Scripture Reading: Romans 3:21-26
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 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.” (Romans 3:23-25)
Paul made it clear — “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in His sight” (v. 20). If we cannot be justified through our own efforts to obey God’s law, how then can we be saved? Paul gives us the answer — we are justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
John Calvin helps us understand this passage about justification. He says that the efficacious cause of our justification is God’s grace — “are justified by His grace as a gift.” The word efficacious refers to the power that produces an intended result. God immediately and powerfully uses His grace to save us. Grace is what God does for us that we do not deserve. When directed at a sinner, God’s grace is irresistible. It penetrates our hearts and changes us from the inside out.
The meritorious cause of our justification is the atoning work of Jesus Christ — “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood.” The word meritorious refers to the basis or means by which our justification occurs. We are justified on the basis of the finished work of Jesus Christ. He became the one and only atoning sacrifice for our sins. He redeemed us by paying the ultimate price for our deliverance from sin and guilt.
The instrumental cause of our justification is faith — “to be received by faith.” Faith is the instrument by which our justification is appropriated to us. Faith is not the meritorious cause of our justification; the atoning work of Jesus Christ alone is. Faith is the means by which our justification is applied to us. Faith itself is a gift from God — “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is a gift from God” (Ephesians 2:8).
The main take away from our passage is that salvation is fully the work of God. God alone saves us. We cannot add anything to what God has done for us. We are justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Lord God, thank You for Your gracious gift of salvation. I know that I am justified because of Your grace. Thank You that Jesus Christ made my justification possible through His atoning work on the cross. Thank you that You gave me the gift of faith to believe.
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