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This is the second part of a two-part study. A brief review is in order to make the connection between the two parts. In Part 1 we taught, concerning righteousness, that:
1) The basic problem was mankind’s failure to hit the “bull’s eye” of God’s righteousness—”For all have sinned” (vss. 22-23).
2) The only solution found was the “faith/faithfulness of Jesus Christ.” Christ hit the “bull’s eye” and “imputes” (logizomai) His righteousness to believing sinners.
3) The initial reason for this gracious gift of His righteousness is found in the unmerited favor of God toward sinners—”freely [dorean] by His grace” (vs. 24). And lastly, we discovered that,
4) The meritorious cause is found “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (apolutrosis) (vs. 24).
BULL’S EYE VERIFIED—VERSES 25-26
God is a “show off!” No, not in a bad sense as we might speak of someone who is boastfully displaying some asset or ability. No! Never! But, as one who is anxious to manifest some important fact or thing for the benefit of others. A parent, teacher or employer might labor carefully to teach, in word or writing, some skill or concept and the student still fails to comprehend the lesson. Then, the instructor must resort to “let me show you how or what.” And, so it is with God at times when we fail to understand. He must resort to showing us how or what He wants us to grasp. For example, He has repeatedly called attention to His work of creation to teach of His greatness and awesome power (Ps. 19:1-4; Rom. 1:19-20). Here in our text, verses 25 and 26, He goes beyond words and writing to show His workmanship in saving sinners (Eph. 2:7-10; 3:10). God did this in two ways:
A. By Putting His Righteousness on Public Display.
In our text, we are told that God put Jesus Christ on public display! The phrase “set forth” comes from the Greek word protithemai which means to expose to public view—to publish. This was accomplished by the Cross where Christ was publicly sacrificed for the sins of the world. God the Father did this so that the entire human race could see the shed blood—the payment for missing the “bull’s eye.” He wanted humanity to know that the payment was “finished—paid in full” (Jn. 19:30) and that He was “propitiated.” He wanted man to see the verification—the proof that …
The “Bull’s Eye” was hit!
The Greek word for “propitiation is hilasterion. In Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, he explains its meaning this way:
“Used of the cover of the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies, which was sprinkled with the blood of the expiatory victim on the annual Day of Atonement. (This rite signifying that the life of the people, the loss of which they had merited by their sins, was offered to God in the blood as the life of the victim, and that God by this ceremony was appeased and their sins expiated.) Hence, the lid of expiation, the propitiatory.”
The cover to the Ark of the Covenant was called the “Mercy Seat.” The place of condemnation becomes the place of satisfaction. The demands of the broken Law are satisfied by the sacrifice of blood. Christ is then said to be our Mercy Seat. He is both the sinner’s means of and place of mercy. He is the full-satisfying sacrifice. He is our “propitiation through faith in His blood.”
When the veil of the Temple was torn in two, from the top to the bottom,” God the Father opened up a “new and living way which He has consecrated for us” (Mt. 27:51; Heb. 10:20). The Old Testament Mercy Seat was now exposed to the view of the whole world, making way for a new and living Mercy Seat.
For nearly two-thousand years only the eyes of the High Priest and only one High Priest in a lifetime, and only once a year was the Mercy Seat ever seen. Even then, a cloud of incense in the Holy of Holies would obscure the High Priest’s view. He would enter in humbly, reverently and cautiously under the skirt of the veil to sprinkle the blood of bulls and goats at the Mercy Seat. But all of that has changed with the rending of the veil. Now, Christ “is the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom. 10:4). A new Mercy Seat has been put on public display.
“Bull’s Eye” Verified
B. By Pointing Out His Justice With the Index Finger.
It is worth taking notice that the phrase “to declare” has been used twice in the space of two verses. This is, of course, a way of placing emphasis on the importance of what has been accomplished at the Cross.
“To declare” is translated from the word endeixes. It is the word from which we get our English word index and carries with it essentially the same meaning. (An index is an indicator to call attention to something, to manifest, to prove by pointing, as in our use of the index finger—which is our pointing finger.) Such is its use here. It as though God were using His index finger to:
1) Point out that Jesus Christ our Mercy Seat is on public display…a change has taken place by the Cross.
2) Point out the marvelous, wonderful propitiatory work of grace.
3) Point out His justice and righteousness in dealing with sin.
Never once in all the past ages had God fully dealt with sin. Even in the Legal Dispensation, the sacrificial system never went farther than the “remission” (the act of letting something pass by) and “forbearance” (the act of holding something back) of sin. But now, in Christ, by the Cross, God the Father settles the sin question once-and-for-all. He proves His holiness by extracting full and final payment in the person of Christ—the “Second Adam,” the sinner’s substitute. He would not compromise His holiness. So, all of man’s sins past, present and future were put on the Substitute. His full wrath was poured out, and full payment was extracted. Thus, He proved Himself to be both the “Just and Justified” of believing men. God the Father has vindicated Himself!
THE BULL’S EYE ESTABLISHES—VERSES 27-31
The religious Jews had been carrying on a dialogue with the Apostle Paul (Rom. 2:17-4:9). They had boasted that because they were born Jews and kept the Law that, as such, were a “Praise to God!” (See the Bible Brief, Religious but Lost.) Herein was their hope of salvation. However, Paul challenged their claim and now continues the dialogue. Based on the historical fact that Jesus Christ hit the “Bull’s Eye,” he comes to the following conclusions:
- that all boasting is excluded (vs. 27). Where there are no human works that can produce the needed righteousness, there can be no room for boasting!
- That the “Law (rule, principle, or reign) of Faith” is established forever. The question of “how then can man be justified with God? (Job 25:4) is answered by the Law of Faith. It is faith which frees the one seeking salvation from looking to, and practicing the ceremonies, rituals, and sacrifices of the Law. The receptive instrument of salvation is faith. The object of that faith is the person of Christ and the blood of Christ (vs. 28).
- That God’s justice is extended to all: Jew and Gentile alike! The Jews had long had advantages extended to them that other peoples did not have (“…much in every way” – Rom. 3:2). With that came the mistaken belief that when it came to salvation, God would use a different standard of judgment. But no! “There is no difference.” There is only one God and one way of Salvation (vss. 29-30).
- That both the righteousness of God and the righteousness of the Law stays in tack, unchanged, even though both have been challenged. The Law was “holy, just and good” (Rom. 7:12) and because it was such, it did its job well. It could only condemn and kill. It could not give life. Both have been established. God is forever proven to be the “Just and the Justifier.” And, the holiness of the Law is established forever.