Justification

Justification

A Study of the Concept 

A Study of Romans 3:19-31

Elder Jeff Winfrey, Pastor

Dawson Springs Primitive Baptist Church

101 East Walnut Street

Dawson Springs, KY 42408

Preface to the Study 

Justification is a very misunderstood concept.  It often seems that no one has a Biblical grasp on the subject.  Through the history of Christianity some of the greatest Bible scholars have attempted to sort out the issue, but were unable to satisfactorily fit justification into their perceptions of God’s plan of salvation.  And today is no different.  In this information age of such easy access to so much knowledge, it seems that no answers are available to such a basic and fundamentally important question.  The bookstore shelves are bare of real answers.  Personal questions posed to Bible intellectuals receive blank stares.  It seems that it is not just that men do not have the answers.  They do not even understand the real questions.

Most shallow thinking men have never really considered the concept.  Men seem to think that it was a solved problem centuries ago.  But historically and presently most writings and discussions on the subject skirt the real issues and only superficially dance around the depths of the matter.  Most Bible students plug their ill-fitting, misunderstood ideas of the concept into their proposed plans of salvation and think it all fits together rather nicely; when in reality there is no fit at all.

In today’s Christianity it seems that most preachers would much rather discuss simpler and safer topics than the concept of justification.  So most self-proclaimed men of God do not touch the subject with the proverbial ‘ten foot pole’.  For the whole matter is not only mind boggling, it is extremely controversial.  And if a person’s chief concern is self-interest and the approval of men, then the decision not to discuss justification is probably a wise choice to make.  For the person who dares to speak or write on the issues will quickly show the superficiality of his understanding.  For it is a subject of such depth that no mere man has conquered it.  And it is doubtful any ever will.

The author of these writings knows these things very well.  I first of all admit to a great lack of understanding.  And secondly I am aware that writings on the subject will expose that lack of understanding.  I  know that silence would protect my reputation.  And I know that words on such a profound topic will expose my  ignorance.  Oh, I admit to be a man of fear and hesitation.  I fear both the reproach of my God and the reproach of my fellow man.  And I confess that these words are written and shared with much hesitation.  Moreover, these words are written not because of my claim to have a grasp on the truths concerning justification.  But they are written in the midst of my admission to my God that I do not comprehend the subject.  It was my hope that in the process of putting things on paper that God might guide my simple mind toward truth.

May the reader of these words please consider the words with a spirit of charity and forgiveness toward the writer?  May the reader consider the thoughts presented while using the scriptures as a source of truth?  May the Spirit give understanding to the reader, so that untruth will be disregarded?  May God in His mercy grant forgiveness to the author where untruths are proclaimed to be truth?  And may God and the reader receive the words written in a spirit of mercy and grace toward the author?

 

 

Introduction to the Study of Justification 

By way of introduction to the subject of justification, it may be noted that there are multiple systems of salvation proclaimed in Christianity.  Each system may at first thought seem to be reasonable.  But for a system to be viable it must eventually deal with the subject of justification.  And when one factors in justification, many inherent problems occur in many proclaimed systems.

For example, a believer in a works system of eternal salvation certainly has a problem with the issue of justification.  By definition to justify is to legally declare one to be righteous or innocent.  But the problem is that according to the scriptures none are righteous or innocent by their works.  So how can sinners correctly be declared to be what the Bible says they are not?  Can any works the sinner might do cause the unrighteous works which are done by the sinner to become righteous works?  Can any good works done by the guilty cause his guiltiness to become innocence?  How can a man be justified before God?  The answer cannot be by man’s works, for man’s works are what declare man’s unrighteousness and guilt.

Thus it seems that most people who claim a works system of salvation simply ignore the concept of justification.  They seem to think that a certain amount of good just makes a certain amount of bad to disappear.  They seem to ignore the meaning of true righteousness and innocence.  And they leave God in the position of having to declare to be righteous or innocent that which is truly not righteous and innocent.  They seem to pay no attention to the concept of true justification and continue to believe in a system of works that can never allow God to properly declare men to be in a state of righteousness and innocence.

Let there be no misunderstanding concerning good works.  Though good works are clearly taught in the scriptures, they are consistently and straightforwardly declared not to be the means to man’s justification as it pertains to his eternal salvation.  Instead of being justified by his works, man’s works are what condemn him and prove him to be unrighteous.  The depravity of man without God’s influence is such that he will not come to God, his carnal mind is enmity to God, and his thoughts are not on God or spiritual things.  Every imagination of his heart is only evil continually.  The only source of cure for this immoral condition is a God-given change of nature.  The alleviation of man’s wicked and fallen state occurs by the giving of a new nature to the man by God.  And any truly good works accomplished by the man must be subsequent to and a result of this new nature.

The will of the man follows the nature of man.  Thus for the will of the man to be inclined to good the nature of the man must be made good.  And a result of the new nature is a will capable of pursuing good, instead of a will totally bent toward evil.  But this resulting change finds its source to be God’s nature placed within the man working in the man that which is well pleasing to God.  Any good works are a consequence of the influence of God working in the man to will and to do God’s good will and pleasure.  It is the goodness of God within the regenerated man that is the cause and basis of any goodness that can come from the man.  So since the basis and cause of any righteousness done by the man is not from the man, but instead from God, the man has no room to boast or to consider his feeble attempts at righteousness to be a cause at all.  What little righteousness he might attain to is a result of God’s work and God’s sweet influence has no basis in the depraved self.

And lest man begin to think differently to this, let him consider that even in the regenerated state his old nature continues to raise itself in rebellion.  Yes, good works are commanded of the child of God and the means to good works is provided to the child of God.  But the child of God in spite of the good influence of God often follows the old nature and continues to fall far short of the righteousness, perfection and holiness that belongs to his Father and is required by his Father.  And by an honest assessment of scriptures and an honest assessment of self, it becomes apparent that even one who is under the influence of the goodness of God still cannot be declared righteous by his works.

Many Christians do understand and sense this inherent unrighteousness in man.  And this understanding has led many to discard the system of works as the plan for eternal salvation and has caused them to seek an alternative plan.  Thus, salvation based upon man’s faith has become a widely believed substitute for salvation based upon man’s works.  But a believer in salvation by man’s faith has truly the same problem as a believer in salvation by man’s works, for in reality this plan just attempts to turn faith into the only requirement for salvation.  This system simply reduces many works to the one work of faith.  It attempts to replace the deeds of the law with the act of faith.  And any system for salvation based on the acts of man is doomed to leave the man without true justification, for  man’s work of faith is as inadequate and full of fault as his works in any other category.  As all works of man are lacking, so is man’s faith.  The faith of the apostles was declared to be little faith.  If these notable men’s faith was said to be little, what word could be found to describe the diminutive faith of other believers?  The faith of a grain of mustard seed is said to be able to move mountains.  Truly how adequate is the best of man’s faith?  Can a failing, doubting, faltering, unbelieving faith be depended on to remove sins in heaven eternally, if it cannot perform the comparatively simple task of moving mountains on earth in time?  Is this weak, inadequate, unbelieving belief the basis for declaring the righteousness and innocence of sinners?

And concerning righteousness and innocence could a perfect faith cause one’s unrighteousness to become righteousness?  Can a man’s faith turn his guilt into innocence?  Can believing himself to be what he is not, cause him to become what he is not?  Does the Bible tell a person to believe in something that he knows is not true, and then to declare righteousness and innocence based on what he truly knows is not so?  How can a man be justified before God?  Faith is not and cannot be the basis of righteousness or innocence.  Neither can faith be the basis of justification, the declaration of righteousness or innocence.  Surely it will be seen that Jesus Christ is the basis of righteousness and innocence, and that Jesus Christ is the basis for justification, the declaration of righteousness and innocence.

Faith is not the cause and basis of the sinner’s existence in a state of righteousness, innocence, justification, regeneration or eternal salvation.  Nor is it the means to the existence in this state.  Instead of faith being the means to man’s existing in the state of righteousness, innocence, justification, regeneration or eternal salvation, faith is the means to man’s awareness that he exists in this state. Faith is the means by which man can understand and realize what is the cause and basis of righteousness, innocence, justification, regeneration or eternal salvation.  Faith is the means by which man can comprehend and appreciate who is the cause and basis of righteousness, innocence, justification, regeneration or eternal salvation. Faith is the means by which one can know Jesus Christ.

There is a difference in having eternal life and having the assurance of knowing one has eternal life.  There is a distinction in being eternally saved and having the peace that comes from realizing that one is eternally saved.  There is a differentiation in the individual existing in the state of having eternal salvation and the mind of the individual existing in the state of mind of knowing that he has eternal salvation.

Now the sole and only cause of man existing in these states of righteousness, innocence, justification, regeneration or eternal salvation is Christ.  The sole and only basis by which a man can exist in these states is Christ.  And the sole and only means for a man to exist in these states is Christ.  But the means to man’s understanding that Christ is the means, cause and basis of these things is faith.  And this makes faith of extreme value to an individual.  So let there be no misunderstanding concerning the importance of faith, for without faith one could never know Christ or know the accomplishments of Christ.  And what a dreadful existence it would be for a child of God to not know that he was a child of God!

Furthermore, there is a great distinction between falsely believing self to be the cause and basis of righteousness, innocence, justification, regeneration and eternal life and truly believing Christ to be the basis for these things.  There is a notable difference in mistakenly believing one’s own good works or faith to be the source of salvation and accurately believing Jesus to be the sole source of salvation.  There is much difference in believing that one’s faith is sufficient as opposed to believing that Jesus is sufficient, for there is much lack of assurance in believing that the basis of salvation is in self.  If salvation is in some way based on self then the sinner is left with many doubts.

But there is much comfort and much confidence in knowing by faith that salvation’s basis is Christ.  Faith is not essential to righteousness, innocence, justification, regeneration or salvation, but it is essential to assurance and peace in the inner being of one who has regeneration.  Faith is not essential for the possession of eternal life.  But it is essential for a peaceful living of the eternal life that a child of God possesses after regeneration.  Both the eternal life and the faith are gifts of God by grace.  First He gives the life.  Then He gives the faith so His child can know he has the life.  At that point the child can begin to experience and live the life he possesses.  And at that point the child of God can know spiritual things.  By faith the child of God can know the God who is his Father, the God who is his Savior and the God who is his life-giving and faith-giving Comforter.

As a matter of significance concerning the idea that faith might be the cause of or the means to these things, according to the scriptures the source of man’s faith is not man.  The scriptures repeatedly declare the source of man’s faith to be God.  Faith is declared to be a gift of God and a fruit of the Spirit.  Faith is a fruit or result of receiving the Spirit at the new birth.  In that it is the effect of the new birth, it cannot be the cause of the same.  A person receives faith upon the receipt of eternal life at regeneration.  So faith is not the cause of or the means to eternal life.  It is the result of having received eternal life.  The Holy Spirit by a sovereign act and according to His will gives eternal life to a child of God.  And a result or fruit of this sovereign act is the possession of faith by this regenerated child.  The faith given by the Holy Spirit allows the child to understand spiritual things.  It enables the child to relate to God and the things of God.  Faithless ears are dead ears to the gospel of salvation by Jesus Christ; but enlivened, faith-given ears can hear the gospel.

The true gospel proclaims that the basis for, the cause of and the means to righteousness, innocence, justification, regeneration and eternal salvation are in the completed work of Jesus Christ.  And the hearing of the gospel concerning the completed work of Jesus tends to cause much joy, peace and assurance in the faith-gifted heart of the regenerated child of God.  So the Holy Spirit, in addition to giving the eternal life, gives the faith to the child so the child can be assured and know of the life he now possesses.  And what joy there is in not only having eternal life, but also in having the assurance of having eternal life!

After considering the lack of consistent good works and the persistent unrighteousness of men, and after considering the inconsistent and weak faith of men, and after considering that the source of faith and of good works in men is not of men, one begins to exhaust the possibilities that the source of righteousness, innocence, justification, regeneration and eternal life is in men.  If there is a state of existence for a man that involves these wonderful positions, then the state of existence must be provided to the man by some power far beyond the man.  The Bible proclaims that there is such a wonderful state of existence for man and it further proclaims that the state of existence is provided to the man by some power far beyond the man.  And it further proclaims that this great power is Jesus Christ.  And finally the word the Bible uses for God’s free provision to man is grace.

Thus some claim to believe that salvation is through Christ and only by the grace of God and without any other means.  One who believes in salvation through Christ by grace believes that God saves man without the help of man.  A believer in salvation totally by grace knows that the Bible teaches that God by grace chose a vast number of people who by their nature and by their deeds were unrighteous.  A believer in salvation by grace understands that God in the covenant of grace gave these chosen people to Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world.  A believer in salvation by grace realizes that Jesus came into the world at the appointed time and shed His blood for these particular people.  A believer in salvation by grace understands that by this act Jesus totally removed the unrighteousness from His people.  A believer in salvation by grace knows that the miracle that occurred at the cross involved Jesus taking all the sins of all His people from them and placing them on Himself.  A believer in salvation by grace understands that Jesus paid in full the price of redemption for every sin and the sins are put away as far as the east is from the west and are remembered no more.  A believer in salvation by grace recognizes that the sinner, his sins being removed by the Christ of the cross, exists in a state of righteousness.  The believer in salvation by grace acknowledges that the sinner based on the work of the Christ on the cross, with no sins left to his charge, exists in a state of innocence.  A believer in salvation by grace sees that the sinner can truly be justified or declared to be righteous and innocent when he is considered from the viewpoint of the finished work of Christ at the cross.

Now a believer in salvation by grace may wonder at how these things can be.  Yet a believer in salvation by grace acknowledges that with man it is impossible, but with Christ it is reality!  The believer in salvation by grace believes that to complete the task of salvation the Holy Spirit finds each of these, made to be righteous and innocent, and declared to be righteous and innocent sinners, at some point in their earthly existence and gives them eternal life through the new birth.  A believer in salvation by grace realizes that this new life involves a new nature and a new will turned toward God and toward good.  And finally the believer in salvation by grace understands that what God has done remains done and the life given is eternal life.  And the believer in salvation by grace is assured that the eternal life is preserved forever and can never be lost.

But if the believer in salvation by the grace of God and only by the grace of God honestly looks at the complete picture in scriptures, he too faces a problem of where to fit certain teachings about justification into the plan.  He may say and be able to show from many scriptures that salvation is not by works of man, but by grace and by Christ.  He may be able to show from many scriptures that faith is a result of salvation, and if it is the result of salvation it cannot logically be the cause of the same.  Yet admittedly there are scriptures that seem to declare faith to be the means to salvation.

How can these things be reconciled?  In scriptures justification is said to be by grace, but it is also said to be by faith.  Truly faith is connected to justification in such a way that it cannot be reasonably or honestly ignored.  So where does faith fit in?  Specifically, how do justification and faith and grace fit together?  How can one reconcile such a passage as Romans 3:19-31 with the concept of salvation by Christ without means?

Questions like these have led honest men into states of confusion throughout the history of Christianity.  Truth seeking men who claim the Bible as their source of information have become confused and bewildered trying to sort out the means to justification.  Somewhat confusing scriptures such as Romans 3:19-31 have led men to believe in salvation by the means of faith, as opposed to salvation by means of grace.  And it appears that nowadays most have discarded the many teachings on salvation by grace due to an inability to fit faith and grace into the same plan.

This study attempts to tackle this monumental task of fitting grace and faith into the same Bible taught plan.  It is in two parts.  The first portion attempts to give an overview of scriptural based principles relating to justification.  And the second attempts to teach in an expository fashion the passage of scripture found in Romans 3:19-31.  Many before have attempted to present the principles of justification, but there are very few expository teachings from a sovereign grace point of view on Romans 3:19-31.

Let it be stated again by the author that it is with much sense of fear and trembling that these words are placed in writing.  It is with a strong sense of inadequacy that these views are presented.  And these attempts to teach God’s principles and God’s words on such a difficult concept are made with an admitted lack of much understanding.  So may the reader accept the writings with a spirit of grace and mercy toward the author?  And if there is any worth in the words for God’s inquiring children, may God be praised.

 

 

A Study of the Concept 

The manner in which a sinner becomes justified and exists in a justified state has been perhaps the most difficult Biblical concept for men to understand through the history of Christianity.  In ages past many have struggled, often unsuccessfully, to piece together scriptural teachings on the issue.  But in the present time and culture it is unlikely that most Christians have given the idea of justification any significant thought.  Nowadays it seems that Christians by and large are not a deep thinking group.  From all appearances, most consider these so-called, deep doctrinal issues of little importance.  And the majority of Christians who have somewhat considered the subject have probably simply accepted the teaching presented to them by the denomination to which they are most closely connected without searching the scriptures for truth.  Justification is an important and a wonderful Biblical concept.  The more it is truly understood, the more God will be praised for it.  This study is an attempt to look at the scriptural teachings and seek truth concerning the magnificent concept of justification.

Justification is admittedly a very deep subject and very difficult to comprehend.  Those who consider it to be simple have perhaps taken only a few verses from scripture that seem to teach their particular point of view and have been satisfied to base the entire concept on these isolated verses.  If this is done, a superficial Bible student can easily become content with his understanding.  He may have perhaps a false assurance that he has a firm grip on Biblical teaching concerning the doctrine.  But if one looks at the teachings in the entirety of scriptures, he surely will eventually recognize that there are many deep issues to be resolved before an understanding can be attained.

In order to understand the Biblical concept of justification one certainly needs to begin with a clear understanding of the meaning of the word.  Justification is a legal term for acquittal.  In scriptural usage to justify is to acquit or to declare righteous or innocent.  In the Bible there is definitely a distinction between righteousness (the state of being righteous) and justification (the state of being declared righteous).  To justify involves more than to be righteous or innocent.  It is to declare to be righteous or innocent.

So there is a distinction in scriptures between righteousness and justification.  But on the other hand, there most definitely is and there must be a connection between the two.  For it only stands to reason that one must be righteous or innocent before he could properly be declared to be righteous or innocent.  If one is said to be justified who is truly unrighteous, then a grave error has occurred, for it would be wrong to declare someone to be righteous or innocent who is not righteous and innocent.

And by exploring other possibilities one could see that other errors could occur with the legal declaration of righteousness concerning individuals.  For instance, it would be possible for someone to be righteous or innocent and not to be declared to be so.  Or on the contrary, it would be possible not to be righteous or innocent and to be declared to be so in error.  So again in order to properly justify (declare righteousness or innocence), there must first be a state of righteousness or innocence.  And true justification is the act of declaring one to be righteous or innocent who is truly righteous or innocent.

The ever-present question in the history of Christianity is how does justification occur?  A deeper, more profound question is how can justification occur?  How can a man be declared to be righteous or innocent?

There are multitudes that seem to think that a man can be justified, declared to be righteous or innocent, through a system of God-given laws.  A close examination of this possibility surely encounters serious problems.  As a matter of fact, to a reasonably thinking individual this so-called possibility is seen to be impossibility.  The problem with declaring a person to be righteous or innocent by the system of God’s law lies in the fact that a person is not righteous or innocent according to the system of God’s law.  If a person were righteous or innocent concerning the law, it is supposed that the person might be justified, declared to be righteous or innocent, by the law.  But the serious difficulty is that no mere human has ever kept the law and thus been righteous or innocent concerning it.  So if none is righteous or innocent concerning God’s law, how can any be properly declared righteous or innocent (justified) by the law?

Many scriptures could be cited to prove this lack of righteousness such as, “There is none righteous, no not one.” (Romans 3:10)  And many could likewise be cited to prove a state of guilt instead of innocence such as, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10)  Every individual is included in the statement, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)

Furthermore, the scriptures clearly teach that man is not even born into a state of righteousness or innocence.  By Adam’s sin all men became unrighteous.  All are declared to be in a state of unrighteousness.  “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation.” (Rom 5:18)  The breaking of God’s law given to Adam plunged Adam and all of Adam’s posterity into a state of condemnation—the exact opposite of justification.

So the breaking of two laws condemns men.  First of all, Adam broke God’s law and God rightly judged Adam to be a law-breaker and all his descendants to be law-breakers in Adam.  Thus the descendants of Adam begin life with an already condemned nature, and by that inherited nature all are in a state of declared condemnation.  Secondly, the sinner following that inherited nature continues in Adam’s pattern and personally breaks God’s law.  His own conduct proves his unrighteousness and guilt.  So God’s broken law, whether broken by Adam or broken by his descendants, casts men into a state of unrighteousness and guilt.

Can a man who is proven unrighteous twice fold by the breaking of two laws be justified by the same laws previously broken?  Can a man declared unrighteous by the law ever be declared righteous by the same law?  Can that which declares guilt at the same time declare innocence?  There is no reasonable way the broken law can declare righteousness.  There is no rational way the broken law can declare innocence.  It is logically impossible for the law-breaker to be justified by the same law he has broken.  A broken law condemns.  A kept law could justify, but a broken law can only condemn.  Keeping part of the law or keeping the whole law part of the time can never legally erase the part of the law broken or the times the law was broken.  It is obvious that the broken law does not declare one to be righteous or innocent.  The broken law is what declares one to be unrighteous and guilty.  And the apparent conclusion is that none can be justified, declared righteous or innocent, by the law.  The law of God declares condemnation.  If there is justification, it must exist by some means other than the means of a broken law.

Since the law-breaker is unable to be justified by the law he has broken, how can he be justified?  And in a broader sense, remembering that justification is a declaration of righteousness or innocence, how can one who is undeniably unrighteous and guilty ever by any means be properly declared righteous and innocent?  For in order to properly declare righteousness, there must first be righteousness.  And in order to correctly declare innocence, there must first be innocence.  To declare the unrighteous to be righteous is incorrect.  To declare the guilty to be innocent is unsuitable.  To justify the law-breaker is inappropriate, illogical and from all appearances impossible.

Coming against the impossibility of appropriately declaring to be righteous or innocent men who are not, many begin to avoid the whole issue of justification.  And often those who have tried to face it have attempted to solve the contradiction by changing and weakening the meaning of righteousness and innocence or the meaning of justification.  They may in error come to the conclusion that righteousness or innocence is not truly righteousness or innocence, but a sort of righteousness or innocence.  Or they may in error decide that the justification, the declaration of righteousness or innocence, is not a true declaration, but a sort of declaration that is short of declaring full righteousness or innocence.  They do not hold to the truth that the righteousness and innocence are full and complete righteousness and innocence.  And they fall short in understanding that the justification is a full and complete declaration of full and complete righteousness and innocence.

But if the righteousness and innocence are absolute righteousness and innocence, and if the justification is an absolute declaration of absolute righteousness and innocence, then the question of how the individual who is not fully righteous or innocent can be properly declared to be so still remains?  For in order for real justification to occur, the one declared to be righteous must be righteous.  But man is not righteous.  So the problem is that one who is truly unrighteous must truly be righteous before he can truly be declared to be righteous.

So as one begins to consider the justification of sinful man, an impossible situation is encountered.  For man to be legitimately justified, the guilty must in some way be the innocent.  To appropriately justify a law-breaker, the law-breaker must be what he is not.  He must exist in a state in which he does not exist and cease to exist in a state in which he does exist.  Moreover, his past existence must be what it has not been, and he must have existed in a state in which he did not exist.  To truly justify a law-breaker, the law-breaker cannot be a law-breaker and can never have been a law-breaker.  He must be a law keeper and must always have been a law keeper.  He must now be what he is not and must always have been what he never was.  The present must be what it is not and the past must be erased and rewritten.  What a dilemma!

Obviously, it is beyond man’s abilities by any means to make what is, as though it was not.  As man is incapable of bringing something from nothing, so he is incapable of bringing nothing from something.  He cannot make what does exist as though it does not.  In short, in order to justify the law-breaker, the impossible must occur.  Since it is impossible for man to make the sin that is in him to be righteousness, and to make his guiltiness that is in him to be innocence, and to ‘unbreak’ the broken law; then it is certain that man cannot of himself cause himself to be what he is not.  So righteousness and innocence cannot come from self.  With men the impossible remains impossible, and the unrighteousness remains unrighteousness.

But with God and only with God all things are possible.  And in God and only in God could a way exist for an unrighteous man to truly be righteous.  Only by God could the way be found for the guilty man to be innocent.  The righteousness must come from another way, even Christ.  The only way for the impossible to be possible, the unrighteous to be righteous, and the guilty to be innocent is the Way—Jesus Christ.

In God’s eternal plan of redemption the only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, would come into the world and save His people from their sins.  And He did.  He would give His life a ransom for the sins of His people.  And he did.  He would pay the price required for justice to occur.  And He did.  He would take all the sins of all His people upon Himself.  And He did.  He would carry all the sins of all His people to the cross and would suffer and die for those sins.  And He did.  The Father would look upon the suffering of Jesus and be satisfied.  And He is.  The full price would be paid.  And it is.  The payment would be accepted as payment in full.  And it is.  There would be no further debt owed.  And there is not.  The sins of God’s people would be removed as far as the east is from the west.  And they are.  The removal and purging would be a total removal and purging.  And it is.  The sins would be remembered no more.  And they are not.  The sins past, present and future would be as though they did not exist and had never existed.  And at the judgment seat of God they truly do not exist and they have never existed.  The impossible would occur.  And it has.  The unrighteous with no sins to their account would be totally righteous.  And they truly are.  The guilty with no sins remembered against them would be absolutely innocent.  And they truly are.  No one would be able to lay a charge to God’s elect.  And they cannot.  None would be able to condemn.  And they cannot.  There would be no condemnation.  And there is not.

And in that God’s children would be righteous and innocent, there would be a way to be able to appropriately, absolutely and completely declare God’s children righteous and innocent.  And there is—because they are.  There would be a way to genuine, authentic, complete justification.  And there is.  The Way would be Christ.  And He is.  The Way would be only Christ.  And He is.  With man it would have been impossible.  And it is.  But with Christ and only with Christ impossible is reality.  And it is.

So if Christ is the only possible basis for the state of righteousness and innocence in man, then Christ must be the only possible basis for justification, the declaration of righteousness and innocence in man.  As righteousness is of Him, the declaration of righteousness must be based on Him.  As righteousness is impossible without Him, justification based on something besides Him is impossible.  Neither by man nor by means besides Christ can righteousness exist.  And neither by man nor by means besides Christ can the declaration of righteousness be based.

Furthermore, since man cannot of himself in any way cause himself to be in a state of righteousness or innocence, neither can man in any way look to self as the basis of declaring himself to be righteous or innocent.  So as righteousness and innocence cannot come from self, neither can justification (the declaration of righteousness and innocence) be based on self.  It must be based on something beyond self, even Christ.  Before considering any alternative basis for justification, it is urgently important that one remembers and always remembers that only in Christ can the unrighteous be righteous.  And only in Christ can the guilty be innocent.  So only in Christ can the sinful and guilty, having become righteous and innocent, be declared to be righteous and innocent.  Only on the basis of Christ can man be justified.  Only in Christ and on the basis of Christ can there be justification.

So finally the question, where does faith fit in?  There is no doubt that faith and justification are connected in the scriptures.  But how are they connected?  Many, who have recognized the impossibility of being justified by the keeping of God’s law, have come to the conclusion that the way of being declared righteous by God is by the means of faith.  Does faith make sins disappear?  Can faith make unrighteousness righteous?  Can faith turn guilt into innocence?  Can faith erase past sins and make them as though they are not?  Does the Bible anywhere say that faith removes sins from the presence of God’s mind?  Does man’s faith cause God not to remember man’s sins?

As previously stated, for a man to be justified, declared to be righteous or innocent, he must be righteous or innocent.  He must be what he is not.  He must have never been what he has always been.  It is impossible for the man to accomplish these things.  Neither can these things be accomplished by faith within the man.  For a man to be righteous or innocent he must have been made that way by Christ.  If Christ made a man that way, then the man is that way by Christ.  If he is that way by Christ, then he is not that way by some other means.  He is not righteous or innocent by self.  He is not righteous or innocent by some act of self.  He is not righteous or innocent by some belief of self.  Neither is he righteous or innocent by faith.  He is righteous or innocent only by Christ.  And the only reasonable way to declare him to be righteous or innocent is by considering the absolute righteousness and innocence to be only by the means of Christ, and making the declaration of righteousness based only on the work of Christ.

So to repeat the question, where does faith fit in?  Concerning faith it might be noted that faith is not of self.  It is a gift of God.  But regardless of the fact that faith is a gift, faith was never intended to make one righteous and innocent and does not make one righteous or innocent.  Christ was intended to do that.  And He did.  Furthermore, faith was never intended as the basis of declaring one righteous or innocent.  Christ was intended to be the basis of justifying, declaring to be righteous or innocent.

Then why is faith given?  Faith is given to allow the child of God to somewhat understand and know God.  Faith is given to allow the child of God to understand spiritual things.  Faith is given to allow the child of God to understand the concepts of God.  Faith is given to allow the child of God to have a sense of reality in things hoped for.  Faith is given to allow the child of God to see things that are unseen by natural eyes.  Faith is given to allow the child of God to know things that the natural mind cannot know.

Faith is given to the child of God so he can know and understand the plan of God for salvation.  Faith is given to the child of God so he can understand the work of Christ in redemption.  Faith is given to the child of God so he can see and know that Christ accomplished salvation and has saved his people from their sins.  Faith is given to the child of God so the child of God can know that Christ has paid the price demanded in full.  Faith is given to the child of God so the child of God can know that his sins have been placed on Christ at the cross.  Faith is given to the child of God so he can know that those sins have been removed as far as the east is from the west.  Faith is given to the child of God so he can know that God never remembers the sins again.  Faith is given to the child of God so he can know that no charge can ever be placed against him.  Faith is given to the child of God so he can know that there is no condemnation.  Faith is given to the child of God so he can know that he is righteous and innocent by the finished work of Jesus.

Faith is given to the child of God so that in knowing himself to be righteous and innocent, he can in his own mind see himself to be righteous and innocent.  Faith is given to the child of God so that after seeing himself to be righteous and innocent, he can declare himself to be righteous and innocent through the finished work of Jesus.  Faith is given to the child of God so he can in his own mind declare himself to be what he became in Christ.

Through the gift of faith the child of God can see the finished work of sin removal accomplished by Christ on the cross.  He can see that blood applied to himself and can sense the cleansing and removal of sins by that blood.  He can know of his righteousness and innocence accomplished by that work of Christ and can declare himself to be in that state of righteousness and innocence.  And he can thereby be justified in his own mind by the gift of faith.

The faith-gifted mind sees that the righteousness is not of self, but is by the work of Christ.  And the faith-gifted mind knows that the declaration of righteousness concerning self is not based on self, but is based on the work of Christ.  Faith is the wonderful means by which God declares to man things concerning God.  And through faith man can declare to himself the things that have been declared to him.

Now these things that man knows by faith, God has known all along.  It is not necessary for a man to have faith in order for God to know what He already knows.  Man’s faith is not necessary for God to know the accomplishments of Christ.  Christ accomplished what He accomplished.  He came to save his people from their sins and He did it.  And furthermore God knows He did it.  If Christ did it and God knows it, then it is reality and it would remain reality if nobody else ever knows it or had known it.  What was accomplished is accomplished.  What was paid for is paid for.  Sins that were removed are removed.  In the mind of God Christ paid it all and there is none left to pay.  There is no charge left to make against His people.  There is no condemnation to bring.  They are righteous and innocent by the finished work of Christ.  There is nothing else to add.  And they are appropriately justified, declared to be righteous and innocent, by God’s knowledge of the finished work of Christ.  And God knows it if nobody else knows it.  And God has declared it if nobody else declares it.

But by the grace of God, God devised a wonderful means for His children to know some of what He has always known.  And that means is the gift of faith.  Faith in man is that wonderful fruit of the Spirit and evidence of spiritual life that God so graciously gives to the man.  The faith-gifted mind of a man becomes somewhat like the mind of Christ, though much inferior.  It can know things of Christ.  It can know things of the Spirit.  It can know things God knows and has always known.

By faith things God has known all along become known to man.  The gospel of the finished work of Christ is heard with ears of faith.  Eyes of faith see the concept.  The idea is grasped by faith in the mind.  The finished work of Christ is understood by faith.  The gospel tells the sinner that there is no condemnation, no charge, no sin and no guilt.  These have been removed and the sinner is washed in the blood of the Lamb.  And by faith the sinner understands.  The gospel tells the sinner that he can and will stand before God robed in Christ’s righteousness—not condemned and forever secure.  And by faith the sinner sees himself standing righteous and innocent before that God.

God in His eternal plan saw the sinner righteous and innocent through Christ before time began.  God saw the sinner righteous and innocent when Jesus accomplished God’s purpose on the cross.  But the sinner sees it by faith.  Faith even declares it to the sinner.  Faith did not cause the righteousness and innocence.  Christ did.  Faith did not cause God to see the righteousness and innocence.  Faith allowed the sinner to see himself cleansed by Christ’s blood.  Once having by faith seen himself righteous and innocent, the sinner can declare himself to be thus.  He is justified by faith.  By faith in the finished work of Christ the sinner can declare himself to be righteous and innocent in his judgment of his own case in his own mind.

So as man’s works are not the basis for man’s righteousness or innocence, man’s faith is not the basis for the declaration of man’s righteousness or innocence.  Just as it is impossible for man to be righteous of himself, it is impossible for man to declare himself to be righteousness of himself.  What made man righteous must be the basis on which he is declared to be righteous.

Works did not make man to be righteous.  Faith did not make man to be righteous.  Christ made man to be righteous.  He is the only basis on which one can be righteous and He is the only basis on which one can be declared righteous.  Any declaration of righteousness based on anything else is a false declaration.  To declare a man to be righteous based on his deeds is wrong.  To declare a man to be righteous based on his faith is wrong.  But to declare a man to be righteous based on the work of Christ is correct.  And for a man by faith to believe himself to be righteous based on the work of Christ is correct.  And for a man by faith to believe on the work of Christ so strongly that he can judge himself to be righteous and innocent by the wonderful finished work of Christ is correct.

Furthermore, a man who is in this state of righteousness by the work of Christ, and who can by faith see himself to be in this state of righteousness by the work of Christ, and who by faith in the work of Christ can declare himself to be in this state of righteousness is by faith justified—declared in his own mind to be what he truly is.  The faith did not make the man righteous.  Christ did that.  The gift of faith only declared to the man what Christ had already done in order that the man might declare himself to be what he already is.

 

 

A Study of Romans 3:19-31

19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.   

The beginning words, now we know, indicate that the reader should now be at a point of awareness that would enable him to understand the statement that follows.  It seems that the previous writings have laid a foundation upon which the presently revealed truth is based.  It is as if the statement that follows must hinge on what has been written thus far.  Paul under inspiration of the Holy Spirit appears to be telling the reader that because of all the things previously said, now we know this to be the summation statement of truth concerning these matters.  And surely at this point the teachings have built up to the point of a great summation statement.

So the words, now we know, demand that one should at least briefly digress and take into account the past teachings before considering this great summation statement.  Thus far, the teachings in the book of Romans have declared among other things the universal guilt of all mankind.  Immediately preceding this verse, it is proclaimed that God’s law has declared all to be under sin and all to be guilty. (Romans 3:9-18)  By the words ‘there is none righteous, no, not one’ and ‘there is none that doeth good, no, not one,’ it is clear that without exception every mere mortal in all the history of the world is included in those declared to be guilty.

Even earlier in the teachings of this letter to the Romans, it appears that more than one form of the law of God declares this universal guilt of all mankind.  First of all, it seems that a naturally existing moral law written by God on the conscience speaks to and condemns all mankind. (Romans 1:18-2:16)  And secondly, the Law of Moses speaks to and condemns any who are exposed to it. (Romans 2:17-24)  And thirdly, the law written on the heart at the new birth speaks to and condemns a child of God in an even greater capacity. (Romans 2:28-29) (See also Romans 7:7-25)  So it has been taught thus far in the letter to the Romans that the law of God in its various representations and revelations has pronounced all men to be unrighteous and left no man able to correctly claim to do good.

Therefore after considering the teachings thus far, now we know what?  One who has followed Paul’s teachings thus far has learned that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law.  According to this verse and the previous teachings, the reader now knows that the law of God has something to say.  And he knows that the law has something to say to everyone who is under it.  And he knows that all in one form or another are under it.  The message that the law speaks to all is a message of universal guilt, unrighteousness without exception, and that there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

And the stated purpose of the law is given by the words, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God.  A person who is really spoken to by the law of God, whatever form that law may take, is left unable to speak in reply.  A person, who really hears and understands what the law saith, is left as Job with his hand over his mouth, unable and unwilling to speak in reply or in defense.  And the reason for the speechless condition is a realization of the person’s position before a holy and righteous God.  He stands before the mighty God as a guilty sinner.  The law has declared and pronounced its judgment concerning the sinner’s case.  The judgment is a verdict of guilty.  Moreover, no individual sinner stands alone in this place for all the world has become guilty before God.  That which is spoken by God’s law results in the declaration of universal guilt to all men everywhere.

 

20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.  

The word, therefore, indicates a connection with and a conclusion to what has been previously taught.  The previous teachings have proclaimed that there is a message stated to all the world by God’s law.  And the universal message of that law is the universal guilt of all the world.  Now looking back to and considering those teachings, the conclusion stated here is that by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.  In other words, the deeds or works done under the law will not result in one being justified (a legal term meaning declared to be righteous or innocent) before God.

This conclusion is the obvious conclusion and the only possible conclusion that could agree with the previous verses.  Since the past teachings have universally proven that all are lawbreakers and none are law keepers, then it is obvious that none can be justified (declared to be righteous or innocent) by the deeds of the law that they have broken.  Reasonable thinking demands that the deeds (or misdeeds) of a person proven to be guilty by a law can never cause the person to be justified (declared righteous or innocent) by the same law.  The keeping of any law of God by an already proven lawbreaking individual can never cause that already proven lawbreaker to be justified (declared righteous and innocent) in the sight of God.

In other words, a broken law can never declare righteousness.  A broken law by necessity declares guilt.  So instead of a person keeping the law in order to be justified (declared righteous and innocent), the thing that invariably happens is the person’s breaking the law and being declared guilty.  Instead of the law being that which justifies (declares righteous or innocent); it is the exact opposite.  It is that which condemns by declaring unrighteousness and guilt.  So the law is not and cannot be the means by which the lawbreaker becomes justified (declared righteous or innocent) before God.

Since the deeds of the law can never be the cause of one being justified (declared righteous or innocent) in that all are proven lawbreakers and none are law keepers, what is the law’s purpose?  The purpose of the law is given in the words, by the law is the knowledge of sin.  In other words, the understanding of the demands of the law gives the lawbreaker the realization of his guilt.  The purpose of the law is to define sin and to give to all mankind the knowledge of what sin truly is.  Furthermore, the knowledge of sin and the understanding of the demands of the law are what give the individual the awareness of his lack of righteousness and his lack of innocence.  And with an understanding or knowledge of the lack of righteousness or innocence comes the understanding of his not being justified (declared righteous or innocent) by his works before God.  

 

21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 

What a wonderful concept is here presented by the words—the righteousness of God.  And what a glorious revelation is spoken of by the words, but now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested.  And what insight is given concerning the righteousness of God by the words, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.  Several key points are alluded to and much truth is presented in this verse.  But the most significant word in the statement is the word, righteousness.  It is the subject of the sentence and an understanding of it is crucial to understanding the verse and the passage.  And the key to understanding the word, righteousness, is given by the other words and phrases in the verse.  Hopefully, as one begins to understand the other words and phrases, the meaning of the righteousness will unfold.

So first of all, one might consider the words now and manifested.  The verse states that the righteousness is now manifested, suggesting that it has not always been manifested.  The verse does not state that this righteousness of God is a new righteousness.  And one will find that it is not a new righteousness.  The verse states that it is a now manifested righteousness; in other words, a newly shown or revealed righteousness.

Secondly, this righteousness is said to be without the law, suggesting that it is a concept based on something other than the sinner and the law.  As stated in the previous verse, by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified (declared righteous and innocent) in his sight.  From the teachings of that verse the sinner, looking to his failure to keep the law, is left in a state of hopelessness.  He desperately needs something apart from the law and the sinner’s relation to the law in order for justification to occur.  But this verse speaks of a new revelation—righteousness without the law.  This verse seems to indicate that a righteousness of God apart from man keeping God’s law has now been declared.  So thus far one has learned that there exists a newly revealed, now manifested righteousness apart from the lawbreaker’s failed attempts to keep the law.

Thirdly, this righteousness is that of which the Old Testament spoke—being witnessed by the law and the prophets.  These words are valuable above measure in determining what this righteousness truly is.  If one can determine what the law and the prophets were witnessing to, then one will know the meaning of the righteousness of God.  Of what did the Old Testament speak?  In the words of Jesus, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life:  and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39)  In the words of Luke concerning Jesus, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27)  Many other passages could be used to show that the central message and the chief thing witnessed by the Old Testament was the concept of Jesus Christ Himself.

So the meaning of the righteousness really begins to unfold at this point.  It is a now manifested righteousness, a righteousness apart from the law of God, and a righteousness defined by the Old Testament to be the concept of Jesus Christ Himself.  One might ask the question, how can it be said that something is now manifested when that same thing had been witnessed to for centuries?  There is no doubt in looking back at the Old Testament that the law and the prophets had witnessed the concept of Jesus Christ.  But even in hindsight, it must be admitted that this witness was in a vague and shadowy manner and was a revelation without distinct clarity.

Likewise, Jesus Christ in His earthly walk had witnessed this righteousness of God in a personal manner, but perhaps few still understood His manifestation of Himself.  But here in this section of scripture the Holy Spirit manifests to man what He, God, had clearly known all the way along. The Holy Spirit had inspired the Old Testament and in His wisdom had revealed Jesus in a way that was truth, but in a way that was not a clear manifestation to the minds of men.  But now at this time in history the Holy Spirit in the New Testament portion of revelation manifests, declares and reveals the righteousness of God, even the concept of Jesus Christ, in a much clearer fashion.  The time had now come to declare this righteousness of God without the law in a more manifest and open way than ever before.

Finally, this newly revealed righteousness is said to be of God.   It is of God in that its origin is God and not man.  It has been seen that the origin of this righteousness is not in God’s law or in man’s keeping of God’s law.  It is without the law.  The righteousness is a provided righteousness.  It is of God.  It is also of God in that it was planned, prophesied and sent of God.  For it is further seen that the law and the prophets in the Old Testament witnessed to the concept of Jesus Christ, even to His coming as the righteousness of God.

So it is true that the righteousness is of God.  It is not of man and it was sent from God as prophesied.  Jesus Christ was sent from God and the entire concept of Jesus Christ as Savior originates of God.  Moreover, this righteousness, which is of God and not of man, is truly more than of God.  It is God.  It is surely of God, in that it is not of man and it is God prophesied and sent.  But actually the righteousness that He sent was Himself in the form of His Son Jesus Christ.  So the righteousness that is of God actually is the righteousness that is God.  To God be great praise!

In further explanation of the Biblically presented concept of Jesus Christ Himself being the righteousness of God one can consider many things.  Jesus is righteous.  Only Jesus is righteous.  Jesus is all righteousness.  Jesus is the only righteousness.  In the eyes and judgment of God Jesus Christ is the only true righteousness.  Concerning humanity it is declared that there is none righteous, no not one.  When God looks at humanity that is His judgment—none righteous, no not one.  But when God looks at His Son Jesus Christ, He sees perfect righteousness.

The Biblical concept of Jesus Christ presents Him as the Savior of His people.  It presents Him as the one who would take their place on the cross and take their sins upon Himself on the cross.  It presents Him as the one who would give to them in place of their sins, His righteousness.  God would no longer judge them according to their sins committed under the law.  Instead a judgment without the law would occur.  God can look upon their cases not through the concept of the law, but through the concept of Jesus Christ their Savior.  Jesus Christ becomes their righteousness.  He is that righteousness that was not of man but of God.  He had always been this righteousness.  The law and the prophets had witnessed it for centuries.  But through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Jesus Christ was now manifested to be what the plan of God had always had Him to be.  So it seems certain that the righteousness of God apart from the law, now manifested and declared in this verse, and having been witnessed to by the Old Testament, is none other than the concept of Jesus Christ Himself.

After spending so much effort in attempting to understand the meaning of the righteousness of God it can now be noted that though the righteousness of God is the subject of this verse it is not the central thought of the passage.  For in the words, now manifested, and not in the words, the righteousness of God, one finds the actual introduction to the central thought of this section of scripture.  Upon examination of the entire passage a person notes that the forms of the words, manifest, declare and justify (to declare righteousness) appear numerous times.  So this passage deals more with the declaration of the righteousness than with the righteousness itself.

So the central teaching of the entire passage is more than an explanation of the righteousness of God.  It is an explanation of the manifestation of the righteousness of God that now occurs.  It seems that the purpose of the passage is to teach the concept of the manifesting or declaring of the righteousness of God without the law.  The term that describes the declaring of righteousness is justification.  The concept of justification, the central thought of the passage, includes more than the righteousness of God.  To justify involves more than to be righteous.  It is to declare to be righteous.  So this passage deals with a now manifested righteousness of God and what is involved in declaring a sinner to be righteous through this righteousness of God.

Justification is a very important Biblical concept and is explained in detail through this passage.  As previously stated, there is no justifying (declaring of righteousness) in the deeds of the law.  Instead of a declaring of righteousness, there is a declaring of guilt by the law.  But just because there is no declaring of righteousness by the law does not mean that there is no righteousness to be declared.  By the grace of God there is a sufficient righteousness.  The righteousness of God is Jesus Christ Himself.

Interestingly, one will find with further study of this entire passage that this now manifested righteousness of God is an ageless righteousness—never new and without any beginning.  But what is now new is the clear declaration or manifestation of this righteousness of God.  God had obviously known about this righteousness of God without the law from forever.  It did not need to be declared to God.  He knew it already. There is nothing unknown to Him.  There is nothing that needs to be manifested to Him.  But now is the time for God’s children to become much more aware of this righteousness.  As stated in the verse, the law and the prophets had witnessed it.  But this witness was in a vague and shadowy manner.  But here in this section of scripture the Holy Spirit manifests to man what God had clearly known all the way along.

So as one proceeds through this passage it will be seen that the Holy Spirit in these verses teaches not so much about the righteousness of God, but more specifically, He teaches about the declaring of the righteousness of God.  The time had now come to declare this righteousness of God without the law in a more manifest and open way than ever before.  And this section of scripture, much more than simply dealing with the righteousness of God without the law, deals with the declaring of the righteousness of God to man apart from the law.  The declaration of this righteousness of God is by definition justification and there is little doubt that justification is the central theme of this entire passage.

 

22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

Perhaps, three things need to be remembered as one begins to examine this verse.  First, one needs to remember that the theme of the entire passage is justification, the declaration of righteousness.  And since the sinner has no righteousness, the declared righteousness must be the righteousness of God.  Secondly, one needs to be reminded that the righteousness of God is the concept of Jesus Christ Himself, and any declaration of righteousness must be a declaration of this concept.   And thirdly, one might be further reminded that God needed no manifestation of the concept of Jesus Christ to Himself.  No new manifestation has ever come to Him.  It is unnecessary that anything be declared to God.  He by His omniscience knows all.  Surely He has always had an understanding of the concept of Jesus Christ, alluded to in the law and the prophets, and declared openly here.

But man is much different to God.  He needed to have the righteousness of God, the concept of Jesus Christ, clearly manifested to him.  So one should not think of this verse as declaring anything to God.  Instead, one needs to think of this verse as teaching the manner in which God shows to man what God had already known.

The verse begins with the words, even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ.  If one understands that the word is means to exist, then the verse might be restated by the words, even the righteousness of God which exists by faith of Jesus Christ.  And if one again recalls that the righteousness of God is the concept of Jesus Christ Himself; then, the verse can finally be restated with the words, even the concept of Jesus Christ Himself which exists by faith of Jesus Christ.

Does man’s faith cause Jesus to exist?  No, He has existed eternally and continues to eternally exist with or without faith in anyone.  Does man’s faith cause the concept of Him as the righteousness of God to exist?  No, the full concept of Jesus as the righteousness of God has always existed in the mind of God.  God needs no means to cause something to be in His mind.  All knowledge exists in His mind without means.  Then if Jesus has always existed without any means including faith, and if the concept of Him as the righteousness of God has always existed without any means including faith, how can it be said that the righteousness of God (the concept of Jesus Christ Himself) exists by faith?

Concepts exist in minds.  The concept of Jesus Christ Himself exists in the mind of God without faith, but the concept exists in the mind of man by faith—and only by faith.  Faith is the crucial necessity that allows the true concept of Jesus to exist in the mind of a man.  The realm of the human mind is the realm of existence referred to in the verse. By faith the mind takes hold of the concept of Jesus Christ.

What is the concept of Jesus Christ that exists in the mind by faith?  The gospel declares the concept of Jesus Christ.  In the gospel is the righteousness of God (the concept of Jesus Christ) revealed from faith to faith. (Romans 1:17)  Truly the righteousness of God declared in the gospel is the whole concept of Jesus Christ.  The righteousness of God is Christ and His accomplishments.  The concept of Jesus Christ that exists in the mind is the understanding and full assurance in the mind that the atonement of Christ is the sure ground of the lawbreaker’s acceptance by God and understanding and full assurance in the mind of the certainty of the sinner’s final salvation.  This concept has always existed in the mind of God, but the concept exists in the mind of man only by faith.

To slightly digress, perhaps at this point, one needs to attempt to understand some things taught in the Bible about faith.  Faith can be defined in a lot of ways, but one scripture describes it to be “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)  Something with substance has realness to it and can be taken hold of.  How can that which is only hoped for be truly taken hold of while it is yet hoped for?  Likewise, that which gives evidence is that which is known.  How can something that is not seen be truly known while it is yet unseen?  The answers to these mysteries lie in the God given gift of faith.  Faith is what allows the realm of the invisible to be clearly seen; yet it is so much more than imagination.  Faith is what lets one actually take hold of the real substance of that which literally exists out of one’s reach.  Faith brings a reality to what would seem to exist only in the realm of that which is yet hoped for.

How can a person hold to that which seemingly cannot yet be held?  How can something truly have a present reality when as yet it lies in the realm of hope?  Or how can one actually see that which cannot be seen?  The answer is by the wonder of faith.  In the faith empowered mind the yet to be and the unseen are as real as if they existed already and were in full grip and in full view.   The explanation to this apparent impossibility is that the mind of the one possessing God’s marvelous gift of faith has abilities beyond the realm of natural possibilities.

Perhaps no one fully comprehends the wonder of the miracle of faith.  Many people who have faith probably do not truly appreciate what they have been given.  Many may take for granted this ability to hold the unreachable, to see the invisible and to know the eternal.  Most even take lightly the marvel that the concept of Jesus Christ Himself could exist in the mind of a man.  The majority seems to think that man just innately has faith or that man can of his own power produce and exercise faith.  But those who begin to understand the wonder of faith, begin to see a phenomenon in which the source of origin and direction of focus is one—even God.

What does the Bible say about faith?  How does faith come to exist in the thought processes of a man?  How does this realization of the concept of Jesus and His finished work come to be in the mind of a man?  Does man just have this innately?  Can he learn it by natural intellect?  No, the scriptures declare that the concepts of God are foolishness to the natural man with a natural mind. (1 Corinthians 2:14)

If the concept of Jesus Christ does not exist in the mind naturally then how does it come to exist in the mind?  The scriptures are clear concerning the origin of faith.  This present verse under study and many others teach that the origin of faith in man is God Himself.  In this verse in Romans one finds the words, faith of Jesus Christ.  One should pay particular attention to the words.  The verse states that this faith is of Jesus Christ.  The faith is not said to be in Jesus Christ, but of Jesus Christ.  To be of Jesus means to be from Jesus.  So faith is said to be of Jesus, meaning its origin is from Him.

This should not be surprising.  The Bible in many places teaches that God is the source of the miracle of faith.  The scriptures say that faith is a gift of God, or the same as saying a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:8)  It is further said that faith is a fruit of the Spirit.  In other words, faith is a result or consequence of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22)  It is also said that Jesus is the author of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)  Yet further, it is stated that “it is given…to believe on him.” (Philippians 1:29)  Finally it is said that the same power that was worked in Christ to raise Him from the dead is worked in us who believe. (Ephesians 1:17-20)  So the faith that is in the man is not of the man.  It is a wonderful gift from God to the man.

Regretfully, many have misunderstood the wonder of faith and the miracle of the gift of faith. Many have missed the idea incorporated in the words, faith of Jesus Christ.  And as a result of these misunderstandings, the majority seems to believe the proposal that one can conjure up faith.  And then it is believed that this self-produced faith is the cause of one’s righteousness.

Does faith in the mind of an individual cause Jesus to come into that individual?  Or does Jesus come into the individual and give to the mind of that individual the gift of faith?  Popular opinion seems to respond to the first question in the affirmative, but the scriptures seem to repeatedly teach an affirmative to the latter as the correct response.  The Bible in many places, including this verse, states that faith comes from Jesus as a gift to the mind of the individual.  And what a gift of reassurance that faith is to the mind of a man!  For after receiving the gift of faith from Jesus, the individual can know that Jesus not only exists, but that He exists as the righteousness of God and that He exists as the atonement for the sinner.

On the contrary, it is equally true that without the presence of faith in the mind, the concept of Jesus Christ as the righteousness of God and the atonement of the sinner cannot exist in the mind.  The scriptures clearly teach that the mind in its natural state, a mind without God-given faith, will not receive such ideas and to that mind such concepts are considered to be foolishness. (1 Corinthians 2:14)  And as previously considered the only way the faith can be present in the mind is if God gives it to the mind.

Consequently, there is only one possible sequence to these things.  Christ first comes into the mind with the gift of faith.  Then the mind in possession of the faith can understand spiritual things—even the concept of Jesus Christ Himself.  And to the mind gifted with faith the concept of Jesus Christ as the righteousness of God is not foolishness, but a glorious thought of reassurance and comfort.

In an attempt to tie these things to the verse at hand, one should now reconsider the opening words of the verse.  It has previously been written that the words, even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ, can be restated with the words, even the concept of Jesus Christ Himself which exists by faith of Jesus Christ.   (This was based upon the understanding that the righteousness of God is equivalent to the concept of Jesus Christ Himself, and based upon the understanding that the word is means exists.)

Considering the concept of Jesus Christ Himself, it can be noted that this concept of Him incorporates a vast host of things, even all His accomplishments.  But surely among these things would be the understanding and assurance in the mind that the atonement of Christ is the sure ground of the lawbreaker’s acceptance by God and the understanding and the assurance in the mind of the certainty of the lawbreaker’s final salvation.

Considering the words, exists by faith, it can be noted that the concept exists by faith in the mind of man and not in the mind of God.  For surely the concept of Jesus exists in the mind of God without the means of faith, but can only exist in the mind of man by the means of faith.

Considering the words, by faith, one further notes that the righteousness of God or the concept of Jesus Christ Himself does not intrinsically exist in the mind of man.  It can exist, and can only exist, in the mind of man by faith.  The concept exists intrinsically in the mind of God without the means of faith, but the concept exists in the human mind by faith.

And finally considering the words, of Christ, one can see that the origin of the faith that allows the concept to exist in the human mind is Jesus Christ.  Faith is a gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)  And it is a gift for a purpose.  The purpose is so that something wonderful can exist in the mind gifted with faith.  That something wonderful that is enabled to exist in the faith-gifted mind is the concept of Jesus Christ Himself.  And that concept includes but is not limited to the understanding and assurance in the mind that the atonement of Christ is the certain basis of the lawbreaker’s acceptance by God and the understanding and full assurance of the certainty of his final salvation.

In the conclusion of the verse one finds the words, unto all and upon all them that believe:  for there is no difference.  These words follow the words, by faith of Jesus Christ, and surely expound and enlarge the understanding of a faith of Jesus or a faith that has its origin in Jesus.   

To introduce a discussion on these concluding words of the verse a question might be posed.  Do all individuals in the world have this faith as a gift from Jesus?  No, the scriptures are clear that all men have not faith. (2 Thessalonians 3:2)  As previously noted, the individuals who have faith have received it by grace as a gift from God and a brief description of the manner in which they receive this from Jesus Christ is given by the remaining words of the verse:  unto all and upon all them that believe:  for there is no difference.

The faith is said to be unto (appointed to and provided for) all them that believe.  It is said to be upon (applied to and placed on) all them that believe.  And to whom is it upon and unto?  The answer seems to be to all, without exception, that believe.  In other words, there is no way to be in the group that believes without having first received the faith as a gift of Jesus unto and upon the mind.  Faith exclusively exists only in the minds of the persons to whom Jesus Christ has appointed it, provided it, applied it and placed it.

The final words, for there is no difference, further indicate that there is no other method, no different plan or means by which these things can be accomplished.  The only way by which the concept of Jesus Christ can exist in the mind is the way described herein.  It exists in the mind exclusively by the means of given faith.  Any and all that believe have it unto them and upon them.  There is no alternative method to knowing and understanding these things. There is no different means.  Faith is of Him to the mind, so that the mind might understand Him and praise Him.

So the Jesus given faith is the necessary prerequisite and the essential requirement by which the concept of Jesus Christ Himself can exist in the mind.  The miracle of faith must be given to the mind and be present in the mind before the concept can be sensible and not foolishness.  But to the mind that believes there is a great assurance.  If the concept is a glorious concept to the mind, instead of foolishness to the mind, then there must have been a wonderful chain of events working unto and upon that mind.

By working backwards through the chain one can see that if the concept is understood, then that is evidence that faith had already existed in the mind to enable the understanding to occur.  And if faith had already existed in the mind, then that is evidence that the Spirit of Christ had already entered into the individual and had already given to the individual the fruit of His Spirit, faith.  And if the Spirit of Christ had already entered into the individual, then a work is begun and the scriptures are clear that “he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)  With God a work begun is a work completed and the completed work will be an eternal relationship with Christ, even an eternal salvation for the sinner.  So an understanding of and a rejoicing in the concept of Jesus Christ is strong and sure evidence that Christ has begun this chain of events. And if this good work has begun in the individual, then eternal life is his sure hope.  

 

23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 

The introductory word, for, means because and indicates that this statement is making an explanation of the previous statement.  So the idea in the last verse is known to be true because of what is presented here.  In other words, for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (or because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God) is stated here as the explanation of what has been said previously.  It was observed in the study of the previous verse that the Jesus-given gift of faith is necessary in order that the concept of Jesus can exist in the mind.  And it is exclusively and only by the gift of faith that the concept can exist in the mind.  And without the gift of faith the concept cannot exist in the mind.  So this verse further explains why it is an absolute necessity and essential prerequisite that the faith must first be given before the mind can know.

The reason that the faith must first be given is incorporated in the solemn words, for all have sinned.  The extent of this sin is so often misunderstood and underestimated.  A failure to understand the extent of the sin leads to a failure to understand the necessity of the gift of faith before any understanding can occur.  A proper understanding of the simple words, for all have sinned, allows one to see the true position of a person apart from the work of Jesus.

When Adam sinned and by him sin entered the world, man was driven from the presence of God.  There were Cherubims and a flaming sword which turned every way placed at the east of the Garden of Eden to keep the way of the tree of life. (Genesis 3:24)  Man could never or would never be able to return to God of his own strength or initiative.  But there would be a way maintained for the return of man to God.  And that way is none other than the way of the tree of life.  Jesus is the tree of life and Jesus is the way that is kept.

So if a return is made it must be exclusively through the work of Jesus.  The fall of man was so extensive that he cannot come back unless drawn by God. (John 6:44)  Furthermore, man will not come to Jesus by his own nature that he might have life. (John 5:40)  Moreover, “no man knoweth the Son, save the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27)  “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” (Romans 3:11)  And the carnal mind is enmity against God. (Romans 8:7)  So why would one desire to approach unto God and draw near to God when He is perceived with such enmity?  The answer is that unregenerate man has no desire to approach unto God and he will not come unto Him whom he hates.

Thus because all have sinned, and are sinners, and have a carnal mind exempt of spiritual thoughts, and by nature come short of being able to understand the concept of Jesus Christ, there is none who will or can come to God.  They have all come short of the glory of God.  This is not a near miss.  There is no knowledge of spiritual things and no interest in the concept of Jesus Christ in a natural mind.  All have fallen in Adam and possess the nature of depraved carnality.  “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God:  for they are foolishness unto him:  neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)  The natural mind is dead to spiritual things.  And in its state of deadness it cannot understand and respond to spiritual things.  So because of the extent of the fallen condition of the natural mind the concept of Jesus Christ is not in any of the mind’s thoughts.

The only way to return, the way kept by the flaming sword, is the way of the tree of life. This way of the tree of life is the way provided by God for man to return to God.  This way of the tree of life is Jesus Christ—the way, the truth and the life.  The way for a man to know God can and does only exist by Jesus and by His giving the miracle of faith.  Faith is always of Jesus Christ, or from Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all that believe:  for there is no other way that it can exist in the mind of a man.

The all have sinned, exceedingly sinful condition of existence in which man dwells prior to the giving of faith causes him to come short of the glory of God.  He comes short of the glory of God in all categories.  But specific to this study he comes short in understanding the concept of Jesus Christ and thereby giving glory to God.

In summation, because of the fact that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, the only way that one can come to the understanding in the mind of the concept of Jesus Christ is by the gift of faith.  Thus, this verse explains the reason for and is the proof of the necessity of the gift of faith.  The reason for this lies in the simple but sobering words, for all have sinned.  The severity of the problem stated in these words cannot be exaggerated.  The gap between God and man is an insurmountable chasm impassable by man.  The only cure to these words, for all have sinned, is Jesus Christ.   

 

24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Perhaps, a brief review is in order before beginning the study of this verse.  In order to attain the real meaning of this verse in its context, it is imperative that one continues to keep in mind the central thought of the passage.  The continuing theme of the teaching is justification—the declaration of righteousness or innocence.  The core idea of this entire section of scripture is the manifestation or the declaring of righteousness.

But one must remember that the righteousness declared is the righteousness of God, even the declaring of the concept of Jesus Christ Himself.  The law has declared sinners to be condemned.  But a righteousness of God separate from the sinner and the law is now manifested.  The concept of this righteousness provided by God is equivalent to the concept of Jesus Christ Himself.

This righteousness of God, the concept of Jesus Christ, exists by God-given faith in the minds of individuals to whom Jesus has given the faith.  It is manifested and declared to them by this means and only by this means.  And before the gift of faith the sinner is in such a state that he cannot know anything concerning these issues.

Again, it is not necessary to declare this righteousness of God, the concept of Jesus Christ Himself, to God.  He knows it already.  So, it should be remembered that in this passage the place of existence of this concept of Jesus Christ Himself is the human mind gifted by faith.  It is in the mind that the concept exists and it is by the gift of faith that it is able to exist there.  So this verse is still dealing with the mind that has faith and the state of that mind.

By the word, being, one sees that the verse is a statement of existence.  The state of existence spoken of is the particular state of being justified.  To be justified is to be declared righteous.  So the state of existence referred to is a state of being declared righteous.  One should remember from previous teachings that the state of existence spoken of in the passage is the position or state of the mind with the gift of faith.  And thus the faith-endowed mind is spoken of as being justified, or existing in a justified state, or existing in a state of declared righteousness or innocence.

Furthermore, the verse not only declares the state of the mind, but also declares how the mind comes to be in that state.  It could be said and it may be true that the word, freely, and the words, by his grace, are simply stating and then restating the same thought.  For whatever is by his grace is by definition free. But the word, freely, as used here probably does more than emphasize the character of grace.  Freely very likely has the meaning “without a cause.”  In the original it is the same as, “they hated me without a cause.” (John 15:25)  There surely was a cause that prompted them to hate Him, but the idea is that that cause was not in Christ.  Nothing in Him was the cause of their hatred toward Him.  And in this verse the meaning is probably the same.  There is a cause, but the cause of the declared righteousness is not in the sinner himself.  The cause and the means by which the mind is in the state of declared righteous are by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

So in summation thus far, the state of the sinner’s mind spoken of here is a state of being justified.  His mind exists in a position of declared righteousness and innocence.  The sinner sees himself and the sinner declares himself to exist in a state of righteousness.  And the reason for the sinner seeing and declaring himself to be righteous is not in the self.  When he looks at self, he sees that there can be no cause within self to declare righteousness.  But instead of only seeing self, the sinner with the faith-gifted mind can see the concept of Jesus Christ.  This faith in the mind allows the mind to see that Jesus Christ is the sinner’s righteousness.

So the declaration of righteousness that occurs in the mind does not come from self-righteousness, but from an understanding of the righteousness that is of God.  And the righteousness of God is the concept of Jesus Christ Himself.  The mind that knows and understands with full assurance that the atonement of Christ is the sure ground of the lawbreaker’s acceptance by God and the mind that understands with full assurance the certainty of the sinner’s final salvation, is the mind that exists in a state of declared righteousness.  This mind with this understanding is the mind that exists justified.  And the basis of the existence in a state of being able to see and declare self to be righteous has no cause in self.  But the basis is through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

In other words, the state of existence in the mind of being in a state of declared righteousness occurs in the faith-gifted mind upon the understanding of the concept of Jesus Christ.  Or it exists in the mind when the mind grasps what is meant by the words, by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.  Thus, the state of existence in the mind of being justified (or existing in a state of declared righteous) occurs in the mind freely (without a cause in self) when the mind sees that the righteousness is by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

This verse describes the mind of the possessor of faith.  This mind has come to understand the concept of Jesus Christ Himself and thereby exists in a new state.  The mind with faith in the concept of Jesus Christ is able to look at itself, and in spite of itself, still declare itself to be righteous.  For the righteousness it now senses is not a righteousness of self and the cause of the righteousness it senses is not of self.  For the righteousness of God, even the concept of Jesus Christ Himself, by faith now exists in the mind.  And the mind can now sense itself righteous and declare itself to be righteous not by its own righteousness, but by the righteousness that exists in the concept of Jesus Christ Himself.

The mind could never declare itself righteous or justify itself by looking at the many times the law has been broken.  It could never exist in a state of declared righteousness by realizing that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  The mind with faith can never declare itself righteous, or justify itself, by looking at the failures of self.  But the declaring of the self to be righteous can only come by faith in something beyond self.  It can only come by understanding the righteousness of God, even the concept of Jesus Christ Himself.

The righteousness of God, even the concept of Jesus Christ Himself, is stated in the words, by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.  The understanding of grace given through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus allows the mind to make a declaration to itself and concerning itself.  God has been able to make the declaration to Himself throughout eternity.  He has always understood the concept of Jesus Christ.  Yet the mind of man requires an understanding of the concept of Jesus Christ Himself, and faith in that concept, to sense itself to exist in a state of righteousness.

Now the understanding, and the ability to understand, and the faith itself are all gifts of God.  But once that faith gives that sense of understanding to the mind that the self exists in a righteous state in the sight of God by the finished work of Jesus Christ, then that mind can declare to the self that the self is righteous.  And the mind is said to exist in a state of being justified.  At that point the mind exists in a state of declared righteousness.  The gift of faith allows the mind to exist in a state of declaring itself righteous not by the works of self, but through the redemption of Jesus.  Oh what a peaceful state of mind!!  It is impossible to have this state of mind without faith.  It is impossible to possess this state of mind looking to self.  But it is a state of mind that occurs by faith and faith exists in that mind by grace.

After having considered this verse as a description of the state of existence of a human mind that sees itself justified without any cause in self, but declaring itself righteous based on his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, it is now interesting to look at the verse with a different view.  Though the thought expressed in this verse is true concerning the minds of men, would the thought not be just as true concerning the mind of God?

Yes, one could certainly say that the verse aptly describes the mind of God.  And it is freely admitted that the words of the verse perfectly describe the mind of God as He looks at a redeemed sinner’s case.  There is no doubt that justification does occur in the mind of God.  There is no doubt that in the mind of God lawbreakers exist in a state of declared righteousness freely (without a cause in the sinner himself) by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.  The words of the verse exactly describe what occurs in the mind of God as He declares sinners to be righteous.  Moreover, the verse could be a great summation statement of the righteousness that is of God.  It describes the concept of Jesus Christ and is agreeable with the testimony throughout the scriptures concerning Jesus and the means by which sinners can stand before God in a righteous existence.

So whose mind is described here, God’s mind or man’s mind?  Does one have to make a choice?  Could it be both?  In Old Testament writings oftentimes the same words perfectly described the men and events of that day, while at the same time perfectly describing Christ and the events at His coming.  Were God’s people not instructed to look for a dual fulfillment in prophecies?  They were told to look for one fulfillment at the time of the prophecy to authenticate the prophet and another fulfillment oftentimes of the same prophecy in generations to come?

Yes, it is very possible that this verse is intended to describe the states of two minds, God’s and man’s.  This is perhaps a marvelous pivotal verse in the teachings of the entire passage.  It serves as a fitting summation statement for the previous teachings concerning the state of existence of a faith-endowed human mind.  And as food for thought, one may see in the study of the following verses that the application of the verse to the mind of God may fit well into the later context of the passage.  So one may see in this verse a transitioning.  It is a statement that brings together the discussion of the mind of man, while at the same time introducing the discussion of the mind of God.  Oh the wonder of the depths of God’s word!  

 

25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 

At first there appears to be two possible interpretations to this verse.  One possibility is that the propitiation or reconciliation spoken of is in the mind of the lawbreaker.  Here similar to previous verses, the thought would be that God set forth or foreordained Jesus Christ to be the concept that would allow lawbreakers to see themselves in a state of reconciliation and peace with God.  By their own sins they are proven to be and seen by themselves to be guilty.  But through the gift of faith enabling them to understand the concept of Jesus and His blood and His accomplishments, they are able to see themselves in a position of being reconciled by that blood to God.  And God has through the gift of faith declared to the mind of a man His (God’s) righteousness.  Looking at the verse in this fashion would make, His righteousness, in this verse equivalent to the righteousness of God spoken of in the earlier passage.  But in this possibility it seems that the forbearance of God spoken of in the verse has little significance.  Surely, the forbearance of God must refer to something that is going on in the mind of God and not in the mind of man.  So if the verse is declaring something that is going on in the mind of man after man receives faith and can declare himself righteous not by his own works, but by the work of Christ, where does the forbearance of God fit in?

Thus another possible explanation of the verse seems more plausible.  The other possibility is that Paul is here explaining the mind of God.  He is here declaring that God is righteous in His actions.  In this way of looking at the text the words, his righteousness, would describe the character of being right that belongs to God as a possession.  And specifically Paul is declaring that God is righteous in His dealing with sins of the past.  He is declaring that God is righteous in admitting to heaven men who died before the time of Christ.  For those who died before the time of Christ would appear from a human standpoint to have been allowed into heaven before the proper time.  And the question might be raised as to whether God can be declared righteous in these things.

When first considering this idea, one might feel that it is a sudden change of direction and surely could not fit into the context of the passage.  Yet with further examination, this thought does seem to exactly fit into the context.  If one were to jump to the next verse, there is little doubt that it is a defense of the righteousness of God, meaning a declaration that God is right in what He does.  So the transition must occur somewhere and upon close inspection the transition may, quite possibly, begin not in this verse or the next verse but actually in the previous verse.  The previous verse is really where the thought begins to slightly change.  For in the discussion of the previous verse it has already been mentioned that there is the possibility of looking at that verse in two different ways.  That in itself may make that verse the transition verse.  For the two ways of looking at the verse are the same except that one is applied to the understanding in the mind of man and the other the understanding in the mind of God.

One might remember that the previous verse seemed to have application to the God-given faith in the mind of a man declaring to the individual himself his state of righteousness through understanding the concept of Jesus Christ Himself.  In other words, being justified, or existing in a state of declared righteousness, could have application to the state of mind of the sinner who is enabled to declare himself righteous not from a cause within himself but by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

And one might further remember that the same verse could at the same time be applied to the mind of God, when He looks at the concept of Jesus Christ and declares sinners to be righteous.  Or in other words, being justified (existing in a state of declared righteousness) could have application to the state of existence that the sinner occupies in the eternal scheme of things.  And the verse could be thought of as being justified in the mind of God, without a cause from the sinner, but by grace and through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.  It was previously stated that it would be difficult to distinguish which idea is being put forth by the verse.  But if the verse was a transition verse, it may be that it both closes a thought on the human mind and opens a thought on the mind of God.

Furthermore, considering that the central concept of the entire passage is the declaring of righteousness, one is not surprised to find that a defense of and a declaring of the righteousness of God in the process of salvation would be in order.  It would seem very much appropriate for the passage to be certain to defend God and prove that He maintains His total, complete and absolute righteousness in the salvation of sinners.  So a possible explanation of the verse is that Paul is here explaining the mind of God and declaring that God is righteous in admitting men to heaven at what would appear from a human standpoint to be a time before the proper time.

The verse states that God previously set forth or foreordained Jesus to be something, and that something was a propitiation.  Simply put, propitiation is reconciliation.  When did this setting forth of Jesus to be a propitiation occur?  It must have occurred when the plan of salvation was set up or foreordained.  So when was this plan set up or when was Jesus set forth?  It was certainly already known and established in the garden when the prophecy concerning the seed of the woman was spoken. (Genesis 3:15)  Indeed, it is clear from many scriptures that the setting forth surely had been established prior to the beginning of the world.  Jesus is said to be the lamb slain from “the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8)  God’s promise of eternal life was made before the world began. (Titus 1:2)  Likewise, it is said that men are saved and called “according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” (2 Timothy 1:9)  From these passages and many more which could be cited it is certain that God was aware of the method to be used when the promise was made and that the promise was made before time.  All was set forth.  All was foreordained.

So a covenant was entered into between God the Father and God the Son before time, and in that covenant a plan of salvation was established whereby Jesus would save from their sins those given to Him by the Father.  There was a time appointed in that plan, even an hour appointed for Jesus to come into the world and redeem those people.  “When the fullness of time was come God sent forth His Son.” (Galatians 4:4)  At times Jesus escaped the attempts of men to kill Him because “His hour was not yet come.” (John 7:30, 8:20) Yet, at the appointed time it was said that His hour was come. (John 12:23, 13:1, 17:1)  So there was a God established time in the plan for Christ to become the redemption for His people.

The apparent problem with the timing of the plan, as far as a human mind would consider things, is that the redemption was made thousands of years after men had already lived and died in this world.  What was the situation of God’s children who had lived and died in the days of the Old Testament?  Jesus had already taught concerning Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, for instance, that God was not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. (Mark 12:26-27)  So it is obvious that these men of old were alive and with God in heaven before the actual redemption at the cross had occurred.

This raises a great question as to how such a thing could be.  And if it were so, how could it be right?  The answer is given in this verse.  God, knowing what Jesus had promised and knowing the character of the promise maker, was fully persuaded that the promise would be kept.  God was so fully persuaded that Jesus would fulfill the promise that there was no doubt in His mind concerning the entire issue.  He had full trust, full confidence, and complete faith in Him to do it.  Thus the One, whom God set forth to be a propitiation, was considered by God to be that propitiation from the time of the setting forth and well before the time of the actual act of propitiation.  In the mind of God, Jesus was “the lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev 13:8)  So through the trust in, the confidence in, the faith in the eventual shedding of that blood, the infinite, all-knowing mind of God was satisfied with the act before the act.

Some would perhaps question whether it could be said of God that He has faith.  It is admitted that God does not have faith in the same sense as men.  God does not need to have faith, nor does He use faith to see things in the future.  Surely, God sees all times plainly and has no need of faith in this capacity.  He has perfect knowledge and sees clearly all things without the means of faith.  But it may be said of God that He has faith in the sense of having confidence.  As a matter of fact, His perfect sight of the future would give Him perfect confidence.  And His perfect confidence in Jesus as a propitiation is the perfect defense that He is righteous in accepting the blood as payment before the actual time of the payment.

So God had considered His children who died before the time of Jesus’ death to be in a state of existence described by the words in the previous verse:  being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.  And upon that declaration of righteousness without a cause of the man but by the foreseen grace through the redemption that would be in Christ Jesus at the cross, God had admitted countless souls to heaven at what some would ignorantly say was before the proper time and thus accuse God of unrighteousness.  But the truth here taught in this verse is that though they were in heaven before the time of the act of propitiation, they were not there before the setting forth of the plan.  And the thing that made it right for God to seemingly prematurely admit them was His complete confidence and total faith in the integrity of Jesus to do what He had committed to do.

So God’s having previously set forth and foreordained Jesus to be a reconciliation through trust in Jesus’ blood both to be shed and to be effective is what allows God to both maintain and to declare His (God’s) righteousness in remitting sins in the past.  God here declares His (God’s) righteousness in the act of admitting men to heaven in what might appear to be a time too early.  To man and his finite viewpoint it is almost as if the sins were paid for before they were paid for.  But here God defends Himself and His infinite view in declaring His righteousness for the remission of past sins before the actual payment had been received.

In concluding the discussion of this verse, two things are said to be included in His willingness to remit the sins that were past.  First of all, God’s willingness rested in the confidence, trust and faith He had in the promised blood of His dear Son.  And secondly, His willingness to remit ahead of time is said to be through His forbearance.

Forbearance is patience and it is a wonderful attribute of God.  Through His patience we are not all consumed and through that same great patience He allowed men to enjoy heaven for what seemed to be years ahead of time.  And God was perfectly right in doing this because once Jesus was set forth or foreordained by God to pay the price required for remission, and once Jesus had promised in covenant to pay the price of remission, then God’s confidence in His Son allowed God to maintain His righteousness while allowing men entry into glory.

This verse declares God to be without sin for the salvation of men before the time of Christ.  The next verse continues the thought by declaring God to be without sin when He by the same scheme saves men since the time of Christ.  There is one Way of salvation and He is Jesus.  Moreover, God has maintained His righteousness in using that plan and continues to be righteous in the continued use of Jesus as the plan.    

 

26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.  

The words, to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness, are a continuation of the defense of God’s righteousness that was begun in the previous verse.  In the discussion of the previous verse it was noted that a defense of God and a declaration of His righteousness was presented regarding the possibility that God may be wrong in allowing lawbreaker’s into heaven before the actual time of payment for their sins.  This verse continues that same defense and declaration, but takes it into the time since the shedding of the blood of Christ.  This verse jumps from the past sins that were covered to sins at this time.  A declaration of God’s righteousness in dealing with sins of the present time is exactly the same as the declaration of His righteousness in dealing with sins of past times.  There is only one plan of salvation for all times and God is here declared righteous in using that plan.

The idea is that God is not wrong in using the concept of Jesus Christ as the sole means to salvation.  God is just or right in foreordaining or setting forth Jesus to be the propitiation or the reconciliation for sinners.  God is not wrong in using this plan to save sinners before the time of Christ.  God is not wrong to continue with the same plan since the time of Christ.  He has ever been just in all His actions and He is just and right in this, also.  The setting forth or foreordaining of Jesus Christ to be a propitiation and the confidence God had in Jesus’ commitment to shed His effectual blood was sufficient for hundreds of years to save men before the shedding of that blood.  And likewise, the same confidence in the same foreordained Jesus allows God at this time, after the fact of the shedding of the blood, to save in the same manner and by the same plan and through the shedding of the blood of the same Savior, Jesus Christ.

After declaring God to be righteous in saving sinners, both before and after the time of Christ, Paul moves to a most amazing statement in the latter part of this verse of scripture.  For in a remarkable way the statement ties together the teachings of the entire passage.  Two ideas, the righteousness of God and his righteousness, have been presented in the passage.  The two might at first appear to be synonymous phrases.  But in the context of usage there appears to be a distinct difference in the two.  The righteousness of God has been shown to be the concept of Jesus Christ Himself as witnessed by the law and the prophets.  On the other hand, his righteousness has been shown to be the character of being right that belongs to God as a possession.

The two meanings and the two thoughts are brought together in the statement, that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.  The first portion of the statement, that he might be just, sums up the defense that God is a righteous God.  It is a declaration of his righteousness, a declaration that He has saved imperfect men and placed them in His perfect presence and has done it in a way that allowed Him to maintain His integrity.

The second portion of the statement, that he might be…the justifier…, sums up the defense of the righteousness of God.  These words declare that God is right in recognizing Jesus Christ, the righteousness of God, as sufficient grounds for declaring sinners to be righteous.  This is a statement declaring the effectiveness of Jesus Christ as the righteousness of God.  It is an affirmation that the concept of Jesus Christ as a Savior shedding His blood is a satisfactory basis by which God might justify or declare sinners to be righteous.  Through the perfect solution, even the concept of Jesus Christ Himself, God can rightly declare sinners to without sin.  He does justify sinners.  He does declare sinners to be righteous.  How can God be right if He declares a sinner to be righteous?  How can God be right if He declares the guilty to be innocent?  God can do this and be right in doing it because the blood of Jesus has removed the sins and guilt from the sinner.  Through the righteousness of God, the concept of Jesus Christ Himself, God can legitimately do that which would be impossible for the sinner by any means to do.

This statement by Paul masterfully connects God’s righteousness with the righteousness of God.  Truly it was not an easy thing for God to save sinners and at the same time to remain righteous.  A good and righteous judge must dole out punishment for sins or he is not a good and righteous judge.  A just judge must not ignore crime; he must punish it.  From an earthly point of view, a judge cannot be just in declaring the guilty to be innocent.  How can God be just in declaring righteousness?  How can God be just in declaring innocence?  How can God be just in justifying?

The solution to this dilemma was that Christ suffered punishment for His people.  The punishment that the righteous judge, even God, would deem appropriate for all the sins and crimes that all His people had committed or ever would commit was put upon Jesus by God’s foreordained plan.  And the righteous judge is still a righteous judge.  His righteousness is still intact.  His integrity is maintained by His incredible plan of the ages that He set forth.  The accomplishment of Christ on the cross is the solution whereby the righteous God would punish sin, and at the same time save sinners, and at the same time remain the righteous God.  Yes, it is a perfect plan:  the set forth Christ, and His blood for the remission of sins, and Him to be a propitiation for sins.  It is a plan that will declare, I say at this time his righteousness:  that he might be just.

Jesus Christ is that perfect righteousness of God.  The whole idea of the Son of God being born of a virgin, becoming Immanuel, living a perfect life, dying a sacrificial death, taking the sins of His people upon Himself at the cross, paying for those sins, removing them from His people, giving to His people His righteousness and presenting His people to God as a righteous people is included in the concept of Jesus Christ, the one who is the righteousness of God.   It is through this concept of Jesus Christ and through the accomplishments of this man Jesus Christ that God might be…the justifier.  God can truly declare His people righteous and innocent because Jesus has totally removed from them their sin and guilt.  Yes, the concept of Jesus Christ as Savior is sufficient righteousness.  It is the righteousness of God for man.  Oh, the glory of the thought that God “made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (1 Corinthians 5:21)

So the teachings in the phrase, his righteous, are summed up in the statement, that he might be just.  And the teachings in the phrase, the righteousness of God, are summed up in the words, that he might be…the justifier.  This truly is an amazing summation statement; for it distinguishes and at the same time ties together the two aspects of righteousness taught in the passage.

To complete a study of this verse, one might further consider the words, him that believeth in Jesus.  There is much potential for confusion if these words are taken in the wrong way.  The basis for this justification is confusing to many people.  Many would say that man’s faith is what declares man to be righteous in the eyes of God.  But faith is not the declarer; God is the declarer.  In this statement credit is given to God for being the justifier of him who believes in Jesus.  The statement declares God to be the one performing the operation.  He is the justifier.  He is the one declaring the righteousness and innocence.

At this point many would say that man’s faith may not be the declarer, but it is the basis for the justification.  Or many would say that believing in Jesus is the moving force that causes God to declare the man to be righteous.  These statements are not true and are not incorporated in the thought represented in the words, justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.  The believing in Jesus is not the basis of the justification before God.  Instead, the righteousness of God bestowed upon the people by Jesus’ blood is the basis of the justification before God.  The concept of Jesus Christ as Savior is the basis of the righteousness.  And the concept of Jesus Christ as Savior is the basis for the declaring of the righteousness.

So the words, which believeth in Jesus, are not the basis for justification.  Instead they are a description of the man that is declared righteous.  As a matter of fact, believing in Jesus is the result of an action of God when He gives the fruit of the Spirit subsequent to the new birth.  Believing in Jesus is a gift of God to the man.  It is not the cause of righteousness.  It is the result of a righteous act performed in the man by the Holy Spirit.  The cause of the righteousness in the man is the blood of Jesus Christ.  And the basis by which God declares the man righteous is the blood of Jesus Christ.  And the believing in Jesus is a description of the character of the new-born man in which these things have been done.        

 

27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.  

In this verse a final blow is given to any who would still think that men and their works or men and their faith are in any way the cause or means of attaining what Christ has totally accomplished.  God foreordained and set forth that Jesus would be the propitiation or reconciliation.  The only righteousness and the set forth righteousness is Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is the righteousness of God and the concept of Jesus Christ is the only basis for any to be made righteous.  And the righteousness of Jesus Christ is what has satisfied God and has allowed God to maintain His righteousness in saving sinners throughout history.

So how can a man lay claim to any accomplishment in the whole process?  How can a man boast of any part in what Christ has totally completed on His own and in accordance to the foreordained plan?  All boasting is excluded.  It is not partially excluded.   It is totally excluded.  And it is totally excluded only by the law of faith.

The passage of scripture has already proclaimed that “by the law is the knowledge of sin” and that by what the law says “every mouth may be stopped.”  Then one might assume that the law above all things excludes boasting by man.  It would seem that the failed works of men would absolutely eliminate boasting on the part of a man.

There is no doubt that the law of God and the works of men should exclude boasting.  It is the law that declares the guilt and condemnation.  It is the law that proves the sinner to be the sinner.  The law declares the standard of God and at the same time the failure of man to live to that standard.  The failed works of men under the law are what prove men to be the sinners that they are.  It is the breaking of the law of God by the works of men that condemns men.  How can a man boast in that which condemns him?  Or how can a man boast in works that have proven him to be a failure?  It is certain that the law and man’s works leave man no room to boast. Yet, so many men following the deceitfulness of their hearts continue to boast in their works.

So this verse does not declare that the law of works eliminates boasting.  Now it is true that if the law of works is properly understood all mouths would be stopped, but it seems that this verse recognizes that the law of works does not always eliminate boasting.  The answer, nay, indicates that boasting is not totally excluded by the law or by the works.  So the law of works is not the thing referred to that would totally and exclusively eliminate any possibility of boasting.  Instead, the law of faith is said to totally eliminate any boasting.

It might be noted that it is not just faith that excludes boasting.  It is more specifically the law of faith.  The thing referred to that would make it totally and impossibly possible to boast is the law of faith.  A law is a principle.  Moreover, a law is a defining, as one sees in the statement, by the law is the knowledge of sin.  So Paul is here saying that by the principle of faith itself boasting is of necessity excluded.  By the defining of what faith truly is all boasting must be excluded.  Furthermore, a law is a rule.  The very definition of Biblical faith in Jesus and the Biblical principle of faith in Jesus Christ rules out any boasting.

In order for one to understand these things concerning the law of faith, one must initially consider the concept of Biblical faith in Jesus.  True scriptural faith in Jesus totally believes Jesus to be what God’s word says He is.  The Bible says He is the Savior.  The Bible says that He by Himself is the Savior.  The Bible commands that He be called Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.  There is no other name given whereby salvation can occur.  He trod the winepress alone and He alone is the Savior.  There was none to help and there was no help needed.

So true scriptural faith knows that the sinner’s salvation is based totally and completely in Jesus. Faith is the gift of Jesus Christ to His child so that the child can understand the concept of Jesus Christ.  And the concept of Jesus Christ that exists in the mind by faith is the understanding and full assurance in the mind that the atonement of Christ is the absolute and only ground of the lawbreaker’s acceptance by God.  True faith reveals to the sinner that Jesus is the exclusive means for the certainty of the sinner’s final salvation.  True faith knows that salvation is of the Lord, period.

Well if it is known by faith that Jesus Christ is the atonement and the sure ground of the lawbreaker’s acceptance and if it is known by faith that Jesus Christ is the certainty of the sinner’s salvation, what else can be necessary?  What else needs to be added?  What can the sinner contribute?  By true and total faith in Jesus the sinner has understanding and full assurance that Jesus is all that is necessary.

On the other hand, the sinner must by the same faith know that nothing else is needed, that nothing else is required, and that nothing else can be added.  So by the definition and principle of the concept of total faith in Christ, it is apparent that man has no part in the completion of the task and no room for boasting.

So it is more than just faith that excludes all boasting.  It is the very principle of what faith is.  It is the law of faith.  By logically assessing the definition and principle of Biblical faith, one must agree that if Jesus has done it all there is no room for boasting by anyone else.  The very principle of what faith is eliminates boasting.  A Biblical understanding of what is involved in salvation and the recognition of Jesus as the Savior prohibits boasting.  The logic of the situation demands that if faith is the total trust that Jesus has completed the task, then it is a logical certainty that the task is completed without help from man.

So by the rule of the definition of the concept of faith in Jesus, it is an absolute impossibility for a man to boast.  For if faith allows the man to know that Jesus has completed the work; then faith tells the man that the work is completed.  And if faith allows the man to know that the work is completed; then the man knows that nothing is unfinished.  And if faith allows the man to know that nothing is unfinished; then the man knows that he himself does nothing to complete the task.  And if faith allows the man to know that he did nothing to help; then how can he who has faith possibly boast?

Thus by the principle and definition of the concept of faith, boasting is absolutely and totally ruled out.  Rules of logic concerning the definition of faith demand that boasting by self for something not done by self must be excluded.  Something one person knows to be totally done by another person cannot be boasted of by the first person.  Thus the law of faith, the very principle and definition of scriptural faith, demands that the one who has the faith be one without boasting.  And the law of faith demands no boasting above any thing else, including the law of works.

It is extremely important that one understands this truth.  So let it be restated in a little different way.  If salvation is totally of Christ as the scriptures declare; then, salvation can be of nothing in addition to Christ.  If it is all of Him, then it cannot be of something else.  Salvation cannot at the same time be all of Christ and any of anything else.  And if faith knows that salvation is totally of Christ; then, faith must know that salvation can be of nothing in addition to Christ.  And if faith knows that nothing in addition to Christ is required for salvation; then, by the very law or principle of what faith is all other means to salvation are by necessity eliminated.  And if the man with faith knows these things, he is absolutely and completely exempted from any boasting in himself.

So the law of faith includes the logical assessment that the concept of total faith in Christ must exclude all other means.  And the very principle and definition of faith in Jesus is the ultimate proof to a man that salvation is not of man’s works or of man’s faith.  And the scriptural principle of faith demands that total belief in Christ for salvation would exclude any help from man as a means to salvation.  And if the definition of faith eliminates any means in man, then it, by necessity, eliminates all boasting by the man.

Thus this verse set in its context, perhaps above any other verse in scripture, is proof that faith is not a means to eternal salvation or to righteousness before God.  The understanding of what true Biblical faith is makes faith as a means to salvation an absurdity.  True faith in Jesus is total and complete trust that Jesus completed what was impossible for the sinner to do of self.  So faith is not the means to salvation and by definition cannot be the means to salvation.  It is that which gives understanding concerning true salvation.  It is that which allows recognition of Christ as the Savior.  Faith is not the means to salvation; it is the means to the assurance of salvation in the mind of the sinner.  For true Biblical salvation is totally and completely by Jesus.  And knowing that salvation is totally of Jesus includes knowing that it is not of self.  So by the law of faith none can ever boast of self, for faith is that which understands that salvation is not of self.   So, Where is boasting then?  It is excluded.  By what law?  Of works?  Nay:  but by the law of faith.

 

28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.    

This verse is a final summation statement of the whole concept of justification.  One is tempted to jump to the conclusion, but Paul under inspiration of the Holy Spirit placed the word, therefore, for a reason.  It seems that the Holy Spirit said that before one considers the conclusion, one should reconsider the previously given basis for the conclusion.

So in reviewing the basis of the conclusion one may remember that it was stated that above all things the law of faith eliminates all room for boasting in man.  Even the law of works and the understood failure to keep that law does not eliminate boasting to the extent that an understanding of the law of faith does.  It would at first seem that failed works above all things would prevent boasting, but one thing greater than failed works for the elimination of boasting is the law of faith.

The law of faith is the very principle of scriptural faith.  It is the definition of faith itself that makes boasting absurd.  Scriptural faith in Christ is a total and complete acknowledgement that He, and He alone, is the absolute and only Savior.  Well, if faith in Christ is defined as the acknowledgement that Christ is the sole and only, absolute, complete and total Savior.  Then by the law of faith, the ruling logic concerning the definition of faith, one comes to the conclusion that boasting is impossible.  For if it is acknowledged by faith that Christ is the sole and only, absolute, complete and total Savior, then where is there any room for another in the salvation?

Now if He is the sole and only, complete, and total Savior by Himself, how can any other take any credit for what He has totally and completely accomplished?  How can any who understands Biblical faith claim any part in the accomplishment of his salvation?  How can any boast of self in any way after he by faith understands and acknowledges that salvation is completely of the Lord?

So having reconsidered the past teachings concerning scriptural faith, a great conclusion can be drawn. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.  A wonderful and simple statement is here presented after looking back at the previously established truth.  The conclusion drawn is that the only way a man can be justified is by faith in Christ.

To be justified is to be declared righteous.  There are two possible means presented for the declaration of righteousness.  The one is to look to the works of self as related to the deeds of the law.  And the other is to look by faith to the finished work of Christ.  If a man looks to the law and the deeds or works he has performed under the law, the only honest conclusion that he can come to is that he is condemned.  He is not declared righteous or justified by the works of the law.  But if a man by faith looks at the work of Christ, and if he by faith sees himself washed in the blood of Christ, then he can declare himself to be righteous.

A third possibility not presented here but oftentimes presented in the world is for the man to look not to his works and not even to Christ by faith, but to look to his faith as the basis of the justification before God.  If man attempts to declare himself to be righteous considering his faith as the means to the righteousness, he is only showing that he does not understand what faith in Christ truly is.

Scriptural faith in Christ is faith in Christ.  It is not faith in faith.  It is not faith in self.  Man is not declared righteous or justified by the work of faith or by the act of faith.  Faith is no better than works as the basis of declaring righteousness.  The act of faith is no better than the deeds of the law as a basis of declaring one to be innocent before God.  For a man can never truly be justified when he looks at the self or bases the declaration of righteousness on an act of self.  It really does not matter whether the work of the law or the work of faith is considered.  Both fall far short of being sufficient as the basis for declaring a person to be righteous.

But when the man ceases to look to the self as the source of righteousness and totally sees Christ as the source of righteousness, then and only then can he find someone who is the sufficient basis for righteousness.  And once having understood that this Christ is the source of righteousness and that this righteousness of Christ is given by God by grace to the sinner, then the sinner’s gospel enlightened, faith-given mind can truly declare itself to be what God has made it.

Now God has made His individual child righteous by His grace and through the blood of Jesus.  God recognized the righteousness of God before the foundation of the world, and God recognized the righteousness of God in the finished work of Christ on the cross and God recognizes the righteousness of God as it is placed in the sinner at the time of the new birth.  So faith in no way was required for God to recognize what he knew to be accomplished.  And faith was in no way necessary for these things to be so.  But faith is the only way the sinner can see these things.  And without the gift of faith the sinner could never recognize the righteousness of God.

A sinner can by sight recognize his misdeeds pertaining to the law.  And the recognition of these leaves a sense of hopelessness.  Oh, but by faith in the finished and completed work of Jesus the sinner can recognize something besides his recognized failures to keep the law.  By faith in Christ the sinner can see himself to be what his misdeeds pertaining to the law declare that cannot be.

Through the gift of faith the sinner is able to recognize that he has been made the righteousness of God by the accomplishment of Jesus Christ.  By faith the sinner can recognize himself to be what God recognized him to be long ago.  By faith he can see that he has been made righteous by the work of  Christ.  By faith the sinner has the understanding that he is engulfed with the righteousness of Christ.

This gives the sinner the opportunity to by faith in Christ declare himself to be the righteousness that he truly is, for by faith in the perfect work of Christ the sinner can declare himself to be what he sees himself to be.  By faith he can declare himself to be righteous and innocent in spite of the law.  By faith he can be justified as he looks at himself.  God did not need the sinner’s faith in order that He might recognize the finished work of Christ.  But the sinner surely needed God’s gift of faith to recognize the accomplishments of God’s gift of his Son.  Therefore one can conclude that a man by faith can declare himself to be what his view of the law would declare that he never could be.  “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law.”

 

29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:   

At first thought it is somewhat confusing why Paul here under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit asked these questions:  Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles?  And then immediately he gave the answer, yes, of the Gentiles also.  Why would he seem to suddenly leave the topic of justification?  Why would he seem to leave the considerations of faith and works as related to the topic of justification and consider the inclusion of Gentiles in the plan?

Part of the answer may lie in the observation that Paul was not only a great teacher; he was also a great pastor.  He had that pastor’s heart for comforting and reassuring the people to whom he wrote.  He may have considered that the Gentile readers might take into account that the written law had been given only to the Jews and that they might begin to wonder whether faith written in the heart followed the same pattern.  Perhaps they might fear that God’s gift of faith was exclusively given to the Jews.  So realizing that the recipients of his letter would primarily be Gentile believers, perhaps he paused to ask these questions and quickly give the reassuring answer that God is the God, Yes, of the Gentiles also.

Though the above explanation would have been reassuring to the Gentiles and was probably beneficial in that respect, there is another explanation to this verse that fits the context very well.  It was noted earlier in the passage that God was righteous in using the foreordained blood of Christ as the means to reconciliation and redemption for saints before the time of Christ.  It was then further pointed out that God is righteous in using the same blood as the means to reconciliation and redemption for saints in this time period after the blood of Christ has been shed.  This verse surely shows a similar sufficiency for the one foreordained plan of God.

For the concept of Jesus Christ as Savior is a plan not only for all times but also for all people.  It was previously expressed that the one plan was sufficient for all times.  Here it is expressed that the same foreordained plan is sufficient for all nations.  There is one plan and one Savior.  The plan is none other than the concept of Jesus Christ and the Savior is none other than Jesus Christ.  It might be noted that any scheme of salvation that incorporates multiple plans for different times in history or multiple plans for different nations and peoples through history is inconsistent with Jesus being declared to be the way

 

30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.  

The previous verse acknowledged that there are many different families on the earth.  There is the family composed of the Jews.  And there are many families and nations outside the Jewish family and nation.  But how many Gods are there?  The answer given here is that there is but one God, seeing it is one God.  And indeed there is but one God and none beside Him.  There is none else.  There is none like Him.

There is one Savior.  And indeed there is none other.  There is one salvation and that salvation is totally and completely through the one Savior, Jesus Christ.  There is no other name given whereby men may be saved and there is no salvation in any other.  Christ is the Savior of the Jews and of the Gentiles.  The Son of God is to be called Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins and His people are a vast host that no man can number from every nation, family, tribe and tongue under heaven.  So there are many families, but one God.  There are many nations, all of which are full of sinners, but there is one Savior.

And there is one plan of salvation and that is the plan ordained of God.  It is by grace that God saves His people through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus His Son.  One plan is for all times and for all nations.  That plan has its beginning, its ending, and its entirety in Jesus Christ.  No other plan is necessary.  No other plan is possible.  In this one plan Jesus is the righteousness of God and He washes His people from their sins in His own blood.  And after having removed their sins from them He gives to them His righteousness.  In the eyes of God they are completely cleansed.  According to the judgment of God they are perfectly righteous.  None can condemn them.  None can lay a charge against them.  At the judgment seat of God they are now innocent.  They are legally and eternally justified before God by the work of Jesus Christ their Savior.  And God of all beings surely knows all the details of His own plan including the works accomplished by His Son on the cross.  God above all knows that the work of Jesus has made all of God’s children to be righteous.  And God is the first to declare the righteousness and innocence of those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb.  God has legally declared His blood washed children to be justified in His sight.

So having seen that there is one God, one Savior and one finished salvation in which God is content, the reader now comes to the words, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and the uncircumcision through faith.  The statement declares that there is one God who shall justify men, that is one God who will declare men to be righteous either by faith or through faith.  So whether the circumcision or the uncircumcision are being considered, it seems that faith is the means in some way for each group to be justified or declared righteous.

Now again remember that faith is not necessary for God to be able to declare the sinner who has been washed in the blood of Jesus to be righteous.  God saw the righteousness of the redeemed sinner before the beginning of time in the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.  God saw the righteousness of the blood washed sinner when the Lamb of God was slain on Calvary.  God has ever known and understood and declared the righteousness of His children through the work of His Son.   The faith of men is not necessary for Christ to do what He has already done.  The faith of men is not necessary for God to know what He has always known.  And the faith of men in not necessary for God to declare that men are already righteous by the imputed righteousness of their Savior.  God does not need faith in order to complete what Jesus has already finished.  And God does not need faith in order for God to know that Jesus has already finished redeeming and cleansing His people.

But man needs an exceeding amount of help from God before man can know the things that God has already and always known.  Man even needs God to declare these things to him, so to speak.  For man to know the spiritual things that are known of God, God must first come to the man by means of the new birth and give to the man spiritual life and spiritual abilities that come with the spiritual life.  In order for man to know the things of God, God must give His Spirit to the man and then give to the man the fruit of the Spirit, even faith.  So in order for man to know of his Christ-given righteousness, God must first enable the man to know the things of God by the gift of faith.  And then God can through faith or by faith declare to the man that he has been made righteous by the finished work of Jesus Christ.  Thus the means by which God communicates man’s imputed righteousness to the man is by or through the gift of faith.  God does not need man’s faith so that He can declare men who were washed in the blood to be righteous.  But men desperately need the gift of faith in order to see the effectiveness of the finished work of Jesus and thus to be able to see themselves as having been made righteous by Christ.

Oh, but once men are able to by faith see themselves as God sees them, then they are enabled to declare themselves to be what God has already declared them to be.  God looks only at the work of Jesus and thereby justifies men.  And God’s gift of faith equips men to look at the finished work of Jesus and thereby declare themselves to be what God has already declared them to be.  By the gift of faith God declares to the circumcision and to the uncircumcision that they are seen by God as righteous and innocent.  And by the gift of faith that enables a mortal to see the finished work of Christ the circumcision and the uncircumcision can declare to themselves that they are righteous and innocent.

The only way for people, whether Jews or Gentiles, to truly sense their righteousness is to by faith see their righteousness to be Christ’s righteousness in them.  Men cannot look to their own righteousness for it is a flawed righteousness.  They must sense that His righteousness has been applied and given to them in order to sense a true righteousness in themselves.  A person who is honest will admit that he falls far short of the standard of perfection set forth in the scriptures as the requirement by God.  Upon realizing the failure to perfectly keep the perfect standard, the person will experience a sense of judgment and condemnation.  The law of God proves unrighteousness and declares it.  The law of God proves guilt and declares it.  The mind of the guilty unrighteous sinner must declare guilt and unrighteousness when assessing self.

The sinner of himself and assessing himself can see no way to declare righteousness.  But there is a way to declare righteousness and there is a source of declaring righteousness.  The way to the declaration and the source of the declaration is God.  There is one God which shall justify the circumcision by faith and the uncircumcision through faith.  This means of communication between God and man, even God-given faith, is how man is able to become aware of spiritual things, things known of God.  The means is beyond self, but operates within self.  It acts to accomplish a declaration of righteousness and innocence by self, concerning self.  The means to this declaration of righteousness and innocence is faith.

Faith is not the means to eternal salvation.  Christ is the total means to salvation.  Faith is the means for the individual to understand and rejoice in salvation.  Faith is the means for the individual to know and declare salvation.  Faith cannot be the means to salvation, because the scriptures say that it is a result and a part of salvation.  Faith is a gift of God.  God gives it to the individual by His grace.  God declares things to the individual through faith.  Faith is the channel and the means for the communication to man of spiritual things.  Faith is a fruit of the Spirit.  It is not the cause of the new birth.  It is an effect of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling the individual at the new birth.  Jesus is the author of faith in the believer.  He writes it on the heart of the individual.

So the origin of faith is not in man but in God.  And the faith that God gives points to God and directs the individual who possesses it toward God.  When the person with faith hears and understands the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of grace, the gospel of salvation totally by the Lord Jesus Christ, there is a sense of rejoicing that occurs in the heart.  The means to this rejoicing is the gift of faith.  When the person with faith hears and understands the gospel, there is a sense of gladness and joy at the thought of the Savior cleansing the sinner from the multitude of sins that burden his conscience.  The means to this joy is the Spirit fruit, faith.  When the person with faith hears and understands the gospel, there is peace upon knowing that God is satisfied with the work of Christ and sees the sins of His people no more.  The means to this peace of mind in man is faith written on the heart.  There is much relief in realizing that one is able to stand before God thanks to the finished work of Christ on the cross.  Faith allows this realization.  When a person sees himself righteous and innocent, not by his own works but by the applied work of Christ, then he can leap for joy.  Faith energizes this leaping.

So faith is the means by which God declares spiritual things to his children. As seen above God declares many spiritual things to the child through faith.  But one significant thing that is declared is that the child is righteous.  God justifies, declares to the child that he is righteous, by a communication to the child through the gift of faith.  After having received the faith as a gift and the understanding connected with the faith, the child can now see and declare himself to be righteous through the work of Christ.  This seeing self and declaring self to be what Christ has made the person to be is justification.  And the means to this seeing self to be righteous by Jesus’ accomplishments is faith.  Justification by faith in Christ is a declaring of righteousness and innocence not based on self, but based totally and completely on Christ.  And the means to the individual’s knowing and declaring himself to exist in this state of righteousness and innocence is the gift of faith implanted in the individual by God.  So God declares to the individual by the communication channel of faith and then the individual is equipped to declare, also.  There is one God who justifies, declares to the sinner that the sinner is righteous, by faith.  And at that point the sinner can by faith declare the same.

After having studied the general meaning of the verse it is perhaps appropriate to comment on a couple of details regarding the Apostle Paul’s choice of particular words in the verse.  First to consider the words, circumcision and uncircumcision, it seems certain that the circumcision refers to the already mentioned Jews and the uncircumcision refers to the already mentioned Gentiles.  But why were the words, circumcision and uncircumcision, used as opposed to the words, Jews and Gentiles?  The answer may lie in the Jew’s high esteem for this much loved, distinguishing mark of circumcision.  In many cases the believing Jews were able to relinquish and turn away from the idea that the declaring of righteousness would come from the demands of the law and the traditions of their fathers.  But the work of circumcision still remained a stumbling block to many.  It was the one work that they would not let go.  Paul seems to use this one, last, most-cherished, highly regarded work to teach them the true basis for righteousness.  He taught them that their means to declaring themselves righteous was not by their circumcision and that they should no longer hold to circumcision as if it were the means to declaring righteousness.  He asserted to them that instead of declaring themselves to be righteous by the outer work of circumcision performed by man, they could truly see themselves to be righteous and declare themselves to be righteous by the inner work of faith performed by God on the heart.  A declaration of righteousness based on works of men is not a true justification.  But a justification by the means of God-given faith in the heart is a true declaration.  Only a faith that is fixed on the finished work of Christ can be the means to declaring oneself to be righteous.

And as for the Gentiles, the same thought was true for them.  There was no reason for them to wonder if they had to become a Jew in the flesh in order to be righteous.  The Gentile’s means to declaring themselves to be righteous was not through the channel of Jewish circumcision or through any other work, but the means to declaring self to be righteous was then and is now through seeing and understanding the work of Jesus through faith.

Next, the prepositions, by and through, perhaps need to be considered.  It is possible that there may not be a big difference in the two words.  Paul may have simply used a different word just to vary his writing.  But it seems probable that Paul used different words for a purpose.  And in order to consider these things it may be helpful to go to the occasion where Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well as described in the book of John.  The woman was surprised that Jesus, being a Jew, would converse with her since she was not a Jew.  During the talk she noted the difference in the places of worship between her people and the Jews.  Jesus responded by telling her that the place was not so important, but that the One who was to be worshipped was very important.  His answer included these words, “ye worship ye know not what:  we know what we worship:  for salvation is of the Jews.” (John 4:22)  And there is no doubt that this is a true statement, because salvation is of Jesus and Jesus was a Jew.  Thus Jesus taught the woman that she must drop the false notions that she had received from her religion and begin to consider the Jewish teachings if she were to ever know who and what to worship.

So the distinction between by and through may lie in the thought that the Jews could truly understand themselves to be justified by the Prophet who had been taught in their own religion.  If they understood that the writings of the Old Testament testified of Jesus, then they could understand that they were declared righteous by this Deliverer that was of the Jews and by the Savior that was spoken of in their own writings.

On the contrary, the Gentiles could not have known of the Savior by their false religions.  If they were to know the truth of the Savior they would have to learn of Him through the revelation that had been given to the Jews.  And if they were to sense their justification it would not be by the false notions of their former religions, but through the understanding of the revelation that belonged to the Jews.  They would need to understand that the means to salvation was not by their false notions, but through different means, through a man who was a Jew.  And they would need to approach the understanding of salvation through this Jewish path, through this Jewish Messiah and not by their own errant ways.  Perhaps, this is the distinction between by and through.

 

31 Do we then make void the law through faith?  God forbid: yea, we establish the law. 

The study began with teachings about the law.  It was taught that the law speaks to all and that its message is a message of condemnation.  The law causes all mouths to be stopped. It allows no reply to be made to a Holy God.  It takes away all arguments.  It proves all to be guilty.  No man by the law shall be declared righteous and innocent in the sight of God.  The law gives the understanding to man of what perfect righteousness in the sight of God incorporates.  And by the law man has a definition of sin and an awareness of how short he falls in satisfying God’s demands.

Now one comes to the words, do we then make void the law through faith?  God forbid:  yea, we establish the law.  Paul has previously acknowledged that man’s works under the law cannot declare one to have a perfect, God-accepted righteousness.  By the law and the works done under the law, man cannot truthfully declare himself to be righteous. The law declares condemnation and guilt.  But by faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work, man can declare himself to be righteous by a Christ-given righteousness that enrobes him.  Christ is the righteousness and faith declares Him to be righteousness, and faith declares His given righteousness to be sufficient righteousness to make the sinner righteous.  But after having taught much about faith and its superiority to works as a means of declaring self to be righteous, Paul now comes back to the law and its importance.

This verse proves wrong the idea that the law can now be discarded.  The idea that the law might be voided is answered with the words, God forbid.  This is a very strong negative reply.  God forbid means that God would prohibit such a thought, would ban such an idea, and would even outlaw such a suggestion.  Instead of faith voiding the law, Paul declared that through what he has taught concerning faith, he had established the law.  Is Paul talking out of both side of his mouth, so to speak?  How can he teach extensively about the law condemning and faith justifying as if they are opposites and now say that he is establishing the law?  How can Paul’s teaching that faith can do what the law could not do establish the law?  Can the same faith that appears to be counter to the law establish the law?

Indeed, the same faith that accomplishes what the law could never accomplish establishes the same law like nothing else ever could.  One might remember what faith does for the sinner.  The God-given gift of faith allows the sinner to see and understand spiritual things.  By faith the sinner can see the Savior as the Savior.  By faith the sinner can see the work of the Savior on the cross as a successful work.  By faith the sinner can see the suffering and can know that the Father saw the suffering and was satisfied with the travail of Christ’s suffering soul.  By faith the sinner can see that if God is satisfied with the suffering Savior’s payment He is not going to someday become unsatisfied.  By faith the sinner knows that the sins have been paid for.  By faith the sinner knows that he has been washed from his sins.  By faith the sinner knows that there are no charges to be laid against him.  By faith the sinner knows that there is no condemnation that can be brought.  By faith the sinner sees himself standing righteous before God thanks to the work of Christ on the cross.  By faith in what Christ has done the sinner can see himself to be and declare himself to be righteous and innocent in the sight of God.  By faith the sinner is justified in his own mind and in his judgment concerning himself.

It is important to now consider the impact this faith has on a life.  Being able to see spiritual things through faith is a life-altering event.  When Paul saw the glory of Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, he responded with the words, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”  This is the typical response when one sees the glory of Jesus.  It is important to understand that Paul saw Jesus that day in two ways.  No doubt he saw Him visibly, but he saw Him by faith, also.  As evidence for this statement, one can find “that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” (1 Corinthians 12:3)  Paul called Him, Lord, and he was able to do that by the Holy Ghost and the fruit of the Holy Spirit that was in him, even faith.  Paul saw Jesus very clearly.  And very gloriously did Jesus present Himself to Paul.  Paul’s response was not to void Jesus’ commands, but to know them and to do them.  There is a similar response brought to any child of God by faith.  Faith allows the child to see Jesus.  Perhaps faith without sight does not allow as distinct and glorious view as was afforded to Paul.  And perhaps most children do not respond with the same enthusiasm as Paul.  But the view of Christ the sinner has received through faith will inspire that sinner to some degree to say with Paul, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”  So instead of faith being opposed to the law, faith gives a desire to uphold the law.  Instead of faith ignoring the command of the Savior, it asks to know and understand the commands.  And instead of Paul making void the law by teaching the power of the gift of faith, he established the law by his teaching.

Faith and works are not opposed.  They are inseparably entwined.  For in the eyes of God good works are not judged to be good works by their outward appearance.  God judges works according to the motive and the driving force from the heart that produces the work.  A work that on the surface appears to be a good work, but is prompted by self-interest from a self-centered heart is not a good work as judged by God.  So for a work to be truly a good work it must proceed from a good heart.  Make the tree good and the fruit will be good.  God first makes the tree good.  He prepares the heart.  He moves in at the new birth and changes everything.  He makes a new creature.  He turns a dead stony heart into a living heart.  He puts His nature into the heart.  He gives His gifts, the fruit of the Spirit.  He gives faith.  And with faith one can see God and know spiritual things.  One with faith is aware of God in a new way, sees God with a different view, and loves God with a reverential awe.  One with the new nature has a new driving force in his heart.  One with faith and the view of Christ that faith now affords is driven not so much with self, but with Christ.  He begins to base his works on the premise, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”  A faith-filled heart that can see Christ prompts the individual’s works to be Christ-pleasing works.  And works that come from a heart made good are truly good works as seen by God.  The motive for truly good works is the desire to please Him.  The desire to please Him comes from the ability to see Him.  The ability to see Him comes from the gift of faith.  So faith is a necessary prerequisite to a desire and an ability to keep the law.  No, faith does not void the law; it establishes it.

 

 

A Brief Review of the Romans Passage 

 

19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.   

The law says something to all that are under it and it has been stated previous to this verse that all are under it.  What the law declares is that all the world is guilty before God and no one can reply to God concerning this condemnation.

 

20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.  

No individual can be declared righteous in the judgment of God by the deeds or works done under the law.  The law does not declare righteousness.  Instead it proves guilt.  The keeping of the law does not declare a sinner to be righteous.  The primary reason for this is that the sinner does not keep the law.  Instead he invariably breaks it.  The law instead of declaring righteousness in the sinner defines righteousness for the sinner.  And by this defined righteousness comes the knowledge of sin to the sinner.

 

21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

A once obscure righteousness is now manifested.  This newly manifested righteousness is without the law or apart from the keeping of the law by the sinner.  Instead of being the righteousness of the sinner it is the righteousness of God.  And this newly shown righteousness is said to be the same as what the Old Testament spoke of in type and shadow—even the concept of Jesus Christ Himself.  So now there is a more clearly shown righteousness of God apart from man and the law—even the concept of Jesus Christ Himself as witnessed by the law and the prophets.  This righteousness is for man and will justify man by declaring the man to be righteous, but it is not of man.

 

22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

This righteousness of God, the concept of Jesus Christ, exists in the mind of man by faith.  Faith is not essential for the concept to exist in the mind of God.  Furthermore, this faith that essentially allows the concept to exist in the mind of man is of Jesus Christ or a gift from Jesus Christ.  And the gift of faith is necessarily given unto and upon all that are able to believe for there is no different or alternative way for the concept of Jesus to exist in the mind of a man.

 

23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;  

The reason for the necessity of the gift of faith as a prerequisite for the concept of Jesus Christ to exist in the mind of man is sin.  All have sinned and fallen from God and from any knowledge of Spiritual concepts.  The natural mind is in such a shape that it is incapable of grasping any of the glory of God or the glorious concepts of God.  The extent of sin is such that the concepts of God are foolishness to the mind of a man without the gift of faith.  So the extensiveness of sin is the reason given for the necessity of faith as a gift before any spiritual declaration of righteousness can exist in the human mind.

 

24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

There is a state of existence that is described by the words being justified.  This state of existence is without a cause in the man but is by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.  This state of existence is a state of declared righteousness and it is based solely on the accomplishments of Christ on the cross.  The justification or declaration of righteousness is totally without a cause from the sinner and completely accountable to the work of the Savior on the cross.

 

25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 

This Jesus was foreordained and set forth by God to be the propitiation or reconciliation for the sins of His people.  Moreover, through faith or confidence in the foreordained Jesus and His shed blood, God can be declared righteous in remitting sins through centuries of admitting saints to heaven in Old Testament times.  Through the forbearance or patience of God’s anticipation of the perfect work of Christ, God remitted the sins of countless people and allowed the entrance into heaven of the same.  And God is declared to be righteous in remitting these sins of the past before the actual sacrifice.

 

26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. 

God is still declared to be righteous when He at this time yet uses the same foreordained plan to remit the sins of sinners.  His righteousness is in tact and God is declared to be just when He remits sins according to the set forth plan.  And God is proclaimed to be the justifier or the declarer of righteousness to any which believe in Jesus, the before witnessed and now manifested righteousness of God.  Again it is not the belief that makes them righteous.  The blood makes them righteous.  And the belief is not even of self; it is of God.  But the belief is great evidence to the believer that the Holy Spirit exists within the inner being and declares to the mind a Christ and a way of being declared righteous through Him.

 

27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.  

Above all things the law of faith eliminates all room for boasting in man.  Even the law of works and the understood failure to keep that law does not eliminate boasting to the extent that an understanding of the law of faith does.  It would at first seem that failed works above all things would prevent boasting, but one thing greater than failed works for the elimination of boasting is the law of faith.  The law of faith is the very principle of scriptural faith.  It is the definition of faith itself that makes boasting absurd.  Scriptural faith in Christ is a total and complete acknowledgement that He and He alone is the absolute and only Savior.  Well, if faith in Christ is defined as the understanding that Christ is the sole and only, absolute, complete and total Savior.  Then by the law of faith, the ruling logic concerning the definition of faith, one comes to the conclusion that boasting is impossible.  For if it is acknowledged by faith that Christ is the sole and only, absolute, complete and total Savior, where is there any room for another in the salvation?  Now if He is the sole and only, complete, and total Savior by Himself, how can any other take any credit for what Christ has totally and completely accomplished?  How can any who understands Biblical faith claim any part in the accomplishment of his salvation?  How can any boast of self in any way after he by faith understands and acknowledges that salvation is completely of the Lord?

 

28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.   

What declares a man to be righteous?  It is stated that the declaring of righteousness is not based on the deeds of the law and it has previously been noted that the declaring of righteousness is not based on the deed or act of faith.  Both the deeds of the law and the act of faith are insufficient and fail to bring the man into a state of righteousness.  There is no righteousness in or of the self.  It has been established that any righteousness that man has is a result of having Christ’s righteousness placed within and upon the man.   And any faith that man has is a result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the man.  So a man is not and cannot be declared righteous when looking to self or attempting to base the righteousness upon self.  But a man can declare himself to be righteous when he looks to the finished work of Christ.  A man can be justified by understanding that the righteousness is totally based on the blood of Christ being applied to the man.  A man can by the gift of faith and by looking to Jesus through the gift of faith see himself to be what Jesus has made him to be.  A man can be justified, declared righteous, by faith in Jesus to supply the righteousness.

 

29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: 

The same God who is the God of the Jews is the God of the Gentiles.  The same God who saved by the blood of Jesus in Old Testament days, saves by the blood of Jesus in and since New Testament days.  There is one God.  There is one plan of salvation.  The one God uses the same plan for all times and for all nations alike.

 

30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

Understanding that there is one God and one plan for righteousness, it is stated that this God will justify, declare to be righteous, the circumcision by faith and the uncircumcision through faith.  God has always understood the success of Jesus in making the unrighteous to be righteous and God has always been able to declare this righteousness.  God knew Jesus as a Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world and God knew Jesus as a lamb slain at the appointed time.  He needed no faith to know of the entirety of this work and the completeness of its accomplishments.  Faith is not a means for God to declare to Himself that sinners are righteous.  But faith is a means for God to declare to sinners that they have been made righteous.  God communicates to sinners by faith.  And subsequent to the understanding that comes by faith, sinners can declare themselves to be righteous.  So God gives faith to His children so that they may see what God already sees and know what God already knows.  Through the means of faith God communicates to the sinner spiritual things.  By the gift of faith God declares to sinners that they have Christ accomplished righteousness.  So truly God justifies, declares to be righteous, the sinner whether Jew or Gentile by giving to the sinner faith.  And by the means of faith He communicates to them the understanding of the wonder of the work of Jesus.

Also understanding that there is one God and one plan for righteousness, it is implied that the means to being declared righteous is not by the deed of outward circumcision.  It is not by the act of circumcision that the Jews are declared to be righteous any more than any other act of man can declare righteousness.  If righteousness is based on outward circumcision instead of the finished work of Christ then there can be no declaring of righteousness, because the act of circumcision is insufficient to take away sins.  It is only through an understanding of the finished work of Christ that one can see and declare himself to be righteous.  It is only through a circumcision of the heart that one can see and understand the finished work of Christ.  It is only by God that the heart can be circumcised.  The one and only God is the only one who can give the faith to the heart whereby the heart can declare the self to be righteous by looking to the accomplishments of Jesus.  Likewise, the Gentiles need not expect a declaring of righteousness through becoming a Jew outwardly by the circumcision of the flesh.  Any declaring of righteousness that occurs must be from God through faith through an inward circumcision and not through outward circumcision.  A true declaration of righteousness to the man has as its source an inward work of the circumcision of the heart only done by God Himself.

 

31 Do we then make void the law through faith?  God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

Though it may appear that faith and works oppose each other in the passage, it is taught here that there is a supporting connection between faith and good works.  Faith allows a person to see and understand spiritual things.  Not only does faith declare to the individual that he is righteous by the work of Christ.  Faith declares to the individual that he should now live righteous before that Christ.  Faith enables an individual to see and realize the love of a Savior who died for that individual.  Upon seeing Jesus by faith the regenerated man with faith has a desire to follow that Jesus.  He wishes to please Him.  The new nature in the born again new creature bows before Jesus and says, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”  So instead of faith voiding the law, it is the driving force to cause the child of God to desire to keep the law.

 

 

Concluding Confession 

After many years of confused thought and study on the concept of justification and specifically on the passage of scripture found in Romans 3:19-31, the author during a time of extended illness decided to attempt to put into words some of his feeble thoughts.  And after months of efforts, the words found on the previous pages were the results of his work.  Upon rereading the words he became troubled as to whether the words were truth and as to whether his words gave meaning to or changed the meaning of the words left on record by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.  So what should be the proper course of action from there?  In effort to find the wisdom needed, the author chose to send the writings  to a few learned men for review.  But even after receiving positive input from some of these learned men, the author still felt to be in a position of uncertainty, not knowing what to do with the study.  For after again rereading the words there still seemed to be so much left unsaid and so much said unnecessarily.  And were the words truth or his bending of truth?

As a preacher of the gospel it is such an awesome and sometimes seemingly terrible responsibility to speak in behalf of God and truth.  It is likewise the same when the preacher becomes the author and attempts to write in behalf of God and truth.  Perhaps, the safest thing is for the preacher not to preach or for the writer not to write, but God has placed a burning in the bones of the preacher to proclaim words concerning His God.  So as with Jeremiah, the option of not speaking becomes no option at all.  But the preacher does have the option of not speaking about things too high for him to understand.  Perhaps words from this preacher about justification fall into that category.  If so may God through Christ forgive!

So it is with much fear and humility that these words have come to be presented in this booklet.  And if there are words to God’s glory in these writings, may the reader be led by God to find them and build upon them with more truth.  And concerning the words of error, may God lead in the discarding of them from the mind of the reader so that they may never be remembered again.  Oh by grace to know and have truth!

To God be honor and glory forever.  Amen.

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