It is essential to see clearly that God’s righteousness is a gift which God has provided in the gospel. It is the foundation for salvation (1 Cor. 3:11). To build any other foundation would be fatal.
No other truth will deliver the sinner from bondage or fortify the believer against error as this one truth – “the righteousness of God” which is revealed in the Gospel of Grace. The reason why the gospel is God’s power unto salvation is because it reveals, provides, and bestows a divine righteousness to the believing sinner.
It has been asked, “Do you agree that the gospel is the good new of salvation that is provided through the righteousness of Christ and received through faith? Or is one altogether dependent upon God’s righteousness which is provided in the gospel? Is mankind simply in ignorance and in need of human education? Or are we a lost race and in need of divine salvation?” The answer is found in the Scriptures.
In Romans 1:18 to 3:20, the courtroom of a Holy and Almighty Judge removes all human props, supports and arguments upon which any human pride and pretension may stand, leaving nothing is left in the way of human righteousness by which to claim any approval before God.
First, the immoral man is seen to be living in unrestrained sin (1:21-32).
Next, the moral man, though condemning sin in others, is committing the very sin he condemns (2:1-16).
And then, the Jews, favored above all others with the service and oracles of God – and proud and boastful because of it – dishonor His name in breaking the laws given to them (2:17-3:9). It is a tale of absolute, complete failure, unrighteousness, wreck and ruin. The indictment is handed down: “that every mouth may be stopped”; they are “without excuse,” and “all the world may become guilty before God” (1:20; 3:19 and 20).
God’s argument is that those who are living in unrestrained sin (1:18-32) are rightly charged as “guilty” before God because:
(1) “they hold the truth in unrighteousness” (vs. 18) – that is, they hold down the truth they know, suppress it, smother it, through the unrighteousness which they permit and practice in their lives. Against this “the wrath of God is revealed.”
(2) “they did not like to retain God in their knowledge” (vs. 28). The knowledge of God is a restraint against evil. The unbeliever, by denying the exhistance or authority of God, takes liberty to gave themselves over to indulgence and pleasure. Then came the inevitable judgment – “God gave them over to a reprobate mind” (verses 24, 26 and 28). This is the sin that makes necessary the salvation of God. Here is the unrighteousness which demands that a gift of God’s righteousness be provided for the lost sinner if he is ever to be saved. What is the sinner’s need? A gift of righteousness, such as is revealed in the Gospel of Grace and provided through the person of our Lord Jesus Christ and received through faith in Him alone.
Surely, this righteousness of God is necessary. No sinner has before him any other prospect other than divine wrath until freed from the condemnation of God’s broken law. God’s righteousness is the only sure foundation for salvation and deliverance from the “wrath of God.” (See Romans 1:18; 2:5, 8; cf., with 5:9; 1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9-10).