Summary: Have you ever been in a relationship with someone and it seemed like you could not please them? That’s somewhat true of God, because if you try on the basis of your own behavior to earn God’s approval or his glory, you’ll miss the target every time.
People often say about others, “To know him is to love him!” This is really true of Jesus. To know Jesus is to love him. If you know him, you love him. If you don’t know him, you can’t love him until you do know him. I hope today you will meet him if you don’t know him yet.
Today I am going to continue to talk about the nature and character of God. You know, you can come up with some idea in your own mind about what God is like. You can create your own image of God in your mind, but actually what you are bowing down to is the altar of your own intelligence, or the altar of your own imagination. Instead, let’s see what the Bible says about the character and nature of God. Today we will talk about “The God of Grace and the God of Glory.”
Some of you many remember when you were in school, or perhaps even now, you have studied Homer’s Odyssey from Greek mythology. Do you remember the character, Achilles who was almost totally indestructible? In one episode from Homer’s Iliad, Hector, a warrior, is leaving his home to go into battle to fight against Achilles. Hector is sharp enough to know Achilles is undefeated, and this could be the very last time he says farewell to his wife and to his young son. Hector is dressed for battle as he goes in to say goodbye to his son,. His little boy doesn’t recognize him because he looks so fierce in his battle armor and won’t have anything to do with him. Instead, he cringes in fear, and he whimpers on his nurse’s shoulder. Hector, realizing his son doesn’t recognize him goes out of the room, takes off his battle armor and goes back in. His little boy sees him and runs across the room and they embrace for their final farewell.
You know that is somewhat the same thing the apostle, Paul, is doing here in Romans, 3:21 because in the first two-and-a-half chapters he as spent the time showing us the fierce nature of the character of God. He is a God of justice. He is a God of wrath. He is a God who punishes sin. We see God in his battle armor. But, beginning here in 3:21, Paul shows God without his battle armor on. We begin to see now the other part of God’s character. He is a God of mercy. a God of love and a God of Grace. This is the turning point in the epistle as he begins to talk about things like redemption, faith, justification, righteousness, forgiveness. Let’s begin reading here in Romans 3:21. He starts out by using that conjunction, “but now” to show the contrast. We have seen all of this about God in the previous chapters, but now let’s look and see what else there is.
But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and, are justified freely by his Grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”
Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. Is God the God of the Jews only? Is he not the God of the Gentiles too? Yes, of the Gentiles too since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we then nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.
I don’t know if you realize it or not, but that passage of scripture is one of the deepest, meatiest passages in all of the Bible. Entire semesters at Seminary have been devoted to just those few verses because it addresses what I call a bunch of theological jawbreakers–tough things to chew on. Look at it again. The righteousness of God (verse 21). He introduces faith (verse 22); he talks about the glory of God (verse 23); he talks about redemption (verse 24) and the idea of sacrifice of atonement (verse 25). He goes on and on, justice, justification, the wrath of God. So many things are introduced in this passage of scripture.