“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:21–24 ESV)
This word has so long been associated with the gospel that we miss its origin related to slavery. Historically, redemption was to make a payment to set a slave free. Slaves had a redemption price. Someone could pay the price to set the slave free. When he did, the slave was “redeemed.”
This is the answer to the justice warriors who look at biblical justification and protest, God is unjust in making us just. God is unrighteous in making us righteous. Our freedom must cost something.
The parallel on Memorial Day is profound. Why do we celebrate Memorial Day? It shapes our understanding of our freedom as Americans. We live in a free society. Free from what? Free from tyranny. Free from fascism. Free with rights granted to us by our constitution.
We are free, but is our freedom free? Memorial Day reminds us that our freedom has come at a tremendous price. According to one study, the total number of servicemen and servicewomen killed in wars in US history is around 1.1 million. 1.1 million people died so that we could be free. Is freedom in the US free? A tremendous price has been paid so we can worship freely, speak freely, vote freely, and live freely.
God offers forgiveness of sins freely. God offers justification freely. God provides salvation freely, but that doesn’t mean it is free to God. An unimaginable payment had to be made. “and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24) Just like 1.1 million have paid the ultimate price for our “free” freedom, Jesus Christ paid the ransom price by his death on the cross. This payment allows God to be both, “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:26)
Jesus’ death fulfilled the righteous requirement of God’s moral law, and his death in our place allows God to give what is free to us while maintaining his own righteousness in giving it. He is “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:26)
So, we end where we often do. What about you? Christian, can God’s Word bring you again to a point of profound gratefulness for righteousness given to you as a gift? To once again stand amazed that God would pay such a price for your redemption? To look to Jesus and see in his death the ransom payment for you? To see yourself standing in eternity righteous and forgiven experiencing the joys of eternal life and eternal bliss knowing you don’t deserve it? It is the ultimate gift.
And for the not-yet-a-Christian, understand through God’s Word that this glorious salvation comes only by faith—not by your doings or goodness or accomplishment—but simply by trusting in this gospel that all who believe in Jesus as Savior and Redeemer will be justified in God’s eyes.
So, may Christians be amazed, humbled, and grateful. May sinners be saved today by putting their trust in Jesus and receiving this free gift. May God be glorified as just and justifier of all who believe in Jesus.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
© 2018 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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