Romans 3:21 – 26 — “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”
A man with a record of his life that he was perfect and upright, that he feared God, and eschewed evil, had to ask the question, “How should a man be just with God?” (Job 9:2)
The precious words that the Apostle Paul said leading up to these life giving words were words of indictment against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of man. All are guilty. All are concluded under sin. There is none righteous, no, not one.We should surely, before going on in our study of Romans, look back at this awful indictment and God’s own declaration of how we stand before Him.
Romans 1:18 — “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness…”
Romans 2:12 — “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law…”
Romans 2:24 — “For the Name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written.”
Romans 3:9 – 10 — “What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one…”
Romans 3:19 – 20 — “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
It is against this background that the apostle begins to state fully the gospel of Christ that he previously said was “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16).
It is now that God reveals His righteousness without the law. We truly need His righteousness without the law, because by the law, we, along with Job, can only answer with the same rhetorical question, “how should a man be just with God”, knowing of a truth that we ourselves, by God’s own witness against us, that we are guilty and stand in condemnation.
“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed…” (Romans 1:17). It is there, in the gospel of Christ, that God reveals His righteousness, and it is apart from the law. It is “by faith of Jesus Christ”, and it is unto all — remember that it, the gospel of Christ, is the power of God unto salvation to the Jew first and also to the Greek. It is a message of good news from God to all men without exception or distinction. Those who would limit the reach of the power of the gospel, have not let these words sink deeply into their ears, nor these:
Titus 2:11 — “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men…”
Theologians find a need to separate “common grace” from “saving grace” because they know that every man is not saved; yet “the grace of God that bringeth salvation” has appeared to all men. Is this not the very definition of “saving grace”?
But as our Lord “came unto His own, and His own received Him not” (John 1:11), so all those to whom God is offering His righteousness freely, without a cause, by His grace, do not receive it. Why do they not? Is it because grace has failed, or because they did not receive the “irresistible grace” needed to be regenerated to believe the gospel, or is it because of this:
John 3:19 — “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
Remember, men do resist the Holy Ghost, as they did in the past, as Stephen declared to the Jews in the synagogue of the Libertines:
Acts 7:51 — “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.”
Yet we must remember too, that those who hold to “universal reconciliation”, or even “universal salvation”, also have this wrong: for it is truly unto all, but only upon all them that believe. As truly as “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”, so also is the righteousness of God offered as a gift to all who have sinned. But God is not the justifier of all; He is just, and the justifier of all that believe in Jesus! The offer is to all! The free gift of grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus is only given in actuality to those who believe. It is the righteousness of God from faith to faith — from the faith of Jesus Christ unto all who believe, or have faith in Jesus Christ.
Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but Romans 5 opens with the words “Therefore, being justified by faith”. We must keep this firmly in mind as we come to the end of Romans 5. In 5:17, the apostle speaks of those “who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness”. Who are they? They are those who are justified by faith, as we are now speaking of that gift righteousness that is unto all, but only upon all them that believe. It is upon all these that the free gift came upon unto justification of life. The offer is truly unto all, as the grace of God that brings salvation, or saving grace, has appeared unto all men; but it is only upon all that believe.
All have sinned, as is summed up in 3:23, and as the apostle declares in the first 2½ chapters, but the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth! Let us have all of this statement firmly grasped in our hearts: it is truly to every one … that believeth. No one is excluded from the offer, but no one is included in the realization of the offer that does not believe the gospel.
How should a man be just with God? By believing the gospel of Christ, and by believing, accepting the free justification by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. There is no other way whatsoever. All other attempts only leave the sinner under condemnation, for all have sinned. ALL have sinned. All HAVE SINNED, and because of this, the wrath of God is revealed; but because of God’s love to this world of sinners, He set forth Christ to be a propitiation, the place where God will meet and commune with sinners, through faith in the blood of Christ. Now what is the gospel by which we are saved?
CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS. This is in accordance with the Scriptures, for without the shedding of blood, there is no remission (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22). He was buried, showing full proof that He was surely dead, and the blood was shed. And He rose again, vindicated, with justification of life, that all who are in Him are truly saved, because in Him is life! Christ risen is our justification, and all who believe are justified from all things, from which we could not be justified by the law of Moses (Acts 13:39). That law only condemns, and no flesh will be justified by it. But God’s grace does justify all who believe, so the only question is where do you stand? Do you believe, and therefore stand justified, or do you disbelieve, and therefore stand condemned? It is that simple!
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved!