Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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The Righteousness of God Through Faith – Romans 3:21-26

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The Righteousness of God Through Faith – Romans 3:21-26 – 02/21/2016

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

This is a series in the book of Romans, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills. Let’s start in verse 21 of chapter 3…

V21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—

Paul continues in the letter to the Roman church by discussing the revelation of righteousness, Paul finishes talking about the judgment of God in verse twenty to the coming justification in verse twenty one. Even the words used are beautiful. Paul starts by saying “but now” talks about the change between the Law and the New Covenant. Paul ties the new work in Jesus Christ with the work that began in the beginning from God as a continuing work that was shown through the Law and the prophets.

The two works are not separate but the new Covenant built upon the work that the Law and Prophets began, which is why they bear witness to it. As stated in the last article, the law has no ability to save us but it does illuminate God’s perfect standard to show the righteousness that God has as his standard and how attainable it is for us to do on our own.

Which is why we required the saving work of the cross of Jesus Christ, we needed that to bridge the gap between man and God. Paul goes on to say…

V22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:

And this is the point of what Paul is saying is that the righteousness of God is only through faith in Jesus Christ for those who believe. We get this through faith as opposed by faith. It is not something that can be earned it is something that is received freely and abundantly by a benevolent God and he makes it available to all those who believe, we have to have faith that Jesus Christ died for our sins and made a way for us to go to heaven. Pal states there is no distinction because although we have righteousness not earned by works but given by grace, it is still righteousness and it came from God.

This is in stark contrast to the last article that stated that “no-one was righteous” and if we were to end Paul’s message there then the message of Christianity would be no less true because of what Paul is about to state in verse 23…

V23 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. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

…However that is not the end of the story, yes we are guilty under God’s perfect standard, even if it is just in thought Jesus calls us guilty, let’s look at what Jesus says about your thought life…

Matthew 5:21 (ESV) “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

So if it is in your thought life, if you look upon a woman with lust in your heart and keep that in your heart and ponder after it until you are having a thought life affair then you are in sin? What if you don’t actually “do the crime?” I say that according to the word of God – absolutely!

We are all starting off from the same sinful state; we have a hereditary sinful nature that was passed down all the way from Adam. Just as universal and as all-encompassing is that statement the remedy is the same. We all start off from the position of separation from God and we all have the same opportunity to reconcile with God. This is a sobering thought that we all start from that same position regardless of the severity of our sin, we are at the same position as the murderer, the rapist, the multiple felon, the man on death row and should we not choose to take that free gift of salvation we will end up in exactly the same place, regardless of how moral we are down here.

We are justified freely by his grace as a gift and many “health, wealth and prosperity” preachers teach they end it there, they fail to observe the second part of the sentence “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” and that is the reason for the free gift is that it was paid for us by the next part “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” Jesus is the reason for the faith, he is the centerpiece in all that we do and we know that we are redeemed through his sacrifice on the Cross where he volunteered to come to earth to bridge that gap between man and God. Let’s look at what Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians regarding this…

1st Corinthians 6:19 (ESV) Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

We were bought with a price and that price was Jesus death which he gladly paid and if you were the only one who was ever going to accept him as their messiah he would still have done the same. We were redeemed and that price was Him. God passes over all of our past sins because of His blood and God shows his perfect forbearance that he was righteous.

V26 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.

To sum up what Paul is saying is that Jesus was a sacrifice (propitiation) instead of us, he was judged in our place to allow God the Father to remain righteous in making a judgment against sin and allowing him to judge those who rejected his “Get out of Hell free” card (quoting a Monopoly analogy. He made the atonement, punishment for our sins because we could not pay the debt on our own. He was the ultimate Passover lamb (Exodus 12) who instead of saving the firstborn of a house be was there to save the people of the world from their sins.

As stated in verse 23, we all deserve judgment, and God would be no less just had he consigned all of mankind to die in their sins, however God loves his creation and set in motion the Jewish temporary system of atonement by animal sacrifice until the messiah came and gave a permanent sacrifice when he went to die at Calvary and satisfied the desire for justice to be served and mercy to be shown because of the ultimate sacrifice.

Lord willing, in our next article in Romans we will continue to look at chapter 3 verses 27-31 where we look at whether we are justified by the Law of works or whether we are justified by faith. We also look at where the Gentiles fit in and whether God is God of the Jews only … I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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The ACTS Files – Acts 2:14-21 – Peter’s Sermon (Part one)

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The ACTS Files – Acts 2:14-21 – Peter’s Sermon (Part one) – 02/01/2016

Acts 2:14 (ESV) But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: 17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article is part one in a three part series of verses which are collectively called “Peter’s Sermon”. I personally love these verses because it shows the work done in the life of the Apostle Peter from when he denied Christ at Passover to this dynamic preacher at Pentecost. (Time elapsed was less than two months!) My prayer is that I present these scriptures in a manner that is edifying and worthy of the God I wish to serve. Let’s look at these in a line by line and verse by verse format starting in verse fourteen…

V14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.

Peter is being dynamic here, he is standing with the eleven and as we know from our studies in Acts ten of these guys got one to one discipleship with the Messiah Jesus Christ and although he stands as representative of the disciples as a whole, we also observe that he is the only one who is speaking. I am encouraged by this as God truly does use the talents that are prevalent in our natures for his glory. Peter was always one to be forward at speaking out and now at the birth of the Christian church he is the one who has courage where courage was not there and this man was truly sticking his neck out in what could be a hostile environment by raising his voice and drawing attention to the message he was about to preach.

We see that now that Peter is speaking the speaking in tongues have ceased, God is not a God of confusion and the Holy Spirit is working through Peter in what he is about to say. Peter is proclaiming this good news like a town crier, he is asking for quiet (give ear to my words) and is about to say something that is going to be culturally challenging for the recipients.

V15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.

You have to understand that Peter is in such a large area that while it is not impossible that he may have heard this being said with his own ears it is more likely that it was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit. The place was loud, it was noisy and Peter’s group was already attracting attention because of the utterance of tongues.

You will remember the last time I spoke on this was the blog that was titled “We know our wine is strong but it’s only 9’oclock” the assumption was that that the disciples were drunk when in fact they were empowered by the Holy Spirit. Peter uses the time of day to show the improbability of them in fact being drunk. In fact most Jews did not begin eating at that time until around the third hour of the day so culturally it would be unusual for them to be drunk at that hour.

V16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: 17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Peter backs up what he says with scripture, I find that awesome! Just like any preacher worth note he quotes the word of God as the source for his doctrine. In this case Peter quotes from Joel 2:28-32 and this is a great model for the church today, in the midst of the Holy Spirit working Peter shows great discernment to have a bible study, open the word and let’s keep it biblical. Often times in the modern church we try to be either “too spirit filled” or be too “biblically based” and in my view it should not be one or the other. We should have that good balance.

If I was choosing a perfect church that ticks all my boxes, I would choose one that does line by line teaching, is missional, invests, disciples, mentors and equips its members for the work of the ministry and is rich in spirit and rich in love where the believers live out their faith on a daily basis. I believe this is the example that Peter was setting out here.

Peter quotes a passage which believes that they were in the “last days” and although this was done some 2000 years ago, we still have that confidence today. I will make no rash promises of knowledge on when the messiah is returning, all I know with assured confidence is that we are closer today that we were yesterday.

Peter explains that the prophet Joel speaks of the Holy Spirit being poured out on the flesh and that was the beginning of that fulfillment, we will see the full fulfillment when Christ returns. Peer uses this to bring people to the truth of Jesus Christ (v21) to a group of people that could have called him a liar of it was not true, we are only talking less than 2 months after the crucifixion. We can be assured that the truth is the same today, we have to call on the name of the LORD and we will be saved. That is the beginning of a relationship with your messiah Jesus Christ.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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TTE Advent Calendar Day Twenty – December 20th

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TTE Advent Calendar Day Twenty – December 20th

Thank you for reading our twentieth installment of our advent series, please check out our advent page for more articles in this series.

Today we look at the prophecy that the messiah would not have his bones broken. We read this is the book of Exodus chapter 12 which talks of the Passover lamb…

Exodus 12:43 (ESV) And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the statute of the Passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, 44 but every slave that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him. 45 No foreigner or hired worker may eat of it. 46 It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. 49 There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.”

I chose this verse to show a comparison between the temporary sacrifice that the Jews were doing in preparation for the messiah coming. The Passover lamb was a sacrifice and a way for the children of Israel to outwardly show that they were following God.

In the recent movie “Son of God” there was a beautiful picture of the Passover lamb being sacrificed in the temple as the Lamb of God was being sacrificed on the cross at Calvary. The very people who were the ones carrying the lamb into the temple were also the very ones who had condemned Jesus to death by crucifixion. It was a beautiful comparison and one of the highlights of the movie.

I loved to see it but I lamented as I realized the point that the moviemakers were making that they were so ritualized and so in tune with keeping their traditions that the very ones who should have recognized the messiah first, were the very ones who were calling for his death.

The idea of Passover

Passover was instituted as a sign of faith to God from the children of Israel, an outward sign in a foreign country that they were identifying with God. Talk about nailing your colors to the mast huh? Being slaves in Egypt, this would not have been a very safe thing to do.  This is why they stated that no foreigners should eat it, it was not to be defiled and it should only have been eaten by those who were of the faith in your family or anyone who had been circumcised into the faith.

Passover was to deliver them from slavery in Egypt, it was important that the lamb used was a firstborn, without spot or blemish and without broken bones. What a wonderful picture of the messiah Jesus Christ, the Lamb who was going to deliver them out of slavery not from Egypt but of sin and into a permanent relationship with God the Father. We see further prophetic proof in Psalms thirty four:

Psalm 34:20 (ESV) He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.

We see that this verse is quoted in John nineteen. (As seen below)

John 19:31 (ESV) Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not  remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. 36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”

This was unusual of the day, normally the protocol was that they would break the legs of the deceased. I have heard a few reasons why, some commentators state it was in case the criminals were taken from the cross barely alive and could escape. I find difficulty with this as I have issue with being able to escape after surviving scourging and being hung to asphyxiate to death that they would be able to prop themselves up and escape.

Whatever the reason I take great comfort in the fact that God was in control of the proceedings. I know that the Romans who took the decision to pierce his side to see the blood and water hitting the ground were not proficient in Jewish religious prophecy. That tells be that even although they had no idea that they were playing a part, they were being used by God to fulfill prophecy.

God also knew the calendar (and in fact wrote time itself!) and knew that because of the strict Sabbath laws (that he put in place) that the body of Jesus would not hang on the cross over the Passover weekend. I find it wonderful that it was the Jewish leaders who asked for the real Passover lamb to come down to allow them to begin their rituals.

We have to be careful as Christians that we don’t replace Jesus for religion or rituals. We have to come with our contrite and repentant heart and keep ourselves in constant communion with our Savior. Christianity is supposed to be a relationship as opposed to an empty religion.

We are the only ones who believe that God loved us so much that he sent his firstborn and apple of his eye to die to save us all. All other religions are about the adherents trying to appease or keep sweet an angry deity.

Psalm 22:17 (ESV) I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me;

David when he writes about this also realizes that despite all of his scars and near death experiences he is not suffering from broken bones. This is near prophecy, but in the life of Christ we see that this has far reaching prophecy, this was written over half a century prior to Jesus being born in Bethlehem.

Jesus ties up the Passover (Exodus 12) he is that lamb without spot, without blemish. He is sinless and died a criminal’s torturous death in order to set us free from our sins. He did not have his bones broken and he could see the people below mocking him. Being both God and man he was also the only one who could fulfill this prophecy.

Jesus said in John 14:6 that “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (ESV) He is the only way to heaven and the only way to have your sins forgiven and restore communion with your creator.

Jesus went through all this so we can go to heaven, although that decision is ours, we have to choose to follow Jesus. My hope is that these articles help and please contact me if you need to discuss further.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE