SERIES: Renewal Through Romans: The Gospel Defined, Explained, and Applied
SETTING: North Kelso Baptist Church
SERVICE: Sunday AM (February 7th, 2016)
SUBTITLE: How to Be Right with God – Part 3
SCRIPTURE: Romans 3:22c-23
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
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 obtain the righteousness that is required by God; The Introduction to Righteousness, The Illustration of Righteousness, and The Illumination of Righteousness.
[Announce the Text]
Please open your Bibles to Romans 3:21-26
[The Title of the Message]
How to Be Right with God - Part 3
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
Re-announce and read the text
Our text for today is Romans 3:21-26
Prayer for illumination & understanding
Our gracious Father, help us as we 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.
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, 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.
It is very common for people today to excuse their faults with the attitude, “Hey, nobody’s perfect!” And that is true. People can only be expected to be human which means that they are fallible, or not perfect. Unfortunately, though, few people take that reality seriously enough. Indeed when it comes to their standing before God, all too many people take a different stance: they may not be perfect but they think that they’re “good enough.”
This is nothing more than spiritual arrogance. The question that is really a hand is, “Are they good enough for God?” Paul says that they are not good enough. That’s what Paul means when he writes, “all are under sin” (Romans 3:9) and he then cites a number of OT passages to back up his claim (3:10-18).
It’s not that people are evil as evil as they could be, or that they never do any moral good. Just the opposite, people are capable of impressive acts of courage, compassion and justice. But in light of God’s holy (morally perfect) character, which is the ultimate standard against which people’s goodness is measured, people are indeed far from perfect. Their good behavior, honestly, turns out to be the exception rather than the rule. Sadly and tragically this includes all men, both Jew and Gentile.
Orient the Text: Righteousness has been provided by faith to all who need it by faith
This morning I want to continue to speak about the righteousness that is freely provided by faith – or more specially that the righteousness that is required by God of sinners by demonstrating that all men, Jew and Gentile have sinned and are in need of God’s R.
Raise a Need: Sadly all men have sinned
Sin is a blasting presence, and everything shrinks and withers in the destructive heat of sin. Every spiritual delicacy succumbs to its malignant touch...
· Sin impairs the sight, and works toward blindness. Men are blinded by their sin.
· Sin numbs the hearing and tends to make men spiritually deaf to the things of God
· Sin perverts the taste, causing men to confuse and even exchange the sweet with the bitter, and the bitter with the sweet.
· Sin hardens the heart, and eventually renders a man "past feeling."
All these are Scriptural analogies, and their common significance appears to be this--sin blocks and chokes the fine senses of the spirit; by sin we are desensitized, rendered imperceptive, and the range of our correspondence is diminished. Sin creates callosity. It hoofs the spirit, and so reduces the area of our exposure to pain. (John Henry Jowett in The Grace Awakening.)
There is not one member of mankind who does not need this righteousness because every single man woman and child is a sinner, and there is not one man, woman, or child, Jew or Gentile that cannot benefit from this righteousness provided by God if they believe.
State the Purpose
My purpose today is to demonstrate that all men are in need of this righteousness that is first, required by God, and second, provided by Jesus Christ because all men fail to obtain the standard maintained by God.
Let’s to continue to look at this righteousness that has been provided by God in order to deeply understand and appreciate it.
Last week we began to answer the question, “How to be right with God?” We said that our text contains the answer to this question! I am convinced, and you should be also, that the reason we must understand this truth is that his text is the heartbeat of the gospel. If you miss this text, if you miss its meaning, you will miss the gospel. You cannot understand the gospel without understanding this passage.
So, last week began with Paul’s argument with an examination of…
1A THE INTRODUCTION TO RIGHTEOUSNESS (VSS. 21-31)
Last we stated that Paul makes two arguments in his introduction to righteousness. We began looking at his fist argument. And in his first argument…
1B Paul explains the basics of God’s righteousness (VSS. 21-26)
I said that as Paul explains the basics of God’s righteousness, he does so by introducing us to the revelation, the recipients, the remedy, the reason, and the results that are contained in this argument which proves that God’s righteousness is through faith, and not by any human efforts or works.
[And so, last week we began looking at…]
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…”
[I wanted you to notice at least four things about this “revelation of righteousness.” The first thing I wanted you to notice was…]
1D The Significance of Righteousness
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.
[The second thing we were able to see about the revelation of righteousness is…]
2D The Stipulation of Righteousness
“…the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed…”
The righteousness that God is requires is a righteousness that does not come by nor is obtained by doing the works of the law.
What Paul refers to is a status of righteousness, having a righteousness that is satisfactory not the obtaining of righteousness by keeping the demands of the Mosaic Law. It is a righteousness that is a gift. It is infinitely beyond the capability of a human being to obtain this righteousness by any type or kind of work.
The righteousness required by God is revealed, it is made known; it is made visible. The tense of the verb suggests that the making known is made once and the consequences of it having been revealed or made known remains forever.
[Thirdly, we are able to see…]
3D The Substantiation of Righteousness
“…being witnessed by the law and the prophets
The OT scriptures substantiates the claim of Paul. This is important. Paul includes this to show that he is not making anything up.
It is crucial that the church in Rome, particularly the Jewish segment does not think that Paul is adding something new to the mix.
[Fourthly, and finally we see…]
4D The Source of Righteousness
“…even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ…”
Paul has begun a new section in verse 21 that deals with the God’s provision of righteousness. Paul introduces us to this righteousness of God. He introduces it to us by giving us an explanation of the basic truths that he wants his readers to understand.
The first truth that we dealt with was the revelation of this righteousness, it has been made visible.
Now we are going to move to the second truth contained in his explanation of the basics and that is…
TRUTH FOR TODAY!
2C The Recipients of Righteousness (VSS.22c-23) “eis pantas kai epi pantas tous pisteuontas Ou gar esti diastolh
pantes gar nuapton kai sterountai tns dozhs tou qeou
“…for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:22c-23, ESV)
We have to ask ourselves who are the recipients of this righteousness of God which God has revealed or made visible for all to see?
What does it mean, “…and fall short of the glory of God? Well, let’s answer this question by beginning with…
1D The Identification of Sinners
“…for all have sinned…”
Paul has shared with these Roman believers some very vital truth that I think we need to take a minute and back-track in order to be sure that that we fully understand what he just said so that we can appreciate what he is saying in this verse.
Notice four distinct details:
First thing to notice – our salvation does not merely or simply consist of having our sins forgiven. Paul is stressing that in order to be saved we must have a positive righteousness. This positive righteousness he states is the very righteousness of God.
Non one can earn, merit, obtain or produce this righteousness on their own. Especially the Jews, who have believed that they have obtained it by satisfactorily keeping the law
Second thing to notice – he shares with the Romans how this righteousness is obtained or received. There is nothing more important, nothing more crucial than understanding this.
“…But now without the law a righteousness of God is manifested…” Or revealed, or made visible to be seen…
Notice, Paul puts the words “without the law” before “the righteousness of God”. He did this to demonstrate that this righteousness that God offers has nothing to do with the law. No one can keep the Law perfectly in order to obtain the salvation that is offered by God.
Third thing to notice – Paul explains how this righteousness can come to sinners. In VS. 22 – “…through faith in Jesus Christ…”
We need to know and to appreciate just how important this phrase really is.
Faith includes three (3) important aspects or elements
· It includes the knowledge of the truth
· It includes an assent to the truth
· It includes a trust in the truth
Keep this in mind – faith isn’t just an intellectual awareness of the truth. Some today teach just that. They teach that you just have to acknowledge the truth about Jesus Christ.
Faith means a real, vital, and viable trust in the truth concerning Jesus Christ which has evident results.
Faith means a real trust in what Jesus has done for us and on our behalf for our salvation.
Fourth thing to notice – it is not our faith that saves us
There are a number of people who say this and believe this. But, be clear, it is what Christ has done for us that saves us. It is not our faith.
Look at what Paul says – “…the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe…”
Jesus Christ saves us. If you say that your faith saved you, then your faith is a work and now you have reason to boast.
The danger then is this – you can say, “Well I believed and this other guy did not believe, therefore I deserve salvation and he doesn’t.”
Our faith does not save us – it is through faith that we are saved. Faith is the instrument that God has provided for us to be saved, faith is not the cause of my salvation. The cause of your salvation is Jesus Christ.
· Does this make sense?
· Is it really that important?
Well, Paul has declared the way that God has provided the righteousness that he has revealed or made visible. It is all in Jesus Christ. I wanted you to see this clearly because now Paul is going to show us who it is that this salvation has been given or who is for.
“…for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...”
To all who believe!
Why would Paul make such a great emphasis of this point, at this point? Most likely, he has in his thinking that the Jews still make a distinction between them and the Gentiles.
They considered themselves as clean before God and the Gentiles as sinners.
So Paul makes this great statement: “…there is no difference, for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
Of course this is in support of his earlier statement, “…every mouth is stopped and the whole world is guilty before God…”
There is no difference between a Jew and a Gentile, they are all in the same position, the same boat, with the same need. He makes this very clear. But what position is this exactly? Or just how are the Jews and the Gentiles the same?
They are the same in two ways:
· They have sinned
· They are falling short of God’s glory
Now Paul describes sin and its nature or character.
What does sin mean? What should we understand?
· Sin means to miss a mark. Instead of hitting the mark, you are beside it below it. It means the sinner has failed to hit the target or mark and in this case does not meet the standard that has been set by God, which is perfection.
· Sin means lawlessness.
· Sin means unrighteousness. This is a failure to be “right or to be straight, to be upright, or to be true.”
· Sin means “trespass.” This means a sinner follows his way rather than God’s way
· Sin means iniquity – which is anything that is wrong and against the standard of God.
· Sin is a transgression of God’s law – a breaking of His law
Paul says that all of mankind, all Jews and all Gentiles, not just the Gentiles are guilty of sin.
Illustration: Two men go to the Washington State Patrol Academy to apply to be Highway Patrolman. The standard height requirement is 6 foot. One applicant is taller than the other applicant. But when they are measured they both were disqualified.
One applicant was 5 foot 7 inches and the other was 5 foot and 11 inches. Both were too short:
· It didn’t matter that the taller one did well in his criminal justice classes
· It didn’t matter that he promised to be a good patrolman
· It didn’t matter that he memorized the code book and training manual
· It didn’t matter that his father, and grandfather were highway patrolmen
He fell short of the standard. This is sin, sin falls short of the standard of God.
I want you to notice something very interesting and important right here. Paul uses two verbs with two different tenses:
· He uses the aorist – have sinned; the past tense
This is a statement of fact of something that is complete and is complete once and for all. Mankind, Jews and Gentiles have completely once and for all sinned against God. This is a fact that is indisputable.
· He uses the present tense – falling short
This is something that is continuing and will continue happening in the present. This is ongoing and going on.
Now when did mankind sin? Paul actually will give us a clear answer in chapter 5 when he explains that all of the human race sinned in Adam. (5:12)
Paul emphasizes this point here but will explain it in greater detail. In essence, the entire human race died in Adam when Adam sinned.
2D The Implication for Sinners
What does it mean “fall short of the glory of God?”
Paul means that the human race, all Jews and all Gentiles lack or have need of the glory of God.
This verb is the same verb that Luke used in the parable of the loving father when he said of the prodigal son, “…he began to be in want…” This son had no money and he had no food. He was in want of food.
Jews and Gentiles are “in want” of God’s glory. All have fallen short of it, all lack it.
Glory in the bible refers to the character and presence of God. The eternal state pictures this state as a time when God’s people would experience and have a part in this glory. God created us in his image, when we sinned we lost this segment of the image of God. Sinners no longer bear this magnificent sense of God’s character or nature.
Sinners, even redeemed sinners continue to fall short of that perfect and holy nature until they are finally transformed when they are in the eternal state.
God created in mankind His own image so that in complete dependence upon Him we would reflect that image and His moral excellence.
Sin broke that relationship with God and fractured that image. They fell short of God’s approval and acceptance. The Jews tried to establish a righteousness that would be accepted by God but they continued to fall short of God’s standard and His approval.
[What do you say we wrap this up?]
1. Do not be surprised at the disappointing way people behave
Given what this verse teaches it is no wonder life on this earth is like it is. People all around us are failing and falling short all the time. Bear that in mind, and try not to expect too much from people. And don't be surprised at life's troubles.
2. See that there is no place in any of us for pride
What have we got to be proud of? We certainly can't boast before God. Rather we have many reasons to be ashamed. How humbling this verse is.
3. None of us can claim a place in heaven by right
Clearly known has a right to heaven. By nature we fall short of that honor, that glory.
4. There is no way to God by our own efforts
If we simply rely on our own efforts to overcome this handicap then we will get nowhere. There is nothing in us that can overcome our falling short. We cannot pull ourselves sup by our own bootstraps.
6. We desperately need a Savior - This verse underlines our desperate need.
7. We clearly need to repent - It is a reminder of the constant need to repent.
8. This is something that everyone needs to know
There are people who are ignorant of what this verse teaches. It is not a pleasant or comforting message that it contains but it is one that it is vital for every single person on this planet to know.
Let’s pray! J