As we stand, without the intervention of God, we are completely and utterly doomed. There is no hope for us. We are not righteous in and of ourselves. There is no one righteous, not even one. And yet, when this gospel is proclaimed, suddenly what’s revealed for us is righteousness from God, the righteousness of God, namely his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And this great miraculous transfer of his righteousness to us and our sin and shame and guilt to him takes place, and we receive everything good from him, and he receives everything bad from us.
And the world is transformed, individuals are transformed all over the world, and drug addicts suddenly have no desire to return to their heroin, and alcoholics suddenly find the taste of beer no longer satisfying, and those who are obsessed with porn no longer want to pursue it, and those who steal no longer steal, and those who worship false gods worship false gods no longer, and those who are obsessed with themselves.
I want everyone to believe this. I want Jewish people to believe this, I want Gentile people to believe this, I want Welsh people to believe this, I want English and Scottish and Irish people to believe this, I want Nigerian people to believe this, I want people from Mozambique to believe this, I want people from the Netherlands to believe this, I want different people groups in Mongolia, and in India, and in Kenya, and in Bhutan, and all over the world, to believe this.
And I want to continue seeing what we’re already seeing, which is the world being utterly and completely transformed by this gospel. This is where it’s at, this is what it’s all about, this is something that we can continue being obsessed with and fighting for because everything in us wants to say no, everything else wants to say it’s not really that good, is it? “It can’t be as good as you say it is,” or “it’s a bit more complicated than that,” or simply “I don’t really believe it,” or “I don’t really want to become a fanatic.” “I don’t want to seem like someone who believes in fairy tales,” “I don’t want to seem mad, I don’t really think that Paul is right. “That’s ultimately what we’re saying when we reject this message.
And so we say “Well, actually, no, Paul, you should be ashamed of the gospel because I don’t even know if there is a God who is powerful. And if there is a God, why on earth would he put his power in a story being retold, a true story as you claim it to be? Why would that be his way of showing power? Surely it would be through something more profound, something more complex, something more dramatic, something more breath-taking. You’re saying people speaking about Jesus is the answer, why would that be where the power is found? How could this transform the world? Surely we’ve got to put some money into it. Surely money is where the power is found. Or surely, in families who have influence, royal families perhaps from all over the world, perhaps they could be used. Or perhaps those with extraordinary talents, perhaps they are the ones who could be used. Or perhaps exciting schemes of education, if only education could be transformed, surely that’s the way? Or sport! Getting people exercising. That could help, surely? Or food? Good quality food? Or lots of different things all working together?”
And yet, they are not the way according to the Holy Spirit who inspired the apostle Paul. This is the way. In the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed. It is in the gospel, it is in the good news, and it’s in the message of the Lord Jesus Christ dying on the cross. It is in the urging of people to trust in him and repent of their sins. It is in the promises of the Bible that all who are weary and burdened must come to the Lord Jesus and find rest in him. It is in that message that the righteousness of God is revealed.