Agonizomai: Romans Chapter 3<br>God's Righteousness Supplied<br>The Character of God's Salvation - Part 1

Monday, March 02, 2009

Romans Chapter 3
God's Righteousness Supplied
The Character of God's Salvation - Part 1
General Overview

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Romans 3:22-24 (But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it vv.21-22a) …the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God , they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus {Romans 3:22-24}

And so we come to God’s great “But now….”

“But now…” – these words introduce the first and only ray of hope for sinners. Having consigned all to utter lostness, the good news bursts forth like light in the darkness. “Let there be light,” the Lord God Almighty said – and there was light! And God separated the light from the darkness. {Genesis 1:3-4} This is what the full declaration of the gospel does – it “shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” {John 1:5} The light of God Almighty penetrates the gloom with the hope of sinners, namely Jesus Christ, the light of the world and the life that is the light of men.

“But now…” – contrasted to the misery of man comes the majestic Person of the Saviour of the world, and the good news of His mercy. “How sweet the sound!” we cry from the pit of gloom. How bright the light is now that we see our own darkness!

“But now…” – having seen that we have no righteousness of our own, we see the only righteousness there truly is – that which is in our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. It is a righteousness “apart from law.” It is a righteousness not in letter but in spirit. It is a righteousness that is vibrant and alive. It is the righteousness of He Who is Life Himself. It is Christ – “Christ in us the hope of glory.”

The phrase “apart from law” means apart from any law, whether natural law or revealed law. In Galatians Paul expresses the same thought another way…
“For if a law had been given, capable of giving life, truly righteousness would have been by law.” {Galatians 3:21}
But, of course, any knowledge of God’ s law simply brings the conviction of sin. The law can condemn us, but it cannot make us righteous. And it was never intended to do so, as we shall see.

Though God’s righteousness has been manifested apart from law as to the means by which it is received, the Jewish Law and the Prophets (meaning the whole of the Old Testament) was actually a beacon which announced and described the work of the Christ. They foretold His coming. The OT is sometimes referred to as ‘Jesus concealed’ and the NT as ‘Jesus revealed’. But this suggests that there was a deliberate hiding of Him when quite the contrary is true. He is conceived, developed and matured throughout the Mosaic and prophetic writings starting in Genesis 3:14-15 and ending at Malachi 3:1…
The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." {Genesis 3:14-15}

"Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts…” (Malachi 3:1)
It was the same then as it is now…
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God. {2Corinthians 4:3-4}
The revelation of the righteousness of God, wonderful though it is, is of no help to us unless we enter into it through faith in Christ. This is at once the stumbling block and the marvel of the gospel. If we have believed what went before regarding our true condition, we come with empty hands and enter into Christ’s righteousness on God’s terms alone – through faith alone. But if we have not heard, or we do not believe that we are utterly without righteousness, and have no hope in ourselves of ever being righteous, then salvation through faith alone in Christ alone is beyond our grasp, for we are not ready to meet God on His terms.

This is where the phrase “works of the law” comes into play. God never promised salvation to anyone based upon compliance with the law. From Genesis on, the hope of salvation always rested in the promise of God, and faith in His promise. All the Jewish saints trusted in the promise, (read Hebrews Chapter 11) just as all we church-age saints trust in the promise. The promise is that God will save. He will save anyone who believes in Him alone for salvation. Christ is the full revelation and fulfillment of that promise. The law never enters into it.

This is where the Jews stumbled, because they thought salvation was found in conformation to the law, instead of hope and faith in the God of the promise. This is where legalism loses its power in all of us – when we accept that salvation is not in what we do, but in Whom we believe. Salvation is in Jesus Christ as the consummation of God’s promise from the very beginning.

What blessed news! “Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to the cross I cling…” That’s it. That’s the gospel. It is at one and the same time the easiest and the hardest thing in the world. Easy if you bring nothing and hard to come to the point where you want to bring nothing. Hard to believe that you have nothing to bring but your own vileness. Then you see that God does not love you because you are lovable, but because He is love.

God’s salvation, which is His righteousness imputed to sinners is…

…Not by works but through faith alone. (Rom 3:21-22)
…Has application to all men since all are in the same moral condition. (Rom 3:22-23)
…Is entirely gratuitous – by grace alone. (Rom 3:24)


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