- Howard Ens
They say all roads lead to Rome. In the same way many people today say all roads lead to God. Every road that people are on will ultimately lead to God, but the question is: will God be our judge, or our Lord?
We are living in a day when the way or ways to God is seemingly increasing—at least according to the viewpoint of many. Not only are the ways to God seemly numerous, but the whole concept of Jesus Christ is no longer contained within the pages of Scripture. The idea of being a Christian to many people is just to ‘believe in Jesus’. The meaning of being a Christian has also taken a turn; what Jesus commands no longer has to be obeyed, and a relationship with Jesus is something superficial to many professing ‘Christians’. For many people, the chief virtue of the day is tolerance, and the great hope is we all go to heaven. Today, people are willing to trade truth for sincerity.
The revealed, Divine Word of God, says that there is only one way to forming a relationship with God, and this is through the man Christ Jesus. Jesus is not one among many. He is the One and Only. This goes against the world’s view of how we get to God; all people must come the same way to God—through Jesus.
When we come to Christ in faith, we essentially say, “I give up! I will not depend on myself or my good works any longer. I know that I can never make myself righteous before God. Therefore, Jesus, I trust you and depend on you completely to give me a righteous standing before God.” The Scriptures teach us that faith in Jesus and His atoning work accomplished on the cross is the means whereby we become justified in God’s sight, (Rom. 3:22; 2 Tim. 3:15).
Because we are alienated from God by sin, we need someone to come between God and ourselves to bring us back to Him. We needed a mediator who could represent us to God and who could represent God to us. The Israelites in the Old Testament had a mediator, someone who would go to God on their behalf, whether that was Moses, or a Temple Priest. When Jesus accomplished His mission here on earth, all other forms of mediation between man and God stopped. He is the final and ultimate mediator between God and man. “There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men; the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). In order to fulfill this role as mediator, Jesus had to be fully man as well as fully God.
In Romans 3, Paul first shows us that we are all guilty before God because of our sin. He tells us that “no one is righteous.” In the latter half of the same chapter, Paul shows us how we become righteous before God:
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. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Rom. 3:23-26)
Paul’s point is that God can maintain His righteous character even while He acts to justify sinful people. Because Christ, in His propitiatory sacrifice, provides full satisfaction of the demands of God’s justice, God can justify us while remaining just. To be sure, this narrow way of viewing salvation is out of fashion these days.
Martin Luther called this paragraph (Romans 3:21-31) the chief point, because it focuses on what he thought was the heart of the Bible: justification by faith alone, in Christ alone. With these phrases, the Reformers expressed their conviction that justification is, from first to last, a matter of God’s own doing. Luther believed that this passage was vital; “If this passage stands, the church stands; if it falls, the church falls."
While we should be thankful for the boldness of Martin Luther and the other Reformers, may we forever be grateful to our Heavenly Father who has extended His grace and mercy to us through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.