St. Andrew's-Cheney Memorial Church
October 2001
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True Righteousness

Annually, as Protestants, we remember October 31st as Reformation Day. It was on that day in 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. One of the primary concerns of Luther and the other reformers was righteousness. It is clear that only a righteous person may enter heaven, but how may one become a righteous person?

It is important that the Church be very clear in its understanding of the way of acceptance by God for there are always false teachers seeking to confuse and to defeat God’s children. When we stop to consider it, we realize that there are only two possible means by which a person could find acceptance with God.

The first way is legal righteousness. This is acceptance based upon our own merits, our own good intentions and works. The apostle Paul knew all about this sort of righteousness. He had tried it for years as a practicing Pharisee. The apostle wrote about himself, "Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If any other man thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law a Pharisee, as to zeal a persecutor of the church, as to righteousness under the law blameless." (Philippians 3:4-6) St. Paul was not being boastful. He was stating the facts.

False teachers in St. Paul’s day were telling the believers at Philippi and elsewhere that if they obeyed the Mosaic law and did good things God would accept them. The cults and false religions always teach this in some form. Much of modern psychology teaches the same thing in principle. The good moral person holds to it as well.

But note what the apostle said after having tried this method of legal righteousness. He wrote, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Phil. 3:7,8a) Could any of us do better than Paul the Pharisee at keeping the law. Certainly none of us has.

Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (St. Mt. 5:20) The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was a legal righteousness, a righteousness based on man’s best efforts to obey God’s law. But as St. Paul said, it doesn’t work. Nor did God ever intend that the law be a means of salvation. St. Paul wrote, “For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” (Ro. 3:20)

How then may a person find acceptance with God? If the way of legal righteousness does not work there is only one other path, imputed righteousness. That means that our acceptance by God is based on the merits of someone else, someone who is truly righteous. This is also known as an alien righteousness.

Who would be righteous enough to be accepted by God? Who has obeyed God’s law with absolute perfection? The only answer is Jesus Christ the Son of God. Jesus is able and willing to give us His righteousness. As St. Paul went on to say, “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith ....” (Phil. 3:8b, 9) God cannot accept our righteousness, which is imperfect, but He will accept the perfect righteousness of His Son.

We may receive Christ’s righteousness through faith in Him as Savior. God will then input or credit to us the righteousness of Christ. The Protestant Reformation started when Martin Luther finally read the Bible and rediscovered this central truth about salvation. He like St. Paul had tried to earn his way to heaven, but once Luther read St. Paul’s letters to the churches he realized that salvation is a gift from God to all who will believe.

Thank God for the grace we have received through Jesus Christ. Our own righteousness will not get us past the threshold of the pearly gates. But there is a righteousness God will accept, the righteousness of Christ which is ours through faith in Him. It is said of Thomas Hooker, a great Puritan minister, “When one that stood weeping by the bedside, in the time of his last sickness, said to him, `Sir, you are going to receive the reward of all your labors,` he raised himself and replied, `Brother, I am going to receive mercy.`” To that we say “Amen.”

by Rev. F. M. Levi

Parish News

A number of renovations were undertaken in the church basement during August. Dry wall was placed on two unfinished walls, partitions were constructed and doors hung so that better use could be made of the area. “Thank you” to Mike Acke, Henry Leenstra, Frank Sellers, and Barney Reagan for their hard work.

The Preschool Open House was held on August 19, 2001. Classes began on September 4, 2001. Do pray for the school that it may be an effective ministry of the parish.

Time Change on October 27, 2001
Turn clocks back one hour.

Missionary of The Month

Geneve, Timothy
Home Office Computer System
Arab World Ministries
P.O. Box 96 · Upper Darby, PA 19082

Domestic Missions

Please pray for Bishop and Mrs. Fincke (Ann), and their children Katie, Emily, Elizabeth, and Andrew. All Saints Reformed Episcopal Mission in Vacaville, CA.

Happy Birthday!

Oct. 1 - Diane Stultz
Oct. 8 - Louise Rich
Oct. 17 - Carla Smith
Oct. 19 - Parham Horn
Oct. 27 - Annamarie Sellers

Church/Preschool/VBS Family Picnic

Place: Monee Reservoir
Date: Saturday, October 6, 2001
Time: 12:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Hamburgers, hot dogs, buns, pop provided.
Everyone invited. Bring a dish and come along!

Annual Homecoming Sunday

Sunday, October 14, 2001, plan to be here. There will be a luncheon served in the Parish Hall by the Woman’s Guild following the service of Holy Communion.

Oh, thus be it ever when free men shall stand,
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation;
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Power that has made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Volunteer Prayer

If I have made one person smile that
would have been solemn
If I have helped one person walk that
would have sat alone
If I have been a friend to one person
that would have had no one
Then I have given the greatest gift there
is to give, the gift of time and love.

--Kay Hight

Contributed by Mrs. Hilda Kaelin, Oshkosh, Wisconsin

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