“and be found in him, not having a righteousness (義 or 义 ) of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Phil 3:9). In Christ, we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21).
“All of us are like someone unclean, all our righteous deeds like menstrual rags; we wither, all of us, like leaves; and our misdeeds blow us away like the wind” (Isa 64:5 CJB)
When all our righteousness are like menstrual rags, Christ our sacrificial Lamb was offered as our sacrifice. He made of who believe Him right before God. His righteousness was imputed to believers by faith in His death for our sins on the cross. “For our sake He (God the Father) made Him (God the Son) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him (Jesus Christ) we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21).
The Chinese around the world usher in the Year of the Goat/Sheep (羊). In welcoming this year of the goat/sheep, we should use the opportunity to connect to the worship of ancient Chinese of Shang Di. The Chinese zodiac of 12 animals was popular in the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.). Though we can use some the animals as bridges to the Gospel, there are limitations. Going farther back to the ‘Legendary Period’ (preceding 2205 BC), the ancient Chinese were offering sacrifices to Shang Di at Mount Tai in Shandong Province, at the eastern border of China (Shang Shu). The sacrifice was called the Border Sacrifice. What is the Border Sacrifice? Who is Shang Di? What is the Heavenly Altar? (pick up a flyer from the table after service). The flyer is to equip you to build bridges and bring the Word of the Cross to our fellow Chinese (2 Tim 4:2).
Beyond ancient Chinese history we need to go back to the book of Genesis and see God’s plan for mankind unfold progressively through to the book of Revelation. As Chinese Christians we are reminded that our Lord Jesus Christ was the Lamb (羔羊) of God who takes away the sins of the world and our debts to God (Jn 1:29; Col 2:14). The ancient Chinese emperor represented the Chinese people when he offered the annual border sacrifice. At the border sacrifice, a perfect bull or goat/sheep was sacrificed.
This practice of offering animals on an altar is similar to Noah offering animals on the altar after the Great Flood (Gen 8:20). It was also the practice of Abel who offered the first-born of the flock by faith and Abel was attested as righteous (Gen 4:4; Heb 11:4). At the right time, Jesus the Messiah, was offered as the Lamb of God and died on the Cross for the ungodly (Rom 5:6). He became our righteousness through His one offering for sins. On the Cross, God has cancelled a great debt we cannot repay (Col 2:13-14). Rejoice!
As the Chinese New Year begins, if there is any offense to God, confess to God. If there is any forgiveness/debt to men, forgive/repay it (1 Jn 1:7-10). Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God, give no offense to any one (1Cor 10:31-32). Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Eph 4:32). All praises and glory to the Lamb of God!
Elder Yoong Yuen Soo