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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Gospel of God's Grace # 3

A Study of the Epistle to the Romans

Salvation: The Divine Method of Justification

Romans 3:21-31

"But now" marks a great transition. Those two words, "but now" make a great difference. They form a favorite expression with Paul. In his epistles he may at times paint the blackest picture possible and then say, "But now." (see Eph. 2:11-13 and 1 Co. 15:16-20). "But now" is his particular phrase for making the transition from a dark, gloomy picture to something wonderful God does for us. Paul has the whole world standing with nothing to say before the judgment bar of God. "But now."

This section is the very heart of the book of Romans. For this reason, all Christians ought to memorize verses 21-26. If someone should ask me, "Brother McClain, if you could have just six verses out of the Bible, and all the rest taken away, which would you take?", I would select these six verses. All of God's gospel is there, and in a way found nowhere else in the Word of God.

In order to get an outline, look at verse 21, "the righteousness"; verse 22, "even the righteousness"; verse 25 (about the middle), "to declare His righteousness";  the beginning of verse 26, "to declare ... His righteousness." Four times the word "righteousness" is mentioned in this passage.

Another concept in this passage also appears: verse 24, "being justified"; verse 26, "and the justifier." This term also appears four times.

So we have "righteousness" occurring four times and forms of the verb "justify" used four times. While in the English these two words do not look alike, in the Greek they are practically the same word (dikaiosune - righteousness; dikaioo - justify). The first two syllables are exactly the same; they come from the same root and both emphasize the idea of righteousness.

Righteousness is the key, as it were, to this whole section, and using that idea, this outline emerges: 1. righteousness provided (vv. 21-22); 2. righteousness needed (v 23, also a phrase in v. 22); 3. righteousness bestowed (v. 24, when God gives it to us); and 4. righteousness declared (vv. 25-26).

There is the main section of the passage. The concluding verses (27-31) constitute the conclusion and contain three questions: 1. "Where is boasting then?" (v. 27; 2. "Is He the God of the Jews only?" (v 29); 3. "Do we then make void the law through faith?" (v. 31).

Righteousness Provided

About this righteousness that God provides, seven observations may be made:

This Righteousness Is of God 

Back in the first chapter Paul mentioned righteousness in verses 16 and 17. In the eighteenth verse, he started on condemnation and said no more about God's righteousness again until the third chapter. Now he takes it up again. He had mentioned righteousness in the first chapter for our encouragement, before plunging into that dark section on condemnation.

So this righteousness is from God. This righteousness is not the righteousness that designates God's character. That particular kind of righteousness appears in the latter part of the passage, where Paul says, "To declare God's righteousness." But this righteousness is God's gift. It is the righteousness that He gives through the gospel and works out through the Cross. At the end of this passage, Paul then turns to God's character. God is righteous at the same time He "gives" righteousness to man.

Righteousness Without the Law

The word "without" is a very, very strong word in the Greek. It means "absolutely apart from." It is the same word used in Hebrews 4:15, speaking of Jesus Christ, "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin," absolutely apart from sin. Law has nothing to do with this righteousness; it is not a legal righteousness in any sense of the word. Above all things, remember that!

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 33 - "This Righteousness is Witnessed to By the Law")

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