Summary: Righteousness is Revealed; From God, Through Christ, and To Man.
One Sunday evening after the traditional two songs, a prayer, and two more songs, the preacher went up to the pulpit and instead of delivering a sermon, he introduced a guest minister who was visiting that evening. In his introduction, the preacher told the church that this man was one of his dearest childhood friends and that he wanted him to have a few moments to speak to the church and share a thought with them. With that an elderly man stepped up to the pulpit and began to speak.
“A father, his son, and a friend of his were sailing off of the Pacific Coast,” he began, “When a fast approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to shore. The waves were so high, that even though the father was an experienced sailor, he could not keep the boat upright and the three were swept into the ocean as the boat capsized.”
The old man hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with two teenagers who were, for the first time since the service began, looking somewhat interested in what he had to say. The aged minister continued with his story, “Grabbing a rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of his life: which boy to throw the other end of the life line? He only had seconds to make the decision. The father knew his son was a Christian and he also knew that his son’s friend was not. In a moment of extreme agony the father cried out, “I love you son!” as he threw out the lifeline to his son’s friend.
By the time the father had pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beneath the raging swells into the blackness of the night. His body was never recovered.” By this time the two teenagers were sitting up straight in the pew, anxiously waiting for the next words to come out of the old minister’s mouth. “The father,” he continued, “knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus and could not bear the thought of his son’s friend stepping into eternity without Jesus. Therefore he sacrificed his son to save his son’s friend.”
With that the old man turned and sat back down in his chair as silence filled the room. The preacher again walked slowly to the pulpit and delivered a brief sermon. Within minutes after the service ended, the two teenagers were at the old man’s side.
“That was a nice story,” they politely said, “But I don’t think it was realistic for the father to give up his son’s life in hopes that the other boy would become a Christian.” “Well, you’ve got a point there,” the old man said as he looked down at his tattered and worn bible. A big smile then appeared upon his face and once again he looked up at the boys and said, “It may not be realistic, but I’m standing today to tell you that the story gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for God to give up his only son for me. You see . . . I was the father and your Preacher was my son’s friend.”
What we know so far. . .
• Paul has only revealed a glimpse of the Gospel so far. 1:16–17
• Everyone is guilty of sin.
• Because of sin we all deserve eternal separation from God.
• If one were to quit in their study of Romans at this point, life would seem without hope.
Fortunately, Paul doesn’t leave us hanging for too long. In our text Paul opens up the door and reveals the righteousness of God.
I. Righteousness from God. Romans 3:21
A. Apart from law.
1. It couldn’t be from law because no one can be declared righteous by observing the law.
2. James 2:10 “10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”
B. By Grace.
1. Man cannot merit salvation through the law and we certainly cannot earn salvation, the price is too high; It had to be a gift from God. Eph. 2:4–8
2. God has shown how great His love is and how precious His gift is in the price that was paid. John 3:16–17
II. Righteousness through Christ. Romans 3:22a
A. Christ is our Propitiation. 3:25
1. Appeasement or Sacrifice of Atonement (NIV)
a. Heb. 2:17 “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.” (or, turn aside God’s wrath, taking away the sins of the people.)