For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for therein the righteousness of God is revealed…Romans 1:16
The book of Romans is unique among the epistles in that it isn’t polemic, that is it isn’t trying to refute any error. Romans is therefore a clear rendering of the Gospel of salvation . Paul calls it the “Gospel of God” , and takes us from the bankruptcy of Jew and Gentile to the glorification of man and creation, all realised by the gospel.
Paul begins with the declaration that in the Gospel, “the Righteousness of God is revealed”. In order to appreciate and grow in the gospel, a thorough grounding in the teaching of Romans is necessary, and for that to happen, the meaning and use of the term “Righteousness” has to be defined. Biblically, there are several possible definitions;
* Righteousness, dikiaosune – refers to uprightness of conduct, equity of character. It means to have all good qualities in perfection.
* Righteousness- can also mean uprightness, rectitude, conformity to God’s standards.
* Righteousness- is also a status- Right-Standing- being “in the right”,”Right with” a law , authority or person in authority.
The Beginning of the Gospel in Romans is an emphasis on the bad news first. God is a Holy God and can only accept perfect Righteousness from man. There is a saying that illustrates this and is quite profound
“The Righteousness that He (God) requires , is the Righteousness that His Righteousness requires Him to Require.”
Furthermore we are warned of the coming day of Judgment, in which the standard will be absolute Righteousness and Truth. At the great accounting God will require perfect Righteousness of each person.
But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;Who will render to every man according to his deeds…(Romans 2:5-6).
This is the bad news, that we are all on our way to a Judgment of our lives by a Holy God who can accept nothing less than absolute Righteousness from those whom He made in His Image. Eternal, happy Fellowship with Him requires total Righteousness and we have none to offer Him. We have not been morally upright, we have not conformed to God’s standards, by our sins we have forfeited the right to dwell in God’s universe. What are we going to do?
God himself offers to us the answer. Romans declares that it is Jesus,
…Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; Romans 3:25
Jesus is the offering God made unto Himself. God has “set him forth” as the ‘satisfaction ‘ offering, His life offered to God for us satisfies the requirements of the Righteous nature of God, the broken law of God, the offended Holiness of God. By the resurrection God testified that He is satisfied in the offering of Jesus.
In short, here is the Gospel ; A Righteous God, has made a righteous way to cleanse and renew unrighteous sinners, by exchange. In God’s plan, Jesus assumed our unrighteousness before God, and was judged with our judgment, so that we could be given his righteousness as a gift. As Paul put it,
For He hath made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the Righteousness of God in Him.(2 Cor 5:21)