Summary: A message in the series answering quetions on a variety of spiritual topics.
Perhaps the most destructive philosophy to ever be unleashed in our culture is that of human self-sufficiency. A philosophy that first becomes noticeable at very young age when we first say, “I can do it by myself.” The philosophy continues to grow as we become more educated, countless commencement addresses have had this philosophy as a theme. Our culture sings the praises of the “self-made” man. The cornerstone of the American work ethic is the reliance on our own efforts. Our favorite verse is, “God helps those who help themselves.” The only problem is that this verse is not found in Scripture, it is actually from “Poor Richard’s Almanac” written by Benjamin Franklin. Thinking such as this often keeps us from being able to understand the concept of grace, let alone accept it. We need to realize that we are not the invincible controllers of our destiny and souls. There is nothing that we can do to earn our salvation. Our salvation is a gift from God, and is not based upon works. We have no room to boast about how good we are, because we do not even remotely measure up to God’s standard. A question that has been asked many times is, “What exactly is grace?” Today, we are going to take some time to explore the answer to this question based on the information Paul gave to the church at Rome. Paul’s words should enable us to begin to grasp the concept of grace.
I. There is hope for all of us to be declared righteous before God.
A. God has provided a means for man to be declared righteous apart from the law.
1. Under law, salvation is based on perfect human righteousness. Herein lies the impotence of the law system; man’s righteousness indeed is “filthy rags” and futile for justification.
2. Under grace, salvation is based on the righteousness of God.
3. The Law itself reveals the righteousness of God, because the Law is “holy and just and good”.
4. Although the law represents God’s standard to measure righteousness, we have displayed our inability to live up to it.
5. Paul is convinced that the means of righteousness from God has now been revealed.
6. The Gospel is not a recent creation by God to respond to human failure, it has been a part of the plan all along, but now has been made known.
B. There is a way to be righteous before God, it is not by obeying the law, by being Jewish, but it has always been in the Law and the prophets because they pointed to it.
1. This means that a plan or program has been revealed by which God can righteously save unrighteous sinners, and that it is not by requiring men to keep the law.
2. Because God is holy, He cannot condone sin or overlook it or wink at it. He must punish it. And the punishment for sin is death.
3. God loves the sinner and wants to save him; there is the dilemma. God’s righteousness demands the sinner’s death, but His love desires the sinner’s eternal happiness.
4. The only way to acceptance by God is through faith in Jesus Christ.
5. Believing in Jesus Christ means putting our trust in Him to forgive our sins, to make us right with God and enabling us to live the way He taught us.
6. God’s solution to our sinful condition is available to everyone regardless of background or past behavior.
II. Understanding the reality of our condition before God.
A. Paul is showing that there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, the fact is that all have sinned.
1. If the law measures the distance between God and us, then human righteousness is our feeble attempt to bridge that distance.
2. None can be saved by law through works; all must be saved by grace through faith—because all have sinned, and grace through faith is the only possible way for sinners to be saved.
3. To the Jewish mind the glory of God was not simply a characteristic of God, it was something possessed by Adam and Eve before the fall.
4. The first century Jewish document “The Life of Adam and Eve,” writes having eaten the forbidden fruit she said to the serpent, “Why have you done this to me, that I have been estranged from my glory with which I was clothed?”
5. The same narrative continues with Adam’s statement to Eve, “You have estranged me from the glory of God.”
6. The fact is that due to sin all people all standing on level ground.
B. God declared all men guilty so that He might offer to all men His free gift of salvation.
1. The truth is that sin has an effect on the very essence of our creation.