Friday, October 24, 2014


26 October 2014
Romans 3:19-28
Living By Works or Faith?

Upon reading St. Paul’s letter to the Romans Martin Luther finally got it. He discovered the answer for which he had been searching. How does a person get right with God? Is it by works? Or by faith? Let’s see how Luther was drawn to the Gospel message of grace as Paul speaks to us this morning.

The quest of getting right with God is a timeless question. It’s an issue with which each generation must wrestle. How can the sinner approach God?  St. Paul addresses this important question.

1. The whole world is involved - Romans 3:23-24 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God V. 23
A.    All have sinned. No one is exempt.  There is not a single religion known to man which states that man is somehow perfect, or that he is exempt from sin. Each will readily admit that man is far from perfect. But in trying to justify himself the people of the world will conclude one of two possibilities - either God will make up for the bad or he will somehow close His eyes to your sin. Yet this kind of religion will not stand the test of every man.  We therefore must come to God through Christ who, as Paul explains to us, has freed us from the punishment of which our sin has brought us.   (but) being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; V.24

B.    Redemption is a free gift! It is given to us by God’s free favor, - with no strings attached. If it were anything else but a gift, we would have an obligation to God - which we could never repay. The Lord lavishes upon us His mercy and grace. As an offering of His love.

2. The whole world stands accountable to God. - Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God; V.19
A.    The Law speaks to us in three ways.

1.    Curb – which checks our sin – where we fear punishment, retribution, and payback. The emotion which is employed is fear. When an exasperated and frustrated mother says to her children “just wait until your father gets home!” that’s the 1st use of the Law at work – fear.

2.    Mirror - Here we feel guilt. The Law shows us our sin. It shows us what we have done and what we have left undone.  It shows us our failing and our flaws. Embarrassment is a byproduct of the 2nd use of the Law.

3.    Ruler – Here we feel joy – as we can measure our faith – gladly doing those things, which the Lord would have us do. Only the Christian can experience this 3rd use – for only the Christian desires to please God.

B.    The Law condemns us before God.

1.    We are all under its curse. And it is a dreadful curse; it is the curse of death. “The souls which sins it will die” the Scriptures remind us and “The wages of sin is death.”
2.    It crushes us. Under the weight of sin no one can bear. Unless that burden and load is removed, we will be eternally devastated.  

3. We need Christ to bear our sin because of the inability of the Law to reconcile – Romans 3:20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law {comes} the knowledge of sin. V.20
A.    The Law shows us the knowledge of sin; which always condemns, and always destroys. There is no saving power in the Law. The Law can only charge, prosecute, and indict us. The Law always accuses. 

B.    No one can be justified by means of following the Law. If all it can do is charge us as guilt, there is nothing the Law can do to free us from its curse.

4. In answering the question – how do we get right with God we must conclude reconciliation therefore is a gift. – Romans 3:24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; V. 24
A.    To be reconciled with God – to be at one with Him - comes through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ. The Gospel message is at the same time so simple and yet so significant. It is so straightforward that a mere child can know and accept it.  Yet, at the same time, it challenges us.     

B.    It is a gift given freely by God. The hymn writer put it so clearly – “not the labors of my hands could fulfill Thy law’s demands…”  What we are unable to do the Savior does for us. He forgives our sins and credits our account.

5.    This gift of God is made possible only by grace. – Romans 3:25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. {This was} to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; V. 25

A.    God passed over sins previously committed. This was demonstrated in the Passover event in the Old Testament. When the Lord saw the blood splattered on the doorpost He bypassed that house and spared those who remained inside. They were safe because of the mark. What He did in Egypt he does in your life.

God’s mark was placed on you on the day you were baptized. You received the sign of the a cross upon your forehead and upon your heart as a sign that you have been redeemed by Christ the crucified. When you make the sign of the cross {as a devotional aid} you are reminding yourself of this reality. Because of the cross – your sins are forgiven. The Father has passed them over.  

B.    Likewise, Christ’s sacrifice for sin is a sacrifice that satisfies and angry and offended God. What good news. “There is therefore now, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

C.    God is now appeased – Christ has compensated for us. There is nothing left to be done.

Christ has accomplished everything we need to be in a right relationship with God. Christ has done it all. He has done all things well.

D.   Saving faith looks to Jesus Christ in His sacrificial death for us. When we say there is “faith in his blood” we simply mean there is faith in what Jesus’ blood has purchased and won for us, for “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.”

6.    It is necessary for faith to appropriate the gifts. Romans 3:28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law V. 28

A.    When Luther translated this verse into German, he added the word “alone”.  It’s not faith plus works. Not faith plus my prayers. Not faith plus my co-operation. Not faith plus my pious behavior, actions and activities. It is faith and faith alone which saves. 

B.    Faith is not man’s contribution or decision, but a gift of God. Even your faith is a gift, which comes from God. The Scriptures are quite clear on the matter. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing from the Word of God.” Even your faith, which clings only to merits of Jesus Christ, is a good and gracious gift of God.

What more could be said then to add what Paul has stated in Ephesians 2:8-9  “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, {it is} the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”

Words – 1,286
Passive Sentences – 10%
Readability –83%
Reading Level – 4.4

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