Blood of Jesus Christ 4
By Dr. Derek Thomas
In Romans 3:21, I think Paul is thinking of this in what we might call a redemptive, historical fashion. All of the Old Testament was but a preparation for this moment. Oscar Culman is correct, I think, in suggesting that the cross is the midpoint of all history. It's the turning point of all of history. Everything changes before the cross and after the cross. History changes with the coming of Jesus, and Paul is perhaps referring not just in a redemptive, historical, not just in the flow of history and what happens at the coming of Jesus Christ, that God has revealed something, that God has shown something that was only a type and shadow before, but now is in fullness of reality. The fullness of God's glory has been made known, and made known in the Incarnation, and made known in humiliation, and made known in the death of Jesus Christ. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son and it changes everything.
But Paul could also, of course, speak of this in a personal way. It was a "but now" in his own experience of this midpoint of redemptive history. He wasn't looking at this from a detached historical point of view. How nice it is that there is this figure called Jesus Christ out there who changes everything. But there was a "but now" in his own experience on the Damascus Road that he, too, as a Pharisee, as one who as regards to the law had considered himself to be blameless in his deception, in his blindness. God met him on the Damascus Road and changed everything and brought him out of darkness and into light, brought him from bondage to sin and guilt and into the liberty that belongs to the sons of God.
It was a "but now" for everything changes. Paul is elaborating for us on the doctrine of justification. How a sinner can be reckoned to be right, and be in a right standing before a holy and righteous God, so that Paul can say, "I'm not ashamed of this Gospel. I'm ashamed of the gospel that suggests that salvation comes from human effort, but I'm not ashamed of the Gospel that God reveals, that God shows, that God placards and discloses to us."
There is good news here. He has good news here. He has evangel here. He has gospel here, and that good news, my friend, is not that Jesus is Lord, although you will hear that. I hear it all the time. What is the Gospel? And they say that Jesus is Lord. That's not good news. To meet God in all of His holiness, in all of His righteousness and to meet Him without the eradication of guilt, to meet Him as a sinner, that's not good news. To come before the judgment seat of God on the Day of Judgment and still have my sins, the fact that He is Lord is not good news to me.
But in His righteousness and in His holiness, unless that sin is dealt with, unless that sin is covered, unless that sin is atoned for, unless that sin is propitiated, I will be cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. That's not good news.
The good news is that God is just and the justifier of him who believes in Jesus. That's the good news--that He remains just, that He acts in perfect accord with the integrity of His being, and has found a way to rescue and save sinners, whether Jew or Gentile. That’s good news!