As we have moved into the good news, the heart of the gospel in Romans 3:21 and following, we have already seen three wonderful aspects of the good news.
First we saw that the righteousness of God does not come by the Law (Romans 3:21). This is indeed good news because if the righteousness of God does come by the Law then it is completely out of our reach because there is not a single one of us that can even come close to keeping the Law of God because we are all sinners and we are all incapable of meeting the standard of righteousness that God requires.
Second we saw that the righteousness of God does come by faith (Romans 3:22). Again this is indeed good news because now we see that through faith in Jesus Christ the righteousness that God requires is very near to us having been achieved for us by the perfect obedience of Christ to the precepts of the Law in His sinless life and by the perfect obedience of Christ to the penalty for violating the Law in His sinless and yet sacrificial death. We need both aspects of Christ’s obedience to the Law if we are to be saved because we need His perfect obedience to the precepts of the Law credited to our account because we are incapable of perfect obedience to the precepts of the Law and we need His perfect obedience to the penalty of the Law credited to our account because we have already broken the Law and owe its penalty. This was the whole purpose of the incarnation and the reason that God sent His only Son into the world – so that Jesus Christ, the Son of God in flesh, could live a perfect life under the Law, die for crimes against the Law, and thereby become the Savior of all who believe in Him. “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).
Before we move on to the third wonderful aspect of the good news let me say a word about the necessity of the incarnation through a virgin. Adam was created first, given the responsibility of headship, and was therefore viewed by God in a legal capacity as the federal head of the human race. Therefore when Adam sinned God imputed the sin of Adam to the rest of his descendants who would ever be born through the agency or the seed of a man. Mary, the mother of Jesus had a sin nature just like the rest of humanity because Mary was born through the agency or seed of a man. However, when God brought His Son into the world He did it without the agency or seed of a man – “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel” (Matthew 1:23). Since God brought His Son into the world this way then He did not have to impute to Him the sin of Adam and his sin nature. Jesus was born under the Law but without a sin nature and was therefore able to do what Adam did not do although Adam also did not have a sin nature to begin with.
Third we saw that the righteousness of God is provided for all who believe and only those who believe because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:22-23). This is indeed good news because God didn’t have to provide His righteousness to any sinner. Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God then all who attempt to attain the righteousness of God some other way and who do not recognize the work of Christ on their behalf will be horrified on the day of judgment. Necessary to receiving the gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is the recognition of one’s sinfulness and inability to attain the righteousness of God by works of the Law. We must recognize that we can’t and He never said we could; He can and He always said He would. We must recognize that the only way we can ever attain the righteousness of God is as a gift without any cause whatsoever in us.
And that brings us to our text where we see that we are justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24).
Justified – means to declare the rightness of something or someone. Justification is God’s legal and right declaration that all the demands of His Law are fulfilled on behalf of the believing law-breaker through the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Justification is a legal transaction that changes the judicial standing of the sinner before God. Our justification must be a legal transaction or else the transaction itself would be illegal. If God is illegal in justifying the ungodly then God Himself would be unjust. The apostle Paul will deal with this matter thoroughly in Romans 3:25-26.
In a matter of strict justice the only pardon that can be given is a principled pardon whereby first and foremost the one giving the pardon does so in a legal manner which upholds the law. So in a matter of strict justice you cannot pardon someone without dealing out the punishment. So under strict justice the only pardon that can legally be offered is one of Penal Substitution.
So our justification is a legal and principled pardon based on all the demands of the Law being fulfilled on our behalf by the work of Christ that is given to us as a gift by God’s grace – Oh what a Savior!
Gift/Freely – since we cannot attain the righteousness of God through the Law because of our wickedness then the only way that we can be justified is as a gift. And if it is as a gift then we do not deserve it nor can we earn it. A gift is something given freely, unearned, and undeserved by the recipient.
The KJV says, “Being justified freely by His grace….” The NASB says, “Being justified as a gift by His grace….” The Greek word translated “freely” or “gift” means gratuitously or without a cause. The same Greek word is translated in John 15:25 as “without a cause” – “But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’”
We are justified without a cause! In other words we are justified as a gift, freely, or without a cause because there is no cause in us that would merit the salvation of God or cause Him to show us favor. It is all of grace!
Grace – is giving what one does not deserve. We do not deserve the gift of salvation through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus but God gives it because He is rich in mercy and full of grace. We deserve to die and go to hell being separated from God for all eternity but in His grace He offers us a full and free pardon and eternal life with Him for all eternity through Jesus Christ.
Redemption – carries the idea of delivering, especially by means of paying a price. Salvation is free but it is not cheap!
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us – for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree…” (Galatians 3:13).
“But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly and righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:11-14).
“Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19).