Now for the Good News! (Romans 3:21–31)
If you take them alone, most of the first three chapters of Romans can seem kind of bleak. Paul is essentially telling his readers that keeping the law of God even to the very letter isn';t going to do them any good when it comes to being truly righteous — not to mention truly saved.
But the apostle isn';t going to leave his readers hanging over a pit of despair. He has set them up to see the beauty and wonder of God';s plan of salvation for Jew and Gentile alike, a plan that has nothing to do with keeping the law or with our own acts of goodness: “But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are” (Romans 3:21–22).
Paul has gone to great pains to establish the fact that all men and women — no matter what their background, ethnic heritage, or religious pedigrees — are sinners on their way to eternity in hell. “For all have sinned; all fall short of God';s glorious standard,” he summarizes (Romans 3:23), then concludes, “Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God';s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us” (Romans 3:24–25).
One of the key themes in Paul';s letter to the Romans is the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ. That phrase appears in Romans sixteen times in all, compared with twenty-six times in the four Gospels. That is one of the reasons this book has been referred to as the Gospel according to Paul.
This passage brings to mind a courtroom scene in which each of us as individuals stand absolutely 100 percent guilty before God. We not only don';t have adequate defense, we have no defense at all. God is well within His rights to pronounce judgment on us, but His Son, Jesus, steps between the Father and us and pronounces us not guilty. Yes, we';ve sinned, but because Jesus willingly took the punishment for our sins on the cross, God sees us as pure and sinless.
Some people may believe that God judges people on a scale that weights the good things we';ve done against the bad things we';ve done. If the good outweighs the bad, then we';ve punched our own ticket into heaven.
However, Paul points out that this kind of thinking is completely wrong and backward: “Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds. It is based on our faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law” (Romans 3:27–28).
That';s the Good News in a nutshell: Each of us is guilty — guilty as sin, as it were. But because of God';s incredible graciousness and mercy, we are made right with Him. And that';s not because of anything we are or anything we do. It';s all because of who God is and what He is like.
According to Romans 3:24:, on what basis does God save sinners?
According to Romans 3:25, what exactly did Jesus do in order to bring salvation to those who believe in him?