Friday, April 19, 2013

God's Power to Save - Even Me

The book of Romans in the Bible is one of my favorite portions of Scripture because in it the gospel of Jesus Christ is so clearly and logically laid out.  This article today is based on a study I call Truths for Meditation and comes from Romans 1:16-17; 3:21-27. So what I'm hoping to accomplish here is not so much to go through this passage as a lesson to be learned, but as truth that will build us up and sustain us in our walk of faith. It would be helpful to have your Bible open to this passage since I won't be quoting it in its entirety.

Paul writes that the gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. One has to almost stop at each word in order to grasp what this is saying. The basic hunger of the human heart is for salvation. Death is seen by most people as an enemy and even life has so many challenges that people want to be assured of a rescue, if not now then certainly after death. Where is that rescue to be found and who is eligible? What the Bible is saying is that the power to save us is found in the good news of Jesus Christ. This saving power is available to everyone, everyone who believes. There's no limit.

The reason that the gospel is the power of God for salvation is that the gospel reveals the righteousness of God. This phrase, "righteousness of God" is repeated several times in this passage. God is perfect and perfectly righteous. That means that He never does anything wrong. All of His motives are perfectly right. All of His decisions and actions are perfectly right. In comparison to God we fall way short of His perfections. The Bible calls that sin.

How does the gospel reveal the righteousness of God? Let me explain it this way. If I can say it respectfully, God has a "problem". He loves us. God does not want any of us to perish. But on the other hand He is so perfect and righteous that He cannot just overlook sin. He can't be like a kind, gentle grandfather who simply overlooks his grandson's misbehavior. He must punish sin. So what the gospel shows is that God is so loving and yet so intent on punishing sin that he entered the world Himself in the person of Jesus Christ and took the punishment that His righteousness demanded so that He would be "free" to justly release sinners from their death sentence. That is what verse 3:26 is saying.

The gospel is the good news that God is righteous, but He applied that righteous judgment on Himself rather than on His creatures. But the gospel is also the message that God gives His righteousness to all who believe. In other words, it's not enough just to have our punishment taken by someone else. We also need to be positively righteous. God is basically saying, "I've taken the punishment you deserve. The condemnation has been removed if you will believe me and trust me.  In addition, I will give you my righteousness, my perfection as a gift if you will accept it." Here's the way Paul puts it in the passage we are looking at:  "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe." Romans 3:21, 22

In 2 Corinthians 5:21 he says it this way, "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

It almost sounds too good to be true doesn't it?  To think that on judgment day, God would look up your record and on it He would find no sins, and then as He looks more closely to see what good things you have done He would find that you have been perfectly loving, perfectly others-focused, perfectly thankful, and so on. Why?  Because your sinful record has been replaced by God's perfect righteousness.  Believing this is what saves, not just believing in general. We are asked to believe the record that God has given of His Son, and trust His method of salvation. In doing so, all of the benefits of the power of the gospel will be ours.

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