Updated: Sep 19, 2020
Genesis 22: 17-18 (New King James Version)
blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.
One of the themes that we see developed through the Old Testament
is how God intends to bless all people (all nations of the earth) through the Messiah Jesus. As we see in (Genesis 22: 18): "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed…" Reading the Scriptures and seeing how God unfolds His plan of blessing, we also notice that Israel was to be a blessing to all nations.
Isaiah 42: 6-7
I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness, And will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the Gentiles, To open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the prison, Those who sit in darkness from the prison house.
God's covenant with Israel was to be a light to the nations, to open blind eyes, and to bring from captivity prisoners. Israel, as God desired, was to be a blessing to all nations. I believe, Paul, in (Romans 3), wants us to see how God is fulfilling this promise through Jesus the Messiah, the promise of blessing.
Noticing the promise of God’s blessing, it should be pointed out that God's promise is not limited to any one person group, any specific culture, or only those of a particular social status. God's grace is for people of every nationality, every language, every ethnicity, and people of all different social and economic backgrounds. His blessing is not limited.
Faith In The Messiah
Romans 3: 21-26
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
As with much of Paul's teaching, there is a lot to digest. Let's focus on one question:
How are we made "right" with God when we are guilty of sin?
If you were a Jewish Christian living in the first century, your answer might have been:
"We are made right with God when we keep the laws of the Torah (Old Testament). We are God's covenant people, and we are made right by keeping his law."
However, Paul says we are not made right with God by works of the law. Righteousness is revealed apart from the law through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness or a "right relationship" with God is not earned through our merits or keeping the commandments of the law. Standing with God in a right relationship is a gift we receive through His grace.
Paul teaches in (Rom. 3: 23) that with or without the law we have all sinned, we have fallen short of God's glory. However, there is good news for fallen people. In (Rom. 3:24), Paul teaches that we are justified (the guilt of sin is released) freely by God's grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus. Our guilt is removed, not based on our merits but through the sacrifice and blood of Christ. Through this sacrifice, God blesses all people.
At this point in God's story, we link back to (Genesis 22) and the promise God made to Abraham. God said all nations would be blessed through the seed of Abraham, speaking of Jesus. God's desire has been and continues to be, to bless all people through His Son Jesus. His desire is for all people to be part of His one covenant family.
Romans 3: 27-31
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.
Paul says that the works of the law do not justify us. We are justified by faith. Works of the law cannot acquit of us our sins. Works of the law cannot free us from our sin or deliver us as those who are not guilty. This gift comes only through the sacrifice of Jesus and is for all who believe in Him. As this is a gift given by God, boasting in our merits is excluded. Additionally, no matter how hard we may try, our meritorious acts cannot justify us before God.
God is building new humanity, a new family. This new covenant family is not established in the covenant God made with Israel. Although the covenant God made with Israel was intended to be a blessing to all nations, Israel failed time and time again to uphold His covenant.
Now, though, as the author of Hebrews recorded in (8:6), we serve under One, that is Jesus, who is Mediator of a better covenant, established on better promises. Christ, who did not fail to uphold God’s word. In Romans, Paul teaches us that we are one covenant family, the family of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
Considering God's wisdom, as expressed through the pen of the apostle Paul, there are a few points to consider:
One of the themes we see in Romans is unity. How can we read these words and not consider the importance of unity as the family of God? As Christ’s church, we are one, there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. It makes no difference if we all share the same language, social status, or continent. In Christ we are one. Part of understanding God's covenant family is understanding this unity. As Christ’s church today, we need to maintain the unity of the Spirit and not create barriers and divisions.
In considering the blessings we have in Christ, we should not fail to realize God’s gift. Our good deeds cannot earn our position with the Lord nor acquit us of the guilt of sin. It is only through faith in Jesus that the guilt of our sin can be removed. God gave His Son, who shed His blood so that you and I could be in a "right relationship" with Him. No amount of meritorious good works can earn us this favor. It is the gift of God.
God's desire has always been to bless His creation. He has provided the greatest gift of all, His Son Jesus. Not only do we have the blessing of our guilt being removed, we also have the blessing of being one new covenant family in Christ.
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The New King James Version. (1982). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.