Friday, April 13, 2012
Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness
Matthew 6:33 says this: Two directives are given.“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Two things show up in this verse: 1. first, seek the kingdom of God 2. seek His righteousness. If one wants the abundance added by God, they must first seek the kingdom and then His (God’s) righteousness. Interesting… How many church folk ever even speak of the kingdom of God let alone seek it? Are they too busy seeking and building the kingdom of church? This is an important question to ponder. Are church folk so busy with programs and auxiliaries that they do not have time for the kingdom of God? Are they so consumed with the government of church and church authority that they neglect the rule of the King?
Further to the point, there is little real agreement as to the make-up of the kingdom of God, the timing of the kingdom of God, and the rule of the kingdom of God. I think that it would be very important indeed for most churches to begin a sincere quest for discovering the kingdom of God. Since Jesus said that the kingdom of God was at hand… right around the corner… two thousand years ago, is it not a legitimate question to ask where it is?
Moving on to point two; the righteousness of God. What does it mean to be seeking the righteousness of God? What is the righteousness of God? Let’s look to Paul for the answer. Rom 3:21-26 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, (22) even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; (23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (24) being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, (25) whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, (26) to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Yes, that’s right… the righteousness of God is imputed righteousness. It is the righteousness that comes from faith. It is NOT righteousness that is achieved by obedience to the law. What? Did I hear that right? Paul has so much to say about imputed righteousness… the righteousness of God. A lot of *new perspective on Paul* theologians have tried to downplay the idea of imputed righteousness but, I think it is a serious mistake. Even N.T. Wright, and I love what he has done theologically, misses this important point. Imputed righteousness is the foundation of the Christian transformation process.
Why do I say that you ask? Well, because of Romans 10:1-4. This is one of my favorite go to passages of Pauls. Romans 10:1-4 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. (2) For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. (3) For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. (4) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Here it is made plain. It cannot be twisted. This passage can apply to most of evangelical Christianity today. People are still trying to establish their own righteousness by following the law and what they think the law is.
Even when you understand Greek, and realize that the word translated *end* in verse four is telios with the best meaning being goal… and, if you read the verse as Christ is the goal of the law for righteousness it removes the legal sense in which Christians follow the law with fear and trepidation. In the kingdom of God, one is granted righteousness for faith in a loving Father who was in Christ reconciling the world to himself and who was not counting their sin against them. This is the source of peace with God. Yes the righteousness of God is the source of peace… and the peace is the source of love for God and the love for God brings about the obedience of faith.
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