Hello to those of you across the world.
Paul the apostle writes with the heart of a pastor, the mind of a teacher, and the soul of an evangelist, but more importantly, he writes as only a servant of God.
The most brilliant mind a redeemed sinner could have, Paul pens Romans with a love toward the Gentile saints, but with a heart’s desire to see his brethren according to the flesh, the Israelites, the Jews, brought into favour with the God they reject.
Of course this honor can only be found in the gospel, defined and demonstrated as the righteousness of God. Remember, this man Paul was given a decree by God himself, thus he presents man before the high court of heaven.
God who is holy, God who is an all consuming fire, God who has found all in contempt of court, this God has been kind to offer man a way to make things right with himself. Since God is righteous, without blemish, pure, true, just and holy, how then can he allow sinful man to stand in his presence, if man is unrighteous, full of spots, untrue, unjust, and unholy?
How could an all holy God justify man, without compromising his own intrinsic eternal perfection? Yes, this is the theme Paul unfolds, as he by the spirit of God teaches that the answer is found in the gospel, and explained by the righteousness of God. Mind you, Paul does not give the answer all at once.
He, like a skillful attorney will present the side of the prosecution, and lay bare the reality that there are none good, no not any. Then he will argue, that if all are tried and found guilty, if there is to be any pardon found, it must be by the same standard that God has pronounced upon all the condemned.
And this is the majesty of the gospel, for it has been proven that all have insulted a holy God, as a matter of fact, even all mans righteousnesses have been found to be nothing more than filthy rags.
But the true gospel is ready for mans deepest need, and the man Christ Jesus steps into the breech. It is he who is the only mediator, thus if a righteous and all holy God will pardon, it must be on the basis of what he considers righteous. The one who condemns must be the one who justifies.
So the apostle hints at this doctrine when he says the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Of course it is, for man has no power. To the Jew first said Paul, and this command was obeyed by the apostles in Jerusalem. The word of the gospel was to go to Jerusalem first, said the Lord Jesus, with the offer of forgiveness of sins.
Why, because where sin abounds, grace much more abounds. And no offer of grace was more purely visible than in Jerusalem, where our Lord was also crucified. Do you recall when the law was given, about 3000 Jews died. And when the spirit of God was given, about 3000 Jews were brought to God: the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
So the gospel began at Jerusalem with the offer of a full, free, and eternal remission of sins only to the Jews. Of course many did not hear his word, as they recounted once more, ‘we have no king but Caesar.’ Stephen preached to the Israelites, and he was murdered, for no other reason that speaking forth the word of God in its simple truth, but this truth was the arrow of conviction that these Jews did not welcome.
Paul begins his ministry, and where was he but in the synagogue, to the Jew first. Yes, his word was not welcomed either, and in time, he would go solely to the Gentiles. But the righteousness of God is a broad topic, and the offer to take part in God’s goodness is extended to all, Jew and Greek.
There is no other way for man to be made right with God Paul would teach, and in the blessed gospel of the glory of God, which is entirely in the person and work of the Lord Jesus, we see mans contribution, and that is, he brings his own sins to the mercy seat, where grace, mercy, truth and pardon are found.
Do not insult the majesty of heaven by pretending to bring God an offering of your hands. Consider carefully that religious man Cain.
As we have explained, the righteousness of God is a broad and deep subject, for God is righteous, and man is not. If pardon is to flow from heaven, if man is to be declared free from condemnation, this sentence must also come from he who is the judge of all.
So the apostle unfolds the teaching that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness. Of course it is revealed, why just look at Calvary, the place of the skull. God’s thoughts toward sin were viewed there, as the only perfect, holy, Lord Jesus was made sin. Do you understand this? Do I? The wrath of God was poured out upon the Lamb of God.
He who did no sin, he who knew no sin, he of whom it is written that in him was no sin, he, very man and very God, he who always did those things that please the father, he who never sought his own will, he who was the perfect man, he in whom the father was ever well pleased, it was he, the Lord Jesus, who was made sin.
The earth was full of darkness while the Lamb of God was taking away the sins of the world, for yes, the light of the world was going out. The spotless son of God was made a curse, thus we see heavens thoughts toward sin, for the only truly fit man that lived, suffered for sins, on the tree.
Is it any wonder that the Ethiopian went on his way rejoicing, for he believed the gospel, that Christ died for his sins according to the scriptures, and those divine words settled for all eternity are the very words of which it is said that they are higher than the name of God, these scriptures as penned in the book of Isaiah, were truly the balm of Gilead as he headed toward Gaza.
Of whom does the prophet speak, asked the seeker of truth to Philip, and the man of God led him to the very person of whom he was reading. A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. We esteemed him smitten of God, but, says the spirit of God, he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquity, the chastisement of what was due us, was given to him, and it was the Lord God, who laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Philip continued, ‘he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and just as a sheep is mute while being sheared, so the Lord Jesus opened not his mouth.’ Recall Pilate was amazed that the Lord Jesus answered him not. Yes, this was not just a death of a man, but the record of the gospel regarding Christ Jesus, and that death was according to the scriptures.
My God my God why hast thou forsaken me, was the cry from he who hung between the thieves, and this was not a question asked by a man who did not know, but the cry of a man who was fulfilling the words of the Psalmist, for even in death, the Lord proved that the word of God was his meat.
Yes, forsaken by God, for the wrath of God against sin was the cup that the Lord Jesus graciously drank. Imagine, the Lord was rejected by man and forsaken by God. Did not the prophet say, we hid as it were our faces from him?
Yet this wrath was against all ungodliness, for if God can justify the ungodly, there must be a payment for the debt.. Can you not see what the Ethiopian saw and believed, that the life of the flesh is in the blood, and in the shedding of the precious blood of the Lord most high, he of whom Abraham wrote:
He came upon the page of history to do what no man could do, and that is, glorify God while putting away sin.
The rage, the fury, and the wrath of God is seen in the death of the Lord Jesus. The gospel concerns him, while God also knows that men hold the truth in unrighteousness. Yes, despised even.
The truth of God is seen in the person and work of the Lord Jesus, and oh how men blaspheme that fair name! But what is God’s response? Nothing, for God is gracious, and longsuffering with evil.
While man may scorn, God continues to send rain on the just and the unjust. Yes there will be a time of reckoning, where the proud and the profane will answer to God. But today thanks be to God, grace reigns.