Summary: This is an expository sermon of Romans chapter 3 teaching reliance on Christ through faith for salvation.
While turning to Romans Chapter 3, I’d like to ask you a couple of general questions. Most of us would agree that we are saved by grace. Should we then do good? Of course we should! We should then do good, after we are saved by grace. But let me ask you this: what does doing good do for you? One thing we know is that we receive our full reward at the judgment, and do not loose part of our reward. We have wisdom for living. Don’t things simply go better in our lives when we make decisions that are in line with God’s word? As we do good, we are a witness to the world for Christ. When churches are mobilized to serve their communities and make a difference in the world, the world has to step back and take notice. When individuals act in an upright way as disciples of Christ it is a witness to Him. Doing good is training for holiness, and leads to our sanctification. We also have a clear conscience before God.
I could go on further, and you probably could too. There are many positive reasons for being obedient and doing good. But there is one thing that is not on the list. That is justification, or right standing in the sight of God. We are not acceptable before God on the basis of what we do or don’t do. Keep your place in Romans, but turn to Hebrews 6:1. “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,” (NASB) This is a foundational teaching. This is the heart of the Gospel and the foundation of the Christian faith. If we step away from this foundation we start to step away from the foundation of our Christian faith. The first thing that is said in this foundation is “let us leave dead works”. What he is talking about is a system of justification by what we do or don’t do to get in good in God’s sight. This is one of the first things in the Christian faith that we need to do. There is one way to get in good in God’s sight, and the avenue of that is faith. So as we turn from that system of doing or not doing, we enter into a system of faith. Put negatively, away from a system of works or merit, and positively stated to a system of faith, by which we are acceptable to God.
We are justified by faith today. You see, it wasn’t a one time thing where God said ‘You are OK now because of faith, but now the system is going to change. Now you have to do these certain things to be accepted in my sight.’ But our justification today and on an ongoing basis is through faith in Jesus. Then we are called to live out our lives in the obedience of faith. We live out the new person that God has made us by giving us a new Spirit. We are freed from the curse and given an eternal life through His faithfulness.
Let me tell you this, if it was up to our faithfulness, we wouldn’t make it. All through the Bible man has messed up every Covenant that he’s been involved with. If the covenant relation of salvation was based on our faithfulness it would all be over and we wouldn’t make it. But thank God that our salvation is not based on our faithfulness, but on His faithfulness. Halleluiah!
This is a simple message. I’d like to stop here. We are justified by faith in God and then we do good. But it gets more complicated because, being a foundation, if we get this wrong we are building on a bad foundation. So much rests on and comes from this foundation. Everyone knows how important it is to have a right foundation on a building. If you build on a bad one, you can’t have a good building. Now sometimes we get this truth backwards. We might believe that, now that we are saved, we have to do or don’t do certain things to keep saved. I’m going to try to keep this simple, forgive me if I make this complicated.
Let’s look at the book of Romans. In chapter 1, Paul writes about the sexual immorality of the Gentiles. He gets us all riled up and angry about it. Nobody likes sexual immorality. He gets under our skin with the issue and gets us good and mad about them. He says in Romans chapter 2, ‘By the way, you are in the same boat as they are.’
He pulls a little Nathan and David trick. Remember how Nathan told the story of the wealthy man that stole the lamb from the poor man? He gets David good and mad about the situation and he’s ready to carry out judgment. Then Nathan says ‘By the way, oh King, you are that man.’ Then the king is pierced to the heart, for the Lord is no respecter of persons. He says this not to excuse the gentiles, but to accuse the Jews that they are sinners too.