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But now!!!

Romans  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Intro:

Our journey through the book of Romans up until now has been a painful one.
We have heard the words none and all many times and each and every time we seem to be on the wrong side of the equation.
We have seen that no one can be right with God by our works.
This is most definitely the heart of the Bible.
We cannot reach God on our own, he will have to reach down to us.
The passage that we will be studying today is what many people call the center of the Bible.
This passage will be a majestic view of our amazing God.
Machu Picchu Peru is a place that everyone ought to see at some point if they travel to Peru.
It is considered one of the new 7 wonders of the world.
I have had the privilege of giving people tours there quite a few times.
The trip to Machu Picchu is an interesting one.
First you fly over the Andes mountains from Arequipa for 45 min. or take a bus if you have an extra 14-16 hours to spare.
Then you wake up at 3 am and get to the train station by 4 am.
You get on a train that takes 7 hours to get to the city of Aguas Calientes.
Slide of Train
This city has one purpose and that is to house those that are headed to Machu Picchu to see the ruins.
Slide of Aguas Calientes
The city is situated in the middle of mountains with one main street that serves a double purpose as a train track.
When the trains come in then the main street is occupied by the train.
Slide of Train in the city
You would usually spend the night in this “city” and the next morning head up to explore Machu Picchu.
Now here is a picture of the road you have to travel up to see Machu Picchu.
Slide of road.
After going to Machu Picchu over 30 times there is something that happens as you crest that last hill.
You can see nothing but a windy road and then all of a sudden you are blown away with this hidden jewel.
Slide of Machu Picchu.
What we are about to see is a breath taking vision of the gospel.
We will crest the hill and be blown away by our amazing God.
The last chapters have been rough chapters that have stated beyond any doubt that we are sinners and then we crest the hill with this passage.
Paul is saying that the Law is awesome but not to be justified (saved) with.
Slide This Law for you.
One of the most important words in the bible is this little word that will start up in verse 21.
It is a key word that always introduces a new thought and usually marks a contrast from what was before.
There is no where in the Bible where this is seen more clearly than here.
Paul has illustrated the depths of mans lostness up until now.
This conjunction (the word but) is just about to change everything.
This is one of the most important passages and most beautiful passages of the book of Romans.
This passage is a hinge where everything changes.
If you have been here for the last several weeks we have been under a dark cloud of the reality of mankind.
Time and again it has been proven to us how we will never please God in our own works.
The weight of the last few weeks has been pretty heavy. But wait, I promise things are about to change.
Now read the first two words of the first verse with me.
BUT NOW

I. Apart -

Romans 3:21 KJV 1900
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
Romans 3:21 KJV 1900
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
Are those words not beautiful?
BUT NOW!
This is what you used to be but now.
You had no hope but now
You had no future but now
You were Condemned but now
You were Helpless in the power of sin but now
You were Powerless to escape the wrath of God but now
Martin Lloyd Jones said “there are no more wonderful words in the whole of Scripture than just these two words ‘But Now’”
Slide of Quote
But now the Righteousness of God.
Righteousness: the act of doing what God requires—‘righteousness, doing what God requires, doing what is right.’
This word Righteousness is one of the most important words in the book of Romans.
We can be made Righteous, what a thought.
Especially after all we have seen leading up to this passage.
What we must understand is that our salvation is apart from the law not because of it.
We want to earn but God will only give.
Not because of what we do but because of what he did.
Both the Law and the Prophets testify of this.
The OT pointed to a work of God that would be in the future and would provide us with salvation.
This NOW that is stated is not something that goes against the law.
God cannot lower His standards.
If he is going to save people from the ruin of sin, it has to be done in a way that does not violate the law.
The Law in the Old Testament had two parts to it.
Moral Law - was to uncover sin.
Ceremonial Law - was to provide temporary cover for the sin that the Moral Law showed us.
This would teach his people that he intends to cleanse and cancel sin no matter what the cost.
Paul says you can have righteousness but apart from the law.
Slide Apart from the Law
In this passage we will see, “The Miracle of Righteousness”.
God’s total answer is sufficient for man’s total failure.
the act of doing what God requires—‘righteousness, doing what God requires, doing what is right.’
Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 743.

II. Available -

Romans 3:22–26 KJV 1900
Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Romans 3:22 KJV 1900
Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
As we have been shown in the book of Romans up to here there is absolutely no way for us to achieve our own salvation.
Even the righteousness of God which is by faith.
As we have been shown in the book of Romans up to here there is absolutely no way for us to achieve our own salvation.
Even the righteousness of God comes to us through faith in Jesus Christ and it is only by faith.
Faith is only as good as what we put our faith in.
Faith: We believe and place our faith and trust in God alone for our forgiveness.
Faith is only as good as what we put our faith in.
We realize that there is nothing we can do.
Many people have missed what faith is speaking of.
They think that faith is speaking of the amount of faith that they have.
They struggle feeling that what they have isn’t enough faith.
Because of this they never truly understand the joy that comes only through faith in Christ alone.
The problem is that when people do this they are having faith in their faith instead of placing their faith in him alone.
The second mistake is similar and has to do with the object of faith.
Faith is only as good as where we put our faith.
Faith is a common denominator of life.
We all have faith and could not live a single day without it.
We take people at their word, we believe what we read in the newspapers, books, we trust our money in the bank, the doctor or chiropractor, the hairdresser, we eat what is placed in front of us.
We all live with faith.
Choosing well what you believe in, is a big deal.
You could be crazy enough to glue some feathers to your clothes and believe with all of your heart that you could jump off this building and fly over to the baseball field.
What you believe in matters.
Some people I know of don’t have much faith in an airplane when it takes off but it gets them there.
Faith isn’t what saves, faith in Jesus (the right thing) is what matters.
Faith isn’t your salvation, Jesus is!
There is a big difference there.
This is not saving faith though.
Faith becomes saving faith only when we place our faith in Jesus Christ.
1 John 5:9–11 KJV 1900
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
All men trust something, maybe only themselves, Christians trust Christ.
Everyone believes in something but God only justifies those who believe in Jesus.
Then all of a sudden we land on the nice side of that all word that has haunted us up until now.
It is for ALL who believe.
Because there is no difference.
Think about how big of a deal this is.
There is no difference between Gentiles or Jews.
Gentiles were used to being looked down on BUT NOW there is no difference.
Charles Hodge comments on this passage and said: “We Gentiles may now look up to heaven, and confidently say, “Thou are our Father, though Abraham be ignorant off us, and though Israel acknowledge us not.”
Romans 3:23 KJV 1900
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
There is no difference because we have ALL sinned and come short of God’s standard (his glory).
This isn’t something we like focusing on much but it is the foundation of our need.
We have ALL come short!
We have a standard we have to meet.
We must meet the glory of God.
We will all fall short.
Lumber and Chairs illustration.
Faith on one side of the lumber and something bad on the other.
Romans 3:24 KJV 1900
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Being Justified, this word really matters.
He says being justified but what does that mean?
Justification: Just as if I had never sinned. He declares us NOT GUILTY for our sins.
Justification is the legal and formal acquittal from guilt by God as Judge.
He is pronounced as righteous in His sight.
Now please don’t misunderstand this.
There is a big difference between forgiveness and justification.
You can be forgiven but still feel unable to act normally.
Justification is something much deeper.
Maybe this illustration will help think through the difference.
On June 23rd, 2000, a deaf couple stood before Judge Donald McDonough in a Fairfax, VA court.
They offered no rebuttal to their landlord’s complaint that they were behind on the rent.
Their recent marriage resulted in the loss of disability benefits that kept the roof over their heads.
Now they were $250 behind and had no hope of making up the deficit.
Judge McDonough couldn’t disagree.
The landlord was due his rent.
The couple was guilty of nonpayment and there was no way to set aside justice.
The judge decided that there was no way he could drop his gavel out of compassion.
Once the attorney closed the case the judge left the courtroom.
A few moments later he returned from his chambers with $250 in cash and handed it to the landlords attorney and said:
Consider it paid.
With a transfer of funds from the just to the unjust the debt was paid and the case dismissed.
The Law had been satisfied.
The defendants were then considered righteous or justified in the eyes of the court.
In the same way we have a transfer of righteousness from the account of another to cover our sin so we can stand JUSTIFIED in the court of heaven.
How did this happen?
Freely by Grace.
From a human standpoint this plan was radical.
It excluded anything and everything that people by themselves could do to obtain it.
The righteousness God provides has its origin in what God did not in what we might be able to do.
It is received, not earned.
Everyone believes in something but God only justifies those who believe in Jesus.
What makes the gospel the good news is that no one would have come up with a plan where they couldn’t contribute to their own salvation.
Honestly this plan isn’t fair at all.
has one of the most amazing groups of words ever.
Romans 3:24 KJV 1900
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
We are JUSTIFIED then FREELY and that can only be done by GRACE!!
This summarizes the plan of God’s salvation.
He is pronounced as righteous in His sight.
Now please don’t misunderstand this.
There is a big difference between forgiveness and justification.
Story of Judge paying **^&*&^*^&*
Jesus has fully discharged all of our obligations so that there is no legal ground for charges against us.
We have perfect standing before God and we are acceptable in His sight.
Justification doesn’t mean that God makes us righteous, it means that he declares us righteous.
God puts the righteousness of Christ on our record in the place of our own sinfulness.
No one can change this record.
I am justified just like anyone in this room that has believed in Christ.
All the way from the pastor to the child to the criminal to the deacon.
We are all justified through Christ and only through him.
There is absolutely no one that stands any closer or better before God than any other that has been justified.
There is a difference between justification and sanctification though.
Sanctification is the process where God makes the believer more and more like Christ.
Sanctification changes as we grow, justification never does.
Sanctification is me learning to walk as the justified one that I am.
This segment of the scriptures is the most theologically important segment in the New Testament.
There are only 2 religions in this world.
All other religions in the world have one thing in common.
Religion number one says DO!!!
They all affirm that salvation has to be earned.
The second group is the one that says DONE!!
God looks at the sinner that has trusted him and declares him to be justified.
He offers this salvation freely.
His deal is either free or not at all.
Here is Paul’s progression of thought.
Slide Development of Thought.
All of this is done with that word Grace.
Grace is favor we do not deserve.
It is getting something we do not deserve.
In a day and age where everyone is demanding their rights we are thankful for Grace.
What we deserve from God is eternal punishment for our rebellion.
Salvation is given freely, it cannot be purchased or earned.
With ever fiber of our being we want to earn God’s favor but that is impossible it is given freely.
How are we justified?
Justification is a legal matter.
God puts the righteousness of Christ on our record in the place of our own sinfulness.
No one can change this record.
Don’t confuse justification and sanctification though.
Sanctification is the process where God makes the believer more and more like Christ.
Sanctification changes, justification never does.
Freely by his grace.
In it Paul devotes all of his attention to one key element of God’s righteousness and the way we humans respond to it.
There are only 2 religions in this world.
All other religions in the world have one thing in common.
Through redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Religion number one says DO!!!
They all affirm that salvation has to be earned.
The second group is the one that says DONE!!
So here is another very important word in the Bible.
Redemption: to be purchased out of a slave market and to be set free.
We were set free as a result of him purchasing us.
We are free from sin and the penalty of it.
If a person would to get into debt, lose his land and be in a place where no one could or help him.
The only possible means of avoiding a debtors prison or starvation was to become property of someone that was wealthy.
He would ask that they pay off his creditors in exchange for his slavery.
Normally, the years of debt would be determined by the amount of the debt paid.
Truthfully though a greedy or cruel master could keep a slave perpetually indebted and hopelessly enslaved forever.
If someone were unimaginably kind, he could bid on a slave, purchase him or her for himself and then set the slave free.
This is where it would be said that the slave was redeemed from debt and slavery.
He offers us salvation through his Son that cost him an unthinkable amount on Calvary.
What an amazing concept.
With ever fiber of our being we want to earn God’s favor but that is impossible it is given freely.
While salvation is free it is anything but cheap.
It cost the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
We are justified freely by grace through the price that was paid in Jesus Christ.
We have been redeemed from sin.
Romans 3:25 KJV 1900
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
There are no degrees of justification.
This is something that God does, not man.
Jesus was set forth to be a propitiation.
Justification is a legal matter.
God puts the righteousness of Christ on our record in the place of our own sinfulness.
No one can change this record.
Don’t confuse justification and sanctification though.
Sanctification is the process where God makes the believer more and more like Christ.
Sanctification changes, justification never does.
This segment of the scriptures is the most theologically important segment in the New Testament.
Another big word here that carries a lot of weight.
Propitiation: Payment of our debt. The sacrifice of Christ that allows God’s justice to be satisfied.
In it Paul devotes all of his attention to one key element of God’s righteousness and the way we humans respond to it.
There are only 2 religions in this world.
All other religions in the world have one thing in common.
Religion number one says DO!!!
They all affirm that salvation has to be earned.
The second group is the one that says DONE!!
There are some more key words found here.
As if you had never commited a crime.
We are free from sin and the penalty of it.
Propitiation: The sacrifice of Christ that allows God’s justice to be satisfied.
He can now look with kindness and grace upon a lost world.
Here is something very interesting about this word Propitiation.
We realize that there is nothing we can do.
The Greek word that is translated here to the English propitiation is this word.
Many people have missed what faith is speaking of.
They think that faith is speaking of the amount of faith that they have.
Slide of Hilasterion
They struggle feeling it isn’t enough faith.
Because of this they never truly understand the joy that comes through Christ alone.
The problem is that when people do this they are having faith in their faith instead of placing their faith in him alone.
The second mistake is similar and has to do with the object of faith.
Faith is a common denominator of life.
We all have faith and could not live a single day without it.
We take people at their word, we believe what we read in the newspapers, books, we trust our money in the bank, the doctor or chiropractor, the hairdresser, we eat what is placed in front of us.
We all live with faith.
Hilasterion is only found one other time in the Bible.
Choosing well what you believe in, is a big deal.
You could be crazy enough to glue some feathers to your clothes and believe with all of your heart that you could jump off this building and fly over to the baseball field.
This other occurence of the word though explains propitiation very well.
What you believe in matters.
Some people I know of don’t have much faith in an airplane when it takes off but it gets them there.
Faith isn’t what saves, faith in Jesus (the right thing) is what matters.
Faith isn’t your salvation, Jesus is!
There is a big difference there.
This is not saving faith though.
This symbolism will richly show the fact that a broken law stood between a holy God and His children.
Through the shedding of blood the place of judgment became the place of mercy and reconciliation.
The other place it is found is found in
Faith becomes saving faith only when we place our faith in Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 9:5 KJV 1900
And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.
1 John 5:9–11 KJV 1900
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
Propitiation in is translated as mercy seat in Hebrew 9:25
But that is exactly what propitiation really is.
This is pictured very clearly in the story of the Day of Atonement found in
The people of Israel had to come with two goats on this special day.
One goat was killed and his blood was taken to the holy of holies and sprinkled on the mercy seat.
This was the golden cover on the ark that covered the stone tablets of the Law.
Slide of mercy seat.
The Holy of Holies was the place where God showed his presence.
Leviticus 16:2 KJV 1900
And the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.
He would stand on it and then the blood was sprinkled between the seat and the savior.
The priest had to sprinkle blood seven times on the mercy seat to make atonement (payment) for God’s people and to turn away God’s wrath at their sins
Leviticus 16:14 KJV 1900
And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times.
The law (what we have been seeing in the first chapters of Romans) shows us how sinful we are.
The job of the high priest was to go in and sprinkle the blood of the goat on the top of the mercy seat.
This blood showed that the sin had been paid for.
God would see his people through the blood.
Then the priest would take the other goat and would confess the sins of the people.
The goat was taken to the wilderness and set free to picture the carrying away of our sins.
Psalm 103:12 KJV 1900
As far as the east is from the west, So far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
When we sin we have two options of how to pay for our sins.
We can pay with our own blood (our life).
Or we can trust in the blood of the perfect son of God.
The Holy of Holies was a private place that very few would see, but now Jesus was publicly displayed.
Through this mercy seat he can now be merciful to those who formerly deserved only judgment.
Christ is our mercy seat.
2 Corinthians 5:21 KJV 1900
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Then he goes on and says through faith in his blood.
This was the cost of our Redemption and propitiation.
This isn’t just speaking of the death of Christ but also of his resurrection.
Jesus didn’t simply have to bleed, he had to die, because the penalty that God imposes on sin is death.
This is how seriously God takes sin.
Where do we find the fullest expression of the love of God?
In the Cross.
Where do we find the most awful manifestation of the wrath of God?
Also in the Cross, where he pours out wrath upon his own Son.
This one act shows that God judges sin, and is also a loving a merciful God.
The blood shows us that while salvation was free for us it was anything but cheap to the one that provided it.
tells us that this blood was precious.
1 Peter 1:18–19 KJV 1900
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
The truth is that the cost of Calvary goes way beyond our comprehension.
The big object lesson about his blood can be seen in where in the Passover they were told to place the blood on the doorposts but none on the door step.
For one main reason, there was to be no trampling on the blood.
The cross is the public declaration that God is righteous in his way and that the sin question has been handled.
God looks at the sinner that has trusted him and declares him to be justified.
Not because he has been cleared of his sin, but because he has been redeemed from his sin.
The cross does not represent a compromise between God’s wrath and his love; it does not satisfy each halfway.
Romans 3:23 KJV 1900
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
On the cross, the wrath and love of God were both demonstrated.
The cross is a demonstration both of God’s justice and of his justifying love.
He finishes off the verse saying basically that this is the last of all sacrifices and he has forgiveness (remission) for the sins that are past.
Romans 3:26 KJV 1900
To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
He is just because of the sacrifice for sin and he is the one that makes those that believe in Jesus JUST.
We must meet the glory of God.
What a great thought.
We will all fall short.
Lumber and Chairs illustration.
Faith on one side of the lumber and something bad on the other.
Man must do something to deserve the merit of God.
We, ME, I am not just in him and him alone.
Here is what we have to understand.
Man must do something to deserve the merit of God.
The only ones that will be justified are those that place their faith in Christ alone.
The only way to be justified isn’t through our acts but through our faith and belief in him alone.
Everyone believes in something but God only justifies those who believe in Jesus.
The gospel has a revolutionary concept that says by faith alone.
Ephesians 2:8–10 KJV 1900
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:8 KJV 1900
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

III. Accepted -

Romans 3:27–28 KJV 1900
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Romans 3:27–31 KJV 1900
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
There is a good reason that you cannot earn your salvation, if you could earn then there would be plenty of space to brag.
says that salvation is by faith and then it basically repeats what is stated here.
Ephesians 2:8–9 KJV 1900
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Not of works lest any man should boast.
No one will be able to brag.
People cannot brag on something that they receive with no effort of their own.
Justification by faith makes there be absolutely no room for boasting.
God totally eliminates pride from us because there is no way we can reach salvation.
He also eliminates preferences here, he makes only one differentiator and that is faith and belief in him alone.
Slide The Real Deal
The problem with self-made people is that the end up worshipping their maker.
Can you imagine a heaven full of people who had earned their right to be there?
Maybe like a political dinner where supporters paid $1,000 a plate.
Imagine the arrogance.
Imagine the boasting.
Heaven would be no heaven at all.
Because of God’s grace this cannot happen.
There will be no bragging at all because because we were all justified by faith and faith in Christ alone.
Receiving something you could never earn and do not deserve is grounds for humility, not arrogance.
Gratitude, not boasting, is the language of the redeemed.
Romans 3:29–31 KJV 1900
Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
He ends this part of the passage by saying, only when we place our trust in Jesus can we fulfill the righteous requirements of the law.
If
The law isn’t something the Jews can “do” for God, the law is for both Jews and Gentiles and can only be DONE through faith in Christ

Conclusion:

Justification is a miracle.
Justification is the grace of God.
If you have not received his amazing righteousness through faith in his sacrifice then now is the time.
If you already have made that decision then today is the day to tell others of this amazing miracle of righteousness.
How about spending time thanking God for all that he has done for you.

Questions for Discipleship / Small Group

If you had a minute in an elevator to explain to someone how we can be right with God, what would you say?
Do you tend to forget God’s justice, or God’s justification? How does forgetting one or the other affect your feelings, your outlook, and/or your actions?
How has this section moved you to praise the God who justifies?
How do these verses change your view of yourself?
How do these verses change your view of God’s law?
What, apart from Christ, might you be tempted to boast in as the grounds of your confidence or self-worth today? How will you ensure you boast only in Christ?
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