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The Glory of God on the Cross

”For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 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. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-36)

The cross is seen as an iconic symbol in Christianity. Upon seeing an image of the cross, many of the first things that come into our minds will probably be along the lines of God’s love, grace, and mercy towards sinners. While these are very much true, it is not often that the first thing that comes into our minds when we see the cross is God’s glory. Understanding God’s glory in the cross of Calvary is central to understanding our salvation. If we are to have a true and deep understanding of why God, in His sovereign and gracious will, chose to save undeserving sinners who were bound for eternal damnation, then we need to understand that salvation does not end with us. Rather, salvation ends with God - that is, it is from God and for God.

How does the cross actually demonstrate the glory of God to us?

In this passage, Paul starts by saying that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. In our sinfulness, we have become totally corrupted in every aspect of our being and totally unable to come to God. Since this is who we are, how could we then satisfy God’s righteous and holy standard? The quick answer to this is that we cannot satisfy God’s righteousness and holiness - definitely not on our own. But God, being rich in mercy, deemed that His pure and blameless Son would be the propitiation for our sins - that is, that the perfect sacrifice of His Son would alone satisfy God’s righteousness and holiness. It is therefore in the person and work of Christ alone that God’s justice was satisfied.

On the cross, God demonstrates that He is just - that is, that all sin will be punished and penalized, and God also demonstrates that He is justifier - that is, that for all who come to believe in His Son, they would be justified through Christ, the substitutionary sacrifice who suffered in their place. On the cross, both God’s justice and God’s mercy are undeniable and uncompromised. On the cross, the manifold glory of God comes into full display as His perfect character and perfect purposes unfold in redemption.

God’s glory is the central theme of our salvation. For us to deviate from this theme would be to miss out on the very reason why God had chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world and predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself. What more can we do, then, but give praise to the God of all glory and grace?

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