Finally the beauty of the gospel, exalted and cried out for all to hear.
Romans Bible Study #8
Romans 3:21,22 Jesus
21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; NASB
But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. The Message
21 But now the righteousness of God has been revealed independently and altogether apart from the Law, although actually it is attested by the Law and the Prophets, 22 Namely, the righteousness of God which comes by believing with personal trust and confident reliance on Jesus Christ (the Messiah). [And it is meant] for all who believe. For there is no distinction, The Amplified Bible
“But now” as we have seen sin, over and over again associated with us, tied to us, revealed as ‘in us,’ we have been longing for a little phrase like, “but now,” to turn the corner and show us the way out. God’s order of, first make the person very aware of their need, and then unveil the answer is being played out before us. Before the ‘but now’ we are cast adrift on an ocean that is too big and too wide for us to ever be rescued and no effort of our own could accomplish our rescue, and the rule book we have been given actually mocks our efforts to rescue ourselves, because it only reveals our ineptitude. The ‘but now’ is heralding a rescue effort coming from outside of ourselves. Unseen up till now, an eternal plan is about to be revealed. Stand up, stretch your neck, strain with all you have, to see this new revelation. The “impossible possibility, the gospel of transformation, the acquittal in condemnation, life in death, eternity in time” Barth
Barth entitles this section “Jesus.” He is the “but now.” He is the Answer.
“Apart from the Law” God speaks, He chose to speak through the Law, ‘but now’ He is choosing to speak, apart from the Law. If any part of this is tied to our ‘doing’ of the Law, this is not good news. This gospel must come to us “apart from the Law,” and blessed be God, it does!!
“The righteousness of God,” He created the world and us. He is righteous when He judges us. His wrath is the right response to our unbelief. He is the one who has ‘hemmed us in,’ and handed us over to the god of this world. “In this negation God affirms Himself and pronounces His claim upon men to be decisive, permanent, and final.” WE HAVE NO WAY OUT, unless God provides a way.
His forgiveness, is the ‘new covenant.’ His righteousness comes to us from outside of ourselves. He pronounces a verdict, but unlike any other verdict, it is not a result of what has proceeded it, it is a “creative verdict.” He pronounces His enemies to be His friends. All this is “wholly independent of every attempt, or imaginable attempt, that we could make to achieve liberty. The righteousness of God is therefore the sovereign and regal display of the power of God: IT IS THE MIRACLE OF RESURRECTION. The righteousness of God is our standing-place in the air--that is to say, where there is no human possibility of standing--whose foundations are laid by God Himself and supported always by Him only; the place where we are wholly in His hands for favor or disfavor.” Barth
“has been manifested,” Let the trumpets of the angels resound, announcing this amazing event. The righteousness of God has been manifested, not to condemn us, but to “put things right again.’ We proclaim a God whose nature is “to remain faithful in spite of human depravity.” God’s ‘nevertheless’ has come in to human unrighteousness and offered forgiveness. By faith we have seen it, experienced it, trusted in it.
“being witnessed by the Law and the prophets,” Abraham, Moses, the prophets, the psalmists, Job, all give witness to the righteousness of God, to redeem, forgive, and pardon, “apart from the Law.” This is not a ‘new thing’ that Paul is proclaiming it is the “essential truth in every thing that is old; we proclaim the incorruptible of which all corruptible is a parable. Our theme, therefore, is the theme concerning which the parables speak and to which they bear witness.” Even the Law is called to be a witness, from a negative point of view. It says, the righteousness of God cannot look like laws to keep or you are doomed. For humans to get it, it has to be given freely.
“even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ” Grace allows us to discover the amazing truth that God in His faithfulness has been waiting on us. All human activity is a cry for forgiveness and in Jesus, forgiveness appears in a concrete form. Jesus places himself under the judgment of God. His life moves toward the cross and death. His greatest achievement is a negative achievement. He laid down all that He was to live an obedient life. The righteousness of God is manifested in a life of humble, perfect obedience. A life that God can then exalt. The flesh, all mankind, human works, come to an end here, the new era of the righteousness of God starts here.
“for all those who believe;” The truth is not accessible to our perception. It is not a historical or psychological experience. It cannot be taught or handed down by tradition. It is not a subject of research. If it were any of these things it would not be available to “all.” Only God can communicate it, and we need it communicated from God every day. God protects himself from the impertinence of man-made religious efforts by this veil. This faith in Jesus is a scandal to Jews, he can not accept the “God-man.” This faith is foolishness to the ‘greeks,’ because they can not think there way to it. There is not ‘Stairway to Heaven.‘ Again, if we remove the foundational truth, that there is a ‘vast chasm,’ between us and God, we risk removing the “amazing” from amazing grace. God is incomprehensible, hidden, unseen, to believe in Him is a risk, a hazard. Faith, no more, no less. Everyone is capable of it. It is a leap into the void. Equally possible and impossible for all men. So in praying for the unsaved, we are praying for God to reveal Himself to them, for the veil to be removed, and for the person to express belief.
“for there is no distinction;“ Men of all ranks are grouped on a single step. United in our desperation, we see we are all separate from God, and doomed. Faith then “sees” that Jesus is our only hope. All flesh must be silent before God, all flesh must see itself equally ‘far from God’ with the only access being faith in Christ.
Illustration/story. It’s Judgment Day… a book of sins is read aloud, quickly you realize the book being read is all of your sins, on and on it drones, and you feel worse and worse, finally the reading stops and God asks, “Whose name is on the bottom of that horrible list?” and the reply is…… JESUS!