Summary: the answer to the only way you and I receive Gods grace.
Imagine a priceless gift was offered to you. All you had to do was accept it. Would you want to know more about this gift?
I have a list of quotes. I'll start them off & then you finish the saying.
You reap what you....... Sew.
There is no substitute for...... hard work.
GOD helps those who.......... help themselves.
Nothing worth having ever...... comes easy.
They make money the old-fashioned way... they earn it.
We were raised in a time and culture that taught us that there is no such thing as a free lunch. I don't know that is still the case along the east or west coast, but that is a whole other story. The point I'm trying to make is that it is natural for us to think we need to do something first in order to receive something we want.
If we do good things, we tend to expect good things in return. I could give all of my money to orphanages, I could spend the rest of my life traveling the Amazon forest as a missionary, I could translate the Bible into a dozen new languages and nothing will ever earn my way to heaven.
That is a good thing, I believe. Can you imagine a heaven where people were able to earn their golden ticket? There would be all kinds of arrogant & boastful people telling of all the wonderful things they had done to get there. There would be the different groups or clicks of people that believed themselves to be better than others. There would be jealousy, arguments and fighting. It would not be heaven at all, would it?
The opposite belief is since there is nothing I can do to work my way into heaven, then maybe everyone goes to heaven. One of the biggest, most pervasive, & dangerous myths is that all good people go to heaven. We have this idea of a good & happy GOD who lives in a good & happy place and surrounds Himself with good & happy people. To that end, there are many thousands of good & happy preachers who will tell you whatever you want to hear to make you feel good & happy about yourself.
We can't work our way into heaven & due to sin, we can't waltz our way in either. The statement “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” seems like it belongs at the end of a book or movie. The narrator would ominously read aloud these words as the screen slowly fades to black. Found within that verse is the sad fate of all mankind. There must be another way for mankind to be redeemed.
Luckily for us, that is not the whole story. I believe we are all created as eternal beings. As eternal beings, we will exist forever. WHERE we will exist then becomes, or should become, our biggest priority. There are only two choices. This morning we will look at what it takes to spend our eternity with GOD.
Up to this part of Romans, Paul has shown the condition of a depraved society. Before he starts showing the goodness of the Good News, he has described the badness of the bad news. We have seen GOD described as the GOD of wrath, judgment and righteousness. We will now see a glimpse of GODs grace. Romans 3:21-26 may be the most important paragraph ever written. Found within it, is the answer to the only way you and I receive Gods grace.
Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 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, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
There is so much here and so many different angles to this passage. There is the idea of faith vs. works, Paul's views vs. James, Calvinism vs. Arminianism, free-will or pre-destination, backsliding vs. secure salvation & many more doctrinal issues. I'm sure at some point in the future, we will come back to these ideals individually and give them the attention they deserve.