Salvation Explained by Paul

Romans 3:24-26 “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.”

Vernon McGee shed greater light on the use of the word “justified” in verse twenty-four, he explained it this way:

You see, justification by faith is actually more than subtraction of our sins – that is, forgiveness. It is the addition of the righteousness of Christ. In other words, we are not merely restored to Adam’s former position, but now we are placed in Christ where we shall be throughout the endless ages of eternity sons of God!

Salvation Explained by Paul

We learn seven things about salvation from Paul in verses 24-26 of chapter three:

1.) Salvation is free (v.24) – The word “freely” in verse twenty-four is translated from the Greek word which means “without a cause.” Paul is saying we are justified freely “without a cause” originating from our self, there is no basis for our justification. There is no explanation in us for it.

2.) Salvation is by and through grace (v.24) – there is nothing a sinner can do to earn his own salvation, it is a gift from God, given to us through His grace. “It is by His grace, which means that there is no merit on our part. Grace is unmerited favor; it is love in action.”[1]

3.) Salvation is by and through the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ (v. 24, 25) – Redemption means to buy back; one person put it this way, “redemption is a buying, by means of a price paid.[2] Jesus bought us back at the tremendous price of His shed blood. Oliver B. Green said this about this point:

All men belong to God by creation – the devil never created man, nor could he ever create a man – but only those who are saved belong to God by redemption. Jesus bought back everything Adam sold to the devil in the Garden of Eden.”[3]

Jesus is our “propitiation” – “In human terms, “propitiation” means appeasing someone who is angry, usually by a gift. But this is not what it means in the Bible. “Propitiation” means the satisfying of God’s holy law, the meeting of its just demands, so that God can freely forgive those who come to Christ. The word blood tells us what the price was. Jesus had to die on the cross in order to satisfy the law and justify lost sinners.”[4]

To be a propitiation” – this phrase points back to the time almost two thousand years ago when Christ was “set forth” as the Savior. The veil of the temple, in accordance with God’s commands, hid the mercy seat, and only the high priest could go in past that veil. The purpose of the veil was to hide and to bar everyone from entering the symbolic presence of God except the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. The only way the High Priest could stand alive on the other side of the veil was by sprinkling on the veil the blood of his substitute. The purpose of the veil was to keep people out of the Holy of Holies. It told sinful man that he could not approach God except by His prescribed means. It stood in the way to God’s presence. It was a closed door. The only person who could enter the Holy of Holies and remain alive was the High Priest with the blood of the substitute sacrifice, and then only on the Day of Atonement (Exodus 26:31-35; Leviticus 16). But he could never enter without the blood. It was a constant reminder that sin separates the sinner from God and that sin required the shedding of blood to cover it.

Christ has been set forth as the mercy seat. No longer hidden behind a veil, no longer is our approach barred, Christ came once and offered His blood for the payment of sin, with His death and the shedding of His blood “the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom”[5] and now all can approach God freely for salvation through that very same shed blood.

4.) Salvation is for those who believe “through faith (v.25) – Only believers have salvation. You can be a church member and not be saved. You can embrace “religion” and not be saved. Those who have salvation, received salvation though faith.

5.) Salvation is based upon the shedding of blood “though faith in his blood (v.25) – It was by the blood atonement on the mercy seat – the offering of the bullock on the great day of atonement – that the reconciliation was effected in the Old Testament era.[6] Our salvation is also by blood atonement – but it is by His (Christ’s) own blood. The Bible tells us that “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). Oliver B. Green put it this way, “No person – Jew or Gentile – will ever step inside God’s Celestial City unless he is covered by the blood … HIS blood.”[7]

6.) Salvation is retrospective in its effect “to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past (v.25) – Oliver B. Green explains this point very well:

It was this ‘passing over’ of sins before the cross in the sense that God saved sinners without having their sins paid for, thus bestowing mercy without having justice satisfied – which would make God appear as having condoned sin – that had to be set right in the eyes of men. The matter was always right in God’s eyes, because He knew Jesus would die on the cross. But the cross had to come, for a righteous God could not pass by sin. The sin-debt had to be paid.”[8]

7.) Salvation is also prospective in its effect “that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus (v.26) – The cross took care of all the sins of the Old Testament era and also declares a believing sinner in this Day of Grace is saved not only by the mercy of God, but by the righteousness of God – for his salvation rests upon the fact that his sins have been paid for and justice “Thus God is just and at the same time the One who justifies the believing sinner.[9]

[1] (McGee, 1991)

[2] Henry Alford (1810-1871) – theologian and writer

[3] (Greene, 1962)

[4] (Wiersbe, 2007)

[5] Matthew 27:51

[6] (Greene, 1962)

[7] (Greene, 1962)

[8] (Greene, 1962)

[9] (Greene, 1962)

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