There’s a comma hanging from the right side of God. Do you see it?
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Romans 3:23 is one of the most familiar verses in the Bible and it’s bad news. I’ve read it countless times. But somehow until this morning I missed the comma. It’s tiny, but ever so significant. It means the sentence is not over. It connects us to the rest of the story. Here it is:
and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.
Yeah. It’s a mouthful. So I began to break it down. And I was overwhelmed by the good news that flowed out of the bad news:
Justified- Declared righteous.
Grace- We get a blessing when what we really deserve is a curse.
Gift- It’s free.
Redemption- A purchase was made by someone paying a price.
In- Union with Christ Jesus.
Propitiation- It absorbs and exhausts the wrath of God.
Blood- A life was sacrificed. Not just any life—the life of the Son of God!
Faith- The only way to receive the gift is by believing, relying, trusting in it.
Putting this all together, I paraphrased the sentence. Sorry it took me 14 sentences; I’m not the Apostle Paul. But most of mine are short ones:
Like everyone in Adam’s race, I, too, have fallen. Fallen away from God. Distanced by my sin. I have utterly failed to fulfill the purpose for which I was created—to glorify Him. But. The gift of God’s Son—Jesus Christ—changes my condition. And my position. When I receive Him everything changes:
Instead of being condemned and subjected to God’s wrath as I deserve, I am declared righteous—just as if I’d never sinned and always obeyed.
But at what cost? He gave his life as payment. Salvation cost me nothing but cost him everything. And yet, if he is my Redeemer it can only mean one thing: He owns me because he bought me. So if and when I finally catch my breath after this sentence sinks in, I will act accordingly.
Why? Out of gratitude for the price by which he purchased me—grace at such an unthinkable price.
Thank God for the blessed comma—and the rest of the story!