Do you want to be overwhelmed by God’s grace? Do you want to be completely undone by His love for you? Do you want to cop a mega-dose of truth? If you’re still reading, then I will assume the answer is yes. So I want to suggest you take a few moments now to read some selections from Paul’s letter to the Romans. I have selected these powerful words from chapters 3,4 & 5 as translated by Eugene Petersen The Message. May the Lord bring understanding as you read these very powerful words. In fact, I challenge you to read these words every day for a week and see what God does in you as His Word is birthed anew within you.
“But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God‑setting-things‑right that we read about has become Jesus‑setting‑things‑right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him … Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners … and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift.
He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public ‑ to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured.
This is not only clear, but it’s now – this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness … God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. We’ve finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade … God sets right all who welcome his action and enter into it … But by shifting our focus from what we do to what God does, don’t we cancel out our careful keeping of the rules and ways God commanded? Not at all. What happens, in fact, is that by putting that entire way of life in its proper place, we confirm it.
So how do we fit what we know of Abraham, our first father in the faith, into this new way of looking at things? If Abraham, by what he did for God, got God to approve him, he could certainly have taken credit for it. But the story we’re given is a God‑story, not an Abraham‑story. What we read in Scripture is, “Abraham entered into what, God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own.”
If you’re a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don’t call your wages a gift. But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it’s something only God can do, and you trust him to do it – you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked ‑ well, that trusting him to do it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift …
That famous promise God gave Abraham ‑ that he and his children would possess the earth ‑ was not given because of something Abraham did or would do. It was based on God’s decision to put everything together for him, which Abraham then entered when he believed. If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an ironclad contract! That’s not a holy promise; that’s a business deal. A contract drawn up by a hard‑nosed lawyer and with plenty of fine print only makes sure that you will never be able to collect. But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise ‑ and God’s promise at that – you can’t break it.
This is why the fulfilment of God’s promise depends entirely on trusting God and his way, and then simply embracing him and what he does. God’s promise arrives as a pure gift. That’s the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it, those who keep the religious traditions and those who have never heard of them …
By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us ‑ set us right with him, make us fit for him ‑ we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand ‑ out in the wide, open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing, tall and shouting our praise.”