Paul’s Letter to the Romans Part 24

This entry is part 24 of 35 in the series Paul's Letter to the Romans

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith
without the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28). Here he may draw
hurtful conclusions, if we do not keep in mind Paul’s line of
argument. Paul is not contrasting faith and the obedience of faith,
but he is contrasting justification by works of the law and
justification by faith. In chapter 1:5 he speaks of “the obedience of
faith” – that is, obedience of which faith is the source or foundation –
an obedient faith. Works of the law is an entirely different thing from
obedience of faith. When Paul talks about faith, he means an
obedient faith. Many have stumbled through Romans without ever
recognizing the fact that Paul makes that plain in the very beginning
of his letter. To make works of law refer to the obedience of faith is
to cover ourselves in a fog of confusion from which we will not be
able to emerge with any clear ideas of the gospel plan of salvation.
To be justified by works of the law requires that works, as
measured by law, be perfect. A sinner can never be justified by
works of law, for no amount of works will change the fact that he
has sinned. But the death of Christ made it possible for those who
believe in him to be justified. Here, however, another hurtful error
has been made – namely, the limiting of faith to and acceptance of
him as a sacrifice for our sins. Faith is decidedly too limited in
scope, if it does not include also submission to Jesus as our King;
for Jesus will save no one in whose heart he is not allowed to reign
as King. The death of Jesus Christ, for all, made it possible for all to
be saved. 
“Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the
Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which
shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through
faith” (vs. 29-30). The Jews did not think that God would recognize
a Gentile, unless he became a part of the Jewish nation. In their
estimation he was the God of the Jews only – a tribal, or national,
God. Many of the early Christians of Jerusalem taught that Gentile
Christians had to be circumcised and keep the law, or they could
not be saved. They could see no salvation for any but Jews; hence,
they demanded that Gentile Christians become Jews. It is a pity
that this tribal idea of God is now being advocated, with slight
modifications, by Christians among gentiles. Paul had much contention with those who had that conception of God. This one
verse, properly considered, will destroy any such false conceptions
of God. He is the God both of the Jew and Gentile – the God of all
nations. He is equally related to all and all are equally related to
him, for He is one. He is not one kind of God to the Jews and
another to the Gentiles. It would seem that Paul meant to make a
distinction between the phrases “by faith” and “through faith”, else
why use the two phrases?
“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid:
yea, we establish the law” (v. 31). How do we establish the law by
faith? Certainly not in the sense that we set it up or make it binding.
But, if we come to the Lord Jesus Christ that we may be forgiven of
sins committed against the law, do we not thereby show that we
recognize its binding force? Of course, we do, by obeying Christ’s
and rejecting the world.

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