Christians put things backwards. Yesterday I wrote about being able to stand in righteousness before God. It seems to me that is the purpose for all world religions. Buddhism doesn’t recognize a god but still seeks the way of righteousness. All of these have systems of theology that supposedly guide them step by step to become righteous and acceptable to God. They all recognize God is holy, and man is not. Some effort must be expended to get man to God. Christians recognize this, but they also recognize that God is absolute holiness, and man, in his sinful nature, is so far separated from God that there is no ladder long enough for man, by his own efforts, to reach God. We declare that God, in His mercy, first reached out to mankind. God came among us Himself in Jesus Christ. At the cross, God took the just penalty of death, that we all deserve, into Himself. Jesus, the holy and righteous One, took all of our sin into His own body, and in turn gave us His righteousness. This is the great exchange, the central Christian teaching of justification. We come to the cross by faith in Jesus Christ, and we are declared righteous before our holy God. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”(Romans 6:23) This is backwards to all other faiths. We are first declared righteous before God. Then, because of the great loving kindness we have been shown, we want to live to serve our gracious Lord. The problem with trying to work our way to God is that we can never be sure we’ve done enough. One has no certainty of God’s favor. But by faith in Jesus Christ He stands with us before the Father, and we have the assurance of life in His presence, today and always.