Sunday, October 28, 2001


October 28, 2001
Romans 3:19-28   
"Living by Works or Faith?"   

The problem for Martin Luther was that of getting right with God. The issue continues to this day. How do I, a poor miserable sinner, a poor wretched sinner find the peace of God when my sins rise up to condemn me? How do I make peace with God? How do get things right with God. Our text gives us the answer.

1.      The whole world is involved - vv.23-24 - for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

We are all in the same boat. There is something common to each of us and that is our condition of sin. There is not one person on this earth who has lived the perfect life. We all are in the same lost condition. We are all sinners condemned to spend eternity separated by God. No one can escape this death sentence. We are all sinful lost creatures.

2.      The whole world is accountable to God – v.19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it speaketh to them that are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may be brought under the judgment of God:

The Law of God condemns each of us. The entire creation is held accountable to God. Each of us must stand before a just and holy God. What will we offer God when we stand before Him? Can our righteousness stand the test of His holiness? What can we offer Him?  Our sins make us silent before God.

3.      There is an inability of the Law to reconcile us to God - v.20 - because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for through the law cometh the knowledge of sin.

Our conscience condemns each of us. The Ten Commandments show us what we have done and what we have failed to do. Each of us stands condemned, accountable for what we have done in this life, in our “time of grace”.  Our deeds are all tainted with sin. Try as we might there is nothing we can do to make up for our sins and shortcomings. This inability of the Law to reconcile us to God leads us to end up in despair. As the question suggests who shall save us from this from this body of sin and death?”  We cannot find any way out except for the grace and mercy of God. James reminds us: “Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”  How is this done? It can only happen by God’s grace and favor.   

4.      Reconciliation, it is a gift - v. 23 - for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;

Since all have fallen short of the glory of God. Since all have sinned. We are reconciled by the grace of God as a gift.  Reconciliation happens when we make our peace with God.  Since we have nothing to offer to God in exchange for our sin we seek what Christ has done. What does He have to offer? He offers to us His life.  He exchanges our sinful life for His perfect and holy life. He exchanges our inability to please God with His willing and active obedience. He makes us at one with God as He went to the cross, suffered and died in our place and then rose for our justification. He did this all to bring us back to God. He did this all to make us one with Him.

5.      This gift is all made possible by grace - vv.24-25 - being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:  whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, in his blood, to show his righteousness because of the passing over of the sins done aforetime, in the forbearance of God;

Grace. “God’s riches at Christ’s expense” - That’s what grace is all about.  We are hid into the folds of Christ’s wounds and stripes. By His blood we are now made the true sons and daughters of the Savior.

Remember the words from our morning liturgy “for those who believe on His Name He gives the power to become the children of God and has promised them His Holy Spirit…He that believes and is baptized shall be saved. Now, that’s what it means to be saved by God’s amazing and wonderful grace.

6.      There is the necessity of faith to appropriate the gift - v.28 - We reckon therefore that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. What does God ask of us? He only asks that we trust God and keep Him at His Word. We boast not in anything we have done or anything we have failed to do. We simply take God at His Word and trust that Word.  What word do we trust? Jesus put it best when He said in the Gospel of John:  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” {John 3:16-18}


By grace! On this I’ll rest when dying; 
In Jesus’ Promise I rejoice; 
For though I know my heart’s condition, 
I also know my Savior’s voice. 
My heart is glad, all grief has flown, 
Since I am saved by grace alone.

                                                            [TLH #373 stanza 7]