October 5, 2009
Neil McClendon told Oklahoma Baptist University students that knowing God not only means they get to go to heaven when they die, but also that they get to live a “big, fat juicy life” now in the truth of Jesus’ righteousness.
McClendon, lead pastor of Grand Parkway Baptist Church in Richmond, Texas, spoke to OBU students Friday, Oct. 2, during a weekly chapel service about the righteousness of Jesus Christ. He explained that Jesus came to fulfill the law; that because Jesus fulfilled the law, his righteousness is power, not liberation; and that the students need to understand what righteousness really means.
Referring to Matthew 5:17-20, he said Jesus did not come to Earth “to add more rules to the rulebook.” McClendon pointed out that merely following a set of rules does not equal righteousness. He said the Pharisees in Jesus’ day added more than 300 rules to the biblical law of God.
“Jesus came – not just to fulfill – but to ‘fill full’ the law,” McClendon said. “Every promise that the Old Testament made was realized in the life and ministry of Jesus.”
McClendon said Christ’s fulfillment of the law is important on a personal level: Through Christ’s fulfillment, people are free to live like the Bible describes. Living in Christ’s righteousness, he said, is “fleshing out that God is right” through one’s actions and attitudes toward others. McClendon encouraged the students to engage the imperfect people in the world around them with this truth.
“I love being around raw people,” he said. “My concern for most of you is you’re going to get your degree and go be around ‘safe’ people the rest of your life. … You look in the Gospel, and you’ll see a Jesus who’s around (imperfect people).”
Righteousness, McClendon said, is from a Greek word meaning to fulfill the claims of a higher authority, and for a Christian, that higher authority is God.
“You need to understand righteousness because the church in America is full of people who have this standard by which they live – and it’s themselves,” he said. “Righteousness like Jesus is talking about fulfills the claims of a higher authority.
“There’s a God in this world, and he’s crazy about you. He’s not going to sacrifice his holy nature to bend the law for you. He’s fulfilled the demands of the law so you and I can be empowered to live lives that reflect the rightness of God in righteousness.”