Reader: “ We are made right with God . . .”
Response: “by placing our faith in Jesus Christ.”
Scripture: Romans 3:21-31
But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.
Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.
After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn’t he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course he is. There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.
Reader: The word of the Lord
Response: Thanks be to God.
Where do you begin with a passage like this? Volumes and volumes of commentaries and dozens of books have been written on the theological concepts addressed in these few sentences. The season of Lent is a time to reflect on the journey of Christ as his death approached. It is also a time to evaluate where we are as individuals in relation to this journey with Jesus. I’d like us to look at these words in that light. Keeping the law of Moses perfectly was the way to God. But the law actually convicted us because it demonstrated that it is impossible for us to obey it perfectly. What it did was to show us our sin and our sin nature. Bottom line, we know we cannot keep the law. We are damned. Realizing that truth is progress!
Enter Romans 3. God initiated the solution. He provided a way for us to be made right with him without having to do what is impossible for us, that of keeping the law perfectly. We are to place our faith in Jesus Christ. This proposition from God applies to anyone in the world. By doing so, God graciously declares us righteous, that is, he views us in the light of the righteousness of his sinless Son, Jesus, who, more than keeping the law fulfilled the law perfectly! There is a penalty for breaking the law, which we have done innumerable times. Unfortunately, that price is death. But, Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, dying in our place. He took upon himself all the sins of all the people of the world and gave his life blood in their place. His death and resurrection means that all our sins, past, present and future are paid for by Jesus.
For example, people in the past who sinned in the First Testament, did not receive the ultimate punishment for their sins, since God “held back” that punishment in looking forward to the coming of Christ’s sacrifice. The sins of people who lived after Jesus’ ascension to heaven, have their sins covered as well, including people who have yet to be born! God’s time is on an eternal clock rather than a 24/7 clock. (“Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”) As one commentator put it, “Believers are totally justified, just not yet.” (Moellering, Concordia Commentary on I TImothy, p.39)
Believing in Jesus is an act that functions in the time frame of the eternal clock. We are acquitted from our sins solely by our faith. Nothing we do makes any contribution to our being made right with God. There is a very popular and widely held view that upon death, God weighs the good and bad and that if the good deeds outweigh the bad actions, then that person receives eternal life in heaven. TOTAL LIE! This view was actually expressed by a current political leader who announced that he would walk right into heaven and they’d be glad to see him because he had done so much good! The bottom line is that when we exercise faith in what Christ has done on our behalf, we are actually fulfilling the law, the very words of Jesus. “I have come not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.” (Mt.5:17) Be mindful that Jesus’ journey to the cross resulting in his death was and is our journey as well. Remember, we are not simply living on a 24/7 clock, but dwelling in God’s eternal time.
Music: “Jesus Paid It All” Fernando Ortega Beautiful arrangement of this tune.
Bonuses: “Jesus Paid It All” Celtic Worship
“Jesus Paid It All” Choral Arrangement
Prayer: My Father, I could never have sought my happiness in thy love, unless thou hadst first loved me. Thy spirit has encouraged me by grace to seek thee, has made known to me thy reconciliation in Jesus, has taught me to believe it, has helped me to take thee for my God and portion. May he grant me to grow in the knowledge and experience of thy love, and walk in it all the way to glory. Blessed forever be thy fatherly affection, which chose me to be one of thy children by faith in Jesus: I thank thee for giving me the desire to live as such. In Jesus, my brother, I have my new birth, every restraining power, every renewing grace. By the Spirit may I daily live to thee, rejoice in thy love, find it the same to me as to thy Son, and become rooted and grounded in it as a house on a rock. Magnify thy love to me according to its greatness, and not according to my deserts or prayers, and whatever increase thou givest, let it draw out greater love to thee. In my Savior’s name I pray. Amen. ―The Valley of Vision, p.53