Being Declared Right with God.

When a natural disaster is coming, human organizations spend a lot of time and effort getting ready to withstand it safely. Rehearsing the core doctrine of justification was necessary preparation for the Roman believers about to face severe persecution under Nero. Christ and what He has done for us through the Gospel is our only anchor in any affliction.

Romans 3 may be the most comprehensive passage in the Bible in describing how a soul is made right with God. Romans 3:21-31 contains many synonyms: righteousness, just, justified, etc. The preceding chapters of Romans proved that people need to be made right with God, and the next few chapters explain God's method of declaring us right before Him.

"Justification is the very hinge and pillar of Christianity. Error about justification is dangerous. Like a direct foundation, justification by Christ is a spring of the water of life. To have the poison of corrupt doctrine passed into this spring is damnable."
— Thomas Watson

"When the article of justification has fallen, everything has fallen. This is the chief article from which all other doctrines have flowed. It alone begets, nourishes, builds, preserves, and defends the church of God; and without it, the church of God cannot exist even for one hour."
— Martin Luther

"God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). This is His character, nature, and requirement for those who would be in His presence.

We have already studied the righteousness of God described, required, and presented. Paul used familiar words to describe this. Words such as redemption, propitiation, and justification were commonly known outside of the church community in the freeing of slaves, appeasement of pagan gods, and acquittal of crimes. God's method for making us right with Him is announced in Romans 3:25-26.

Our Right Standing Announced

Every person, whether saved or not, wants justice to be visited quickly on violent criminals. Though God "passed over" previous sins, demonstrating His patience, He satisfies perfect justice in His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus appeased God's wrath and redeems sinners; God justifies us based on Christ's work and our faith in Him.

The chart below shows three actions done in salvation and their direction. These were accomplished simultaneously through a single event in history.

Chart based on model by James Montgomery Boice.

Our Right Standing Reviewed

Romans 3:27-31 rehearses justification by asking three questions and making three conclusions.

  • Verses 27-28: None of us can brag about our salvation because it was not accomplished by our own actions.
  • Verses 29-30: Just as there is one God over all people, there is only one way to be declared right with God. All can come to Christ at any time through faith and turning one's life over to Him.
  • Verse 31: God gives us Christ's character when we are in Him. We are declared perfect because we are united with the perfect Lawkeeper, and we grow in practical sanctification thereafter.

The faith that is necessary for salvation includes three aspects:

  • Knowledge through the Word of God
  • Moving of the heart
  • Commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord

"Faith is defined by God's Word. Faith is born out of God's Word, and faith is sustained by God's Word."

Application Points

  • Study out how we are justified by paying attention to the prepositional qualifiers in Romans 3:25-26.
  • An emotional response to the simplicity of the Gospel is part of saving faith, but it is not enough. Awe at God's method of making us right with Him must move you to surrender your will to Him.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Isaiah 14:13-14, Genesis 3:4-6 – the sin of pride
A Hymn to Encourage: "My Faith Has Found a Resting Place"

My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device or creed;
I trust the ever-living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.

I need no other argument;
I need no other plea.
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

Enough for me that Jesus saves,
This ends my fear and doubt;
A sinful soul I came to Him,
He’ll never cast me out.

My heart is leaning on the Word,
The written Word of God,
Salvation by my Savior’s name,
Salvation through His blood.

My great physician heals the sick,
The lost He came to save;
For me His precious blood He shed,
For me His life He gave.