Friday, June 24, 2011 6:25 AM

Righteousness for Free

Friday, June 24, 2011 6:25 AM
Friday, June 24, 2011 6:25 AM

In the first chapter of Romans, Paul established the pivotal importance of the gospel. He was not ashamed of the gospel because it is the instrument of God’s power leading to the salvation of all who believe (Rom 1:16). But on what basis can the gospel accomplish this remarkable feat? It is because the gospel reveals “a righteousness that comes from God”. Paul’s argument hinges on the fact that Abraham was circumcised after he had been declared righteous (Compare Gen 15:6 with Gen 17:11, 24–26). In other words, he was still a Gentile when God pronounced him righteous. It was not because he was a Jew; it was because he was a believer. The only people with a special status with God are the ones that have been justified by faith; this status of righteousness is not by birth, and not by one’s own goodness.

But what exactly is intended by the expression “a righteousness from God?” C. E. B. Cranfield argues that justification is the bestowal of a righteous status and does not in itself involve any reference to moral transformation. He concludes that “the righteousness of God” refers to humans’ righteous status, which results from God’s redemptive action rather than to that action itself. This is what the gospel reveals—that God has provided a right standing for people that has nothing to do with their ethical achievements or religious activity. The righteousness of God is a right standing that God bestows upon people of faith.

To be “justified” means to be “acquitted,” to be “given a right standing.” Justification frees guilty people from paying the just penalty for their sins. It declares them totally exonerated.

One would think that the sinner would love to be forgiven at no cost. Unfortunately that is not the case. After all, sinners have their pride. They desperately want to claim some role in their own redemption. Unacceptable, says God. Sin is a quicksand that increases its hold the more one struggles. Why is God so insistent on doing it all? Because in heaven all glory and honor and praise belong to him. There will be no swapping of stories about how we helped him out.[1]

[1] Mounce, R. H. (2001). Vol. 27: Romans (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (38). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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