans chapter 14 is about these kinds of folks, and it culminates in a wonderful word in verse 17…

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (ESV)

So the true Christian life in the Kingdom of God is not about rules of eating and drinking and therefore passing judgment on one another; instead it is really about three things:

1. Righteousness. Clearly Paul’s meaning here is the righteousness of Another, imputed to me, for this has been the topic of his letter so far…

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. Romans 3:21, 22 (ESV)

This is what, first and foremost, the Kingdom of God is about: God has loved us so much not only to forgive our sins, but also to give us Christ’s righteousness.

It’s like the story of the man who was deep in debt to a local bank, on the verge of bankruptcy, so he went to the institution in question to see if there was anything they could do to help him.  And as he sat down with the bank manager, she told him that she had the most incredible news for him – the bank was going to totally forgive all his debts. The man was now totally debt free.  And yet, if you consider it, his condition was in some ways no different than when he had walked in.  He was still flat broke.  But then she said something even more amazing – the bank was going to put his name on its account books as a holder of all the bank’s assets.  Everything the bank now held was his also. He was now wealthy beyond his wildest dreams.

Such is what has happened to us as well. God has not only forgiven us our sins, but He has granted us Christ’s righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). We the ungodly are now gloriously rich in righteousness.

2. Peace. People who are about eating and drinking and rules never quite find peace.  But righteousness from God leads to this glorious state.  Since we are completely righteous in God’s eyes, we need never again fear that God will reject us.  Having been justified (declared righteous) by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). My son wrote about this quite wonderfully here.

3. Joy. I hope you’re not surprised to find this one on the list. We shouldn’t be, for these three incredible gifts from God all flow together.  If I have peace with God, then all is right with the world – and I am therefore full of joy which leads to all sorts of other wonderful outcomes, like strength (Nehemiah 8:10) and hope.

And Paul has a concluding exhortation: So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (Romans 14:19) While we want to help one another pursue holiness, and we are called to turn one another from the error of our ways (James 5:20), the best way to do this is not to point the finger and list the rules.  To be sure, sometimes we do need to distinquish clear biblical right and wrong for our brothers and sisters, but beyond that we point to the cross and list our hope in Christ.  And the end result is righteousness, peace…and joy.


Tomorrow, Thursday, April 9th: Romans 15


Posted by on April 8, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Did Jesus Preach the Gospel?

Sheep with hornsThere are three parables/stories in Matthew 25 that on the surface, challenge a traditional evangelical understanding of how we are saved, the most powerful one coming at the end, where, in the story of the sheep and goats, Jesus says,

Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:44-46 (ESV)

These sorts of stories pop up now and again in the gospels, as in Jesus’ closing words to the man in Luke chapter 10: “Do this, and you will live.”  “Wait a second,” we are tempted to interrupt the Lord, “isn’t it, ‘Believe, and you will live’?  Why is He telling the man to do something in order to have eternal life?”

And therefore, sometimes people are confused by what appears to be a discrepancy between what Jesus seemed to be telling people in order to have eternal life, and what Paul/Peter/John told people.

I have included a 12 minute video below that help you make sense of these questions. But consider this very important point:

Whatever we read in the gospels must always be filtered through the cross of Calvary.  So John Piper says he “reads the gospels backwards.”  This is most helpful because it is clear that each of the four accounts of Jesus’ life are not only accounts of his life…but also of His death. For this reason, each of the four gospel writers spends one third to one half of his time writing about the death of Jesus, and there is a cross-shaped shadow cast across all four gospels that forces us to consider everything in light of Calvary.

In contrast, I listened to a long audio book (45 hours’ worth, or so) on George Washington a few years back, and the author spent a relatively brief time (15 minutes?) describing how he died (he caught a cold and his doctor kept taking out his blood until he killed the founder of our country. Be thankful for modern medicine.) But my point is that the gospel writers focused on Jesus’ death and resurrection…because Jesus himself had such a focus.

So, Matthew 25 must be filtered through Jesus’ earlier proclamation in Matthew 20:

“Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mat 20:28 ESV)

Jesus came to give his life…as a ransom, so that we might live.

In the meantime, what is happening in this parable of the sheep and the goats?  Well, surely, it’s not that we have to make sure we visit people in prison and feed the hungry in order to get to heaven.  If it were, how many would I need to visit?  Would one visit get me in?  10?  20? Regarding feeding the hungry, could I just visit a soup kitchen every Thanksgiving and make it in?  No, no, no!  Rather, when someone is truly saved, the desire to live in such a way, (especially toward one’s brothers and sisters – vs. 40) is placed in our hearts. Such desires inevitably lead to some sort of action.  Repentance always accompanies saving faith. So Paul wrote to the Romans about the “obedience that comes from faith.” Romans 1:5 (NIV)

And John could say:

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 1 John 3:17 (ESV)

But in the same letter, he would write:

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:11-13 (ESV)

For more help, watch this…



For Thursday, February 5th: Matthew 26

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Posted by on February 4, 2015 in Uncategorized


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