SERIES: Renewal Through Romans: The Gospel Defined, Explained, and Applied
SETTING: North Kelso Baptist Church
SERVICE: Sunday AM (February 28th, 2016)
SUBTITLE: How to Be Right with God – Part 6
SCRIPTURE: Romans 3:27-31
SUBJECT: Justification through faith
SUMMARY: Justification is granted by faith fulfilling the law which excludes boasting
SCHEME: To prove that God justifies sinners through faith effectively shutting out any boasting
Our theme is: God justifies sinners through faith
Proposition: God grants justification to sinners through faith which shuts out boasting
Interrogatory Sentence: How does the granting of justification by faith shut out boasting?
Transitional Sentence: The passage provides us with three (3) reasons that why boasting has been shut out. Boasting is shut out in order to establish a principle; in order to eliminate a problem, and in order to exonerate a proposition.
[Announce the Text]
Please open your Bibles to Romans 3:27-31
[The Title of the Message]
How to Be Right with God - Part 6
God grants justification to sinners through faith which shuts out boasting
Re-announce and read the text
Our text for today is Romans 3:27-31
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.
Robin Thicke is a song-writer, singer, and music producer. In 2012 he released a song called, Blurred Lines. The song became a major hit. It actually became the number one song in 25 different countries and was named the top song of 2013.
Because the song was so popular and so lucrative, Thicke took credit for co-writing the song, both the words and music. He claimed he and his collaborating partner wrote the song and recorded it in approximately 30 minutes. His boasting of his part in the song’s success was outrageous. Every chance he got and everywhere he went he boasted he had co-wrote the song.
But the estate of the late soul singer Marvin Gaye sued Thicke and his partner for plagiarism. They claimed that they had ripped off Gaye’s song, “Got to give it Up.”
Well, that law suit put a quick halt on Thicke’s boasting. During the trial he back-tracked and said,
“I was high on Vicodin and alcohol when I showed up at the studio. So my recollection is when we made the song, I thought I wanted to be more involved than I actually was by the time, nine months later, it became a huge hit and I wanted credit. ... But the reality is, Pharrell [Williams] had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song.” (Hollywood Reporter interview)
When the song was on top Thicke wanted the credit and he boasting he had a huge part in its success. But when it could cost him money, he couldn’t back-pedal fast enough and worked hard to explain away his boasting.
Orient the Text: Central Point of the Text (CPT)
Boasting is predominant in human nature. All men boast or brag. This morning I want to speak to you about the fact that justification by faith alone excludes, or shuts out any and all boasting, or bragging by those who have been justified.
Raise a Need: The Purpose of the Sermon
At this point we must ask ourselves, “Does justification by faith eliminate or contradict the moral law of God?” God gave the law for a reason. It is only natural to assume that since justification is by faith alone that it has no bearing or relationship on our lives. But this wrong. This passage demonstrates why this thought process is incorrect.
State the Purpose
My purpose today is to prove that justification by faith alone justifies sinners which forever shuts out or excludes any and all reasons for boasting.
Paul speaks about the reasons boasting is shut out in Romans 3:27-31. If you haven’t already done so, please turn to it as we answer the question, “Why does justification by faith shut out boasting?”
Remember we are in a series entitled Renewal through Romans: The gospel defined, explained and applied. We are looking at the Provision of Righteousness. More specifically we are looking at The Introduction to Righteousness.
Paul has written this letter to the Roman Church in Rome while he was in Corinth waiting to sail to Jerusalem. He knows he wants to travel to this church and solicit support from them in order to travel to Spain. He gives this letter to Phoebe who sails to Rome.
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 which is found in (VSS. 21-31).
Paul makes two arguments in this section, the first argument he makes is where Paul explains the basics of God’s righteousness which is 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 thus far, we 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).
Last week we looked at the fourth and final part of Paul’s first argument, and that was The Reasons for Righteousness. These reasons are found in (vss. 25b-26). The first thing we looked at was The Reasons Expressed by Paul in (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.
We then moved to The Reasons Explained by Paul found in (vss. 25b-26b).
“…because in his righteousness God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.” Looking at this point in detail we answered the question, “What does Paul mean?”
We saw that God is showing to the world 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.
[Now we move to our…]
TRUTH FOR TODAY
Our theme is: Boasting is shut out
Proposition: Justification by faith shuts out boasting
[Now, we move to the second argument that Paul makes in his introduction to righteousness…]
PAUL EXCLUDES THE BOASTING IN GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS (vss.27-31)
How does the granting of justification by faith shut out boasting?
The passage provides us with three (3) reasons that why boasting has been shut out. Boasting is shut out in order to establish a principle; in order to eliminate a problem, and in order to exonerate a proposition.
The first reason that this passage provides us is that boasting is shut out:
…in Order to Establish a Principle (VS. 28)
“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith.” (Romans 3:28, NKJV)
Paul makes it clear that the individual sinner’s justification is not achieved by any human effort, merit, or activity. So he wants to establish this truth and nail it down. Paul explains why he makes such a bold statement that boasting is excluded, or shut out.
So from the terms that Paul uses he is providing the members of this church the basis or the reason that he makes such a statement. He is establishing the principle by which boasting is shut out.
The first thing that we have to determine is why did Paul even ask the question of “Where is boasting?”
The word Paul uses for boasting is a bit tricky. When we think of boasting we normally think of someone bragging about what they did. We without thinking about it think of the act of boasting, the actual bragging.
But the word boasting also means “the matter” or “the reason” or the “cause” of boasting. And so what Paul is actually asking, is “what is the cause behind your boasting?”
The Jews at this time were known for their almost shameless boasting and bragging. Boasting is an essential problem of the Jews.
· In Romans 2:7, Paul wrote, “…you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God.” (Romans 2:17, NKJV)
· There is a very classic example of the boasting characteristics of the Jews found in Luke 18, Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. ‘I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14, NKJ)
Secondly, we need to establish where boasting comes from. This helps us to see why it was such an issue for Paul and why he wanted to establish his principle.
Boasting stems from the pride of accomplishment. The overarching tendency of the Jews was to think that their obedience to the law constituted a claim on God. They believed that by their keeping the law gave them an automatic relationship with God and get this, they believed that it put an obligatory claim on God to redeem them because of what they did. Boasting is the attitude of the sinner as it seeks to establish the sinner as independent from God. Boasting is the outward verbal expression of pride
The Jews operated by their own “principle.” Their principle was that as they believed they performed properly God was obligated to redeem them. So Paul must address their principle by demonstrating that boasting has to do with a contrast between faith and works.
Thirdly Paul makes it clear that there is no room for boasting about one’s accomplishments. As a matter of fact, Paul makes it very clear that boasting is what he calls excluded.
The Greek word Paul used does mean excluded, but it also means shut out. This word for shut out is used only two (2) times in the NT, once right here and then once in Galatians 4:17:
“They [the Judaizers] zealously court you, but for no good; yes they want to exclude you [shut you out] that you might be zealous for them.” (Galatians 4:17, NKJV)
So, the reason or basis for boasting is shut out. The basis is not valid. A redneck might say it this way, “that dog won’t hunt.”
What is crucial here is the fact that when a person reflects on their personal accomplishments and meritorious character is makes a person proud and not humble lead to boasting.
Why? Why is the basis or the reason for boasting, which is their supposed obedience to the law of God excluded or shut out. Paul makes this clear when he ask the question:
“By what law? Of works?”
The word Paul used for law is not a reference to the OT, or to the Mosaic Law, nor is it a reference to the moral law of God. Paul used a word that is translated as “principle, rule, or standard.”
A principle is a law or rule that has to be, or usually is to be followed, or can be desirably followed, or is an inevitable consequence of something:
· All internal combustion engines work on the same principles.
· the laws or principles observed in nature
· the way that a system is constructed or built
Paul is asking what principle or what rule did Paul use to determine that the basis or reasons for boasting is shut out.
The first and natural response to that question would be, “…of works?”
Paul is stating emphatically that the principle or the standard, or the rule of keeping the law is shut out and is not the basis or the reason for justification of the sinner.
So Paul says, “No, but by the law [the principle, the rule, or the standard] of faith. Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith, apart from the deeds of the law.”
Faith alone is the means by which a person can be brought into a relationship with the God of the Bible. And not only that, justification by faith is in line with what the OT taught.
The Jews should have known this. Justification by faith excludes or shuts out any possibility of having any basis or reason for boasting. The reason for boasting is absolutely ruled out.
Boasting is ruled out because justification of sinners is obtained by faith, not by works. A right relationship with God is based on the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary – not on the basis of any human effort, merit, or works.
The principle that Paul is establishing is that the basis or reason for boasting by obedience to the law is abolished, rule out, and/or rejected by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Now, let’s stop here for minute and remind ourselves of some important principles or rules that we cannot overlook when we are dealing with redemption and justification:
· A person can confess having or experiencing God’s grace
· A person can believe very deeply in God’s atoning work in Christ
· A person can still believe that human works play a vital part or role in obtaining salvation
Look at the Jews. They believed in and actually experienced God’s grace. They believed that their offerings, tithings, sacrifices, and obedience obtained for them the righteousness that God required for justification.
Before we leave this first point – in order to establish a principle – I want to add a fourth and final thought. I touched on this a couple of weeks ago, but let me say it again:
Faith is not the cause of justification. Faith is the means, instrument, or the vehicle for justification. Faith does not save a sinner. Christ, by His death saves a sinner and by Christ’s death God declares a sinner to be just by the instrument of faith.
God declares a sinner to be just by the instrument of faith which by the way according to Ephesians, God gives to the sinner as a gift.
An example of instrumentality:
Computer literacy is only an instrumentality for acquiring an education, and not an end in itself. And so, faith is only an instrumentality of receiving justification, and not the end in itself which would be the sacrificial and substitutionary death of Christ.
The danger of not understanding this is horrific. Many people have placed faith in their faith for their salvation. That will not save anyone.
So, then, Paul demonstrates that boasting is shut out in order to establish a principle. And that principle that shuts out boasting is that justification is by faith and not by works.
[Let’s move to our second point. Boasting is shut out…]
…in order to eliminate a problem (VSS. 29-30)
There is another stumbling block in the mind of the Jews in regards to the question of justification by faith alone and that is what about the Gentiles? Does God justify the Gentiles by a different method than He justifies the Jews? How will God justify two distinct groups of people? Listen to Paul anticipate and then eliminate this problem:
“Or is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.” (Romans 3:29-30, NKJV)
The Jews would be the first to say that there is one God and that this God is sovereign over all human beings.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4, NKJV)
The Jews knew that there was one God. However, they believed that God was God of the Gentiles only as their creator. They did not believe God was their God salvifically as he was of the Jews.
But God had to be God of the Gentiles in a salvific way in order to justify them. More importantly, justification had to be by faith. If it were only by keeping the law then only for those who were “of the law” could ever be justified. God would have been God of the Jews only.
So verse 30 tells us that God was going to justify the Gentiles in the same manner as the Jews. Why? Well, God was the God of the Gentiles as well as the God of the Jews.
Problem eliminated. The Jews and the Gentiles are justified by the same means. The reason that justification must be by faith is that there is one God who justifies all types or kinds of sinners, such as Jewish sinners and Gentile sinners. God’s plan of justification by faith alone brings unity between the Jews and the Gentiles.
And so we see that the instrument or the vehicle of faith and not circumcision is the entrance into justification.
So, then, Paul demonstrates that boasting is shut out in order to establish a principle. And that principle that shuts out boasting is that justification is by faith and not by works. Paul also demonstrates that boasting is shut out in order to eliminate a problem. And that problem is the means by which God is the God of both the Jews and Gentiles. That problem is eliminated by the instrumentality of faith for justification for both Jews and Gentiles.
[So, let’s move to our third and final point. Boasting is shut out…]
…in order to exonerate a proposition (VS. 31)
“Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.” (Romans 3:31, NKJV)
Paul’s proposition is that faith establishes the law. Faith does not nullify the law, but establishes the law. Some think that this conclusion in this paragraph is hard to interpret. I don’t think so. This proposition is related to what Paul has written in verses 27-30 and his point is clear. [Let me repeat it again] Does justification by faith shut out the law? Of course not, justification by faith actually establishes or confirms the law!
First of all – this is probably included by Paul as an anticipation of someone in the Church at Rome objecting to his line of reasoning that justification is by faith and not by keeping or obeying the law. So Paul is anticipating and heading off an objection.
Second of all – he responds with an extremely strong no! It is not just no, but heck no! No way Jose! Or maybe, git outa here! Or forget about it! A thousand times no! On the contrary, the cross of Jesus Christ, by which justification is accomplished not only doesn’t nullify the law, it confirms it or established it.
Justification by faith alone does not replace the law.
Why? The law was never the means by which men could be saved!
Why was the law given? It was given to show men what the perfect standards of God was and that they could never achieve those standards. It was to show that men could not save themselves and they needed salvation from another source outside of themselves.
The reason the law was given, Paul said in Galatians, was to be a teacher, a school master to drive the sinner to God for salvation in Christ.
Justification by faith establishes or confirms the law in at least three (3) ways:
· The penalty in the law for sin was paid for in full by the death of Christ
· The purpose of the law was fulfilled as men are driven to put faith in Christ
“The Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ that we may be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24, NASB)
· The provisions of the law were fulfilled by sinners by placing faith in Christ who perfectly kept or fulfilled the law
“For what the law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh in order that the requirements of the Law might be fulfilled in us.” (Romans 8:3-4, NASB)
William Newell in his commentary on Romans has a wonderful illustration. Bear with me as I share it with you.
“In the wilderness a man was found gathering up sticks to make a fire on the Sabbath day. Now, the Law had said, "Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations on the Sabbath day." How, then, was this Law to be "established"? By letting the law-breaker off? No. By securing his promise to keep the Law in the future? No! By finding someone who had kept this commandment always, perfectly, and letting his obedience be reckoned to the law-breaker? No, in no wise!
How then, was the Law established? You know very well. All Israel were commanded by Jehovah to stone the man to death. We read:
"And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it had not been declared what should be done to him. And Jehovah said unto Moses the man shall surely be put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him to death with stones; as Jehovah commanded Moses" (Numbers 15:33, ff).
Thus and thus only was the commandment of Jehovah established--by the execution of the penalty.”
So the law was fulfilled because the penalty of the law was fulfilled by the death of Jesus Christ.
[What do you say we wrap this up?]
By way of conclusion this morning, let’s summarize:
Paul demonstrates that boasting is shut out in order to establish a principle. And the principle that shuts out boasting is that justification is by faith and not by works.
Paul also demonstrates that boasting is shut out in order to eliminate a problem. And that problem is the means by which God is the God of both the Jews and Gentiles. That problem is eliminated by the instrumentality of faith for justification for both Jews and Gentiles.
Paul also demonstrates that boasting is shut out in order to exonerate a proposition. And that proposition is that justification by faith alone does not nullify the moral Law of God, it does just the opposite, and justification by faith alone establishes or confirms the law.