A verse I became very familiar with from my youth (in the context of being taught how to evangelize) was Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, “. The force of this verse echoes the universal inclusivity of the condemning verdict given in Romans 11:32 “for God has shut up [or concluded] all unto disobedience…”
But notice that comma at the end of 3:23.
After sixty-plus years I finally read the entire sentence which concludes with these astounding words, “and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
What Paul says here is something he often repeats in his writings – That God has acted unilaterally, sovereignly, on our behalf to bring us “salvation”.
In the person and humanity of Jesus the Messiah, God has invaded our prison of sin and death to bring deliverance! This is an accomplished fact: the prison doors stand open and He has the keys of death and hell!
Contrary to predominant evangelical assumptions – God has not made our reconciliation merely a possibility – such that the Gospel is only potentially Good News – but He has, through the person-work of Jesus (fully God and fully man), already justified us – He has already reconciled us!
Need more proof? This one verse is breathtaking- it’s like it (also) was hidden from me for decades. Think about it: “…while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son...” Romans 5:10
This changes everything!
But there is a driving divine force behind the saving acts of God that underlies what Paul is saying in this chapter: He wants us to be raptured in the grand sweep of God’s love for us – to hear as though for the first time again the shocking Gospel pronouncement, “For God SO LOVED the world…”. Just prior to this astounding revelation – Paul writes, ‘But God commends (sunistémi – to put together certain facts so as to prove) His love for us in this in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).
We must recover God’s heart and motivation: it is NOT primarily that God is seeking His own Glory! God does NOT have to glorify Himself (Love is not puffed up – it is NOT self-seeking). “Glory” is inevitable – it is the outshining of His Goodness! God is inherently Glorious above all and forever – He never has nor ever will have to “make it happen”. God no more tries to be glorious than He tries to be loving! His primary motivation for action is who He is – “agape” – self-sacrificing LOVE.
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