READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l How does a faithful God save us from His righteous wrath? It angers God that the people He had made in his image and designed to walk with him, have strayed.
All of us are wicked
Sin has corrupted humanity and blocked us all from God. We have fallen short of the glory of God. There is no one who does good, we do not naturally understand spiritual truths and do not diligently seek after God (v10-12). These deficiencies have resulted in depravity. Sin affects our faculties; our mind, emotions, sexuality, conscience and will. We overlook injustice, act cruelly and violently; and no one walks in a manner that fears and honours God (v13-18). Sin is a voluntary transgression of a known law of God (John Wesley).
The law of God only shows our sinfulness. It is futile to rely on the law to save us from God’s wrath. We are inclined to evil and our darkened minds and behaviour are offensive in God’s sight. We cannot have real joy and peace with God, so long as God’s wrath is on us.
God’s loving decision – justification
The apostle Paul then shifts focus from our sins to God’s justification. Divine wrath gives way to God’s justification. The righteousness of God is made known and given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. We are all justified freely by His grace, because God had presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement. (V21-26)
Why did God in His holiness choose to redeem the wicked? God showed His love for us while we were yet sinners. Paul presents the righteousness of God as an act whereby God declares a sinner as righteous. God’s covenant justice was secured for us by Jesus Christ. It puts right the world and human beings. The sacrifice of Christ reflects God’s faithfulness to the covenant. It makes us right legally before God, and also restores us to a right relationship with God.
Jesus’ sacrifice satisfied God’s wrath
Without the cross, justifying the wicked would have been unjustified, immoral and impossible. God has to act in a manner that is consistent with his loving and just attributes. The cross was necessary to satisfy God’s righteous wrath. Jesus bore our sins and died our death. God himself, gave himself, to save us from himself. Since Christ died for all of us, God is not angry anymore. This marks our transition from darkness to light, from estrangement to reconciliation and from spiritual death to spiritual life.
God invites us to respond to his grace by faith. To be justified by faith goes beyond just liking or admiring Jesus. We have to be fully convinced that Christ died for our sins, to save us from God’s wrath, and to restore us to a right relationship with God. We must personally exercise our will to turn away from self righteousness and to entrust our whole life to Jesus. (Phil 3: 8-10) There are no half measures – we cannot choose parts of our life to give to God and parts to keep for ourselves.
Jesus sacrificed himself so that we can be made right, to walk right, with God. Have you put your trust in him lately, to walk by faith?
(Sermon notes by Denis Koh)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
- Read Romans 3:9-20. Paul tells us that everyone is under the power of sin. How is this evident in us? Do you agree and why?
- Read Romans 3:21-31. What we learn from these verses about the righteousness of God?
- Can God forgive us without requiring Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross? Please explain why you answered yes/no.
- Share how you would explain Romans 3:21-31 to a young person.
- Pray: Are there 1 or 2 persons whom your small group can join you in praying for his/her salvation?