Living in Grace and Faith
In this Session, we will begin Romans chapter 3, and explore verses 1-8. We are moving on from Paul’s indictment of the religious sinner and moving into Paul’s genesis of building the theological thoughts that bring the glorious truth that God justifies sinners by faith, through believing in Jesus’ substitutionary death on a cross for sin and His resurrection from the dead that proves His work of salvation. This theological truth peaks in Romans 10:9-10. Romans 3 begins the lead up that peaks in Romans 10.
Romans 10:9-10 – If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
In Romans 3:1-8, there are 4 movements in the text.
1 – God’s purpose through Israel in saving humanity.
2 – All humanity is accountable to God because humanity has a freewill.
3 – God is justified in His judgments and decisions because He is God.
4 – The grace of God is never an excuse to be unaccountable to God.
a) The hearers of Paul’s letter to the church at Rome who were Jewish believers may be wondering if there any value in being descended from Israel, because of his indictment of the religious spirit that existed in Judaism at that time. Paul made the case that circumcision, one’s identity as Jewish, and the possession of the Law could not produce salvation. The question begs to be asked; “did old covenant believers obtain eternal salvation before Jesus made atonement on the cross?”. We would answer an emphatic yes, because one would have been practicing the Law and the old covenant sacrifices by faith, with the hope of the Messianic promise given to Adam and Eve, Abraham’s promise, David’s promise, and the prophetic promises of the prophets from God to Israel. Paul was simply making the case that religion alone is no substitute for faith.
b) Paul points out that God gave Israel His salvation narrative through the Word of God; and because the LORD worked salvation through Israel, God’s promise to humanity in Genesis 3:15, to save humanity was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. That is a great gift to humanity that only came through the Hebrew’s relationship with Yahweh.
c) Paul explains this concept in greater detail in Romans 9.
a) Just because some Jews rejected the Messiahship of Christ does not mean that God failed in His promise to restore humanity back to Himself through them. Acts 15:5 mentions a contingency of Pharisees who became believers, Acts 4:36 tells us that Barnabas was a Levite, and Acts 6:7 tells that a great number of priests became obedient to the faith. It is a common Evangelical misconception that most Jews rejected the message of Messiah. This is simply not true. The Acts narrative alone teaches us otherwise, as well as Early Church history.
b) God is faithful to His Word. Ezekiel 12:25 – But I the LORD will speak what I will, and it shall be fulfilled without delay. For in your days, you rebellious people, I will fulfill whatever I say, declares the Sovereign LORD.
c) Verse 4 teaches us that God is justified in everything He does. We know that all of God’s works are righteous because He is Perfect. 1 John 1:5 – This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. James 1:7 NKJV – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
d) We may not understand all of God’s decisions or ways, but when all things are summed up in Christ, God receives all the glory, honor, power and praise, even as He judges those who rejected relationship with Him.
e) Spurgeon – “It is a strange, strong expression; but it is none too strong. If God says one thing, and every man in the world says another, God is true, and all men are false. God speaks the truth, and cannot lie. God cannot change; his word, like himself, is immutable. We are to believe God’s truth if nobody else believes it. The general consensus of opinion is nothing to a Christian. He believes God’s word, and he thinks more of that than of the universal opinion of men.”
f) Paul quotes Psalm 51:4, in Romans 3:4.
a) Paul brings the counter-argument to the forefront in verse 5, which goes something like this; “If my sin brings about a display of God’s righteousness and God’s will, then how can He judge me for what I have done? Because my sin ultimately serves His purpose and that is a good thing”.
b) Is God unjust in His wrath – The thought that Paul is addressing goes like this; “If God is in control of everything, then humanity is just a victim of fate from God, and we are all pawns and puppets”. Judas would have been an extreme example of this argument. Genesis 3 shows us that love is a choice and God loves freewill lovers.
c) The answer to this is found in 2 theological constructs. 1 – Providence, see Romans 8:28. 2 – Omniscience, See Isaiah 40:28 and Job 21:22 and Psalm 147:4-5.
d) When Paul says, “I am using a human argument”, he is not saying that he is not being inspired by the Holy Spirit in that moment; he is implying that as a fallen man who needs mercy from Christ, he will not challenge God’s position or the decisions of His heart.
e) How could God judge the world? Because He is righteous, good, perfect and true; even in His judgments.
a) There were some in the Apostolic Era that objected to Paul’s gospel message of justification of sins through the grace of Jesus Christ in the cross and our faith and trust in Jesus’ atonement as the requirement for salvation. The Judaizers were some of those accusers. They accused Paul of preaching a cheap grace message.
b) The others who adopted a cheap grace message were the Gnostics and their libertine teachings that excused the sin of humanity and taught that the flesh was so corrupt that sin in the body was inevitable, so one should just do what feels good in the flesh because Christ will ultimately redeem it without consequence.
c) Scripture teaches us that the sanctification process is a process of learning to live in the Spirit through our New Creation nature as Christ is being formed in us through our lives. See Galatians 5. d) Christian obedience flows from our desire to protect our relationship with God and please Him through our faithful freewill choices.