Summary: If convicted felons were set free by our court system because someone else wanted to take their punishment, imagine the outcry! Well, Jesus did exactly that. . . *HANDOUT INCLUDED*

How To Be Right With God

TEXT: Rom. 3:21-26 "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."

Romans 3:21-28 (New Living Translation)

21. But now God has shown us a different way of being right in his sight-not by obeying the law but by the way promised in the Scriptures long ago.

22. We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done.

23. For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

24. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins.

25. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times.

26. And he is entirely fair and just in this present time when he declares sinners to be right in his sight because they believe in Jesus.

27. Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds. It is based on our faith.

28. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.

OPENING ILLUS. The scene is a courtroom. It’s packed out on this day. Today the judge will sentence the infamous killer. His heinous crimes have been blasted across the airwaves, and shouted from the newspaper headlines for months. Now the time has come. The jury has declared him “guilty as charged” and has recommended the death penalty.

The judge has declared a recess, while he consults his books, and decides on a sentence. Photographers jockey for the best spot, to get the Pulitzer-Prize winning photograph the moment the sentence is announced. TV crews zoom in on the defendant, sitting silently next to his lawyer, eyes downcast.

The door to the judge’s chamber opens, and a hundred microcassette recorders start rolling. Flashbulbs pop as the judge climbs to his desk.

The gavel comes down and the courtroom is stilled. The judge begins to speak. “Sir, I have reached a decision. A man you never met has volunteered to take your punishment. By the law, the horrible crimes you have committed warrant your death. But since this man made the choice to die in your place, I am offering you the chance to go free.” Gasps of shock. The judge continues. “If you do not wish to go free, then you are allowed to pay for your crimes with your own life. But because of what this man has done for you, you no longer will be forced to pay the penalty for what you have done.”

Imagine if that actually happened in our country. The next day, the newspaper headlines would scream TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE!! KILLER ALLOWED TO GO FREE!!! The talk shows could talk of nothing else. People would cry out against this forgiveness offered FREELY to a murderer. “This man deserved to DIE!” they would cry. And you know. . . they would be right!

The defendant was free. . . just like that?! All he had to do was take the judge’s word. All he had to do was believe that the judge meant what he said. A man had died in his place, and he could walk out a free man.

What would you feel like when you heard the newscasts and saw the headlines? Enraged? Disappointed? Shocked? Probably all of these.

That story is an imperfect illustration of what I want to get across to you. . . I want to show you what I call the “shock value” of the gospel. Go with me back to VERSE 26 of the third chapter of Romans:

“that HE (GOD) MIGHT BE JUST, and the JUSTIFIER of him which believeth in Jesus.”

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