16 Verses…Romans 3:21-26…Justification

16 Verses

The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses

Romans 3:21-26…Justification

Last week…Cross and Resurrection. Jesus died, and Jesus rose. So, what? What did Jesus’ death and resurrection accomplish?

That’s the question we answer today with Romans 3:21-26.

Our passage today is the most concentrated exposition of the work of the cross in the whole bible. Luther thought it the centerpiece of the whole of Scripture.

“Dr. Leon Morris suggests may be ‘possibly the most important single paragraph ever written’”.[1]

What do we see? What does it mean?

God’s Righteousness is Displayed in the Cross and Resurrection. Romans 3:21(1:17)

“According to 3:21 a righteousness from God has been ‘manifested’, a perfect tense which must refer to the historical death of Christ and its abiding consequences, whereas in 1:17 a righteousness from God is being revealed (a present tense) in the gospel, which presumably means whenever it is preached.”[2]

  • Righteousness of God manifested (perfect tense) – doing what God requires…what is right…the state of being right as God is right.
  • At the fall, the curse broke everything and it is no longer right or righteous.
  • What did God require? What is right? That God’s name and reputation be restored by breaking the curse and proving he is righteous and that image bearers be restored from the curse in which they are no longer right and therefore under the sentence of death to a right standing with God as sons and daughters.

God’s Righteousness is Available for All Who Believe Through Faith in Jesus. Romans 3:22

  • God’s righteousness is available to all who believe in Jesus.
  • There is no universalism here.

God’s Righteousness is Available for All Who Believe Because All Have Sinned and Fallen Short of God’s Glory. Romans 3:23

  • All have sinned – the cumulative past of all people.
  • All fall short of God’s glory – present tense…all continually come up short of glory.

God’s doxa (‘glory’)…probably refers to his image or glory in which all were made5 but which all fail to live up to. Of course, there are degrees of sinning, and therefore differences, yet nobody even approaches God’s standard. Bishop Handley Moule put it dramatically: ‘The harlot, the liar, the murderer, are short of it [sc. God’s glory]; but so are you. Perhaps they stand at the bottom of a mine, and you on the crest of an Alp; but you are as little able to touch the stars as they.’[3]

Sinners are Justified by God’s Free Grace. Romans 3:24a

  • So, how does God make image bearers right? He justifies them.
  • Justification – to pardon from the negative balance of sin and then to credit with the full righteousness of Jesus. Not just forgiveness, but the actually crediting of Christ’s rightness. To be declared just. Not yet made actually just…that is the work of sanctification which comes on progressively.
  • The source of our justification is God and his free grace. (freely given on God’s part to be received without cost on the recipient’s part)
  • “Fundamental to the gospel of salvation is the truth that the saving initiative from beginning to end belongs to God the Father. No formulation of the gospel is biblical which removes the initiative from God and attributes it either to us or even to Christ. It is certain that we did not take the initiative, for we were sinful, guilty and condemned, helpless and hopeless. Nor was the initiative taken by Jesus Christ in the sense that he did something which the Father was reluctant or unwilling to do. To be sure, Christ came voluntarily and gave himself freely. Yet he did it in submissive response to the Father’s initiative. So the first move was God the Father’s, and our justification is freely by his grace, his absolutely free and utterly undeserved favour. Grace is God loving, God stooping, God coming to the rescue, God giving himself generously in and through Jesus Christ.”[4]

Sinners are Justified Through Jesus’ Redemption. Romans 3:24b

  • Justified through Jesus redemptive work on the cross.
  • Redemption is a “marketplace” term. It was used of purchasing slaves in order to set them free. Jesus purchased sinners in order to free them from sin and sin’s wiles. Thus Paul will argue in chapter 6 that we are now dead to sin because Jesus set us free from it.

Justification and Redemption are Made Possible by Propitiation and Received by Faith. Romans 3:25a

  • Propitiation – the satisfaction of God’s wrath.
  • “According to the Christian revelation, God’s own great love propitiated his own holy wrath through the gift of his own dear Son, who took our place, bore our sin and died our death. Thus God himself gave himself to save us from himself.”[5]

Propitiation Shows God is Righteous. Romans 3:25b

  • Propitiation is necessary to pay for passed-over sins in salvation history. This maintains salvation by faith alone while executing right judgment on the sins of those who believed.
  • 2 Chronicles 30:17-22ff

Propitiation Shows God is Just and Justifier of the One Who Trusts in Jesus. Romans 3:26

  • In other words, all of salvation is bound up in God, and we are recipients who can never boast of effort to gain salvation nor boast of our deserving salvation.

How do we obey?

If the message has awakened the need for salvation, then repent and believe. The bible calls this faith.

Work out your salvation… (Follow the Spirit in becoming as God counts us…justified. That’s what the bible calls sanctification.)

Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV) Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Being justified is never an excuse for being content in our sin.

Worship

2 Chronicles 30:23-27

 

[1]  John R. W. Stott, The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 109.

 

[2] John R. W. Stott, The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 109.

 

[3] John R. W. Stott, The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 109.

 

[4]  John R. W. Stott, The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 111–112.

 

[5] John R. W. Stott, The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 115.

 

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Some Parenting Funny from Gaffigan

Jennifer and I are on the backside of raising 3 boys. Crazy. Parenting is kind of getting easier because we NOW know what we needed to know 16 years ago. Insane how that works. Truthfully, there is plenty out there on parenting as a follower of Jesus, but little on the execution of parenting within the context of the fellowship of the local church. Maybe it’s been written and I don’t know about it. I’d be glad for someone to share. So, over the next little bit, other than Sunday sermon notes, I’ll be sharing a little insight on doing fellowship inside the church with children. We’ve had some bumps along the way, and the reality is most bumps happen because of how some parents manage their kids or fail to manage their kids.

So, let’s kick if off with a little funny.

Enter Jim Gaffigan.