by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 3 Study # 4 June 28, 2005 Lincolnton, N.C.
(136)Thesis:Jesus Christ has done what no other man could do in providing a righteous standing for men before God.
Introduction:In our studies to this point we have focused upon the fact that it was the faith -- and, thus, the faithfulness -- of Jesus Christ that provided the foundation for a man to have a righteous standing before God. We have made much of the point that Paul made when he said that there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile as to their common humanity. Every Jew is a Gentile and every Gentile is a Jew when it comes to Paul's "point": man is universally enslaved to sin and the Law's impact upon the Jews is proof. What the Law said to those under it applies to everyone on the planet whether they ever heard of the Law or not. The whole world becomes guilty because of the Law's impact upon the Jews.
This evening we are going to pursue this issue of Jesus' provision of the "faith" and the "faithfulness" that enables God to give righteousness to those who believe His word of promise regarding the forgiveness of sins. To do so we are going to look at Paul's repetitive statement regarding man's plight and what he says about the grace of God in respect to that plight.
I. The Repetitive Statement.
A. All have sinned.
1. The Law was given to make this obvious.
2. The Law was not given to provide any remedy.
3. Thus all are under sin and, consequently, the wrath of God, without hope of any solution rooted in compensatory behavior by sinners.
B. All are bereft of the glory of God.
1. The problem is not simply that all have sinned.
2. The real problem is that all are bereft of the glory needed to both refrain from sin and engage in doing justly.
a. The problem is not minor (or even major) imperfections.
b. The problem is the absence of the necessary "glory" to get the job done.
II. The Grace-Provision of God.
A. Is identified as "justification".
1. What does it mean, then, to be "justified"?
a. There are two major "positions" on this issue.
1) The view of many within the pale of visible Christianity is that man's justification involves a kind of "infusing" of the glory of God in man so that he is no longer "bereft" of the necessary glory, and no longer incapable of "doing what is required". In effect, man is restored to the "unfallen Adam" condition...Jesus died for original sin to give us a second chance.
2) The view of Reformational Protestantism is that man's justification involves a decree of God in which He "posts" the righteousness of Jesus Christ to the "account" of every believer in Jesus. In effect, man is positioned "in" Jesus so that whatever He did is credited to those "in" Him and the actual actions of man either before, or after, his "justification" have nothing to "contribute".
b. There is no question that there will be no real erasure of "conflict" between God and men until men are actually "practicing" the righteousness of God.
1) Even if it be granted that "justification" alters God's attitude toward man from the "wrath" of "not My children" to the "mercy" of "My sons" (Romans 9:22-27), it still cannot be effectively argued that man's on-going sins do "nothing" in respect to generating conflict.
2) Nor can it be effectively argued that "justified man" no longer sins in the sense that men no longer do things that create conflict between them and God and between them and other men.
c. The question is this: does "justification" actually "erase" the conflict, or does it "only" lay the foundation for the eventual erasure of that conflict?
1) In the light of the biblical and historical reality that man continues to sin beyond the point of his justification, we can only say that justification lays the foundation for eventual success.
2) It is impossible, then, to claim that justification actually accomplishes the erasure of conflict.
d. The answer, then, to our question of what it means to be "justified" is that it means that a person has been placed "into" Jesus Christ so that He is both Author and Finisher of the process that ultimately brings all of the children of God to the exercise of the glory of God.
1) This means that "justification" is not an "infusing of Jesus into man so that man becomes a possessor of the glory needed to empower godly actions" but an "implanting of man into Jesus so that man becomes a possessor of the consequences of the actions of Jesus on his behalf".
2) This does not mean that there is nothing else that occurs that addresses the need of man for the glory of God; it only means that justification is not that somethingelse. There are actually more than 35 different things that occur at the point when a man is reconciled to God. Justification is the "bottom line" and "first fundamental change" that occurs in respect to man's standing before God. It fundamentally addresses the "wrath" of God and effectively turns it aside.
B. Is communicated "freely".
1. Paul calls it "a thing done freely".
a. The meaning of "freely" boils down to "without a cause that is rooted in the one to whom/for whom a thing is done."
1) John 15:25 highlights this meaning.
2) 2 Corinthians 11:7 also highlights this meaning.
3) Galatians 2:21 ties this meaning to the idea of "unnecessarily" -- there was not only no "necessity" in man; there was also no "necessity" in the condition of man.
b. This absolutely erases any sense of "necessity" rooted in any kind of "obligation" in God because of some "leverage" man possesses over Him.
1) In the context, Paul is not saying that when a man "believes" God, God comes under no "obligation" (integrity carries its own "obligations").
2) Rather, he is saying that man has no "legal" foundation for expecting that God "should" or "ought" or "must" grant him a decree of justification.
2. Paul calls it "a thing done by grace".
a. Because of Romans 4:4 and 11:6, many have simply made "freely by His grace" a kind of redundant repetition.
b. But, though related, "freely" and "grace" are not the same thing.
1) "Freely", as already observed, overlaps "grace" as Romans 4:4 and 11:6 declares, but its focus is upon the absence of "humanly imposed necessity".
2) "Grace", on the other hand, though having connections with the absence of humanly acquired leverage on God, is really more about who is doing the producing than it is about why it is being produced. The "grace of God" is "God in action, doing for another what 'necessity' requires". In a sense, "grace" is the unmerited action of God to bring good into play. In this sense, the "unmerited" aspect is the overlap with "freely", but the real issue is that God has taken on the problem so that incompetent man can really have the desired result as Romans 4:16 brings to light. Grace makes the promise sure because the fulfillment is God-dependent, not man-dependent.
3. And then, Paul says it is "a thing done by the agency of the redemption which Jesus Christ provided".
a. The genitive form of "redemption" is commented on by A.T. Robertson (page 582 of A Grammar of the Greek New Testament) in respect to the word "through" when he says "...the agent is conceived as coming in between the non-attainment and the attainment of the object in view." What this means is that Paul saw the redemption which Jesus provided as coming between the non-attainment of a righteous standing before God on the basis of Law and the actual attainment of such a standing on the basis of Grace. It was the redemption that stepped between the hopelessness of human performance of Law and the hopefulness of Christ's performance in Grace.
b. The "redemption" issues are at least two...
1) Primary to "redemption" is the "deliverance" that is accomplished. This deliverance is in view of a "bondage" (as per Romans 3:9's "under sin"). This focus is in view in Hebrews 11:35; Ephesians 1:14; and Romans 8:23.
2) Primary also to "redemption" is the "method" of that deliverance: the payment of a price placed upon those who are bound. The "price" is referred to by the Scriptures as "the blood of Christ".