We started Romans in our Wednesday night class. If you missed it, you only missed the intro. We barely into chapter one and the good stuff hasn’t happened yet. Join us next Wednesday!

On that note, most people ask “What gives God the right to punish me?!”

It’s the kind of question an angry, unrepentant sinner might wonder. The fact is, however that God has every right to punish me. I am His creation and I sinned against Him.

The question we ought to be asking is, “What gives God the right to SAVE me?” I have sinned and deserve my punishment. I don’t deserve salvation, so how can God be just and right and do something that is wrong (saving a person worthy of death)?

The answer: He saves me through Christ

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Romans 3:24-26

Of course the salvation of Christ can not change the past. All have sinned (Romans 3:23), and God will not make us so that we’ll “never have been” a sinner. What we need is not for God to change the past: We need God to change the present. We need God to look at us now as though we haven’t sinned.

We need a new legal standing with God the Heavenly Judge. We need to say “It’s just as if I’d never sinned!” or “It’s just if I’d never sinned!”  What we need is to be justified: We need to be legally regarded as a non-sinner, despite our criminal record that says otherwise. Through the redemption of Jesus Christ that new legal standing is attained…

Christ was set forth to be a “propitiation” for our sins (John says likewise in 1 John 2:2 and 1 John 4:10). The word refers to “suffering that is done to atone for a crime.” In this case, it is Jesus suffering for our crimes instead of us, because of us, and in order to obtain us (Isaiah 53).

Without Christ’s death God could not legally save anyone, because it is only through Christ’s death that God has power to save (Romans 1:16). God’s Divine sense of justice and wrath need to be satiated and it was through Christ’s Cross. Thus God’s “forbearance” (His restraint, with regards to His wrath and need to punish sinners) is enjoyed by us, because it was not enjoyed by Christ (who bore our sins and was punished for them).

Without Christ’s death, God would not be just if He saved sinners. Now, thanks to Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice, God is not only just He is also the justifier:

He is not only right to save, He makes people right by saving them!

Amen to that!