Sunday, February 14, 2016

How To Be Right With God (Part 4)

SERMON               GM16-073

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

SETTING:          North Kelso Baptist Church

SERVICE:          Sunday AM (February 14th, 2016)

SUBTITLE:        How to Be Right with God – Part 4

SCRIPTURE:     Romans 3:24-25b

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 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 4

Today’s Truth: 

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.

[Main Introduction]

Attention Getter
Some of you may recognize the name P.P. Bliss. If you know evangelical music and hymnology, you may have seen his name in various hymnals. He was a man who served as a musical song writer and associate evangelist for D.L. Moody.

In the early years of Moody’s career, Bliss was his favorite songwriter and the man he took with him to all his revival campaigns. Although Bliss died on December 29, 1876 while trying to rescue his wife from a train car that was on fire just 38 years old, he had written many gospel songs that entered evangelical tradition. If you were raised in the evangelical church, even without knowing it, you have sung many songs written by Philip Bliss. He wrote the song "Hallelujah, What a Savior". He also wrote the invitation song "Almost Persuaded". He wrote the music to the words "It is Well with My Soul". He also wrote that peppy little chorus, "Dare to be a Daniel". He also wrote the song "Jesus Loves Even Me".

I will say this about P.P. Bliss, of all the songs that he wrote, without any doubt in my mind the most famous and most loved, and the one sung the most in the evangelical church and what I consider to be his best is the song that goes this way:

“Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life. Let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life. Words of grace and beauty, teach me faith and duty, beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.”

I actually thought about that famous gospel song this week as I was preparing this message. We are beginning today a study of some of the wonderful words of the Bible.
 I don’t know if you’ve ever stopped to study the words of the Bible, but if you take your Bible and begin to read through it, especially the New Testament, you will soon discover there are some words in the New Testament that are of such crucial importance, that if you understand what those words mean, you understand what the Bible is teaching. And they are so important that if you don’t understand what those key words mean, then you have missed the whole message of the Bible itself.

For example:

William Newell in his commentary, Romans; Verse by Verse, wrote: “We now come to the greatest single verse in the entire bible on the manner of Justification by faith: We entreat you, study this verse.” [1]

Orient the Text:   God has declared all sinners who believe, “just.”

This morning I want to speak about the products or the benefits to the sinner that stem from the righteousness of God that he has made visible to all sinners who by faith believe in Jesus Christ.

Raise a Need: Since all types of men have sinned, both Jew and Gentile, all types of men are in need of justification

State the Purpose

My purpose today is to answer some very important questions that legitimately arise from discussing justification and defining the results or effects of the righteousness that has been provided by God in order to deeply understand and appreciate it.

[Sub Introduction]

Last week we continued to answer the question, “How to be right with God?” I am convinced 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 because it is the essence and 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…]


Last we stated that Paul is making two arguments in his introduction to righteousness. We are looking at his fist argument. 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 far, we have looked 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…”

[Secondly we looked at…]

2C     The Recipients of Righteousness (VSS.22c-23)                                                                                                 
We asked ourselves who are the recipients of this righteousness of God which God has revealed or made visible for all to see? The answer was contained in…

          1D     The Identification of Sinners – …for all have sinned…”

In other words, all Jews and all Gentiles, equally and alike have sinned. There is no distinction between the Jews and the Gentiles.

[This definitive declaration of Paul led us to…]

2D     The Implication for Sinners – all sinners fall short of the glory, or the character or the nature of God, which is holy perfection

[We answered the all-important question:]

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. All sinners are in want of the perfection that God requires. They don’t have it, they need it.

[So, now we move to the…]


                   3C     The Results of Righteousness (VSS. 24-25b)
                                                                                                                                                                    dikaioumenoi dwrean t autou cariti dia ths appolutrwsews
                             ths en cristw ihsou on proeqeos o qeos ilasthriov dia
ths tnspistews en tw autou aimati, eis aimati eis endeizin
tns dikaiosuns autou dia thn paresiv twn progegonotww
amarthmatwn en th anoch tou qeou

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus, whom God had set forth as a propitiation through faith in his blood, to be received by faith…”
So let’s begin with some very pertinent and important questions shall we? Like:

·        How does God actually provide this grace-gift of saving righteousness?
·        What role does Jesus Christ and his death plan in God’s plan?
·        Can God actually treat a sinner as being righteous?
·        How is this gift obtained by sinners?

To answer these questions and to make this portion of the text as clear as possible, we need to examine four (4) key words in verses 24 and 25.

[The first key word that we need to examine is…]

                             1D     Justification - dikaioumenoi (vs. 24a)

                                      “…being justified…” (Pres/Pass/Pct.)

                                      What does Paul mean by this particular word?

First – this word probably represents the key theme of Paul’s entire letter. It is an important word & we must understand it.

Second – this word and its meaning has been grossly misunderstood causing tragic confusion as to its meaning.

Thirdly – this word separates all genuine believers from every other individual in the world.

Fourth – Paul uses this verb for the first time in his letter probably to demonstrate the essence of Christian salvation.

Fifth - The way that Paul used this word and this context demonstrates conclusively that it does not mean:

·        “to make one righteous”
·   Nor does it mean “simply to treat someone as righteous”

It means “to declare righteous.” This is important. It is the key to genuine salvation. The difference between genuine Christianity and counterfeit religions is the fact that God legally or judicially declares a sinner who believes in Christ to be just or to be righteous.

Other religions teach that God makes a sinner righteous by first, infusing righteousness into a sinner, and second, by the sinner’s cooperation through “good works.”

So to be justified means to be acquitted by God from all “charges” that could be brought against a person of because of their sins. This verdict, this declaration is declared at the very minute a sinner believes in Christ by faith.

Once declared to be just or justified gives genuine believers a right relationship with God through faith in the death of Christ, the atoning work of Christ.

Justification is what undoes and removes the wrath and condemnation of God against the believing sinner.

To show you exactly what it means to declare vs. to make or to treat one as righteous or just, let me share with you what Catholic doctrine teaches:

Catholicism teaches that when God justifies a man he makes a man righteous. As a result, justification in the Catholic Church is progressive, not an instantaneous declaration. They teach that through justification God makes a man better and better and better and better.

Here is Catholicism’s definition of justification:

“The grace of the HS has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and communicate to us the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ and through baptism.” [2]

First, the HS does not justify, God does and second the HS cannot cleanse us from sin that is done by Jesus Christ and baptism is not needed for justification.

Second, Catholicism teaches that justification is the remission of sins and the sanctification and renewal of the interior man. It is not. Justification & sanctification are two different things.

Third, they teach justification is conferred in baptism.

Fourth, Catholicism teaches that justification establishes cooperation between God’s grace and man’s freedom.

What that means is man assents or agrees to God justifying him and God then justifies him.

By the way, this information comes from “Catechism of the Catholic Church, which Pope John II called “a special gift.” My point in sharing this is to show you how important this is, justification in the Bible is a declaration of God where he declares sinners to be just or righteous. It is not something that we obtain by baptism, in cooperation with God, whereby God progressively makes us better people.

God pronounces men to be just, God does not make a man just. Now, as a result of God pronouncing or declaring a man to be just, God then treats that man as just from that moment onward. Because God declares us to be righteous, he treats us as righteous as Jesus Christ is righteous.
So, what is justification? Albert Barnes sums it up so well in his definition. Let’s finish this point with his definition:

What is justification? It is the declared purpose of God to regard and treat those sinners who believe in Jesus Christ...on the ground of the merits of the Savior. It is not mere pardon. Pardon is a free forgiveness of past offenses. It has reference to those sins as forgiven and blotted out. Justification has respect to the law, and to God's future dealings with the sinner. It is an act by which God determines to treat him hereafter as righteous...the basis for this is the merit of the Lord Jesus Christ, merit that we can plead as if it were our own. He has taken our place and died in our stead; He has met the descending stroke of justice, which would have fallen on our own heads if He had not interposed. (Albert Barnes)

I am not sure that we can really ever fully appreciate this word and its implications for us. Suffice it to say that God has provided the means by which we can “be right with God” and enter into his holy presence and maintain a relationship with him. God, because of our faith in the atoning work of Christ Jesus declares us to be righteous and then treats us as righteous, just as he treats his Son.

And so the first key word is so vital; this key word “justification.”

[Let’s move then to the second key word that we need to examine, and that is…]

                             2D     Grace – the manner by which justification is declared

                                      “…freely, by His grace…”

                                      First, of all notice the word freely.

Matthew used this word in Matthew 10:8 when he wrote, “…freely you have received, freely give…”

It is the same word that John used in 15:25, where John says, and “…they hated me without a cause.”

Paul used this word in Galatians 2:21, when he wrote, “…for if righteousness comes through faith, then Christ died in vain.”

The word that is translated as “freely, cause, and vain” is used 8 times in the NT. It means “for nothing, or by nothing, or due to nothing.”

Paul is stressing that justification is a gift of God. In other words, genuine believers are saved, they are justified for no cause, or no reason, or by nothing that is in us or done by us. We as sinners have no merit, virtue, or value. The great news is no merit, virtue, or value is needed to be justified by God. 

Philippians 3:9 makes this so very clear, “…and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”

God does not make us righteous by progressively making us better, nor do we receive it by baptism, nor is righteousness infused in us because we cooperate with God in good works or obedience. God freely, or at no cost, expense, effort, or merit by us, declares us to be righteous.

Second“…by his grace…”

The only reason that sinners, even though they are guilty, can ever be justified is due to the grace of God. Grace is a key word in all of Paul’s letters, as a matter of fact he uses it over 100 times.

charis - grace – is the free and unmerited favor of god. Grace is the aspect of God’s love that causes him to grant us his free forgiveness of our sins even though we are wicked and rebellious sinners.

You need to always remember and be thankful that this grace is free – it is unfettered. There is nothing that constrains, compels, or causes God to offer forgiveness. Nothing. He is not forced.

·        Sinners desperate need
·        Sinners inability to save themselves
·        Sinners final judgment in the lake of fire
·        Sinners possession of any moral goodness

There is nothing that forces, coerces, or demands that God gives forgiveness to anyone – other than the sake of Christ who is the sacrifice that appeased God’s wrath.

This is what the free grace of God means. We believe and teach and hold dearly to the free grace of God in salvation.

So when Bible writers talk about God’s grace, his free grace, they make it clear and we need to understand that salvation comes from God’s initiative and not from ourselves.

This is why Paul made it clear in 3:9-18 that no man initiates salvation. No man seeks after the salvation or the God of the Bible.

Although grace is offered freely to us it is not free and it costs very much. It cost the life of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.

This idea of grace is so crucial it cannot be misunderstood even in the tiniest fraction.  Justification is completely a declarative act on God’s part and an act of faith on the sinner’s part.
Pascal caught this truth and summed it up nicely when he wrote, “Grace is indeed needed to turn a man into a saint; and he who doubts it does not know what a saint or man is.” [3]

So the manner by which justification if provided is freely by the grace of God. Next we see the method by which justification is made possible. This is our third key word

                             3D     Redemption

                                      “…through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…”

This is a great word! Paul informs his readers the method of how God can judicially declare sinners to be righteous – it is understanding and believing that the death of Jesus Christ was a sacrificial death.

Redemption is the Greek word - apolutrwsis. This word means “to buy slaves in the market place for the sole purpose of setting them free.”

Slavery is the condition that prohibits or prevents the slave from every obtaining freedom on his own. The slave’s condition was absolutely hopeless unless something or someone from the outside of the slave willingly intervened.

Sin is an imprisonment – it is bondage and it is slavery. Sinners are completely unable to do anything about it, especially break free.

But God himself intervenes on the enslaved sinner’s behalf, pays a ransom price to himself which is the death of his own Son, and causes the sinner to be freed from the imprisonment and bondage of sin and to become free. Jesus is the ransom price that God demanded to free sinners.

There is also something very crucial to understand about this word redemption, it is a ransoming away. This suggests that sinners will never again come into the same slavery to sin.

God has provided the price or the ransom that satisfied his holiness and justice and this satisfaction was secured by the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. As a result the sinner is freed or delivered from sin.

By the way, before I forget, the ransom that was paid was not paid to:
  •         Satan
  •         Sin
The ransom that was paid was paid to God. It was God’s price to be appeased and to free sinners. God had been offended. God was angry with sinners. God was paid the ransom price.

So, there you have it, three key word, justification, grace, and redemption. Let’s finish with the fourth and final key word concerning justification:

                             4D     Propitiation

“…whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood through faith…”

Paul joins together the idea of redemption and propitiation. We have seen this word when we studies through 1 John.

There is some real and damaging confusion about this word in the church. It can be connected to two things:

·        The mercy seat – that which covered sin and God resided upon in the OT
·        The idea of expiation and appeasement of God’s wrath.
·        It is relating to an appeasing or expiating, having placating or expiating force, expiatory; a means of appeasing or expiating, a propitiation

There exists those who deny God has wrath against anyone in the human race. They take the fact that God is love and therefore could never be wrathful or vengeful or angry with human beings. Of course the abuse and misunderstanding that John 3:16 takes on a daily basis does not help.

Therefore they accept trite little sayings like God loves you or God loves everybody.

But Paul made it clear in chapter one that God is angry and has even poured out his wrath in judgment against sinners. God does not condone sin. His nature his holy it is righteous. God cannot forgive and reconcile sinners without a judicial and moral satisfaction. He must be appeased. He must be satisfied.

Propitiation is the satisfaction of God’s anger and wrath and the removal of sin from the sinner who places faith in Christ. Next week we will, Lord willing see more truth about this, about why God made Jesus to be a propitiation.

But for now, Paul makes it clear that the only thing that can satisfy God and free sinners from bondage is the blood or the death of Jesus Christ. Through faith in Christ.

Not what my hands have done
Can save my guilty soul
Not what my toiling flesh has borne
Can make my spirit whole
Not what I feel or do
Can give me peace with God
Not all my prayers and sighs and tears
Can bear my awful load
Thy grace alone, O God
To me can pardon speak?
Thy power alone, O son of God
Can this sore bondage break?
No other work save thine
No other blood will do
No strength save that which is divine
Can be me safely through.
(Horatius Bonar)

Well, we have looked at four (4) very technical but very important theological terms. I have tried to answer some very important questions:

·        How does God actually provide this grace-gift of saving righteousness?
·        What role does Jesus Christ and his death plan in God’s plan?
·        Can God actually treat a sinner as being righteous?
·        How is this gift obtained by sinners?

[What do you say we wrap this up?]


 "Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that 'the just shall live by his faith.' Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise." 
- Martin Luther

Let’s pray! 

[1] William Newell, Romans: Verse by Verse, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1976), p.114
[2] Catechism of the Catholic Church, (New York: Crown Publishing Group, 1994), p. 536
[3] Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans’s, 1996), p. 228

1 comment:

nashvillecats2 said...

Thanks for a good read Gregg, soory I am late in commenting,