Following Jesus 136
How can the sinner be delivered from his great and heavy burden? God has wisely stated in I Corinthians 1:18 that deliverance is found in the message or the Word of the Cross. What exactly is this Word of the Cross? This is what the Apostle Paul says in Romans 3:21-26.
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the 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: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26 ESV)
To begin, the deliverance the sinner experiences from his great and heavy burden caused by his sin is a deliverance apart from human works. Vs. 21a. “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law.”
Secondly, this deliverance has been planned by God. Vs. 21b. “…although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God.” The Old Testament provides truthful information concerning the righteousness of God in saving sinners. The righteousness of God not only refers to God’s inherent holiness and perfection, but also to the truth of God placing sinners into a right relationship with Him. This righteousness belongs to God and comes from God.
Thirdly, this deliverance occurs solely by faith in Jesus Christ. Vs. 22-23. “…through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Fourthly, this deliverance is a gracious gift. Vs. 24a. “…and are justified by His grace as a gift.”
To be justified means that God, by His grace, declares the sinner righteous. This means that the sinner is declared by God to be in a right relationship with Himself.
God’s grace refers to His unmerited favor bestowed upon the sinner. It is God’s kindness and good will. Grace is the source and motivation of God’s pardon for sin.
J.I. Packer writes, “The gospel centers upon justification. Justification is the dramatic transition (of the sinner) from the status of a condemned criminal awaiting a terrible sentence to that of an heir awaiting a fabulous inheritance.”
Justification is by faith. It occurs the moment an individual places their trust, commitment, dependence and worship in the person of Jesus Christ. Justification is a free and gracious gift. The word gift means without cost. A free gift that involves no payment made by the sinner.
With this description of grace, it might be concluded that justification is cheap. Nothing could be further from the truth. While justification is free to the sinner, it was costly to God.
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