Published on January 28th, 2014 | by Dana Wiles, Jr.
Jesus: Our Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption
God has called and continues to call sinners to himself through the preaching of the gospel – “the word of the cross” (1 Cor. 1:18). He calls us from a variety of places and contexts. God called me out of a lifestyle of drug abuse and deception. He has called others from the snare of self-righteousness. He calls people from different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. God calls people from all walks of life as he builds himself a kingdom of priests from “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9-10, ESV).
Consider Your Calling
In Paul’s first recorded letter to the church at Corinth, he exhorted them to consider their calling (1 Cor. 1:26). He reminded them of where they were called from, of their current position in Christ, and the foundational reason why God had called them in the first place, namely, “so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Cor. 1:27-29, ESV). But how exactly does this “calling” that we experience as believers get worked out? In other words, how has God accomplished his purpose for calling us into Jesus Christ?
God is at the Bottom Your Salvation
The Apostle Paul answers that question in 1 Corinthians 1:30: “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption (ESV).” First and foremost, you and I must see and feel the weight of the first phrase in that verse: “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus.” At the bottom of our salvation and our being called into Jesus Christ is God himself! The ultimate, foundational reason that we are in the body of Christ is God and his grace.
It’s All About Jesus
God has called us to himself to be in Christ Jesus by sovereign grace so that no human being may boast in his presence, leading to Jesus becoming “to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30, ESV). This is essentially several aspects of the gospel shoved into half of a verse. The best way to understand this verse is probably the way the NIV renders it: “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption (1 Cor 1:30, NIV).”
As Jesus breathed his last on the cross, he didn’t say, “Do your best and hopefully this covers where you fell short.”
In other words, the righteousness, holiness, and redemption that we experience as believers is how Jesus is manifested to us as God’s saving wisdom. You could boil this down to make it real simple and say it this way: our salvation is all about Jesus!
Jesus: Our Righteousness
Jesus is our righteousness. Jesus lived a perfect life of obedience on behalf of all who would repent and believe, died as their substitute on the cross and was raised from the dead on the third day so that when we repent and trust him to save us from the wrath of God by faith alone, God clothes us in Jesus’ righteousness. It’s the truth conveyed in the line of the old hymn, “The Solid Rock”: “Dressed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne.” Our sin gets imputed or credited to Jesus at the cross where he bore the wrath of God for us who believe and his perfect righteousness gets credited to us when we trust him (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 4:1-5). That is how Jesus is our righteousness.
Jesus: Our Sanctification
Jesus is our sanctification. Jesus is the reason that believers can be set apart for God and his purposes. When we come to faith in Jesus, we are set apart or sanctified in terms of our position before God. We were once under his wrath as those guilty of sin but through faith in Jesus and what he has done for us, we become children of God and are set apart for him and his glory for eternity (Rom. 8:1, 14-17). He then works in us to make us more and more like Jesus as we continually walk in him (Rom. 8:28-30; 2 Cor. 3:18). So Jesus is our sanctification.
Jesus: Our Redemption
Jesus is also our redemption. Jesus is the one who purchased our freedom from the bondage of sin with his own blood. By Jesus’ substitutionary death, he not only paid the penalty for our sin but he also rescued us from the power of sin (Rom. 6:5-14). He redeemed us from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13). He accomplished our redemption in its totality. There aren’t parts of our redemption that are left unfinished. It’s not, “I have to do my best and then Jesus does the rest.” No! It’s, “Jesus did it all!” As Jesus breathed his last on the cross, he didn’t say, “Do your best and hopefully this covers where you fell short.” Jesus said, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Jesus Christ is our redemption.
So we are in Christ because of God’s grace in calling us to himself and through this experience of salvation, Jesus has become to us wisdom from God, that is, righteousness and sanctification and redemption. Two questions: 1)Why? and 2)What should be our response? Paul answers both questions in 1 Corinthians 1:31 and it is really just a different way of saying what he has already said in 1 Corinthians 1:29: “so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord’” (1 Cor. 1:31, ESV). God has saved us and called us in a way that prevents us from boasting in ourselves and compels us to boast in him instead! God gets all the glory for our salvation! God gets all the credit for calling us who believe to himself! It’s about him.
Sometimes talking about things like this makes people uncomfortable. When we start talking about texts that deal with God choosing and calling people or we see verses like 1 Corinthians 1:30 that explicitly say, “And it is because of [God the Father] that you are in Christ,” we either start fighting with each other about what those verses actually mean and how they get worked out in our lives or we get confused about our salvation. These texts that God has put in his word dealing with how he saves sinners by sovereign grace aren’t here to confuse us about our salvation or to give us something to fight about with each other. They are here so that we see the glory of God’s grace and his radical commitment to saving sinners like us. These kinds of passages are in the Bible so that 1 Corinthians 1:29 and 1:31 happen! God means for us to see him as the One who accomplishes our salvation by sovereign grace so that no human being may boast in his presence and so that we who experience that sovereign grace might boast in the Him. Consider your calling and worship him!