This is the third sermon in our series entitled, “Memorial Stones.” This is for Sunday, November 30th, 2008.
Memorial Stones part 3
Solo Christo (Christ alone).
Romans 3:21-26 ESV.
This is a very important series that we are doing in these weeks. Looking at the Memorial stones of the Reformation. During the time of Luther, false doctrine was rampant, and God raised up mighty men who challenge the church to come back to the true faith that Scripture taught.
We also live in a time that is filled with false doctrine at every turn. We need to come back to these memorial stones, for they are Biblical, and they will sustain us during the coming trying times. Quickly these stones are, Scripture alone (which we covered), Christ alone (this morning), Grace alone, Faith alone, To the glory of God alone.
During the time of the Reformation, one of the main cries going out was the cry that Christ was the sole mediator between God and man. The main church of that day, The Roman Catholic Church, taught that “There is a purgatory and that the souls there detained are helped by the intercessions of the faithful and that Saints are to be venerated and invoked, and also their relics must be venerated.” There is no biblical truth in that statement of belief. People were putting their hope of superstitious trinkets and prayers to the saints and Mary, all the while, not putting any faith in Christ Jesus, to the only one who could truly save. Even good Catholics had to suffer God’s wrath in purgatory for a while, until their freedom could be purchased or them being prayed out of wrath by earthly Catholics. This is one of the teachings that Luther and the other early reformers had to contend with.
Is this belief in purgatory and a temporary place of torment for all, including followers of Christ even biblical? No, it is not. It is not even hinted in Scripture.
Let me state emphatically that we all deserve God’s wrath, but Christ took God’s wrath in our place – He propitiated it. We will look that word up later.
Here a quote from the works of an early reformer.
John Calvin in His book, Institutes of the Christian Religion had this to say, “Christ stepped in, took the punishment upon Himself and bore the judgment due to sinners. With His own blood He expiated (removed) the sins which made them enemies of God and thereby satisfied God…We look to Christ alone for divine favor and fatherly love.”
Our main point for today’s sermon is this: It is by Christ work, and His work alone we are saved.
You may say to me, “Pastor, this is essential to the faith and we already know this.” Will do you? We say we believe this, but do we really?
There are many passages throughout the Bible that speaks this truth, but today, we want to look at a classic passage Romans 3:21-26. Let’s really dig into this passage this morning and allow the Lord to speak to us.
Romans 3:21-26 ESV – 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it — 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
God has revealed a righteousness apart from the Law, that both the Law and prophets bear witness too.
Romans 3:21 ESV – But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it.
Here is a startling truth, no one can be righteous by keeping the Law. Notice what Paul says.
Galatians 2:21b ESV – for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
Galatians 3:11 ESV – Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”
You see, the Law points to our need for righteousness, for the shedding of blood to not only purge our sins, but to satisfy God’s justice and wrath.
This righteousness of God is made available to all who put their faith in Christ Jesus, no matter race, creed, party affiliation, gender, age, or whatever else may categorize us.
Romans 3:22 ESV – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction.
This righteousness of God comes through the Gospel message concerning Christ Jesus. This gospel is the power of God to break down all the barriers and categories that might separate us, into one people.
Romans 1:16 ESV – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Who are these one people?
Both Jew and Gentile are one people in the eyes of God – Sinners.
Romans 3:23 ESV – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
No one throughout history can make the claim that they have kept the Law perfectly. Neither can those born outside of the Law and going by nature’s law make the claim that they have always been good.
You see, it doesn’t matter if you were raised in church, or not, raised as a Jew, are a Homosexual, Satanists, Prostitute, Mayor, Preacher, or the present or future President of the U.S.; all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The Greek word for “sinned” there means more than to miss the mark. It means, “To wander from God’s Law, to violate God’s Law, to offend God, to wander off the path of righteousness.”
Let’s get real for a moment. How many of us Christians can honestly say since we’ve been believers, we’ve never wandered from the truth? If we were honest with ourselves, we all have wandered, we’ve all have sinned since following Christ. Does this make us backsliders? No, it makes us people in need of God’s grace through Christ.
But we have been justified and redeemed through Jesus Christ.
Romans 3:24 ESV – and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
We are justified by His grace as a gift – This means that we are declared not guilty, but righteous by the Divine Judge, God Himself. How is this possible? We can’t live perfectly enough to be justified in His sight, and neither can we do enough good works to buy our justification.
We’ve been redeemed, bought by Christ – Redemption is a transaction term. You buy goods and services. In this case, it is like a ransom paid for our release from slavery, and that slavery is sin.
So, Christ purchased us, and bought us from the slavery of sin, through His shed blood, and God the Divine Judge through His grace declares us, “Not guilty.”
God’s wrath on us has been satisfied by God sending Christ as the propitiation for our sins.
Romans 3:25-26 ESV – 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
What does the word, “Propitiation” mean? “A sacrifice that bears God’s wrath and turns it into God’s favor.” What this means is Christ became the atoning sacrifice, taking on God’s wrath in our place, and us finding favor with God through His shed blood.
He did this to show God’s righteousness. Just like in the Exodus when God passed over those with the lamb’s blood on their doorpost, God’s wrath has passed over us through Christ’s shed blood and what we receive through Christ is what we don’t deserve – God’s favor.
Now that we have dug into this passage and studied its truths, let’s ask ourselves a couple of questions.
Why do we need to know that we are saved by Christ alone? Because in our works and earning society, we see that God loves us not because of who we are, but because of who He is. Knowing this truth will lead us to understanding that all the great doctrines of the church fall upon Christ and His finished work on the cross.
What do we now do with this truth? Begin trusting in Him. He has done the work; rest in it. Cry out for Him to save you. You don’t have anything to offer Him but your sin. He offers you God’s favor.