Summary: This sermon explores the truth that justification by faith is not a new way to be made right with God, but actually goes all the way back to Abraham the father of all who are justified by faith.
A. How far back can you go on your family tree?
1. Who is the most distant ancestor you can identify?
2. The last few decades have seen a tremendous upsurge of interest in genealogy and websites like Ancestry.com and DNA test kits like 23andMe are very popular.
a. I often laugh at the commercials for some of these ancestry tools and how that everyone who buys and uses their products discover that they are related to George Washington.
3. Even with all this assistance available, most of us still really don’t know that much about our background.
4. And that’s typically an American trait, because other societies place a great deal of emphasis on ancestry, and they keep meticulous family records going back for generations.
5. The average American can’t remember their own great-grandparents’ names.
6. So if you are clueless about your own heritage, you have come to the right place this morning, because I am going to introduce you to one of your ancestors.
7. When you leave here today, you will be able to brag that you can trace your lineage back 39 centuries, to a man who lived more than 1900 years before the birth of Jesus.
a. The ancestor I am talking about is Abraham.
8. So, the next time you are at a party, and someone brags about one of their ancestors having come over on the Mayflower or that they are related to George Washington, you can tell them: “Abraham is my ancestor and he was a friend of God!”
B. This week, as we return to our series on the Book of Romans, called “Pursuing Righteousness From God,” we pick up where we left off last week.
1. After spending many weeks enduring three chapters of the bad news about the sinfulness of all people, last week we finally arrived at the section where Paul shared the good news.
2. Last week, we learned how sinful human beings gain a right standing with God through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
3. Last week, we explored theological words with deep meaning, like justification, redemption and propitiation.
4. The truth and the reality that all those words convey is that our only hope for salvation comes from putting our faith in Jesus and His righteousness that is credited to us from God.
C. So, let’s pick up where we left off last week, at the end of Romans 3.
1. Paul wrote: 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. (Romans 3:27-31)
2. The question that begins this paragraph suggests that it is closely related to the previous paragraph, Romans 3:21-26, and so many commentaries attach verses 27 – 31 to that previous paragraph.
3. But I agree with other commentators who think that this section is more of an introduction and bridge to the next chapter.
4. Romans 3:27 – 31 develops only one of the ideas from the previous section and that is the idea that faith is the only way to experience God’s justification.
5. In contrast to that, notice how nicely the topics mentioned in 3:27 – 31 mirror those taken up in Romans chapter 4.
a. Boasting is excluded (3:27) is paralleled to Abraham having no right to boast (4:1-2).
b. One is justified by faith, not works of the law (3:28) is paralleled by Abraham being justified by faith, not works (4:3-8).
c. The circumcised and the uncircumcised are united under one God through faith (3:29-30) is paralleled by the circumcised and the uncircumcised being united as children of Abraham through faith (4:9-17).
6. And so, what Paul was likely doing in Romans 3:27-31 was quickly touching on the basic points he wants to make about faith before developing them in greater length with respect to Abraham in Romans 4.
7. Let’s summarize the important points of this section.
a. First, Paul wants everyone to understand that God’s way of justifying people is by grace, which absolutely excludes any possibility that we may take credit for our salvation.
1. Therefore, in being justified by faith, boasting is excluded.
b. Second, Paul wants everyone to understand that God is the God of everyone and that both Jew and Gentile stand before God in equal need of God’s grace and redemption.