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Only in Christ Jesus

April 02, 2020 April 2020 McGee article

by Dr. J. Vernon McGee

How can man stand before God? We can’t. But in Jesus Christ, because of His grace, we stand. Dr. McGee highlights our great salvation in Christ Jesus in his study, “One Hour in Romans.” Let this excerpt stir gratitude in you for the grace in which we stand because of the cross of Jesus Christ.

Paul brings us to this great subject of how God saves sinners today: Salvation.

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. -Romans 3:21, 22

Man is helpless and hopeless—paralyzed and unable to save himself. But God has provided a righteousness that enables man to stand before God.

Righteousness Provided

God provides this righteousness not by man working or paying for it, but God gives it to him. Man can receive it only by faith. Let me use this simple illustration: I am wearing a watch given to me by members of my board. It was handed to me in a little box with the words, “This is a gift.” I have never paid one penny for this watch. All I had to do was believe they were honest and sincere in offering it to me, and when they held it out, I reached my hand out by faith and took it. That is the only way in the world you can get saved today, because salvation is a gift. You can’t work for a gift; you can’t pay for a gift; you can’t promise God anything. If you are going to receive His gift, you must reach out your hand in faith and receive what God has to offer.

That gift comes through Jesus’ death on the cross and the redemption He wrought for us. Paul tells us the reason for this:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. -Romans 3:23

There is no exception in the human family—we are all sinners.

That doesn’t mean there is no difference in sinners. There is a lot of difference in sinners—some are worse than others, and God recognizes that. But I have found when flying over a rugged area that when I look down from that elevation, I can’t tell the height of the hills. In fact, when you get up that high, you can’t tell a molehill from an anthill from a mountain. They all look the same when you get up there. When God looks down at you, my friend, though you may think you are head and shoulders above somebody else, you are on the same level—“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

I have an old illustration about the game of “jumping to Catalina,” an island located off the coast in Southern California. It is about 25 miles directly across to Catalina from the pier in Santa Monica. Let’s suppose we get to the pier, and we run and jump off the end to see who can jump to Catalina. Now up to the present, nobody has made it. There have been some mighty good jumps, and it’s a delightful game because when you jump, you get wet, and you can say to the other fellow, “I jumped farther than you did.” And it is true—some jump farther. But no matter how far you jump, you won’t make Catalina. All come short of Catalina, although some jump farther than others. All fall short of the glory of God, too. Although some are not as great sinners as others, none has measured up to His standards. For that reason, you and I today need His redemption.

Being justified freely [without a cause; that is, the cause is not within us] by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. -Romans 3:24

What God does, He does by His grace; what God does by His grace, He does joyfully. He does it freely, without holding back. God doesn’t parcel out grace as if He might run out of His supply. My friend, when He bestows grace on you, He goes the limit. He is not stingy. He bestows His grace and His love upon you freely without a cause, and it’s all “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” So when you come to the Lord Jesus Christ,

Your best resolutions must wholly be waived,
Your highest ambitions be crossed;
You never need think you will ever be saved,
’Til first you’ve learned you are lost
                                                     -Author unknown

If today I had the wisdom of Solomon, the patience of Job, the meekness of Moses, the strength of Samson, the obedience of Abraham, the compassion of Joseph, the tears of Jeremiah, the poetic skill of David, the prophetic voice of Elijah, the courage of Daniel, the greatness of John the Baptist, and the endurance and love of Paul, I would still need redemption through Christ’s blood—the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace.

My friend, you and I need the blood of Christ for our salvation—there is no other hope for us at all. That cross is the way God has saved individuals from the very beginning, from the days of Abel outside the Garden of Eden down to the very present hour—because Paul says:

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. -Romans 3:25

The “sins that were previously committed” are not your past sins but sins committed before Christ’s death on the cross. God has always had only one way of saving sinners, and that is through the cross of Jesus Christ. Everyone God ever saved in the Old Testament, He saved on credit. He did not save them because they brought a little lamb. The blood of lambs and bulls and goats could not take away sin, but instead they pointed to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. When Christ died on the cross, that was the payment that made it possible for God to redeem those who had lived in the past. And by faith today, you and I look back to Him for our salvation.

To demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. -Romans 3:26

Download your free copy of "One Hour in Romans," a personal or small group Bible study.

My Turn

What’s your story with God?

Everybody has a story. It begins when you come to God, believing His Son paid the price with His life for your sins. Your story continues to today and includes all the ways your relationship with Jesus has changed your life … and your destiny.

Practice how to talk about your story with God so you can share easily and quickly, when God gives you the opportunity to share when someone asks you why you’re living the way you are.  Here are three ideas to get you thinking:

  • Share a simple statement about why you chose to follow Jesus. Like, What I have found is Jesus Christ is more than I ever thought He was …
  • Tell your “before” and “after” story. What was your life like before you knew Jesus and what your life is like now. Be simple and let God be powerful!
  • Be current with your “with” and “without” story. What life is like today “with Jesus” and what it would be like “without Him.”