“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.'” Romans 1:16,17
The Greek word, dunamos, is translated in our Bibles, ‘power.’ The word, dynamite, is derived from this Greek term. We could state, “The power of the gospel is, literally, dynamite!
Why does Paul use the word, ‘power’ to describe the finished work of Jesus Christ? Very soon, he will begin to describe the effects of sin on the world. The fallen state he will describe is universal. Everything has been cursed because of Adam’s disobedience in Eden (Genesis 3). The answer to such a cataclysmic event must require a greater solution. Paul says that sinful people, who have no righteousness… must somehow become righteous.
But it’s impossible! Every human being has one thing in common with Adam. We all inherited his sin nature (Romans 5:12). We sin because we’re sinners. We cannot be sinful and righteous at the same time; and we are always sinful.
The answer is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul says that the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel. The good news is Jesus! The God-Man, Jesus, is the perfect image of God… the very righteousness of the Almighty Creator of the heavens and the earth (Colossians 1:15).
So the parties involved include God, who must exact judgment on sin; His Son, who is righteous and holy; and mankind, who is sinful and rebellious. The goal of God is to reestablish the severed relationship between Himself and His creation. The remedy is to somehow make men righteous once again.
God, taking matters into His own hands, accomplished this by sending His Son to take upon Himself our sin and be punished for it. As Paul will soon explain, at the cross, Jesus endured the wrath of God on our behalf. And because God was pleased with Jesus’ sacrifice, His righteousness is now available to us.
So, how do we get this righteousness that is available? Is there a checklist that we can follow? Is there a list of good deeds that enable us to earn it? Can we buy it by placing money in an offering plate? Maybe it comes through joining a church, or being dipped in a pool of water?
No, nothing that complicated! Paul says we simply need to believe. He concludes the unrighteous become righteous by faith. By believing that the gospel is sufficient, that all the requirements of God have been met by Jesus on my behalf, He now adorns me with the greatest wardrobe ever displayed… the righteousness of Christ!
[Part 3 of a series on Romans 1: 16, 17]