The theme of the book of Romans is summed up in the following verses, “for I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.” Romans 1:16, 17 There are many misconceptions about what exactly faith is and how it relates to us. Faith is not something that is generated from within us or something that we develop through hard work. Faith is a gift God gives us as we contemplate the great sacrifice Jesus gave to us through His death at Calvary. If we studied into what Jesus went through, the absolute torture and humiliation of the cross, our hearts would be broken. We would find ourselves at the foot of the cross in never ending thankfulness for His love.
Faith is the natural response of the heart to God for His amazing love. Take a minute, after you read this post, to view at the music clip Blessed Redeemer – Casting Crowns, (found under Check it Out) to catch a glimpse into the crucifixion. It wasn’t just Jesus who died on that cross. Paul remarks, “One died for all, and therefore all died.” 2 Corinthians 5:14 When Jesus died on Calvary’s cross, we died with him. We died “in him,” and the result is that our sins are forgiven and forgotten. We stand as redeemed men and women safe in the security of God’s abounding love and compassion.
The word justification means to be declared righteous. It is God saying I account you as if you never sinned. When we keep focused on God’s love for us, we are forgiven of every sin. Nothing is held against us, nor is there anything that would disqualify us from eternity. So we believe as Paul, the righteous shall live by faith. The Christian life is to keep focused on Christ and not on performance.
As Christians we are not to spend our life looking inward dwelling on our failures. The reality is that we fall short and don’t live up to perfect faith, trust or obedience. If we focus on our performance, we will always be discouraged. Jeremiah writes, “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (17:9) That’s why the Cross is such good news. Instead of struggling to be something that we can never obtain, we surrender our broken hearts to Christ for mending. We are declared righteous by the grace of God and our faith is the simple response to the truth of our salvation. With Easter just around the corner, it’s good for us to reflect upon the cross and its true meaning. Through the cross we recognize our failings and sins and turn by faith to Jesus. We put our trust in Him and His promise of forgiveness and salvation. When we accept His sacrifice, Paul says it is as if we also hung on that cross. We are made new, given a new life filled with promise and hope. Our sins are forgiven, buried and forgotten by God. When the old nature pops up, as it always will, remember, you are redeemed. Nothing can, ”snatch you,” away from God when you trust in Calvary’s love.
It is easy to see why Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel, God’s gift to an undeserving humanity. God’s grace points us to the cross, where faith fills the heart, and sins are forgiven. No beating yourself into submission, no pilgrimages, no working your way to heaven, just pure grace accepting you as you are. Now that’s love.