Monthly Archives: July 2015

Romans 4:1-12 – Justification and the People of God

Last week, Paul stated…

  • Romans 3:28 (ESV) — 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

 

To get at the gravity of this statement, we need to couch it in a way Jewish ears would have heard it.

  • There are at least two things being said.

 

(1) The badge or identity marker “marking out the people of God” is not circumcision or the law – N.T. Wright.

  • The badge of inclusion into the people of God, the thing that joins them to His righteousness, is faith in God.

 

(2) The thing that puts people right with God (justified) is not circumcision or the law – even if it is in the context of God’s grace, as some Jews understood it.

  • The thing that puts us right with God, being joined to God’s righteousness, is faith in God.

 

BTW – We tend to focus on the second one only.

  • Paul’s Jesus – God’s “but now” righteousness – is way bigger than that!

 

These teachings of Paul were at odds with most of the Judaism in Paul’s day.

  • So much so that historically, in fact, many have taken Paul’s teaching here to be anti-Jewish.

 

Paul understood that…

“God was somehow redefining Israel, redrawing boundaries, bringing in a covenant renewal in which nothing could be taken for granted” – N.T. Wright.

 

Paul, being sensitive to how radically different this “redrawing” looked, makes an appeal to the Jewish Scriptures to sure up his case.

  • Specifically, and importantly, he appeals to the Torah.
  • And even more importantly, he appeals to Abraham.

 

It is crucial that Paul does this.

“Both Paul’s insistence that justification is by faith alone and his concern for the full inclusion of the Gentiles in the people of God make it necessary for him to integrate Abraham theologically into his scheme” – Douglas Moo.

 

 

Background – Introduction:

It will be helpful here to see what Paul is up against.

 

2nd Temple Judaism’s view of Abraham was at odds with what Paul was teaching (Douglas Moo).

  • Abraham’s righteousness was “linked to…obedience” – Moo.
  • It was thought that Abraham “obeyed the law perfectly before it had been given” – Moo.

 

Sirach 44:19-21 captures this line of thinking.

  • “Abraham was the great father of a multitude of nations, and no one has been found like him in glory; he kept the law of the Most High and was taken into covenant with him; he established the covenant in his flesh, and when he was tested he was found faithful.”

 

Jewish thinking saw any faith Abraham had as a work – a response of obedience to God.

  • He therefore merited righteousness from God.

 

But Paul, using the OT, is about to blow this thinking out of the water.

  • “Paul’s interpretation stands squarely against this tradition and is also a more faithful interpretation of the original” – Douglas Moo.

 

Paul appeals to Abraham to show the validity of both things mentioned above.

  • “What is the nature of Abraham’s family” – or – what is badge of inclusion into God’s covenant people?
  • What is justification – or – how are we made right with God?

 

 

Verses 1-3:

What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”

 

So Paul begins by asking (in the subtext):

  • (1) How is it that Abraham was justified – “gained by Abraham” (vs. 1)?
  • (2) And, with that, what was the badge of inclusion into God’s covenant and righteousness?
    • Or to put another way, how is Abraham “our forefather according to the flesh” (vs. 1) – N.T. Wright.
  • As we have seen, these are the two things he has been addressing for some time.

 

He first warns that if Abraham was “justified by works” (vs. 2) then boasting is in order.

  • But he has already established that there can be no boasting “before God” (vs. 2) and 3:27.

 

He then goes to Genesis 15:6 to answer his questions.

  • “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”

 

This OT text demonstrates a number of things.

  • It was belief in Yahweh that joined Abraham to God’s righteousness – that justified him.
  • It was belief in Yahweh that demonstrated he was marked out as the people of God.
  • Abraham’s faith was “calculated in his favour, indicating that he was in the right” – N.T. Wright.
  • And, “All Abraham did was to trust the God who declares the ungodly to be in the right” – Wright.

 

This means, in answer to his questions, that:

  • (1) Abraham was made right with God – justified – through his faith.
  • (2) Abraham was the “people of God” through his faith.

 

BTW – Paul is also implying (and will say later) that the object of Abraham’s faith has now been revealed as Jesus Christ.

  • It is now a “faith that finds its focus on Jesus and his resurrection as the great, covenant-renewing act of the one true God” – Wright

 

Paul unpacks all this in verses 4-8.

 

 

Verses 4-8:

Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

 

Paul now explains how Genesis 15:6 makes the points he says it does.

  • He contrasts gifts and wages.

 

If Abraham was “one who works” (vs. 4) for his justification, then he would get only what his works obligated his employer to pay.

  • He calls this “his due” (vs. 4).

 

The problem with this is something that Paul explained earlier in his letter.

  • Our “due” (vs. 4) from the works of the law is God’s judging righteousness.
  • The law actually testifies against us.
  • So there would be no payment of saving righteousness to Abraham.

 

However, if one “believes in him who justifies the ungodly” (vs. 5) then one is in position to be given a “gift” (vs. 4).

  • The “gift” God gives is that one’s “faith is counted as righteousness” (vs. 5).
  • When connected to God’s righteousness through faith, you don’t get what you deserve but what the object of your faith “gifts” to you.

 

Douglas Moo sums up Paul’s point:

“Work means the reward is given by obligation, the reward of righteousness must not be dependent on work—for God is never obliged by his creatures; justification is a gift, freely bestowed, not a wage, justly earned”.

 

Psalm 32:

Paul then appeals to Psalm 32 to show that this truth is also confirmed there as well.

  • The Psalmist speaks of the enormous blessing freely given to the “one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works” (vs. 6).

 

Psalm 32 describes these blessings, aka, free gifts.

  • lawless deeds are forgiven” (vs. 7)
  • sins are covered” (vs. 7)
  • the Lord will not count his sin” (vs. 8) against him.

 

So to be one of the justified ungodly (vs. 5) people of God…

  • To be in place where God will not count your sin…
  • To be in a place where your sins are forgiven and covered…
  • You must be a son of Abraham…
  • You must be part of the people of God…
  • You must be a “faither”.

 

Tom Schreiner sums up this aspect of Paul’s argument.

  • “Covenantal grace does not depend on circumcision. Faith alone is the path to blessing” – Tom Schreiner.

 

 

Verses 9-12:

Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

 

Paul then has to contend with an objection.

  • So Paul, if this is all true, why did God give Abraham circumcision?

 

Paul first points out that God’s covenant and promise to Abraham was always inclusive of the Gentiles.

  • for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised?” (vs. 9)

 

Then Paul engages in the affirming the negative approach.

  • We know that circumcision was not to justify or serve as the badge of inclusion because…
  • When was righteousness “counted to him?” (vs. 10)
  • Was it before or after he had been circumcised?” (vs. 10)
  • It was “before he was circumcised.” (vs. 10)
  • So circumcision didn’t merit or include Abraham anything at all!

 

Paul then addresses the question head on – so why circumcision?

  • He gives three reasons.

 

Why Circumcision:

(1) It was “a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised” (vs. 11)

  • What is a “seal of the righteousness”?
  • It is something that “confirms, documents, ratifies, and authenticates the right standing by faith that Abraham already had” – Schreiner.

 

Wright likes to speak of a wedding ring here.

  • Look at your wedding ring – what is its significance?

 

(2) Father of Gentiles

  • The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well” (vs. 11)
  • Abraham is the patriarch of the Gentiles!

 

(3) Father of Jews

  • “and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised” (vs. 12)
  • Abraham is patriarch of the Jews.
  • But…
  • “The interpretation proposed above says that Jews are the children of Abraham only if they have faith” – Schreiner.
  • This is scandalous stuff!

 

N.T. Wright sums up Paul’s point this way:

“Paul has redefined the family of Abraham in two ways. First, he has opened it up so it contains Gentiles as well as Jews—specifically, Gentiles who believe in the gospel. Second, however, he has narrowed it down, so it no longer includes all Jews automatically” – N.T. Wright.

 

 

Summary:

As we stated at the beginning, Paul’s “but now” righteousness (Jesus) is way bigger than justification by faith.

  • To be connected to Jesus through faith is to be connected to Father Abraham.

 

This is crucial because…

  • This is how God has demonstrated that He has been faithful to His covenant and promises to Abraham.
    • For it was through Abraham that God promised to put things right.
  • This is how we receive the blessings due only to the covenant people of God.
  • This is how we are marked out as the people of God.
  • This is how we become one of the justified ungodly (vs. 5).
  • This is how the righteous divine activity in Jesus is connected to God’s “righteousing” in the past.

 

As Paul has said, Jesus’ is not a new righteousness of God…

  • He is the “but now” manifestation of God’s OT “righteousing”.
  • He had to be this or the Gospel falls to pieces.

 

 

Romans 3:25b-31 – Judgment & Vindication Righteousness

Romans 3:25b–31 (ESV) — 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. 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

 

Last week, we saw that Christ is the “but now” righteousness of God.

  • Yahweh’s righteousness as revealed in the OT now finds its center in Christ.
  • Therefore, the way to be put right or “righteoused” by God is to be joined to Christ through faith.
  • Christ is the only thing that brings the “none righteous” into righteousness.

 

In today’s text, Paul wants us to know something else about the “but now” righteousness of God.

  • We will highlight at least two things, one from verse 25b and one from verse 26.

 

 

Verse 25b:

25b This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

 

(1) God Hasn’t Winked at Sin:

Paul has been describing in detail the severity of humanity’s unrighteousness.

  • A number of weeks ago we saw how mankind is plagued with idolatry.
  • We saw a couple of weeks ago that there are “none righteous”.
  • And last week we saw that all have fallen short of God’s glory.

 

Naturally, a question arises concerning God’s character and His apparent wink at all this unrighteousness.

  • If it is so bad, why hasn’t He done what every Jew expected He would do – judge and vindicate?
  • Or more to the point, how does a crucified Messiah demonstrate God’s “divine faithfulness to covenant partners” – Robert Jewett.

 

Douglas Moo puts it like this:

  • Given the fact that there hasn’t been any judgment and vindication, “some aspect of God’s character” is “called into question” – Douglas Moo.
  • It appears that God has “treated sins in the past with less than full severity” – Douglas Moo.

 

But, Paul says that all of this “righteousing” through Christ “was to show” (vs. 25b) God has acted righteously both now (in Christ) and in the past.

  • God has not winked at sin.

 

First, God has acted righteously against sin.

  • He has done so by His “righteousing” of creation through Jesus.
  • Specifically, the justification, redemption, and propitiation Paul just spoke about in verses 24-25a.
  • Jesus’ work on the cross is how God has dealt with sin.

 

Secondly, given that in Christ sin has been dealt with, God’s actions prior to that weren’t negligent.

  • Paul says what God was doing was expressing “his divine forbearance” (vs. 25b) because he “passed over former sins” (vs. 25).
  • Divine forbearance” is “a holding back” or “temporary cessation” – BDAG.
  • Passed over” is “letting go unpunished” “former sins” – BDAG.

 

In other words, Paul concedes that before His “but now” righteousness, God did withhold judgment and vindication.

  • But this withholding was not a lack of divine activity.
  • It was, in fact, an intentional divine act on God’s part – it was righteousness and grace.

 

This echoes what Paul has already taught.

  • Romans 2:3–4 (ESV) — 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
  • God’s apparent inaction had a Gospel purpose.

 

Therefore, since Christ was always Plan A, God’s actions with “former sins” didn’t compromise God’s character.

“In the death of Jesus, God has shown himself (1) to be in the right in dealing properly and impartially with sin; (2) to be faithful to the covenant; (3) to have dealt properly with sin; and (4) to be committed to saving those who call out in helpless faith” – N.T. Wright.

  • “God’s righteous verdict against sinners has been meted out against the faithful Israelite, Israel’s representative: the Messiah, Jesus” – N.T. Wright.

 

Now on to the second thing Paul wants us to know about the importance of the “but now” righteousness of God.

 

 

Verse 26:

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.

 

(2) Future Judgment & Vindication Brought Into the Present:

But there is still a problem.

  • Through Christ’s work on the cross vindication and judgment did take place.
  • And even beyond that, through God’s divine activity on the cross, He has shown how He “can mercifully save people without compromising his justice” – Tom Schreiner.
  • Because in Christ, “the saving and judging righteousness of God meet” – Tom Schreiner.

 

However, there is still a sense in which vindication and judgment have not yet been completed.

  • The Jews were awaiting a day of judgment when Torah followers/Israel would be vindicated and the nations would be judged.
  • This was also the day from Daniel 12 when the righteous dead would be resurrected.
  • On this day, all of creation would be put right.

 

So how can Paul speak of the righteousness of a crucified Christ accomplishing anything, if this final vindication and judgment has not happened?

 

Paul’s answer is verse 26.

  • The “but now” righteousness of God was to show that this vindication and judgment (God’s righteousness/divine activity) has begun to happen “at the present time” (vs. 26).

 

Just like Jesus split resurrection history in two with His resurrection coming before the final resurrection.

  • As Paul says in 1 Corinthians, Jesus’ resurrection is the “first fruits” pointing to the believers resurrection.

 

So too has Jesus’ work on the cross split vindication and judgment history in two.

  • In the work of Christ, “The final judgment day has been brought forward into the middle of history” – N.T. Wright.
  • So that “those who put their own faith in God’s act in Jesus are marked out thereby as God’s people in the present” – N.T. Wright.
  • The result of this is that, “The promises made in the OT about the vindication of Israel have been fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ” – Tom Schreiner.

So vindication and judgment “is both present and future, for the future declaration seals the present reality” – Tom Schreiner.

 

This is why Paul can say God can be seen through Christ as…

  • just” and “justifier” of those in Christ.
  • In Christ there is both a present reality in effect and the certainty of a future reality.
  • In the future – the age to come – all things will be put right.
  • God will be shown as having been “just” and “justifier” both in Christ and in the “age to come”.
  • This includes a complete and final judgment and vindication.
  • Vindication of those in Christ.
  • Judgment of those under God’s wrath.

 

 

Vs. 27-31:

27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

 

Having shown us two very important implications of God’s “but now” righteousness, Paul turns his attention back to the inadequacy of the law and the impartiality of God.

 

Because of everything that the “but now” righteousness of Jesus is…

  • All boasting “is excluded” (vs. 27).
  • One’s entry into the house of the vindicated has nothing to do with one’s own efforts.
  • Remember, Paul has already said the works of the law stop the mouth.
  • They testify against us all.

 

Paul makes this clear when he says the exclusion of boasting is based on…

  • the law of faith” not “a law of works”.
  • It is faith in the “but now” righteousness that justifies not “works of the law” (vs. 28).
  • The “law of faith” is the deathblow to the “law of works”.

 

And importantly, it is this reason that vindication is open to Jew and Gentile.

  • As God’s covenant with Abraham indicated – God is not just the God of the Jews but the Gentiles.
  • God will “justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith” (vs. 30).

 

Does all this mean we then overthrow the law by this faith?”

  • Paul says, “By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.”
  • The law is not throne under the bus!

 

How can this be?

  • I love how N.T. Wright puts it.
  • He suggests that the law was taken by Israel and put to the wrong tune – the tune of works.
  • The law, he says, “was always designed to be sung to the tune called ‘faith’.” – N.T. Wright.
  • Sung to the right tune – faith – the law becomes a beautiful song of worship and gratitude.

 

Moreover, the law still is the thing that shows us what the straight line of God’s objective morality looks like.

  • “Righteousness apart from the law’s commands does not mean that believers can dispense with the moral norms of the law” – Schreiner.

 

Romans 3:21-25 – “But Now” Righteousness of God

Last week we saw the hopelessness of the unrighteous.

  • “Something has happened. The court was in session; all were standing guilty in the dock; what more could be done? But something had to be done” – N.T. Wright.

 

 

Romans 3:21–25a (ESV) — 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, 25a whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith

 

 

Verses 21-22a:

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.

 

God’s righteousness has a new manifestation.

  • Paul calls it the “but now” manifestation of God’s righteousness.
  • A righteousness “apart” from “the law” (for the Gentiles sake), but not severed from it – “the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it” (vs. 21).
    • Exodus from Egypt
    • Blood Sacrifice

 

What is this “but now” manifestation?

  • It is “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (vs. 22).

 

This is a remarkable statement!

  • The OT has been pointing forward to this ultimate promise fulfillment since Genesis.
  • “The OT itself promises again and again that God will fulfill his saving promises and looks forward to the day when they will become a reality” – Tom Schreiner.

 

And now Paul is reshaping the righteousness of God and its fulfillment around Jesus Christ.

  • Israel, as Paul taught, failed as “entrustees” of God’s righteousness.
  • There had to be a “but now” for God to be faithful!
  • The significance of this can’t be overstated.

 

In this context, how are we to understand this “but now” righteousness of God?

  • To get at the answer…
  • We need to remember what we have learned thus far about God’s righteousness.

 

God’s Righteousness:

We saw some weeks ago that God’s righteousness consists of…

  • God’s “…divine activity in which God vindicates his people” – Tom Schreiner.
  • This activity transforms and establishes right within all of creation – N.T. Wright.

“From God’s side, this includes his eschatological intervention to vindicate and deliver his people, in fulfillment of his promises. From the human side, it includes the status of acquittal acquired by the person so declared just” – Douglas Moo.

 

We found that this idea could be fleshed out as follows:

  • God’s righteousness is all of God’s saving work and activity in and for all of creation – promise fulfilling, covenant faithfulness, etc. – His saving righteousness.
  • This also included God’s wrath – His judging righteousness.
    • God’s holy wrath upon evil is part of putting things right.

 

Given all this we can see how Christ embodies the “but now” righteousness of God.

 

Jesus is the promise, and the promise fulfilled.

  • Jesus is now the inaugurator of the new covenant from Jeremiah 31.
  • Jesus’ death, resurrection and return are how all of creation will be put right.
  • Jesus’ work, righteousness and obedience (His faithfulness) are how God’s people will be vindicated.
  • Jesus’ work is how all of creation will be returned from Garden Exile.
  • Jesus’ return and subsequent judgment will fully and finally defeat death and evil.
  • And all of this “but now” righteousness of Christ connects directly to all that was anticipated in the OT.
  • To sum up… God is now “righteousing” creation through the risen Jesus Christ (and the Spirit).

 

I love how N.T. Wright sums this up:

“The faithful death of the Messiah unveils, before an unready and shocked world, the way in which the one true God has been true to the covenant [with Israel] and has thereby provided the answer to a world gone wrong, and to humans lost in sin and guilt” – N.T. Wright.

 

Through Faith:

God’s people are connected to this “but now” righteousness only “through faith in Jesus Christ” (vs. 22).

  • When we are joined to Christ “through faith” we are then “righteoused” by this “but now” righteousness of God.
  • It is not the law, circumcision, our conscience, culture, obedience, abstaining from alcohol, reaching out to the orphans and widows, or anything else that will “righteous” us.
  • We are only “righteoused” “through faith in Jesus Christ”.
  • And as Paul has made clear, we all need “righteousing” because none are righteous.

 

Rabbit Trail:

Given all this, what is the Gospel?

  • Is the Gospel “how we get to heaven”?
  • NO!

 

The Gospel is the good news that God is actively “righteousing” creation through the done work of Christ and the Spirit in fulfillment of OT expectations.

  • All the works of Christ – signs and wonders, teachings, the cross, the resurrection, His exaltation and Lordship – are ways God is “righteousing” creation.
  • All the works of the Spirit – drawing, regeneration, comforting – are ways God is “righteousing” creation.

 

These things are the Gospel!

  • And from them flow things like justification, sanctification, glorification and the ever popular “how we get to heaven”.

 

News Flash…this means that we are not the Gospel!

  • We can never forget that we are mere creatures in need of “righteousing”.
  • We, who are in Garden Exile, can never be the Gospel.

 

So if the Gospel is the “righteousing” work of God on creation through Christ and the Spirit…

  • How do we share it with our neighbor?
  • BTW – the answer to this is why I prefer to say, “speak” instead of “share” the Gospel.

 

 

Verses 22b-25a:

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.

 

As Paul unleashes the effects of this “but now” righteousness of God for the people of God, he alludes back to some previous themes.

  • there is no distinction” (vs. 22) alludes to God’s impartiality.
  • Jew and Gentile are in the same boat.
  • Everyone is in need of the “but now” righteousness of God.

 

Why?

  • all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (vs. 23).
  • Remember, all are “under sin” (vs. 19) – under sin’s power.
  • So it’s not just that we “have sinned”, but that under sin’s dominion (in Garden Exile) we can only “fall short of the glory of God”.

 

What does “fall short of the glory of God” mean?

  • Failed as image-bearers.
  • Failed as “entrustees”.

 

But just as “all have sinned” – Jew and Greek…

  • Also, all “are justified by his grace as a gift” (vs. 24) – both Jew and Greek.
  • So God’s impartiality extends to both judgment and justification.

 

Paul then expands on the “but now” righteousness of God that is Jesus Christ.

  • He does so by unleashing a bunch of “righteousing” words.
  • justified by his grace” (vs. 24)
  • redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (vs. 24)
  • propitiation by his blood” (vs. 25)

 

All of these are expressions of God’s righteousness in Jesus Christ!

  • his grace
  • in Christ Jesus
  • his blood

 

And even more incredible is that all of these demonstrate that…

  • Jesus Christ is God’s righteousness personified!
  • I suspect a mind blowing idea for the Jew.

 

So what do these “righteousing” words tell us?

 

Propitiation refers to the turning away of God’s wrath – His judging righteousness.

  • This is the idea that Christ bore the wrath of God in our stead while on the cross, thereby paying the penalty for our sins.
  • BTW – “The presence of propitiation does not exclude the concept of expiation. Both are present in 3:25. The death of Jesus removed sin and satisfied God’s holy anger” – Tom Schreiner.

 

Justification is a at least two things.

  • (1) It is how we are “declared to be in the right” before God – N.T. Wright.
  • We are declared “in the right” in God’s law court because Christ’s alien righteousness is imputed to us.
  • (2) But, importantly, justification also entails that our unrighteousness is put on Christ.

 

I do want us to notice something Paul adds to the idea of justification.

  • He says that we are justified “by his grace” (vs. 24).
  • Why doesn’t he say we are justified by being declared righteous in God’s law court?
  • Or we are justified by the imputation of Christ’s alien righteousness?

 

What Paul is doing here is showing that grace itself is part of God’s saving righteousness.

  • What motivated God’s saving righteousness toward creation to begin with?
    • Certainly, the answer is Love.
  • What has directed His saving righteousness towards you in particular?
    • Why are you “righteoused” by God and thus justified?
    • Certainly, the answer involves Grace.

 

So what is redemption?

  • Redemption is language that alludes to slavery or being captive.
  • Paul has told us that all are “under sin” (vs. 19).
  • We are all enslaved to sin and its power and dominion (6:6).
  • All of us are its captives and we need a new Exodus.

 

But the “but now” righteousness of God in Jesus Christ has redeemed us from this captivity and dominion.

  • Wright tells us that Paul means to tell us that Christ is our new Exodus.
  • God in Christ has paid the ransom on our behalf with His own life.
  • To be redeemed “in Christ Jesus” (vs. 24) is to have the chains of sin’s dominion over us smashed once for all.
  • But more than that, it is to be placed into the dominion of God’s “but now” righteousness.

 

So all of these words – justification, propitiation, redemption – are results of God’s divine activity of saving righteousness that is Jesus Christ.

  • They are all ways creation and we are “righteoused” by God.

 

It seems to me it would be more fitting to say, “I was righteoused by God” instead of, “I was saved by God”.

  • “Saved” just doesn’t seem to do justice to the enormity of God’s righteousness.