The fourth chapter of Romans consists primarily of a lengthy illustration of the powerful truth proclaimed by the apostle Paul in the third chapter. That truth is summarized by Paul in 3:28:

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. [ KJV ]

1. In our study last week we considered the definitions of three weighty theological terms which Paul used when explaining the doctrine of Justification by Faith.

a. p __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

(1) an atoning sacrifice which succeeds in turning aside the wrath of the one to whom it is offered

(2) "The sinner has absolutely nothing to bring to appease God's wrath, but God, out of his fathomless love and holiness, gives what the sinner cannot give, namely, himself on the sinner's behalf. The ultimate sacrifice of God's offering of himself in the person of his Son on behalf of humanity removes the barrier of unrighteousness and estrangement between the two." (James R. Edwards: Romans (Vol. 6, New International Biblical Commentary )

b. r __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

(1) the act of purchasing a slave for the specific purpose of setting him or her free

(2) "This is precisely how the New Testament describes the work of Jesus on our behalf. Jesus is our Redeemer. He is the One who paid a ransom for ur souls.

We have to be careful here, for there are all kinds of theories about what Jesus did. One that has been very famous in the history of the church is that Jesus paid a ransom to the devil, in orde th buy us back from Satan's possession. But that is an utterly unbiblical concept. The ransom or the purchase price is not paid to Satan. It is paid to God, for it is to God that we are in debt." ( R.C. Sproul: Romans )

c. j __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

(1) the opposite of condemnation

(b) "Justification...may be defined as the judicial act of God whereby He justly declares and treats as righteous the one who believes in Jesus Christ. The justified believer has been declared by the Judge Himself to have nothing laid to his charge." ( C.I. Schofied: New Schofield Reference Bible )

2. The doctrine of Justification by Faith has been accepted without reservation by millions of believers down through the ages, but it was radical theology to many of Paul's contemporaries. Two objections were commonly raised against his teaching of this doctrine, one regarding the character of God and the other regarding the character of the believer.

a. In chapter four Paul makes an assertion which might have caused his original readers to blanche with horrified astonishment: God justifies the ungodly. To the Jewish mind, this is unthinkable! Paul hinted at this concept in chapter three, when he spoke of God being both "j __ __ __" and, at the same time, the "j __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __" of the believing sinner. But in Romans 4:5 Paul will come right out and say it: the believing sinner has placed his faith in Him who justifies the ungodly (!).

(1) This is the "Divine Dilemma" with which Jesus was confronted in John 8:1-11. A group of Pharisees -- who were wary of Jesus because of His "radical" interpretation of the Law -- brought to Him a woman who had been caught in the very act of adultery. Their understanding of the Law was clear: she should be stoned to death for such a crime. They were certain that the message of grace and forgiveness which He had been preaching would have to be compromised by the red-handed seriousness of the charges brought against her. How, they wondered, would Jesus handle the seeming dichotomy between their stern understanding of God's pure and righteous justice and His gentle teaching which (to their minds) over-emphasized God's great love and mercy?

(2) Many of Paul's readers wrestled with the same question. How can God be both fully just and fully merciful? That these two qualities of God form part of our understanding of His character is widely accepted, but the manner in which He can manifest both at the same time exceeds the limits of human comprehension. And that is exactly the point! There exists no satisfactory human solution to this riddle; a "Divine Dilemma" requires a "Divine Resolution." This fact should lay to rest once and for all time mankind's pathetic attempts to be reconciled to God by means of any human endeavor.

(3) The stupendous act of Christ's voluntary surrender of His life on the cross at Calvary is explained by Paul with the word "propitiation." As the writer of Hebrews reminds us, ...according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission [ forgiveness ] (Hebrews 9:22). And as the apostle Paul himself will declare in Romans, The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). In order for God to be truly "just," He must mete out the punishment which He Himself has declared awaits those who sin against Him. On the other hand, God's Word says that He is truly merciful, ...longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentence (2 Peter 3:9).

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