Today's Bible Reading: Romans 3
Selected Biblical Text
But now, apart from the Law, God's righteousness is revealed and is attested by the Law and the Prophets-God's righteousness through the faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah-for all who believe. For there is no distinction among people, since all have sinned and continue to fall short of God's glory. By his grace they are justified freely through the redemption that is in the Messiah Jesus, whom God offered as a place where atonement by the Messiah's blood would occur through faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because he had waited patiently to deal with sins committed in the past. He wanted to demonstrate at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies anyone who has the faithfulness of Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26 ISV)
Reflecting and Thinking
After Paul describes the presence of evil in the lives of both unreligious and religious people, he begins his description of God's righteousness--attested to and anticipated by the law but now revealed apart from the law, through the faithfulness of Jesus unto those who imitate Jesus' faith. It seems most likely that this is the concept toward which Paul was pointing in Chapter 1 when he spoke of the gospel as the revelation of God's righteousness "from faith to faith."
Paul affirms the presence of sin in every life, demonstrating that all are in need of salvation. The modern reader may hear religious jargon in Paul's words, but he is using familiar first-century illustrations from the legal system (justified), the slave system (redeemed), and the religious system (atoned) to describe what God has done through Jesus. God's redeeming work accomplished through the atoning blood of Jesus demonstrates God's righteousness--his commitment to deal with all sins in a way that is consistent with his gracious patience. Justification (righteousness) is God's gift and action in the lives of those who have the faith of Jesus. Abraham will provide a clear example--but that's the story of the next chapter.
In what way did Jesus have "faith" toward God? What does it mean for us to participate in or imitate the "faith of Jesus"? Summarize the contrast Paul is making between law and gospel, between God's wrath and God's justification.
Dear God, we want to be people of faith. We want to do more than pay lip service to the truths of your word. We want to live by faith. We want to experience changed lives and genuine freedom from sin. We want to walk in fellowship with you and to experience that fellowship personally. We are grateful for what you have done from us in Jesus, and for the privilege of approaching your throne in prayer through his name, Amen.