Agonizomai: Romans Chapter 3<br>God's Righteousness Supplied<br>The Character of God's Salvation - Part 2

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Romans Chapter 3
God's Righteousness Supplied
The Character of God's Salvation - Part 2
Through faith alone

Listen in your default mp3 player

Romans 3:21-25a But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, 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, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

Having given us the good news, Paul reminds us immediately that we human beings are all of the same lump and there is no difference whatsoever between the Jews and the rest of us, because we are all guilty of sin and worthy of condemnation. However, he now uses the fact of our common corruption to point to our common hope. But the “all” who have fallen short are not all justified, because they do not all receive Christ by faith. The free offer of salvation is there for all, to be received through faith – and the sacrifice of Christ is sufficient for all mankind, would they but believe. That is why we are to preach the gospel to every creature under heaven – to extend God’s general call in the offer of salvation to all men. If they believe, God will save them.

Christ never casts out any that come to Him. Men are not saved by belief in their election, but by belief in Jesus Christ, crucified for sin and risen from the dead. We do not preach to them, “If you are one of the elect God will enable you to come.” We preach, “Repent and believe the gospel – come to Christ and He will freely accept you as you are.” After they have come to Him and received Him, He will reveal to them how it was He alone who brought them. Wasn’t this true for you? Can you not sing with a true heart W. Spencer Walton’s words…
"O the love that sought me, O the blood that bought me, O the grace that brought me in the fold, wondrous grace that brought me to the fold".
The gospel, therefore, is good news for the whole world. Our calling is to preach it accurately and fully – and God will make our preaching and witness effective, according to His will. And the gospel announces a salvation that can only be received by faith.

I do not believe that the Bible teaches a view that this mental assent called “faith” is something that originates in fallen man. I reject the idea that believing is not only what we must do, but is also what we are capable of doing before we are born again. If unbelief is a sin (and it is, because whatever is not of faith is sin) and I was an unbeliever before I received Christ, then that unbelief must have been paid for and my belief purchased by Christ on my behalf. As John Piper has said…
“...when you believe as you ought to believe, you will discover that your belief – like all other spiritual blessings – was purchased by the death of Christ. The sin of unbelief was covered by the blood in your case, and therefore the power of God's mercy was released through the cross to subdue your rebellion and bring you to the Son. You did not make the cross effective in your life by faith. The cross became effective in your life by purchasing your faith.” - John Piper article "For Whom Did Christ Die?"
Whatever you believe its source to be, faith is the common means through which God justifies both Jews and Gentiles. It is the same God, the same salvation, the same means for all men. From the earliest days after Eden to the church age, men are justified through faith in the Messiah according to whatever degree of revelation they have concerning Him. It was always a looking to God for Him to provide the solution to the problem of sin as opposed to a trying to justify ourselves. Cain and Abel are the archetypes of these two lines of humanity – the line of faith and the line of works.


Blogger Derek Ashton said...


While I was listening to the audio for this post, my wife (who would consider herself a non-Calvinist) shouted "AMEN!" from the other room. Like me, she's probably becoming a Calvinist without even realizing it.

All glory to God! Thanks for another good, balanced post.


6:58 pm  
Blogger agonizomai said...


Whoa! You married a non-Calvinist! But then, I suppose, so did she at the time :)

I honestly don't know why God saves some, but leaves them in the throes of Arminian belief. But I do think that most Arminians are just inconsistent Calvinists at heart. When you press them, they surely do believe in the sovereignty of God in all things.

And even when they equivocate about their (libertarian) free will they still pray as if all depended upon God.

Still, remember what I said about who the true audience of anything may be, if not the one to whom the message is directed. Scattered seed falls where it may.



7:14 pm  
Blogger Derek Ashton said...

We were two Arminians who freely chose each other.


My wife is a godly woman with many marvelous traits that continually make up for my unwise choices and inconsistencies. She was brought up as a 4th generation Pentecostal with many ministers and missionaries among her relatives. However, her father's prison ministry brought her into contact with Christians of almost every type. I'd say she's very balanced in most areas of theology, and she has attended essentially Reformed churches for about 7 years. Unfortunately, she can't get beyond the extremes and caricatures of Calvinism to embrace the real thing. Even I can't convince her, but that's not my job. Just as I was made a Calvinist by sovereign grace, so she will be . . . someday.

We have some interesting theological discussions in the meantime!

Grace & peace,

7:40 pm  
Blogger agonizomai said...


Well - remember the old chestnut that says that your wife will be a Calvinist when she gets to heaven - just like all other Arminians will.

But that's too hackneyed for me ever to repeat. Ooops!



7:47 pm  

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