Our Righteous Redeemer

Arthur Pink
February, 1944

Does such a title have somewhat of a strange sound to the ear of the reader? Is that adjective unfamiliar in such a connection? Probably the great majority of us are far more accustomed to such expressions as "our loving Redeemer" and "our gracious Redeemer," or even "our mighty Redeemer." We confess that to the best of our recollection we have never heard this particular expression used, nor do we remember ever coming across it in our reading. Our employment of it here, is not because we are striving after originality, nor is it coined for the purpose of alliteration. No, rather is such an appellation required by the teaching of Scripture; in fact if we carefully observe where the Holy Spirit has placed the emphasis, it is incumbent upon us that we should conform our terminology thereto. Test your memory and see how many passages you can recall where either "loving" or "gracious" is used as an adjective in connection with Christ. If memory fails, consult a concordance, and then perhaps you will be surprised that neither of them occurs a single time! Now test your memory with the word "righteous" and see how many passages come to mind where the Lord Jesus is referred to as such.

In Isaiah 53:10 Christ is referred to as "My righteous Servant," in Jeremiah 23:5 as "a righteous Branch," and in the next verse as "the Lord our righteousness." In Malachi 4:2 as "the Sun of righteousness," in Luke 23:47 as a "righteous Man," in 2 Timothy 4:8 as "the righteous Judge." In Hebrews 7:2, 3 He is seen as the antitypical Melchizedek or "King of righteousness"; while in 1 John 2:1, as our Advocate with the Father, He is termed "Jesus Christ the righteous." In addition, we find the same Greek word (dikaios) rendered "just" in the following passages—in Matthew 27:19 Pilate's wife sends a warning to her husband saying "Have you nothing to do with this just [righteous] Man"; while in verse 34 of the same chapter Pilate himself declared "I am innocent of the blood of this just Person." In Acts 3:14 and James 5:6 He is denominated "the Just," and in Acts 7:52 and 22:14 "the Just One"; while in 1 Peter 3:18 we have the well-known words "Christ also has once suffered for sins, the Just for the unjust"—actually rendered "the righteous for the unrighteous" by the American R.V. When Zechariah predicted His entry into Jerusalem, riding on the back of an donkey, he said, "Behold, your King comes to you, He is just," and in Revelation 19:11, where He is depicted on a white horse, it is said "in righteousness He does judge and make war."

It hardly requires to be pointed out that, in all of the above passages, the Father's "Fellow" and Equal is viewed in His official character, as the God-man Mediator. It is equally evident that those verses intimate that the Lord Jesus is righteous in His person, in the administration of His office, in the discharge of the great commission given to Him. Before His incarnation it was announced "righteousness shall be the belt of His loins and faithfulness the belt of His reins" (Isaiah 11:5), and Christ Himself affirmed by the Spirit of prophecy "I have preached righteousness in the great congregation" (Psalm 40:9). There was no fault or failure in His performing of the honorous and momentous task committed to Him, as His own words to the Father prove, "I have glorified You on the earth, I have finished the work which You gave Me to do" (John 17:4). God's owning of Christ as "My righteous Servant" signifies that He excellently executed the work entrusted to Him—as the Holy Spirit declares, He "was faithful to Him who appointed Him" (Heb. 3:2), and when the Father rewarded Him, He said, "You love righteousness and hate wickedness" (Psalm 45:7).

But further, Christ is the righteous Redeemer of his people—because their righteousness is in Him. He wrought out a perfect righteousness for them, which, upon their believing in Him, is imputed or reckoned to their account, and therefore is He designated "the Lord our righteousness" (Jer. 23:6). Christ was righteous—not as a private Person, not for Himself alone—but for us sinners and our salvation. Throughout He acted as God's righteous Servant and as His people's righteous Sponsor. He lived and died that all the infinite merits of His obedience might be made over to them. In the justifying of His sinful people, God neither disregarded nor dishonored His Law—instead He has "established" it (Romans 3:31). The Redeemer was "made under the Law" (Gal. 4:4) and its strictness was not relaxed, nor was one iota of its requirements abated in connection with Him. Christ rendered to the Law a personal, perfect and perpetual obedience, and therefore did He "magnify the Law and make it honorable" (Isaiah 42:21). Consequently God is not only gracious—but "just" at the very moment. He is "the Justifier of him who believes in Jesus" (Rom 3:26), because Jesus satisfied every requirement of righteousness in the stead and behalf, of all who trust in Him.

In the righteous Redeemer, then, we find the answer to the question, "How can those who have no righteousness of their own, and who are utterly unable to procure any—become righteous before God? How can I, who am a mass of corruption, draw near unto the ineffably Holy One—and look up into His face in peace?" Only by coming to God as unrighteous, acknowledging my inability to remove my unrighteousness, offering nothing to palliate or propitiate Him. By reaching forth the beggar's hand, and thankfully receiving the righteousness He has provided. Because we were unable to reach up to the holy requirements or righteousness of the Law—God has brought down His righteousness to us, "I bring near My righteousness" (Isaiah 46:13). That righteousness was brought near to sinners when the Word became flesh and tabernacled among men. It is brought near to us now in the Gospel, "for therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith" (Romans 1:17), a righteousness which God imputes to all who believe—and then deals with them according to its deserts—and which will constitute their beauteous array when they enter the celestial courts.

"For He [God] has made Him [Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin—that we might be, (not put into a capacity of acquiring a righteousness of our own, but) made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21). Here we have the double imputation of our sins to Christ—and of His righteousness to us. Observe that we are not here said to be made righteous—but "righteousness" itself, and not righteousness only—but "the righteousness of God," which is the utmost that language can reach unto. And in the self-same manner that Christ was "made sin"—we are made "righteousness." Christ knew not actual sin—but upon His mediatorial interposition on our behalf, He was regarded and dealt with as a guilty person. We likewise are destitute of all legal righteousness—yet upon our receiving Christ and believing on His name, we are viewed and treated by the Divine majesty as righteous creatures. Both were by imputation—amazing exchange! So as to utterly exclude the idea that any inherent righteousness is in view—it is expressly said "we are made the righteousness of God in Him"—as the sin imputed to Christ is inherent in us, so the righteousness by which we are justified is inherent in Him.

By the Divine plan of redemption, the claims of the Law were fully satisfied. There was nothing in all its sacred injunctions which Christ did not perform, and nothing in its solemn threatenings which He did not sustain. He fulfilled all its precepts by an unspotted purity of heart, and the most perfect integrity of life. He exhausted the whole curse, when He hung upon the cross, abandoned by God, a bleeding Victim, for the sins of His people. His obedience conferred higher honor upon the Law—than it could possibly have received from an uninterrupted compliance by Adam and all his posterity. The perfections of God which were dishonored by our rebellion, are glorified in our redemption. In redemption, God appears inflexibly just in exacting vengeance, and inconceivably rich in showing mercy. "The sword of justice, and the scepter of grace has each its due exercise, each is full expression" (James Hervey). The interests of holiness are also secured, for where redemption is received by faith—it kindles in the heart—an intense hatred of sin, and the deepest love and gratitude unto God!