GRACE: THE ULTIMATE EQUALIZER – ROMANS 3:21-31

 

Because of grace all who believe in Christ have equal standing in the presence of God.

When we perceive our relationship with God as performance-based we inevitably create divisions, enforcing a merit-based spiritual divide by which we determine the present acceptance with God and the eternal destiny of ourselves and of others. Human performance [spirituality, good works, obedience to the law, religious heritage] divides Christians, putting some on a higher level than others, some closer to God than others, some with a better relationship with God than others.

But the biblical grace defined in the Gospel of Jesus Christ outlaws all such criteria and the divisions and levels of perceived spirituality they create among Christians.

This gospel of grace denies all human merit, and all merit-based divisions: It says boldly: ‘there is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ [Romans 3:22,23]. This is the big foundational fact that Paul has stressed all the way from Romans 1:18 to 3:21: Every mouth is silenced – all human bragging about spiritual perfection or obedience or superiority falls to the ground. It has no substance. The whole world stands accountable and accused before God. No one is righteous, not even one. God’s law, which we try to convince ourselves we can keep, identifies not our merit, but our failure.

We all, confronted by the Word of God, stand before him identified and exposed as sinners. Equal. Equally disqualified. Equally rejected.

But this gospel of grace, having identified our common disqualification, then lifts us up out of this pit of our common lostness, puts us into a faith-union with Jesus Christ, and says of all who are thus ‘in Christ’: ‘There is no difference … for all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus’ [3:22,24].

We all, united with Christ by faith, stand before God with an identical free, unmerited declaration of complete acquittal grounded in the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ for us. Equal. Equally acquitted. Equally qualified. Equally accepted.

Where this grace reigns all human perceptions of superiority or inferiority, all human boasting, and all divisions among the followers of Christ are out of place:

Through Christ ‘we both [Jew and Gentile] have access to the Father by the one Spirit’ [Ephesians 2:18]

‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ [Galatians 3:28; see also Colossians 3:11]

‘Where, then, is boasting?’ Paul asks. ‘It is excluded’ [Romans 3:27].

‘It is by grace you have been saved … not by works, so that no one can boast’ [Ephesians 1:8,9]

‘we … worship by the Spirit of God, … glory in Christ Jesus, and … put no confidence in the flesh’ [Philippians 3:3].

This grace-based equality in Christ by which we are ‘one’ and by which all boasting is excluded is Paul’s extensive burden in Romans 1 – 11 and Ephesians 2.1 – 4:16. To this grace, this equality, this humility the gospel both calls and commands us – a grace, an equality, a humility in which we rejoice and glory not in ourselves but always, ever and only in Jesus Christ, the Lord [Philippians 3:1-3].

© Rosemary Bardsley 2009