The ultimate plot twist
SPOILER WARNING: This article reveals God's secret plans
They say that every good plot has a good plot twist - I’m sure you can think of your favourites. Often, it’s the twist that makes the story so exciting. The gospel, as we’ve said, is God’s story, and unsurprisingly, it has a ripper of a twist!
THE STORY SO FAR:
1. We saw that the gospel revolves around God's Son Jesus, the promised King.
2. We saw how the gospel relates to death and resurrection, grace (undeserved kindness), obedience and faith.
3. We discovered the gospel is about ‘the righteousness of God’ but it has to deal with the evils of mankind. We are to be judged according to our actions, and so all people stand condemned.
THE NEXT INSTALLMENT:
So… from 3:20, it says “no human being will be justified in his sight"… NO human - that means we're in trouble right?
Ummm… well, we often forget that the story could’ve ended there – God could have left us to face the punishment for rejecting him and mistreating each other.
But…“now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law…” (3:21). In other words, God doesn’t condemn us, and we can be right with him in a way that doesn’t rely on us obeying his Law. This is further explained in the next verse: “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” (3:22)
THE PUZZLE BECOMES CLEAR:
So, the pieces are coming together, as the story unfolds:
* We all have sinned and deserve God’s punishment (3:23), but God gives us righteousness (3:24). This happens because Jesus died for us who believe.
* We had a ‘debt’ – death and separation from God – that we had to pay (2:9). Jesus paid it for us (‘redemption’) (3:24).
* We were under God’s anger (1:18). Jesus pointed that anger away from us and onto himself (3:25). God makes us right with him (‘justified…’) (3:24). This isn’t something we have to earn (we couldn’t anyway), but it’s something God has given us in his mercy and kindness (3:24), that we receive simply by trusting in him(3:25).
* We’re told that God had left some of the sins from before Jesus unpunished (3:25), and we’re told how a just (fair and right) God can let this happen: he took that punishment on himself in Christ; he paid for those sins, as well as ours. Hence, God upholds his justice while making us sinners right before him, and this by trusting in him (3:26).
THE PLOT TWIST REVEALED:
This is incredible news! We are no longer under God’s judgement! We no longer face his anger! We no longer stand condemned! We no longer try in vain to do good while failing utterly miserably! God himself has done it! Jesus lived a sinless life, then took the punishment of us sinners upon himself. We can enjoy forgiveness simply by trusting in Jesus.
Therefore, there’s no room for us to boast before God (3:27). That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to do good. Verse 28 says that trusting Jesus will naturally lead to good actions.
This is the huge plot twist of God’s story: God saves sinners through his Son by faith. He would be just in condemning you and me to Hell; he would also be just in forgiving us, for he paid for your and my sins by Jesus’ blood. Therefore, trust Jesus! Be saved! And live in the light of your salvation.