“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation 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; it was to prove at the present time that He Himself is righteous and that He justified Him who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26

Paul has spent the first verses of Romans explaining how both the gentiles and Jews are lost. There is no hope because they cannot save themselves. Then just as hope is fleeing from his readers he writes, “but now.” In those two simple words our world is turned upside down and we go from discouragement to joy.

These verses are the key to understanding the Book of Romans. Here righteousness by faith is outlined so clearly and definitively that only the most hardened of legalists could miss it. Paul begins by presenting the great truth of Scripture that righteousness is of God and not of us.  Furthermore, this righteousness is apart from the law. We never become righteous but are declared righteous by the grace of God and not on the basis of our good deeds or works. In fact he makes it clear that both the law (the first five books of the Bible) and the prophets (the prophetic books) testify that our salvation is not based on works but on the grace of God.

The flip side of the coin is that the prophets and law not only testified that we are not saved by works but declare that our salvation is based upon our faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. Paul couldn’t be clearer than that. My heart breaks every time a Christian tells me they are not sure of their salvation. I want to put my arms around them and plead with them to read and reread Romans 3:21-26 until the Gospel is so entrenched in their minds that they will never doubt Jesus again.

If you believe that works has a role to play in your life in regards to salvation then you have rejected grace. We live a Christian life because of grace not in order to receive grace. Notice that because we are all sinners (cannot do anything to save ourselves), and fall short of God’s glory then we are justified by His grace and please notice it is a gift. And that redemption is through Jesus Christ who became our substitute and carried our sins to the cross that we might carry His righteousness into the Kingdom of Heaven.

God’s plan of salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. There are almost two hundred verses that use the words believe or faith as the only condition of salvation. Think about that. It is no accident that God stresses belief and faith to such a degree in Scripture because He wants it to get through our thick heads that we are not saved by works but through the sacrificial death of Christ.

We need to recognize that we are saved through faith and not by faith. Faith is merely the means. It is Jesus that is the focus of our salvation, and our faith is in what Jesus did for us. The amount of our faith isn’t what is important but the object of our faith – Jesus is the focus of our salvation. Everyone who puts his or her faith in Jesus thus enters into salvation.

When you come to Christ you do not come to give, you come to receive the gift. You and I don’t come to Christ based on our good life or our trying our best but we come to trust. As someone wrote, “you don’t come to be helped, but to be rescued. You don’t come to Christ to be made better but to be made alive.”

Paul continues by stating that, “through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by His blood, to be received by faith.” Bible.org explains expiation this way, “The word expiation begins with the prefix ex, which means “out of” or “from.” Expiation means to remove something. In biblical theology it has to do with taking away or removing guilt by means of paying a ransom or offering an atonement. It means to pay the penalty for something. Thus, the act of expiation removes the problem by paying for it in some way, in order to satisfy some demand. Christ’s expiation of our sin means that He paid the penalty for it and removed it from consideration against us.”

Our sin problem was removed by the grace of God because Jesus became the ransom for us and paid the price of the ransom in His blood that we might be set free from the penalty and guilt of sin. That is good news and it is why we Christians must fight legalism and law keeping as a form of salvation wherever it raises its ugly head. If we accept anything that says we have merit in our salvation we belittle and make of no importance the unique atonement Jesus made on our behalf.

God loves us and gave His all for us so why do we wish to belittle that sacrifice by thinking our puny actions and deeds somehow have merit. We put our trust in Jesus and there we find our rest and assurance.

* Please remember in prayer those who are persecuted for their Christian faith. Go to  http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ for updates on persecution of Christians