Sunday, April 26, 2015

God's Perfect Plan (Part 5)

SERMON:             GM15-055

SERIES:              Renewal Through Romans: The Gospel Defined, Explained &           Applied

SETTING:          North Kelso Baptist Church

SERVICE:          Sunday AM (April 26, 2015)

SECTION:          The Prologue to Righteousness (Romans 1:1-17)

SUBTITLE:        God’s Perfect Plan (Part 5)

SCRIPTURE:     Romans1:17

SUBJECT:          God’s sanctifies us through the gospel


SCHEME:           That each member of NKBC fully understands the ability, or the                                 capability of God to develop His people through the gospel.


Our theme is:  God sanctifies us through the gospel

 Proposition:  God works out His perfect plan by the power of the Gospel

Interrogatory Sentence:  What does the text reveal to us about the power of the gospel?

Transitional Sentence: Our text reveals two important truths about the power of God.
·        …the gospel produces saving faith in sinners

·        the gospel produces sanctifying faith in saints

 Title:           God’s Perfect Plan (Part 5)
Text:           Romans 1:17

1John Newton once said, “I am not what I might be, I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I wish to be, I am not what I hope to be. But I thank God I am not what I      once was, and I can say with the great apostle, "By the grace of God I am what I          am…

2.  Contrast the sentiment of this statement – it is the testimony of all genuine believers.

3.  Contrast the sentiment of this statement – with your own life & experience

Proposition:  God works out His perfect plan by the power of the Gospel

Interrogative Sentence:  What does our text reveal about the power of the gospel?

Transitional Sentence:  Our text reveals two important truths about the power of God.

          1B     The Gospel produces saving faith in sinners (16)
          2B     The Gospel produces sanctifying faith in saints (17)


We have already established two major principles that seem to drive the apostle Paul:

·        Paul is eager to preach the gospel to the Roman believers and in the city of Rome
·        Paul is not ashamed of the gospel which he has preached and continues to preach

These two verses transition from the focus on Paul and his call to ministry to the specific reason he has written to this church. The theme is the gospel. Paul is eager to preach this gospel because…

2B     The Gospel produces sanctifying faith in saints (17)

First of all, since this is the case, we must ask ourselves, how does the      gospel produce sanctifying faith in sinners?

The gospel sanctifies saints through… 

1C     The Revelation of God’s Righteousness

“…for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith…”

Here in this phrase Paul shows why the gospel is God’s saving power to everyone who believes “in it [the gospel]

The phrase “is revealed” actually reads “is being revealed.” The verb is a present tense verb. It means to “uncover.”

Paul uses this verb normally to refer to the eschatological disclosure of various truths and principles of God’s redemptive plan.

So, Paul is speaking about the way the gospel makes known to you and me or how it informs you and me about the “righteousness of God.” Somehow, Paul asserts that the gospel in some way actually makes “visible” or brings into existence” the righteousness of God.

The fact that Paul used the verb in the present tense suggests to us that Paul is thinking of an ongoing process, or a series of actions connected to the preaching of the gospel.

So, wherever and whenever the gospel is preached “the righteousness of God” in its fullness is being disclosed or made visible.

[Since this is true, we are now forced to ask ourselves…]

What is the righteousness of God?

There are and have been three major ideas or interpretations of what this word is actually referring to. Some have said that it refers to:

An attribute of God – righteousness is God’s justice

A status given by God – it is a new standing imparted to the believing sinner

An activity of God – he might be saying that the gospel shows the saving action of God

So, to get the right idea we have to examine at least three things: 

First – this word for righteousness is used only 8 times in Romans.

Second – other than in 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans is the only place that Paul uses this particular word. One of the major ways of understanding what an author is saying is to see how he uses or what he means when he uses a certain word. So because Paul uses here in Romans we can get a handle on what he means.

Thirdly- Paul’s use of this word in this phrase has been the subject of much    
interpretation through the centuries. Theologians, scholars, and common bible readers have wrestled with this word and Paul’s usage for centuries.

[For example…]

Martin Luther severely struggled with this phrase:

It bothered him tremendously until one day by the HS divinely illuminating his thinking caused him to realize what was meant here:

Paul was not referring to God’s retributive justice but to the righteousness freely imputed to the sinner by God’s sovereign grace, on the basis of Christ’s substitutionary atonement, and made the sinner’s own possession by means of God-given faith.

The happiest day in Luther’s life was when he discovered that God’s verdict    of righteousness is pronounced upon the believer through God-given faith.

Luther wrote:  “The sum and substance of this letter is: to pull down, to pluck up, and destroy all wisdom and righteousness of the flesh…and to affirm and enlarge [prove to be large] the reality of sin, however unconscious we may be of its existence.”

To really see what Paul meant we have to actually understand three things:

The OT background concerning righteousness

Paul’s usage of righteousness in Romans

Of course, the immediate context

I think Paul meant to convey was the righteousness of God displayed in God’s saving power. The righteousness of God is much more that a righteous standing. As a matter of fact the righteousness of God is:

·        Effective – iow, the righteousness of God does the job that God intends it to do
·        Forensic – this means as an act of God as a judge acting according to law

As a matter of fact I think Luther was right when he said, “…there have always been people, both Jews and Gentiles, who believed in the possibility of inner goodness.”

Paul comments on these types of people with their foolish belief when he says, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became foolish.” (Romans 1:21)

The scriptures teach the very opposite – the only way in which a person becomes really good is the one provided by God’s righteousness.

Luther again made an excellent observation when he wrote: “For God does not want to save us by our own but by an extraneous righteousness, one that does not originate in ourselves but comes to us from beyond ourselves, which does not arise on earth but comes from heaven.”

It is this righteousness that is acceptable to God – we have none that is acceptable.

I like how Howard Hendriksen states it when he says:

“…righteousness from God, meaning that God, its Author, imputes this right standing to the sinner, who receives it by faith.”

This phrase “righteousness of God” is a key phrase or a key expression of this whole letter. More importantly it is also the key to our Christian faith and the Christian message.

Let me get a little more detailed if I could as we answer the question:

What does the righteousness of God mean?

I think it includes at least two very important and key ideas:

·        It is the righteousness that comes from God.

·        It is a righteousness that satisfies God 

Righteousness means:

·        a conformity to God
·         a conformity to God’s law
·        A conformity to God’s demands

Righteousness is that which is acceptable to God, which is well-pleasing in God’s sight; so righteousness in man must mean that a man is capable of meeting God’s demands and God’s standards. It means that a man is acceptable in the sight of God. Or that a man meets with God’s approval. It means that a man is acceptable with God because he is now like God himself.

This is the meaning of righteousness. Paul is eager to preach the gospel and is not ashamed of the gospel because God’s righteousness for man has been revealed.

When we talk about this phrase and come to conclusions about it there are some things we have to keep in mind:

The gospel is concerned about the law. The gospel does not do away with the law.Later we will read where Paul asks the question, “Do we then make void the law through faith? Of course the answer is a big loud, “NO.” The gospel establishes the law.

The ultimate end of and the objective of the gospel is to make us acceptable in the sight of God. The gospel enables us to stand in the presence of God.

The gospel is not easy believism, the gospel is believed by faith. Easy believism is where someone repeats a prayer, or intellectually accepts certain facts but has no concern about righteousness or about the standards of God.

So the gospel doesn’t make the law of God void, it actually fulfills the law.

How does the gospel do this?

Really, the question is how can a man be just or righteous with God? To be just a man has to keep the law, he must honor the law in every aspect of the law. How can this be done?

Well, here is the reason why Paul rather than being ashamed of the gospel, actually boasts or brags about the gospel. The gospel is God’s way of solving this very problem.

God, through the gospel provides the very righteous that we need and that He demands. The gospel tells us of a righteousness that comes from God that is provided by God in and through the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord Jesus Christ has satisfied the law of God on our behalf. He has done so perfectly and in every sense that is needed.  Jesus Christ perfectly obeyed the law, he kept every part, every jot and tittle.

Secondly, Jesus Christ dealt with the penalty required by the law. Jesus took the guilt upon himself and bore the punishment.

Now, there is nothing that the law can demand of us. Jesus Christ has satisfied it all. The gospel tells us that God sent Jesus Christ do satisfy the law. God perfect plan of salvation is designed to give that righteousness to those who believe in Christ.

God imputes righteousness to the believer – he puts it to our account.

First – God cancels the debt that we owe to God because Christ paid the debt. The account is closed because the debt is cleared.

Second – God puts all of the perfection and the righteousness of Jesus Christ to your account. God “clothes” us with the robe of Christ’s righteousness. Thus making the sinner able to stand in the presence of God.

This is what Paul means when he says, “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed” this is the righteousness that God has prepared and gives to us in and through Jesus Christ. That is the message of the gospel.

This is why Paul is eager to preach it and why Paul is not ashamed of it.

It is only as we are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ that we can stand in the presence of God. The gospel is that announcement. God has given the righteousness that He demands to the believer. That is salvation.

So, the first question that we ask and have answered is what is the righteousness of God?

Now we ask and hope to answer the next question –

How Does This Righteousness become ours?

We answer that question by seeing…

2C     The Realization of God’s Righteousness

“…from faith to faith…”

What is faith? What does Paul mean by faith?

I think it is fair and accurate to say that we cannot understand Romans unless we understand faith and what Paul says about it.

So, what is faith?

Let’s try and answer this negatively first:

·        It is not something that is subjectively possession of all of mankind Not every living human being has faith. No one has the ability to exercise faith. God gives faith as a gift we are told in Ephesians.

·        It is not something that can be earned. We cannot complete any action in order to be given, or to develop or to merit faith

          Let’s try and answer this positively now

·        Faith is something new to us. It is something special. Eph – it is the gift of God. Faith is a peculiar thing given to us by God

·        Faith is the instrument by which we receive the righteousness of God. Faith does not justify us; our faith does not constitute our righteousness. Faith is not a work nor a merit. You are not justified because of your faith. Your faith does not save you.

Christ is our justification. Faith is the instrument that receives the justification. It is      Christ’s righteousness that is given to me and I am rendered or made capable of           receiving it.

          And so, the righteousness which is by faith, namely the righteousness which is           received by faith, is revealed to faith, or in order to be believed.

Now we ask ourselves, how does it work? We see how it works by looking…

3C     The Ratification of God’s Righteousness

“…as it is written, ‘the just shall live by faith.’”

Why did Paul include this? Why is this important? Paul tells the Romans that this concept is nothing new. He is not making something    up. This concept is a concept that the Jews were already familiar with, or should have been.

It was this phrase that brought Martin Luther to salvation. This phrase gave him liberty from his sin.

Listen to Dr. Paul Luther, Martin Luther’s son in letter that is preserved in the library of Rudolstadt, Germany:

“In the year 1544, my dearest father, in the presence of us all, narrated the whole story of his journey to Rome. He acknowledged with great joy that in that city, through the Spirit of Jesus Christ, he had come to the knowledge of the truth of the everlasting gospel. It happened this way, as he repeated his prayers on the Lateran staircase, the words of the prophet Habakkuk came suddenly to his mind: ‘The just shall live by faith.’ Thereupon he ceased his prayers, returned to Wittenberg, and took this as his chief foundation of all his doctrine.”

The phrase “the righteousness of God” had been a stumbling block to him. He could not get past that phrase. Then he saw the phrase, ‘the just shall live by faith’ Oh, he said, there is such a thing after all then as a just person, a righteous person! There is abstract righteousness; here is the concrete righteousness.

He recorded this, “When I saw the difference, that law is one thing and gospel another, I broke through! As I had formerly hated the expression ‘the righteousness of God’ I now began to regard it as my dearest and most comforting word; so that this expression of Paul’s became to me in very truth a Gate to Paradise’. 

Habakkuk was writing during the reign of Jehoiakim (608-597 BC). What bothered Habakkuk was that it seemed that the wicked were getting away with their wickedness. God tells him all evil doers will be punished.  All sinners will be punished but the righteous shall live by faith.

Habakkuk was writing about the problem of his day. The children of Israel were in captivity by the Chaldeans. Habakkuk was worried about what was going to happen to the Israelites. Were they going to be exterminated? Is this the end? No! The just shall live by faith. Those who are righteous shall live. Many may be put to death but they are still OK, they will go on living through all of eternity. The righteous shall live by faith. Nothing is going to be able to separate them from God.

It is not surprising that Paul quotes Habakkuk in Romans 1:17 and in Galatians 3:11, and so does the author of Hebrews in Hebrews 10:38.

This is a vital statement! The just shall live by faith! Having been justified by God we are eternally saved.

So we can rejoice in the truth written by A. M. Toplady in Rock of Ages:

Not the labors of my hands,
Can fulfil thy law’s demands.
Could my zeal no languor know,
Could my tears forever flow?
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save and thou alone

Our theme has been: God sanctifies saints through the gospel       

This is still a good reminder for us all to remember that the gospel is designated as the only means of effective sanctification.

 Proposition: God works out His perfect plan by the power of the Gospel    

[What do you say we wrap this up, shall we?]

Let me conclude with a couple of verses from a hymn by Count Zinzendorf: 

Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
‘Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.

Bold shall I stand in Thy day,
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully absolved through these I am,
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

 So, I exhort you as genuine believers to: live each day in light of the fact that you have received righteousness from God by faith.

Remember, Paul wrote in Romans chapter 5 “…having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1, NKJV)

Let’s pray! J

Benediction Blessing:

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (Philippians 4:23, NKJV)

1 comment:

nashvillecats2 said...

Most inspiring and comftoring Gregg,
It's like going to church without leaving one's home. Thank you for a great post.