Justified by Faith – Gospel in Life

Justified by Faith

Tim Keller |  March 8, 2009

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  • The Bible
  • Christian Living and Obedience
Romans 3:21-28
RS 312-05


In Romans 1 through 4, Paul summarizes the story of the Bible. And here, in the last half of chapter 3 and into chapter 4, we have Paul’s most essential summary of what God has done to put the world right.

Three phrases are repeated and brought into relationship with each other throughout these few verses: that we are justified freely, all by faith, and through the blood of Christ. I want to be clear and practical about what these three things are and how to relate to them.

We’re going to look now at the first of these three ideas: free justification. 1) What is it? 2) Why do we need it? and 3) How do we receive it?

Romans 3:21-28

The Bible tells a story about people’s mistakes, how God fixed these through Jesus, and the way history unfolds, especially in Romans 1-4. It focuses on three ideas: we are made right with God freely, through faith, and by Jesus’ sacrifice. Let’s first explore what it means to be made right with God freely.

1. Why do we need it?

Righteousness, or being right with God, is a big deal in many religions and cultures. But in Christianity, it’s seen as a gift from God, not something we earn. Everyone is searching for approval and to be justified, sometimes in unhealthy ways like through work or children. This shows us that people need to be made right in many ways. Our conscience and our desire to live by certain rules suggest that God will judge us based on these standards.

2. What is it?

Being made right with God for free through the gospel is different from simply being forgiven or being good. It gives you a status that comes with rights, privileges, and benefits. Being made right with God means more than just having a clean slate; it’s about Jesus’ heroic sacrifice. Christianity uniquely teaches that real goodness is selfless, not self-serving, and that salvation comes through God’s free gift, not our own goodness.

3. How do we receive it?

Understanding this free gift from God is essential to truly being a Christian because it’s not just about forgiveness or being good. Real Christianity changes your heart, so you trust in Jesus’ grace instead of your own goodness. This brings joy and freedom. It’s necessary for Christians to leave behind their self-righteousness and fully trust in the rightness that comes through Jesus.


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