Romans 3 v 21 – 26
21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it– 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 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.
26 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. (ESV)
Luther said that unless you understand these verses correctly, you will not understand the Gospel.
It contains difficult technical terms that can and must be understood.
The Reformers, together with the Apostle Paul affirmed:
1. The Gospel is apart from the Law.
But the Law testifies to the Gospel, teaching us that sin brings judgement requiring sacrifice, which offered correctly, brings release.
2. True Righteousness comes from God.
The righteousness we have is the wrong kind – we need God’s Righteousness.
Our human righteousness falls short of His Righteousness.
3. The Gospel is for sinners.
It’s more than paying lip-service to the Christian.
It’s knowing that you are a sinner and need to be fixed – asking what God has to fix in me to have bad circumstances fixed.
Some people want to fix the world, while their own homes are not in order.
Contrition is seeing what is wrong with you and weeping before God.
4. Justification is given freely by God’s Grace
It means that we are clothed in the Righteousness of Christ by Grace through Faith.
It comes freely to us, but it was so costly to God:
Jesus satisfied all the requirements of the Law.
Only God could provide this sacrifice – sending Himself to redeem us.
He says in Mat. 11:28:
“Come to Me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
5. God is just and He justifies
Through the cross God is just (punishing sin) and the Justifier of (forgives) those who have faith in Jesus.
We need this message of the Reformation. The world needs it, because it is our only hope.
As the hymn writer says:
“Our hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
we dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ Name.
On Christ the solid rock we stand –
all other ground is sinking sand.”