whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.” vss. 25-26Romans 3:25-29
While we can’t know the mind of Paul, it is likely that he intended his words to be a freeing message of grace and forgiveness for all sinners. Indeed that’s how they’ve been read by millions of grateful readers. However, because of sin, those same gracious words have been twisted by Christians to produce an ugly message of judgment and exclusion. Because Paul wrote that God justifies the one who has faith in Jesus, many have concluded that anyone who does not have faith in Jesus is not justified, i.e. they do not have salvation. As a result we have blithely excluded billions of folks of other religions from fellowship and obsessively demanded that all believers make a personal statement of faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior before they can be saved. We’ve embraced doctrine and rejected works, all the while moving away from the teachings of Jesus, who clearly welcomed sinners and emphasized works of charity and kindness. This can’t be Paul’s intention! He clearly says that all are sinners and all are justified. Salvation is ours purely by the grace of God–and that’s the message of love and acceptance our kids and grandchildren need to hear.
Thought for the Day: So what part does trust play in all of this?