Credited Righteousness

Before I commence my sermon, I'd like to inquire how many of you are engaged in a side business. Firstly, let's establish a common understanding of what a side business entails....

January 15, 2024

Before I commence my sermon, I’d like to inquire how many of you are engaged in a side business. Firstly, let’s establish a common understanding of what a side business entails. A side business is an additional venture you undertake alongside your primary occupation.

Now, raise your hands if you’re involved in a side business. I pray that your awareness is heightened at this moment. Now, how many of you have regular jobs? Those jobs, my friends, are your side businesses. Repeat after me, “That’s my side business.” It’s crucial to recognize that it isn’t your primary pursuit.

Your main responsibility is tending to your Father’s business, the establishment of His kingdom. Picture this: if someone were to wake you in the middle of the night and ask about your main business, your immediate response should be, “Establishing the kingdom.” This truth should be so ingrained in you that, like a reflex action, even if someone were to slap you, you’d declare, “Kingdom is my business.” Just as doctors conduct reflex tests by tapping your knee with a hammer, this declaration should be second nature to us.

This truth needs to permeate our very being, emphasizing that what we engage in from Monday to Saturday is not our primary focus; the kingdom is our main business. You may not hold pastoral roles or be part of the fivefold ministry, and that’s perfectly acceptable. However, you have been called as priests and kings of God, sons of the kingdom, with no primary business other than the Father’s business. Everything else you do is a side business. Embrace this truth with all your heart.

Matthew 6:33 – But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

I assure you, the day you prioritize God’s kingdom as your main business, everything you pursue in your side business will start pursuing you.

In 2013, I answered God’s call to ministry, and since then, we’ve only experienced upward growth. Every one of you has a ministry, and your platform may not be a pulpit on Sundays. It could be your workplace, the grocery store where you shop, or the hospital you visit. Your platform is wherever you choose to operate as God’s children. Jobs are your side business; I’m talking to you. The main business is tending to my Father’s business. Let these words of Jesus resonate within you.

Luke – 2:49 – And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Interestingly, he didn’t say, “I have come to do my Father’s ministry.” He explicitly used the term “business.” This reinforces my belief that the kingdom is God’s business, not just a ministry. Viewing it as a business is crucial because business carries the mandate to subdue and take dominion. In business, the goal is not merely to earn pennies; it is to rule, reign, and establish dominion.

As we look ahead, I am convinced that the perspective on ministry in India is destined to transform. It will shift from charity to giving driven by honor and faith. People will no longer look down on ministry; instead, they will actively seek opportunities to sow into ministries and partner in the kingdom.

This transformation begins at the grassroots level, within the local church. Changing your perspective initiates a ripple effect: as the city changes, the nation changes. Therefore, it starts with you altering your viewpoint. So, the next time you give an offering, don’t do it with a heavy heart. Offer it with cheerfulness, excitement, expectancy, and adoration. Give as if you are eager, as if you are thrilled to contribute.
Consider this: if I were to tell you on a Monday morning at 9:15, when the stock exchange opens, to buy a certain stock, assuring you a 40% profit in three months, how many of you would sell everything and eagerly invest? The credibility of the information would make you excited and attentive, right? Apply that same enthusiasm to your giving in the kingdom, for the returns are far greater and more lasting.

If you’ve experienced the taste, you’ll understand. Only the uninformed remain unaware. I’m presenting you with an opportunity. Let me emphasize that when you invest in the kingdom.

Mark 10:30 – who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.

This surpasses any return I’m aware of in the conventional realm. Investors celebrate a 40% return, yet the Bible speaks in terms of multiplication, not percentages. Jesus explicitly mentions a hundredfold return.

Consider Jeremy, a student who sowed a seed in faith, despite having limited financial resources. In just one month, he received a remarkable sixtyfold reward. The principle of sowing and reaping is not exclusive to those with wealth; it extends to anyone willing to give. Jeremy, as a student, reaped a bountiful harvest through faith and action.

Jesus instructs us to prioritize seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness, as stated in Matthew 6:33. However, Romans 14:17 clarifies that the kingdom of God is not merely about material needs but encompasses righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Now, why does Jesus emphasize seeking righteousness when the kingdom inherently possesses it? Consider it as Jesus specifying ‘Peter’ when addressing the disciples after his resurrection. Peter needed particular emphasis due to his betrayal. Similarly, seeking righteousness is highlighted because, even though it’s present in the kingdom, Jesus emphasizes its pursuit for our understanding and commitment.

Even though righteousness is inherent in the kingdom, Jesus emphasizes the need to prioritize it by saying, “Seek the kingdom and His righteousness.” When you focus on God’s righteousness, peace and joy naturally follow. Now, the question is, how do you focus on righteousness? I want to make it clear that you don’t attain God’s righteousness through prayer or reading the Bible. There’s nothing you can do to earn God’s righteousness. Let me emphasize this: praying or reading the Word will not make you righteous. The Old Testament even describes our attempts to earn righteousness as being like filthy rags. This comparison signifies something repulsive.

Our attempts to earn righteousness are futile. Righteousness, in essence, is having the same nature as God. Good works cannot earn righteousness. It’s a crucial point, and I understand it might challenge some perspectives. We cannot, through our efforts, achieve God’s righteousness.

James 2:23 – and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.

Notice that it doesn’t say Abraham earned righteousness; instead, righteousness was credited to him. Think of it like your bank messages notifying you about a credit into your account. Abraham, by believing God, received righteousness; he didn’t earn it. The distinction between earning and receiving is vital. Earning implies a transaction based on your actions, like a salary. Receiving, however, is about something freely credited to you, and righteousness is received by faith, not earned through works.

You earn your salary, but gifts are received; gifts are not earned. Likewise, God’s righteousness cannot be earned; it is received. You cannot earn God’s righteousness; you can only receive it. As mentioned, Abraham believed God, and because of his belief, his faith attracted the righteousness of God. Abraham’s faith credited him with the righteousness of God.

Now, let’s explore what Abraham believed.

Genesis 15:4 – And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

God gave a promise to Abraham, and without doubting, Abraham believed in God’s word.

If you desire to have faith, understand that faith comes by hearing God’s word. The faith you need is in the word of God released to you. When God spoke a promise over Abraham’s life, the word contained packaged faith. In receiving the word, Abraham also received the faith to believe in that word. Faith is not self-produced; it is a gift from God. The Greek word for faith is ‘pistis,’ which means divine persuasion. God persuades you, and when you say ‘yes’ to His word, faith rises up within you.

I want to emphasize that nobody can self-produce faith because faith is God’s gift. If you find yourself lacking in faith, return to the word. Keep hearing God’s word because, in that word, there is the faith you need.

Romans 10:17 – So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

When I received the word for the church, instructing us to move from our location near Noida, it was challenging. I hadn’t built my history with God, so I was deeply challenged. However, I received the word and stayed on it. I went back to the word, heard it again and again until slowly, faith started rising up within me.

When we had to make that move I gathered my entire church, then consisting of around 10 to 15 people, and announced that we were making a significant move, believing that God would work wonders. Surprisingly, not a single person said ‘amen.’ They thought I was just getting excited, having one of those Pastor Sam bouts of enthusiasm. Some still feel that way today, but praise be to Jesus. Despite the lack of immediate support, I stayed rooted in the Word.

When there was no physical evidence to confirm the move, I stayed in the Word because if the Lord has said it, He will do it. Believing in God’s word is trusting in His ability and integrity to fulfill it. Common Christian sense acknowledges God’s ability, but the real battle is trusting in His integrity to fulfill His promises in your life.

Christian common sense is that God is able—everyone believes that. But can He do it in your life? Does He have the integrity to fulfill what He has said? The word we received was unconventional, and it doesn’t make sense logically. But I stopped counting and decided not to scrutinize our finances. I appointed someone over the finances because I didn’t want to be moved by the account balance. My focus shifted to the vision that God had given us.

Now, I don’t even check the finances myself. The person in charge of finances may have more heart issues than I do because I tell him to go ahead with things, and he’s concerned about the account balance, salaries, and more. But we are not moved by what’s in the account; we are moved by the vision God provides.

I want to encourage you that the same faith that operates in this church can work in your life as well. Stay on the word. Has the Lord given you a promise?

Stay on that promise. Stay on it until faith rises within you. I recall a believer who approached me two months ago, sharing that the Lord was convicting her to give her entire bank balance. As a pastor, it’s daunting to hear such a statement. How do you respond with an enthusiastic ‘yes, do it’ when concerns about the future linger? I wanted to be cautious, urging her to be a faithful steward. Stay on the Word because the Word will provide the faith. When faith rises up, nothing can hinder you.

Despite the initial trepidation, she followed through and gave her entire bank balance. Remarkably, within 24 hours, her account was credited 60 times the amount. This happened two months ago. The lesson here is to stay on God’s Word. If God has spoken to you, hold on to His Word. Even if it seems impossible, that’s okay. God won’t instruct you to do something achievable; He calls you to the impossible, beyond your capabilities. That’s where faith comes in.

You can’t accomplish this with positive affirmations or by merely stirring up your emotions. You need faith. Stay on the Word, and the Word will infuse you with the faith to accomplish it.

Recently, we had Miracle Sunday, the first of its kind. I was convinced in my heart that the Lord would do amazing things. We released declarations, prophetic words, and witnessed healings. When Alvin asked for testimonies, there was an internal anticipation. Regardless of the outcome, I had decided that even if just one testimony emerged from all the words released, I would celebrate it as if it were my birthday.
Are you grasping the significance? Initially, we had only one testimony, an instant healing. I exclaimed, ‘Thank you, Jesus,’ anticipating more in the coming week. True enough, numerous testimonies poured in. Instant healings occurred—back pain, leg pain, mouth issues, anxiety, nightmares—all resolved instantly. Notably, one person experiencing healing wasn’t even a believer.

Understanding this is crucial. When you hear the word, believe in it. Out of ten negative reports, if you receive just one positive report, grab onto it, magnify it, praise God, and give your all. For me, that one testimony was akin to Elijah seeing a small cloud shaped like a hand—a sign that his prayer for rain had been answered. He didn’t wait for an abundance of clouds; he recognized victory in the small sign.

I’m emphasizing, stay on the word. As you do, faith will rise within you. Release your faith, even if you witness just one testimony or see one small sign, rejoice! Faith comes from hearing God’s word. When you believe, God credits His righteousness to you. You don’t receive righteousness by doing good things; you receive it by believing His word.

Now, think about Abraham’s story. It’s familiar, and perhaps you’ve heard it many times, but have you pondered its seriousness? At around 90 years old, Abraham received a promise for offspring. His body and medical reports contradicted this promise. Doctors said it was impossible, and his wife’s condition seemed even worse. Everything in the natural realm screamed impossibility, yet Abraham elevated the promise he received from God above what he saw in the natural.

How did Abraham believe in God? Here’s a secret: In Genesis 14, after fighting kings and returning, he encounters a mysterious character named Melchizedek. Melchizedek, the king of Salem (Jerusalem), is a king of righteousness and peace, typifying Christ in the Old Testament.
So he’s typifying the pre-incarnate Christ. Abraham encounters Melchizedek, and the first thing Melchizedek does is give him bread and wine—symbolic of communion. For those who believe tithing is exclusive to the Old Testament and the old covenant, I assure you it’s not. Way before the law, Abraham tithes to King Melchizedek. Something transformative happens in Abraham’s heart after partaking in communion and tithing to Melchizedek.

Next, Abraham meets the King of Sodom, who is overjoyed and offers Abraham a share of the spoils. These spoils are no ordinary gains; they include gold and silver, valuable possessions. However, Abraham declines, saying he won’t take even a sandal strap, demonstrating the heart of a man who tithes. A person who tithes cannot be swayed by money because they understand their source is beyond material wealth. Abraham wanted no one but God to be credited for his prosperity.

When you tithe and take communion, it’s not a meaningless ritual. Something significant happens in your heart. Tithing is more than giving money; it’s giving a portion of your heart. God doesn’t need your money; He wants your heart. And when He has your heart, a transformation begins.

In Genesis 15, after these events, the word of the Lord came to Abraham, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, for I am your shield. I am your exceedingly great reward.’ These words resonate with me personally, as they are the same words I received when I stepped into ministry: ‘Do not be afraid; I will be your exceedingly great reward.’

Let’s delve into the incredible journey of a person who receives a promise from the Lord. This is not just an ordinary promise because God desired to bless Abraham, to reward him. However, when God surveyed all the banks in the world every financial institution—and explored the entire earth, He realized that none had the capacity to bless Abraham to the extent He desired. In response, God told Abraham, ‘I will be your exceedingly great reward. I will be your unlimited source of supply.’ Reflect on that for a moment. It’s not a human offering to become someone’s bank balance; it’s the ruler of the cosmos, God Himself, declaring to Abraham that He will be his source.

What follows is crucial. When Abraham heard God’s word, he believed. Tithing opens the heart, and when the heart is open, God’s word penetrates, and faith rises up. In this context, the Bible tells us that Abraham believed, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Abraham didn’t need to climb a mountain, perform arduous tasks, or endure long fasting. He simply believed what God said. The moment he believed, he became righteous.

Now, James quotes that verse, recounting the entire story: ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ But then, James adds a profound detail: ‘Abraham was called the friend of God.’ What a privilege! When God designates you as His friend, it’s a different dimension. We can all call God our friend, but when God calls you His friend by name, it’s a unique and intimate connection.
One of the signs that God saw Abraham as a friend was that, before destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, God shared His secrets with Abraham. True friendship involves the sharing of secrets. When God calls you His friend, He starts revealing His secrets. This goes beyond just personal blessings; God unfolds the bigger picture, how your story will impact generations.

When you become righteous, you become God’s friend. I invite you to this opportunity to become God’s friend, where He starts sharing His secrets with you. Just as Abraham believed, righteousness was credited. You can also believe, and righteousness will be credited to you simply by believing.

What do you need to believe In the gospel?

Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

If you believe that what Jesus has done on the cross is for you—that He died for your sins, took on your sickness, and bore every curse in your life—then the same righteousness that Jesus had starts flowing into your life and is credited to your account.

You are not made righteous by your good works; you are made righteous by believing in the finished work of Jesus. So, I invite you, my friends. Let the devil not deceive you. Don’t believe the lies that God is far away or that you haven’t prayed enough. You have been made righteous by believing. Keep believing, keep believing, keep believing.

Joel rightly points out that just as we became sinners through eating, we became righteous through eating. It’s not merely the act of eating; there’s a faith element in it. Receive this, my friends. The devil may have tried to heap condemnation upon you, whispering that you haven’t done enough, given enough, or prayed enough. Here’s the good news: when you believe in Jesus, you receive the righteousness of God, and you become God’s friend. His presence draws nearer to you than the clothes you wear.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation. There is no separation. You are sandwiched in no condemnation, no separation. By believing, you are the righteousness of God. If you didn’t receive righteousness through your good works, dare not believe that you will lose your righteousness due to something you did. You do righteous acts not to become righteous but because you have been made righteous.

I don’t pray for connection; I pray because I am connected. I don’t pray to receive a word; I read the Bible because I’ve received the Word. Let’s declare together: Whatever God has to do, it is done. It was accomplished 2000 years ago. It’s finished.

Now, if you’ve been struggling with any issue, whether it be depression (which, by the way, is as much a sin as any other issue, as it contradicts the Word of God), lust, or any deep-seated sin, start believing that you are the righteousness of God before attempting any righteous deeds.

I’m telling you, before engaging in any righteous deeds, start believing that you are the righteousness of God. Even while you may feel stuck in the mud, in the filth, believe that you are the righteousness of God. Your faith, the same faith that has made you righteous, will also empower righteous works. Let me emphasize: the faith that has made you righteous will also perform righteous works.

In Genesis 15, Abraham is declared righteous when he has done nothing to prove his righteousness. However, that declaration is fulfilled in Genesis 22 when Abraham ascends the mountain with his beloved son to sacrifice him, all because God commanded it. James recognizes this fulfillment, stating, ‘And in this, the Scripture was fulfilled,’ referring to the sacrifice Abraham made. When God declared him righteous, it was a prophetic statement. Yet, that prophecy was fulfilled when Abraham sacrificed Isaac.

My friends, you may not fully grasp what God sees in you. When God declares you as His righteousness, He sees a future where that declaration is fulfilled in your life. I’m not suggesting that you believe in your righteousness and live however you please. What I am saying is that as you abide in the gospel, acknowledging that you are the righteousness of God not by your deeds but by what Jesus has done, that declaration will find fulfillment in your life.

I believe the Church is rising up, rooted not only in the identity of righteousness but also walking and being trained in righteousness. We will have evidence to prove that the gospel is true because this word will be fulfilled in our lives.

Have you ever wondered how Abraham could sacrifice his only son, the one he waited for so many years, and whom he loved deeply? How did he do that? In fact, God testifies of him in Genesis 22, paraphrasing, ‘For Abraham so loved God that he gave his only begotten son.’ How, Abraham? How did you do it?

Romans 12:1 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

I always read these words and knew that this is what Abraham did. He wasn’t offering Isaac as a sacrifice; he was offering himself. But how does a person with common sense and logic willingly lie on an altar and say, ‘God, burn me’? It doesn’t make sense. Then the revelation hit me: I missed two words, ‘therefore, brothers, in view of God’s mercy.’ The secret is that if you want to live a life sacrificial unto Jesus, you must view God’s mercy. Abraham could sacrifice Isaac because he saw God’s mercy. In his 30 years of walking with God, he witnessed God’s goodness. Even if it didn’t make sense, he knew God is good and would fulfill His promises. So, even if God had to raise Isaac from the dead, He would. That sacrifice fulfilled the scripture. Your job is not to fulfill the scripture; your job is to believe the prophetic scripture will be fulfilled.

Believe it! You are the righteousness of God. The devil cannot deceive you anymore. Just like God sees Jesus, He sees you. Righteousness of God. Believe it! Do you know how close Jesus is to the Father? That’s how close you are to Him. God doesn’t look at Jesus with a wide smile and you with scorn. No. He looks at you the same way He looks at Jesus because righteousness has been credited to your account.

About the author

Samuel Thomas

Samuel is a second-generation pastor with a rich heritage in the Holy Spirit. He has been the pastor of Lighthouse Church since 2017 with a two-word mission statement: transforming lives. Samuel's priority in life has been to know Christ and to grow deeper in His love.

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