ROMANS 3 "21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus."
We could spend a long time on the above passage. Read it again!
This is the gospel in Romans 1:16,17 in a more expanded version. Think about this- when this was written around 55 AD can you imagine anything more world changing? Have you ever wondered as you drive down the street and see crosses everywhere, how this could have happened.
Consider... in 2009, in Nashville TN- I see the spread of Christianity everywhere. I bet there are 500 crosses in a 5 mile radius. I go on facebook and see pictures of my friends travel around the world... and what do I see? Crosses- on mountains, trails, church steeples, jewelry- in every land and people group.
In 55 AD, there were no crosses in middle Tennessee. There were trees, wildlife, and Native Americans. Something happened- and the above passage explains it.
'NOW'- This is an amazing word. We see it in verse 21 and 26. Verse 26 literally means 'in the now time". There is a linear story here:
PAST- In the past God was separated and storing up wrath- man was in darkness. God began the healing by introducing a tutor- His holy law- which is by it's very nature designed to kill us- shut up our excuses, and shine light on our shadows of sin and shame. But there were also promises- the prophets talked of a savior. It all pointed to the cross.
PRESENT- because of the cross and resurrection there is NOW a righteousness that comes from God. He is not requiring us to measure up... He has come down.
Today is the day of salvation! Why are you delaying? What are you waiting for? It is the NOW time!
"through faith in Jesus Christ to ALL who believe"- If God required money, only the rich could be free. If he required knowledge, only the intelligence. If he required deeds, only the disciplined. He wants you to simply trust HIM. He paid it all! You don't even trust your faith- your faith is in HIM! Paul will expand on faith in Chapter 4.
"All have sinned"- this is an archery term. If you hit the target- you have "pinned it"- but you missed ("sin" is to miss the mark). All your best efforts have failed. You start over again and again- but you can't keep God's standards- Heck! You can't even keep your standards.
"Fallen short of the glory of God"- there are three ideas of glory ('doxa') in the Bible. I will cover all three in detail in a later blog- but in God there is brightness, a radiance. There is also a weightiness, He is solid. And there is an honor- worthy of reverence.
Our lives should bring illumination, weight, and honor to the name of God.... but we are pitiful in that duty. Instead, without Him, our lives are dark, fragile, and shameful. We missed by a mile.
'are justified'- LEGALLY CLEARED- You have no record of wrong
"freely'- No payment can be made- all debts are paid
"by his grace'- a gift- G.od's R.iches A.t C.hrist's E.xpense
'through the redemption'- redeemed means a payment was made for you-you were on the chopping block- worth nothing- and God paid a ransom to free you!
Finally, this will blow you away- CHRIST AS THE ATONING SACRIFICE
Verse 25- God presented Him- God initiated this whole deal. The image here is the mercy seat of God being brought out from behind the veil for all the world to see. The reason you see the cross everywhere is because God presents it. It is an invitation to enter this story of great news.
"a sacrifice of atonement" The death of Jesus takes the wrath of God and swallows it whole. This was pictured in the Old Testament sacrifices: the blood on the doorposts during the passover- the lamb slain on the day of atonement- the suffering servant in Isaiah 53- John the Baptist "Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!"
"in His forebearance, he had left the sins beforehand unpunished"- God is a God of great patience. Peter wrote about this in II Peter 3 "8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed."
All people Old Testament and New Testament now have a sacrifice for sin- the death of the perfect God-Man, the Son, The Savior- Jesus Christ.
God as 'just and justifier'- God Himself has taken this on. He hinted to it in the Old Testament when Abraham slept and God walked through the slain animals- He took on the terms of the broken covenant. We broke it- He paid for it. God solved the problem of our freedom, rebeillion, and His holiness. He solved the dilemma without even a stain on His name or character.
What a salvation! What a savior! What a passage!
Read it again! THIS IS LIFE AND FREEDOM!