Chapter 10: A Gift Hard To Receive

In the light of all that God wishes to give to us, we cannot help but to conclude that it is 'the glory of our God to give.' (DA21)

God just loves to give - because giving is love's highest means of expression. Thus, while it was no easy matter for Jesus to give His life, and while it certainly was no simple decision for the Father to give His Son, it was the character of Infinite Love to do just that. Perfect love simply could not be constrained from giving its all.
Wrapped up in the gift of Jesus' life, there are many other gifts that God offers to His repentant children, but there is one gift that man seems to have extreme difficulty in accepting, and that is the gift of His righteousness.
Few have any difficulty accepting that righteousness is necessary in order for us to be saved, but many have a great struggle with the thought that the righteousness that saves us is all His and none of ours. In other words, that the righteousness that saves us totally excludes the righteousness of man.
Yes, the human mind can have a mighty struggle with the idea that God saves us on the strength of a Righteousness that is not our own, yet the absolute truth is that . . .
'The moment a sinner accepts Christ by faith, that moment . . . the righteousness of Christ is imputed to him [considered by God to be that of the believer], and he is no more to doubt God's forgiving grace.' (6BC1071)
This is why Paul urges us to 'be found in Him, not having a supposed [righteousness] which depends on my doing what the law commands, but that which is through faith in Christ, the real [righteousness] with God which originates from Him and rests on faith.' (Philippians 3:9 Williams)
As we have pointed out repeatedly, the righteousness that saves us is Jesus' righteousness alone and this righteousness is given to us exchange for faith - we do not earn it and we do not deserve it - we can only accept it. It is not a reward that we receive in exchange for obedience, but a gift that we receive in the hope that it will motivate us to obey. After all, if we could earn a righteousness that could save us, what need would we have of a Saviour? As Paul confirms . . .
'If righteousness could be gained through [our keeping of] the law, Christ died for nothing!' (Galatians 2:21)
Through the sacrifice of countless numbers of animals the Lord has endeavored to impress upon the minds of men the fact that it is only through faith in the merits of the slain Substitute that man receives the righteousness that saves him. Yet, despite the powerful testimony of the sanctuary, despite the shed blood of so many animals, great numbers today still believe that they can and are expected to add something to that One Perfect Sacrifice. Still today . . .
'No matter who you are or what your life has been, you can be saved only in God's appointed way. You must repent; you must fall helpless on the Rock, Christ Jesus.' (5T218)
'There are those who profess to serve God, while they rely upon their own efforts to obey His law, to form a right character, and secure salvation.' (SC44)
'They insist on being saved in some way by which they may perform some important work. When they see that there is no way of weaving self into the work, they reject the salvation provided.' (DA280)
Unfortunately this is a serious and a very widespread spiritual malady, one that finds its roots buried in heathen beliefs, for . . .
'The principle that man can save himself by his own works [lies] at the foundation of every heathen religion.' (DA35)
Of those who have this erroneous view of salvation, a more enlightened believer would enquire?
'Are you expecting that your merit will recommend you to the favour of God, and that you must be free from sin before you trust His power to save? If this is the struggle going on in your mind, I fear you will gain no strength, and will finally become discouraged. As the brazen serpent was lifted up in the wilderness, so was Christ lifted up to draw all men unto Him. All who looked upon that serpent, the means that God had provided, were healed; so in our sinfulness, in our great need, we must "look and live." (3SM149)
If the righteousness of man is valued by God at 'less than nothingness,' then the blending in any degree of our righteousness with God's righteousness could only turn His perfection into imperfection. This is why we must ever remember that . . .
'Since we are sinful, unholy, we cannot perfectly obey the holy law. We have no righteousness of our own with which to meet the claims of the law of God.' (SC62)
The humbling truth assures us that . . .
'Apart from Christ we have no merit, no righteousness. Our sinfulness, our weakness, our human imperfection make it impossible that we should appear before God unless we are clothed in Christ's spotless righteousness. We are to be found in Him not having our own righteousness, but the righteousness which is in Christ.' (1SM333)
No wonder the psalmist was inspired to declare:
'I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone.' (Psalm 71:16)
The psalmist surely understood that . . .
'He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility.' (DA172)
Yet, even though this lesson is clearly taught in Scripture, man has long had difficulty in coming to terms with it.
In Eden, after his fall, Adam tried to cover his nakedness with the works of his own hands. Right there and then God gave to man a powerful gospel lesson. God slew a lamb and gave to Adam an acceptable covering for his nakedness. In doing this, God gave testimony to the fact that only by the death of a Substitute can man's nakedness or sin be covered over.
Then we have the example of Cain and Abel. Both brought their offerings to the Lord, . . .
'Cain presented his offering as a favour done to God, through which he expected to secure the divine approval. Abel brought the slain victim, the sacrificed life, thus acknowledging the claims of the law that had been transgressed.' (PP72)
By rejected Cain's offering, God provided us with another eternal reminder that the works of man cannot atone for his sinfulness. Only the shed blood of the Substitute is acceptable.
Then in the New Testament we have the parable of the workers in the vineyard. Some worked a full day, others worked only one hour, yet all received the same wages. The simple lesson being that God rewards us, not in proportion to our work, but in accordance with His mercy. As the words of Scripture remind us . . .
Salvation 'does not . . . depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.' (Romans 9:16; Titus 3:5)
The prodigal son's elder brother had much the same problem as did Cain. The elder son could not understand why his upstart young brother was so readily accepted by their father. After all, why should the younger brother receive the best robe after squandering his inheritance? Why should the fatted calf be slain for the younger brother after he had brought such shame on the family name? The elder brother was convinced that, in view of his many years of hard work on the father's estate, the fatted calf should have been slain for him, but he just could not understand that his younger brother had been accepted, not because of what he was, not because of his past, but simply because he had come home, humbled and contrite, and had accepted the gifts that his loving father longed to bestow on him.
While the elder brother had not left home, he had yet to "come home" . . .
Then there is the penitent thief who was crucified with Jesus. From the time that he accepted His Saviour to the time of His death, his hands and feet were nailed to a cross. This made it impossible for him to perform any meritorious act. Yet Jesus gave him the promise that his faith - devoid as it was of any visible physical works - would find him a place in paradise.
All of these examples speak of a gospel that offers to everyone full pardon, total acceptance, and a perfect righteousness on condition that they "come home" and concede that only the shed blood of the Substitute is acceptable; that only the righteousness of Jesus can save, and that this righteousness is all His and none of ours.
When Scripture tells us that "the grace [unmerited favour] of God . . . brings salvation," why do we find it so hard to accept this fact? Why, by trying to place a value on our works, do we attempt to purchase the gift? Titus 2:11. Why, by our own strenuous efforts, do we try and improve on Christ's perfect righteousness when . . .
'The righteousness of Christ, as a pure, white pearl, has no defect, no stain [and] no work of man can improve the great and precious gift of God.' (COL115)
When Scripture makes it so abundantly clear that eternal life is a gift, why do we, by way of our attitude toward our own works, try and earn the gift?
Paul says . . . 'If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.' If it is as simple as that, then why do we make it so complicated? Why do we insist on trying to make God our debtor by thinking that our works have some merit for salvation? (Romans 10:9)
And so, dear friend, . . .
'You have the assurance that as you renounce your own righteousness, you will be clothed with His righteousness.' (YI 09-28-99.6)
'No matter who you are or what your life has been, you can be saved only in God's appointed way. You must repent; you must fall helpless on the Rock, Christ Jesus.' (5T218)
When God gave life to man, it was a gift. Our part in creation was passive. We could not earn that life because whatever was needed was provided before we took our first breath. Eternal life is granted to us on much the same basis. We cannot earn it because it was earned for us long before we were born. It is a gift that has been earned for us by The Gift.
'Thanks be to God for His indescribable Gift!' (2 Corinthians 9:15)


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