Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

Faith Excludes Boasting (Romans 3:27-31)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

Please remain standing. And let's turn our to Romans, chapter three. This is the text for the sermon this morning. Romans three, verses twenty seventh through thirty one. Please give your attention again to God's word. Romans three, verse twenty seven. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded by what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith, for we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of gentiles also? Yes, of gentiles also, since God is one who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do We then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means, on the contrary, we uphold the law. May God bless his word to us. Please be seated. On second thought, I think it may have been helpful to begin reading it from Verse Twenty One. We started the reading with this question. Right then, what becomes of our boasting, and assumes that you're tracing the argument here from what has come before, I'm I'll do that a little bit for you now to help situate this text in its context. I help us understand it in light of the things that Paul...

...has already said. To put it briefly, Paul has been setting up, at the beginning of Romans of this contrast, a contrast between between God's righteousness and our righteousness. It's a contrast meant to achieve a very particular purpose. God wants us to trust his righteousness and not our own. He wants us to put our faith, our lives in his hands on the basis of his righteousness, and so this contrast he's been setting up has been a very strong one. God's righteousness is good, our righteousness is bad. His is holy and clean. To use an image from somewhere else in scripture, our righteousness is like filthy rags. His righteousness is powerful to save, as he says in Verse Sixteen, it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, for in it the righteousness of God is revealed. God's righteousness is powerful to save. But, as the following verses Show Us, our righteousness conclusively damns us, it curses us, it brings about God's wrath, as he says in verse seventeen or eighteen, the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven Against All UN godliness and all unrighteousness of men knee. He describes that. So this great contrast we see between between God's righteousness and our righteousness is one that is meant to show us we don't have anything to stand on. It just to show us that we require a righteousness that's outside of the system in which we're born into. It's a good system. There's nothing wrong with the system in and itself. The system, namely being you obey God,...

...you receive life. You Disobey God, you receive death. It's a fair system, it's a justice it's system, it's one that's makes sense and accords with God and his nature. But it's a system that we cannot live in because, at our essence, that are the most central parts of our being. We are unrighteous, we are broken, and so it's not that the system has failed us, it's that we have failed the system, we have failed God, and in that we find ourselves trapped, broken, in prisoned and under God's wrath. And so God has been telling all of us to show us that we need a righteousness that's not our own, righteousness, that doesn't come from inside of us and produced by us, but a righteousness that comes from outside, not one that we earn, God's God's salvation, but one that comes to us as a gift, one that comes to us from this righteousness that is revealed. He has a name. His name is Jesus. The righteousness of God that is revealed is Jesus, and so because of that, because of our our justification is in him. That's why we have salvation through faith alone. We have it by believing and trusting in what God has done, not by believing and trusting and what we have done. And that's what Paul said in versus twenty one through twenty six, the part I didn't read. That's what Paul sums up everything that has come before. I'll read it to you now, verse Twenty One. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested, apart from the law, although the law and prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ,...

...for all who believe, for there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ, Jesus, whom God put forward is 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. It was to show his righteousness at the present time so that we might, I'm sorry, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. So this is Paul's big point. It's one that he is going to continue opening up and fleshing out and helping to describe in all kinds of examples and ways. He's going to tell us what it means to live by faith. He's going to tell us what faith is, how it was demonstrated before, how the promise was given to people even before us, but in our passage. Now he turns to this particular objection. You remember that he's dealt with objections before. In fact he's dealt with this one just a little bit before as well. But he turns to it, he returns to it here. If all this is true, if everything that I've been telling you is true about the Gospel being powerful to save because in it the righteousness of God is revealed, then what becomes of our boasting where is our boasting. Now he has in mind all a particular kind of boasting in which many other kinds of boasting are also included, and that particular kind of boasting is described in chapter two. It's a the boasting of being a Jew. It's that particular kind that he has in mind here.

Listen to chapter two, verse Seventeen. But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law. And he goes on there to describe that perspective guide to the blind, lie to those who are in darkness, instructor of the Foolish, teacher of children, having in the truth, the embodiment of knowledge and truth. This is the perspective of being a Jew, a boast. He describes it there into to verse seventeen. It is this gift that you have been given if you are born a Jew, it means that you have the very law of God. It means that you have this special revelation by which you could become a guide to the blind, a teacher of children and instructor, one who is living in the world with this very special status and privilege. Now Paul's Point in chapter two is to say, you who says you're all these things, why aren't you living like it? Now he returns to that same idea and asks another question, a rhetorical question, from that perspective. Well, if it doesn't matter being a Jew, if everybody's a sinner and everyone's justified in the same way, well then what's the purpose? What's the point of being a Jew? What advantage has the Jew? What value has circumcision, as he says in chapter three, verse one, or, to use the language here, from our passage? Then what becomes of our boasting? Well, he says it is excluded. It is excluded. So what's wrong with boasting? What's so...

...wrong with having pride in being a Jew or some other thing that you might have, a good education or money or a happy family? What's so wrong with boasting? Why is it that the Gospel, this Gospel, about justification by faith alone? How does that exclude it? Well, the first thing you have to know is the difference between boasting and the joyful, thankful reception of a gift. They're two different things, aren't they? You know it when you go to a child's birthday party. Let's imagine two different birthday parties, one of a boaster and one of a non boaster. I'm not sure what to call that person exactly, but will say boaster and non boaster. The child who boasts gets a gift and then he uses it to establish themselves as powerful over the other children, as more important, as having a higher status. Look what I have, look what I got, you can't play with it right now. This one is mine right, those kinds of things. My toy is better than your toy, my party is more important than yours. This is entirely different from the child who receives a gift with joyful, thankful recognition. It's not that they tossed the gift inside and say gifts have no meaning to me. I do not dare boast. No, they receive it with joy right. Thank you, mom. This is awesome. This is really, really cool. Do you guys want to share? Do you want to plague? Do you want to enjoy this with me? They recognize the gift, they share it, they use it, they are happy about it, they feel the relationship they have with the one who is given the gift. It's a good thing, right. Well, kids these same things aren't only true of you. They're the same thing happens with adults.

Adults also have birthday parties and get gifts at them, but they have gifts and other places in another ways, just like you do. Sometimes an adult will get a job or promotion and they use this gift and they receive it with thankfulness and joy and recognition. With this new promotion they have an opportunity to serve and help those people that are under them. They have opportunity to use these gifts that God has given them to be generous with other people. But then sometimes, instead of doing that, instead of joyful, thankful recognition, boasting happens. They become prideful in it. They they use it to establish themselves over other people. My jobs more important than your job, I get to travel more places, I make more money, and on and on and on. Boasting involved securing your power and and fangs and money and all the rest. It's an effect, it's a symptom of what we trust. Boasting is a tool that we use to confirm and strengthen our faith and the faith of others in the things that are closest to our hearts. Who We are, what we do. So why does boasting not fit with the righteousness of Jesus Christ? Because in boasting we're establishing ourselves. Our hopes, our dreams, our power, our status, are victories, our wealth, those things that are most important to our hearts, and boasting were establishing them on ourselves, on our world, on the things that we have. We're counting on those things to save us. But do those things save us? But we all know that they don't. Job Titles go away, companies crumble,...

...bank accounts falter, toys get lost, stolen, broken, all kinds of things we might point to, even things that are maybe a little more permanent. Oh, we find go away. When we seek to establish ourselves on our own righteousness, on ourselves or on the things, things around us, we're running on a broken leg. We're finding that eventually we're going to fall and get even more hurt. As Paul has been saying, it's not a matter of simply suffering a little bit in this life either. The effects are eternal. When we run, when we seek to run and establish our lives on ourselves, on our righteousness, the house will fall. It's built on a cracked foundation, and so this is Paul's first reason why there's no boasting? Because it is excluded. We are justified by faith, not in by faith in Jesus Christ, and he is righteousness, not in our own. The second reason boasting is excluded is that God is God over all. God is God over all. It's not only because we're justified by faith that we that boasting is excluded, but because God is savior of all people. Now some would like to divide up God and his salvation. There are many people even today who would clean claim the opposite of what Paul says here. Here Paul says God is not only the God of the Jews but also the god of the gentiles, that he justifies both the circumcised and the uncircumcised in the exact same way. They are saved in exactly the same way by faith in...

Jesus Christ. There are people, though, today who would say that this is not true, that there are two plans of salvation, one for the Jews, another for the gentiles. They're all kinds of variations on this, and Paul is attacking this. Here. He says, no, this isn't true. There is unity in our salvation. Now it's true. There's a distinction between these two people, between the Jews and the gentiles, but it's all unified under God's singular purpose. Think about some of the things he's been saying. Roll take Romans one, verse seven. He says he writes to all those who are in Rome, who are loved by God and called to be saints. When he says that, he has both the Jews and the gentiles in mind. Or Verse Sixteen of Chapter One, for salvation is to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. You hear the distinction Jews Greeks. Distinct, yes, but it's to all of them. Salvation goes to all of them. In then, in verses eighteen through chapter two, verse one, Paul Addresses Gentile and righteousness. Then in Fort Chapter Two, verse twelve through verse nine, he addresses Jewish as Jewish unrighteousness, concluding in verse twenty two. I'm sorry, in Verse Twenty Two of Chapter Three, that all are unrighteous, he says. The righteousness, I'm sorry, he says that there is no distinction. Chapter Three, twenty three, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and all are justified by His grace. As a gift through the redemption that is in Christ, Jesus. So this is the second reason. Boasting is excluded, particularly this kind of Jewish boasting. And it can go both ways. Mind you. It's not only Jews who boast in their salvation. But if gentiles stand outside of the Jews and see the salvation of the Jews is something...

...that's just for them, that's a way of separating it too. So what, as I remember, whichever group you might belong to, we have to be careful about this. Paul says, why? Because of salvation is only to the Jew. Then it puts salvation somewhere, the the the power or the reason for salvation somewhere other than in God. It puts it in man. It allows man to stand on something in himself and say, because of who I am, in my birth and my heritage and my culture, I am pleased or Im God is pleased with me. But this isn't true. Justification is by faith alone, in Christ alone, that that's where our salvation is. We can't put salvation anywhere else. The second problem this has is that it makes God smaller than he is. We have big problems when we think of God. Is Small. Will Jesus say? Or, I'm sorry, not Jesus, will Jews. Will Jews say that God is limited? This is sort of Paul saying, are you going to say that God is not God? Over the gentiles at all? He appeals to them and this thing that they know. God is Supreme, he's God over all, God is one, this very important doctrine found throughout the Old Testament. He appeals to Jews and say, are you going to say that God is limited, that God is only God over the Jews, that somehow he is supreme and only this way? Of course not. God is only one. But to the gentiles, who say, are you going to say that God is limited, that is supremacy only and his salvation only comes to here, only to this one people in this way, to deny one? The first one it...

...denies his supremacy and the second place it denies your own salvation. Either way it's bad, and either way Paul calls us to see God as unified, as one who is God overall and has this unity of salvation for us all. So in both these things we see that what becomes of our boasting? The answer is clear, as he says it. It's excluded. We don't have a leg to stand on when it comes to our salvation, but in Jesus we have everything. Well, there's one more thing we have to address, and that's this objection. One last thing. Paul gives three reasons. What becomes of our boasting it's excluded. The first reason is that justification is by faith alone, apart from the law. The second reason is that God is over all, and the third reason sort of comes in the form of this objection. Do We then overthrow the law by this faith? This is an objection he's going to address again. It's an objection that comes up a lot, and it basically goes like this. If you're going to preach a gospel that is comes as a gift, if you're going to preach a righteousness that isn't built up in a person themselves, then aren't they going to slack off? Aren't they going to stop working like they going to stop doing things and trying to be righteous? Do you set aside the law by preaching that salvation comes apart from the law? People will always say this whenever you preach the Gospel, whenever you believe of the Gospel, people will always say this. The always be concerned that somehow you're undermining the work that a Christian is called to do, the obedience that a Christian, that all people, are called to give to God. Paul, face the subjection, Augustine face the...

...subjection, the reformers face the subjection and we face the subjection today and will always will, because the Gospel is offensive in that way. It comes to us and says here's everything, and we say, I don't like that. We still are always craving something in ourselves, something in ourselves that we can give to God, some reason we can stand on. But Paul says this isn't the case. You don't have anything to worry about. We don't deny the law by saying salvation comes apart from it, to use his words. On the contrary, we uphold it. I keep swinging back to chapter one, versus sixteen and Seventeen, because Paul here sets things in motion, he gives us a thesis statement, so to speak, and we find so much of what he's filling out here. The same thing here again. That is what he says in verse Seventeen, for in it that is the Gospel, the power of God for salvation. In it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith, for faith, as it is written, the righteous shall live by faith. How do we define that living? How do we define that life? Paul doesn't really do it there, but he does it throughout the rest of the book and we see it in the rest of the scriptures. Life is defined in various ways and by various aspects. And one way you can define it in a legal sense, sort of innocent, guilty, life, death. You have life, you are granted life as opposed to being granted death. It's a kind of status that you have, a legal status, but it also has inward effects as well. We might say it this way that when God reveals his righteousness in Jesus Christ, he not only gives...

...us life, but that righteousness of Christ also is life. God justifies US According to Christ's righteousness and he also conforms us to Christ's righteousness. Jesus is righteousness. is how we stand before God and are able to say I'm innocent, because we are clothed with Christ's righteousness. We are given credited what he has done. But it's more than that. Not only are we do we stand before God is people who stand clothed in Jesus's righteousness. But there's also something inside going on as well, that purification that we read about earlier, a sanctifying that's happening. Happens as the Holy Spirit works in US and cleanses US and renews us. More and more and more, we are conformed into the right to the into the image of Jesus. We are conformed into his righteousness. This is one of God's great promises that, in sending this son and the spirit as well, our hearts wouldn't only have the law but would receive it in a meaningful way, that we would begin to obey the law do the things that God has commanded. And that happens not in a separate way from from the Salvation and the righteousness that comes them of Jesus, but in it. The righteous shall live by faith in every aspect of our living, not only in our justification, but also in our sanctification, our purification and in our glorification as well. So these are the reasons Paul gives. These are the reasons why boasting is excluded. The law is upheld, it's not put down. God is God over are all. He saves in the...

...same way. It's not divided up and justification. The way that God saves us by faith alone, in Christ alone. It's effective and it puts away all boasting, any anything that we might hope to stand on. We can't, but in him we don't need to. Well, this should all, should give us all pause. If boasting is excluded, then we should think about we're boasting is included in our own lives. We should think about where are the things in your particular life that you find yourselves going yourself going back to again and again and again. It could be all kinds of things, perhaps some of them even irrational and not even very surprising. Some of US boast in painful memories, some of US boast in tragedies and sin. Others boast in family and heritage, connections with important people, job titles, experience, age, certain inward dispositions, character traits, good looks, skills. which ones of these are true for you? So there's something that I haven't mentioned that you hide in your heart. It's important to think about this, to feel around for it, because wherever the boasting exists in your life, that's a part of your life. That's a part of your life that's not given over to faith. It's a part of your life that you're holding for yourself, some place in which you're trying to rely on yourself for salvation. It's a sad thing when we do this. It's kind of like walking into...

...a garden that's packed with weeds, overflowing with leads and finding the two or three flowers that someone transplanted there, picking them up and holding them into a bouquet and saying, look at my garden, look at my life, isn't it beautiful? This is kind of what our resumes are, I think, these tiny little flowers, just the the few that we can collect and put on to a piece of paper to impress someone. Of course, resumes have their place. I don't feel need to feel guilty about putting a resume together. But are you trusting in it? Are you boasting in it? Do you think about your life in this way? Do you go about your life collecting these tiny little bullet points? This just the handful of things that you might be able to put together, when all the rest of your life, if it were on display, would be this great stack of paper that would certainly not get you the job. And when we stand before God, we stand before God not with a single sheet of paper, a little collection of our best deeds and accomplishments. We stand before him with everything, all of it, exposed, our entire heart. God judges you on that. How will you be judged? You will fail. And that's why we step aside from that Great Mountain of paper and we say I'll take Jesus. I'll take Jesus instead. And when we do that, my friends, we find a lot of consolation comfort to our souls, because now we're not scrambling looking through all the the weeds, all the mess, to find just a few things that might work and said we say, okay, that's a failed project. Instead, I'm going to trust in Jesus and in his perfect life lived for...

...me, his perfect blood shed for me. That's a foundation worth building your life on. That's a life worth living. And when you see things from that perspective, you can understand how a person can get busy to work, can go into their lives freely and do things for God, because they're not trying to do things for God in a way that they can somehow save themselves, but they're doing things for him because they love to do things for him and because even in those imperfect things, even in the the disappointments and the mixtures with sin and all the rest. Ultimately it's God doing the work, it's God saving us, and so our boast is in God. That's why boasting is excluded in ourselves, because our boasting is at him, because in Him we have all of our status, all of our power, everything that we could ever want. You might call it life. We have life in God, through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. So let's be not boastful children at a birthday party, but let us be those that receive these gifts, this gift of the son of God, with joy and thankfulness and a desire to share it with others. Let us pray.

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