What The Righteousness From God Does

“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;” (Romans 3:24-25)

Continuing our look at the “Righteousness from God” in Romans 3, we come to the term redemption in Verse 24. Interestingly, we read in the very same sentence that states God has justified us freely, costing us nothing that we might be saved, that our redemption is in Christ Jesus. Freely and without cost for us, but a price of redemption paid by God in Christ. The word rendered redemption speaks of a captive set free, a slave loosened from his bonds, liberated from his imprisonment and bought with a price by someone else, a price that he himself could never be able to pay, without the which his bondage would interminably remain. Though all men are born with an inherent pride, moving them in their arrogance and rebellion to declare in agreement with the Pharisees: “Never have we been in bondage…” (John 8:33), the words of the Apostle Paul here in the Third Chapter of Romans prod us from our sinful slumber, the Spirit of God confirming to our hearts that we are the “captives” to whom the Lord Jesus came to preach deliverance, we are the bruised whom He came to “set at liberty” (Luke 4:18).

That God did not arbitrarily convey upon a sin-stained humanity a righteousness void of substance is a truth further developed throughout this passage of Scripture. Lest anyone conclude that the absence of payment on the part of man should depreciate the value of our Salvation, we see that the Lord has accomplished His great Plan of Redemption by settling the accounts Himself. Jesus Christ was “set forth to be a Propitiation” for us. Typically carrying with it the idea of man sacrificing something to appease the Divine, propitiation as used in the Word of God indicates something (or rather, Someone) that God has provided on man’s behalf. We see the same Greek term translated here as propitiation one other time in the New Testament:

“And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the MERCYSEAT; of which we cannot now speak particularly.” (Hebrews 9:5, emphasis added)

Looking back at the Old Testament foreshadow of Christ’s Atonement in the ceremony of the Day of Atonement (described in Leviticus 16), Hebrews 9 shows us that not only is the Lord Jesus our Mercy Seat, but He is also our High Priest (Heb. 9:11). Christ fulfills the role of High Priest, Mercy Seat, and Sacrifice Whose blood is poured out for Atonement (Heb. 9:12). It is no wonder that we are told with no uncertainty that boasting is wholly excluded on man’s part, for he has no part in the process of redemption whatsoever! Through faith in His blood is the only action that we contribute.

Previously, we considered the definition of the Righteousness from God. Let us now look at what it is that the Righteousness from God does:

It Declares God’s Righteousness

“… 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 3:25b-26)

There are actually two different groups of people in view in these two statements: 1.) Those who committed sins that are past, and 2.) Those which believeth in Jesus. Having misinterpreted the meaning behind Verse 25, concluding that “past sins” are those in the believer’s past the moment he comes to Christ, some have erroneously deduced that it is the sins perpetrated before an individual receives Salvation that are completely blotted out by the Redemption of Christ, the iniquities and transgressions committed afterward being the joint responsibility of the individual and the Lord to rectify. At one time in the earlier days of the Church, the rite of Baptism was sometimes deemed advisable to postpone as long as possible, since it was held that only the offences carried out prior to this Sacrament were definitively pardoned. Anything afterward might require additional penance or even rituals of contrition in the afterlife. Such concepts, of course, find no real support in the Bible.

Sins that are past actually refers to the sins of those living before the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified and resurrected. In the very next chapter (Romans 4), we will be given two examples of people who were saved many centuries before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ; how were they saved? Their faith was counted as righteousness (Rom. 4:3). Faith in what? Faith in God. Not having lived to see the coming of Jesus Christ, nor the Atonement that He accomplished, those who believed God and trusted God in the days before were also saved by the Redemption paid for by the Cross of Christ. Their faith served as a type of credit given to them until that day would come when their Salvation would be realized. This is why we see the graves of the Old Testament saints opening after the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus (Matthew 27:52-53); their Redemption was secured by the Blood of Christ in the same manner as all of us living thereafter.

No one can accurately accuse God of capriciousness or injustice regarding Salvation: He is Just and He is the Justifier of all who believe in Jesus. The Lord is not letting anyone slip into Heaven, awarding a free pass to those seeking to come in some other way. He is fair — everyone has equal opportunity to partake of His grace. Some people justify others, some justify themselves, but only those whom God justifies are truly justified.

It Excludes Boasting

“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.” (Romans 3:27)

As we looked at earlier: being that Christ is the High Priest, the Mercy Seat, and the Sacrifice, there remains no part for us to boast about having played. Our works contribute absolutely nothing to the entire process of Redemption. Only our faith has any role in procuring Salvation. We have nothing of which to boast.

It Demonstrates The Universal Sovereignty Of God

“Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.” (Romans 3:29-30)

If Salvation came by keeping the Law of Moses, then God would be God of the Jew alone. Any Gentile would necessarily convert to Judaism before he would be able to find Salvation, perfect law-keeping being the requirement to being made right with God. But since faith is the key and Christ the Door, all people, Jew and Gentile alike, are able to come to God, the Sovereign, universal Lord of all, on equal ground. The bold declaration of Romans 1:16, the declaration that Salvation is given to everyone who believes, both Jew and Gentile, now rings with a resounding  clarity; its cause having been demonstrated, its veracity having been verified.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:” (Deuteronomy 6:4)

The Lord is One God, but not just over Israel. He is God and Lord over all people.

It Establishes The Law

“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” (Romans 3:31)

Christ came not to nullify the Law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). The Redemption that God has set forth in Christ, too, does nothing to diminish the Law of Moses, but fulfills it. The purpose of the Law is to bring a person to the place where they recognize indisputably that they are a depraved sinner beyond hope of self-reformation, the Law itself being our Schoolmaster, bringing us to Christ that we might be justified by faith (Galatians 3:24). If the Law of God accomplishes this in a person’s life, bringing them to a faith and trust in Christ, Who alone is able to save man from his iniquities, then it has achieved its end and purpose.

May we come to Him today that He would cleanse us from all unrighteousness and redeem us by His precious Blood. To Him goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

How God’s Redemption Works

“Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD.” (Exodus 6:6-8)

The word exodus for most people brings to mind a mass migration, a movement of people out of one area into another, particularly in order to escape a place that has become dangerous or volatile. With regards to the Bible Book of Exodus, we tend to think of it as being about mighty and wondrous miracles, devastating plagues, a heroic Moses, and a stubborn Pharaoh. While those things certainly comprise the settings and “characters” of the Book of Exodus, this is not what Exodus is really all about. Like everything else in the Bible, the main “Character” is God; it is about what God has done. And the theme is not the”Judgment of God” (though this plays a pivotal role in the background), the theme is the “Deliverance of God.” The focus of Exodus is not really the judgments of God at all, but the Redemption of God.

Like so many other portions of the Old Testament, the redemption described and demonstrated in Exodus is a portrait, a foreshadowing of the redemption revealed in the New Testament. What is spelled out in the New Testament is often alluded to in the Old; what is represented in the Old Testament is clearly seen in the New. There are many principles and properties related to God’s redemption of His people from the land of Egypt that are continued in and applicable to Christ’s redemption of His people in the New Testament. The Old Covenant begun in Exodus comes to fulfillment in Christ under the New Covenant. Yet the way that God saves a person has not really changed all that much. Salvation has always been the work of God, secured by faith. With that in mind, let us look at some of the aspects of God’s redemption of Israel out of Egypt and compare them with the Christian’s redemption from sin:

I Am The Lord

“Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord…” (Exodus 6:6a)

“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I KNOW WHOM I HAVE BELIEVED, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12, emphasis added)

We live in a day when faith is an exalted virtue, but the object of faith seems to be becoming less and less important. It doesn’t matter what you believe, it is said, as long as you believe it sincerely. In other words, faith is what’s important, not what that faith is invested in. Even certain groups which call themselves Evangelical, Protestant Christians have turned faith into an idol; their faith is in faith itself, not God. But the object of our faith is important, not just the sincerity or “strength” of that faith. Without a doubt, there were many in Egypt whose faith in their own gods was very strong; they trusted their own deities to deliver them. Yet the plagues continued and the devastation did not end until the children of Israel were released. God’s redemption begins and ends with Him. It is all based on Who He is and His ability to save. Therefore, we see the Lord’s instructions to Moses in this passage begin with the words “I am the Lord” and end with those same words (Ex. 6:8).

Jesus Christ declared that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no man comes to the Father but by Him (John 14:6). There is no other name under Heaven given among men whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). He is the Lord Who saves, there is none other who can. Any faith not invested in Him is not a saving faith at all.

Out From Under Our Burdens

“…I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians…” (Exodus 6:6b)

“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:28)

Deliverance from the burdens set on the Children of Israel speaks of the Christian’s deliverance from the burden, or penalty, of sin. Man is under a burden today, the burden of the penalty for his sin-guilt. God’s redemption from our own burden is our deliverance from an eternity separated from Him. The Lord Jesus paid the price that this burden might be removed from us.

Rid Out Of Bondage

“… I will rid you out of their bondage” (Exodus 6:6c)

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace…Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:14, 16)

As the children of Israel were enslaved to do the bidding of their Egyptian masters, so are all men enslaved to do the will of their overlord: Sin. Christ has redeemed the Christian from bondage to sin and has freed those who trust in Him from being a servant of sin any more. The bands of our own bondage have been broken by the Redemption that is in Christ Jesus; God has “rid us from its bondage!” Not only have we been freed from the burden of our sin, we have been made free from the bondage of sin itself.

A Stretched Out Arm

“…I will redeem you with a stretched out arm…” (Exodus 6:6d)

“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save…” (Isaiah 59:1a)

The “stretched out” arm of God speaks of the Lord’s power to save. It is with great power and with judgments upon the Egyptian people that God will redeem the children of Israel. Our faith is in the Lord Who alone can save, and He is able to save. When a person comes to genuine faith in Christ, when they are born again, it is not just a decision to live another way that the person makes. Something very real and powerful happens on the inside of the person. Ephesians 1:19-20 tells us that the same power that raised the Lord Jesus from the dead is at work in the life of a believer. God redeems with power; He mightily saves us! Yet redemption never occurs apart from judgment. The sins of a believer are never “swept under the rug” or brushed aside; they are judged. In fact, every sin ever committed will be judged! The difference for the child of God is that the Lord Jesus bore the penalty that we rightfully deserved. Our sins have come under judgment, but Christ has paid the penalty for that judgment.

The People Of God

“And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” (Exodus 6:7)

“[Jesus Christ] gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Titus 2:14)

God didn’t deliver the children of Israel out of Egypt only to turn them loose on their own once they left. He didn’t just open the door for them to step out of bondage and then tell them the rest was up to them. God lead them every step of the way (Ex. 13:21-22). They became God’s people and He became their God. He does the same for the Christian. God does not save us and then wish us the best of luck as we flounder along, lost in this world. His Spirit goes before each of us, as well, leading every step of the way. God doesn’t just save people because He pities them, He saves people because He loves them and wants to have a relationship with them. John 1:12 and Galatians 3:26 tell us that those who believe on the name of Jesus Christ have been made children of God. God saved us because He wants us to be a part of His family.

The “Land” God Has Provided

“And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD.” (Exodus 6:8)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:…In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:” (Ephesians 1:3,11)

For the Jew, the land of Palestine was given as a heritage; the land was their inheritance. The Christian’s “heritage” is the spiritual blessings in Christ, not physical blessings tied to a specific land. Really, the believer’s inheritance is Christ. God has not called us to indwell a certain place, He indwells us (1 Cor. 3:16). But we see both in Exodus and Ephesians that God redeems His people that they might fulfill a specific purpose — His purpose. Not only did God deliver the Israelites, not only did He guide them, He had a definite destination in mind for them. So it is with the one redeemed in Christ.

Redeemed By Blood

“And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 12:13)

“For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:28)

Although this reference is not found in Exodus 6 (where we are looking at now), I just wanted to briefly mention the relationship of blood to God’s redemption. The Book of Hebrews tells us that apart from the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin (Heb. 9:22). I hope to look more closely at this aspect when we reach the Passover later in Exodus.

Redemption Is The Work Of God

Finally, I would like to draw your attention to something very interesting in the passage we are examining (Exodus 6:6-8). The word “I” appears eleven times in these three verses. Repeatedly, we are told what God will do. Not once do we see the Israelites being commanded to do anything. Redemption is entirely the work of God from start to finish. Oh, it goes without saying that they needed to believe God, or else they never would have left Egypt at all. But that was their only role in this entire process: to believe God and trust Him. That’s it. There is absolutely no command given whatsoever for the people to fulfill in order for God to save them. Not one.

Redemption is still the work of God, man has no part in it — save to trust in what God has done. The Lord Jesus is not calling men to Himself saying, “Do this.” He is calling men to Himself saying, “Believe what I have done.” Some ask whether or not Salvation comes through Grace or works, well, there sure aren’t any works going on here; it’s all Grace. God saved the children of Israel by Grace through faith…He saves us in the same manner.

The Uniting Of the Children Of Israel

 It isn’t very often that we have the privilege of knowing the reasons why God allows suffering in our lives. As we grow in faith and knowledge of the Lord, we come to understand that God always has a purpose for the things that He allows to happen to us. Romans 8:28, one of the most comforting verses in the entire Bible, assures us that all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose. Even so, it is exceptionally difficult to see this as we pass through the storms of life and seldom much easier as we look back on those storms in hindsight.

In the events of the Bible, we are sometimes specifically given the reasons for why certain hardships and tragedies come upon the people of God; other times we are not. The Book of Job, for instance, gives us a rare “behind-the-scenes” look at what is really going on in Heaven that is affecting Job’s circumstances here on Earth. We are provided an unusual “God’s-eye-view” and have an insight into the situation that even Job himself did not have at the time. Usually, however, the events (particularly in the Old Testament) are recorded primarily from man’s perspective and the lessons and conclusions to be drawn are left for us to surmise through the Spirit of God’s illumination of the narrative. The reasons why are not often spelled out for us in so many words and, like the events and circumstances of our own lives, we are left with the simple assurance that God has always caused all things to work together for the good of His own.

With this in view, let us take a look at what happens in the Fifth chapter of Exodus. God has called Moses to appear before Pharaoh and tell the king to let the children of Israel go. The Lord has promised Moses that He will both deliver them and bring them into the Promised Land (Ex. 3:8). The results of Moses’ first encounter with Pharaoh is, however, less than encouraging. Not only does Pharaoh refuse Moses and Aaron, not only does he mock them and God, he actually increases the burdens on the Jewish people. The slaves of the Egyptians will now be forced to go and gather their own straw for brick-making; yet they will be required to produce the same output as before. From Moses’ perspective, it sure looks like the plan has backfired and the Lord has let him down:

“And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, LORD, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me?” (Exodus 5:22)

There is an unparalleled sense of discouragement, an unmatched feeling of despair that grips a person when they come to realize (with an anxious heart and queasy stomach) that the task set before them will be far greater than anticipated. The work that was believed to be easy and to be undertaken with leisure now reveals itself to be burdensome and grievous. The task which we hoped to complete in a day has now become the labor of several weeks. Moses knew that this would be no easy matter, convincing the King of Egypt to release his slave-labor force, but the resistance from all sides was something that he could never have expected. By obeying the commandment of God, Moses and Aaron have become the laughingstock of Egypt and despised by the children of Israel. How lonely it can be to truly be in the will of God! Moses had been begrudgingly persuaded by the Lord to fulfill this calling; he knew that it would cost him. But did he have even the slightest inkling of how great the price would be? He has alienated himself from the men of Egypt, become hated by his own countrymen, and now it seemed that even the God Who called him had turned His back to him.

“Then the LORD said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land.” (Exodus 6:1)

Now shalt thou see what I will do… Now. Not only did Pharaoh’s response fail to catch the Lord by surprise, it was part of the plan! Now I am ready to proceed, God responds to Moses. These things needed to happen before God brought deliverance. Why was it necessary that Moses become despised by the Israelites and their burdens increase? First of all, I believe it was important for Moses to learn definitively that it would be God Who delivered the people, not him. He needed to learn to trust God and depend on Him for the mission at hand. I am sure that Moses would have much preferred for Pharaoh to immediately acquiesce to his request and set the Jews free at once. But their deliverance would not be accomplished apart from his development of a deep and abiding faith in God.

Secondly, the increased suffering of the people led to a united position for all the children of Israel. On December 6, 1941, the opinion of the War raging in Europe and Asia was divided amongst the American people. Many people felt that it was the obligation of the United States to come to the aid of their allies while many others felt that it was none of their concern. A war going on halfway around the world was believed by a lot of Americans to have little affect on their daily lives. But all of that changed the next day. When Japan attacked the Pacific Fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, killing Americans and destroying American property and equipment, it became clear that this War would have an effect on the United States after all. The attack on Pearl Harbor was a tragedy, but it did serve the purpose of uniting the American people in a common cause. Nobody on December 8th was questioning whether or not the United States should get involved in the War, the War had been brought to the United States!

So it was with the “officers of the children of Israel” (Ex. 5:14). These were the overseers of the general laborers, the “foremen” of the construction sites in charge of making sure everyone else was doing their job. These were not the ones bearing the heat of the day and breaking their backs under the weight of heavy burdens; these were the “pencil-pushers” whose lives were relatively luxurious compared with their less fortunate brethren. If God had not permitted the wrath of Pharaoh to come upon them through the cruelty of their Egyptian taskmasters, would they have been ready to move out of Egypt when the time came? Or would they have been inclined to remain in their positions, enjoying the comforts and pleasures of Egypt rather than setting out for the unknown? We do not really know, but God does. Based on all of the complaining that goes on after the people leave Egypt (e.g., Ex. 14:11, 16:3, 17:3), we can only imagine how much more apt many of these individuals would have been to remain in Egypt had they not been treated so harshly!

I believe that God’s purpose here was to prepare all of the Israelites for their soon-coming deliverance. They would now be united in their desire to get out from under the oppression that was laid upon them and this would set the stage for them all to hearken unto the Lord’s instructions through His prophet, Moses. God often allows similar hardships to come upon the lost sinner whom He is desiring to deliver from the bondage of sin — He allows sin to run its course in the person’s life that they might weary of it altogether and come to Christ and be set free. Until it becomes clear to a person exactly what they need to be delivered from, they will never fully see the importance and significance of their deliverance.