“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Rm 3:21-24)
Redemption, Grace and Faith
“All are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood - to be received by faith…” (Rom 3:24-25)
These verses are very important in understanding what God’s righteousness is. Here are some important words related to God’s righteousness—grace, redemption and faith. I want to focus on two of these words today.
The first word I want to talk about is redemption. This word explains specifically how God can freely justify sinners. God justifies sinners only “through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24)
The dictionary defines redemption as the action of gaining or regaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt. In Christianity, redemption refers to the action of saving from sin, error, or evil. This word is important in understanding what Jesus did for us on the cross and the good news He brought through it.
Paul says in Ephesians 1:7, “In him [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Eph 1:7)
Paul said that we, who were slaves to sin and death and judgment and could never pay the debt that we owed, were freed from that debt through Jesus' sacrifice.
Here, we’re familiar with the word ‘redemption,’ but when Paul wrote this letter to the Ephesians, it wasn’t a word that was often used in the church. In fact, this word was more commonly used in a certain market. Can you guess which market that was? The word 'redemption' was used in the slave market and it meant the price customers paid to buy a slave.
Paul used this word to explain Jesus’ work. He said,
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” (Gl 3:13)
The Bible tells us that Christ redeemed us. It means that Christ paid the price for our sin. Ephesians 1:7 says that it's 'His blood.' Through the blood Jesus shed on the cross, He paid for our lives and freed us, who had lived as slaves of sin and death.
“And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (Rev 5:9)
What did Jesus do to save us from our sins? He became a curse for us by being hung on a pole. Moreover, He shed His precious blood to redeem us from the slavery of sin.
To purchase us, He paid His life. He willingly became a sacrifice of atonement. As Hebrews 9:12 says, “He [Jesus] entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.” (Heb 9:12)
Jesus, the holy Son of God, came into the world, was insulted and humiliated, shed His blood and died on the cross. It doesn’t make sense at all because we’re not worthy of it. It seems like Jesus paid too much for our sins. However, Jesus willingly paid it. He did what didn’t make any sense to us. And we know the reason. Paul says,
“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rm 5:7-8)
Paul says that Jesus died for us, sinners, because He loved us. Love always transcends logic. Jesus didn’t spare His life because He loves us so much. That’s the meaning of Jesus' redemption.
God’s righteousness refers to God’s righteous act that freely justifies sinners without them paying a price. That’s the surprising part of the gospel.
God freely gives us His righteousness. God doesn’t require sinners to do anything because He willingly paid for our sin on our behalf. And the word that best shows God’s righteousness is ‘grace.’
Paul said, “All are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Rom 3:24)
Grace is probably one of the most often used words in the church. The biblical meaning of grace is defined as “the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not necessarily because of anything we have done to earn it” or “an attribute of God that is most manifest in the salvation of sinners.”
One of the key components of grace is that we don’t deserve it. Grace is what God gives to those who don’t deserve it at all.
Ephesians 2:8 says,
“it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8)
Paul defines grace as a gift from God because we didn’t do anything to earn it. Grace is what God gives us freely.
However, we must remember that while we receive it freely, God sacrificed to give it to us. As I said in the last sermon, it’s free on our side, but God paid a huge price to give us this gift. “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement” (Rom 3:25)
These two words—redemption and grace—are important in understanding what God’s righteousness is. To give us God’s righteousness and to free us from our sin and death, Jesus paid the ransom for our sin with His blood. In doing so, Jesus bought us and rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of God.
It was God’s gracious plan for us. Since He knew that we couldn’t pay for our sins, He decided to pay the cost to give us His righteousness for free. From this, we know “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Eph 3:18) for us.