The Apostle Paul’s letter to the churches in Rome is considered by many to be his greatest epistle. In the opening chapter, he presents the most comprehensive statements of truths concerning the work of Christ on the Cross. That work is directed toward the entire human race which is alienated from God at the point of physical birth. “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man [Adam], and death [spiritual] through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned [when Adam sinned]. “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23 NIV). How far short is not an issue. Short is short.
Spiritual death is the result of possessing a sin nature to which Adam’s sin was imputed. Added to those two deficits are the personal sins each person commits. Mankind falls short of God’s glory in all three points. The truth of man’s depraved state before a holy God is despairingly discouraging and defeating … “for the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23a NIV). However, God’s solution to this despair resounds even greater than the sentence of condemnation … “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23b NIV).
This is not a secret to be known by a select few. “But now righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Rom 3:21-22 NIV). Here is the magnificent word “all” that declares the scope of God’s love. Though all have sinned, the solution is extended to all who … “are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24 NIV).
The Apostle Paul considered himself under obligation to all people to share with them the good news of God’s grace, love and forgiveness. Thus he boldly stated … “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith"” (Rom 1:16-17 NIV). The apostle was quoting the words of the Old Testament prophet, Habakkuk.
The nation of Israel had factored out faith and replaced it with observances of ritual and the traditions of men. Even so, Israel was not alone in her failure to teach that the righteousness of God could only be obtained through faith in the coming Messiah. Just a few centuries into the era of Christendom, the same false teaching of ritual and good works as the means of salvation would permeate the organized Church until Martin Luther would again call believers to the messages of Habakkuk and the Apostle Paul.
These men preached the same gospel – faith alone in Christ alone. If man’s hopeless spiritual condition were to be remedied, it would require the redemptive work on the Cross by Christ. That work could be embraced personally by anyone on the basis of faith. A person’s best efforts would not satisfy the righteousness of God. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8 NIV).
“Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. All can be declared righteous [justified] before God. Paul states God’s offer of salvation … “As the Scripture says, "anyone who trusts in him [Jesus Christ] will never be put to shame." For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved"” (Rom 10:11-13 NIV).