Undeserved mercy

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‘Holy Spirit, open my mind to understand your Word; open my heart to receive your grace. Amen.’

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Bible passage Romans 3:9-31

No One Is Righteous
 9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:

   “There is no one righteous, not even one;
 11 there is no one who understands;
   there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
   they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
   not even one.”
13 “Their throats are open graves;
   their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
 14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
 16 ruin and misery mark their ways,
17 and the way of peace they do not know.”
 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

 19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

Righteousness Through Faith
 21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

 27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Audio Bible passage

The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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Simple bad news
The bad news or the good news? Which do you like to hear first? In this long passage, Paul gets into some more straightforward teaching.

The bad news: whoever we are – whatever our status, ethnicity, way of life – we are guilty before God (v 9). God’s perfect law makes us aware of our sinfulness (v 20).

Joyous good news
‘But now,’ says Paul, something amazing has happened (v 21). The good news is that Jesus, God’s own Son, has died for our sin (v 22). We are not ‘righteous’ because of our own efforts at keeping God’s law; God sees us as ‘righteous’ because Jesus has taken the punishment for our sin (v 25). All we have to do is to believe and receive his undeserved gift. Troubled by guilt and past sin? Let’s receive God’s grace now (v 24).

But I’m good at keeping the rules, say Paul’s Jewish readers! In our Christian world today it’s all too easy to feel proud that we alone have the right understanding of God or the Bible (v 29). The truth is, there is absolutely no room for such pride (v 27). All have fallen short of God’s standard; the only way of being made right with him is through faith in Jesus (v 24).


‘Lord Jesus, forgive my pride. I praise you for your undeserved gift of mercy. Amen.’

'Tricia Williams

Deeper Bible study

With an elaborate use of Old Testament texts, Paul builds up his case of universal sinfulness. Jewish hearers have the advantage of a clear statement of God’s righteousness in the Law – against which their sinfulness is apparent. The end result for Gentiles is the same: the whole world is accountable to God. No person or human institution is without sin. We are in peril if we forget this and think ourselves superior to others.

At last we arrive at what God has done. His righteousness is revealed in his actions. Justification is not through the Jewish Law, but ‘through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ’ (v 22)1 and by our faith in him. Now Paul pours out the great gospel words: grace (unmerited love), redemption (think of the Exodus), the sacrifice of atonement by the blood of Christ Jesus. All these terms show us the continuity between the Old and New Testaments and the Jewish advantage in having had the opportunity to read this before. The epistle to the Hebrews spells out the permanency of Jesus’ sacrifice, in contrast to the repeated nature of Old Testament sacrifices (Hebrews 9:25–28).

We may read these verses and rejoice in our own salvation, but Paul wants it to feed into a bigger vision: the vision that the covenant promises of God are for people from every nation. There is no longer any reason for anyone to boast or feel superior to others. We have in Christ Jesus a complete God-organised and God-delivered salvation. Paul has already stated in chapter 1 that Jesus is fully God. In no other religious system is there anything to match it. The truth of this section of Romans is a great stimulus to evangelism, not only to the Spanish barbarians but also into all the nations of the world.

Ray Porter


1 Alternative translation, see footnote in NIV

Bible in a year

Read the Bible in a year.

Deuteronomy 12–14

Romans 2

What did Jesus do?

What is it that makes us right with God? Did Jesus really sacrifice so much for us? And was it really enough or do we still have a debt to God to work off? Reflect on these questions as you listen to this meditation, written and read by Phil Andrews.


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Only by Grace
Gerrit Gustafson
© 1990 Integrity's Hosanna! Music
Buy this and other great worship songs at www.integritymusic.com

By Faith
Simon Brading
Copyright © 2006 Thankyou Music

  • Thelma Edwards | Tuesday, 21 March 2017

    Lord, may I keep alert for the natural opportunities that come along to "infect others" with the Gospel lived by faith in normal everyday life. Where traditional 'hatches, matches and dispatches' customs prevail, may the opportunities these occasions present be recognised bringing true Life to be seen. Lord, where some have been inoculated against the Christian faith through false stereotype demonstrations of religiosity in books, stage, screen and real life, may they be challenged to see that You are the Way, the Truth and the Life and that entering into a living relationship with You is to find love and peace and fullness of life. For the young couple sitting in front of me last Sunday morning, there to hear their Bans of Marriage read, may they have been impacted by the welcome and love of the people and their hearts stirred by the Worship and the Word.

  • Anne Mcgowan | Tuesday, 21 March 2017

    Ahh how can you not sing when you read this! BUT NOW, apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, there is no difference for ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (is not the glory of God the human being fully alive in Christ) and ALL are justified FREELY by his grace through the redemption that came by the BELOVED one man - Jesus Christ. The Holy beloved Spirit rises up in me and parades Joy all over my heart. How can this not cause all that is holy within to join that parade, as the flesh and the power of sin crumbles in the face of such words. Words, not just letters on a page, but LIFE, and life in all its fullness. "Justified FREELY", the wonder of this cannot be contained, its better than turning a corner in a concrete jungle and finding fields of wildflowers shouting out to the sun. In the midst of a life that can sometimes seem overwhelming and suck joy out of the very marrow of your bones our Beloved comes in and says "see... you too are my beloved.. I make all things new, Arise my love and come away," Son 2:8 "Listen! My beloved! Behold, he is coming, Climbing on the mountains, Leaping on the hills! Son 2:9 "My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, he is standing behind our wall, He is looking through the windows, He is peering through the lattice. Son 2:10 "My beloved responded and said to me, 'Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, And come away. Son 2:11 'For behold, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. Son 2:12 'The flowers have already appeared in the land; the time of singing has come,, And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land. Son 2:13 'The fig tree has ripened its figs, And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance. Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, And come away!'"

  • Angela Munday | Tuesday, 21 March 2017

    "It is finished." Our LORD, CHRIST JESUS has faithfully completed everything for us and was obedient to God throughout His time on earth; now we can happily 'be' the people we are; we have been gracefully given eternal life as we follow Jesus in faith and obedience. His sacrifice is love-filled and waiting to be accepted; there is much joy in heaven where our King reigns supreme.

  • Derek Forster | Tuesday, 21 March 2017

    ’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His word; Just to rest upon His promise, Just to know, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ O how sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to trust His cleansing blood: Just in simple faith to plunge me ‘Neath the healing, cleansing flood! Yes ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus, Just from sin and self to cease; Just from Jesus simply taking Life and rest, and joy and peace. Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er! Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Him more!

  • Jacky Taylor | Tuesday, 21 March 2017

    #WhatdidJesusdo? This meditation reminded me of the book I have been reading (re reading) which has had a big impact on me. Here is a link to it on Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_10?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=so+you+dont+want+to+go+to+church+anymore&sprefix=So+you+don%2Caps%2C252&crid=14H9U3X3FRH8M. But it seems from a google search that it might be available free in some form.

  • Jacky Taylor | Tuesday, 21 March 2017

    The link doesn't work as far as I can tell. The book is 'So you don't want to go to church anymore' by Wayne Jacobsen.

  • Barbara Sabin | Tuesday, 21 March 2017

    https://youtu.be/mlCPaamSPr4 O what a wonderful, wonderful day - day I will never forget; After I'd wandered in darkness away, Jesus my Saviour I met. O what a tender, compassionate friend - He met the need of my heart; Shadows dispelling, With joy I am telling, He made all the darkness depart. Heaven came down and glory filled my soul, When at the cross the Saviour made me whole; My sins were washed away - And my night was turned to day - Heaven came down and glory filled my soul! Born of the Spirit with life from above into God's fam'ly divine, Justified fully thru Calvary's love, O what a standing is mine! And the transaction so quickly was made when as a sinner I came, Took of the offer of grace He did proffer - He saved me, O praise His dear name! Heaven came down and glory filled my soul, When at the cross the Saviour made me whole; My sins were washed away - And my night was turned to day - Heaven came down and glory filled my soul! Now I've a hope that will surely endure after the passing of time; I have a future in heaven for sure, there in those mansions sublime. And it's because of that wonderful day when at the cross I believed; Riches eternal and blessings supernal from His precious hand I received. Heaven came down and glory filled my soul, When at the cross the Saviour made me whole; My sins were washed away -And my night was turned to day - Heaven came down and glory filled my soul!

  • Peter Oliver | Tuesday, 21 March 2017


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