News for the week of Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sunday School Lesson — Bible Studies for Life
Dec. 8: The Gift You Can’t Give Yourself
By Josh Moore

Focal Passage: Romans 3:21-18

Last week we studied the problem. This week we focus on the solution, the powerful message of how a righteous God can save sinners. The other day, our family got a new wireless router from the Internet service provider. As with all new gadgetry, it is my responsibility to get the device up and running. After reading the instructions, I set out to complete the project. Of course, soon a problem arose I simply couldn’t fix. After spending close to an hour attempting to make it work, I eventually gave up and called the service provider. They beamed into my computer, took control, and got the wireless going on my behalf. Try as we might, we can never fix the problem of sin. We must in helpless dependence call upon the grace of God for salvation through faith. This passage demonstrates to us the beautiful process of the gospel.

God’s righteousness revealed (vv. 21-23). According to Romans 3:21-22 the righteousness of God is revealed through the Old Testament in the law and the prophets. The law demonstrates our guilt before a righteous God. Through the law, God set up a sacrificial system to provide forgiveness of sin.  However, the book of Hebrews in the New Testament tells us this system was merely a foreshadowing of the forgiveness foretold by the prophets and fulfilled in the promised Messiah. God’s righteousness has now been fully declared through the gospel of Jesus Christ, accessed through faith, and made available to all mankind. Therefore, the gospel is an ultimate and inclusive proclamation, welcoming people of all languages, ethnicities, and backgrounds to salvation. Yes, Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God,” but all have, at the same time, the opportunity to experience the grace of God and the forgiveness of sins.

God’s righteousness transferred (vv. 24-26). This section introduces the vitally important, but often confusing, theological concept of justification. Everyday usage of this term often denotes an attempt for someone to rationa-lize an action they know is ethically suspect. This is not the biblical meaning. Justification in the gospel is like a transaction between you and God. In a business transaction, you receive a product by giving a payment to the seller. In the gospel, you receive the gift of salvation by placing your trust in Jesus the Messiah, who paid the price to God with His death on the cross for your sin. “God made the One (Jesus) who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Corinthians 5:21). It is because of Jesus Christ and His ultimate sacrifice, that God has forgiven sin, and yet, still remains righteous and holy.

God’s righteousness received (vv. 27-28). The gospel makes clear there is no boasting in salvation. The glory solely rests on God. The only thing we do is receive the gift. Many may look at faith and repentance as works earning salvation, but that is the wrong way to see it. Saving faith and repentance are actions done in a helpless, dependent state. When you express faith, you cry out in despair for salvation. That is nothing to boast about. Let’s say you are dying of a heart attack and you call 9-1-1 for an ambulance. On the way to the ER, the paramedics inject needed drugs to stop the heart attack, and the ER doctors bring you back to health. Who saved you? Yes, you made the call, but the paramedics and doctors are the rescuers. 

When you call upon God for salvation, God is the one who has provided the way and has paid the price for your salvation. This truly is amazing grace! 

— Moore is the director of church relations at Union University in Jackson. He also serves as minister of education at First Baptist Church, Dresden. 



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