When we have the choice between salvation as a free gift of grace, requiring only gratitude and acceptance, or salvation as an earned prize, requiring obedience and constant striving, why do we always choose the later? The Jews did it though they followed and worshiped the same God that we do. And we still do it today. We would rather live in a world where God is the judge handing out first, second, and third place ribbons.
But this constant striving, this earned salvation, is just the opposite of grace. And that is Paul’s point here in Romans 3. While the Jews lived in an earned salvation world, Jesus came bringing the truth, that salvation is a free gift for everyone, not earned through our own righteousness but received with gratitude.
So how hard did your brain just balk at that last statement? How many “but…” statements flew through your mind? “But you still have to follow Jesus’ rules, right?” “But you can’t just preach a no-strings-attached salvation or people will just say they accept it and then go on sinning.” “But… but… but…” If this is where your brain goes, you’re not alone. That’s why Paul had to write this book of Romans.
“All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” It’s like we are all striving to have the perfect figure skating routine before God our judge, and every one of us just keeps on falling. And falling. And falling. Yet as we sit waiting for scores, God gives us a perfect 10 every time. Why? Because He’s not even watching us skate. He’s watching a replay of Jesus’ perfect routine and scoring us based on that. It’s called imputed grace, and it means that Jesus took our imperfections, our sins, our falling and falling and falling… and gave us His perfect 10.
What part of “salvation by grace through faith” do you not understand?