Summary: This sermon from my series on Preaching Through Romans attempts to deal with some of the arguments that people make against the truth and to the grace of God thereby refusing to take advantage of the offer of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
What about the person who is born with the proverbial silver spoon in his or her mouth? Are those advantages advantageous? Are they beneficial, useful, helpful – to your advantage, valuable or profitable? Most of us would answer absolutely “Not” in our day and time. On Entertainment News you can see every day just how the advantages of Hollywood prove to be disadvantageous to the stars as well as their offspring. Just look at Paris Hilton or Brittany Spears.
Now I’m not so sure this is the answer Paul gives as he writes the church at Rome. However, he is aware that there are going to be objections to his message. And in response, he’s quick to point out that God is faithful irregardless of the receptiveness of people to His love and grace – goodness and kindness, as well as His mercy.
There are always arguments against the truth and those who object to the truth no matter where you find it. There will always be agnostics who argue against the truth of God and atheists who will deny that God even exists. And as you can see in this passage even God’s chosen children, the Jews, are no exception to objection. Furthermore, you can look at any survey that The Barna Group or Christianity Today has given and you can see that even in their broad estimation more than 50% of America’s population is unchurched and has resisted the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, as we look at this passage in Romans 3, what does Paul have to say in response to our question: Are advantages advantageous? First of all we observe:
I. The Unfaithfulness of Privileged People vss. 1-3a
Now Paul knows that the Jews are not going to be silent and just accept his message to them without some reaction or objection. So he poses some of the arguments to which they would object to the truth. Paul has just given them down the road in Chapter 2. He started out tactfully, but then turns blatantly blunt in his condemnation of the Jews. The question in verse 1 could well arise among the Jews in Rome, “Do the Jews then have any advantage over the Gentiles?”
Are there any advantages to being a Jew? Are there any spiritual advantages? Paul’s answer in verse 2 is “Yes, by all means, much in every way!” And what are some of those advantages? “They have been entrusted with the very oracles of God.” They have been entrusted with the laws of God, the words of the Prophets, the very words of God, the message of salvation. They were to be the guardians of all that God had revealed. In fact, when Stephen was addressing the Sanhedrin (the Jewish ruling body) in Acts 7:38, he said of Moses that “he received living words to pass on to us.”
But the question remains, did they take advantage of those spiritual benefits? The truth of verse 3a is, some did respond with unbelief, just look at the wilderness wanderings. The word here is “apistia” which means the non acknowledgement of the truth. What does this say to those who have not believed in Christ? Many might say well “I’ve not been advantaged to come up in the church, my parents didn’t teach me.” Others may say, “it’s not my time,” or “God hasn’t revealed Himself to me,” or “I just don’t believe.” The truth is we’re all privileged here in America and you’re without excuse if you’ve not responded to the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the love and grace of God – you’re unfaithful to the advantages afforded to you in this country of freedom. Well, Paul asks another question; “Shall their unbelief make the faith or faithfulness of God without effect?” So let’s look at:
II. The Faithfulness of God’s Promised Plan vss.3b-4
The second part of Paul’s question in verse 3 is, “Will their lack of faith or unbelief nullify God’s faithfulness?” And the answer in verse 4 is, “Not at all! God forbid! Certainly not! Heaven forbid! Someone has called this an “indignant negative.” The truth is, some of the Jews were not faithful to the revelation given them; they refused to believe. In fact, the NIV makes the statement refer to the failure of the Jews to find in Jesus the fulfillment of the OT promises. However, that doesn’t mean God will not be faithful to His promised plan.
God must be true and faithful is Paul’s conclusion. In fact he goes on to say, “Let God be true and every man a liar.” Then he supports his statement with a reference to David’s great prayer of repentance in Psalm 51:4 . . . Here David confessed his sin with Bathsheba and acknowledged that God was justified in His judgment of his sin. David’s point is God will be proven right when He speaks and He will win His case when it’s presented in court, when it goes to trial. God is always true to His word. He is faithful to His righteous character.