In Romans 5:17 the Apostle Paul says this,
17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
In this verse, the apostle Paul speaks of two gifts which God gives to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. These two gifts are God’s grace and His gift of righteousness. The gift of God’s grace spoken of here is the abundance of God’s grace. Paul wants to highlight that we don’t deserve or earn God’s favor but God abundantly blesses us with His grace, His undeserved favor through His Son Jesus Christ. Earlier in this chapter, Paul is contrasting the sin of Adam and the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:12-21). Adam brought sin and death to the whole human race by his act of disobedience. Every person who has ever lived inherits a sin nature, an inclination to go against God’s moral will, from the moment of conception. We are born with a sin nature but we also act in accordance with this inclination throughout our lives. But the good news is that God is merciful and gracious and He offers us salvation and the forgiveness of our sins through trusting in His Son. This abundance of God’s grace is received through faith which the apostle has written of in Romans 5:1,
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Throughout this chapter Paul is speaking of the results of the believer’s justification before God through Jesus Christ. The gift of faith in Jesus Christ is like an empty hand receiving God’s provision for our salvation. The act of God justifying us means that God declares us not guilty and counting us righteous through the perfect obedience of the Lord Jesus in keeping God’s law and in Christ’s redeeming death on our behalf. In our justification, we see both gifts mentioned in Romans 5:17. God is abundantly gracious in declaring us not guilty through Jesus Christ and in giving us the gift of righteousness through Jesus Christ.
As we have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for our justification, we also continue to trust in Christ through times of tribulation and troubles which the Holy Spirit uses to shape our character. (Romans 5:3-5) Genuine justifying faith in the Lord Jesus is never alone but is accompanied by love and good works.
During this month of October, we commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. It was on October 31, 1517 that Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses or statements on the door of the Catholic Church in Wittenberg, Germany calling on the reformation of the Church to be line with the Scriptural teaching that we are saved by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. May we give thanks to God for His abundant grace and in His gift of righteousness given to us in Jesus Christ.
Pastor Cedric R. Benner