Summary: The plan of God, for salvation
RIGHTEOUSNESS, ROAD CONSTRUCTION, AND REDEMPTION (Romans 3:21-25a, 27-28)
Romans 3:21-25 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.
It’s summertime now, and that means that the road construction season is in full swing. If you’ve driven to Milwaukee, or to Madison, you’ve seen the barrels, the flashing lights, the signs that tell you to slow down. There are ways to avoid the road construction – take a side road here, a county road there. Sometimes, as I experiment with these side roads, I wonder if it’s really worth it. Maybe I would have gotten to Milwaukee or Madison faster if I just would have stayed on the freeway slowly driving through the barrels. That might be true, but it doesn’t stop me from looking for another way.
We live in a world where people are looking for other ways. Not other ways to Milwaukee or Madison, but other ways to God. There are so many religions in the world today, so many ways people are trying to find God. And each way, each religion, is trying to answer a very important question: “What is the way to be right with God? What am I supposed to do, so that God will be happy with me, and bless me, and someday let me into his heaven? The Bible calls that “righteousness.” “Righteousness” means that you are right with God, and many people are looking for this in their lives. Are you? Are you sure that God is happy with you right now? Are you sure that when you die, God will let you into his heaven? No doubts? No worries?
What is the way to be right with God? Which religion is right? Is it the religion that focuses on the Triune God – the God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Or is there another way? This morning we are going to focus on that question, and see what God says to us in his Word.
Where is the last place people look when they want to learn about God? It’s ironic, really – for many people, the last place they look is the Bible. It reminds me of what happens in my house - when my wife or I buy something that requires assembly, usually I will spend an hour trying to put it together intuitively, without directions, and it doesn’t work out. Finally, my wife, suggests to me that maybe I should try reading the directions. Then I do, and suddenly, it’s not so difficult after all.
The reason there are so many religions in the world is that people are trying to figure out God intuitively – without reading his directions. Where do you find the directions on how to be right with God? You look in his Word, the Bible. And step one is this passage right here… Romans 3:22 says, “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Everyone is sinful, and no one is right with God. Step one of understanding God is first of all, understanding that you’re sinful.
Before coming to Lakeside, I spent a few years in the mission field, talking to people who didn’t have a church home. I would ask them, why do you think God will let you into heaven someday? 99% of the time, the person would say, “Someday, God will let me into heaven because I’m trying hard to be a good person. I try hard to be good to my family. I try to work hard at my job. I don’t break laws, I pay my taxes. I try to be a good person. I think that’s why God will someday let me into heaven.”
But are you sure, I would say. Are you absolutely, positively sure? “No,” was always the answer. Do you see the problem? This person hasn’t read God’s directions. This person doesn’t understand that all have sinned, and fall short of God’s glory.
Have you ever seen the Grand Canyon? It is beautiful – a huge canyon with different colored rocks all the way down. Is it possible to jump over the Grand Canyon? No. Even if you took the greatest of all the athletes in the world, and the wind was at his back, and he tried hard, he still wouldn’t be able to jump across the Grand Canyon. He still would fall short.