WEDNESDAY IN THE WORD July 5, 2023
ROMANS 3:21-23 NRSV
“It was to prove at the present time that He himself is righteous and that He justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.”
Another murder, another killing! It’s difficult hearing about violent after violent acts. Such acts, even though extreme, display the work of evil–and today, the sinful nature which controls the actions of so many. This just shows us how sinful we are.
Let me raise the obvious question: if humanity is sinful and lost how can God find a basis to forgive people? God’s love can make up the difference. But love does not invalidate justice. For God does not randomly forgive some people and condemn others. God’s love is merciful. God’s love is righteous. For God’s love is consistent with deeper meaning.
It is God’s righteousness that declares us forgiven, acquitted of our crimes against him for the sake of Christ, given freely by his grace. God can justify us without cost to us and without anything in us that causes him to do it. God forgives us and sets us right because he wants to, not because we deserve it. Only through faith in Christ, we are made righteous in God’s sight. We are redeemed by the atoning sacrifice of Christ’s blood, willingly shed for our sins. This gift is God’s grace instead of wrath and is available to everyone through Christ.
The righteousness of God comes “through faith in Jesus Christ” (Romans 3:22). Mere belief in God is insufficient. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. Still, we cannot judge others because we have all fallen short and sinned before God (Romans 3:23). Thankfully when we seek the Lord with all our heart and in repentance, salvation flows freely.
Faith is a gift to relax into and receive confidence from Jesus. Faith is trust with a deeper meaning. It’s all about trust. Faith is investing in or trusting the totality of our lives to God. It’s confidence in the presence of God, being redeemed and renewed by the Spirit of God; being empowered with Spiritual Gifts that are consistent with God’s plan. Action brings faith to life.
Faith is the ability to believe, and it is the action side of faith — believing is “acting in faith.” Just having faith is not enough. Having the ability to believe is not enough. One must act on that ability by acting consistently with what is believed in God’s plan. It is the foundation of our life in Christ. And yet, who among us knows peace in the face of violence? The solution is only God who provides. Romans 3:21-25 shows how God put his only Son forward as an expression of his righteous character (3:25, 26); so, God acted through Jesus to express his commitment to reconciliation. God’s wrath isn’t on display in this cycle of sin. Rather, God’s mercy is mixed in all of it. God’s wrath awaits a special day when God’s righteous judgement–not quite the same term as”God’s righteousness” but close—will be revealed. God’s righteousness prevails even while he offers sinners a pathway toward righteousness. God can be just and the justifier of the wicked.
Wherever you are today, physically, or spiritually, on this 4th of July spectrum, remembering and blessing the many who continue to help make freedom happen in our nation. Importantly, we honor and praise God of the universe who loved us so much that he gave us his one and only Son, Jesus Christ. God did this for us, with true freedom through Christ. For his part, Jesus succeeded by his faithful, righteous actions shown to us. This is God’s “righteousness” or “justice” for the world to see and there is work to be done! AMEN!
Rev. Carole, Assistant Pastor