Summary: Pentecost 22(C) / Reformation - God’s righteousness is ours: NOT by the LAW -- BUT by FAITH.

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November 5, 2006 - REFORMATION - Romans 3:19-28

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Dear Christian Friends and Fellow Saints in the Lord, Fellow Redeemed who are Saved by the Righteousness of God:

Today we are going to go back to the basics, the basics of our Christian faith. We realize that sometimes in our lives things are difficult and complicated. You and I can easily stray from the basics of living our life. Still, we know in the back of our mind how important the basics are. We begin in school and learn the basics, the letters. With letters we make words and then sentences, paragraphs and stories. It all starts with the basics. Sometimes in life we get so wrapped up in the complexities and nuances of living, and we forget to step back and remember the basics. When this happens it can spread into religion, maybe our own faith. The basics--the Reformation rallying cry for believers was, "By faith alone, by Scripture alone, and by grace alone."

Today, we are going to look at "By faith alone," one of the very basics of the eternal salvation that is ours as a gift of God. It was the basics that the Lord Jesus himself proclaimed when he was on earth. In the Gospel of John we have these words of Jesus: "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, he has crossed over from death to life" (John 5:24). Jesus tells us the basics, isn’t it? Faith comes by hearing. So we hear God’s word, and faith is planted in our hearts. Faith grows by hearing, and we believe. We walk in that Christian faith. Jesus says we even cross over from death to life. That is the basics. Faith comes by hearing and is a gift of God. We have eternal life. Paul adds today that God’s righteousness is ours, which is something we know and believe from early on. It was something that Martin Luther struggled with in his life.


I. Not by the law, II. but by faith.


The words of our text began by describing for us the law and its purpose. Paul wanted to make the point that no one is saved by the law. In verse 19: "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God." Sin silences men. We think back to the very first sin. Adam and Eve sin. God comes, and they try to hide themselves. They were scared to talk to God. Sin silenced them. Even when God asked them where they were, they said they were hiding. Sin silenced their perfect understanding of God’s word. God’s law now made them accountable to God. Sin still does that today.

God’s perfect law points out sin, and not the Savior. Verse 20: "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law." You have to remember that during the time of Jesus there were the scribes and Pharisees. What did they teach? They said, "Do this and do that, and you can be saved." The fact is that they started with the Ten Commandments and added books and even more books of laws that the people were to follow. It was important for this simple message that no one is saved by observing the law. Paul writes, "Through the law we become conscious of sin." Back to the basics, law shows us our sin. The law showed Adam and Eve their sin. The law shows every sinner every sin and still does so to this very day. That is the point that Paul makes--the basics. The law reveals sin. Because of that he says, "No one is declared righteous in his sight." He says there is no escape. In verse 23: "Therefore there is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Paul wants to make it very clear that it there were not only a few that sinned, not some, not many, but all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. All people on this earth are unrighteous. Paul certainly included himself when he wrote in Timothy that he was the worst of sinners. All fall short and all are unrighteous.

The last verse of our text says: "A man is justified faith apart from observing the law." The basics--the law cannot save. The law shows us our sin. By observing the law we cannot work our way into heaven. That is the great problem that the world faces today. First of all, admitting that there is sin and that the law holds us accountable is something people do not want to hear. Our sinful nature does not want to hear that, but God says, "You are a sinner." The Bible tells us that we all fall short of the glory of God. There is no difference among any of us. Inside of the church or outside of the church, believers and unbelievers, are in the same boat. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.

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