Agonizomai: Romans Chapter 3<br>God's Righteousness Supplied<br>The Concern of God's Salvation

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Romans Chapter 3
God's Righteousness Supplied
The Concern of God's Salvation


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Romans 3:25b-26 This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus.

1) To display the Divine perfections of God


When we speak of the fact that God is righteous and that He displays that in His plan of salvation we must be careful not to use our old human standards of righteousness as a yard stick. It has been proven in this letter that our own so-called righteousness is filthy and ineffective; it is dark and inward; it is selfish and impure; it is, in fact, sinful – because no matter how altruistic our motives, they are tainted by sin.

The whole point is to get our eyes off the deception of our self-righteousness and onto the perfect righteousness of God made manifest in the advent, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God – and imputed to all who receive Christ through faith.

God’s righteousness is perfect. This is a concept that we have no real means of apprehending in anything but an incomplete way. Think of the most righteous person you know and God is infinitely more so. Think of the most righteous person you know and realize that their righteousness is a smudged impression from the foot of God, made in miry clay. One day, yes, the righteous shall shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matthew 13:43) – but until that day we can but appreciate what minor rays of God’s glorious light shine through the veil of our dying flesh.

But this is often all we can bear. Being in two kingdoms, being in the (as yet) unredeemed flesh, the fullness of the perfections of God in His glory would most likely be more than we could bear.

But there is more than the perfect righteousness of God proven by the coming of Christ. There is the perfect justice and mercy of God, too. The Jews had a long history with God. They understood that God was perfectly just in all His ways. The prophets preached it. The Psalms declare it. But it was on account of this knowledge that the justification of the ungodly was a conundrum to men. How could a perfectly just God forgive sinners and put away their sin. That would be to call the unrighteous “righteous” and to be accursed. But God cannot be accursed.

The Jews also understood God to be merciful. Again, the prophets and Psalms are full of expressions of gratitude for God’s forbearance and mercy. They knew God to be merciful. Jonah, for example, even had the temerity to complain that he knew that God would be merciful to spare the Ninevites.

But these two perfections in God were ultimately irreconcilable to the thoughtful human mind. Only by hoping against hope, and through faith in the God Who promised that a reconciliation would be manifested could the peoples carry on. Their hope was for God to make a way where there was no way – else they were all doomed, for God would in no way excuse sin; and they knew it.

So the question remained – how could righteousness and mercy be reconciled? And, lo and behold! We find here the explanation that it is in the Person of the Eternal Son, living a fully human life of perfect obedience and suffering the just punishment due to His people.

2) To reconcile His justice and His mercy

The tension between God’s love and His holiness that had always been present since the fall, when God did not immediately release the full weight of His just wrath upon Adam and Eve – and throughout history by His forbearing and restraining that wrath which demanded full and immediate payment – that tension between God’s justice and His mercy was like a grain of sand in an oyster. It chafed and irritated. Men knew that something had to happen but they could not truly grasp what that something was. But just like the oyster, the end of all that chafing produced “the pearl of great price”.

God cannot be at war with Himself. God is perfect and God is One. God’s thoughts are perfectly conceived and are absolutely right the moment they emanate from the Divine Mind. He never second guesses Himself. He never has a plan “B”. And yet there is conflict in God’s universe. There is perversion, evil, injustice and violence in what was once a good creation.

God has permitted by His eternal decrees that such things be promulgated and perpetrated in His creation by responsible agents. These agents are the devil and his angels, and Adam and Eve and all their progeny. All of these are agents, fully responsible in their own right, appointed by God for the purpose of providing the environment and means by which His justice and mercy could be reconciled through the grace shown in Jesus Christ towards lost and depraved men. It is all to the praise of the glory of His grace – a heretofore unknowable Divine perfection of God. If there had never been sin, then how would this particular aspect of the glory of God ever have been made known for creatures to adore and to be thrilled by the knowledge of it all.

The crucifixion and resurrection were ordained before the world was made. He whose hands fashioned the world would one day offer those hands to the nails of the world’s betrayal, and the piercing of the Father’s bottomless wrath. Unthinkable! Unimaginable! If we think we take it in we deceive ourselves. We can’t possibly take it in. And, ironically, the more we understand the depravity of our own souls, the less we can take it in, yet the more we marvel at it; the more we magnify the Name above all names. O the depth of the wisdom of God – how unsearchable are his thoughts and His ways past finding out!


3 Comments:

Blogger Derek Ashton said...

Tony,

Are you sure you don't want to be a co-author of THEOparadox? A few quotations from this post would be a perfect fit.

Derek

7:29 pm  
Blogger agonizomai said...

Derek,

I am unworthy to be a fellow co-blogger with people like you.

I suspect that you see paradox in the tensions which I described, and that these would fit well with your blog theme. To me the tensions are not so much paradoxes as they are evidences of the limitations of our understanding of the purposes of God - which probably boils down to the same thing in your view.

But feel free to cite any portion of any post you like. Or the whole post if you want. Or maybe you were just being dryly humorous. That's OK, too.


Blessings,


Tony

7:41 pm  
Blogger Derek Ashton said...

Tony,

Well said. I couldn't call the blog "THEOapparentparadox," could I?

None of us are worthy! And I'm 100% convinced that I'm a bigger sinner than you are, so don't try to change my mind. One blog I read is titled, "Son of a son of a sinner." It's a humble title we could all put up on our sites.

Dry humor? Well, I do resort to that sometimes, but not in this case.

I'm going to take you up on your offer. I'm assuming it is a free and well-meant offer. :)

There goes that dry humor again.

Derek

7:56 pm  

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