|George Whitefield Rock, West Brookfield, Massaschusetts|
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth with His two hands: His Word and His Spirit.1 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”2
The Lord God declared to the man, that the penalty for sin is death.3 Sin is lawlessness; sin is doing what you know to be wrong and not doing what you know to be right.4 The Lord God commanded the man to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.5 The man ate,6 “and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”7
“The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”8
It is the nature of God to forgive sin and it is the nature of God to by no means leave the guilty unpunished. This creates a paradox, because if God forgives sin He cannot punish the guilty, because if He punishes the guilty man He does not forgive his sin. How can God forgive sin and by no means leave the guilty unpunished? “Could an omnipotent being (God) create a stone so heavy that even they could not lift it?”9 The amazing answer to this paradox is given to us in the Epistle to the Romans:
as it is written,
" There is none righteous, not even one;
There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one."
"Their throat is an open grave,
With their tongues they keep deceiving,"
"The poison of asps is under their lips";
"Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness";
"Their feet are swift to shed blood,
Destruction and misery are in their paths,
And the path of peace they have not known."
"There is no fear of God before their eyes."
Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.10
1 Cf. Gen 1:1-5 & Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons.
2 Gen 1:27-28.
3 Gen 1:17.
4 1 Jn 3:4.
5 Gen 1:16-17.
6 Gen 3:6.
7 Rom 5:12.
8 Ex 34:6-7.
9 Averroës, 12th century Aristotelian philosopher.
10 Rom 3:21-28.