Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in[h] Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus
– Romans 3:19-26
“Verse 21 begins with my favorite word in the New Testament – but. It makes all the difference in the world. Those three letters, b-u-t, make the difference in heaven and hell. Finally, after this relentless indictment that we have had to endure, we are coming to where Paul says, “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law has been revealed.” (v. 21) It is time for the gospel. We have listened to the bad news so that we might hear the goodness of the good news…”
– Dr. R. C. Sproul, Romans
“If it is maintained that anything so small as the Earth must, in any event, be too unimportant to merit the love of the Creator, we reply that no Christian ever supposed we did merit it. Christ did not die for men because they were intrinsically worth dying for, but because He is intrinsically love, and therefore loves infinitely. And what, after all, does the size of a world or a creature tell us about its ‘importance’ or value?”
– C. S. Lewis, Miracles
Dr. Sproul’s reference to the ‘relentless indictment’ refers to Romans 2-3 where he first talks of Pagans living outside the law and then to the Jews who have the law. He drives the point in Romans 3:23 home before he summarizes in that verse, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Paul builds on his ‘but’ in Romans 3:21 for a few more chapters. Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I read another devotion recently about how the church perverts the message of Jesus by adding a working element. You can become saved by faith, but… But you must be baptized. But you must do penance. But you must do good works. The list goes on.
C. S. Lewis said that Jesus died for us, because He is Love, not that we did anything to deserve it. (By the way, this is one of my favorite C. S. Lewis quotes.)
Why is there so much focus on doing? That is a very sticky question, but if we truly have the love of God in our hearts, there should be no institutional directive to do anything. The love inside us would be just as powerful as the love that held Jesus on the cross. That type of love demands action. It would be like mixing Mentos and Diet Soda. The reaction overflows the container. The love must come out in action. Thus, institutionalizing good works needs to be eliminated and replaced with organizing good works so that the most help can be done for the most people using the same amount of effort. It may sound the same, but the difference is in the relationship that we have with the ‘doing.’
This topic has little to do with ‘miracles’ other than the quote comes from the C. S. Lewis book of that name. Then, it has everything to do with every miracle that God has performed since time began.
God is intrinsically love.
I agree with Dr. Sproul. The gospel of the New Testament hinges on that one word – but.
We screwed up, but…
God sent His Son. But…
God loved us while we were yet sinners. But…
Whoever believes (and fully trusts) in Jesus will have everlasting life.