READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l In His mercy, Holy God withholds His righteous judgment and atones for mankind’s guilt by the blood of Jesus. Though undeserving, we are made righteous by His grace. Such is the amazing Good News of God’s covenant justice which makes us right to walk right!
Romans 1 tells us that the gospel reveals God’s righteousness which we need, to cleanse away blatant unrighteousness and hypocritical self-righteousness that does not walk the talk. God’s power saves us when by faith we believe in the gospel and are made righteous to live. (1:16-32) Question is: Are we journeying with God today by trusting in His covenant justice?
Irresistible Conclusion (3:9-20)
Self-salvation is futile. None is righteous who understands or seeks God. All are under the power of sin (v9-11) having turned away from God to become worthless, miserable and without peace. Without fear of the LORD, people behave murderously and spout rotten, deceitful, poisonous, bitter lies. (v12-18) Bodies created to glorify God are used instead to rebel against Him.
God’s holy Law pronounces our guilt. Hushed and conscious of our sin, the Law demands our accountability to God. (v19-20) What are we to do?
Surprising Grace (3:21-31)
Thankfully, there is a hopeful turnaround. v21 opens with “But now” “apart from the law” the righteousness of God has been made known. In God’s forbearance, He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished, to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the One who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (v25-26) This is the fresh revelation of God’s covenant justice – that He makes us righteous through faith in Christ!
The Law condemns and disqualifies us to come before Holy God for we have all sinned and fallen short of His glory. Yet to all who would believe through faith, God justifies freely by His gracious redemption through Christ Jesus. (v22-24)
We are justified (acquitted) by faith in Christ, not from striving to keep holy by the Law given through Moses. Instead, we uphold the Old Testament Law when by faith we abide and are sanctified (being made righteous) by the new covenantal Law in Christ. (v27-28)
We are saved by God’s “absolutely free and utterly undeserved favour”. Grace is “God loving, God stooping, God coming to the rescue, God giving Himself generously in and through Jesus Christ.” (John Stott)
How can a holy righteous God not compromise His character by declaring sinners righteous? He paid the price for us on the cross. God set us free from slavery to sin when Jesus came to ransom-rescue us to live freely for Him. Christ was “presented on the altar” as the “sacrifice” for our “atonement” – fulfilling OT covenant as the perfect appeasement offering to God for the sins of the world. So, God remains holy and we can trust in His righteous justice. God Himself (out of His love) gave Himself (through Christ) to save us from Himself (His righteous anger against sin).
We can’t depend on our subjective faith, but we can rest relying on Christ’s objective faithfulness. “God justifies the believer – not because of the worthiness of his belief (faith), but because of His (Christ’s) worthiness who is believed.” (Richard Hooker)
What Discipleship Lessons Can We Learn?
- Humbly accept our need for God. His divine diagnosis of our sinful condition shows we will always be off the mark. Pray LORD Jesus, I need you in all of my life. Have mercy on me, a sinner.
- Have a right relationship with God every day. Receive His atoning gift that justifies us by grace alone, in Christ alone, through faith alone. Christianity is the only Good News that gives New Life to every undeserving sinner.
- Faithfully share the Good News. Many hunger for purpose and meaning in life. Silenced because of sin, our mouths are now opened for testimony! We who have been made right by grace walk right by declaring His righteousness to the world.
(Sermon notes by Marjorie Tan)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
- Read Romans 3:9-20. What is Paul’s purpose? Why does he quote so much from the Old Testament (Scripture)?
- If Christ and the cross is the basis for our justification, what has the cross done for us? Refer to verses 24 and 25, and the sermon notes.
- The Apostle Paul repeatedly stresses on faith as a necessity for justification (verse 22, 25 and 26). What can “faith” mean? How does that change your understanding of faith in Christ for justification?
- How does being justified freely by God’s grace transform the way you relate to God and your walk with Him?
- Take time to humble yourself and accept the divine diagnosis that we have fallen short of God’s glory. In your humility, confess your need for God in every aspect of your life: work, career, family, leisure and ministry. Humbly receive his gift of justifying grace.
- Who is someone with whom you can share the good news of God’s gift of justifying grace? Commit yourself to God to be a faithful bearer of the gospel.