It is very important that we get into the depths of the book of Romans and not read it in a superficial way. In this message we shall consider the matter of the dispensation of the Triune God according to His righteousness, through His holiness, and unto His glory. Here we have four important words: dispensation, righteousness, holiness, and glory. As we pointed out in the foregoing message, Paul does not use the word dispensation in Romans. Nevertheless, the fact of God’s dispensation is implied throughout this book. righteousness, holiness, and glory, on the contrary, are dealt with by Paul explicitly. God’s dispensation is according to His righteousness; that is, it is based upon His righteousness. Furthermore, it is through His holiness. This means that His dispensation is processed through holiness. Finally, this dispensation is unto God’s glory. It issues in the glory of God.
Many verses in Romans speak of God’s righteousness. In 1:17 Paul says that the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel. In 3:21 he says that the righteousness of God has been manifested, and in 3:25 and 26 he speaks of the showing forth of the righteousness of God. In 5:17 Paul refers to the gift of righteousness and in 5:21 of grace reigning through righteousness. In 8:10 he says that our spirit is life because of righteousness.
These verses indicate that in the book of Romans righteousness is a footing, a standing, a base, for God’s dispensation. The dispensation of the Triune God into us is according to God’s righteousness. It is not according to the law nor according to virtue. It is uniquely according to the righteousness of God. Psalm 89:14 says that righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s throne (ASV). God’s throne is based upon His righteousness. Without righteousness, even God’s throne would have no footing. Therefore, righteousness is crucial.
The entire universe rests upon God’s righteousness. If suddenly there were no righteousness, the universe would collapse. Furthermore, the Bible reveals that God’s kingdom is built upon righteousness (Heb. 1:8). Human government is also based on at least some measure of righteousness. For example, if there were no righteousness in this country, the government would fall. In the same principle, if there were no righteousness in society or in our personal life, both society and our personal life would collapse. Righteousness is the supporting base upon which all things rest. The heavens, the earth, and everything in the universe are based upon God’s righteousness.
In His economy the Triune God desires to dispense Himself into the three parts of man, into man’s spirit, soul, and body. However, if God does not meet the requirements of His righteousness, He cannot carry out the dispensation of Himself into us. His dispensation must be according to His righteousness.
The Bible reveals that there is a relationship between God and man. In this relationship a number of transactions take place. These transactions must always be based upon righteousness. Therefore, for God’s dispensation, the first basic requirement is God’s righteousness.
Three of the divine attributes—righteousness, holiness, and glory—place requirements upon us. Righteousness is versus sin. I believe that we all are aware of the requirement of God’s righteousness. But we may not be aware of the demands of God’s holiness and glory; we may have no realization that glory is one of God’s requirements. In 3:23 Paul points out that we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. This means that we have not fulfilled the requirement of God’s glory.
Genesis 3:24 indicates that as soon as man fell, he could not meet the requirements of God’s righteousness, holiness, and glory. This verse says that God “placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” The sword signifies God’s righteousness; the flame, God’s holiness; and the cherubim, God’s glory. The sword kills, the fire consumes, and the cherubim observe. Because man had fallen and had become sinful, the way to the tree of life was barred by God’s righteousness, holiness, and glory. Praise the Lord that through Christ’s redemption the requirements of God’s righteousness, holiness, and glory have been fulfilled and the way to the tree of life has been opened once again. In order for man to have a proper relationship with God, these three requirements had to be fulfilled.
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