Dear CSOPC brothers and sisters,
- BIBLE STUDY TONIGHT at the Van Tubergens at 7:00PM. We will be looking at Zachariah 3. Their address is 8803 Catawissa Dive, Houston, 77095.
- OFFICER TRAINING WILL BEGIN THIS SUNDAY AFTER WORSHIP. We will meet for an hour or so as we introduce the material.
- THIS SUNDAY we will conclude our study of Revelation in Sunday school and will continue in 1 Corinthians in our sermon series.
- Finally, this week’s devotion is a reflection on God as just and justifier from Romans 3.
From the Pastor’s Desk
“The Just and the Justifier”
Rom 3:26b, “So that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
The one true and living God is holy, holy, holy. He hates sin and is of purer eyes than to look upon evil (Hab 1:13). And yet at the same time he is a God of love and goodness and has determined that he would dwell with a people forever and ever. But this begs the question, how can a holy God dwell with a sinful people. Or to phrase the question as the Apostle puts it in Rom 3:26, how can God be both just (holy) and the justifier (grace) of sinners. The preceding verses – some of the most central verses in all of Scripture – give us the answer. And in particular vv. 24-25 get to the heart of the matter: “…and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”
First, the passage tells us that God put forward his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as a ‘propitiation’ by his blood. That is to say, Jesus was offered as a sacrifice on the cross to propitiate the Father. To make propitiation means to quench and to absorb wrath. Thus on the cross Jesus Christ suffered, absorbed, and quenched the wrath of God. Jesus was the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the people. The fullness of God’s just wrath was poured out on his Son on the cross. God maintained his justice and holiness– sin was dealt with – sin was punished – death was inflicted as the just penalty of sin. So we see that one side of the divine equation is satisfied … indeed God is just. But how can he also be the justifier of sinners?
Second, and to answer the question of God as justifier, we need to note the phrase that appears several times in vv. 21-26 … ‘by or through faith’ (vv. 22, 25, 26). Sinners who rest and trust in Christ ‘by faith’ are justified (i.e. ‘declared righteous in God’s sight’) because of the work of Christ. Yes, Jesus suffered and quenched the wrath of the Father, but he did so as a substitute for those who belong to him by faith. Just as the scapegoat under the Old Covenant ‘took away’ the sins of the people, so Jesus ‘takes away’ the sin of those who are in him by faith. Thus Paul can say that we are justified by his grace as a gift. In his amazing grace, God sees us in his Son. We are justified – not because of anything we have done – but solely by God’s grace alone through faith in Christ. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul summarizes what happened at the cross, “For our sake he made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus Christ was the sinless Son of God – the sinless Son of God who took the place of sinners. He suffered and died as our substitute. We rest in him by faith. And we our counted righteous in Him by faith alone.
Brothers and sisters, this is the very heart of the Gospel! God does not deny himself. He has acted consistently with his character. He is both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. God justly punishes sin … but he graciously has punished sin in the person of his Son as a substitute for sinners who rest in Christ by faith. What grace! What mercy! What love! We are cleansed white as snow by the shed blood of our Lord! And we will dwell with our Lord unto eternity!
Rev. Robert Arendale, Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (OPC), www.csopc.org