Gleanings in the Godhead
by A.W. Pink
Revised: February 14, 2005
Part 2: Excellencies Which
Pertain to God the Son as Christ
35. The Redemption of Christ
Our Righteous Redeemer—does such a title have a strange sound to the reader? Is that adjective unfamiliar in such a context? The great majority of us probably are far more accustomed to such expressions as "our loving Redeemer" and "our gracious Redeemer," or even "our mighty Redeemer." We employ the term here not because we are striving for originality. No, rather such an appellation is required by the teaching of Scripture. In fact, if we carefully observe where the Holy Spirit has placed His emphasis it is incumbent on us that we should conform our terminology thereto. 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 you will be surprised that neither of them occurs a single time! Now try the word "righteous" and see how many passages refer to the Lord Jesus as such.
Christ is referred to as "my righteous servant" (Isa. 53:11); as "a righteous Branch" (Jer. 23:5); and in the next verse as "The Lord Our Righteousness"; as "the sun of righteousness" (Mal. 4:2): as a "righteous man" (Luke 23:47); as "the righteous judge" (2 Tim. 4:8). He is seen as the antitypical Melchizedek or "King of righteousness" (Heb. 7:2-3); as our "advocate with the Father," "Jesus Christ the righteous" (1 John 2:1). In addition, the same Greek word "dikaios" is rendered "just" in the following passages: Pilate’s wife sent a warning to her husband, "Have thou nothing to do with this just [righteous] man" (Matthew 27:19); in the same chapter Pilate himself declared, "I am innocent of the blood of this just person" (v. 34). He is called "the just" (Acts 3:14; James 5:6); and "the just one" (Acts 7:52; 22:14); while in 1 Peter 3:18 are the well-known words, "Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust"—actually rendered "the righteous for the unrighteous" (ARV). When Zechariah predicted His entry into Jerusalem, riding on an ass, he said, "Behold, thy king cometh to thee, he is just"; in Revelation 19:11, where He is depicted on a white horse, it is said, "in righteousness he doth judge and make war."
In all of these passages, the Father’s "fellow" and equal is viewed in His official character, as the Godman Mediator. Equally evident is that the verses intimate the Lord Jesus is righteous in His person, in the administration of His office, in the discharge of the Great Commission given Him. Before His incarnation it was announced "righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins" (Isa. 11:5); and Christ affirmed by the spirit of prophecy, "I have preached righteousness in the great congregation" (Ps. 40:9). There was no fault or failure in His performing of the honoured and momentous task committed to Him, as His own words to the Father prove: "I have glorified thee on the earth. I have finished the work which thou gavest 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 that appointed him" (Heb. 3:2). When the Father rewarded Him He said, "Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness" (Ps. 45:7). Further, Christ is the righteous Redeemer of His people because their righteousness is in Him. He wrought out a perfect righteousness for them. Upon their believing in Him, it is imputed or reckoned to their account; therefore He is 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. 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 justifying His sinful people God neither disregarded nor dishonored His law; instead He "established" it (Rom. 3:31). The Redeemer was "made under the law" (Gal. 4:4). 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: therefore He did "magnify the law, and make it honorable" (Isa. 42:21). Consequently God is not only gracious but "just" at the very moment He is "the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Rom. 3:26), because Jesus satisfied every requirement of righteousness on behalf of all who trust in Him.
In the righteous Redeemer 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 man, who is a mass of corruption, draw nigh unto the ineffably Holy One, and look up into His face in peace? He can do so by coming to God as unrighteous, acknowledging his inability to remove unrighteousness, and offering nothing to palliate Him. Because we were unable to reach up to the holy requirements or righteousness of the Law, God brought His righteousness down to us: "I bring near my righteousness" (Isa. 46:13). That righteousness was brought near to sinners when the Word became flesh and tabernacled among men; it is brought near to us in the Gospel, "for therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith’ (Rom. 1:17). This righteousness God imputes to all who believe and then deals with them according to its deserts.
"For he [God] hath 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 is the double imputation of our sins to Christ and of His righteousness to us. We are not said to be made righteous, but "righteousness" itself; and not righteousness only, but "the righteousness of God" the utmost that language can reach. In the same manner that Christ was "made sin," we are made "righteousness.’’ Christ did not know actual sin, but in His mediatorial interposition on our behalf He was dealt with as a guilty person. Likewise we are destitute of all legal righteousness; yet upon receiving Christ, we are viewed by the divine majesty as righteous creatures. Both were by imputation; an amazing exchange! So as to exclude the idea that any inherent righteousness is involved, it is 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.
The divine plan of redemption fully satisfies the claims of the Law. There was nothing in all its sacred injunctions which Christ did not perform, nothing in its awful threatenings which He did not sustain. He fulfilled all its precepts by an unspotted purity of heart and a perfect integrity of life. He exhausted the whole curse when He hung on the cross, abandoned by God, 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 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 its 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 to God.