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Righteous by Faith in the Righteous One

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I dearly love Buzz. I say that in the present tense because Buzz’s earthly body has worn out and breathed its last, but his eternal soul is alive and well. Better than he has ever been!
But even for many of the recent years of his life on earth, the Buzz that I have known exemplified steadfast love and faithfulness that are truly abnormal in this world; a man of integrity whose wife and children, as you have heard, have been richly blessed by his walk of faith in God.
Proverbs 20:6–7 ESV
Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find? The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him!
William Miles Newton is truly a man after God’s own heart.
But how can we say such a thing, even in moments of sentimentality and remembrance? If we are honest, in this life, was Buzz perfectly righteous in all his deeds, in all his words, in all the thoughts and motivations of his heart? He would emphatically tell you, “No, absolutely not.” So how can Buzz, or anyone for that matter, be truly called righteous?
We have a copy of Buzz’s testimony that we encourage you to read, if you haven’t already. In it you will find that God transformed Buzz’s life through faith in Jesus, but Buzz would not have claimed to be perfectly righteous.
So how is Buzz perfectly righteous now to be in the presence of God, and how did God change Buzz so that he was able to become increasingly more like God as he walked on the earth?
When compared to the sinless perfection of God, and his worthiness to be worshipped, the Bible rightly says of us that…
“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” (Is 64:6a) And...
“We all like sheep have gone astray, each one has turned to his own way.” (Is 53:6a)
In a letter written to the Corinthian church, Paul says, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” 1 Cor. 6:9a
To the church in Rome, the Apostle Paul explains,
Romans 3:9–20 ESV
What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. 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.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
If no one is righteous, and no one can earn or merit his or her way into God’s favor, how can anyone be saved? How can anyone love God and serve God as he should?
Romans 3:21–26 ESV
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. For there is no distinction: for 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, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
… “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” - Right standing with God comes through faith in the atoning work of Jesus on the cross.
There are most likely three kinds of people here celebrating Buzz’s life this morning.
Scoffers (atheists) -“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” (Prov. 14:1a) The person who waits until after his death to find out if there is a God is to be deeply pitied. Because then it will be too late to reverse course and cast yourself on the mercy of God. That will be the hour of judgment. (Heb 9:27)
Doubters (agnostics) -The one who believes that God possibly or probably exists, and that perhaps it is sufficient to be a pretty good person, to perhaps do more good than bad, and ultimately hoping that God will weigh your deeds thus on a scale against the bad. God isn’t interested in us thinking maybe he’s there and trying to be sort of good. God wants to reveal himself to you and he wants all of you. It’s all or nothing.
Maybe you even think that Jesus died and rose again to save us from our sin, but you still want to live your life the way you want to live it and you haven’t really submitted to Jesus as Lord, as Master, and asked him to save you. Again, God wants your whole life. Jesus isn’t interested in pseudo followers. At the judgment, such people will find themselves on the outside looking in, separated from God.
(But finally,) Repentant sinners who cast themselves on the mercy of God through Jesus Christ to save us - There are those of us who know we cannot boast in ourselves but only in Christ, and yet we are growing to be more like him and we are eagerly awaiting his return.
Hebrews 9:27–28 ESV
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Is Buzz perfectly righteous now? Yes, he is. Because God himself has completed his redemption. Buzz wouldn’t want us to be boasting in his achievements, but rather to submit to Jesus as Lord and to boast in the grace and glory of God through Jesus Christ.
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