For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” Benjamin Franklin famously wrote in 1789. Since then there have been many suggestions for what a third certainty in life could be. These have included families, mistakes, homework, the second law of thermodynamics, and that it is raining in Tavistock. I’d agree with pretty much all of these (although I don’t actually know what the second law of thermodynamics is…), but as a teacher, if I had to select one, it would be homework.
I wonder what Paul would have said if he’d been asked what the third certainty of life is? Looking at the passage above, from his letter to the Romans, I suspect he might have said sin, or doing wrong in God’s eyes. He makes it clear in these verses that all have sinned and fallen short of the standard that God expected from us when he created us. Every single person who has ever lived has failed to live up to the standard that God expected from us. We are all sinners and therefore face judgement from God.
All is not lost, however, since Paul also offers hope to his readers. Those who put their trust in Jesus are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Although we are sinners and deserve God’s punishment, we can be justified, that is, “declared righteous.” What’s more, we can be justified “freely”; our justification is a gift from God for which there is no charge to us at all. How? Through God’s grace. He has decided to offer us this gift simply because he loves us. This is all made possible through Christ’s death when he redeemed our sins, releasing us from the fate that was deservedly ours, specifically death and separation from God.
This is pretty complex stuff, but the key is that if we place our trust in Christ as our saviour we are spared from death. Jesus took all of our sins on himself and took our punishment so that we might be with God. That is wonderful news and cause for much celebration. Will you celebrate today God’s gift of life to us?