“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:22-24 New International Version
Have you ever noticed how often we Christians make excuses for Gods behavior? I can hear the deep intake of breath, the What is he talking about? look on many faces as they read that question. Let me explain what I mean by that question. We Christians make excuses for God when we are challenged by unbelievers who point to what appear to be inconsistencies in God’s words or actions. Rather than accept it’s our problem in understanding God’s actions, we panic when we don’t have an answer for the attacks on God!
Case in point: The Fall of Adam and Eve. When God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden He gave them this restriction, stay away from the tree that’s in the middle of the Garden. God warned them if they touched the tree or ate its fruit they would die! That’s it. Otherwise, God told them, enjoy everything I’ve created for you. As you know they didn’t obey, they chose to believe the lie of the enemy. They ate the fruit. They didn’t die! Now here is where Christians begin to make the excuses for God. Because, Adam and Eve didn’t drop dead at the tree! So, was the serpent, that enemy, the dragon, Satan the one telling the truth? He told Eve, “You won’t die! God doesn’t want you to reach your full potential in becoming just like Him!” Of course we know this isn’t true. The enemy is the liar; he’s the father of lies. Ok, then what’s the deal? Why didn’t those two drop dead at the tree?
In my journey with God through faith in Jesus Christ, I have been consistently discovering the Word of God is simple, yet extremely complex. I believe that’s what throws us off so often in our understanding of the issues we face here everyday. It also makes it difficult to answer those who are critics of what we choose to believe as truth. When we are confronted with what many see as God’s inconsistencies, we panic because we are just as baffled.
Not to worry, all we need do is leave the complexities to God. Jesus mentored this for His disciples and for us. Jesus kept things simple for the very reason that we quite honestly are not equipped to delve into the complexities that are God! As the saying goes: “It’s above my pay grade.” Or more accurately, we just can’t take it in.
Why didn’t Adam and Eve drop dead at the foot of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? The answer was so simple that when it dawned on me I was just a little embarrassed. Adam and Eve didn’t die on the spot because they, just like us, are covered by the Life, Death, and Resurrected Life of Jesus Christ! There it is! Adam and Eve were covered by the Plan of Salvation, the Promise given to them in Genesis 3:15 was their John 3:16 giving them righteousness through believing in Jesus Christ. And there it is, the reason our original parents didn’t immediately drop dead. Not so earth shattering when once we are able to see it through different eyes, understanding. This has led me to take an unconventional approach to God’s Word, at least it feels unconventional considering the trend in Christianity over the years, the trend of making excuses for God.
As this process of Grace is continually reformatting my understanding of God, so I must be ready to hear and accept what He is telling me. In this I find the need to consider that if I am not catching what He’s saying, the issue is mine not God’s. And likely I am trying to make it more complicated than it needs to be on this dark planet. KISS: Keep It Simple Saint seems to be the rule of the day in knowing God and receiving the righteousness that comes only in believing in Jesus!
God does not need us to defend Him, rather He asks us to be available to Him. In this being available there is a process of transformation. It begins with discovering our need for Jesus, recognizing the Law cannot save me, recreate, transform, or make anything better in me, for me or through me! This isn’t exactly breaking news. Paul relates that the law and the prophets testify to the reality that righteousness comes only from God through faith in Jesus Christ! You and I are no different from anyone else living in this world, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…! Romans 3:23 New International Version That word all is pretty inclusive, leaving no one out.
There is a lot of misunderstanding concerning the law, and it’s obviously not new considering the comments Paul writes to the believers in Rome. Once more I would say it’s because we are making it way too complicated. There is a need to take Paul at his word without trying to second guess what he meant. We can’t keep the law, period. There is no way it will happen in this broken world with broken people! And it isn’t anything God is requiring of us. In fact it’s the opposite of earning, it’s all about a gift that’s ours “through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.” Paul makes this quite clear in this letter to the Romans informing them and us where salvation resides and it’s not in the Law!
It is through faith alone that anyone is justified no matter who they are. Paul is quite adamant that man can only be justified by faith separated from observing the law. It is only as we place our faith in all that was accomplished by Jesus that we have justice as it is demonstrated by God! This puts to an end any reason we have for boasting since it isn’t based on anything we can accomplish. It is an act of faith, our choosing to believe what Jesus has done is all we need, and recognizing He continues to act in our lives through faith in His promises. It is based not on the law, but on His Grace! And then there is this amazing reality, the Law is Grace! It is the Gift of Grace as it is discovered in our relationship to God and to our neighbors!
Ok, so the question then becomes, what of the law? Is it to be ignored, put on a shelf where this modern society can adopt an attitude of indifference? Paul answers with a resounding NO! “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. (verse 31) We understand salvation and justification cannot be ours through the law, they are made possible to us by Jesus and fulfilled in us by faith in Him. The law still frames our relationships with God and with everyone we come into contact, all whom God brings into our lives. It is through our relationship with God we begin to have the right understanding of the law and its purpose.
Apart from God there is no ability to grasp the significance of the law, to realize its potential in forming how we view life, and the relationships we encounter in this life. As long as we try to make the law essential to our salvation it loses its power to develop the relationships we were created to experience. That’s the reason we uphold the law as it defines our relationships as written in stone by God!
To all who believe in the justification that comes only through Jesus Christ, the law becomes the guide to deepen relationships. On every level God provides the insights to grow in His Grace through an understanding of the law. An understanding that reveals there is more to the law than we’ve been taught.
“For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing.” Ephesians 2:8-9 The Voice
[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]