|Create Date||October 1, 2019|
|Last Updated||October 1, 2019|
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THE TWO WORDS AT THE HEART OF THE GOSPEL
Redhill. 22 September 2019. Presented by Gordon Green
The two words “But God” in the bible take you from the worst, most depressing news ever to the best news ever. For example; “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life” and “Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world ….” The words “but God” are like a stop-sign warning us to stop, look, listen, think and ask: “Why is God making a contrast now?” “What was God saying before the but and in which direction is He leading me now?” James Montgomery Boice: “If you understand those two words—’but God’—they will save your soul. If you recall them daily and live by them, they will transform your life completely.”
For over 60 verses in Romans we have one of the most depressing and discouraging sections in the Bible. It is a description of humanity in the grip of sin, doomed forever, hopeless. Everyone stands guilty before God. Paul says all have sinned. There is none righteous - no not one. But! Suddenly Paul shouts “But God!!” “But now God has shown us a way to make us right with Him without the law….” This is good news! Dr Leon Morris: “This section may be possibly the most important single paragraph ever written.” God has intervened. God has taken the initiative to save sinners and made us righteous in his sight. God has entered and he has brought about a righteousness that is very different from trying to be righteous by keeping the law. The righteousness of God is a gift. He makes you right before him. It is vital to know and understand this foundational truth.
Here Paul presents two more truths about righteousness - justification and redemption. God has declared us righteous based on what Jesus has done. You never have to wake up in the morning and wonder whether you are accepted. “I wonder whether God is with me today?” You never have to wonder “Was I good enough in the last hour? Does he still love me?” We never have to doubt that and live in agony and wonder whether we are accepted by God. So with righteousness it depends on God’s doing and not our doing. The word that describes this righteousness of God which we take by faith is “justify”. We have been justified. Vs24: “all are justified freely by his grace ….”
What does justify mean? Imagine a man in court and he is innocent. He stands before the judge. The judge determines that he is innocent so he acquits him. He justifies him. He treats him as if he is innocent. Now imagine you are brought to God’s court, before God. You are not innocent but guilty. But God justifies you. He treats you as if you are innocent. How can he do that? You are in the wrong. You have sinned. But God justifies. He treats you -acts as if- you are innocent. How? If you are guilty and I pronounce you innocent how can that be just? Let’s use the court example again. You are in court. You are the guilty one. The judge pronounces you guilty. But at the same time he takes off his robe and walks around and stands beside you and becomes your substitute. The sentence he has just given to you he takes on himself. God has judged us and at the same time entered into our humanity. He stood in our place, pushed us aside, and took the penalty that he had given and then treated us/ pronounced us as not guilty. He paid the penalty. Therefore he justifies you. Justified does not mean we have in our selves been made righteous people or that we are sinlessly perfect. When God pronounces me righteous and accepts me as if I have never sinned that does not mean I have personally been made into a perfectly righteous person. I have been declared righteous but not made into a righteous person. It means my sin has been placed to the account of another. To justify someone does not mean to make that person something but means to treat (reckon) them as such – so it doesn’t make you something it treats you as if you are something. You are made right with God in one single act.. It is once and for all. You will never be more right with God than you are now. What a relief! The moment you believe (trust, obey, submit) on Jesus Christ it is done (verse 22).
Justify describes our relationship with God in a sort of legal sense – thus the illustration of a law court. But now Paul uses another word - “redemption” (V24). What does redemption mean? First of all it’s the idea of a slave market. A slave is bought and then set free. The slave is redeemed. Before redemption we were slaves to sin (Romans6:17). A slave cannot do anything to get himself out of slavery. Someone must come and pay redemption money to buy him out. We have been brought out of slavery – we have been redeemed (v24). But there is a deeper meaning. The Hebrew idea of redemption is one of a relationship. This is critically important because many people see God as a judge who is interested in our behaviour before they see God as our Father who is interested in us. The Hebrew meaning for redeemer is kinsman-redeemer or relative redeemer. Hebrew families were very close. If I am a Hebrew and get into trouble it is my brothers responsibility to get me out of it (especially debt). He must get me out. The person who got me out of trouble was my redeemer. God is our redeemer. God entered into our humanity and became our brother - one of us. Then as our relative redeemed us out of the slave market and brought us into the family and we are now sons and daughters of God. And he is our elder brother. On the one hand it is a legal statement. Before the court of the universe we have been declared not guilty. Plus kinship God has laid down his life and paid the debt and brought us into the family of God. We have been redeemed.
So we have been delivered out of sin and darkness and come into the righteousness of God. We are declared righteous and we have been made a brother or sister of Jesus Christ our elder brother. And you can call God your father and know that you are his child because you have been redeemed. We can walk away today not worrying where we stand with God and rejoicing that we are justified, redeemed and we can walk in the newness of life - knowing we are right with God. God has brought us into the loving relationship that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit share. We were all in a hopeless situation but Jesus has changed everything. You are accepted. The father has embraced you and made you his own. Now embrace the new life that God has already made real for you in Jesus. Be the new person God has made you.