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Dear Partner,

Near the conclusion of Paul's letter to the Roman Christians he says something amazing. He mentions three characteristics that are supposed to be the hallmark of the Christian life.

Rom 14:17   For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Those are three wonderful words righteousness, peace, and joy. Sue and I have been ministers for a long time and we have to say, our experience over the years when people call us for counseling is NOT because they are overflowing in those three things. We don't get phone calls from people saying, "Oh we just had to call you and tell you that we are overflowing in righteousness, peace, and joy today. We just have more of all three today than we can stand so we had to call and share some of it with you." No, the sad fact is that multitudes of Christians are not abounding in those attributes. In fact it seems many of them are experiencing the opposite. Most are overwhelmed with condemnation, worry, and gloom. Why? I believe it is because little by little, slowly over time, the enemy of their souls robs them of the foundational truths of the gospel. They become focused on their "performance" rather than focusing on "faith." Let us take a quick review of these three attributes straight from the Word of God. We don't even have to leave the book of Romans to do it.

RIGHTEOUSNESS IS A FREE GIFT

Rom 5:17   For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.

The law of Moses was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. The law was not given to make man righteous. The law was given to prove to man that (in his own strength) he could not live a righteous life. The law was given so man could "come to the end of his own efforts" and cry out for mercy like the publican in Luke 18:9-14. The grace of God exchanges our guilt of sin for the perfect righteousness of Christ when we receive Him as our Lord and Savior. It is easy to slip back into condemnation, however. It happens gradually if we start trusting in our "performance" rather than having faith in Christ's perfect work. Without intending to do so, we begin trusting in our righteousness instead of trusting in the free gift of righteousness from Christ. That was the mistake of the unbelieving Jews then. It is also the mistake of many Christians today:

Rom 10:3-4   For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

WE HAVE PEACE WITH GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST

Rom 5:1-2   Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

How do we have peace with God? Because of our perfect obedience? No. Because of our own personal holiness? No. We have peace with God because Christ bore all of the punishment for our sins and disobedience. It was the perfect exchange. He gave us His righteousness and took upon Himself our sin. Through Him we have perfect peace with God. That peace brings such a calm to our soul when its truth permeates through our understanding and our emotions. That peace becomes your place of rest in the eye of the storm no matter how severely the winds are howling around you. Christ is your peace and you are secure in Him.

WE JOY IN GOD THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

Rom 5:11   And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

When we were sinners there was nothing to look forward to but certain judgment and the wrath of God. But through the atonement of Jesus Christ, we have now received perfect righteousness and peace with God for all eternity. God is no longer a terror to us, but rather He has become our Father, our joy, our hope in the day of evil. We look forward to a constant stream of His favors not only in this life, but for all eternity. Not because of any good works we have done, but because of the perfect, finished word of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Rom 8:31-32   What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Let us fill our thoughts with these truths until they become the hallmark of our lives. The gospel is truly the foundation of righteousness, peace, and joy! Unbelievers should see those attributes flowing from our lives and it should make them "hungry" for what we have.

Sue and I love you and appreciate you.   We thank God for your generous and giving heart.   God bless you!


Your friend and co-laborer,

 

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