As a Small Groups Pastor of a local church there are three topics that I encounter most when interacting with Christians: grace, faith, and justification. They are essential topics that every Christian learns about, wrestles with, and tries to live out. Growing as a Christian leads to improved understanding of these three topics and should result in living them out better and better. As I continue my series of soteriology blog posts, I hope to give you a biblical description of each of these topics and point you to some ways you can live out grace, faith, and justification in your life.
Grace, Faith, and Justification
Photo Credit: Rembrandt, “The Return of the Prodigal Son”
We have been given a gift we don’t deserve.
A. In Grace, God Punishes Jesus, Not Us
In Paul’s letter to the Romans he talks about grace in the third chapter saying,
Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight [literally “declares us righteous”]. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past. (Romans 3:24–25, NLT)[ref]Unless otherwise noted, all translations are from the New Living Translation, 2015 revision[/ref]
Let’s take each part of this verse and examine grace.
1. God Takes Initiative
Paul tells us that God “in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight” (v. 24) and “God presented Jesus” (v. 25). It’s clear that God takes the initiative to provide grace to us. This is something he does for us, and it is not something we have caused.