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Righteousness Revealed, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
May 17, 2023 9:00 am

Righteousness Revealed, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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May 17, 2023 9:00 am

If you’ve never known how to reply to someone who asks, “What’s the big deal about Jesus?” then this is the message for you. Pastor J.D. continues through the passage in Romans 3 that some scholars say is the most important in the Bible. Through its message, we learn what makes Christianity so different from every other religion and how accepting Jesus’ forgiveness changes the foundation of our lives.


Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. At the cross, God was able to accomplish two things that seemed like they would forever be in contradiction. The first one is that God's justice was satisfied. His righteousness was upheld. And at the same time, we, the ones who had committed the injustice, we could be saved.

You see, for God to be righteous, sin had to be punished. Hey, welcome back to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian, J.D. Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vitovich. Okay, if you've never known how to reply to someone who asks, what's the big deal about Jesus? Then today's message is for you. Pastor J.D. is working through a passage that some scholars say is the most important in the Bible. Through the message of Romans 3, we learn what makes Christianity so different from every other religion and how accepting Jesus's forgiveness changes the foundation of our lives. If you've missed any part of this study through Romans so far, remember you can always catch up online at

But right now, let's dive back in. Here's Pastor J.D. in Romans chapter 3. God presented him, Paul continues, as an atoning sacrifice. Some translations will say propitiation.

What it means is that anger is assuaged. God's claim against you is settled. Now, I will tell you there's a number of more, shall we call them, liberal theologians who buck against this whole concept today and they say, no, no, no, no, no. Now, on the cross, Jesus wasn't paying for sin because God is not some petty, vengeful God who is angry at sin trying to exact punishment for it. If anything, on the cross, Jesus was just demonstrating how brokenhearted He was over our sin. He was demonstrating how destructive sin is. He was demonstrating to us how much He loved us. A Christian songwriter, for example, named Michael Gungor, he said, the idea that God needs to be appeased with blood is not beautiful.

It is horrific. He said, and I quote, I would love to hear fewer Christian artists sing about a father murdering his son. If you can't think of anything to sing to God about other than gratitude for taking your shame away through bloodshed, you should stop singing. How about this one?

I'm about to become the least popular person in the room, let me acknowledge that. William Paul Young, the author of The Shack, said this in a book he published just last year called Lies We Believe About God. He asked the question, who originated the cross? If God originated the cross, then we worship a cosmic abuser who in divine wisdom created a means to torture human beings in the most painful and abhorrent manner. Frankly, it is often this very cruel and monstrous God that the atheist refuses to acknowledge, and rightfully so.

Better note God at all than this one. Now, not me, in the old rugged cross stained with blood, so divine a wondrous beauty I see. For it was on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, departed and sanctified me.

Listen, propitiation, hilasterion, the atoning sacrifice means that God poured out on Jesus the righteous anger that he had toward us. And contrary to the author of The Shack, God's righteous anger toward sin is not in contradiction with his love. It is a necessary corollary to his love. I've told you before that when you love somebody, you hate the things that destroy them. Now, if you love the cancer patient, you hate the cancer that destroys and ravages their body.

If you love your children, then you hate the deception and the lies and the rebellion that you see destroying their heart. That's how God feels about our sin. Sin destroys his creation. It destroys the glory and the righteousness that are the foundation of his universe.

It destroys us. And so God hates, God is angry, righteously angry at sin. So Jesus stepped in the way to pay for it. And by so doing, God could demonstrate his righteousness. He could demonstrate his righteousness because in his restraint, you see, God had just passed over the sins previously committed. Now here's the key phrase right here, demonstrate his righteousness.

Let me cover the second one real quick, just because it might trip some of you up. In his restraint, God passed over the sins previously committed. The sins, listen, of all the Old Testament saints had never actually been paid for. They'd never been atoned. They'd only been passed over.

Why is that? Well, because the lands they sacrificed couldn't actually pay for sin. The Old Testament says that, right? Psalm 51, the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sin. Those things were only symbols of what actually would take away sin, which was the death of Jesus. Only a perfect man living the life we should have lived, then dying the death we were condemned to die, could actually take away our sin.

The lamb was just a symbol of what Jesus would one day do. So throughout the Old Testament, God forgave Abraham's sins and David's sins and Moses' sins and Esther's sins. He forgave them on credit. He forgave them because they acknowledged that one day Jesus was going to come. But now that Jesus has come, Paul says, God has demonstrated his righteousness at the present time so that he would be righteous and he could declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus. At the cross, God was able to accomplish two things that seemed like they would forever be in contradiction. The first one is that God's justice was satisfied. His righteousness was upheld. And at the same time, we, the ones who had committed the injustice, we could be saved. You see, for God to be righteous, sin had to be punished. A hundred people say, well, wait a minute, why couldn't God just, you know, forgive it?

Why couldn't God be like, okay, okay, I feel like we all learned our lesson here. Is everybody back in the pool now? Okay, we're going to have an all skate the same direction. Let's just start over. Here's why. It's because forgiveness, real forgiveness, always requires a price to be paid. So you borrow my card. In fact, let's say you don't borrow my card. Let's say you steal my card. All right, you steal my card and you go out and drive and you wreck it.

Okay, you come to me like, JD, I'm so sorry. I, you know, I wrecked your car. I stole your car.

I don't have money to pay for this. What are my options here? Okay, well, I can take you to court and sue you and make you pay for the car. Option number two, I can go wreck your car, maybe make me feel better about you wrecking my car. Option number three, if I said, well, don't worry about it, I forgive you. What have I just implicitly agreed to do?

Right? I've implicitly agreed to pay for the damages myself. They don't just magically go away. I don't say I forgive you and boom the cars back to normal. I've just agreed to take on the responsibility for your wrong. Or let's change the scenario. Say you're a business owner, a competitor, spreads lies about your business and destroys your business. All right, so what are your options? Well, you can get your executives back in the boardroom and you can figure out a way to destroy their business.

You could take them into court and sue them and get them to, you know, make them pay for the damages. But again, if as a business owner, you choose to forgive them, what are you doing? You were saying that I'm not going to retaliate against you. I'm not going to avenge the wrong. I'm going to absorb the wrong and you were going to get good whereas I took evil. Forgiveness always implies suffering, which is what happened at the cross.

God absorbed the consequences of our sin into himself. When people say, well, I just don't think there needed to be any kind of payment, the only kinds of people who say that are those who have never actually really suffered under injustice. People who have experienced abuse or rape or discrimination or genocide, they understand this. There can be no peace until righteousness has been restored.

Or think of it like this. You know the Old Testament story of Uriah? Uriah was the guy who was married to Bathsheba. So David convinced adultery with Bathsheba about why Uriah is away at war. Bathsheba gets pregnant. David wants to cover the sand so he puts Uriah in the midst of a battle so that Uriah will die. Basically, David murders Uriah and so that he can take Bathsheba for his wife and nobody will know about the adultery. All right, well, a year later, Nathan the prophet confronts David and basically says, you are the man, you're guilty. And David admits it.

You're right. I'm the sinner. And then Nathan the prophet looks at David and says, your sin is forgiven. It has been taken away.

I want you to imagine that you were Uriah's mother and you're watching this whole thing go down. What's your response? It's not that easy.

No, it is not that easy. You can't just say it's gone. There's gotta be some kind of justice on the earth. Plus Proverbs 17, 15 says this, acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent. The Lord hates both of those things. So how's God going to acquit the guilty? How's he going to acquit David for his sin and not do the very thing that he hates? It took a massive death to make the wrong that David committed right. But it was not David who would experience that death. It was Jesus in David's place.

Righteousness had to be restored for there to be peace. The propitiation, the assuaging of anger could either be accomplished by us in hell or it could be poured out on Jesus in our place. The cross was not just Jesus showing us God's love. Jesus was taking the place of our punishment. It's why we often say here at the summit church that Jesus did not just die for you. Jesus died instead of you. And besides, if Jesus wasn't actually paying for sin, how would the cross be a demonstration of his love for us?

Right? I mean, it wouldn't be liberal theologians love to say this like, Oh, he was just showing his how much he loved us. But if by dying, he wasn't actually accomplishing something for us, how would that be love?

Jesus was shielding us from the wrath of God that we deserve by stepping in the way and taking it into himself so that we would not have to pay for it eternally. In the cross, God was righteous and God could declare righteous, the one who has faith in Jesus. Let's talk about that last phrase, the one who has faith in Jesus. What is faith? What is faith? Faith is the hand on the head of the lamb. Just like the Jewish father would put his hand on the head of the lamb, showing that all the sins of his family was being transferred onto the lamb and the lamb would die for the sake of the family. Faith is when you see Jesus as your sin bearer and you lay your hand on him and you say, there's my lamb. This is the one who is going to bear my sin. The Greek word for we translate faith, pistis, means to lean your weight on or to join yourself to.

It's not a blind leap into the dark. Faith is a commitment of yourself to somebody based on what you know about them. Think about it like this. When a guy and girl meet, they get to know each other. Sometimes they fall in love. When they fall in love, they want to join themselves together in marriage. When they get married or when they agree to get married, they don't know everything there is to know about each other.

Sometimes there are all kinds of surprises waiting for them on the other side of that, I do vow. But they get to a point where they feel like they know enough to make the commitment. And in that moment, in that moment, even though they don't know everything, they unite themselves to become inextricably and irrevocably one. Their debts become one. Their assets become one. Their futures become one. In most cases, they even begin to share a last name. That's what happened with me in the summer of 1997. I met a beautiful girl named Veronica McPeters and I was totally, totally taken with her.

And then on the greatest day of her earthly life, July 28th, 2000, she traded the last name McPeters for Greer. And in that moment, we became one. Everything about us became one. Our debts became one. My debts became hers and hers became mine. Our assets became one.

Our futures merged. Now clearly, clearly I got the better end of the deal. However, because I was a little bit older than she was and had been working for a couple of years, I had this really, really nice car. It was sort of a new Nissan Maxima. I had all the, you know, kind of bells. And she had this, it was a little Honda car called a CRX.

It had no air conditioning. It had been wrecked and salvaged and rebuilt. After we got married, I'm like, well, I can't have my wife. It's just, you know, so I took that car. And for a couple of years, I drove that thing and she got that Nissan Maxima.

Why? Because everything that was mine was hers and everything was hers was mine. And so we just traded.

We traded assets. Faith is doing that with Jesus. He takes your sin. You get his righteousness.

You commit yourself to him based on what you know about him. The good news that Paul shares, the good news I declare is that 2000 years ago, Jesus said, I do to you. He knew everything there was to know about you. He knew about all your sin. He knew about all the mistakes you were going to make. And unbelievably stretched out his arms and said, I do.

I will take you. And then he waits on you to say the same. He takes your sin. He takes your shame. He takes your condemnation. You in that moment get his righteousness. You get his position. You get his reward.

He gets the CRX of your corruption and you get the new Maxima of his sonship. This is Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer. For more information about this ministry, visit Before we return to today's teaching, I wanted to tell you about a valuable resource that can help you stay connected to God's Word on a daily basis. Our free email devotionals written by Pastor J.D.

offer practical insights and reflections on the Bible that actually run right alongside our daily teaching here on the program. So even if you miss a day on the radio, you can stay with us through this resource. And signing up is easy. Just visit slash resources and enter your email address. We'll send you the devotionals straight to your inbox.

And the best part is that it's completely free. So thank you to all of our supporters who make this resource and the rest of Summit Life possible. Now let's continue growing in our faith as we return to today's message with Pastor J.D.

Greer here on Summit Life. People ask me why I am sure that I will go to heaven when I die. They say, well, you just think you're such an awesome person.

No, quite the opposite. It's that Jesus was an awesome person and he lived the life I was supposed to live. And Jesus took my condemnation and died for it. Everything that I've ever done, everything that would disqualify my people from heaven, Jesus took on the cross and put away.

And now I have his position lifted up. Was he to die? It is finished, was his cry. The price for my sins been paid. In fact, Jesus on the cross, the word that he said, it is finished. The Greek word to telestai, to telestai, it's a word that they say was a banking word. They found receipts back from the first century where when somebody would pay off a debt, they would take that receipt and they would scroll across it to telestai. It's been paid.

You can never again claim this payment against this person because it is finished. Corrie Ten Boom, who was the woman who survived a Nazi concentration camp, she said, in the cross, God hurled our sins into the deepest part of the sea. And then he put up a little sign there in the deepest part of the sea saying, no fishing allowed. Many of you live with a dull kind of vague sense of condemnation, guilt. Sometimes you don't even know where it comes from.

Sense of disapproval, a sense of fear, insecurity. Corrie Ten Boom said, that's because you aren't nearly as vigorous in appropriating God's forgiveness as God is in extending it. You see, your sin was paid for in its entirety by Jesus. He became your sin on the cross. Do not insult him by saying, you've done more than you can be forgiven of.

Because it's not, it feels like a humble statement to you. Oh, I'm just so unworthy. No, what you're doing is you're looking in Jesus's face and saying, what you did was not enough. That bloody death that you went through was not enough for my sin. It was enough that Jesus died. He went through all that he went through because our sin demanded it. The worst sin ever perpetrated by the human race was put onto the head of Jesus so that all those, Paul says, who put their hand on his head, his sacrifice become theirs. And what Jesus offers you, by the way, is more than just forgiveness.

It's justification. You see, forgiveness says, says you may go. You may go because I'm no longer going to hold this payment against you.

Justification says more than you may go. It says you may come. You may come and stay forever at the table because you are now in my image. You are now my righteousness.

You belong at the table. You can stay forever. You can stay forever. And contrary to Michael Gungor or the author of the shack, this is the center of our worship. And it will always be when we've been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, we've no less days to sing God's praise and his grace than when we first begun or one of my favorites. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust us, the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name.

And then we sing that chorus, the modern chorus we've added to that. Christ alone, cornerstone, weak made strong in the Savior's love. You see that justification, that standing before God, it's given you a whole new foundation. It's given you a whole new confidence in life. One more time, Martin Luther, faith is a living, daring confidence in God's grace. It is so sure and so certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times.

Because see, it not only redefines your past, it also redefines your future. Knowledge of my justification leads me to so much more confidence in how I face my problems today and how I think about what's coming for me. You see, in the cross, I've got the approval.

I've got the absolute approval of the only one whose opinion's really gonna matter anyway. In the cross, I see I've got a God fighting for me, a God who never slumbers or sleeps, a God who knows when even a hair falls from my head, a God who prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies, a God who says that even if I made my bed in hell, there he would pursue me and there he would hold me with his right hand. I've got a God who is so just and righteous that I know that he would never, ever, ever go back on his word to me.

He will fulfill all his promises to me. But he's also so gracious that when I violated his justice, he sent his son to take the punishment for me. Because he is a God that was more gracious than my sinfulness, I know he's a God that won't leave me in my difficulties. Because he's a God who came after me when I was his enemy, I know that he'll take care of me now that I'm his son. People say, well, I don't know why you Christians always gotta sing about the bloody cross.

I know why. Because it's the center of everything. The source of my peace in the past, the source of my confidence in the future is a bloody cross and an empty tomb. It is my foundation. It is my cornerstone. So see, that's two questions that I want to leave you with. One, have you received Christ? Have you ever received this as your own? Have you laid your hand on his head and said, this is my sin bear.

He is mine. The gospel is different than religion. Please, you gotta understand this. This is Romans one through three. It's different than religion.

Religion is built on the premise. I obey. And if I obey well enough, God will declare me righteous.

The gospel reverses that and says, no, you are accepted. You're declared righteous by a gift. And in response to that, you start to obey out of gratitude and joy and peace. It's a gift you gotta receive.

It comes with great power. It will change your life, but it is received as a gift. There are many of you listening to me who you've been really religious, but you've never experienced the power of the new birth. It starts with faith. It starts with saying, I do to Jesus. The second question is, have you publicly declared that through baptism? Baptism is the ceremony, the public declaration of what's happened to you. You go under the water showing that you believe your sin was buried with Jesus. And then you come up out of the water showing that you have received his new life. It is a command he gives to every single person who has followed him. Have you ever taken that step since you became a Christian of publicly telling people that you identify with Jesus? The Holy Spirit is working in many of you right now to make one of those two decisions.

Have you ever received Christ as Savior? If not, listen, sometimes I get you to pray a prayer after me, and that's fine. Here's what I want you to do right now. I want you to picture Jesus dying on the cross.

I want you to picture him there. I want you to reach out the hand of your faith from your heart if you want to receive Christ, and I want you just to lay it on top of his head. You don't have to say a word. It's not a prayer that saves. It is claiming Jesus is yours. So right now, reach out the hand of your faith if you never have, and just lay it on the head of Jesus and say, my sin-bearer.

I believe he died for all those things that I had ever done that were wrong. My sin-bearer. Now let me ask you, if you just did that, I want you to actually physically demonstrate that by lifting your hand up, almost as if you were lifting it up to put it on the head of Jesus. I want you to raise your hand, saying right now, right now I am claiming Jesus as my sin-bearer. I don't think I've ever done that.

I'm going to claim his as mine. Father, I pray for every hand that is raised, both those that I can see and those that I cannot. I pray that you would give them courage to do what I'm going to ask them to do next. In Jesus' name, with heads bowed, have you ever been baptized? Baptism is the public declaration, the public declaration that you are identifying with Jesus.

Now I know some of you are like, well, I just, I don't know, it just doesn't seem that important. What's this actually going to do with my wall of Christ? Listen, friend, it's a command of Jesus. You don't want to start your Christian life by telling him what you are and aren't going to do.

He's given you a very clear command. You should obey it. You say, well, I was baptized as a baby. I don't want to reject what my parents did. Listen, when your parents gave you baptism and you were a baby, right, that was their faith that was being expressed. It wasn't yours. You didn't know what was going on. And their hope was that one day you would become a Christian.

You would choose it for yourself. And hey, you have. You fulfilled what they expressed, the hope they expressed in that baptism. Baptism of your choice is you ratifying what they did. It's not a rejection.

It's a ratification. It's time to stop making excuses. It's time to start obeying.

Okay? Father, I pray in this moment, I pray, I pray in Jesus' name that you would give people strength to make that first step, which is going to transform their lives. I pray in Jesus' name. Amen. You're listening to Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. If you missed any part of today's message, or if you'd like to share this sermon or any other Summit Life sermon, our teaching catalog is available for free at Now, not long ago, I sat down with Pastor J.D. to talk about his new book called Essential Christianity.

I asked him how he reads it will feel once they finish it. Well, hopefully they will be more in love with Jesus and feel more equipped to be able to explain the essentials of Christianity, whether it's to their kids, to a friend, to a new believer, or to somebody that they know is at least interested in what Christianity teaches. The book of Romans is the most important book ever written on the gospel. What I wanted to do in Essential Christianity is go through the 10 most important words, concepts. That's why the subtitle of this book is The Heart of the Gospel in 10 Simple Words. Interesting, Molly, I had somebody read this book along with me as I was writing it, who was not a believer.

She said, It's amazing to me how the most fundamental questions of human existence haven't changed in 2000 years. In the course of the writing of this book, she became a believer. I hope that's a good harbinger of what will happen as you read it through with one of your friends, that you will grow and grow and grow and grow and grow and grow and grow and grow and grow in Christ.

And also, they'll grow in their understanding of who Jesus is and what He's done for them. Reserve your copy today with a gift of $35 or more to this ministry by calling us at 866-335-5220. Or you can give online right now at I'm Molly Vitovich inviting you to join us next time for a new teaching from Pastor JD titled Inclusive Exclusivity. What's that all about? Find out Thursday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
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