Years ago, before I had thoughts of going to seminary, I gave away Donald Grey Barnhouse’s 4-volume set of expositions of the book of Romans. A few years later, after some time in seminary, I grew to greatly regret that decision. I placed the set on my Amazon wishlist and had been mulling over the idea of purchasing it used at some point. Finally, however, the good people at Hendrickson Publishers did what they do best – they reprinted the set as a 2-volume paperback and are selling it through Christianbook.com for $19.99! Of course, I ordered mine immediately before it was too late!
As I’ve noted before on this blog, I greatly love the word “but” – especially as it occurs in Romans 3:21. And so as I finally cracked open these new volumes, I thought I’d start with an interesting passage from the third set of expositions (first volume) dealing with the verse “But now God’s righteousness hath been disclosed apart from law.”
Why is it called “the righteousness of God?” There might be several answers to this question, and since all of them are true, they are probably all parts of the complete answer which we will only know fully when we have been made like Him. The righteousness of God is specifically His because of the nature of His being. He is the One who is righteousness in Himself. But also because it is His righteousness, He must demand it of us. The righteousness which He is must be the righteousness with which He surrounds Himself. Therefore He must demand of us a righteousness equal to His own. However, since none of us can produce this righteousness, it is proper to call it the righteousness of God because it is also the righteousness which He provides freely for us.
After I had written the above paragraph, I read it over very carefully and the temptation came to me to alter it, to water it down, to simplify it in some way because it might be over the heads of some people. But I could not change it because of the importance of its truth. The theme of the Epistle to the Romans is the righteousness of God. It is God as the center of righteousness, it is God as the source of righteousness, it is God as the stream of righteousness outflowing. God is righteousness, God demands righteousness, and God provides righteousness. If those three statements are understood, then the whole gospel will be understood. If those three statements are not understood, then the gospel can never be understood. Wherever there is heresy, men have departed from the idea that God is righteousness, and that therefore He must demand that righteousness of all His creatures; and, that since none can have it apart from Him, because His nature is also love, He provides His righteousness in His way.
God’s Remedy, Pgs. 7-8
Christ Reformed Church