The Sign and the Covenant – Romans 2:25-29

 There is nothing harder than trying to get an really religious man to admit to his need of God’s saving grace. The man who goes to church, and who gave-up a handful of vices like smoking and cursing… The man who was immoral before his marriage, but who has been faithful to his wife ever since…. The man who is extremely generous and kind toward his neighbors and co-workers… The man who says that he believes in Jesus and believes the Bible… The man who has strong moral principles, but who refuses to force those opinions down throats of others… This kind of man is extremely difficult to knock off his self-righteous feet and to convince that he is in need of God’s salvation. He doesn’t need forgiveness of sin because he convinces himself that he either doesn’t have any sin to be forgiven, or else that he can wash up his own filth by himself. This is the kind of person whom Paul is addressing in this chapter. He is an hypocrite – judging and condemning everyone but himself. So Paul says, “Thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?” “Escape the judgment of God? Escape the judgment of God???? Of course, I will escape the judgment of God, because I am a member of the covenant nation – Israel. I bear in the my...

The Jew’s Greatest Advantage – Romans 3:1-2

 Paul has just lambasted the Jews for their hypocrisy and heresy. He knew from experience how they highly esteemed their rites and ceremonies. But for the most part, they were empty husks when it came to spiritual realities. So does that mean that there were no advantages to being a Jew in Paul’s day? There were several blessings and advantages to being members of God’s chosen nation. And the first of them all was their possession of the oracles of God. Perhaps among the Greeks, the word “oracle” might have had superstitious importance, but as Paul was using the word, it didn’t. The only thing that he was saying was that to Israel was given the revelation of God – the Word of God. And in his day that made Israel very, very special. But today that significance has dissolved away to a great degree. There is not a person in North America who doesn’t have the opportunity to own more of the Word of God than the Jews had in Paul’s day. That doesn’t mean that the same privilege is to be found universally around the world, but here there is no advantage at all to being a Jew in this regard. In many Muslim, Hindu and atheistic countries the Bible is rare, but not so in this country. And what a blessing it is to own a copy of the Word of the Lord. What a blessing is deliberately neglected and avoided by so many of our neighbors because they have turned their backs on the revelation that God has so graciously given. What a terrible criminal...

Something at Which Jesus Marvelled – Romans 3:3-8

 Just like the Apostle Paul, our Lord Jesus didn’t confine His ministry to the Jews only. Paul begins this book by referring primarily to Gentile people, condemning them for their unbelief. Then in chapter 2 he turns his attention primarily to the Jews and condemns them for the same thing. In chapter 3, as we shall see, he summarizes the spiritual condition of everyone. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Paul was not taking a different tack than that which His Master had taken. For example, in Mark 5, Christ Jesus left Galilee saying to His disciples, “Let us pass over unto the other side” of the lake. And there on the opposite shore, in the country of Gadarenes he ministered to a group of demon-possessed men – probably Gentiles. From there they traveled down the Lake and began to teach and preach along the Jordan River in “Decapolis” – the region of ten cities, occupied by both Jews and Arabs just as they are today. Then in Mark 6:1 – “He went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works...

Humbling Hamartiology – Romans 3:9

 The unbeliever has lots and lots of reasons to hate Bible Christianity. There is the law – which he interprets to be a bunch of rules that he doesn’t want to obey. There is a God Whom he doesn’t want to acknowledge as his King, but Who demands allegiance anyway. There are the prophesies of the Bible which he hopes aren’t going to be fulfilled. And there are Christians who constantly keep pointing their fingers at him, whether they actually do or not. I can think of at least two women, who quit coming to our church and forced their husband to follow them, because we constantly harassed them about the way that they dressed. Actually, we harassed them without ever saying a word about they way that they dressed. There are lots of reasons to hate Bible Christianity, and DOCTRINE is often at the heart of the matter. If there is ever a reason to hate a church it ought to be doctrine. For example, our church believes in the sovereignty of God, and that is certainly an hated doctrine. And so is our position on the definition and authority of the New Testament church. You would think that everyone would love some of our doctrines: such as angels, Jesus and Heaven. But when the unbeliever hears all that those doctrines contain, they begin to hate them too. Heaven isn’t a haven for pirates. It’s doors don’t swing open just because someone’s debit card has enough credit behind it. We believe that the angels of God will some day be the enforcers of God’s earthly punishments. And of...

The Destructiveness of Sin – Romans 3:9-19

 I have been debating with myself on how to approach the next paragraph in our study. As I pointed out last week, I consider it to be the Bible’s definitive statement about sin. Although rebellion against God – sin – is seen from Genesis 3 to Revelation 22, and that it is even hinted in Genesis 2, and although we have declarations and definitions, as well as horribly visible illustrations everywhere, I consider Romans 3:9-19 to be the clearest and most concise statement on sin in the Bible. But because this is one of the simplest scriptures on this subject, it is also one of the easiest to understand. There is no way for the preacher to dazzle his listeners with his exorbitant knowledge on this scripture. Other than defining some uncommon words, all he needs do is read or quote this passage again and again. There would be nothing wrong inserting these verses in every sermon that he ever preaches. The Sunday School teacher could do worse than put them in every one of her lessons. They are that important and that easy to understand. But I have been wrestling with myself on how to present them to you once again. Finally I came up with a simple, thirty-six point message. Usually, my sermons have three points lasting about ten minutes each. Extrapolating those numbers into my thoughts for today, it means that this could be a six hour sermon. But I decided that would not sit very well with most of you – or to put it another way – you might not sit very well with...

As It Is Written – Romans 3:1-10

 You cannot read the Bible too much. We’ve been told that it’s possible to drink too much coffee, too much soda and too much carrot juice, and I’ve been told that it’s even possible to drink too much water. But it’s impossible to drink in too much of the Word of God. I have told you several times that with each reading of God’s Word you will find things that you’ve not noticed or not paid attention to before. I can say that of you, because I know that it’s true of me. I found a couple things in our study of Genesis 1 this morning that I had never considered before today. I suppose that this might be said of anything that we read, but it’s more particularly true of the Bible, because this is not a regular book to be understood in regular intellectual ways. The Bible is a supernatural book and can be understood properly and thoroughly only by divine means. And that means that today the Holy Spirit may want to teach us one thing and tomorrow He may choose to show us something else. For example, can you tell me how many times Paul has said the words “as it is written” thus far in Romans? There is the kind of statement which is actually quite important, but which we skip right over, as we get into what was actually being quoted. There it is again in verse 10, but last week I pointed out that it’s also found in verse 4. Furthermore we’ve read it once in each of the first two chapters...

None – Romans 3:9-19

 You might be relieved to know that I don’t intend to examine every point in this list of sin’s characteristics. We summarized them last Sunday by looking at their destructiveness. And tonight we will move on with no deliberate plans to return. But I do want to summarize them once again this morning in a little different fashion. As I said last week, we cannot read the words of these verses too often. It would not be a waste of time to force ourselves to memorize every word in these eleven verses. It would be profitable to repeat them at least once every day of our lives. And if someone overheard us quoting Romans 3:9-19 it could do them a great deal of good as well. I also said last week that Paul’s primary theme here is the universality of sin. There is not a man, woman or child on earth today who is not a sinner in the eyes of God. There has never been a single soul on earth, except the Son of God, who was not a sinner. Of course, that includes both the nation of Israel and everyone else. Or to put one other way – YOU are a sinner in the eyes of the Lord. It doesn’t matter how sweet you are, or what other sinners think of you. It doesn’t matter how strong your religion or your faith might be – you are a sinner. It doesn’t matter if you are six years old, six months old, sixty-six or a hundred and six. Paul’s primary point at this point is to say that...

What Things the Law Saith – Romans 3:19

 I am not unaware that from time to time most of you attend other churches. Sometimes you are on vacation and your love for the Lord makes you seek out a congregation of believers. Sometimes a funeral, a wedding or some special event takes you to another church. Some of you listen to CDs and watch videos of the preaching of other men of God. Some of you even live in other places and can’t attend our church, but you would if you could. I am not unaware that the kind of preaching you hear here is not the same that you hear in another church. I preach the way that I do, because I am the person that I am, and the training and experience that I have is all that I have ever had. I don’t claim to be a great orator, speaker or preacher, and as you know, I’m not in great demand around the country as a speaker. It’s not that I don’t wish that I was a better communicator, and that you were dazzled and amazed every time that you heard one of my messages, but I know that this is not going to happen, and I won’t make excuses for preaching expository messages straight out of the pages of the Word of God. I wish that I could make Romans 3 come alive in your hearts and minds, but I don’t apologize for preaching Romans 3. Our message this evening makes up part of the reason for this kind of thinking and preaching on my part. Paul has just shared with us a...

Therefore the Law – Romans 3:19-20

 I was ordained to the Gospel Ministry thirty-five years ago last Thanksgiving Day. Victory Baptist Church, Wichita Falls, Texas was the ordaining church, and nine men sat on the council. I was as nervous as I had ever been in my life, partially because I didn’t know most of those nine men. Buddy Bryant, my pastor, was the ordination chairman, and E.L. Bynum later preached the charge. I did reasonably well during the interrogation, but there was one question that I completely muffed. I can’t remember who asked, but I’m pretty sure that it was one of the brethren whom I didn’t know. I had previously been asked some questions about salvation from sin, and then there came: “Is the law good or bad?” I was caught over-balanced, leaning toward salvation by grace through faith without the works of the law. “Is the law good or bad?” Without saying, “as far as salvation from sin is concerned,” I simply said that it is not good. Kindly, whoever asked the question replied that Paul said in Romans 7:12 – “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” I passed the test that day, but my score wasn’t 100%, and I was ordained as a Baptist pastor. As far as I know Victory Baptist Church has not regretted in their decision. With this scripture Paul is going to begin a lengthy study of the law, and it which will extend into chapter 10. From what you might now remember of those scriptures, and in remembering many other statements which he makes in Galatians, Hebrews and other...

The Righteousness of God – Romans 3:19-21

 A couple of weeks ago, in our message entitled “None,” we said that there is “none righteous.” We made that statement because that is expressly what the Lord said through Paul in Romans 3:10. In the first point of that message I tried to define and describe “righteousness.” I said that righteousness is an attribute of absolute purity which, by definition, can only belong to God. It is one of those words which cannot be made bigger or better than it already is. Righteous is already the superlative form. There is no such thing as righteous, righteouser and righteousest. But that was exactly the game that the Pharisees in Paul’s day, and Pharisaical people today, try to play. “I am more righteous than you are.” Hog wash. It cannot be true. It is impossible. There is none righteous, but God. Something is either righteous or it is not. And there is nothing that has been made by man, that is related to man, or that can be imagined by man that is righteous. Jehovah alone is righteous, and every human being on earth comes short of that glory of God. Self-righteousness however is another story, and that isn’t even related to true righteousness. This evening I’d like to split hairs just a little bit, because in some ways it is important. Let’s make a distinction.God’s righteousness and His holiness are not exactly the same thing. But Jehovah is absolutely holy, just as He is absolutely righteous. The word “holy” refers to His separation – He is separate from sinners and inapproachable as such. There is a magnetic impulse in...

Justified in God’s Sight – Romans 3:19-26

 Almost from the beginning of my ministry I have been involved in the printing industry in some fashion or other. Today our church “publishes” all our messages onto the internet. We have anywhere from 75 to a hundred people every day visit our website for various reasons. Also I have at least two people asking me to print hard copies of our messages on the Book of Acts. When I first began to work with missionary Ken Johnson, we published a little paper called the “Missionary Messenger.” This was back in the early-1970s when all that we had to prepare the copy was an old typewriter. Some of you might remember that the letters on typewriters at that time were all the same width. A lowercase “L” was just as wide as a capital “W” or “M.” It didn’t bother us at the time, but words had big gaps in them because a tiny “i” was next to a “w.” Also the space between the words was just the same size as each of the letters. As a result, not only did the letters line up across the page, but also every letter was underneath the letter on the line above and below. Then we bought a series of new typewriters, which possessed some of the latest innovations. Not only could we change the style of type by changing a ball inside the machine. But eventually we had a typewriter which made the letter “i” take up a third of the space of an “m” and half the size of a “d” or “e.” So no longer did the...

The Application of Justification – Romans 3:19-26

 Let’s say that a man was worried about robberies in his neighborhood, so he sets up a surveillance camera. It is rigged to a digital recorder, making a constant video of everything that takes place on his property. One copy of the recording is collected on the owner’s computer inside the house, but there is a second recording automatically being stored on his computer at work. One night, months later, that property owner comes home and gets into a fight with his wife. He strikes her across the head with the closest thing handy, and she dies. The murderer then cleans up the crime scene and removes every shred of evidence. He realizes that he has a ready-made alibi because of something earlier that evening. Then he goes inside the house and removes the video on his computer. But he doesn’t know that a neighbor heard the commotion and called the police. They arrived just as he finishes up with his computer and as he slips out the back door of his house, racing to his office. The investigators take a quick look at what is on his computer, and one of them is smart enough to realize that video was sent to another site. The neighbor then tells them that the husband of the murdered woman had boasted of his back-up system. The police figure that they have no time to spare, so they have an officer downtown enter the man’s office and confiscate the other computer. There it is – absolute proof that the man murdered his wife. Unfortunately, when the case comes before the judge, he...

The Fact of Sin and Sinners – Romans 3:23

 The gospel is the wonderful, miraculous story of God’s remedy for our sin. Elsewhere Paul wrote: “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand. By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” Earlier in this epistle Paul said that he was “a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.” The gospel was his purpose in life; the great means by which he was called to bring glory to his Saviour. So he said that he was “ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to Jew first, and also to the Greek.” The good news – the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ – is the most important information that ever be shared with another human being. It is absolutely essential in the preparation of human beings for death and eternity. The term “gospel” is used by just about ever kind of sect, cult and denomination within Christendom, and I suppose that it’s used in other religions as well. But the gospel of Catholicism...

Synonyms, Divisions or Characteristics? – Romans 3:19-26

  This is the fifth or sixth time that we have used these verses as our text. I hope that this doesn’t bother you, because it doesn’t bother me at all. It would be to our eternal benefit if we read these words so often that they were permanently burned into our minds and hearts. There is simply a wealth of material and important information here. We can study these words as deeply or as shallowly as we want and still be blessed. All the Word of God is divine gold – some is 18 carat, some is 24 carat, and some is 36 carat gold. This passage is definitely a large nugget of the finest divine gold. Since few of you have had your afternoon nap, and you are thinking about taking it right now, I’m going to try to keep this message short. I intend only to shine a light down on this nugget, turning it ever so slightly so that you can see it from four different angles. I’m using a question in my title for this message – “Synonyms, Divisions or Characteristics?” On one of the shelves in my study behind my head there is a row of general theology books. I have several dozen books dealing with specific doctrines scattered throughout my library, but this row is dedicated to general theology. Most of those books are Baptist, but there are some exceptions. For example someone gave be a two volume set of Calvin’s Institutes, but I don’t believe that I have ever opened them, other than to put my name on the fly-leaf. There...

Binding on the Book of Salvation – Romans 3:23-26

 Salvation can be likened to a book. It’s not fiction, but absolute truth, and yet in some ways more it is astounding and unbelievable than any human fiction. It has a Divine Author – Christ Jesus is the Author and Finisher of this book. It has a great many chapters, and I gave you the titles to twenty of them last Sunday afternoon. It has a Divine plot, which begins in eternity past, but which grows and develops into eternity future. It has a beginning, but doesn’t really have an ending. You might say that it was written in such a way that the door has been left open for an Heavenly sequel. This book is hard bound; in fact it’s cover is made of silver, inlaid with gold and the most precious stones. And there is a clasp closing it, which guarantees that not a single chapter or page will ever be lost. At the front there is a dedication page which bears the name of the Lord Jesus, but there is also a place for the names of everyone to whom it is given. Of course, this is not a loose-leaf volume, but every chapter and page is bound together. I don’t know if you have ever noticed, but the best hard-backed books have pages bound several times. Most pages are stitched together in groups of something like 20 or 30 pages, and then those bundles of pages are bound together again and secured within the finished volume. It’s as though every aspect of our salvation – such as justification and redemption – are complete units in...