The Book of Romans and Why Jesus Had to Die

Of all the sixty-six books in the Bible, I believe Paul in Romans gives the clearest explanation as to why Jesus died. First of all he recognizes the truth of God’s warning in the Garden of Eden. In Romans 6:23, Paul agrees with the record in Genesis: “Sin pays its servants: the wage is death” (Phillips). But the natural connection between sin and death is not the only charge leveled against God. We also recall Satan’s charge that God had lied about His concern for human good. Look at Genesis 3:4-5: “But the serpent said to the woman, `You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it [the Tree of Knowledge] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God'” (RSV). Notice the additional charge that God is selfishly withholding something that would be for their best good.

Now who is telling us the truth? God, or the great former lightbearer, Lucifer? How do you determine who is telling the truth? Did God gather His family together and say, “I am telling the truth, the Devil is lying!” Which would only encourage the Devil to say, “No, I am telling the truth. God is lying.” As we have emphasized so much, matters like this cannot be settled by claims or denials. God’s way was to take His case into court. Look at the marvelous words of Romans 3:4: “That you may be shown to be right in what you say, and win your case when you go into court.” (Goodspeed)

Now the Bible often speaks of such councils of the heavenly family. And if you wonder how many attend such meetings, look in the book of Daniel where it says a hundred million beings are present as the court meets. The heavenly council is also described in the first two chapters of Job. There we have a powerful example of how God resolves questions, particularly when the charges of Satan are leveled against Him and His friends before the heavenly court. In the council scene of Job, Satan accuses God of manipulating Job’s faithfulness, and he accuses Job of being unworthy of God’s trust. Did God say on that occasion, “That’s a lie Satan; this man is perfect!” No, instead He said, “You’ve raised a serious question. The only way to answer it is to show you.”

We find that demonstration in the rest of the book of Job. Did Job show himself to be a trustworthy friend of God? Did he trust God because he was being richly rewarded or did he still trust God in the face of seeming abandonment? The book ends with God saying, “Thank you, Job, you’ve said of Me what is right” (based on Job 42:7). Job was God’s friend all the way through and God could then turn to the heavenly court and say, “Do you need any more evidence about the falsity of Satan’s charges and the trustworthiness of my friend Job?”

This is God’s way. God Himself has been accused. But He does not merely deny the accusation. He says: “Let Me show you, My children. Let Me show you the falsity of these accusations and the truth about Myself, and you decide.” Imagine the humility of the Infinite One submitting His character and government to the scrutiny and investigation of mere creatures. But that’s God’s way, and it is the only way to really establish love and trust while maintaining the fullest sense of freedom.

4 thoughts on “The Book of Romans and Why Jesus Had to Die

  1. Sue Busick

    Psalm 51:4 and Romans 3:3 seem consistent with this commentary, that God’s work will be reviewed as part of the Great Controversy. This is an amazing, humbling characteristic to me of God. What leader does that?

    Just as amazing to me is the statement in Revelation 20:4 that says, for 1,000 years after Christ’s Second Coming, the redeemed will reign and review the cases of those who died the second death to see if God was “just” in condemning them. The redeemed do not see their sins come before them.

    Thank you.


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