PART THREE: RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE KINGDOM
Kingdom Righteousness is not, nor is it reduced to, a collection of doctrines by which Righteousness is established.
Although the people of Israel received the Law of Moses, and it was established to them that whoever fulfilled them would live by them,
5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.Romans 10:5
However, in Moses’ teaching it was also stipulated that it was not only a matter of “fulfilling” the commandments of the Law, but of doing them for the love of God,
20 that thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.Deuteronomy 30:20
In the testimony of the prophets, it is also stipulated that it is the love and fear of God that determines the Righteousness of the Law,
24 But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.Ezekiel 18:24
19 But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby.Ezekiel 33:19
It may be the case of someone who complies, but if in his heart there is wickedness, his compliance with the Law becomes unrighteousness,
9 Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee.Deuteronomy 15:9
The Righteousness of the Kingdom depends on the Righteousness and judgment of the attitude with which the person does all things. Therefore, in the teaching of the Gospel established by the apostle Paul, it is emphasized that the Righteousness of the Kingdom begins from the decision of the person to build a life of faith,
8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.Romans 10:8-9
This teaching is not Paul’s own; he took it from the Law. Moses established it in his time to explain how the Righteousness of the Kingdom operates,
11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? 14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it… 16 in that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.Deuteronomy 30:11-16
The Righteousness of the Kingdom consists in the conviction that a person develops about the transcendence of his acts in observance of what he knows of God, whether this is written or received as spiritual instruction.
The righteousness of the Kingdom is based on the conviction of the Will of God, from the personal commitment that each person develops in his intimate communion with God.
14 The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.Psalm 25:14
The Righteousness of the Kingdom is built upon the life of faith, through the establishment of right judgment according to the Will and Purposes of God.
5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness… 9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness… 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:Romans 4:5-11
This makes the righteousness of the Kingdom to be founded on the life of faith of each one, as it is discovered from the conviction of Abraham in his subjection to the revelation he had received from Jehovah God.
6 And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.Genesis 15:6
The life of faith arises from the deposit of Revelation that each one receives in his interior, by the Spirit of God, in the interaction and submission to His Will.
33 but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.Jeremiah 31:33
Note how the prophet establishes the value of the personal relationship by making use of two terms that concern the individuality of personal existence. The use of the words, bowels, and, hearts, are to indicate not the life product of collectivity, but the life in oneself born of conviction and covenant with God.
This conception does not belong only to the Old Covenant according to the Law, it is presented as part of the New Covenant, cited on two consecutive occasions in the most emblematic epistle of the church.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:Hebrews 8:10
16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;Hebrews 10:16
This Word belongs to a prophetic Word about the deportation of Judah to Babylon, we find it in the book of the prophet Ezekiel. It emphasizes that although the Word is addressed to an entire people, its activation depends on the individual value that each one gives to the life of faith,
19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:Ezekiel 11:19
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.Ezekiel 36:26
Faith is by measure, as the following text reveals,
3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith… 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;Romans 12:3-6
Not everyone has the same measure of faith, and therefore, not everyone has the same level of Justice, and it is in the first place, because not everyone has the same commitment before His Will; and in the second place, because not everyone abominates in the same intensity the things that are abominable to God, and this because they do not know what God abominates.
In reading the first five books of the Bible, the books of Moses, one discovers the principle of the life of faith. It is simple. Faith, and therefore, the Righteousness of the Kingdom, is founded on the knowledge of what is sin and what is wickedness; of what is pleasing to God, and what is abominable in His sight.
How can one develop fear of God if one does not know what He abominates?
No one can claim to have faith if in his actions he is tolerant of acts of injustice. No one can grow in faith if his actions do not establish justice. The Righteousness of the Kingdom is founded upon acts carried out in the consciousness that such are done in the presence of the Almighty.
Knowing what is pleasing and displeasing in the eyes of God is important, and vital to grow in Justice. It is the didactics of the Law of Moses. Let us note that before he died, Moses read the blessings and curses to all the people.
15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; 16 in that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.Deuteronomy 30:15-16
Even to go out to war it was necessary to have knowledge about life and good, death and evil. It is the protocol of the Kingdom upon which the development of the spiritual life rests.
19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: 20 that thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.Deuteronomy 30:19-20
Moses commanded that once they entered the land, and possessed it, they would read to the people the blessing and curse contained in the Law,
29 And it shall come to pass, when the Lord thy God hath brought thee in unto the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal.Deuteronomy 11:29
Joshua carried out the act as commanded by Moses,
33 And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel.Joshua 8:33
Why the importance of this ritual of reading the blessing and curse? Simple. Because Justice is not built on ignorance. Faith is knowledge and conviction.
And here it is useful for us to establish the teaching of the apostle Paul addressed to the community of Rome,
7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.Romans 7:7
The apostle establishes the process of the construction of the righteousness of the Kingdom, and the formation of a life of faith: The Law-Word brings to light what is hidden in me, names it, and declares it an abomination to the Lord God. From there on, the life of faith takes charge of eradicating it from the substance of the person. Acts of Righteousness begin to emerge.
The doctrine of Christ does not set aside what was established by Moses, it reveals to me what is happening spiritually so that with conscience I can work it with greater accuracy. Once the Law has shown me the actions that are sin in me, it introduces me to Christ so that through faith in believing in Him, I may be free from the law of sin.
24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.Galatians 3:24
Christ Jesus is symbolically present in each sacrificed animal that the priest presented in propitiation for the sinful actions that came to light.
18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:1 Peter 3:18
So again, the Righteousness of the Kingdom and the life of faith is not ignorance, but knowledge of what is in me that is displeasing to God.
The didactics of the Law uses the knowledge of what is abominable in the eyes of God, so that by identifying and naming them, they can be brought in sacrifice before the altar.
Here we have to denounce the deficiency of contemporary Gospel proclamation, which does not consider it necessary to read the Law of Moses. Its ignorance has led to the establishment of human, philosophical doctrines, which are based on moral knowledge and discard the Revelation of God. Many seminaries and centers of theological studies should consider integrating in their respective curricula the exhaustive study of the Law.
The second principle of the righteousness of the Kingdom and of the life of faith is: Establish truth.
32 and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.John 8:32
It is not enough to know what is abominable in the sight of Jehovah God, it is necessary to establish His Truth. In the conjugation of both, knowledge of what is abominable in His sight, and the establishing of Truth, the Gospel of the Kingdom is built.
What is truth?
Unlike as presented by various modern trends, truth is not the affirmation of facts, as defined by philosophy; or the opposite of a lie, as promoted by religion; nor the antithesis of deception, as propagated by atheistic existentialism.
Truth is the establishment of God’s Revelation as to the knowledge He allows us to have. Anything that does not proceed from or to God’s Revelation is a lie and deception. We find it in the final words of Moses,
29 The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.Deuteronomy 29:29
Note how the text ends: all the words of this law. The commandment is inclusive. It means to teach not only what is pleasing to Him, but to teach also about what is displeasing, what is abominable to Him, so that the man of God develops discernment and learns to execute the Righteousness of the Kingdom.
Truth is that which is established by God. This is faith and its development. Hence the importance of Moses’ command to Joshua to read the blessing and the curse of the Law.
Truth demands the right knowledge, the knowledge established by God. A knowledge not originating from God is a lie, and establishes deception, and must be discarded. God’s truth is truth even if the facts indicate or pretend to establish the contrary.
The life of faith is the result of living according to the righteousness of the Kingdom. The righteousness of the Kingdom is based on knowledge of God’s truth.
Truth demands that naivety and ignorance be annulled. It is appropriate to point out the words of the book of Ezra,
10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.Ezra 7:10
Restoration, even, is the result of a life of faith that discards naivety and ignorance as a way of life,
13 And on the second day were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, unto Ezra the scribe, even to understand the words of the law.Nehemiah 8:13
Truth is the foundation of the Gospel of the Kingdom,
25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.Ephesians 4:25
The revelation of God, and the openness of the congregation to it, depends on the degree of truth that the community develops,
26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.1 Corinthians 14:26
Paul teaches it in all his epistles, it is part of the proclamation of his Gospel.
19 speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;Ephesians 5:19
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.Colossians 3:16
In the West we will soon have a collapse of faith among many Christian communities, and it is due to a bubble life that has been built on the false knowledge that God seeks our welfare.
A secular knowledge of financial cut-throat has been mixed with the proclamation that God makes us prosper in our land. Many today are building their own fortunes on this basis and forgetting to build in faith and righteousness.
I conclude by quoting the words of the prophet Micah,
8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?Micah 6:8
And the words of the prophet Hosea,
19 And I will betroth thee unto me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.Hosea 2:19
12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.Hosea 10:12
7 He is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress.Hosea 12:7
6 Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.Hosea 12:6
The purpose of Grace is for everyone to draw closer to Jesus, and to learn to live in direct dependence on the Lord. The problem, however, does not consist in an absence of teaching about who Jesus is, but in the fact that many times the man and/or woman of faith result in “developing” actions, habits and customs that they do not know that such acts are an abomination to the Lord. According to your understanding of the reading, what is wickedness?
The purpose of Grace is for everyone to draw closer to Jesus, and to learn to live in direct dependence on the Lord. The problem, however, does not consist in an absence of teaching about who Jesus is, but in the fact that many times the man and/or woman of faith result in “developing” actions, habits and customs that are not built according to the principles of Righteousness of the Kingdom of God. What principles of Righteousness have you implemented in your life?
All Bible texts are taken from the Authorized King James Version (AKJV).
pastor Pedro Montoya