SERIES: Renewal Through Romans: The Gospel Defined, Explained, and Applied
SETTING: North Kelso Baptist Church
SERVICE: Sunday AM (February 21st, 2016)
SUBTITLE: How to Be Right with God – Part 5
SCRIPTURE: Romans 3:25b-26
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
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
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 displays God righteousness as the one who is just and the justifier of those who exercise faith in Christ.
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.
The renowned artist Paul Gustave Dore (1821-1883) had lost his passport while he was traveling in Europe. When he came to a border crossing, he explained his predicament to one of the guards. Giving his name to the official, Dore hoped he would be recognized and allowed to pass. The guard, however, said that many people attempted to cross the border by claiming to be persons they were not.
Dore insisted that he was the man he claimed to be. "All right," said the official, "we'll give you a test, and if you pass it we'll allow you to go through." Handing him a pencil and a sheet of paper, he told the artist to sketch several peasants standing nearby. Dore did it so quickly and skillfully that the guard was convinced he was indeed who he claimed to be. His work confirmed his word!
Orient the Text: Satan has caused many people throughout the ages to believe that God is not just, or not righteous in everything that He does. God has revealed his righteousness in order to prove that He is a God who is righteous. This is important since he had not removed the sins that had been committed by people in the past.
This morning I want to speak to you about the reasons why God demonstrated, or revealed, or made visible his righteousness through the instrument of faith.
Raise a Need: As we live in this life waiting to be ushered into the presence of God we must have confidence in the character and nature of God as absolutely righteous.
We need, and it seems more than ever before, reminders of the fact that God is absolutely perfect, and that he never does anything that is unrighteous in order to maintain absolute confidence in God as our Savior through Jesus Christ.
State the Purpose
My purpose today is to provide you with the reasons that we can clearly see why God made visible his righteous through Jesus Christ in order to maintain our confidence in the perfect righteousness of God.
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.
We are looking at the first major point in this third section of Paul’s letter which is
THE INTRODUCTION TO RIGHTEOUSNESS found in (VSS. 21-31). Paul makes two arguments in this section, the first argument is where Paul explains the basics of God’s righteousness which we find in (VSS. 21-26).
As Paul explains the basics of God’s righteousness, he does so by introducing us to the revelation, the recipients, the results, and the reasons that are contained in his first 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 The Revelation of Righteousness (21-22) which tells us that God has revealed or made visible his Righteousness, then secondly, The Recipients of Righteousness in (VSS.22c-23) which stated that all are sinners which includes both the Jews and the Gentiles, thirdly, we looked at The Results of Righteousness in (VSS. 24-25b).
When we looked at this point last week we were able to see those results by examining four (4) key words. We looked at Justification, which means to means “to declare righteous,” the second key word was Grace, which depicted the manner by which justification is declared, which is “…freely, by His grace…” The word that is translated as “freely is used 8 times in the NT. It means “for nothing, or by nothing, or due to nothing.” Thirdly we looked at Redemption. This word is related to the buying of a slave out of the slave market. In our case it referred to the buying of sinners out of the bondage or slavery of sin in order to set them free. Finally, we looked at the word Propitiation. This word means to appease, to placate, or to satisfy. The death of Jesus Christ satisfied or appeased the wrath of God against the sinner.
[Now we are caught up, let’s move then to our…]
TRUTH FOR TODAY
4C The Reasons for Righteousness (vss. 25b-26)
eis endeixin tns dikaiosunhs autou dia thn paresin twn
progegonotwn amarthatwn en th auoch tou qeou pros
endeixiv ths dikaiosunhs autou en two nun kairw eis to
einai auton dikaion kai dikaiunta ton ek pisews Ihsou
VS. 25 says, “…whom [Paul is referring to Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son] God set forth as a propitiation by his blood…”
When you read this you must ask yourselves some question. You are forced to ask at least:
· Why did God make Jesus Christ a propitiation? Or
· Why was the cross necessary?
· Why did Jesus die?
The answer is in vss. 25b and 26 -
“…to demonstrate His righteousness…” and vs. 26 says, “…to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness…”
Now we are forced to ask ourselves what?
Why does the righteousness of God need to be demonstrated?
Psalms 50:16-23 seems to shed some light on this topic and might contain the answer.
“…to the wicked God says: ‘What right have you to declare my statutes, or take my covenants in your mouth, seeing you hate instruction and cast my words behind you? When you saw a thief, you consented with him and have been a partaker with adulterers. You have given your mouth to evil and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother, you slander your own mother’s son.
[Now, listen to this!]
These things you have done, and I kept silent; you thought that I was altogether like you. But, I will rebuke you, and set them in order before your eyes.’ Now consider this, you who forget God, lest, I tear you in pieces, and there be one to deliver: Who ever offers praise glorifies me; and to him who orders his conduct aright, I will show the salvation of God.” (Psalms 50:16-23, NKJV)
God’s character was ‘under a cloud.’ Men were saying and had been saying since the time of David and Asaph that God did not care about sin.
So, why did God make Christ a propitiation? – To demonstrate that God was righteous.
Why did God’s righteousness need to be demonstrated or proved? – It was to vindicate God’s character which had been called into question.
Now before we get into the details of these statements and before we unpack the truth that they contain, we have to address a bit of a problem.
We have an interpretative challenge to solve.
In the second part of vs. 25 the KJV reads, “…to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past…”
Ø NIV – “he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished
Ø NRSV – “in his divine forbearance he has passed over sins
Ø NASB – “because in the forbearance of God, He passed over the sins
Ø ESV – “in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins
Ø NKJV – “because in his forbearance God has passed over sins
The word that is translated “passing over” does not mean “forgiveness” or “remission.” This word is used to mean “postponement of punishment,” or “the neglect of prosecution.”
There are at least three reasons why the KJV missed it on this one and the NKJV and others are correct:
Ø The context – the context demands it. We aren’t talking about forgiveness in this context
Ø The meaning – the word for remission is afesis - the word for ‘pass over’ is paresis. If Paul wanted to indicate remission or forgiveness he would have used afesis.
Ø The character of God – God would never forgive sins without the proper payment. Christ had to be made a sacrifice that with his death would pay the price for sins and thereby satisfy God.
So, the correct interpretation is “…because in his forbearance God has passed over the sins there were previously committed…”
Now that we have settled that let’s get down to business. We are looking at the reason God set forth Jesus Christ as a propitiation. So, let’s look and see…
1D The Reason Expressed (vss. 25b, 26a)
“…to demonstrate His righteousness…” (vs. 25b)
“…to demonstrate at the present time…” (vs. 26a)
Paul makes it very clear why God acted the way that he did. God determined to prove, to point out, to make it clear, to manifest, or to indicate his righteousness. This seems to be very important to God at that time.
What is God’s righteousness?
The righteousness of God, is one of the most prominent attributes of God in the Scriptures, but is also one of the most elusive. Initially, distinguishing the righteousness of God from His holiness or His goodness seems difficult. In addition, the righteousness of God is virtually synonymous with His justice:
When we say that God is just, we are saying that He always does what is right, what should be done, and that He does it consistently, without partiality or prejudice. The word just and the word righteous are identical in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Sometimes the translators render the original word ‘just’ and other times ‘righteous’ with no apparent reason (cf. Nehemiah 9:8 and 9:33 where the same word is used). But whichever word they use, it means essentially the same thing. It has to do with God’s actions. They are always right and fair.
God’s righteousness (or justice) is the natural expression of His holiness. If He is infinitely pure, then He must be opposed to all sin, and that opposition to sin must be demonstrated in His treatment of His creatures. When we read that God is righteous or just, we are being assured that His actions toward us are in perfect agreement with His holy nature.
It is God’s uprightness or God’s standards to which man is expected and commanded to conform to. To be righteous, God must keep all His attributes in perfect balance.
So, Paul states that at that present time, in Paul’s day, God determined to prove, and to point out, or to make known his attribute of absolute perfection or justice in all that he does. Why, because it was being questioned.
[So we see the reason expressed, now let’s look closely at…]
2D The Reason Explained (vss. 25b-26b)
“…because in his righteousness God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.”
What does Paul mean?
God is going to show by the death of Christ that He is just, and that he has always acted according to his own character or nature even when he did not punish the sins of people prior to the sacrifice of Christ. He has passed over them in the past. God has postponed punishment.
The period of time that is referred to is before the cross.
[God] “…who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways.” (Acts 14:16, NKJV)
“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent.” (Acts 17:30, NKJV)
God post-pones the full penalty due sins in the Old Covenant, allowing sinners to stand before him and to live without the sinners having provided an adequate ‘satisfaction’ or ‘appeasement’ of his wrath and the full demands of his justice.
This is why God must prove his character, prove he is righteous, because men are calling into question his character.
This is why Paul wrote:
“…to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
Thomas Schreiner writes in his commentary, “What Paul argues in these verses, then, is that God vindicates his righteousness in the cross. He satisfied his wrath in sending his Son as a substitute for sin in order to demonstrate that the passing over of former sins was not because he winked at sin, He could tolerate the sin of human beings only because he looked forward to the death of his Son as an instrument for sin…Verses 25-26 also solve the problem that has been building since 1:17. How do the saving and judging righteousness of God relate to each other? How can God mercifully save people without compromising his justice? Paul’s answer is that in the death of Jesus the saving and judging righteousness of God meet, God’s justice is satisfied I that the death of his Son pays full for human sin” 
Christ’s death paid for or satisfied God for every sin that had been committed by His people – this proves that God is just. Sin must be paid for and expiated or removed - Christ’s death did this. But, because Christ paid for the sins of God’s people, God could be merciful and pronounce or declare His people to be just upon their exercise of faith in the death of Christ. So God is just and the justifier.
And so, we agree with Alva McClain when he says, “Praise God for those two phases. God could be just, holy, and righteous on his throne, punishing sin, upholding his law and yet at the same time He can take a sinner like me, pronounce me righteous, and treat me like a righteous man! 
This means then, that no man, no Jew, Pharisee, Rabbis, or no Gentile can find fault with God and charge God with sin insinuating that God is not just because he has declared sinners who exercise faith in Christ as justified. And that includes you and me!
Elizabeth C. Clephane captured a bit of these truths when she wrote:
“And though the road be rough and steep,
I go to the desert to find My sheep,
I go to the desert to find My sheep.
But none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed?
Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through
Ere He found His sheep that was lost
Or how about the great hymn of Isaac Watts:
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my, life, my all
A key verse in 2 Corinthians makes this truth so clear and should make it so dear to us:
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, KJV)
[What do you say we wrap this up?]
Dr. R.C. Sproul writes in his commentary on Romans: “In the drama of justification, God remains just. He does not set aside His justice; He does not waive his righteousness; he insists upon it… If all he did was maintain his righteousness without extending the imputation of that righteousness to us, he would not be the justifier. He is both just and justifier, which is the marvel of the gospel.” Only in biblical religion does God remain just when He forgives people.
 Thomas Schreiner, Romans, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1998), p. 198
 Alva McClain, Roman’s: The Gospel of God’s Grace, (Winona Lake: Moody Bible, 1973), p. 110