Sunday, January 17, 2016

How to be Right with God Part 1

SERMON               GM16-070

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

SETTING:          North Kelso Baptist Church

SERVICE:          Sunday AM (January 17th, 2016)

SUBTITLE:        How to Be Right with God – Part 1

SCRIPTURE:     Romans 3:21-22

SUBJECT:          The Righteousness of God

SUMMARY:       The righteousness of God which cannot be obtained by merit comes to all men through faith in the atoning work of Jesus on the cross which fulfills the law of God.

SCHEME:           To enable my people to transcend present ecclesiastical understanding of righteousness by appreciating God’s benefits of the atoning work of Christ on the cross

Our theme is:  God Provides Righteousness through Faith

Proposition:  The righteousness of God which cannot be obtained by 
merit comes  to all  men through faith in the atoning work of Jesus on 
the cross which fulfills the law of God

Interrogatory Sentence:  How do sinners obtain the righteousness required by God?

Transitional Sentence:  The passage before us suggests three (3) devices that enable the sinner to appreciate the righteousness that is required by God; The Introduction to Righteousness, The Illustration of Righteousness, and The Illumination of Righteousness.

[The Title of the Message]
How to Be Right with God - Part 1

[Announce the Text]
Please open your Bibles to Romans 3:21-26

Prayer for illumination & understanding
Our gracious Father, help us to hear your holy Word that we may truly understand; and that, understanding, we may believe and believing, we may be in all in all things faithful and obedient. Father by understanding your word may we seek your honor and glory in all that we do; through Christ our Lord. So Father we ask you, through your Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds for the sake, the honor, and the glory of your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, so that as the Scriptures are read and your Word explained, we may hear with joy what you say to us today. We ask you Father to show us all that Christ is and what He has done for us by His atoning work on the cross of Calvary. Father, may your word today attack and kill our pride and our dependence on ourselves and may we see the grace of God in this message and exalt that grace. Father, may the word of God today promote within us a desire to have a clean and holy heart and to live our lives in the pursuit of grace-driven sanctification. Father, will you enable me to clearly communicate the word of God to your people, I ask you for power and unction to preach your word. Amen.

Re-announce and read the text
Our text for today is Romans 3:21-26

[Main Introduction]
Attention Getter

During the Spanish-American War, Clara Barton was overseeing the work of the Red Cross in Cuba. One day Colonel Theodore Roosevelt came to her, wanted to buy food for his sick and wounded Rough Riders. But she refused to sell him any. Roosevelt was perplexed. His men needed the help and he was prepared to pay out of his own funds. When he asked someone why he could not buy the supplies, he was told, "Colonel, just ask for it!" A smile broke over Roosevelt's face. Now he understood--the provisions were not for sale. All he had to do was simply ask and they would be given freely.

Orient the Text:   Righteousness is provided by faith

This morning I want to speak about righteousness that is freely provided by faith – or more specially that the righteousness that is required by God of sinners for salvation is freely provided by God solely by faith. The Pharisees were charged by Jesus with attempting to provide their own righteousness. Christ’s point was that this strategy was not good enough. When sinners attempt to “earn” righteousness it is an affront to God, it is an attempt at robbing God of His glory and trying to enter heaven by climbing over the door. Every religion or faith other than Christianity requires its adherents to work for a righteousness that would be accepted by God. But it is impossible! God does not reward human effort with the righteousness that he requires for salvation. Righteousness is provided by God through faith. This righteousness is both sufficient and beneficial to the sinner who receives it by faith. The believer must be convinced of the provision of God and they must appreciate its sufficiency and benefits.
Otherwise, a believer will struggle for a part or all of their Christian life with a lack of assurance of whether God really loves them, really did save them, or ultimately, loss of the joy and strength of God as a result salvation.

Raise a Need: Christian salvation struggles and their vanity

The church is full of many people who either are not genuinely saved because they did not understand the absolute need of renouncing any and all human effort or energy and depending fully or completely on the work of Christ by pure faith. The human experience finds it very difficult to let go of and abandon every personal effort and contribution toward salvation.

[For example]

A businessman well known for his ruthlessness once announced to writer Mark Twain, "Before I die I mean to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I will climb Mount Sinai and read the 10 Commandments aloud at the top." "I have a better idea," replied Twain, “You could stay in Boston and keep them."

Now, you may not be as bold and brash as to think you can contribute something to your salvation. But if you fail to appreciate your salvation and the fact that the righteousness that was required by God for salvation you may never know the joy of your salvation and all that your salvation by faith affords you.

There is only one means of obtaining the righteousness required by God and that is by faith. We need to appreciate this truth! 

State the Purpose

My purpose today is to enable you to transcend any and all present day ecclesiastical understanding of righteousness by appreciating God’s benefits of the atoning work of Christ on the cross.

Let’s look at this righteousness provided by God in order to deeply appreciate it.

[Sub Introduction]

Paul speaks of the fact that the righteousness required by God is obtained only through faith in Romans 3:21-26. If you haven’t turned there yet, please do as we examine his bold statement that God’s righteousness is through faith.

Remember, we are in a series called Renewal through Romans, The gospel defined, explained, and applied. We have looked at the Prologue to Righteousness in 1:1-17; and the Perversion of Righteousness in 1:18-3:30. Today we want to examine 3:21-26.

Paul wrote this letter to the church at Rome while he was in Corinth waiting for the weather to turn so that he could sail to Jerusalem with the offering he had collected. From Jerusalem, he wanted to sail to Rome. He wished to travel to this church and wanted to introduce himself and to pave the way for his visit.

Romans 3:21-5:21 deals with the provision of the righteousness of God for sinners, both Jewish sinners and Gentile sinners.

Romans is a letter. Paul wrote it as a letter, Phoebe carried it to Rome and delivered it. It was read to the church in one sitting.

Today’s text divides itself into two sections. Verses 21-26 deal with the explanation of righteousness by faith and verses 27-31 deal with the exclusion of boasting about merit-earned righteousness.

Our theme is:  God’s righteousness comes through faith

The righteousness of God which cannot be obtained by merit comes to all men through faith in the atoning work of Jesus on the cross which fulfills the law of God.

[Let’s try to answer the question, How to be right with God, by looking first at…]


Alva McClain said of this passage, “…if he could only have six verses in the Bible, he would take Romans 3:21-36.”

Someone once called this text, “The Acropolis [the height & central theme] of the Christian faith.”

Martin Luther wrote in the margin of his bible, “…the chief point, and the very central place of the epistle, and of the whole bible.”

Cranfield stated, that “this text is the very heart of Romans. Romans is the very heart of the New Testament, if not all of the Bible.”
Alva McClain made this statement in his commentary, “This section is the very heart of the book of Romans.  For this reason all Christians ought to memorize verses 21-26.” [1]

When sitting and debating with his friends Job asked the most important question that could ever be asked by a human being – “…how can a man be righteous before God? (Job 2:9) Job asked this question because of what he need about God.

Listen to what Job went on to say:
“If someone wanted to take God to court, would it be possible to answer him even once in a thousand times? For God is so wise and so mighty. Who has ever challenged him successfully? “Without warning, he moves the mountains, over turning them in his anger. He shakes the earth from its place, and its foundations tremble. If he commands it, the sun won’t rise and the stars won’t shine. He alone has spread out the heavens and marches on the waves of the sea. He made all the stars—the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the southern sky. He does great things too marvelous to understand. He performs countless miracles. “Yet when he comes near, I cannot see him. When he moves by, I do not see him go. If he snatches someone in death, who can stop him?

Who dares to ask, ‘What are you doing?’ God does not restrain his anger. Even the monsters of the sea are crushed beneath his feet. “So who am I that I should try to answer God or even reason with him? Even if I were right, I would have no defense. I could only plead for mercy.
And even if I summoned him and he responded, I’m not sure he would listen to me. For he attacks me with a storm and repeatedly wounds me without cause. He will not let me catch my breath, but fills me instead with bitter sorrows. If it’s a question of strength, he’s the strong one. If it’s a matter of justice, who dares to summon him to court?

Though I am innocent, my own mouth would pronounce me guilty. Though I am blameless, it would prove me wicked. (Job 9:3-20, NLT)

Because God is the kind of God that he is, Job wondered how a person could ever approach God. More importantly, how can a man be right with God? Can a man who is a sinner have a relationship with a holy, righteousness, and perfect God?

Today’s text answers this question! This text is the heartbeat of the gospel. Miss this text, miss its meaning and you will miss the gospel. You cannot understand the gospel without understanding this passage.

[Paul makes two arguments in his introduction to righteousness. In his first argument…]

1B     Paul explains the basics of God’s righteousness (VSS. 21-26)

Paul begins this section with the words, “But now.” This marks a definite shift in Paul’s argument. This paragraph is one long sentence in the Greek. It is an absolute marvel of theological genius.

There are at least five truths contained in this long, single, run-on sentence of Paul that are essential in understanding this passage and the gospel.

As Paul explains the basics of God’s righteousness, he will introduce us to the revelation, the recipients, the remedy, the reason, and the results that are contained in this argument which prove that God’s righteousness is through faith, and not by any human efforts or works.

[So, having said that, let’s begin with…]

                   1C     The Revelation of Righteousness (21-22)

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ…”       

“…the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed…”

Robert Haldane made this point in his commentary, “This is one of the most important expressions in Scripture.[2] 

Haldane explains and support his statement by saying, and I am paraphrasing, “this phrase establishes the fulfillment of the Law of God which God provided by the imputation of that righteousness to sinners which is the means by which sinners are saved.”

He goes to say that when the question is asked, “Why is the gospel the power of God for the saving of sinners?” The answer is this, it is because the righteousness of God is revealed or made known to sinners.

[I want you to notice at least four things about this “revelation of righteousness.” The first thing I want you to notice is…]

                             1D     The Significance of Righteousness

                                      “But now…”

W. Clement Stone is credited with the great quote, “Big doors swing on little hinges.”

So does this section. These words, “but now” mark the beginning of a new and big section in Paul’s letter that swing on a little hinge. In fact it is the beginning of the most important section in this letter. 

Verse 20 ended a section that started in chapter one and verse 18. That section dealt with God’s wrath and anger at sin and the ungodliness or the unrighteousness of all men. Paul proved his point that all men, both Jews and Gentiles were under the wrath of God.

Paul painted a pretty black picture against the human race. He ended that section in verse 20 with the words, “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

Paul has forever established beyond any question or doubt that man will ever be able to justify himself to God. No man can ever earn, merit, or obtain the righteousness required by God and that will satisfy God by his own means. No man will ever devise a means of salvation by his own personal “righteousness.”

Mankind is hopeless. By the way, no man can become a believer unless he/she realizes their utter and absolute hopelessness.

So, if this is true (and it is) the obvious question to ask is, “is there no hope at all then?” “Can nothing be done for us?” 

This is where the “but now” becomes so significant! Paul is going to explain that there is one way, and only, one way that a man can obtain the righteousness that God requires for salvation. “But now…”

Listen to what Martyn Lloyd-Jones had to say on these two words:

But now. There are no more wonderful words in the whole of Scripture than just these two words, ‘but now.’ What vital words these are! These are the words with which the apostle always introduces the gospel. He first paints his dark and hopeless picture – and this is not only the true of this apostle but also of the others; but it is especially true of the apostle Paul and of his particular style. He first of all paints his black and his somber and his hopeless picture. Then having done that he says, ‘but now…’ having considered every statement that he makes about man under sin and in sin, and having seen ourselves as we are by nature and as descendants of Adam, can there be wo words which are more blessed and more wonderful for us than just these two words. But now. To me they provide a very subtle and thorough-going test of our whole picture as Christians…is there something within you that makes you say, ‘Thank God!’[3]

Then believe it or not he goes on for another almost three pages of talking about ‘but now.’

It is significant! Especially when you understand what Paul meant when he wrote verses 25 and 26.

These words indicate a contrast between mankind’s total and absolute depravity along with mankind’s inability to please God and God’s way of providing a means of justifying and saving all types or kinds of men.

It is significant because it shows us man’s wickedness and God’s gracious righteousness. After, to use one of Lloyd-Jones words, painting all men as wicked and under the wrath of God, Paul says, ‘but now.”

[So, first of all we see the significance the revelation of God’s righteousness. It gives hope and the means by which sinfully depraved men can obtain the righteousness that God demands.]

To be continued...

1 comment:

nashvillecats2 said...

I always look forward to your Sunday's post Gregg. This is another great read which sets me thinking about many things.