In Douglas J. Moo’s concise article on Romans in the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, he highlights “six aspects of justification in Romans”:
- “God justifies people through faith and not through ‘works of the law,’” which “refer to obedience to the OT law, the Torah” and “exclude all works.”
- “Justification is available for all human beings, Jew and Gentile, on the same basis of faith.”
- “God justifies people by a completely free act of his will: in a word, by ‘grace.’”
- “Justification by faith is rooted in the OT.”
- “Justification is the product, or extension, of ‘the righteousness of God,’” which “refers to an activity of God: his acting to put people in right relationship to himself.”
- “Justification by faith is based in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. . . . In a bold metaphor, Paul claims, in effect, that Christ is now the final, eschatological ‘mercy seat,’ the place where God draws near to human beings for their redemption.”
While not the centre of Romans, justification by faith is nevertheless a critical component of Paul’s presentation of the gospel in Romans. The doctrine expresses, in the sphere of anthropology, a crucial element in Paul’s understanding of God’s work in Christ: its entirely gracious character. Not only, then, does justification by faith guard against the Jewish attempt to make works of the law basic for salvation in Paul’s day; it expresses the resolute resistance of Paul, and the NT authors, to the constant human tendency to make what people do decisive for salvation.
I can’t wait to sing about this tomorrow morning with my church!